Further Thoughts on My Subtle Racism Column for Cracked

This morning, my latest column for Cracked was published, about the subtle racism that I experience regularly as an Asian-American.

Not surprisingly, some people didn’t quite get the point of the column. And so, I’d like to clear a few things up. Specifically, I want to respond to the comments that I’m whiny or angry or playing the victim by writing the column in the first place. To clarify then:

  1. One of the points of the column is to explain why your question about my origins may not be interpreted so innocently. I’m not whining about it, I’m not mad about it. I’m simply stating the indisputable fact that if you ask a person of color where they’re from, it can feel like a loaded question to them. That is something that no amount of rebutting on your end will refute. And for the record, if you’re asking it in an attempt to start a conversation (especially with a member of the opposite sex), that’s pretty much the dumbest thing you can do. Seriously, find a more creative opener. You’ll have a better chance of hooking your target.
  2. If you’re a stranger, and you ask me where I’m from, no, I’m not going to think you’re racist. As long as you’re not an asshole about it, I won’t get mad, and I’ll be happy to answer your question. It’s only when I call you out on a questionable comment and you refuse to back down that I’ll get annoyed. And even then, I’ll probably just let it go. I have bigger steaks to grill … or whatever that metaphor is.
  3. Ultimately, it’s my job as a writer to educate people. I’d be a pretty shitty writer if I bottled up all my life lessons within myself, wouldn’t you say? Either way, my sharing my experiences doesn’t mean that I sit around all day feeling sorry for myself. No, I just want you to learn something. Because let’s face it, I’m pretty goddamned smart, so if you’re resisting my writings, then you’re the exact person who could stand to learn something from me.

So let’s be clear here: I’m not being whiny, I’m not playing the victim. I am sharing my insights, so that we can all understand each other a little better.

On the the other hand, do you know what is pretty whiny? This:

“Ohhhhhh, I’ve just been told some of the things I say might be questionably offensive. Noooooo, I just can’t stomach that possibility. Woe is meeeee. Well, hmph. I’m just going to lash out instead and accuse the other person of being angry or whining or being a victim. Man, I’ll do aaaaaanything to cling to my fragile sense of self-identity.”

See? That’s pretty fucking whiny.

14 thoughts on “Further Thoughts on My Subtle Racism Column for Cracked

  1. Exactly this! I liked your Cracked column, I thought it was a fun and insightful read, and I go through all of those things pretty much daily. It is always better to educate than hate, and it’s a shame that people are taking your column and twisting it around to be something negative. Keep doing what you’re doing, and all the best! : D

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your article on cracked was total horse shit. We call your kind the uncle chan types. Uncle chan types harm our cause more than the whites ever could.

    The only way in which to get lasting change is via violence. The Hakka and Cantonese Chinese in the UK were attacked constantly. We still are we are 0.7% of the population but suffer 3.4% of all violence in the UK. Crime rates are soaring against Asians in the US:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/concerns-raised-over-reported-rise-crime-against-asian-americans-nyc-n512231

    But in the 1970s my parents generation simply started fighting back and simply killing every white person who attacked them. The smallest infraction was justification for serious injury, I have vivid memories of my parents generation. My uncles in particular used boiling oil throw it in their face and then throw them into the oil friers. Totally plausible sequence of events. Massive burning, extreme pain and disfigurement.

    By the end of the 70s the Hakka and Cantonese families had a bit of a reputation. They lost business but the attacks lessened. A big turning event was Wigan. Where several large men went into a restaurant and were beaten up badly after trying to rob the restaurant. The picked the wrong place to be as all of the workers were martial arts practitioners. Surrender was NOT taken and they were beaten to death. The Chinese chefs got 2 years in prison for it.

    This was the turning point.for the UK Chinese up until the early 00s. They feared us. This is why Asians especially in the US need to be armed. Just look at the LA Riots, the police intentionally sacrificed the Koreans. Cos we’re just dumb gooks right?

    They don’t give a fuck about us. Look at the case of Jarred Ha. A white supremacist frat boy attacks him. Jarred Ha defends himself and Ha is the one who gets charged. He is acquitted but the press all lead that Ha was the aggressor here. No charges were filed against Graham Harper, in fact Harper is suing Ha.

    150 years and they still haven’t been educated in Vietnam it was GOVERNMENT POLICY TO RAPE WOMEN IN VILLAGES but that’s ok dumb gooks right? Education is impossible and it is disingenuous. The whites are only pretending to be anti racist because their time is nearly over. The smarter ones suddenly realised that they are losing the majority and reigns of power. That the boot will someday be on the other foot. Have you ever heard that Chinese wealthy give grain to the poor regularly? It is because they fear lynching should they ever fall from power. The exact same is happening here. Anti racism (note affirmative action is actually racist as who did it benefit more? White people) only exists because many fear what we will collectively do to them once they lose the reigns of power.

    These were people who put our ancestors into death camps. They excluded us and gave us disadvantages at every level. There is still the bamboo ceiling or oh we earn more (we don’t just more people work in Asian house holds than all other groups). They realised they did bad things and some of us may well harbour deep resentment. Or how we’re still seen as scum. Go look at reddit the Asian subs or /ccj2 constant anti Chinese sentiment there.

    Your actions were also completely wrong you took those micro aggressions absorbed them. This is unacceptable. The only way to deal with them is escalation at the very first drop. Ignoring it enables them as they take the piss. Escalation may mean violence or being racist back.

    To simply draw a line and say we over react is a spit in the face of what we’ve suffered for 200+ years.

    This is why I no longer consider you Chinese. The skin might look the same, as are the facial features, but you work against our cause.

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  3. Thank you so much for writing the Cracked article and clearing up some questions about bigotry in a rational and calm manner. It’s incredibly important for everyone to be able to understand these things, but lately it seems like everyone is yelling but not saying much. It’s nice to have a clarified perspective about tough issues. If you wouldn’t mind, what are some of your thoughts on cultural appropriation?

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    • Okay, that makes sense. I guess where I get confused is that I think people should be respectful in general, but humans have been practicing cultural appropriation basically since time immemorial. The stealing of a tradition doesn’t make it right, but as long as it isn’t overtly intended to be offensive I don’t see a problem with it. A lack of respect (i.e. mocking other cultures or people groups and their decisions or traditions) on the other hand, is never okay. I’ve asked a few people of different racial groups what they thought about this issue and they said basically the same thing. The East Indian girl wasn’t offended by singers wearing bindis as a fashion statement, the Native American man wasn’t offended by the Redskins logo, the white chick wasn’t offended by people of color wearing scarves, Uggs, and drinking pumpkin spice lattes, etc. It seems to be only when meanness or disrespect is intended or when the appropriation is used for a laugh rather than a genuine interest that there seems to be a problem.

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    • Yup, exactly. But I would add that sometimes, even when no disrespect is intended, it can still be a problem. For instance, if someone is so ignorant that they put on blackface and think that’s acceptable — does that make it any less offensive? I’m reminded of the two college-aged girls who did that a few years ago and put the video on YouTube. Yeah, that was dumb, and they got torn apart for it. But hey, I think they deserved what they got there.

      Ultimately, I still say that we have to take it on a case by case basis, but ignorance isn’t always a valid excuse, either.

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    • By the way, I would also argue that the Redskins name is pretty offensive, because “redskin” is in itself a racial epithet. It’d be like if a sports team called themselves the San Francisco Chinks … or the Arizona Wetbacks. 🙂

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  4. I agree on all your points, and felt you addressed the issue in a very frank, thorough, and honest manner that people will either identify with – or not (can’t please everyone). Any further need to explain why you wrote the article is redundant and unnecessary. Those who called it whiny or angry or playing the victim missed the message entirely, and chose to be an insecure, whiny, angry victim for taking personal offense instead of with the open mind you asked for.

    As a Korean adoptee who was given a white name and raised by a white, Catholic, redneck, football-and-beer-loving family in an all-white community as the token Person of Color in my entire school, it’s even more confusing for people who can’t fathom why I don’t have an accent or have trouble connecting my name with my face when they meet me for the first time. LOL

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    • Ha, I bet they get confused when they meet your family for the first time, too? 🙂 I have a funny story about this, actually …

      I used to be a camp counselor at SeaWorld. For obvious reasons, we would have to be super-careful when it came to verifying the identity of any adult who came to pick up a kid. One time, I had a little girl whose last name was “Moon” and who looked very Korean. On the first day of camp, a middle-aged woman with curly blonde hair came up to me and told me that she was there to pick up the aforementioned girl. My first instinct — as I had been trained to do — was to stop and ask her who she was. But before I could say anything, the little girl came up and said, “Oh hi, mom!”

      Turns out she was adopted.

      Man, that little girl’s impeccable timing saved me a huge load of potential awkwardness there.

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  5. Thanks Dennis, I agree. Ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse, just a learning opportunity so that mistake isn’t made again. If that takes some yelling, so be it. 🙂 And my reference to the Redskins logo was based on a story I hadn’t researched thoroughly enough and one Native American person’s opinion, so that’s not to say it’s not offensive on a general scale.

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    • Yup, exactly. Everyone has a different threshold for what they consider offensive — which basically goes back to Point #2 on my column and why there is never a clear line between what’s racist and what isn’t racist. 🙂

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  6. Cracked just reposted your article on Facebook, so I read it for the first time just now. It was like reading my own thoughts that I have every day, but bottle up because fighting back takes more time and emotional effort than I can realistically give. Thanks for doing that work and putting your experience out there. It meant a lot to me, to see it on paper. And I thought the article itself was well-done and treated the subject well. Clear anecdotes, a simple but accurate analogy, and humor so it didn’t feel like a heavy lecture.

    I sought out your blog because seeing all the commenters that deliberately misunderstand your points, or completely lack compassion for our “hurt feelings” (when they’d have no problem acknowledging other types of minor but continuous bullying), or personally attacking you, must be frustrating. Just wanted to send some encouragement- it was very brave of you to write your truth, and it had a positive impact on me. Never stop!

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    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment. Yes, it’s a little frustrating, but I’ve long since realized that, no matter how calm and rational you make your argument, some people will always get defensive about it. But definitely, this doesn’t mean we should give up by any means.

      Like

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