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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Racial Slur - Chink

H and I occasionally ride our bikes to Main Street, park them, and enjoy our evening walking from store to store.  It's a nice way to relax and enjoy our town, especially with the absence of college students in the summer.  Unfortunately our recent trips to Main have not been so pleasant.  Nothing like being called a chink for the first time and then a second time within months.  Sigh.

Don't know the definition of a chink?  Wiki:
"Chink or sometimes Chinki is a racial slur referring originally to a person of Chinese ethnicity but now generalized to refer to any person of East Asian descent. Contemporary usage of the word as an ethnic slur has sparked controversies in public and popular media."
This bothers me quite a bit, and I have every right to be angry.  I confronted both people, and I would like to say that all I wanted was an apology and acknowledgment of their wrong doing.  That's not enough.  There is nothing they can really do to make the anger go away from their action.

I can't recall if the first person even apologized.  He said "Ni Hao" to us and expected us to say something back.  By the way, I HATE it when people say "Ni Hao."  Don't assume I'm Mandarin speaking Chinese.  I am not. I am a Chinese American who speaks very little Canto a heck of  a lot of English.  I was born and raised here, most likely just like them.  Well the guy said something out of anger since we did not respond because that's disrespectful?  H retorted back... something along the lines of a curse word.  I'll admit that he should have walked away because it is best to avoid conflict.  Well that guy called us a "Chink" as a come back.  I about exploded and walked back to yell at the guy.  I have no idea what I said.  I never say what I actually want to say in the height of anger.

That was my first encounter, and I was shaken up.  Why couldn't the guy just say a bad curse word?  Why did he have to say a racial slur?  Did he want to push our buttons?  If that's the case, then it worked.  It still doesn't make it right.  I wanted to punch that guy in the face and resort to violence, which is out of character for me.  I will never forget how that affected me.

Yesterday we walked past a bunch of teenagers who had nothing better to do than to sit in front of the post office.  The teenage girl wanted to impress her friends and went up to H and said something along the lines of, "What's up?"  H wanted to play around, and turned back & said the same.  Then he walked away and said, "I can play too."  Well another one of the girls in the group screamed, "Chink" as we walked away.  I was furious, and I stomped back.  The guys in the group acknowledged the racial slur and made notice of my anger.  I had no clue which girl said it, but she was stupid enough to start defending herself as soon as I reached the group.  Instead of apologizing, she out right denied ever saying it.  She even tried to say that she's half Chinese (she was clearly not), and the word that actually came out of her mouth was "Chick" since she was talking to her friends.  Yeah right.  Her very Asian looking friend was trying to mediate, and clearly wanted the girl to just apologize.  She did, but it meant nothing to me because she clearly believed she did no wrong.

I walked away even more frustrated than before.  I even saw a police officer and approached the vehicle to ask what I could do. I can call and make a police report, and the police would try to find them and probably just give them some sort of warning.  Is that worth my trouble?  Possibly but probably not.

While this may be my first encounter with the racial slur, I am accustomed to being discriminated against and being made fun of.  It came with my childhood, especially with my parent's jobs.  Everyone knew that I was the Chinese girl who lived in a restaurant.  Kids will be kids.  Eventually I just learned to ignore their comments because I was just a kid.  How could someone so little like me defend myself and my culture?  I couldn't.

I expect more from people, but then maybe I'm expecting too much.  Maybe we're still stuck in time...

Chinese Exclusion Act
Japanese American Internment
Immigration Act of 1924
Immigration & Nationality Act of 1965
Racial Segregation

After my first experience, I thought that would be the one and only time.  I was wrong.  What can I do? I cannot change who I am, nor do I want to.  I cannot change them, and I feel completely powerless.  Sigh.

1 comments:

Lam said...

I believe in equality when it comes to racist terms. I would've retorted w/ something else.

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