H8

July 22, 2009 § 2 Comments

As I took a walk around my neighborhood this afternoon while talking on the phone with AT, I passed a group of teenage boys riding their bikes on the street going in the opposite direction [on the wrong side of the street, might I add]. There were more then ten of them, and they looked to be around 16 or 17. I ignored them and continued my phone conversation, but through my dialogue I heard those infamous words of mockery.

“Ching chong ching chong!” and a couple of chuckles.
“Fuck off,” I breathed into the phone as my eyes widened in disbelief.
[“Are you driving?” AT asked me.]

A sort of shocked fury rose within me as my mind searched for a proper reaction. I looked back at the group of guys, and the one closest to me, the only African-American one, was the only one looking back.

Really? I thought. I was reminded of one time when I was walking in downtown Chicago. As I passed a black boy [probably around 12 years old] he said those same words to me. I had raised my eyebrow at him and kept walking. It also brought to mind this incident, posted on Facebook by a Chinese-American friend of mine:

Racism

Of course, black people are not the only ones who provoke. I have heard stories about my friends getting into altercations with white girls, although those usually involve straight-up racial slurs instead of sidelong insults.

In the end, I responded only by venting to AT. What was I supposed to do? [“Go back to Africa, jackass!”?] I wanted to beat the shit out of him. Seriously, it’s 2009. We’re in a thriving suburb of Chicago, not some ignorant backwoods town still stuck in the 50s. My high school had at least 100 Asian-American students, which is to say that there is no reason for anybody to think that this kind of behavior is appropriate.

So I am not sure how to deal with this situation. Last week at small group we learned about forgiveness. We didn’t get much deeper than talking about road rage, and I didn’t imagine that I would have to apply the lesson to something like this. But as I walked home, I knew that I had to forgive that person for his ignorance. I suppose I can console myself with Romans 12:19.

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§ 2 Responses to H8

  • Yeah, l.li–i’m sorry to hear about this incident; but it’s one I see time and time again, and despite this, “A sort of shocked fury rose within me as my mind searched for a proper reaction.” still seems to be the most common immediate reaction, even for me.

    I remember a few weeks back while @ alki beach, these random drunk white dudes pointed at us in my car and yelled, “look! asians!”–and I yelled back “wow, look at those white kids!” they sort of remained speechless.

    I think part of the reason why this happens so much is because a lot of people, asian-americans in particular don’t grow up learning how to deal with it. think about how many movies / tv shows there are where dealing with racism against blacks is core subject matter. then think about how few there are about asians. it’s harder to react, since we don’t know how to, other than to “have some restrained fury”.

    We, you and I included, need to be more vocal, and engage the community so people within and outside of it know what to do. Thanks for the post l.li, and your honesty on your blog :)

  • Esther says:

    ugh! this happens EVERYDAY on my street in harlem… and the fetishistic china-doll heckling. ugh ugh ugh.

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