This is a promised post to my blogging friend Ben who runs a site dedicated to combating racism in the USA, in particular racism against Asian-American males by the majority whites and blacks of this country. More specifically this is a response to this post.
But as I promised him, I would go into 3 incidents of racism that I experienced since January. I will then go into some commentary and some other links concerning racism that is directed towards Asian Americans.
My first incident went something like this:
1.) [Late January of this year] I was out on a date – this was my first experience of the “Asians are good at math” stereotype. I was asking the cashier how much the bill was and in response, he handed me a calculator and asked me to calculate the price. Realizing this, I promptly gave him back the calculator saying something along the lines of “It’s because I’m Asian, isn’t it?”
The calculator went back and forth several times, with the bastard stating that I should do it. Somewhere along the line I said something like I charge $200 for this. After this he handed the transaction to his Chinese coworker. The guy I’m assuming was either Latino or Middle Eastern (couldn’t tell).
*I would later go back to this gun range at the behest of a friend. Turns out the guy’s name was Amir (he did look middle eastern). I was told by the manager this was not the first time that this individual had inappropriate behavior to customers.
2.) [Early February] I had a customer [at my retail job] that said that he was too heavy to fit into a shirt and that he needed to shed a few pounds. Providing good customer service, I stated that he didn’t weight a pound over 180.
Just then a customer next to him (older white male) told us that because of my “Asian eyes”, I was able to gauge his ideal weight. I later asked this gentlemen what he meant by that.
Stating that it wasn’t anything “personal”, he said that my “Asian eyes” being narrower, this allowed me to (and I kid you not) “section off” people’s body into “manageable pieces”.
*The dead giveaway was when both men stated “It’s nothing personal”
3.) [Late February, at my second part time job] While working at a Convention Center, I was chatting with a coworker (white older woman – in her 60s) about some game that was supposedly of “Asian” origin (you shoot a ball up and in falls into a maze of obstacles and lands back to where you shot it up).
Now I didn’t get what she was saying. Having stated so, she states that “Chinese are imitative while Americans are innovative.” Taking slight offense to that, I shot back that gunpowder was discovered by the Chinese and that it was brought over to the West, then promptly stating “you’re welcome” to her as a “representative of the Chinese Empire”. She snorted, then laughed and said she had no idea what I was talking about. We didn’t talk for the next 10 minutes.
*She tried to make it up to me during the shift. We managed to talk a couple of times regarding random stuff – but I kept my “smartass” radar on in the event that she said anything else idiotic.
All of these incidents were examples of racism directed towards me – a first. I honestly didn’t know what to say for the first two. Now after having experienced all three, I will honestly say that I’ve developed a bit of a “smartass” radar for things like these. I haven’t been in any incidents after the one at the convention center. But I have to say that there’s something about me that just won’t tolerate bullshit like these.
My feeling is that in events like these, where the comments can be “on the fence”, it helps to do some “recon”; saying or doing something at that moment to see what the other person is saying/thinking. In the event of the 2nd incident – I realized (only afterward) that those guys were really, really ignorant. Also, it also helps to develop a “quick tongue” – what seems natural for me is that I tend to “return fire” when encountering comments such as these.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that we beat fire with fire. What I’m saying is that some of these comments are done in “good nature” or in ignorance. I propose that throwing another ignorant or “smartass” comment back would be the best medicine (I use the term “medicine” loosely). We are living in times where political correctness is the M.O. – sometimes stating one’s mind in a witty, comedic, and honest way would be best.
I don’t have any examples of my own. But when I do, I will be more than happy to share them here.
Found these lovely videos that I found immensely educational. The first one is one that I got from Ben as well as from the site 8Asians. 7 things never to say to an Asian American executive.
This second one is more for Bill O’Riley’s idiocy and purposeful bully behavior; a great contribution by George Takei on the topic of the racism towards Asian Americans.
And I wouldn’t end this serious topic without some humor – brought to you by the great Russell Peters, titled “Smart Racism”. If you are going to combat racism on an individual level, this is the attitude to do in!
Till next time!