Tag Archives: colorblindness

Kids1

Racism Made Me Who I Am Today

By Guest Contributor Ellen Oh

When I was a little girl, I was already very aware of what racism was. It felt like the cigarette burn to my flesh by the high school girl who called me a dirty chink. I was eight years old.

Racism has been seared into my psyche, like the shame that filled me when a white boy spat on me as he screamed “Go back to where you belong!” It sounded like the laughter of the crowd of middle school kids, both Black and White, that surrounded me and called me chink and gook. It looked like the jeers and smirks on the faces that pressed close, like nightmare images I couldn’t escape. I was 10 years old.

It was the fear I felt as I held my little sister’s hand tightly as we ran away from a group of Puerto Rican girls who pelted us with rocks and told us that slanty-eyed chinks don’t belong in their neighborhood. I was 11 years old.

It was the pain of my hair being torn out of my head by the middle aged Russian woman who spoke no English but knew every dirty, filthy word that she could use with “ching chong,”when I confronted her for stealing from my parents store. I was 15.

It was having a kind looking white grandmother scream at me to go back to my own country because she didn’t want my kind ruining the USA. I was 22.

It was having the managing partner of my law firm ask me if I had any relatives on the Golden Venture, the smuggler ship that ran aground in NYC with over 200 illegal Chinese immigrants. I was 24 and not Chinese.
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Jason Chu On The La Jolla Playhouse Controversy

Lyrics:
I hear “nothing’s more American than immigrating in
“Working hard is more important than the color of your skin”
But if that’s true, why are the faces that look like me
Always involved in takeout, kung fu, or exotic villainy?
I mean, we wear the same clothes and we do the same things
And we talk the same way – but it was never a real dream
For me to be Friends with Rachel, Joey, or Ross
And “Jason Chu” was not the answer to the question, “Who’s the Boss?”
Even on Cheers, where everybody was supposed to know my name
I never heard a Chu, Nguyen, Kim, Loke, or Chang
So I concluded that Asian faces are only right
If we’re talking about rice, or a high-tech device
I mean, I just saw the Dark Knight Rise
And I cheered every time that I saw an Asian face – twice
This is why we don’t win: the systems that we’re in
If we build separate communities, we’re viewed as aliens
But if we try to play along, we have no hope of blending in
They’ll never let John Wayne be played by John Kim
But The Airbender was Noah Ringer, and Goku was Justin Chatwin
And the whole cast of Akira was gonna be played by white men
But I have never seen a role with a European name
Be filled by an Asian with the excuse “we cast for talent, not for race”
So the La Jolla playhouse can say anything they want
In the end, I don’t see action, so I conclude it’s just a front
For the same attitude that I’ve always seen out there
Because “color-blind” is just a nicer way to say “we don’t care”

Background here and here.