Thursday, May 03, 2007

"Ching, Chong, Ching"

You may recall that a young Asian man, Kenneth Eng, wrote a newspaper article called "Why I Hate Black People," which, reportedly, expressed his negative feelings about Blacks as well as why other Asian-Americans should discriminate against us.

Cue public outcry, then fast-forward a couple of months.

Why am I mentioning it, now? Well, the subject came up on one of NPR's "News and Notes," podcasts and I just got around to listening to it, recently.

Also, something struck me. While asking some Asian-Americans how they felt about the contents of the article (one shop-owner said she's cool with Blacks and some of her Black customers said Eng's free to say whatever he wants, no matter how ignorant), the journalist approached some young girls for their opinion. The young lady responded by saying that while she didn't think Mr. Eng should've said those things, she and every other Asian person knew where he was coming from.

She was more or less saying she agreed with him.
"They jack us."
"They make fun of us."
"They say, 'Ching, chong, ching.'"
I believe her.

Here's the thing. I don't dig the idea that all Black people are being painted with the same brush, but I do understand the natural human tendency to associate certain behavior with those who most frequently display it - from your perspective, anyway.

I guess I'm saying that "we" shouldn't be so quick to condemn those who say bad things about us, then ignore our own culpability.

I could just imagine members of my own family, whom I love to pieces, saying how messed-up Eng's article was... all the while ignoring the fact that some of them have been referring to Asian people using "Ching, chong, ching" shit*, since I was a child - and probably well before.

White people aren't the only ones with racist legacies (or racial insensitivity, if you prefer).

Questions and comments are welcome.

* - By the way, I defended Rosie O'Donnell's controversial statements, at the time she said them, and I still do. I think it all comes down to intent.

Rosie's statements may not have been too bright, but they weren't about making fun of or discriminating against anyone. I can't say the same about Mr. Eng.


B. Good said...

Well, its about power (or perceived power). A black persons actions aren't as (perceivably) powerful as, say, a white persons. This is probably why "we" don't feel as strongly about the things we say, as we do about what "they" say. "We" are (perceivably) powerless, so what harm can we really do? (to "others" anyway)

Clearly we do cause harm, hence Mr. Engs article. But "we" don't see it that way. We don't recognize our own power.

I'm not saying that I do or do not subscribe to this train of thought, but its my take on the situation.

DJ Black Adam said...

The Asian Americans interviewed disturb me. They seem to generalize African Americans, if they don't like to be generalized, the feeling is mutual.

In China blacks are called "black ghost" so racism exist in ALL Groups, but Eng's comments are inane.

West said...

Damned thing ate my comments on my own damned blog.

BG: But what's the power balance like between Asians and Blacks?

DJBA: They were girls talking about what they experience on a regular basis.

What about our culpability?

B. Good said...

@ West

Generally when I say "white", I mean "non-black". But thats neither here nor there in this case because I think there is a tendancy for *some* blacks to render themselves powerless......just for being black. Maybe its conditioning, but I think its a personal perception of "our" lack of power. So "we" can do what we want, it doesn't really matter, because we don't have the power to have an impact anyways. This is why "we" don't see (or have difficulty seeing) that we too are in the wrong.

Hopefully that made some kinda sense.

B. Good said...


I didn't even notice the link to ol' boys article the first time around. Now that I've read it, it sounds typical of the things "we've" been hearing and dealing with for years. I'm not blown away by what he said (unfortunately).

But I do find it interesting that he starts off with, "Blacks hate us", and that every Asian (who's come across a black person) knows this. That was really a profound statement.

Liz said...

Oh we're definitely not innocent as far as this is concerned. Not by a long shot. I'm glad you brought this up!

Keith said...

What you are pointing out is a cycle of ignorance on both our parts. However, I would argue that many Asian people develop their biases long before they ever meet a black person. When I was in college an Asian classmate of mine admitted that where he was from black folk were looked at as lazy and not as smart as whites, or Asians. He said that not until he got to college did he realize that this might not be true. Also an uncle of mine told me a story just last week about how an Asian colleague of his said that the Bell Curve was true and that it was just a fact that most black people were below average. Apparently he learned this in China! Black folk seem to have a bad rep around the world.

West said...

I certainly agree that both sides share the blame, in the broad sense.

In the cases of children, who may not have been exposed to much outside of their own communities, I place the lion's share of the blame on the Black children (and their parents) for condoning, ignoring, or fostering such behavior.

Our worldwide rep probably has less to do with our worldwide behavior than it does with global media - including movies, music, videos, and more.