Saturday, March 24, 2007

Why can't you take a joke, bitch?

Here's the answer.

Jenn at Reappropriate posted a link to us. Thanks Jenn for helping us out, and thanks to Angry Asian Man too! She also alerted us to a disturbing reaction to our effort.

I was in a conversation with a middle-aged White progressive the other night and the topic of grassroots Asian American activism came up. This progressive argued that race activists are too busy trying to gain media attention for issues that “don’t matter” and that we should let the little stuff like this — a racist YouTube clip — slide because it only makes us look like whiny ingrates to White America (more on this conversation later).

Of the many things one could say in response to such a perspective, not the least of which has to be how one can ask anyone of Asian descent to let the hatespeech apparent in “little stuff” like this not affect us. Another woman eavesdropping on the conversation compared hatespeech to a fundamentalist listening to swearwords and how one must just let others be stupid.

But what right do others have to tell us that this kind of ignorance should not affect us?

We will agree, this issue is not as universally concerning as global warming. For Asian issues, it's not as bad as, say, exploited sweatshop labor.

But this is not about our hurt feelings. It's about the children.

Rhymes about Asians have some kind of sick appeal. Remember this "oldie but goody"?

"Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these"

When the singer says "dirty knees", they point at their knees. When they say "look at these", they pull at their shirt around the nipples, or pull up their shirt.

A 7-year old little Asian girl is at the playground one day. Some girls run up to her and do the little song and dance. "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these." They sing, they dance, they enjoy themselves. Then they laugh. What does the little Asian girl think?

"I'm different and they don't like me because I'm different. I'm not dirty but they think I'm dirty." (she's learning she doesn't have the right to define herself) "Maybe I am dirty, and I just can’t see it. What's wrong with my breasts? Look at them? But I don't have any breasts. It's supposed to be funny, but I don't feel like laughing, I want to cry. What's wrong with me?"

She cries. They laugh at her. "Why can't you take a joke?" If she complains to another person, they tell her to stop whining.

She turns in on herself. Or worse, when they do it to her again and again and again, she starts to laugh at the joke. If she doesn't take offense, if she appeases them, if she doesn't rock the boat... maybe everything will be alright. Her sexual and cultural identity are wounded and deeply traumatized. And this is one of the reasons that Asian women have the highest suicide rate of all American women aged 15-24.

Let's flash forward a few years. We've already seen on this blog that the Brandon Dicamillo Chinese Freestyle Rap is incredibly popular. People love this stuff. IT'S SO FUNNY. It's not just one video. There could be hundreds of slightly different versions. It's spread to Sweden. Little kids who look like they're 9 years old are uploading videos of themselves singing it. They build a whole sick community where racism is normalized.

A 7-year-old Asian boy is sitting at the playground.

Some boys run up to him and start rapping. "Who like my chopstick? Hit you when I shit with my little-ass dick."

Fill in the rest yourself.


Anonymous said...

Fight on. We all grew up listening to these taunts. We don't have to take it anymore, nor should our children.

DET said...

As an Asian American man, this racist and insensitive material really bothers me. I could easily argue for why it should be erased.

As an American journalist, however, I can't in good conscience stand up for its eradication.

Banning offensive speech only amplifies its allure to those who embrace it. Speaking out through blogs like this in opposition -- and listing the reasons why these stereotype-slurs are hurtful -- is the best beginning to fighting hate.

an-asian-antiracist said...

We have to first get others to realize why this material is racist, and then create an environment hostile to racism. It's an uphill battle.

There are many places where racists can express their hate speech, like www dot stormfront dot org. These videos belong there. Not on Youtube.

Anonymous said...

*yawn* this is just more whining from people who think everything needs to be PC all the time. like that kenneth eng guy didnt bring up other racial stereotypes in HIS pieces about blacks. GET. OVER. IT.

an-asian-antiracist said...

Kenneth Eng is a loner racist dumbass: unlike Brandon Dicamillo, he doesn't have a drooling, gibbering army of other racist dumbass fans. You're the one who's whining now that you're being called out for what you really are.

laopao said...

Yes, it is not only racist, but it sucks. However, I have a feeling that the next wave of racists might well NOT be white at all, and the next thousand years of slavery, racism, etc., might well make Genghis Khan's notorious rape/slaughter/burn/and skin them alive techniques look weak--remember that period of history when Kublai and Genghis were running around...oh, yeah, they were Mongolians, not Chinese, right? Yeah CKY is almost as bad as the Persians, who were most notorious for treating whites from the Slavic regions-a.k.a 'slave' regions- as chattel property. We don't even want to go there with how African slavery was started by African kingdoms that long had so many to enslave in Africa alone that they never need to leave there for good 'chattel property'...
Yeah-- this next wave of racism woudn't even be possible if dumbasses like CKY weren't around to fan the flames of the easily flammable.I mean, after all, racism needs a good excuse to perpetuate itself right? Not to mention that white racism happened at a time of 'media convergence'--a time when there was print media, then news media, then electronic media--to perpetuate itself as 'chiefly responsble for racism'--never mind Russian jewish converts leading Stalins massacres of christians'whites', or Pol Pots theoretically( but really racist slaughter)of cambodians, or Idi Amin, or the Hutu/Tutsi bantu row over there in Africa...or Mao Zedongs failed policies that starved his ethnic minorities across the borders for Pol Pot to munch on....So enjoy it the first time you, or your angry fearful ancestors gets a chance at the rope on the throat of 'whitey', cuz after all, 'white folks are all angry racists',right....?If you hate something, you become it.

an-asian-antiracist said...

This blog never said all white people are angry racists. In fact we believe antiracist white people are already picking up on this effort.

No one ever solved any kind of racism by ignoring it.

So laopao, what the hell is your point? You really do sound like a dumbass.

an-asian-antiracist said...

On second thought, you have no point, and of course you're a dumbass. You just used the "blame Genghis Khan" defense.

Try blaming Chewbacca next time, dumbass.

anti-racist#3 said...

To the 2nd "anonymous,"
Since when does kenneth eng speak for an entire race? And lets not forget that moron received most of the ass-kicking from other Asians for that stupid stunt.

Who the hell gives YOU the power to assign him to be our voice?
Sit and spin!

To Laopao,
that is the most convuluted reductionist shit I've ever read!

You think because every race has done something racist and cruel (in the distant past) that it cancels itself out and we should not call racists out on stupid shit?

Then what's the point of getting out of bed?

On second thought, do everyone a favor and stay there!

jenn said...

Kenneth Eng sure as hell doesn't speak for me.

Besides his racism, I don't want anyone who thinks they should go on a mainstream news outlet and start talking about dragons using swords to talk for me.

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