It's May and you know what that means... happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! You might be thinking, wait, what? I didn't know this was a thing. Well, now you do.
The month of May was chosen to pay homage to the first Japanese immigrants to the United States in May of 1843 and to mark the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad, which was mostly built by Chinese immigrants. In 1992, Congress finally declared May AAPIHM (Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month...yes, it's a lot of words).
In honor of this glorious month, I'd like to talk about some things that I've noticed...as an Asian American.
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one day and noticed a video that someone had retweeted onto my timeline.
In the video, it shows customer harassing an older woman at what seems to be a Chinese food business. The customer goes on to say to the woman behind the counter, "I don't give a f**k about your restaurant or your Korean people." Note: the woman working was not Korean, she was Chinese. Things get physical as the customer proceeds to throw her box of food at the woman.
This video went viral on Twitter. Many people commented and shared it as they thought it was hilarious. I scrolled through the comments under the tweet and was disgusted at this type of humor every one seemed to have.
One tweet read, "Come on Ling Ling."
Another said, "I don't give a f**k if you call them ling ling or ching chung."
Who made it a thing to call all Asians "Ling Ling?" Many of these tweets amassed lots of retweets and likes. While some found it funny, it's not. It's casual racism.
Racism against Asians is the most common and casual type of racism. It is sometimes subtle and not intended, but society seems to accept it.
Asians know all too well the ignorant comments we get and how no one seems to pay attention to it. Here's a few I've received:
"Are you Japanese?" "Uh...no." "Ugh, I've always wanted to meet a Japanese person."
"You speak Asian right?"
"So where are you from?" "CT." "No, where are you REALLY from?"
"Your eyes are pretty big for an Asian person."
"What are you?"
I've literally been stopped in a store once and asked, "I was just wondering, what are you? Wait, let me guess. Vietnamese? Filipino? No... Japanese? Thai?" Sir, my ethnicity is not a guessing game. Please stop.
Asian American actress, Arden Cho, posted a video ranting about the unfortunate reality Asians face.
The problem with casual racism is that some people don't see a problem with it. Whether it's intentional or unintentional, either way, it's racist. These comments are more harmful then you think. It can lead to racial insecurity and humiliation. To combat this problem, society has to be able to recognize that these comments are unwanted and unnecessary.