oh you know, all that hoopla over “chink”

So recently there’s been an uproar over a recent ESPN.com headline covering a Knicks game that was lost (“chink in the armor”). I have a lot of furious, angry FB friends commenting on it. Husband and I have talked quite a bit about the incident at home.

SNL, of all places, had a Jeremy Lin sketch that made me think further about the race stuff — they brought up all these puns and jokes that have been in the news that played off of Asian stereotypes or cultural things. The characters were having a great time, but as soon as the jokes stereotyped an African-American player, they got all up in arms — and I sort of think that’s true in real life.

So why do so many people think it’s okay to use words like “chink”? Do you need to be friends with Asians to know that word is wrong? Husband didn’t think so, but has also told me people he works with genuinely didn’t know that it’s an offensive word. And why is that? How did that knowledge skip them? What is the deal with people truly not having a clue? On another note, is there a pervasive sense that it’s okay to offend Asians, and not African-Americans, because the protest movement isn’t as powerful, loud, or organized?

A few years ago, Sarah Silverman had a joke that involved the word “chink.” She was on some late night show, talking about how to get out of jury duty. She said if you demonstrate you’re racist, you can get out of it, but you can’t be as obvious as using the “n” word, so go with something more subtle like “chink.” At the time, there was a huge uproar and Asian-American groups made statements, but she never apologized — and I actually don’t think the joke is racist or that she subscribes to the notion that the term is okay. The whole point of her joke is that it’s not okay, but what pisses me off is that, of course, is that the joke puts Asian-Amer groups in the unenviable position of playing pc-police. Of course, they have to protest officially, which if that’s all you know of Asians, makes them look cranky and humorless AND THAT pisses me off. SCREW YOU SARAH SILVERMAN!! My race has a sense of humor!!!

Of racist incidents I’ve heard as of late, what strikes me the most is how stupid the people involved are. It just makes me hang my head in disgust. I mean, back to the ESPN headline mess, they are editors, right? To be an ESPN journalist, you have to have some sort of language prowess, cultural awareness, and a BA in English right??? I read about am FBI agent who pulled over an Indian woman at Occupy Wall Street for hours because she was wearing like suspicious looking head gear (I don’t know what the heck it was — not a burka, maybe burka-lite head gear, so sorry to be offensive), suspecting her as a terrorist. YES, the agent was totally racial profiling, but beyond that, the only evidence you have is skin color and head gear choice, and it warrants several hours of your time and expertise to see if she’s going to have a bomb? Really? Are our FBI agents that stupid? Really? That scares me that people like that are in charge of our national security.

First off, “chink” is an offensive, racist term. Period. I’m not a fan of the word. But for some reason, I didn’t have a huge emotional reaction to it. I have seen other stuff that commented on Jeremy Lin’s Asian-ess I had bigger reactions to — pro-Jeremy signs written in that Chinese-restaurant-font. Oy, I hate that. It’s like whenever a work of fiction comes out from an Asian-American writer and the marketing people HAVE to put a pair of chopsticks on the cover and write copy about “East meets West.” Can the East stop meeting the West? It’s just bloody annoying.

3 Replies to “oh you know, all that hoopla over “chink””

  1. I ranted to you about the Amy Sedaris thing, right? How my friend stood in line at a booksigning where Amy Sedaris signed her book with those stereotypical caricature of the buck tooth, coolie wearing chinese character? And then signed it with something like ching chong? That was super disappointing to hear b/c up til then I totally admired Amy Sedaris. Also, disappointing is that I described this on NyMag.com and people all commented DEFENDING Amy. Ugh.

    I have this theory that white, female comedians go to the Asian jokes (Amy Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, Rosie O’Donnell during her ching chong on the View) because they want to do the “edgy” material by doing race jokes but don’t quite have the balls to do race jokes about African Americans but Asian jokes are “safer.”

    Also, random, but you know what really grated me? Those Chinglish commercials on NY1. Totally racist! (White guy mispronouncing chinese, ha ha ho ho, so so funny)

  2. I was discussing it with a journalist friend of mine (you know him) and we both agreed that, if overworked and tired enough, we could both conceivably write a headline like that and/or let it slip by if we were editors, without thinking about the double meaning of the word. In fact, when I first read about the offensive phrase, I was like, “What’s so bad about ‘chink in the ar’ — OHHHHHH….”

    I came up with a much more creative offensive thing to say about Jeremy Lin, but no, I’m not going to say it on the Interwebs. I also came up with a REALLY offensive (but amusing) ad slogan for El-Al airlines, in the interest of fairness and equal time, since I’m Jewish. I’m not going to tell you that one, either. Things like that are best left in one’s own head, if even there.

  3. nk, i remember talking about the female comdienne thing, and i’m sad that amy sedaris thought that was funny b/c i like her in general and she really really likes fake food in real life apparently. as for you mc abe, i see your point. you’re tired, or even not that tired, you make a brain fart and then BAM, your career is over. but it more offended me as sloppy editorial work anyway. i didnt’ get as worked up about it as all the freaking chopsticks. enough with the chopsticks! and now you have to call me with the more offensive titles. smart to not post those on the web!

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