For many years, I blogged on Xanga, even after it fell out of favor. I didn’t exactly like the format, but since it met my needs (…writing), I stuck with it. I eventually moved to this WordPress site to separate my posts on sports, which were mostly about Texas football, from my posts about other things. However, Xanga has recently been “upgraded,” and it seemed like a good time to move on completely. Thankfully, you can download your blog archives, view them, and even import them entirely into a new site if you wish. While some of my old posts will probably make me cringe (and therefore I’m glad they’re off the web), I’m glad I have access to them. For those that still reflect my thoughts or I otherwise find to be worth re-posting, I’ll put them back up here with some edits and comments if needed. It’s an easy way to put content up here as well ;). I’ve already done it before on this post about alcohol.
So here’s a start of a new series here. It allows me to see where my thoughts have developed but also reaffirm things that I still hold to.
The first post comes from March 15, 2011, and I wrote it after stumbling upon the infamous UCLA girl’s rant on Asians in the library.
[I make a brief comment on Texas basketball before moving on to the main topic.]
Anyway, I went on Youtube last night to look up random videos, and on the front page one of the popular videos was titled, “Asians in the library – UCLA Girl going wild on Asians.” Curious, I clicked on it, only to be both shocked and entertained by the ignorant and silly ranting this girl graced the world with on her webcam. I could not believe she didn’t stop and think how bad an idea it was to post such a thing on the internet, and I am sure the poor girl’s reputation has been completely shot. If the video’s commentary is to believed, she apparently apologized for her actions in the school paper, but the damage is done. I also noted the irony that as she complained about Asians, she was only furthering the stereotype that Barbie-doll looking blond girls are prissy, self-important airheads (and she’s actually done some amateur modeling too). Whoops. Keep in mind that I’m not saying she actually is a prissy airhead; I don’t know the girl, but she certainly gave off that impression.
For me, I was not offended at all as an Asian but actually found the video to be positively delightful. Maybe I’m just weird, but I find absurd things funny, and while some of the content of what she said was definitely not funny, the way she was going about saying it was definitely absurd and amusing (example: Her mention of the tsunami/earthquake in Japan was a low blow, but I still had to laugh at her audacity to even bring it up). When she did her Asian impression, “Ooooo, ching chong ling long ting tong!” I just about died laughing, and I will try to find ways to incorporate that into my vocabulary for the foreseeable future [note: I absolutely did this ;)]. Predictably, it is a Youtube sensation and there are already a host of video responses and parodies of it. I watched it like five straight times and laughed every time.
Now to get a bit more serious: There is no doubt that a great many Asians, and minorities in general, were greatly offended by her video, probably even more so because she embodied the white blond girl stereotype herself (some may be offended by me too for not being offended). It is certainly understandable that they would be; how this girl went about airing her complaints was, uh, not very wise. However, let us all take a step back and admit this as minorities: What she did was not unique to white people. Most people just have the sense not to plaster their lesser moments of foolishness on the internet; furthermore, it is also not as damaging for a minority to make racist comments as it is for white people, which is surely a stupid double standard that only undercuts the credibility of minorities who complain about it.
This is not popular to say, but minorities know it to be true. In fact, the vast majority of pejorative race comments I received growing up were from other minorities, not white people. Minorities can be just as racist and actually can say a host of racist things towards whites, yet this is somehow more socially acceptable. The sad thing is that minorities try to hide from this and make racism only a white matter; some minorities stoop so low that they try to redefine what racism is, saying that racism is “prejudice PLUS political power to produce change.” Not only does this imply that minorities do not have political power, which is patently false, it is simply not the definition of racism. Racism is the attitude or belief that one race is intrinsically inferior to another (or, going the other way, superior to another). It has nothing to do with political power or wealth; a Hispanic doctor can be just as racist as a white dude living on the street. By making racism only a white thing, minorities try to give themselves free reign with the “race card,” which only serves, in the long-run, to damage race relations and make minorities look like hypocrites. Probably one of the greatest examples of this is the silly buffoon known as Jesse Jackson.
I’ve heard Koreans say the meanest and most shockingly inappropriate things about African-Americans (and not as a joke; they mean it). I’ve seen African-Americans freely call white people “crackers” and make a host of racist comments towards Hispanics. I’ve had Hispanic people greet me with fake Chinese and unceremoniously tell me to, “Go back to Japan.” And don’t get me started on what I’ve heard on the basketball court from other minorities; no doubt that many of the slurs Jeremy Lin received in college were from other minorities as well. It is pure stupidity to try to make racism only a problem for whites. Why do minorities react so strongly over this UCLA girl’s video and then try to rush to the defense of Jesse Jackson for his idiotic “run-away slave” comments regarding Lebron James’ situation? It is a puzzling inconsistency.
Point #2: Ethnic, cultural criticism is not always illegitimate. Obviously, what this girl did was completely unacceptable, but somehow in this politically-correct, post-modern society, we have elevated culture to the point where it is immune from criticism (unless, of course, it is the culture of those mean, rich white people or of Christians). The funny thing is that everyone is quick to acknowledge that individuals are not perfect and make mistakes but then throw a fit when culture is critiqued. This is, of course, ridiculous logic; obviously, if men are flawed, cultures will be flawed and therefore subject to criticism. Some minorities even freak out when bare statistics are reported, even if those statistics are not even accompanied by interpretation. For example, a lot of African-Americans will blow a fuse if someone points out the bare statistic that there is a disturbingly high rate of single motherhood among African-Americans, and a lot of Koreans will likewise get angry if somebody points out that, at least in the past, a high number of Korean children have been up for adoption. Why? I am not sure; it’s not like people are making these numbers up. Yet in their great sensitivity to cultural criticism, they perceive everything as an attack on their very being and react in a very defensive, spiteful manner. Just ask Bill Cosby. I’m sorry, but there is nothing constructive or mature about such a reaction, and putting one’s head in the sand does not make cultural problems go away.
For Christians, this is an especially important point. While we are called to respect cultural differences as much as possible in order to preach the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:21-23), there is a point where culture can clash with objective principles (in Galatians 5:12, Paul has some harsh words for the Judaizers who are teaching that the mark of Jews, circumcision, is a requirement for Christians). As a Korean, I know full well the great cultural pride Koreans have, and many have been shocked to hear me levy some harsh criticism on Korean culture. I’ve blasted Koreans for ethnocentric attitudes, an unhealthy focus on social status and wealth, irrational beliefs concerning girl-guy relationships, caring more for their kids’ grades than spiritual lives, etc. The mere fact that I have done this has made some people believe that I am a sort of’ “Korean-hating Korean.” However, the reason I have done this is because I am Korean and I care about truth. As painful as it can be, all Christians, whether they are white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, or whatever, must be willing to put their cultural beliefs and practices, however ingrained they may be, against the test of Scripture. While I definitely believe that we are also to understand the Bible in its own cultural context, this does not mean that it does not have timeless truths to teach us, and we must be willing to hear it even when it is not comfortable.
Let’s ask ourselves one thing: Why do we often find race/ethnic jokes funny (at least, when minorities do it)? Many of us have laughed at the jokes of Dave Chappelle and Russel Peters. I will definitely admit that, growing up, my friends and I frequently made race jokes towards each other. Sometimes they don’t mean anything and are just jokes, but other times we laugh because we know there is a grain of truth in those jokes (indeed, that’s why they are funny). When I make a joke about Asians wasting time loitering, Asians laugh because, well, we know it’s true. Heck, much of what the UCLA girl said was probably not false; it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if some Asian folks did the things she was complaining about because I saw some of that at the University of Texas (believe me, I am armed to the teeth with Asian jokes). Intuitively, we know there are particularities of culture that are sometimes silly or even downright wrong, and these are fair game for criticizing or making fun of. Why? Because cultures, as products of human beings, are not perfect. It is a bizarre attitude to treat culture as above criticism. I honestly think that it is often HEALTHY to joke about it; it helps people relax, laugh, and take things with a more open mind, because we all know race issues can be highly charged.
The widespread denunciation of this girl’s Youtube video is justified, but I hope minorities are not tempted to thereby characterize white people (or specifically, blond girls) in a certain manner because of her. I also hope most people will find it in themselves to forgive this poor girl; I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t said some stupid stuff in my life that I am not proud of. If us minorities merely lash out with our own racist attitudes in response, then we are just guilty of the thing we are mad about. And around and around we will go, accomplishing nothing substantial and making ourselves look stupid. We have to be honest with the fact that A) Racism is a problem for everyone and B) Not all cultural criticism is racist, and sometimes it is correct. Not admitting these things is simply gross hypocrisy or willful ignorance. And getting bent out of shape over some random girl’s video shows a great deal of insecurity and thin-skin-ness, if that is a word.
All that said… CHING CHONG LING LONG TING TONG! I’m going to have some fun with that…