Examining Chinatown Racism

The blog’s purpose is to share many perspectives about Chinatown and Chinese and Asian American culture. Not all of those perspectives are going to be positive. There is a stereotype that Chinese are particularly bigoted to the point where I recall a commercial on TV where a young Chinese man yells at his grandfather for telling him to watch a black man coming into the family store. I think the commercial was pulled as it should be.

I have met many elderly Chinese who are quite accepting of African Americans though they did not learn everything that you learn as an American grade schooler. In fact the common perspective they are coming from is taught by the Communists (whom they distrust and were often victims under that rule, which is why they are in America)

Some key points from this “racist” perspective just to get you to understand are that

  1. The Civil Rights Movement was seen as Mao supporting Communist brothers as a Fifth Column to take down the Paper tiger of American Imperialism. …. The goal was to get Martin Luther King elected as President… which is why he was assassinated

  1. This is more Chinatown. But Many African Americans in Chinatown happen to be there for Pine Street Inn… and also there are many robberies involving African Americans. For instance, my Father and our neighbors were robbed almost every day by someone black. White people were there to be Child molesters so you had to watch them too. In fact I remember an old lady telling her grandchild to be good or else I, the lo fahn, would steal her away. I was a child myself. The grandmother knew I could understand Chinese too. She was laughing. To her (and she was most likely raised in a village in an environment that had  not yet joined the modern world… more like the middle ages in the west) it was funny. But she actually meant no harm by it. I even read an interview of one of the African American men that used to rob Chinese people in a book about busing. He specifically targeted Chinese because they carried a lot of cash, did not speak English, might not even be legal, and therefore would not go to the police. Easy.

  1. I would like to point out that a lot of this comes from personal experience. It’s different therefore than just hearing about stereotypes on TV.  And many Chinese have met “good” black people. And will acknowledge that they exist…. They may even be friends with them. But there is still that thought of “but mostly” or “most of the ones I have seen.”

So from my perspective, of course racism exists in the Chinese Community (depending on how you define racism.) But in interviewing Sensei David Dixon I was surprised at his comment that “Chinese Have no respect for Black Culture.”  Especially since I see a lot of similarities between the two groups… whether it is pig feet and chitlins, jook and grits, or many of the superstitious beliefs.

Southern Chinese and African Americans who trace family back to the South here in America are extremely similar in culture. And my view on Chinese racism is that it is mostly a misunderstanding. So it is important to at least step into someone else’s shoes to be able to see what they see.  My next post will be the interview with Sensei David Dixon.