Ignorance Fuels Stereotypes

recently read a rather disturbing article in the Los Angeles Times. The April 25 article, titled ³To Be Chinese in America,² written by Lisa Richardson and Hilary MacGregor, is about a recent poll on how Americans view Chinese-Americans. The poll was taken before the incident over the spy plane.

In March, the poll, sponsored by the Committee of 100 (a Chinese-American leadership organization) telephoned 1,216 people nationwide and asked them various questions about their feelings regarding Chinese-Americans. The answers are, to say the least, frightening because ³it burst a long-simmering bubble of frustration,² as the writers put it.

One-third of the respondents questioned Chinese-Americans¹ loyalty to the United States. Most Chinese people here in the United States are here for a reason: They don¹t want to live in China under communist oppression. One-quarter claim to have ³very negative attitudes² toward Chinese-Americans; all I can do is shake my head and wonder where race relations have gone in the 50 years since the immigration laws against Asians were finally lifted.

True, only 1,216 people were polled, and how accurately such a small sample can predict the true feelings of 281 million people has to be questioned, but the poll does bring up interesting questions and has, as the old saying goes, opened up a large can of worms. It brings into the limelight how Asians (not just Chinese) are still regarded as the ³enemy,² how America continuously upholds the view of Asians as ³forever foreigners² and how the ³yellow peril² hysteria has taken over this nation once again, when one considers the backlash Asian-Americans have received lately.

If you¹re Asian, I¹m sure you¹re nodding your head right now. If you¹re not Asian ‹ well, white ‹ you¹re probably scratching your head right now But that¹s the main issue here, isn¹t it?

But I¹m not going to debate here. You can take an ethnic studies class next quarter or professor Lisa Lowe¹s excellent English Literature 18 class.

The point of this article is to ask: How the hell am I supposed to react? How am I supposed to feel? Angry? Threatened? Disappointed hat there has been no evolution in the last 50 years in the way Americans feel about Asians, as is evidenced by the recent racist backlash?

The simplicity and blind ignorance of some people utterly amazes me. Last week, I was on the No.34 bus, going from campus back to my apartment. At the stop closest to Roosevelt college, a white guy and his friend, both UCSD students, got on.

From then until my stop at the corner of Nobel Drive and Lebon Drive, all I heard him say to his impish friend was, ³Yeah those Charlie Chan fucks … took our plane … fucking Charlie Chan …² Whether he meant for me to hear his choice words, I don¹t know, but it was hard for me not to notice. All his friend could respond was, ³Word, word.² Hm, quite a vocabulary there.

So I ask you, dear Guardian readers, how am I supposed to react? Was I to unleash God¹s fury and wrath with some choice words of my own? Cry havoc and let loose the hounds of war? Or do I go Bob Probert on them (hockey reference-thumbs up to those who caught it)? Or do I let them wallow in their own ignorance? Do they even know who Charlie Chan is?

If the incident had happened in a more appropriate setting, I would¹ve let them know how bad my temper can get.

But my stop wasn¹t too far away, and a bus isn¹t the best of places to get into any arguments. And the last thing I want is to get stuck on the bus with these two any longer than I have to. So I let them sink deeper into their own little hole. They just seemed so happy being blind.

So how am I supposed to feel? Angry? Yes, at first. Annoyed? Yes. A little sorry for them? Most definitely.

What¹s the moral of these stories? This country is still far from being racially tolerant. There is a lot of pent-up anger and frustration on behalf of the dominant culture.

From our fellow college students to journalists that say on television, ³Chinese are not nice people,² to our own leaders, there are a lot of people building up a stash of gunpowder, ready to blow, behind a friendly smile.

The sooner we acknowledge this, the faster the fuse can be blown out. I would hate to see what the poll responses would be if it had been taken after the spy plane incident.

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