This one hit so close to home that it blasted me out of writing hypernation.
Trinis of Chinese heritage across the nation are in uproar about the effervescent Health Minister’s controversial comments that stirred up the age-old issue of Chinese xenophobia. And worst yet, are the responses of some.
Dog carcasses left hanging outside local Chinese establishment: CNC3 Television
Now my personal exposure to this racial intolerance has been existent as far back as I can recall. And the funny thing is, I don’t even look that Chinese. .
I’m of mixed heritage and Trini to the bone, but since my tender years have been affiliated most with my Chinese ancestry. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been labelled a “Dark Chinee” or “Chindian, and gathered multiple nicknames such as “Ting-a-Ling”, “Ping Pong”, and “Stir Fry”.
I’ve been taunted throughout childhood with “Chinee, Chinee, never die, flat nose and choonkie eye”, been shunned because of my apparent love of dog meat, and feared because my Chinese-looking “cut eye” was dragon-fierce and backed by some karate training.
I’ve even had rude supermarket attendants refusing to help me (a “dog eater”), out-of-timing comments about half Chinese women and their subservient sexual tendencies, mimicry of my “Chinese accent”; all still occurring up to present day. This post was even more inspired by an incident just a few days ago, when, with my boys (one of whom looks quite Asian); I was accosted by ignorant perceptions about Chinese people, and their “nasty” Chinese food dog-eating habits. And the realisation that my five year old son would soon be exposed to this xenophobic madness, jolted me.
Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome. ~ Rosa Parks
I have grown increasingly fed-up with the ignorance, so I’m going to address these three common acuities:
1) All Chinese are dog-eaters:
Just no. My goodness people; in certain, NOT ALL, Chinese sub-cultures, dogs are eaten as a local delicacy. And historically, dog meat has also been consumed in many other parts of Eastand Southeast Asia, West Africa, Europe, Oceania and even America. For me, growing up with a Chinese-African grandfather who had a finer taste for wild and exotic meats, I’ve been exposed to the concept. My Grandfather, while serving in World War II in China, ate dog meat as a means of survival during food shortages. And I personally think that that was an awesome survival strategy, and would damn well do the same.
2) Only Chinese people like to eat nasty things:
Among some delicacies that local sub cultures partake of in China include insects, uncooked /half formed eggs, and unwanted animal parts. But let’s put this thing into perspective: we in Trinidad embrace local delicacies like black pudding, pig foot/ snout and chicken foot souse, cow heel soup and geera gizzard which all comprise of less than desirable “reject” animal parts. Also, agouti one of the favourite local wild meat delicacies (now illegal) is closely related to rats, and shrimp (another local favourite) is a bottom-feeder that feeds quite a lot on literal crap. Nice huh. Who are we then to judge?
Pictures of local delicacies and confiscated wild meat Trinidad Guardian
3) The Chinese have no right to be here and are sucking us dry of opportunity:
Gah @ the stupidity… These immigrants are allowed legal entry into our country. And they generally make much better use of their time here. Asian and especially Chinese work ethic is ranked among the world’s best. Sacrifice and intense discipline is the way of life. Compare a Chinese grocery or restaurant to a locally established one in your area. Which is opened first and closed last? We Trinis, with our laid-back island mentality, love to point fingers and find flaws with anyone who surpasses us; especially against the industrious Chinese immigrants, who take serious strain with intense personal sacrifices. The immigrant population and their descendants have contributed tremendously to our society and economy. And it would be good for us to adopt some of their mentalities.
Picture of thousands of Chinese students demonstrating the art of discipline
We have proven to be a people of little tolerance. We are offended by anything that is different, and have shown immense narrow-mindedness. In this year 2015, I am ashamed to see that my countrymen (amongst whom include the descendants of African slaves, East Indian labourers, poor Europeans, and the enslavers themselves) have regressed and are still stuck in the dark ages.
I write this in full support of Lily Kwok and the countless others in their online appeal to combat ignorance, xenophobia, intolerance and racism.
“Fight ignorance. Proclaim your humanity. Spread love. #IAmAPerson” Lily Kwok
Please, let us end intolerance and embrace the cultural variety that makes us such a unique Caribbean melting pot. Differences fabricate the colour of life’s tapestry; without it, our world would be meh. It is up to us to stop racism by adjusting our attitudes (and jokes), revisiting personal stereotypes and prejudices, and resolving to teach by example and through love.