Monday, April 22, 2002
I got an interesting e-mail from an individual, a Mr. Damon Claussen, about the whole A&F thing. Apparently, some one actually took the time to find me online... interesting. I thought I'd address a couple parts of the e-mail since there are some things that really disturb me about it (that and the fact this individual said he'd immediately delete any reply from me... wow, how nice.)
"I'm glad to know you're upset, and you have every right to express your opinion, but in my opinion you're only lowering yourself further by letting a ridiculous piece of cloth with ink on it get to you. Its a damn t-shirt. You have every right to be pissed off....and so do I. But I choose to look at the humorous side of it.... I think its okay to laugh at yourself, and I believe we as a society have lost that ability.
reply: You probably think I stomp around all day being angry about the fact I'm Asian and screaming at the walls. But anybody who REALLY knows me knows I laugh at myself a lot... at least as much the next guy. The problem with these shirts my friend is that it is MORE than just a t-shirt. People would like to believe it's just some little joke and that hell, what can a t-shirt do to Asian Americans? Well, it's not the t-shirt that disturbs me... it's the ATTITUDE and BELIEFS behind that t-shirt. Humor and satire are sophisticated, and they having an underlying intellectual context behind them. Those t-shirts do nothing but promote the demeaning of the HUMANITY of Asian people and Asian Americans. You might think that's no big deal, but in the history of this world, once people's HUMANITY is stripped away, some pretty awful stuff happens... Native Americans give diseased blankets and kicked off their own land... Nazis sending Jews by the millions to death factories... Japanese AMERICANS sent to concentration camps. It all started with an attitude that these people groups were not human. That why so many people are "upset" about the shirts. So guess in your book, a person like me fighting to be recognized as just a human being is "lowering myself". Thanks.
"I find your comment about "honkies" to be very telling about you. What if you saw a mexcian, black, filipino, indian or middle eastern person wearing the t-shirt, would you evoke the same hatred or actions upon them as you say you would to a white or HONKEY"
reply: Actually, I'd pretty damn offended if I saw any stranger wearing the shirt. But based upon personal experience, the majority of "racist" incidents in my life have involved white people. For one, I CANNOT even begin to count the number of time you (white) Americans have said to me "Can you speak English?" or "Your English is so good!"
No one was killed by it, no one was oppressed, the only thing that was lost aside from any profit for A&F is the fact that our society has let this cause another rift between our ability to laugh at ourselves.
reply: Why don't you walk around South Central LA or Harlem and start shouting, "Where can I find some Negros to pick me some cotton?" You tell me if it's funny then, because I'm sure as hell not laughing at shirts that pretty much shout "Chinks can do your laundry, even without being able to speak English!". Like I said in my reply above, killing/oppressing is a process that begins with the de-humanization of people and that de-humanization begins with an attitude..
Did you know that A&F also manufactured other T-shirts poking fun of other nationalities...white's or HONKIES included."
reply: Hardly comforting. A&F might as well be saying, "Yeah, I have this shirts that say "Kikes are stingy bastards" and "Waps are garlic eaters"... so don't be offended when I print my shirt that says "Chinks like doing your laundry". Applying ignorant stereotypes across "many" groups hardly justifies applying another one to Asians and Asian Americans.
"They also have a quote of what you said regarding the shirt, including the honkey statement. I want them to know that you're in support of the rally against A&F, but is your support really is questionable with your racist overtones."
reply: I'm the first one to admit I harbor some bias against white people. But given my personal experiences, I say having only "some bias" is a miracle in itself, praise God. Don't confuse my biases with "racism". Racism has, and always will be, a systematic, institutionalized oppression against a certain people group... the reality of racism is that it is PREJUDICE + POWER. We "minorities" may have our prejudices, but we do not have even close to the level of power over everyday life that system of Western racism has over everyday life.
Here in America, that everybody who is NON-WHITE faces systematic, institutionalized oppression in some form or another. White people don't have to worry about being beaten to death or sodomized by police to even near the degree that minorities do. White people don't have to worry about being forced against a wall, frisked and detained by an armed officer simply for jaywalking to the degree minorities do. White people don't get followed around in the mall, white people don't get asked if they speak English.
White people don't have to worry about being stereotyped or forced into a box of assumptions, because an entire system of government, media, and business already caters exclusively to them with any image they want of themselves; while stereotypes of Asians abound. In the eyes of this culture, we are bound in the chains of the stereotypes that an ignorant culture perpetuates... this whole A&F t-shirt thing is just another example of that. Far more deadly than physical oppression in the oppression of the hearts, minds, and very spirits of people who deserve nothing more than treatment as HUMAN beings. I suppose most white people have no idea of the privileges that they enjoy. Ironically, fighting racism is not about fighting for privilege. It's about fighting for truth, it's about simple recognition of our right for equality. Nothing more, nothing less.
The resposibility of racism in American has, and ALWAYS will be with WHITE people. Are you going to blame Native Americans for genocide?! Are you going to blame African Americans for slavery?! They were never in the position of power. White people were, and continue to be in that position of power. Look at the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Look at the composition of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Hell, not even close to half of our so-called "democratic government" is comprised of women and any idiot knows that women make up half of the population.
So really... what is more questionable? The fact that you're offended by that a chink like me is trying to contact King 5 or the fact that non-white people continue to tolerate being oppressed? This BLOG is my personal journal. I make no apologies to anyone I offend, friend or stranger alike. Do I really think all white people are "honkeys"? No. But anyone wearing a t-shirt that might as well scream "CHINK!" at me is going to get called a "honkey" by me.
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