"As a kid, you believe the things you're told about yourself. But as I grew, I started to see things unravel. I wasn't subordinate, I didn't count good, I hated bowing, and outside downloading GIFs of Daisy Fuentes, I was terrible with computers." Eddie Huang
I cringe at how similar I think and grew up like Eddie Huang, sans the Daisy Fuentes GIFs.
I grew up in the American school system with a target on my back. My crime? Being Asian. Kids thought I was quiet, an easy victim. They made slant eyes at me. They asked me if I ate dog. I got into one of my first fights after that, but there were more taunts to come. I remember them all.
I even recall attending a police charity event. A cop dressed as a clown at a dunk tank spotted me and said, "ching-chong." As much as I wanted to throw the ball at him, I drew the line there. I couldn't hit a cop.
Unfortunately, this led to a lot of pent-up aggression. Like Huang, I always had to stand up for myself. I began to grow a tough exterior, and was always ready to defend myself if someone threw racial slurs my way.
It's always been that sore spot. We all have one. I was being picked on for something that I couldn't control.
Who would have thought after years of fighting this battle as a child that I would come across it again as an adult?
In a piece for The New York Times, Huang explained how comedian Steve Harvey laid into Asian men. He was doing a roundup of dating books on his talk show, and displayed an image of the cover of "How to Date a White Woman." Harvey then performed a sketch in which he pretended to be a black woman slamming the idea of dating an Asian man.
According to Huang, Harvey went on to say,
I don't even like Chinese food, boy. It don't stay with you no time. I don't eat what I can't pronounce.
Oh, we're doing this again?
It's 2017, Harvey.
Personally, I believe one of the reasons Harvey went after Asian men is they are seen as submissive, quiet, and non-confrontational. They're not the type to get loud or put anyone on blast. They'll only use their Kung Fu skills (which, according to some, all Asians are born with) when physically attacked, but not verbally taunted.
So it's important that Huang stood up in this matter because so few have. There are not many Asian-Americans in the limelight, and even less using their platform to speak up.
Asians, and no race for that matter, are what the stereotypes perceive us all to be.
In Huang's New York Times piece, he goes on to reveal his sentiments. He explains that no matter how he viewed himself, there were times where he believed no one wanted anything to do with him. He added,
I told myself that it was all a lie, but the structural emasculation of Asian men in all forms of media became a self-fulfilling prophecy that produced an actual abhorrence to Asian men in the real world.
We speak about how racism is alive and well in 2017. We talk about being fearful for our future. We even portend our county is becoming divided.
Well, here's some news: Asians are part of this country. Comments like Harvey's divide us. There is no legitimate reason to go after someone's heritage, especially for some laughs. Going after someone's ethnicity does not give you a punch line. It brings backlash. For some, it brings back a time they'd rather forget.
But none of us are laughing with you, Harvey. None of us.