Friday, March 02, 2007

Not food related - Bite me Kenneth Eng

Have you heard? Asians hate black folks. At least that's how Kenneth Eng feels in a column he wrote for Asianweek, a San Francisco-based publication that purports to be the "voice of the Asian American community." The asshole that is Kenneth Eng also indentifies himself as an Asian Supremacist even though he penned another column titled "Why I hate Asians." This is easy. Saying Kenneth Eng is an asshole because racism hurts animals, people and all living things right? But here's the column:

That just makes me want to hurl. First of all, saying that blacks remained slaves because of laziness implies that the world is somehow over slavery. It so isn't. There are women in China who work 18 hour days who have to put clothespins on their cheeks to stay awake. They are allowed to take bathroom breaks and get paid in pennies. That's pretty close to slavery for me. Are they LAZY?

Blacks are easy to coerce? Yes, getting a MAJOR PIECE OF CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION PASSED IS EASY. Especially when you have been historically disenfranchised. Has Kenneth Eng EVER TRIED TO PASS A BILL? Those easily coerced people just sat back and the magical civil rights fairy passed the bill for them. they didn't have to organize or mobilize.

Finally, blacks hate Asians? Apart from the utter stupidity of that statement, I want to point out that Kenneth Eng isn't seeing all segments of our community. Just as undocumented Chinese garment workers share the same struggles as undocumented Latino construction workers so do low-income Asians in Long Beach, Sacramento, and Lowell, share the same struggles with low-income blacks in those communities. Kenneth, you've turned your back on your own people.

So let's start talking about how people of color relate to each other. Race in this country is presented as literally black and white. People of color are rarely if ever shown talking about racism WITH EACH OTHER. It's only through the white middleman. And that's the tricky part because we ALL say boneheaded things about each other. We ALL need to challenge each other and hold each other accountable. There are challenging and tricky things that the Asian, Latino, and Black communities have to think about as we related to each other, separate from how we all relate to white folks. In a previous job, I brought together folks Asians, Native Americans, Latino, and African Americans on a weekend retreat to talk about working together. We did a fishbowl excercise where each ethnic group would respond to three questions:

1. What things would you NOT want to hear from another ethnic group?
2. What are things you want to know about other communities?
3. What are things you want other communities to know about yours?

Powerful stuff was said and the conversation informs my work to this very day. I hope this ugliness shines a light on how we need to talk to each other as people of color. Creating that separate space from white folks to teach each other is important. We've got a lot of work to do within our own communities on that front. But the thing is, that kind of work is FUN. What I've found out is that we people of color aren't afraid once we start bringing this shit up. We don't have to remind each other that no, it's not about you. We don't have to reassure each other that we like YOU as a person and we are talking about INSTITUIONS. We also can freely examine the struggles of our own communities without having those struggles label us. It's a powerful and life changing discussion. Can this column be the start?

1 comment:

culocho said...

What bothers me the most about this though in addition to what he said, was that a series of editors, copy editors, proofers, and people laying out the page all saw this and let it run. Then they fired him. There is no accountability in this matter.