Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Anti-Asian racism in the D.C. black community

As someone of Korean descent, I found the WaPo article referenced by this Crooked Timber thread especially disturbing.

My take: The poor guy works his ass off embroidering t-shirts in his basement, and provides service superior to all his competitors, so that the retail business owners can sell them for 200%+ markup to communities that, let's face it, could stand to do more productive things with their capital. Who's being exploited here? Then when Kang decides to go into business for himself, trimming the fat that these middlemen are skimming off his production, they paper the town with flyers that basically warn of the Great Yellow Threat. To the extent that these business owners aren't slammed for the scum they are, this is a case of white liberal guilt giving blacks a free pass for behavior that they'd never tolerate from anybody else.

BTW, the only times in my life that I've been racially insulted by a stranger in public have been on the street in New York City, and the strangers were always black.

Full disclaimer: yes, the Korean and Korean-American communities have their own considerable racism problems to deal with. Additionally, I personally find the (New York-area) Korean-American community to be materialistic, status-conscious, reflexively pious, politically disengaged (and even reactionary), and obsessed with preserving "face" and politeness instead of honesty. But they don't put up posters of red-lipped little Sambo eating watermelon.


  1. "To the extent that these business owners aren't slammed for the scum they are, this is a case of white liberal guilt giving blacks a free pass for behavior that they'd never tolerate from anybody else."

    But white liberals are racist themselves---toward Black folk, Asian folk, and all people of color for that matter. What right do white folks have passing judgment on anybody's racism?

    And this is the problem with the liberal term "racism"---it shields the reality of global white male supremacy. Those tropes that Black folk hurled at Kang are white supremacist memes. They perpetuated white supremacy against an Asian man. And in this country, being white supremacist is all too easy to do, 'cause America was founded on genocide and white supremacy.

    Cog...this shit between Black and Asian people makes me sick too, but you've got to call shit like it is, brother.

    1. Bullshit, Yolanda. Call shit like it is. Black racism against many other races is a huge problem; including black racism against whites.

  2. Oh, whatever. Unless you believe that the black store owners have the moral status of children, you have to hold them individually responsible for being the racist assholes they are. Racism is both a system and a practice.

  3. why should americans complain when foreign companies start manufacturing and selling products that americans used to make and sell for a fraction of the cost?

    replace black with american and asian with (japanese, indian, egyptian, australian, or mexican) and the situation is perceived as being completely different.

    the problem for blacks (or americans or any other community) is when resources from their community flow into another community in a one-way fashion. if the shirt manufacture reinvested in the black community, e.g., lived in the black community, intermarried with people from the black "mini-country" (if it so happened that way - i don't mean intentionally look for black mates - black people themselves don't / shouldn't go looking specifically for black mates, i just think they happen to gravitate toward one another because of common culture much as we might expect two americans to do if there were spending a summer abroad in guatemala) ... for the same reason that americans advocate doing those very same things in / with americans, then there wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) be a problem!

    but ... if the business owner (no matter her or his race) ... lives outside the community (doesn't matter which the community) ... looks down on the community ... wouldn't necessarily hire people in that community (i'm not suggesting that all of these issues are true of the individual in this particular case, though i suspect that many blacks feel that that is the case), then they should expect (not necessarily deserve) the pique they (inadvertently?) inspire.

    americans don't want american jobs / companies shipped to china.

    blacks don't want black jobs/ companies outsourced outside their community (within reason, there are valid reasons for a "global" economy too).

    note: it should be possible for person who is not racially black to integrate into the black community (black is just a culture / pseudo-nation). doing so should in theory make one black (a naturalized black citizen, if you will).

    the true solution, of course, is to create a nonracial society. where people don't identify as black / white based on skin color or genetic heritage. the same principles would apply though: if 50% of the new nonracial black community were composed of asian sisters and brothers, they would still not want non-black asian outsiders setting up shop in their turf - unless that non-black asian was willing to naturalize.

    that said, i think the parties involved (the protesters) are most likely complete nuts and unwittingly racist.

    john frum

  4. and please forgive any solecisms in the above: i composed hurriedly at work and i didn't proofread it until it was on the site. i can't go change anything now.

    you have my permission to make whatever assumption makes the most sense out of what is written in the case of grammatical turbidity.

    john frum

  5. Look around the world. Ne'er-do-wells often resent prosperous minorities.