Or couldn’t read it

Some sportswriter referred to Yao Ming as “the 7’6″ Chinaman.”  And then I noticed Angry Asian Man reported that somebody called Yi Jianlian “the Chinaman.”

Guess they didn’t get the memo.


6 thoughts on “Or couldn’t read it

  1. The author Frank Chin refers to himself as a Chinaman. I tried to find somewhere online where it is explained why, but I remember it had something to do with his Chinese pride and radical ideology. For those unfamiliar with Frank Chin, he’s a brilliant author/playright who regular skewers stereotypes of Chinese people.

  2. Jin (the rapper) also refers to himself as a Chinaman, which is a form of reappropriation. However, this is not relevant to the post, but just to flower’s comment.

  3. I’m not saying either case of Jin or Frank Chin is right or wrong but I’ve struggled with this concept of reappropriation. I also admit I haven’t done much research on it, but these are my personal feelings based on my experiences.

    To me, it was never a term that I gave myself, but was a from of oppression by, well white people. So I wasn’t taking anything back by referring to myself or others in such terms. (I’m intentionally being vague on the terms used because I don’t want to turn this into some sort of racial slur competition.) Even though I used to use certain terms as a joke I realized not everyone understands that it is a joke. As long as these terms were being used, either as a joke, satire, sarcasm or whatever people are trying to justify themselves with, or as offensive slurs they were still causing damage by perpetuating a form of dehumanizing or othering.

  4. @js718: I’ve been having the similar thoughts recently; not with relation to race (I’m white, so the use of racial epithets against me isn’t something I’m familiar with), but with relation to sex and sexuality. I’ve been reaching the conclusion that when I use these “reclaimed” terms to refer to myself and others like me, that:

    1) I’m helping to perpetuate the use of these terms, because as a member of those groups, my use of the reclaimed perjoratives is quite possibly seen as a stamp of approval. (For an example of how the “stamp of approval” might work: how many white people have we heard that claim racist jokes are okay because *their* PoC friends are “fine with it”? How many times have we heard people argue that racial epithets are fine because their PoC friends use those epithets themselves?)
    2) When I use those terms, even though I’m using them as a member of the oppressed group, I’m still contributing to their continued use and acceptability in modern society.

    The more I examine my language that I use, the more I realize just how much it buys into (and supports) the white/male/straight/ableist hierarchy. :(

  5. The thing about reappropriating “Chinaman” that gets me is that it’s definitely not just affecting the Chinese folks who choose to reappropriate. I mean, I’m Korean and get called Chinese all the damn time. My gut reaction is like, reappropriate something that doesn’t fucking affect my life too. But I do realize that racists are racist no matter what we call ourselves, of course.

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