Evolution plus

A meander around the term “roundeye.”  Bear with me, if you will.   

So two white hipsters started a noodle bar. Which they named “Roundeye.”  Which made me say WTF, seriously?  Apparently Asian Americans United was already on it.  Here’s the response:

Darragh said he heard from an AAU representative Saturday. “We’re not really sure what to do with this,” he told me. “She was very nice,. We intended it as a play on words, making fun of ourselves – not trying to be offensive to anyone.  We’re not racist, but this is making us out to be racist. The weird thing is that the majority of our customers are Asian. Some of the them think it’s a funny name. Some people get offended and some don’t.”

Got that?  Translation: We’re hip and aware and ironic.  How unfair of you to call us racist, because we aren’t!  We’re not!  We’re not!  And Asian people love it.  Not like those of you who are easily offended.

But they thought about it awhile, I guess, and reconsidered:

“It obviously wasn’t meant to be offensive, it was kind of like a joke on ourselves,” Darragh, 28, told FoxNews.com by phone. “Our food is Asian cuisine, but we’re kind of using French and American techniques, so we looked to come up with a name that had an Asian feel but was also American.”

Say what? An Asian feel? But there’s more:

“We’re both businesspeople and we obviously wouldn’t put something out there that is offensive, that’s why we’re so quick to change the name,” he said. “Once their point of view was explained, I understood it. If you approach it the way they’re approaching it, I understand it, but there’s different angles to everything.”

Geez, at least he didn’t say a different slant. But I see it’s time yet again for a more detailed, prescriptive guide to apology.

First, shut the fuck up. Restrain the immediate defenses that want to come busting out of your mouth. Don’t say anything. Just think. And then think again. Consider all the things we’ve heard before.

Second, offer an apology without clarification.  The shorter the better.  “I’m sorry”  is always a safe bet.  Don’t fuck it all up with how you obviously didn’t mean to be racist or offensive and about how Asian people everywhere love you and how how some people are offended by anything.

Two simple steps:  Shut up.  Say “I’m sorry.”  There ya go!  You’re done!

Additionally, I just want to say that I speak a couple of Asian languages, am regularly in communities where Asian is spoken, and have never heard “roundeye” used as a slur by a person of Asian descent.  Which of course doesn’t mean it’s impossible.  I am aware of the folly of assuming my life experience  is all-encompassing.  But then again, I do get out.

A commenter here said the same thing:

Can someone tell me which Asian ethnic groups refer to any non Asian’s as “round eye”. I’m Chinese American and I know my parents had words in Chinese (sometimes derogatory) for non-Asian folks, but none of them include eye shape. (Among my mom’s terms: foreign devil, outsider, and big nose). I’ve asked my other friends from other ethnic groups and it is NOT an ASIAN term.

I’ve only heard “roundeye” used by white people. It would never occur to me to call a white person a “roundeye” as a slur, mostly because I don’t view their eyes as round. However, in the racist imagination, they view my eyes as “slanty.”  So because I must be as racist as they are, I probably call them “roundeye.”  Right?  I think it actually crept into the Asian American vocabulary from the majority, not the other way around.

In any event, I see “roundeye” as a sneaky way to cast us as racist, slant-eyed, humorless ch*nks while portraying whites as good humored, worldly people who can take a joke, not like those other people who are so easily offended about every little thing.

RR readers who speak and read Asian, please comment below.

4 thoughts on “Evolution plus

  1. It’s not an Asian-ism because we don’t see our eyes as being “slanty”. I’m monolidded but I definitely know some whiteys who have squintier eyes than I do :P

  2. When I took Chinese my professor (who was biracial and Chinese American) talked about being called Big Nose by folks who assumed he didn’t speak Chinese, but yeah, not word one about eye shape.

    And for more examples look to the EXTREMELY round eyed anime characters that abound. Nope, white people are certainly not considered to be round eyed compared to others, so much as we are considered to be perhaps taller, big nosed-er, and blonder.

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