Jun Dishes

verb/diSH/ : food or sex or gossip or fiction in real life

On Condoning Racism

Just because there’s so much racism brought out to the public eye doesn’t mean Asian people can’t joke about Asian people, or gay people about gay people, or joking in general. The rules haven’t changed just because Paula Deen and SCOTUS happened, or because Big Brother 15  was destined to be such a dishearteningly disgusting season. The rules are still the same. It’s less about the words said, and more about the intention and premise.

I am affected by what’s going on in the Big Brother 15 house, but I refuse to add more insults to raw injury. I won’t act as if I’m more affected than Helen’s family and friends, and Helen herself when she leaves that house and watches the footage. I don’t speak for Helen or Koreans or Asian, because I can only speak for myself. I appreciate all the sentiments but I’m not the victim here, and neither are you. Everyone truly needs to stop and breathe and shut the fuck up for a minute.

We’re all so guilty about our own varying degrees of prejudices, that we’re going in a hundred different directions at once about all the recent and continuing hate commentary that now defines Big Brother 15. Outside the house it’s not any better with kindhearted people who mean well, but are doing more bad in many ways. Then there are those who support racial slurs and gender bashing, and feel it’s their freedom of speech right to add fuel to the fire which technically it is. Then there’s everyone in between, in a virtual Fifty Shades of Hate, where everyone is on their tippy toes-sensitive, and then there’s me.

Five

I find it disheartening yet also enlightening in a sick way, because as an Asian-American female growing up in New York and now living in Belgium, I’ve endured worse than comments about my “slanted eyes” (which I now hear about my son Noah) or being “Ching-Chong Chinese!” although I was always and each and every time taught to defend myself and say “I’m not Chinese. I’m Korean.” One of the first things my parents ever taught me was to be sure to correct people and tell them I was Korean. I have never forgotten it even to this day, but in grade school my “I’m Korean!” response just triggered laughter or more anger in the bully facing me. It just made me stronger, and if you thinking I’m “condoning racism” then it’s because that’s what you want to see.

As an adult, I run into less and less people who laugh at me when I correct them with “I’m Korean.” I’d like to believe it’s because people are better educated as adults, but I know it’s also because adults hide their hateful ignorance better than grade school children can. Whether it’s racial or because you were a redhead or fat or disabled, most all of us have suffered stings of cruelty. I once went through a Cruel Intentions-like period in my life where I was Annette, and my Sebastian turned out to be an independently wealthy misogynist and racist “WASP” who’d put a wager on whether or not “the Korean bitch would fall in love-kinda” scenario. I was to be taught a racial social status lesson, and I learned my lesson.

Hate and bigotry comes in all forms. Sometimes they’re acts so subtle they’re even more degrading, and sometimes people mutter things under their breath to me about the color of my skin as they walk by me on the street. I don’t make shit up because I don’t have to, but I don’t fall victim to the power that is racism by letting it consume me. I am defined by my race in good ways and bad in everyday life, but my race does not define me.

So when I get asked, “Don’t you think you’re condoning racism by continuing to joke about it?” I wonder what planet the person asking the question is from.

If you have ever been a victim of rape or racism or hate crime, then you never want to have to explain yourself and the reality of it. It sucks when you have to. The way my mother speaks English, or the fact that I know Korean people who own nail salons and dry cleaners, and anything else Korean is my real life with real life Korean jokes in it. It’s not yours. Yours is different with different jokes.

If you can’t joke about your real life and your real people, then it’s the ignorant who win and win big. Comedy and satire ride a finer line when tensions are high but it shouldn’t disappear because of some fucked up people who got caught saying the same things, but backed it with hate. I’m neither going to all of a sudden stop quoting things my mother says because I think her broken English is racist fuel, nor am I going to take worthless bait like “go make some rice” and never joke about rice again. I’d rather carry on with my life and continue making jokes and changing diapers, and watch as Aaryn’s and GinaMarie’s and Spencer’s and Jeremy’s ignorance blinds them to a social stand-still.

I don’t often write about rape or racism or hate crimes, although I have been a victim of all three and all at once. But there’s a very fire spreading that needs to be squelched where it can be, before this becomes the visible trend it has become in recent weeks. What is it that we all really want out of this summer, and out of life after this summer? Is it to witch trial people on a reality show, or is it to walk away from it knowing you didn’t make things worse? Or maybe you don’t care and just love wreaking havoc.

That’s real life so don’t go making it worse with your self-righteousness.

Always dishing,

Jun

Posted under: Big Brother, Reality TV Dishes

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30 comments

  • I’m thankful for any and all comic relief that is provided. Some of the diatribes by some of the fans is overwhelming. It’s a distorted fun house mirror image of the ignorance of a few of the house guests.

    BB was always my summer escape. Sadly, my escape is being thwarted. I don’t want anyone to ignore or overlook the negatives. I simply wish they would focus on any fun moments and share.

    Judd. Oh how I love you!

  • Marty Mayes on July 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm said:

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    Thank you for your always well written, well thought out words.

    I realize this is “big news” right now but isn’t repeating everything, on social media, these ignorant idiots say over and over and over again just letting it be heard more times and hurting more people? I think for the most part people either need to shut up about it or just stop watching. It is what it is and we can’t change it except by not participating. EVERYONE, including this white woman, has been a victim of some kind racist, misogynist, fatist( my own made up word) bald headed jokes. The fact that it’s on TV doesn’t mean these people are worse that a large % of the population. It just means it was caught on camera for people to see and talk about. A lot of whom, who have said worse and talking about these people makes them feel better about themselves.

    Again, thanks for sharing your wonderful wiring and opinions with us!!!!

    P.S I’m always so self conscious about my writing after reading yours that I proof, change and even contemplate not commenting but this was important to me!!!

  • Goodness you have such an incredible gift. It would be phenomenal if people could read your words and hear with an open mind what they see with their eyes. One hurdle, they have to want to see and hear with an open heart and mind.
    My wish is that we, as a civilized people from all walks of life, could find the antic dote for this poison we spread to and about each other. Perhaps your gift with words will play a part in that.
    As a 55 yr old female Canadian, I was, for the most part shocked at the poison being spewed in the House this season. I had thought, that we as a civilized people, had come so much farther than this. It is frightening to a degree how ignorant or naive I was. The fact is, this younger generation had to learn this poison somewhere. This worries me.

  • So I’m a pretty easy going white guy, honkey, cracker, gygin, whatever you want to call me lol if you let words hurt, it’s your choice to do so, I wish people would just realize they are only words only you can let them hurt you, I can take it even if it’s meant to hurt, laugh it off. If it’s said in hate, that person is either just really ignorant or scared, laugh at them. You only live once enjoy it! Don’t let another person bring you down!!!

    My 2cents
    Rian

    • Well Rian, no offense but you could have kept your 2 cents. Seriously, just stating: “They’re words, they don’t define you, basically it’s your fault if you let them get it to you” is an insult to any person who grew up and will experience racism to his death. You definitely missed an opportunity to use your right to free speech more wisely and you being a “pretty easy white guy” who doesn’t mind being called by derogatory words do not make your statement less…ignorant. You do not know what you’re talking about but I guess if I were a laid-back but INSENSITIVE white woman whose chances to be REPEATEDLY exposed to racism are pretty slim, I’ll be making uninformed remarks too and conclude by “Make love not war”. I happen to be African and it doesn’t matter where I go, I am reminded by people.s words and attitudes that they cannot see beyond my skin color. It’s like they need to be reassured that their prejudices are right. So far, aside from Africa, I’ve lived on both Europe and North America and I’ve been judged before I even open my mouth, by people because of the color of my skin. I’ve heard all kind of stupid things based on racial stereotypes about black people, in job interviews in France, in Belgium, in Canada and in the US, I am talking about very educated people who (I guess) didn’t think they were insensitive. Don’t even start me on the so-called office jokes about race (that’s so normal for French and Belgian people). When you’ve been hearing the same ignorant comments by people, in different cultural settings and the fact that this is the 21st century, you just wonder: (1) Is this really gonna end one day? (2) If people with Master, PhD still form their opinions based on vicious racist stereotypes, what about the less educated ones who are supposed to form the bulk of the far-right parties? (3) If people in their early 20s make offensive racial jokes or comments, does it mean that we’ve been fooled into thinking that racism is on its deathbed? We might live in multicultural societies, racism and apartheid might have been deemed crimes but the truth is that people have just learned to be less vocal about their inner thoughts.
      Your casual comment just reminds of a similar remark made to me in 2004 by a white guy. I took offence about an offensive racial comment made by someone else and the guy just sighed and told me: “But don’t you just get used to it?” Really? When somebody is presumptuous enough to treat you in a certain way because he thinks he knows everything about you just based on the color of your skin, that’s denying your humanity. When he uses words to do it, it doesn’t matter if they define you or not: you’ve been labelled, branded against your will. You didn’t even get a chance to prove him that he might be right: he has already decided that you are something and will never be something else because of your skin color, your culture or your religion which he considers inferior to his. And people think like that because these ideas are still silently entertained and passed onto the next generations.
      So Rian, if you still don’t get it, imagine yourself being a German guy growing up in Israel or being repeatedly called Nazi, mass murderer or being called all kind of horrible epithets or worse having people telling you: “Oh, we get it, that’s how you people are” Imagine, having to experience that all your live everywhere you go… Please put yourself in this kind of setting, for let’s say 6 months, I’ll be curious to hear your take on the power of words and their lasting effects. I guess you haven’t been bullied either or haven’t heard about the toll it takes on kids nowadays. That’s a different topic and I’m digressing; still… words, just words!

  • Thelma Farrow on July 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm said:

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    Having a handicapped daughter, I as well have learned to bear the looks of people toward her and hearing the *R* word just kills me!! The only comfort I have is that she doesn’t comprehend or understands it and keeps a smile on her face and is cheerful to everyone…

  • Burke Hodgson on July 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm said:

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    Jun, what did you and your family think of Margaret Cho’s ‘All American Girl’, when you were a kid. I liked it and her, but at the time I wondered if Koreans would be offended. — Burke

  • Just a Question. on July 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm said:

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    While I do agree with everything you’ve said… why share ‘your’ jokes with everyone on Twitter… but then get judgmental when they share ‘theirs’ back to you?

  • MarluvsBB on July 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm said:

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    Another great blog, Jun. Hopefully, once out of the house and they realize the consequences of their words, a lesson might be learned by them. Words matter. We’ve all been guilty of using our tongues as a weapon at one point or another in our lives. Some of us learned the meaning of exactly what it was we were saying and how to control it, and others never did. I’m a white woman, but can remember clear as day, moving to America from Canada and being pointed to as the neighborhood French frog. Not too major a slam, but at nine years old it hurt. I’d never been called a name before that and didn’t even know what it meant. Mom’s lesson was just to ignore it. I soon learned there were other frogs, micks, krauts, spades and wops, etc. It was the nature of the beast that is a human tongue. There will always be those who will also add fuel to a fire. As one well-known politician once said, “never let a crisis go to waste”. The pile on is not unexpected.

    On a separate note, looking at you in the pic you posted for this article, omg, it’s like looking into Noah’s little face.

    Happy Sunday!

  • Well done Jun.

    Best scenario is having Jane Elliott and Russell Peters teaching that much needed course on Diversity.

  • Lynda Perky on July 7, 2013 at 7:11 pm said:

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    My experiences and hurts are different from others but thank God he gave me a spirit to be offended when others are the but of jokes or injustices or hurt. Thanks for helping me not be consumed by all the shit around us in TV, chat rooms, Twitter, and daily interactions with each other because you know just how hateful I got last season at all the haters. I became one. Still offended by this way of thinking but no longer waistline my precious energy on it.

    • Jun Song on July 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm said:

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      I’ve seen a shift in your BB passions since last year…totally…so glad to hear you decided to rethink where your precious energy goes :)

  • Well said, Jun. It’s irking that people suddenly get politically correct and hypothetical in the wake of all the rubbish BB15 stuff. Like you said, it’s all about intent and i’ll be damned as an Asian American if people say I can’t joke about Asian stuff. It’s all coming from an affectionate place.

    There’s unwritten rules to everything that surpass being politically correct and “technical”. It takes a certain amount of intuition to “get it”, which some people lack I guess.

    Thank you for being a voice of reason in a time where people on both sides are too sensitive and need to just take a seat and breathe.

  • Great blog. I couldn’t stand hearing all of the hate so I just stopped watching. I agree we can’t take every utterance to heart. Some folks just don’t realize how hurtful words are. As a mom I’ve made it my mission to teach my kids no one, no matter race, sex, rich or poor is better than another. As a result they’ve been introduced to other cultures & ways of life. It’s just ashame that CBS thinks that kind of rascism & mysoginy is entertainment. I hope that once the offending HG leave the house & sees how terrible they sound they’ll have an a-ha moment & go about changing their ways.

    • Jun Song on July 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm said:

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      I’m smiling reading about you and your children. I will always strive to do the same with noah. Thank you Donna :)

  • Peg Rejent on July 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm said:

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    Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered the following thought to a group of college students: “If we are created in the image of God, then we are all God carriers. And this means that when any of us commits an act of disrespect to another person, we are actually committing an act of blasphemy.”

    • Jun Song on July 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm said:

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      Yes, although this too can be argued until the end of time. In the meanwhile all that’s needed us for do our individual best, which is all any of us can do. :)

  • dang my parents did a really good job raising me in the 60’s in a small 3 stop light southern town in the usa. you never think about things until it’s brought to your attention. i raised my son that no matter what color people are, where their family comes from or what sexual orientation they are they are your friends and if you choose to be racist you’re cheating yourself out of love and friendship on top of hurting others. how sad it would be to never know the friendship and love we have been blessed with if we made the choice to be racist, predjuice or just down right nasty to others who aren’t the mirror image of myself. kuddos to momz

  • When I asked this Korean girl, quite innocently, if she was Chinese, she pulled her eyes back and said nastily, “I’m not Chinese. Do I have slanty eyes like this?”
    Yeah, she actually had very slanty eyes. Talk about self hate. I have to say jun’s piece to mind that Koreans have this racial rivalry thing going on. A lot of Koreans are rather prejudiced racists themselves.

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