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Post racial’ pipe dreams

Shelley Kim | Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I know better than to expect the classiest behavior from my fellow classmates when I’m at an off-campus bar on a weekend night. However, if I’m offended by hearing the term “Chinese b****” at these locations, something tells me I’m not exactly being a prude. A close friend, Korean like myself, was walking through a crowded CJ’s cautiously mentioning “excuse me” when she was called “a Chinese b****” by another female student. Apparently, this student felt the need to vocalize her frustration in the congested venue by incorrectly identifying a minority student. Her friends proceeded to stare, as if convinced it was a completely viable accusation. Indignant, my friend replied “I’m not Chinese!” and walked away.

Such words are not only offensive, they’re dramatic and extreme. In the crowded line to Club Fever on Thursday, an Indian friend apparently got too close to one of the dozens of people trying to pass through to the bouncer when she overheard another student telling her group of friends that the Indian girl should be in a burka with everything covered except her eyes. That’s not ignorance. Those are fighting words. On another weekend, I was with large, diverse group of friends at the Linebacker when I overheard, “looks like we’re in Chinatown!” I did not expect that having a diverse group of friends meant witnessing varying levels of insensitivity.

Although very tactless, for some reason, I could not imagine the student who called my friend a “Chinese b****” saying the same thing to a black, Latina or – get this – white female. I mean, that would totally feel uncalled for and out of place. So what makes deriding comments towards Asians and Indians different? It seems the individuals using these offensive words are simply implying the same level of harm as someone calling out a friend for being a Miami Heat fan or for openly listening to One Direction. However, comments like these set our student body decades back into ignorance. No matter the intoxication level, no one in the year 2013 is justified by someone’s race as a point of insult.

Few things are more pathetic than resorting to racism for the sake of a comeback, or worse, humor. Have we not learned anything from the short-lived success of Carlos Mencia? “It’s just a joke” does not somehow cover up the implication of superiority and entitlement from the people who are saying these things. This kind of reasoning can result in a trio of men who dress up as a bloody, undead Asiana Airlines pilots on Halloween or the Asian schoolgirl characterization in the new sitcom “Dads.” I have yet to meet anyone who has found either of those clever or funny. I am ashamed to find a similar mentality even in some of my fellow classmates.

Once again, I do not engage in the South Bend bar scene with high standards for others’ behavior. Still, I cannot help but feel that wherever I go, I am constantly reminded of my minority status.

Shelley Kim is a senior in the Program of Liberal Studies. She can be contacted at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.