Tuesday, December 16, 2008

“Calling me ching chong is the same as me calling you a nigger.”

Over on Racialicious, Altasien has written a must-read post about racial bullying, about silence, about the unwitting uselessness of authority figures, and about the ways that people of color can be complicit in the oppression of other marginalized people. This segment was particularly searing:

Ching chong ching chong ching chong ching chong ching chong ching chong ching chong.

I’d seen this behavior before coming from packs of white kids. When they see a wounded animal, the pack instinct is to circle, to make probing attacks, to see exactly how weak the prey is. I knew I had to get up, I had to move, or they would keep closing in. But I was paralyzed. I could feel my blood pounding through my veins. I’d gone beyond the point of breaking down in tears; in a few more seconds, I was going to start hyperventilating or vomiting. I had to try something. I used my last coherent breath to choke out a sentence… “Calling me ching chong is the same as me calling you a nigger.”

There was a pause. Then they spoke again, over each other. “What did she say?” “She say what I think?” “She said it! She said it!” “Did she call me a NIGGER?” “Oh yeah… I’m gonna CLIMB on her ASS and SHOW her what THIS NIGGER can DO!”

I didn’t know what an ass-climbing was, but it sounded painful. Physical pain was never what scared me, though. I had to finish what I started. I caught another breath, and said again, a little louder, “Calling me ching chong is the same as me calling you a nigger.”

Another silence, this time much longer.

“We’re sorry.” “Yeah, sorry.” “Are you OK? You need some water.”

They helped me to my feet and walked me over to the water fountain. They patted me on the back, repeated apologies, then melted away as I drank some water, recovered and stood up straight again.

If this was a made-for-TV movie about racist abuse, we would have all become best buddies. In reality, given the social environment of the school, they did the best they could, and the best I ever expected of them. From that point on, they did me the courtesy of ignoring my existence, and I ignored theirs. They had their own battles to fight. Our paths never crossed again. Read more...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Black America and the N-word:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP2U0jmZjec

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