It hides well
Fear and prejudice encapsulates
They are comfortable
“Asians eat dogs”, “Asians are submissive”, “Asians are good at math and science”
We’ve all heard it growing up. Racism exists. Let’s be honest. There are definitely some people who happen to eat dogs as a delicacy in Asia…and in Africa, the Middle East and in the US as well. But don’t run away like PETA crazed folks with labels against your neighbors. The fear raids against communities of color are at a price that many don’t see on the surface. Families are torn apart, hate crimes are on our streets, and children are bullied in the classrooms.
As an improverished family growing up in Northside housing projects, what was a normal practice of bringing home fresh kill of cows, pigs, and deer from local farms became viewed by my non-Asian neighbors as being “savage” and that we “probably do eat dogs”.
If you’re surrounded by constantly ignored racism, then what should you do? First things first. Don’t ignore it.
You can understand the response that CAAR, AAJA, and other Asian American organizations across the country had when the WCCO ‘dog’ story hit the fan and ultimately caused an uproar in the AAPI community. Then an unnecessary inspection in the Chinese-owned New York meat shop caused humiliation and damaged their reputation- eventhough nothing wrong or illegal was found. What reporters heard as “dog” was actually “duck” and reignited the stereotype into what later turned into letters for apologies, meetings with media reps, investigating public records and articles published about the response. Now that’s what I call holding them accountable.
Racism is blatant to the very nature of what many communities of color experienced 40+ years ago and still struggle with today face-to-face and mostly across aisles in sneered remarks. Racism hides and is alive under layers of the powerful and privileged in our systems and institutions we call our employers, our banks, our schools and our neighborhoods. Sure, we’re progressing further than the civil rights movement of yesteryear, but our communities are at a risk of backtracking to what many had tirelessly fought for. We cannot thrive with barriers of inequities staring us in the face, every time we fill out a job application in our birth name or just want to buy a home in the suburbs. What drives our stability and happiness is building an environment of tolerance, respect, and dignity together. So it’s time for racism to die.
With recent close encounters of racist hate, I’ve found a sense of clarity in my work. I’ve been reminding myself that if I bow down in fear, then it makes me no less different then those who caused it. It only enriches and reaffirms the importance of social justice work. As they say, you gotta fight the good fight.
In the case of the WCCO ‘dog’ story, it became one perfect example of the power of community action against racism.
“Doggone” By Bao Phi: http://www.startribune.com/local/yourvoices/135907393.html
“This is just one example of how stereotypes of whole communities of color are perpetuated by the media,” remarks Margie Andreason, community activist and member of CAAR. “It’s a privilege for white folks to not have to think about the impact stories like these influence perceptions of neighbors, colleagues, teachers, and policymakers. All mainstream media cares about is a sensational story, even if it is based on a bias from the start and then leads to being untrue.”
Community members still seek an apology and explanation from WCCO. Read more about it here: