When you do it, it’s not funny
May 4th, a Saturday. I was preparing for the dorm move out, wrapping up my first year of college. I was waiting in line in front of the community center to receive a temporary key to use over the weekend. Residential assistants asked a white student in front of me if his room went through the final inspection. He answered, “yes, an Asian guy checked my room.” After a short awkward silence, the RA’s confirmed the inspector’s name. He asked the RA’s, “was that un-PC?” They answered, “no, we all understand what you’re saying.” Until then it was all fine, but then he added, “what if I said like slanty eyes?” The RA’s chuckled and answered, “oh, then it’d be tragic.” What’s really tragic is the fact that I couldn’t do anything but rant about the incident over the phone to my friend.
So-called “Hipster Racism” refers to something racist done in a ‘sarcastic’ way. Its supposed point is being a satire of racism, not racism itself. Sometimes, Asians make satires that appropriate and reverse racist remarks against Asians. However, if you are not of that identity, that context does not apply and excuse you from making such remarks. It is still racism.
Listening to his words, I felt as if all my values and possibilities were reduced to “slanty eyes.” For instance, I am an international student studying Political Science and Art, writing for the Daily and serving the Student Government. But to him, I was nothing but “slanty eyes.” This kind of speech tends to disregard multiple layers and facets of our identity, disrespect our ambition, dream, and effort. It has been exactly a year since I came to the United States and I encountered plain racism many times. However, even if it is done in a satirical way, it is just as offensive as plain racism. Yes, I do get it, but when you do it, it’s not funny.