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Pet Sins May 2002

How a light-skinned Asian benefits from racism

Some of my friends who are non-East Asian young men of color get accosted in stores by sales staff while I browse in the same store at the same time, unmolested. This irritates the young men very much.

I've noticed it is easier for white kids to let occasional disrespectful incident roll off their backs because it does not punctuate every other day of their existence. Light-skinned Asians, particularly females, reap the "benefits" of "benign" portrayals in white-male-controlled media.

East Asian men are sometimes portrayed as perverted gangsters, but not as often as African American men who frequently play low-life scum or never-do-wells in movies. At least the stereotype of hardworking geeky weak asexual East Asian men puts whites off their guard.

As an East Asian, I usually don't get followed around the mall like I'm a thief. But once I was at a mall with 2 Mexican girls and I had an experience I've never had before -- a guy who can only be a store detective was hovering around us. Why? The 2 girls didn't even carry any bags.

I think people need to know what is going on. There are a lot of well-meaning whites who do not notice such things. There are lots of East Asians who don't realize that others are more discriminated against than they are, and even propagate racism themselves by kissing up to whites and rejecting other people of color.

Chinese woman, 20s
1996