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Pet Sins November 2002

Asians' everyday rejection of other people of color

America is so self-congratulatory about attributing the increase in the number of interracial unions to our 'open-minded' culture, that we deliberately blind ourselves to the fact that many individuals involved in interracial unions are hardly 'open-minded', and sometimes, even racially bigoted, when it came to choosing their mates.

It is widely perceived in the black community that Asians are not their friends. The most common example of Asian hostility is rudeness from Asian storekeepers who serve black customers in black inner city neighborhoods. But there are many more subtle forms of discrimination which affect even middle-class professional blacks who do not live in the inner city.

We present one black man's experience in the form of a conversation between a ColorQ volunteer and Leroy (name changed to protect privacy), a well-to-do young professional on the East Coast:

Leroy: There are many Asian women in my neighborhood, many of them dating white men, and some of them even married with children. But when I meet them on the street, they treat me like I'm subhuman or just ignore me because my skin is brown. They won't have a conversation with me, they just walk by.

ColorQ: Many Asian immigrants living in the US originally came from huge metros like Tokyo, Manila and Hong Kong. In their big city culture, it is not typical to greet people they don't know on the street. Eye contact with a stranger could be interpreted as a sign of disrespect. In some East Asian cultures, people avoid direct eye contact except with peers with whom they are on friendly terms. So do you think that perhaps the Asian women who ignore you do so out of cultural conditioning, and not because you are black?

Leroy: It's not the same. I've seen a white guy walking in front of me say "Hi" to an Asian woman and when I said "Hi" two seconds later, i was totally ignored and most times they would walk away from me. This happens to me all the time!

When I used to eat in Chinese restaurants with my ex-girlfriend (Asian), everyone would stare at us. When I got up to use the bathroom, they would jump to the side as if I'm going to hurt them.

At my current job, there's a new Chinese girl working. I said "Hi" to her one day and she said nothing. After that, everyday that I saw her, I said "Hi" until one day she said "Hi" back. Now here's the funny part. She not only ignored me but the other Black men in the building. I went to see if she ignored all men, not just Black men. so I walked to a friend's office near hers and watched her talk to every white man in sight! Was it me?

Black men in relationships with Asian women often endure a much higher level of hostility from the Asian community than white men with Asian women.