I Was Wondering | Teen Ink

I Was Wondering

March 21, 2018
By TaylorXie BRONZE, Byfield, Massachusetts
TaylorXie BRONZE, Byfield, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I went to New York City over the long weekend. I was getting off the subway when a man, a white man, waved at me and said “f*** off Chinese”. Pedestrians around me heard what he said, but they only looked at me and walked away in big strides like they were trying to avoid getting in trouble. An anger rose from my body but that man walked away quickly. I can remember nothing about that man’s appearance except his white skin.

On my way back to Boston, I was thinking of this incident over and over again and was wondering some questions I did not have answers to. 

I was wondering if this happened to a black girl, would a passer-by help her and say “This is not cool” to the white man? I think we pay more and more attention to people of other minority races nowadays but not enough to Asians. When we talk about “Jim Crow Law”, we think about how it affected Blacks; however, do we have the recognition that it actually enforced segregation on people with all the other skin colors except white? When we speak about racism, people think about how they treat black people unequally, but do we realize that Asians are also victims of racism? When “n” word is prohibited, “Ching Chong Chiang” was still written down as Chinese customers’ names on their orders. We talk too little about Asians. Too little that the word “yellows” or “orientals” sound awkward when people say them.

I was wondering does society think that racism towards Asians is not severe enough to be talked about? Or do we have to wait until another racial tragedy happens, and then we will start doing something? Asians are always in this gray area that people think we are fine but we are actually not. There were more than ten thousands Japanese were imprisoned at the camp during World War II. Chinese workers worked in the US with little money but extra working hours. At least twenty thousand Asian women and girls were forced to be “comfort women” for the Army during World War II. There is no big racial holocaust or slavery in Asian history, but what society doesn’t know is that racism is like a mouse that’s eating us alive little by little. It hurts every time when it comes and it never leaves. People fight for it but get no big progress. Some Japanese still refuse to apologize to those women who were forced to be “comfort women”. Do we need another century to reach equality in all skin colors?
I was reading Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates on the train and was wondering who else values my body as much as I do. When Ta-nehisi Coates tells his son about how he should take care of his own body, this reminds me of what I experienced in New York City. Ta-nehisi Coates was walking with his son when someone insulted them. He argued with the white man but the white man said: “I could have you arrested!” He translates what the man said into “I could take your body.” There are so many people do not think we are important and insult our skin colors and our bodies. There are so many people who think our bodies do not have value, so they shoved some of us down the subway platforms. An 81-year-old Asian woman was shoved off a train platform on August 31, 2017, in San Francisco because she was Asian. I read this news on Los Angeles Times, but the article was only a page long and left out some details about the motivation of the murderer. Nobody talked about it and I didn’t even know this happened. Now I have the habit of staying clear of the platform and standing against the wall. I know there are so many people do not value our bodies, and only we value them the most. In this circumstance, who else protects our own bodies and values them? Only we ourselves do and we will protect them well enough so nobody can take them away from us.

I was wondering does this man still think Chinese people are too timid to speak up so he can say whatever he wants? Does he still stereotype Asian women as compliant housewives who remain silent, suppress their emotions and just do their house works? When people think of Asians, they consider us as introverted. Yes, we are introverted sometimes and hide our emotions because we do not want to be rude; however, some people take advantage of this and think we are timid. They think that they can insult us whenever and say whatever they want and we won’t fight back or even say a word. After this incident, I realized expressing our anger properly is not rude. It is what we are supposed to do, and we should not suppress the anger anymore. Can we remain silent when people nowadays still call us weak? No, we can’t. Can we still hide our anger when people nowadays act rudely to Asians? No, we can’t. Can we still keep our mouths shut when people nowadays tell us to “f*** off” because of our races? No, we can’t! Now I realized I should’ve grabbed the man’s arm and spoke up: “Sir, you got nothing except the white skin.”


[1] Coates, Ta-nehisi. Between the World and Me. N.p.: Spiegel & Grau, 2015.

[2] Rocha, Veronica. "Woman, 81, shoved off train platform in San Francisco because she was Asian, police say." Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2017.   

The author's comments:

I was reading "Between the World and Me" by Ta-nehisi Coastes for my English class. Coastes shows his passion in this book, which inspired me. Although this is a book on discrimination towards African Americans, I related to his grievance and anger. I went to New York City over the long weekend, and a white man said something racist to me which inspired me. I would like to call more attention to Asians or other minority races.

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