Showing posts from March, 2016

Racism close to home, Part II

My junior year of high school, I made friends with two seniors -- friends of my sister's, really, who I managed to co-opt by the desperate accident of looking for people to sit with at lunch on the first day of school. I'll call them Ted Zhang and Damon Chen for the sake of privacy. I got to know them pretty well over the course of a semester, because every morning Damon would drive up to my house, Ted in the passenger seat enthusiastically bobbing his head to whatever throwback mixtape was in the CD player, and I would clamber up into the back seat, like I was just the kid sister being picked up for school.

The first thing I noticed, from the day I sat next to them in that crowded cafeteria, was that they looked alike, but had ways of speaking and acting so different that sometimes they seemed like fraternal twins half-trying to disavow their blood. All those mornings we rode to school, Ted did most of the talking. He'd casually toss around comments that I'd wince at…

Racism, close to home

I'll freely admit that I don't really follow sports, but the headline "NFL Star Visits Gym He Wants to Buy, Employees Call the Cops On Him" caught my eye because it happened in my hometown of Redmond. Growing up, I walked past the RAC (the gym Chancellor was looking to buy) frequently on my way to QFC or Starbucks or the Bella Bottega movie theater -- a part of the landscape I thought of as home. The recent event with Kam Chancellor puts into stark relief that racism, too, was -- and is -- part of that landscape. 

In his monologue at the Oscars, comedian Chris Rock repeatedly asked, "Is Hollywood racist?" He finally answered his own question with the line, "You're damn right Hollywood's racist...Hollywood is 'sorority racist.' It's like, 'We like you Rhonda, but you're not a Kappa.'" What he termed "sorority racism" stands in contrast to more obvious and extreme forms of racism, like burning crosses in some…