Kids On Race

Yesterday, I got caught in a sea of Chinese tourists getting off of a bus. As always in similar situations, my first instinct was to step away, set myself apart from the group, trying to prove to whoever was looking that I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. I do this by amplifying my North American mannerisms, asking loud questions to prove I don’t have an accent, using casual sentence structures to indicate English is my first language. Sometimes, in situations at restaurants, I brag about how it took me 24 years to use chopsticks properly. I screw my face when chicken feet arrive at the table, food that “those people coming off the bus” would like.

Possibly because I am in Kingston, where these Chinese tourists stand out more than in Toronto, I noticed my behaviour, how obvious and horrific it is, and that I’ve been practising this act of faux-superiority and self-hatred unknowingly my entire adult life. I returned last night to find this video in my news feed and realized that, not unlike these kids here, this all began in childhood, where casual schoolyard jabs about Chinese accents, my family’s strange eating habits (smelly foods, strange names), style of clothing, and my war-era immigrant-esque lunch-in-margarine-containers caused me to step back from my own culture every year, just so I could fit in with the ignorant kids at school. 30 years later, I realize I’ve absorbed their insults and viewpoints into my own perspective. This is bad. And what bothers me more is that these kids here might grow up putting themselves and their family down, too, without even knowing it.

Kids are bold, have no filter, and at that age, aren’t mature enough to know they’re being assholes. But if they’re not taught to understand what they’re saying is wrong, they’ll grow up to be even bigger assholes, and the ones suffering will, too. The new anti-bullying programs are great, but I often wonder why there are not year-round, daily classes in general respect and etiquette, held as often as English and math class? I find, beyond the geometry, geography, and language lessons that we’re forced to endure, this is the most critical thing that sets people apart, puts them ahead, and builds strong community and self-respect. Isn’t that what we need?

I don’t know where I’m going here. But just watch this:

https://www.facebook.com/WNYC/videos/vb.38723076079/10152944228866080/?type=2&theater

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