Othering and Projection: Chinese is confusing vs. Chinese are confused

In English, a person says, “It’s all Greek to me,” when they do not understand the words of someone else. In Greek, when a person does not understand, they say it sounds like Chinese. Many languages have an expression that names another language as epitome of unintelligibility. It turns out that in a directed graph, most languages converge on Chinese as the unintelligible language.

Directed graph shows various languages as nodes with arrows pointing at other languages, eventually pointing to the 'Chinese' node. The 'Chinese' node points to 'Heavenly Script'.

This is understandable. Chinese writing, especially Traditional Chinese, is very visually complex. Chinese characters are logograms, which makes learning how to read Chinese difficult.

However, there is a difference between finding Chinese writing confusing and alleging that Chinese people are confused.

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White racism creates more sexism in the world.

In What does cultural competence look like? resistance of Resist racism discusses the problem of “cultural competence” through learning cultural “facts”. A recurrent problem with this is that white people often use some “fact” they learned in a text about how a non-white group allegedly behaves to stereotype individuals of that demographic.

Ironically, the racist stereotype that non-white people are more sexist than white people can actually result in white people acting sexist towards non-white women specifically.

For example, in my immediate family, my father is the only male. We are Chinese. A white man had dinner with us, and asked my father about our family’s position regarding a common political debate. My father is conservative, so he offered his standard conservative reply, which was incongruent with the rest of us, who were on average left of liberal. After hearing my elderly father’s opinion, however, instead of turning to us and hearing ours, the white man was satisfied with my father’s answer and began discussing another topic.

This white man assumed that there was no point in asking about our thoughts, because we were Chinese daughters and a Chinese mother, so our opinions must match that of my Chinese father. Before this incident, I had never had the experience of being shut out of a political debate because of my gender. Ironically, it was the racist stereotype of Chinese women being submissive to Chinese men that actually resulted our political voices being silenced.

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31 years later, White Canadians are still racist and learned nothing from 1979.

In Maclean’s Magazine revisits old fears with ‘Too Asian?’ article at Racialicious, Arturo R. García blogs:

As one reader noted via e-mail, these fears are nothing new: In 1979, the CTV network aired a news piece called “Campus Giveaway,” that misrepresented Chinese Canadian students as foreigners, and inflated enrollment statistics. The story led to protests against both the network and W5, the program on which the story aired. The controversy was cited as the impetus for the formation of the Chinese Canadian National Council.

Chinese Canadians protested the perpetual foreigner stereotype in 1979. This happened before I was born.

31 years later in 2010, we, the next generation of Chinese Canadians, are still considered perpetual foreigners who do not deserve to be in university as much as White Canadians. How many generations will it take for White Canadians to recognize that they do not deserve Canadian privileges more than other Canadians? Will White Canadians forget their racist history and repeat the cycle again in the year 2041?

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Chinese Canadians and First Nations peoples (not mutually exclusive)

Zuky, now a Vancouverite and tumblogger, brings us news from the West Coast:

The Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC produced this short video explaining their project “Chinese Canadians and First Nations: 150 Years of Shared Experience”. The project was actually initiated by two UBC students of aboriginal ancestry, Amy Perreault and Karrmen Crey, who produced a short video entitled “Why Do Indians Like Chinese Food?”. When Karrmen Crey was growing up, her father used to tell her, “Do you know why Indians like Chinese food? Because Chinese restaurants were the only restaurants we were allowed in to eat.”

This is a trailer for Cedar and Bamboo, a 22-minute documentary exploring stories of people of Chinese and First Nations ancestry.

I was wondering why the older lady in the video had an accent if she was born in Vancouver, and then I realized that she grew up overseas in a Cantonese-speaking society and then returned to Vancouver when she was an adult.

White people empathize with animals over people of colour.

During an interview with The Guardian Weekend, Morrissey, a white vegetarian and animal rights activist, stated:

“Did you see the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific.”

''YOU CAN'T HELP BUT FEEL THAT THE CHINESE ARE A SUBSPECIES.''

(except he probably didn’t yell it out in capital letters)

Ironically, animal rights activists often complain about “speciesism“, but Morrissey’s statement reveals that not only does he think that Chinese people are of a non-human species, but that there is a ranking of species and that Chinese people are below the human species, assumed to be white. In other words, not only is Morrissey a racist, but he is also a speciesist and hypocrite.

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Non-white travellers’ Canadian citizenships angers White Canadians.

The perpetual foreigner stereotype strikes again. If you are Canadian and died while travelling abroad, being White instead of Asian will protect you from the anger of Canadians. These Canadians will not be angry about you dying, but they will be angry that you were legally Canadian. Here are some better CBC comments responding to the racism, via Chinese in Vancouver:

I bet if the victims in question were white Canadians, we wouldn’t hear so much as a single blip from those loudly croaking about “Canadians of convenience”.


Why is it SOOOOO hard to believe that Chinese Canadians, might well have traveled during the summer holiday to Hong Kong to visit friends and relatives and then go over to Manila (a short 2 hour hop from Hong Kong) for a simple bus tour???

All the comments about “handing out” passports and Chinese Canadians should “stay in the country” are insane and touch on blatant racism!!!

Should Canadians of European descent also be restricted from traveling?

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Commercials conflate whiteness with modernity.

In Romanticizing Ancient Chinese Wisdom at Sociological Images, Lisa Wade writes:

This 40-second commercial for HSBC bank, sent in by Michelle F., is an excellent example of the way that non-white and non-Western people are often portrayed as more deeply cultural, connected to the past, and closer to nature than their white, Western counterparts. Sometimes this is done in order to demonize a culture as “barbaric,” other times it is used to infantilize them as “primitive.” In this case, it romanticizes.

[…]

Running on both English and Chinese language channels, the commercial contrasts the wise Chinese man with the young, white man. The music, the boats, their clothing and hats, and their fishing methods all suggest that the Chinese are more connected to their own long-standing (ancient?) cultural traditions, ones that offered them an intimate and cooperative relationship to nature. Simultaneously, it erases Chinese modernity, fixing China somewhere back in time.

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