8.24.2008

return of the "chinaman"

There seems to be an odd upsurge of people using the derogatory term "chinaman" lately. Yes, it's a derogatory term. That's what seems to be the problem. For the most part, people seem to be completely ignorant to the fact that it's not appropriate to use this word to describe someone of Chinese or Asian descent, like it's an equivalent of "Frenchman." And every now and then, they need a reminder that it's not cool. Some recent examples...

On a recent edition of ESPN2's Wednesday Night Fights, so-called "comic legend" Jackie Mason filled in as guest commentator for the show's regular commentator, Teddy Atlas, who was in Beijing to cover the Olympics. When asked about filling in for Atlas, Mason remarked, "What is he gonna do in China? All he's going to see is Chinese people. You can see them in neighborhood. Every time you go to a laundry there's another Chinaman. You don't have to go a hundred thousand miles to see a Chinese person." And the other guy just laughs along like an idiot. That's racist! Watch the video here The comment occurs at about 5:05. (Thanks, Mark.)

I'm told that earlier this month at the National Black Republican Association's Presidential Elections and African Americans forum, one of their panel speakers, Mychal Massie of the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives, used the term in response to a question from the audience. According to the reader who saw it, ironically, Massie used it as an example to demonstrate that it's not right to stereotype, and incorrect to assume that a "Chinaman has to be a tailor." Nice try, but very poor choice of words. That's racist! There's CSPAN video of the panel here, though I have no idea where in the video it actually occurs, since it's over two hours long, and I didn't have the time to watch it. (Thanks, Elijah.)

And I've heard from a couple of folks that Bay Area sports radio host Tom Tolbert of KNBR referred to someone as a "Chinaman" on-air a couple of weeks ago, on August 12. He was apparently discussing some story about a man in Hong Kong who used a piece of exercise equipment to masturbate. Um, yeah. Okay, it's embarrassing story, but was it necessary for Tolbert to enhance it by referring to guy as a "Chinaman"? I can't find a recording of the show in question, but Emil Guillermo writes about it in AsianWeek: Did you hear KNBR's Tom Tolbert say "Chinaman"? Just another radio host being an ignorant idiot. That's racist!

But wait! Special bonus mockery! Here's a clip of MSNBC's Tamron Hall mocking the Chinese language with some ching-chongery last week: MSNBC's Tamron Hall Mocks Chinese. Or rather, "Ding dong dilly of a dinger," whatever the hell that means. At least, I think that's what she said. Whatever the case, that's racist!