By Falice Chin
The stereotypical Chinese person drives a suped-up Civic, has an accent, relies on the family wealth, practices Kung Fu and has nerdy parents. While a lot of non-Chinese find it hilarious to imitate my ancestors’ accent and poke fun at certain “Chinese” characteristics, my race is playing the same game of ethnocentrism. Within the Chinese community, we talk about the “Gwai Lo,” translated literally as “demon person” (i.e. non-Chinese, especially Caucasians), and their funny deviant ways of living. -Fat, big and hairy
– Drive ugly old cars
-Tip a lot
– Don’t save any money
– Stink–therefore wear a lot of deodorant and perfume
– Touchy–like to hug
– Racist–especially towards Chinese people
-Kick their children out once they turn 18
– Not clever enough–too honest
-Can’t fight fast; can only fist fight
Perhaps to some Caucasians, several stereotypes listed are just absurd. I agree, but I can also understand how they came to be. Culturally, the Chinese and North American ways of life are very different. Because of this, judgement is inevitable. Some stereotypes are not ignorant, but rather a collective perspective. Some families want their kids to go through university with good marks and therefore pay their tuition and living costs. One perspective sees it as giving your child the best oppurtunity; one sees it as spoiling your child rotten.
This, of course, is not an excuse for crude judgements such as “all Caucasians are fat” or “all Chinese are bad drivers.” Both sides need to reduce the amount of racism in daily thought and dialogue. Then, maybe our kids will never say these ignorant things. Some say that only the dominant race can be racist, and that minorities become racist only as a means to react to racism. This is not true as negative opinions are formed whenever and wherever something or someone is nonstandard, be it in action or appearance.
Canadians are generally tolerant of other cultures. Few ever make harmful racist jokes or comments (at least not in public). Though it is important to guard what the mouth says, it is equally important that we all learn to take the slightly offensive with grace. Last time I went to have dim sum with my Caucasian friends, they joked about how spilling tea dishonors my family and how everyone should break into a martial arts fighting scene. Those are some terrible stereotypes, but nonetheless very funny.