Saturday, March 24, 2012

In the Hood like Chinese Wings...

I gave this speech at AAWW's "Are Asians Black?" Event at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas

My Aunts owned Chinese take-out spots and they unanimously hated black people.

Black customers frequented those take-out spots and they unanimously hated my Aunts.

Ice Cube did a song about Korean Deli owners and he hates them too.

Redman speaks Korean.

I speak black-a-nese. Don't axe me, axe the brother that told me that.

I think the first person to call me black was my Dad, and the last one was some commenter on Eater that didn't like my blog last week.

Ken Chen sent me an email asking me to present on the intersection of Blacks and Asians. I didn't even have to hit my Roor to come up with a response. My favorite quote all time about Chinese people is Al Qaeda Jada's line that you just heard: "Yea yea, I design these things and you know I'm in the hood like chinese wings."

Just like Jews who entered banking in Renaissance Italy because Christians wouldn't, Chinese people have served the hood because others won't. I grew up with cousins and Aunts who had really shitty things to say about Black people, but I saw both sides. I could see why people would be mad they had to buy food from "others" i.e. non-black people. If you were Black and lived in a neighborhood where you were served by Italians, then Jews, then Chinese and Koreans, you'd feel some sort of way too. As Buggin' Out once said, "Why there ain't no brothers on the wall?"

I understood at a young age that we were taking their business and that we had to make an effort to understand them, before they'd understand us. Asians are notorious for being isolationists. We fucking love walls. Whether it was the Great Wall, bullet proof glass in take out joints, or cubicles that arrest most of our people these days, our approach is to say "I won't bother you and you don't bother me." Easy for the seller to say, but what about the consumer? What about the black people who pay good money and still get the stink eye every time?

On the other side, who wants to own a take out joint in Brooklyn that ends up giving away 10 cups of ice and straws for every combo no. 3 they sell. When I lived in Ft. Greene, I used to post up at Hua Long and every five minutes someone came in asking for ice, cups, fried wonton strips, or duck sauce packets. Until Magic Johnson opens Magic Woks in the hood, there is going to be an uneasy tension with Asians selling Chinese takeout and the Black people buying it. But I will say this...

I don't think the problem is either Black people or Asians. The problem is the 1%. The 1% that holds power, owns property, and leaves us to fight over crumbs on Fulton St. The important thing is to realize that at this point in American history, the undesireables need a cartel mentality that funnels power for a unified cause. We have our differences, we come in different shades, but there is a shared lack of opportunity. Dr. Jennifer Henton once told me, "the point of Feminism or any movement for that matter is to get the same opportunity to make the same amount of money for the same amount of work." That is all for tonight. I'm Eddie Huang and I approve the use of MSG.


  1. I've always thought about this. How Asians in the hood feel towards the black people they sell to. I live in the Bronx and my neighborhood is predominantly West-Indian and Asian. I've seen first hand how black people can be ignorant towards the Asian store owners and as someone who is very fond of Asian culture I've always felt bad about it. But I also try to show the Asians in my area that not all black people are the same. I try to greet them in their native language (be it Korean or Chinese) and I always ask them how they are doing and try to be as polite as possible. I hope some day these walls can come down.

  2. It doesn't explain why only Arabs own the stores that white people go to.

  3. As you alluded to, Do the Right Thing deals with this issue. And the different sides are expressed by Sweet Dick Willy crew. I take Jay-Z's view: can't knock the hustle.

  4. "the undesireables need a cartel mentality that funnels power for a unified cause"

    it was occupy, its la raza, it's the naacp, it's the black panthers, it's the tongs and family associations, though it seems the Feds are out to break down these organizations.