Last week, Austrian Mark Kolars, who had worked at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, posted a number of extremely racist comments on LinkedIn which went viral on Chinese social media. That led to him getting suspended from his job and subsequently booted out of China, as reported by the South China Morning Post:
One of them [Kolars’ comments] read: “not racism, just don’t like dirty yellow guys, talking trash all day long, who cares about your leaders, we are here to make money and you need us. Without us to begin with you would still wear rice heads”.
In another, Kolars referred to his son as “a mix of European Caucasian and Asien [sic] Chinese blood. Europe as bench mark which China will never reach. Not smart enough. Inbreeding for too long. Nature strives for genetic variances.”
He has a Chinese wife, and of course his son is part Chinese, which makes his racist tirade against Chinese people all the more stunning.
Kolars on Tuesday night apologized on LinkedIn, saying the posts “were inappropriate and racist in nature and hurt the feelings of my Chinese friends and colleagues, and caused a very bad impact in the society.”
On Friday, the office of exit and entry control of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said in a statement that it revoked Kolars’ work-related residence permit on Thursday. It also stated that the Austrian had been asked to leave the country within a specified period of time.
What do you think about Mark Kolars’ racist comments and the consequences he suffered as a result?
My marriage to a Chinese man wasn’t just the culmination of a beautiful love affair. It also kicked off the start of a new education for me, his white American wife. A true initiation into the world of racism, prejudice, and all of those unfortunate stereotypes I wish Westerners didn’t have about Asians, including Asian men.
Here are 3 stereotypes about Asian men that I’m tired of hearing:
#1: Asians = great at computers
I can’t tell how many times people have told me, “Wow, your husband is SO great with computers!”
Whenever I hear that, I want to flash them a painful grimace. As if I just witnessed that person step right into a big, smelly pile of…you know.
Seriously, people. Just because my husband knows how to delete the trash files from your iPad – and is Asian — doesn’t mean he’s the almighty computer guru. In fact, I’m the one who troubleshoots our tech problems, from deciphering error messages on the PC to configuring a complicated wifi network at home.
Being Asian doesn’t automatically make someone a wizard at things like math, science and medicine. But if you think otherwise, that definitely makes you naïve.
#2: Asian men are short
True story. An academic in America once had the audacity to tell my husband Jun, “All Asians are short, right?”
You know, it’s easy to see a couple like Jun and me together, and then draw that kind of conclusion. But once again, you’re mucking around in stereotypes, as Alex Tizon reminds us in his wonderful memoir Big Little Man:
Are all Asian people small, and have they always been so?
The answer to both questions is no — a fact commonly known among educated Asians and Westerners who have traveled widely through Asia….
Today, the giant men of the Chinese national basketball teams, whose centers are among the tallest in the world, almost all come from northern and central China. The former Houston Rockets standout center Yao Ming is seven foot six, which even among tall nationalities is aberrantly tall…. Up until 2009, both the tallest man and the tallest women in the world hailed from northern and central China…. The tallest woman on record, Zeng Jelling, who died in 1982, was eight foot one.
Anecdotal records indicate that, during the time of the first waves of Chinese migration to America, men of northern China averaged about five foot seven, with a fair number exceeding six feet. This would have been roughly equivalent to the height of white male conscripts in the U.S. Army and many European immigrants of the time.
#3: Any question about the size of an Asian man’s penis
Who in the Asian community – or in an interracial relationship with someone Asian — hasn’t heard this lamest of all stereotypes? It’s right on par with toilet humor, and ought to be flushed into oblivion.
I’ve noticed that, by and large, it’s men who seem content to hurl this one into conversations. Usually anonymously, in a really seedy Internet hangout. Or in a typo-ridden comment… the kind that ends up in your spam folder.
In my opinion, any guy who goes around speculating about the size of someone’s manhood already has serious inferiority issues. Or just needs to get a life.
…to my Asian brothers out there: don’t give any guy, girl, or internet troll two seconds of your time when they joke about your dick. Your wang is the wangiest of all wangs. Keep it up, hold it proud, and use it wisely. After all, 60% of the world’s population is Asian which means one thing: we may have a negative stereotype about our shlongs, but at least we’re getting laid.
I’m an Asian American man. I started writing my thoughts to contribute my point of view to the social environment that injures me through stereotypes and racism. It hurts Asian men, our friends and families, and it hurts our partners. The predominant public commentary is critical of me and everyone who looks like me; they belittle me (why, even?). So why wasn’t I hearing from more Asian men?
I think I felt tempted too… it’s social withdrawal. Put it this way, how rational would it be to participate in a social system that starts you at the bottom, keeps you at the bottom, and laughs the whole time doing it? I think Asian men have seen enough to know that they’d be painted into another angry minority caricature (“angry black man,” “bitch feminist,” &c.) I suspect this is a major reason for the lack of Asian male voices. In the end, the racism in the echo chamber of the Internet proliferated, possibly exceeding overt anti-Asian sentiment displayed publicly. It’s too much already.
In the context of the Asian Male White Female (AMWF) relationship, something unique has emerged. As AMWF couples encountered unique difficulties, ones stemming from prejudice, the women started speaking out in large numbers. They told their stories, shared them, and built a community of support and celebration around one thing, and it wasn’t Asian men, it was love. It was being allowed to love in the way they wanted, to love whomever they wanted… however hot and sexy this Asian man might be!
This experience is one of the events that led to my unease when I’m invited to a family event with a… well, more conservative family. They’re tricky places to encounter hostility because around folks I know, family, I’m usually relaxed, not on guard, and trying to have a good time.
It couldn’t have been a more poetic holiday for this memory. It was Independence Day in Ohio, the Fourth of July, and my girlfriend, who was white (Czech, Polish, and German heritage) brought me to her family’s barbeque and picnic in their newly completed solarium. There was potato salad, macaroni salad, and a number of other misleadingly named things that cause heart disease by the mountainous bowlful. The Stars and Stripes were gratuitously displayed. Kids risked fingers with low-grade explosives. It was a good time. The centerpiece to the whole affair was the barbeque which they managed to overload with some forbidden pyramid of smoking meats. I used to work at a grill, and even I thought that was an obscene amount of meat.
Well, I’m a vegetarian (yes, vegetarian grill cook, I know) so when I was offered some, I politely turned down my sector of the pyramid. Whoops. People looked over at us.
I learned that, at least in the 90s, this was an American social faux pas on par with sneezing in someone’s face. There was murmuring. I heard an aunt exclaim, “How?…What?…”
I tried to redirect and talk about how good all the salads were, but this was like trying to wipe the sneeze off of their collective faces with my bare hands. I could feel people’s eyes still on me. It was too late. I had declined the centerpiece of the American Independence celebration.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” I said. I put my red, white, and blue plate down on a small table and strode over to the bathroom, shut the door, and breathed again. I’m a teenage boy so it’s not like I have a whole lot of composure to begin with, but I muster together what I can, and go back outside. People had resumed doing whatever they were doing and I wasn’t noticed. I picked up my plate, ate a few bites of the potato salad, and went back to the tarp covered table for more.
“Are you happy about those secrets?” said a voice from beside me.
“What? I’m sorry?” I said. It was my girlfriend’s grandpa.
“The nuclear secrets. I know you came here to steal from us,” said her grandpa,
“I go to school…” I say, protesting.
“You’re Chinese, I know you are,” he says quietly, triumphantly, like he’s got me checkmated.
“Yes,” I say, now seriously confused, not quite believing what I’m hearing.
And here’s where having a lady with a sharp social sense comes in handy. Because where I might turn to look at a guy friend and receive some eyeshot that says, yeah, pound that racist, I got an arm around mine, a brisk walk out to the street, and a fresh piece of cake for me to eat as she drove us home. What a sweetheart.
We didn’t talk about Grandpa Bigotnasty much after that. She apologized for him; I told her not to, and we just went home. I never saw Grandpa B. again either. My girlfriend was mortified by her family and understood I wouldn’t go anyplace her grandpa would be. I guess you could call this an incident of social rejection. I think I like the term social withdrawal betterbecause it implies that it was more of my choice. It doesn’t really matter in in the end. I’m not there at her family events anymore because we broke up.
If I’m in an interracial relationship now, I sometimes try to talk to my partner about this anxiety over family gatherings. Sometimes I keep it to myself though…and hope that next time around, there won’t be a Grandpa Bigotnasty at the table.
I’m an Asian American man in my 30s living in the U.S., Northern California. I was born and raised in the Midwest and in a predominantly white community that seemed to embrace every stereotype ever heard about Asian folks. I write about my sexual experiences and the politics of sex for straight Asian men. Don’t get a little bit of the truth, get the full package – http://bigasianpackage.wordpress.com.
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