Mina Ryu, Dana Ryu, Haley Lee
Upset, but not surprised. We feel this frustrating, infuriating feeling on a too-common basis. It’s in jokes, it’s in so-called compliments, it’s in questions, it’s in interviews, it’s in everyday statements, in everyday situations, in everyday life. Casual racism. It’s casual racism. Microaggressions, Microassaults, Microinsults, Microinvalidation. The kind of racism that is not “important” or “worthy” enough to be put on the news but what makes most of the Asian American daily experience. The subtle racism that makes us feel like foreigners in our own country and degrades our culture, our race, and our identity.
Despite it’s suggested meaning, “casual racism” is not inherently casual. It’s just seemingly more subtle compared to more extreme forms of racism, such as attacks and murder. This form of everyday racism is normalised into day-to-day interactions and is often overlooked.
On a recent Instagram poll of middle and high school peers, 37 Asian-Americans of 58 reported that they have encountered casual racism. Engagers spoke out how people would “tell my(one’s) family to go back to Japan”, “say my(one’s) lunch is disgusting”, “mock asian eyes”, “called me(one) Chinese all year when I’m(one’s) Korean” even after correcting him, “shouted coronavirus out the window”, and “shove and tell f*** Asians.”
As Korean and Japanese culture impacts the modern world through kpop, kdramas, and anime, many people generalize Asians to only features of Eastern Asia, although the Asia continent, the biggest of the seven, has so so so many diverse facial structures, skin color, languages, food, and traditions. Asian-Americans suffering under this harmful stereotype share: “I get colorism charged comments all the time. ‘Dirty Asian’ or ‘jungle Asian’ because of the West’s preconceived idea that Asia is just East Asia. Plenty of comments academically related”, “people have called me curry munchers…”, “comments about curry”, and “jokes about Indians”.
As Korean and Japanese culture impacts the modern world through kpop, kdramas, and anime, many people generalize Asians to only features of Eastern Asia, although the Asia continent, the biggest of the seven, has so so so many diverse facial structures, skin color, languages, food, and traditions. Asian-Americans suffering under this harmful stereotype share that people give “colorism charged comments all the time… ‘dirty asian’ or ‘jungle asian’…plenty of comments academically related”, call them “curry munchers” and comments “about curry”, and tells “jokes about Indians”.
Personally, by our own experience, we have encountered a range of “casual racism”, from assumptions regarding our race to the disturbing act of pulling back the eyelids to mock our ethnic features. Things like “You look pretty for an Asian” is just one example of the many degrading “compliments” we receive. This example may appear to bring friendly intents, but it really translates into “You’re pretty for a race I consider ugly”, or more directly “Asians are ugly and don’t fit into my ideal Eurocentric beauty standards” due to its inappropriate inclusion on the topic of race.
It is indeed disgusting how racism entangles through our lives, even to the point of infusing itself into daily speech and acts. It is disgusting how low the society has gotten to even allow racism to become as “casual” as it is now. In order to reduce the normality of “casual
racism”, we can all take the first step by respecting each other’s races, cultures, and identities in our everyday lives.