Monday’s coronavirus press briefing by President Trump was attended by CBS news reporter Weijia Jiang. During the briefing, Jiang asked a rhetorical question as to why President Trump felt being number one in testing in the world was a “competition” while people were “losing their lives”. The question was not said to illicit a response, rather, push an opinion statement akin to asking someone “why are you a bad person?” Trump’s response to Jiang was to brush off her transparent dig, and tell her to “ask China,” then try to move on. Jiang responded by literally jumping out of her seat and asking why Trump responded that way to “her specifically,” trying to imply that Trump was somehow being racist. For the record, Jiang was born in China, so unless being Chinese is an insult to her, this is another example of the left’s “everything is racist” game.
The problem with the “everything is racist” narrative is that it removes the gravity from real racism. I grew up as one of the only Asian kids in a small farm town in upstate New York, and had to endure all the racist nicknames in high school – the one that stuck was “Chiyo” because there was a Chinese restaurant called “Chiyo’s Chicken” in the neighboring town. I spent four years, my entirety of high school, never being called Paul, my actual name, but being called “Chiyo”. I hated it. I told everyone: “My name is Paul,” only to get laughed at and made fun of even more. I was told I had “slant eyes.” I was told I had a “flat face.” Every day I felt “Paul” no longer existed, and I was simply “Chiyo.”
After finally graduating, I hoped to leave those painful memories behind. One summer, I came back from college for a summer job working with youth offenders shipped up from NYC. These inner city kids, predominantly African American, would pick up where high school left off. They would talk gibberish in fake, exaggerated Asian accents as I walked by and laugh at me. They did it loudly, so I could hear, so I knew I was being made fun of. It hurt a lot. This is real racism – years of constant belittling that I faced every day, just because I was Korean. I guarantee you Jiang has never had to face this personally. I propose that even in groups like Black Lives Matter, none of those members have gone through the discrimination I faced.
The problem with hyperbolizing racism – gratuitously using the word and falsely eliciting it for political purposes – is that you diminish actual racism. If these people truly cared about racism, they would stop misusing the word to the degree that we just roll our eyes and remember Jussie Smollet. The market has become oversaturated with exaggerations or lies to get attention.
To care about racism is to not diminish those who suffered and suffer the real thing by irresponsibility labeling anyone who disagrees with you “racist”. Disagreement does not equal racist. And the fact we live in a current climate where that has become the norm, is a tragedy for those who experience the real thing. Having your dehumanizing experiences reduced to the same platform as “disagreement” is horrifyingly tone deaf.
As an Asian-American, Weijia Jiang’s “everything is racist” game is disgusting. Jiang, you are hurting other Asians in your personal woke glory-hunting. You are now known for your combativeness and disrespect, rather than your quality of reporting. While that can get you a job in some circles, you do it at the cost of credibility and respect as a reporter, and you do it at the cost of all those, unlike you, you have suffered actual racism.
Paul Leach is a professional writer and WGA member in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed in such publications as the New York Council on Cultural Affairs and the Huffington Post.