Eddie Huang, FOB, Time Warner Condos, and Gold Coast Houses.

With the launching Of the sit-com “Fresh off the Boat” on ABC, there were a flurry of articles on Eddie Huang and the TV series. There was a profile of him in New York Times beside the review of the show, and Arthur Chu wrote about the importance of the show for Asian Americans in Salon.com. I watched the first 2 episodes and have mixed feelings as it triggered my own memory when I was in High School in New York. Eddie Huang was born in 82 of immigrant Taiwanese parents. He graduated with law degree and passed bar exam first time, worked for NYC law firm for 2 years, got layoff, worked as a standup comic and marijuana dealer, opened a restaurant called Baohus and got great review from NYT, opened a second one and closed it. He wrote an autobiography called “Fresh off the Boat”, and now turned to a TV series. Eddie talked about growing up around the age of 9 when his family moved from Washington D.C. to Orlando suburbs to open a steak-house restaurant, the resulting clash of cultures, race, and being bullied in school. Because of the format being sit-com, it inevitably stereotypes certain situations to generate laughs, the tiger-mom, model minority emphasis on grades, his own rebellion by embracing hip hop and basketball, and some minor swipes at suburban life style. I remember myself in early 60s, being the only Chinese in a high school of 3,000, got in my only fight in school with a Puerto Rican student when he started to bully me by using the F word of my mother. I was rescued in the principal’s office by my music teacher who vouched for me. Unlike Eddie who was born here I was very conscious of my poor English pronunciations and has only 2 Ukrainian fellow students from the neighborhood as friends during morning train rides. When the word Chink was used by neighborhood kids I knew better than to engage them by just ignoring them and walked fast past them. I sublimed my anger by what Lu Hsun called Ah-Q method, clutching my NYT newspaper and mumbling to myself that they are nothing but jail baits as I knew the proportion of African Americans in jail from reading the papers. I think that Eddie Huang may not like the way the show was portrayed and deviated from his vision, but if he wants the show to succeed, unlike his second restaurant then the compromises are inevitable.

NYT this weekend also have 3 articles on real estate. One on a Malaysian Chinese as a go between for the son of Prime Minister there in purchasing real estate in U.S.. One on the Time Warner center condos and the shell companies used by foreigners, some of them being Chinese nationals. Third being the Gold Coast, northern coast of Long Island suburbs where Chinese have been buying up expensive mansions with cash like hot cakes. The descriptions being nouveau-riche, uncouth, possibly corrupt Chinese driving genteel WASP or Jews out and pricing out natives from the housing market and crowding the schools there. The fact of low profile of Chinese were used against them as they don’t spread wealth around like Great Gatsby did. NYT is good at channeling the outrages and backlashes to the comments as they publish one commenter probably more than 10 times ( Susan from Seattle), from 10 years visa to immigration, berating Chinese for taking over the local housing, schools, and country. Previous week I wrote a comment when Thomas Friedman criticizes Israeli Prime Minister for the coming speech to joint session of Congress, I wrote saying it was an insult to Obama and Presidency, if the Democrats have balls they should boycott the speech, of course it was not published. Three days later on the paper it said Vice President will not attend the speech, and there were talks by Jewish democrats about boycotting the speech. So much for free speech, while those racial attacks and attacks on China being authoritarian were published multiple times. When I read the article I pretty much anticipated the backlashes. For buying those houses costing from a few to over $10 million, one has to be not even from 1%, by more like 0.1%. I doubt most Americans can dream of owning one, but human nature being what it is, Chinese are easy scape goats. For most Chinese Americans here not from the 0.1%, from those illegal ones working to pay off their debts to smugglers to Silicon Valley IT workers, expect the backlashes. I just hope no baseball bat attacks this time.

About N.M.Cheung

Chinese American, semi retired, age 65, Born in Shanghai, reside in NYC, left China in 59, Hong Kong until 61, then to U.S.

21 thoughts on “Eddie Huang, FOB, Time Warner Condos, and Gold Coast Houses.

  1. “…clutching my NYT newspaper and mumbling to myself that they are nothing but jail baits as I knew the proportion of African Americans in jail from reading the papers.”

    kind of ironic to write about how racism is bad against Chinese when you obviously had/have racist sentiments towards black Americans.

    The issue of race, clearly, is one of identity politics, and us being either the “in” group or the “out” group. Or, to put it another way, if you are a part of the “in” group, in this case not a black American, then it’s fine to hold sentiments that generalize individuals as always a part of the entire (out)-group.

    What is the difference between saying all Chinese are rich and corrupt versus all blacks end up in jail? Very little, both are based on racism, identity politics and unfair generalizations.

  2. I think it is a normal reaction when someone calls you a chink and you would immediately reflect on that person’s own racial deficiencies. I myself have always enjoyed a friendly and welcoming relationship with black people. Aboriginals, East Indians, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Jewish, Muslims, Polish, Italians, Quebecois, are all great people. I find the most racist people are the Anglos. Especially Canadian Anglos. I like the American Anglos better than the Canadian Anglos. Perhaps the Canadian Anglos still think of themselves as the direct descendants of the great British empire. There is this immediate sense of superiority about themselves that betrays reality. Many of them insist on thinking of being smarter than you and cannot accept the fact otherwise.

    Having said that, I must admit that there are also some very good Canadian Anglos. People like Jack Layton. I myself have had a great intimate relationship with an Anglo woman. But generally, I had the most trouble with white Anglos.

    Am I being racist?

    I remember meeting this young pretty Chinese student from China and being in Canada for about two years, she speaks fluent English and attains a 3.85 GPA. She was doing co-op at my work and she excels at all her work. This unavoidably caused some jealousy among her white peers and one day she was at the lunch room with a bunch of white girls and one of them said to the other in front of her that she is such a chink in a half joking way. The Chinese girl started to laugh with them and laughing agreeably at the way she carried her self.

    Later I asked her if she knew that it was a derogatory term when people called Chinese people a chink. She said she didn’t know that and she thought that it was all in good fun.

    People in China never experienced racial discrimination so they don’t know what it is like. Like the Jews in South Africa, they have never experienced the Holocaust and they don’t have the same devastating impression as the European Jews.

    Racism is contagious. I am sure when that young Chinese girl find out after several jobs that even when she does a better job than her peers and even gets praised and the dumb white one gets promoted and not her, or people start giving her attitude for no apparent reason, or people label her as evil when she didn’t do anything bad, (like the way China is being portrayed by the media), she will start to understand the pains of racism. And she will react quite differently when someone calls her a chink.

  3. @caixin

    I was describing a teenager’s survival response, not intellectual discussion. It’s a fact the Chinese community in U.S. generally has a negative view on African Americans due to fear of crimes and lack of understanding. You can deplore this as racism and I agree with you but that does not change the fact. Eddie Huang reacted by getting into a fight, but most Chinese would have reacted as I did.

  4. @N.M.Cheung

    You got in a childhood fight with an ethnic Puerto Rican and consoled yourself by knowledge that “they are nothing but jail baits as I knew the proportion of African Americans in jail from reading the papers.”

    You even use the word “they” here!

    If you write a post about how racism is bad, it would be best not to inject your own anti-black and anti-Hispanic angle. It makes the whole piece far less reliable, and to be honest furthers the negative steretype that East Asians are largely racist people.

    All young boys get into fights, and in a multi-ethnic society these can often involve race-words. This is nothing particular about being an ethnic East Asian, whites, blacks and Hispanics I am sure have similar happenings in their boyhood. I know I did.

    In China I have seen fist fights over people waiting in line too long or a simple traffic-accident (fender bender, nothing serious). I wholly disagree with your assessment “most Chinese” would never react violently. Perhaps most Chinese immigrants would be a more clear category, and it’s reasonable that foreigners who have immigrated would be more cautious about staying low profile. Regardless, violence happens in China over petty things, just like everywhere else on our planet Earth.

    Chinese are just people, no different than Puerto Ricans or Americans when you strip away language and physical features.

    About your housing segment… According to China Daily lots of new immigrants to the USA are both Chinese and wealthy, with invested assets (to buy a passport) in excess of half a million US Dollars:

    “According to the statistics released by its Department of Homeland Security, the United States approved the settlement of 1,971 investment immigrants from the Chinese mainland in 2009, surpassing the entire number of 1,360 foreign immigrants who came to the US in the previous year.
    Obtaining a US EB-5 visa (for immigrant investors) requires at least $500,000, or over 3.4 million yuan. Years ago, this amount would have been daunting for most Chinese.”

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-12/09/content_11677163.htm

  5. @caixin
    If a holocaust survivor vowed he would never buy German made products would someone accuse him of being an ultra nationalist? If he uttered phrases such as “I hate krauts” would one accused him of being a racist? However, I often encountered people who accused the Chinese of being racists for calling the Japanese “guizi” (devil) during WWII. Some even said that the Chinese government is building anti-Japanese sentiment as Chinese TV series are filled with WWII drama. In those series “guizi” can be commonly heard.

    I have always mentioned the hypocrisies and double practiced by real racist. UCD also talked about the “holier and smarter than thou” mindset of these people. And we now have a ready specimen for studying here. Instead of focusing on the racist insults hurled at the victim here, caixin focused on Cheung’s alleged racism towards African American. By totally ignoring the whole situation, he accused Cheung of having racist sentiment!

    I know some can be blind, but it is obvious that at that time Cheung was seriously “butt hurt” by the racist insults. However, being a sensible person he chose not to escalate the situation by picking a fight with the perpetrators. He mentioned his own defence was being a kind of “Ah-Q” by mentally thinking up notion of negative traits of his tormentors. (To those who want to know who Ah-Q was please read up Lu Xun books, he is a pitiful and sad character who was haplessly caught up in a tumulus event and died. Since there is nothing he can do to redress the wrongs done to him he thought up bad thoughts about his tormentors). I suspect if the tormentors are of European ancestry, Cheung would conjured up similar negative images to pacify his own anger. Cheung did mention that he is the only Chinese in a school of 3000. I doubt that’s a walk in a park for any kid.

  6. @caixin
    This caixin character definitely contained many negative thoughts patterns of a racist even though he tried very hard to show he is above reproach and try to lecture Cheung on his alleged cognitive deficiencies and racist sentiment. First of all what kind of people would even entertained thought that “East Asian are largely racist people”? He never even acknowledge the real victim of the crime here. It is interesting that he even admonished Cheung for using the word “they”! The author of the article clearly used “they” to describe the tormentors but he pulled it out of context to accuse the author of racism. I guess I am guilty as well since I use “he” to describe him.

    He then used his “own experience and observation” to “wholly disagree with your assessment “most Chinese” would never react violently.” Basically he is trying to insinuate that the Chinese is as bad as everybody, as racist as everybody else, as violent as everybody else. Wait a minute, isn’t this statement a universal truth, everyone is created equal and therefore the same. On the surface this might seems like the epitome of wisdom but let’s analyze it further. Can we say the British empire is as bad as the Nazi, the American expansion as brutal as the Japanese imperialist? And when you stereotype someone or a group of people and trivialize their suffering and use the pretext that their tormentors are also victims it side lined the issue and caused further injustice.

    The issue of African American being disproportionately incarcerated is very serious. I don’t think it reflect badly on the community, rather it is the shame of the US government and the so-called “majority population”. It is actually serious racism to assume that everybody and hence every communities are the same. Did I just made a racist statement? Well if all people are the same, then the majority of prisoners being of a particular ethnicity shouldn’t be cause of alarm. As they are all individual and should be responsible for their own action. However, when we ignore history and simply look at things with tainted glasses we perpetuate and extend the injustice. The black communities have been wronged in North America, there should be no doubt about that. The injustice have not been corrected hence they are still being disenfranchised and stigmatized by poverty and crime.

    So what lesson has been learned here? Basically caixin has just patronized Cheung. He simply told him his suffering is nothing and accused him of racism and go on to list a bunch of racist observations. Does this example seems familiar?

  7. @caixin
    Reading your response I can’t help myself laughing. I assume you are a Chinese who have lived in China and presently a bona fi liberal, politically correct, totally lacking a sense of humor, and who probably disavows China and lacking any understanding of Chinese history and culture. I wonder if you understand the word irony as you did use the word ironic. I wonder if you understand my use of the word “Ah-Q”, and any work by Lu Xun, please do Gogol both and you might learn something. If you do understand them then you would never have used the word ironic, for I use the word “Ah-Q” as a negative critique of my childish response, not to flaunt my racism. This is irony.

  8. I think that Asian American Men in general have a long way to go in perceiving more American. While I am glad that there is some portrayal of Asian American men in Eddie Huang’s comedy of Fresh off the Boat, it doesn’t portray them as normal Americans. Though I have to give ABC some credit for the TV show “Selfie” for John Cho but this show got cut off after a few episodes.

  9. Hollywood, being a propaganda branch of U.S. government, is only good to perpetuate a racist stereotype of certain groups.

  10. @Ray

    If a Holocaust survivor wants to continue to hate all German people into the 21st century I would find that odd, but I wouldn’t tell that person otherwise — as I wouldn’t tell any 90 year old how to think. However, I would say having your feelings hurt as a schoolboy based on a racist insult is hardly comparable to the Nazi genocide.

    Calling someone a nigger, kike, chink, cracker, etc. is hardly in the same league as an industrial-genocide.

    @Ray
    What was the “crime”? Calling someone a name is not a crime in the USA. Even a fist fight between boys is not really a “crime”.

    I am insinuating that all people are equally capable of foibles and mistakes. The racism behind the statement “but most Chinese would have reacted as I did” is pretty obvious. How I read it: “us Chinese aren’t violent like those blacks!” Or, as I put it above, an “us versus them” mentality of the world; us as a noble race or civilization, them as violent and clearly not as good. Us, the grand people, would never do anything wrong!

    See why it’s racist? China, like everywhere else on Earth, has violent people. There is nothing magical about China. It’s just a country, one I rather like, but still a place with faults and cracks.

    Your discussion about Nazis/British and Americans/Japanese I don’t quite understand. All four actors mentioned did bad things, some worse than others, although the relatively worse behavior of the Germans and Japanese can be attributed to the industrial character of their societies.

    When North America was committing its grand genocide — the Brits, Americans and Mexicans all committed genocide — it was not with a fully industrialized society. I think full-industry versus pre- or early-industry make the crimes of the 20th century look much worse.

    I never said institutional racism is not real in the USA, which seems to be the crux of your argument about unfairness and unjustness in the USA. I just think Asian-Americans are the same as black- or white or whatever-Americans; that is, they can be racist and they can be good. It’s a problem of a multi-ethnic society. All multi-ethnic societies have these cleavages.

    Also, considering the USA has a bi-racial president, the bureaucracy has people of different races, etc., I’d say the idea the USA is so bad towards blacks (or any minority) is an unfair characterization. The USA has millions of blacks who are not in jail, are franchised, etc. Success in the USA is based more on your socioeconomic starting point than the color of your skin. Thus why there are rich blacks and poor whites.

    Economic resources from birth are more determinant than race when it comes to American economic-success.

    Can you name a country of more than 10 millions where a minority is always treated well?

    @N.M.Cheung
    No google where I live! I have never read Ah Q, but I checked out an extremely brief synopsis. I honestly did not know of the book.

    Is it not ironic for me to be a racist against group X because group X is racist against my group Y? That is ironic, no? The irony is saying group X’s racism is bad while your Ah Qu defense is equally racist! Aren’t Ah Qu’s responses to problems, such as slapping himself after he is robbed, ironic?

    I missed the allusion given my ignorance about the story. Is it worth the full read?

    I don’t lack a sense of humor, I just think Asian racism is as intolerable as any other type. I am daily bombarded with how 黑鬼 are all drug dealers and criminals — hardly a tolerant outlook. This is a rather standard attitude in modern China I hate to admit, especially towards recent African immigrants.

    I thought this was a forum for discussion (and therefore disagreement). I did not try to insult you personally. Pardon if you thought I did.

  11. A “poster” using two handles, one of which is “paoburen”, a troll who was kicked out of this forum not too long ago? Coincidence? Hmmm… Can the moderators check his/her IP addresses? And perhaps let us know if members can readily use 2 or more names in the forum, all at once? Or is this practice frowned upon?

    @paoburen
    “What was the “crime”? Calling someone a name is not a crime in the USA.”
    It is if it is derogatory in nature and part of harrassment.

    “Even a fist fight between boys is not really a “crime”.”
    Nobody said it was. First strawman noted.

    “I am insinuating that all people are equally capable of foibles and mistakes.”

    Lie. This is what you said in #4:

    “I wholly disagree with your assessment “most Chinese” would never react violently.”

    You were downright stating you disagreed that most Chinese would react violently, that means you agree that most of them are violent. I don’t see you applying this generalisation to any other race.

    The worst part is that you give no concrete evidence, even from your own observation, that this is true. You say:

    “In China I have seen fist fights over people waiting in line too long or a simple traffic-accident (fender bender, nothing serious).”

    You base your assumption that most Chinese would react violently from some fist fights, but this is not representative of the Chinese. If it were, you would see free-for-alls in long queues everywhere in China, all the time.

    Lying about your intentions and making overgeneralisations based on assumptions just to demonise a particular race are racist actions. Mods, I would like to report a racist and offensive poster.

    Now, let’s continue with #12,

    You say:

    “The racism behind the statement “but most Chinese would have reacted as I did” is pretty obvious.”

    That’s not racism. That’s reasonable as you’ve said yourself in #4:
    “..it’s reasonable that foreigners who have immigrated would be more cautious about staying low profile.” So it’s pretty obvious the statement is not racist. What’s also obvious is your selective use of reasoning to support your notion that N.M. Cheung is a racist.

    And:
    “Success in the USA is based more on your socioeconomic starting point than the color of your skin. Thus why there are rich blacks and poor whites. Economic resources from birth are more determinant than race when it comes to American economic-success.”

    As an American, one’s socioeconomic starting point or economic resources from birth is based on race. If you’re black, you’re more likely to be born in a ghetto (a throwback to American racial segregation policies) than a white, which means you have to work harder to succeed in life.

    “Can you name a country of more than 10 millions where a minority is always treated well?”

    “Always” is an absolute term. But there are countries that have put in great effort in integrating their minorities into their societies, in contrast to the racial segregation policies of the US. Taiwan has successfully integrated her aborigines into her society, while Iranian Jews are proud to see themselves as
    part of their country.

  12. (Part 2)
    @paoburen
    “@N.M.Cheung
    No google where I live! I have never read Ah Q, but I checked out an extremely brief synopsis. I honestly did not know of the book.”

    No Google? Well, there’s always Baidu or any other search engine. Or if you’re really interested, you could have asked the poster or any regular forumite here to ease your doubts.

    “Is it not ironic for me to be a racist against group X because group X is racist against my group Y? That is ironic, no? The irony is saying group X’s racism is bad while your Ah Qu defense is equally racist! Aren’t Ah Qu’s responses to problems, such as slapping himself after he is robbed, ironic?”

    How can you be sure that N.M.Cheung’s Ah Q defence is racist when you don’t even know what the story is all about? Making assumptions based on preconceived conclusions again, I see. The crux of your allegations of N.M.Cheung being racist is found in this statement he made in his article:

    “…clutching my NYT newspaper and mumbling to myself that they are nothing but jail baits as I knew the proportion of African Americans in jail from reading the papers.”

    N.M.Cheung’s response could be an indictment of the American judicial system. In his view, African Americans could be “nothing but jail baits” in the eyes of the American judicial system. Seen like this, he could be consoling himself that African Americans too, are fellow victims of the system and that they don’t have the right to look down on him. Note that this is still an Ah Q response because it’s not constructive in improving the lot of both races.

    Now, you could assert that this is just my interpretation and it may not be correct. But I’ll say the same to you. N.M.Cheung is here. Let’s ask him to clarify.

    “I missed the allusion given my ignorance about the story. Is it worth the full read?”

    You are ignorant about the story, yet wish to pass comments about Ah Q’s responses based on your non-understanding? Says much about your presumptiousness and lack of ability to articulate an argument based on concrete understanding.
    The story is worth a read, and it’s easy to get a copy in China, but English translations are harder to find.

    “I don’t lack a sense of humor,..”

    Cheung’s post is not meant to be joke. Another irrelevancy.

    “I am daily bombarded with how 黑鬼 are all drug dealers and criminals — hardly a tolerant outlook. This is a rather standard attitude in modern China I hate to admit, especially towards recent African immigrants.”

    Given your history of presumptiouness and making conclusions without proper understanding, we’ll just have to take what you say with a pinch a salt, especially since there are those of us here who have observed Mainland Chinese treating Africans with respect and acknowledging their contributions to China’s infrastructure. I know I have.

    But what we are bombarded here are trolls who make unsubstantiated claims, derail topics and spam with irrelevancies.

    “I thought this was a forum for discussion (and therefore disagreement). I did not try to insult you personally. Pardon if you thought I did.”

    This is a forum for discussion, yes. Not derailment or lies. Now, are you able to contribute to solving the problem of racism in America against the Chinese, or are you going to further derail this topic? The moderators are watching.

  13. @paoburen
    I guess you are from China where Google is barred, you have an idealistic but nonrealistic view of U.S., yet unaware of your own heritage, that’s unfortunate as I read him when I was in school in Shanghai in 1950s. Let me explain then in detail what I was trying to say. When I compare myself to Ah-Q, I was already using irony in admiring Eddie Huang for standing up and fight while I myself cowardly slinking away. I was not justifying my racist sentiment in any way or form. Do you know what happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri? He asserted himself against police and as a result got shot and killed. When I said most Chinese would have behave like myself it’s not a racist comment, but a fact that rather got myself a beating in asserting myself against a gang of bullies most would have walked away. You disagreed with my characterization of most Chinese yet in a sense you agree with me in saying Chinese are biased against Nigerians for dealing drugs in big cities like Beijing or Canton. You may think yourself as unbiased and pure, but most don’t.

  14. @paoburen
    As you have a totally unrealistic view of America, I suggest you read the commentary of New York Times about the runaway slave of George Washington. As NYT is barred from China you can have a Chinese translation from guancha.cn today.

  15. @paoburen
    I don’t lack a sense of humor, I just think Asian racism is as intolerable as any other type. I am daily bombarded with how 黑鬼 are all drug dealers and criminals — hardly a tolerant outlook. This is a rather standard attitude in modern China I hate to admit, especially towards recent African immigrants.

    ——————-

    I think you are a white person masquerading as black.

    White people look at blacks as drug dealers and criminals.

    The Chinese do not look at black people as drug dealers and criminals because Africans in China are not drug dealers or criminals. Only in North America that they are forced into being drug dealers and criminals.

    A little Freudian slip on your part.

    I agree with Sigmar that you are a troll.

  16. ^^… And now we have more dedicated spammers. Mods, Zeljko reported as an obvious spammer. It seems that the powers that be have injected more spam (bots) to waste our bandwidth and dilute our message, if not to test the integrity of this forum and test the moderators.

  17. @pug_ster
    I am sorry you think of me as a troll bait. I have been civil in responding to particular posters in this forum, providing exact quotations and factual information to refute assertions. My posting history speaks for itself. However, if you feel I am a liability to this forum, feel free to ban me. However, trolls will continue to attack this forum because of their anti-China/Chinese bias. It matter not whether I (or others) respond to them or not. You have seen for yourself how many of them have succeeded in derailing threads without providing anything of substance.

  18. @Sigmar

    Sorry, I think I have mistaken with you with Paoburen. My mistake. And no, we don’t often censor posts unless things gets a really, really heated or if it is a spam post. But anyways, don’t worry about spammers here, as they often get flagged and these posts are being removed.

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