Thursday, January 22, 2004

PART II of Yao Ming Called A "Chinaxxx, "

TWO VERY DIFFERENT types of responses came to 80-20, after the earlier e-mail entitled "Yao Ming Called A Chinaxxx."

THE FIRST GROUP of responses were most positive. They thanked
80-20 for standing up for our community and its great effectiveness.

THE SECOND GROUP were from APAs who were puzzled over why
Chinaxxx was a bad term; some even accused 80-20 of being too
sensitive. A typical response was: "I was from China. I am a man.
What is wrong with being called a Chinaxxx? Why are Frenchman and
Englishman acceptable, but not Chinaxxx?"

Such questions probably came mostly from first generation
immigrants. Their puzzlement is most understandable. 80-20 uses
this occasion to let our diverse community -- from the 1st to perhaps
the 6th generation immigrants – know why the term Chinaman is

The English language is defined by its dictionaries, not by
individuals. The most authoritative dictionary in English is Webster.
Webster (10th edition) defines
N-gger: a black person - usu. taken to be offensive;
Chinaman: Chinese - often taken to be offensive.

The term "Chinaxxx" has a long & sad history in this country.
Chinaman didn't have a bad connotation a long time ago. It was
used just like Englishman and Frenchman. However, in 1853,
conviction of killers for the murder of Ling Sing was OVERturned on
the grounds that testimony from the "INFERIOR CASTE OF PEOPLE WHO
WERE NON-CITIZENS, " should be thrown out. It meant that Chinese
testimony against the whites was not admissible. Once that legal
precedent was set, the whites learnt that they could terrorize Chinese
without fear of legal consequences. Numerous such incidents
happened. Thereafter, the phrase "not a Chinaxxx's chance" was
coined, meaning "not much of a chance." The word "Chinaxxx"
became an offensive term to Chinese Americans and probably to all

- - - - - - - -

Mr. Steven Kerr who reacted to his inadvertent mistake admirably
just requested that I publicize his letter of apology. He told me that
he has reached Yao Ming who has accepted his apology. His letter
which reached me this morning, after his verbal apology of yesterday
is shown below. I hope that our entire community will now accept his

"Dear Mr. Woo,
First of all, let me apologize again for my mistake during
Monday night's telecast. I have felt horrible all day long today
knowing that I offended many people. I assure you I was
unaware that my choice of words was inappropriate, and in no
way did I use it maliciously. As I mentioned earlier, I was using
the term the same way I would use 'Frenchman' or 'Englishman',
and I was totally unaware that the word I used is a derogatory
one dating back to the 19th century.

I am ashamed of what happened, especially since I take great
pride in being extremely open minded and tolerant. I have
spent a good part of my life living in foreign countries and I
have respect for all cultures, races and religions. My sister in law
is Chinese American, and my brother in law is a respected
Chinese history scholar at Cambridge University in England.
One of my best friends, in fact, is also Chinese American. I called
them all today to explain what happened.

Anyway, I have already planned to apologize to Yao Ming, and
I will attempt to call him today. As you know he is a difficult
person to reach, but I will do my best to talk to him, or at least
to his interpreter Cxxxx Pxxx. I will let you know if I'm able to
contact Yao Ming. In the meantime, I wish you the best of luck
and I apologize again for this matter.

Also, thank you very much for not making this a public issue.
I realize that you have every right to do so, and the fact that
You have not is saving me great embarrassment. Thank you so
much for that. I will do my best to let people know that the
phrase I used is inappropriate because of the context in which it
was used in the past.

Steve Kerr"