I live in Baltimore, and more than anywhere else I have ever been I get some very weird comments. I get called “china doll” a lot. Last weekend someone told me I looked like the perfect little “geisha girl.” A week ago someone tried to trip me while I was outside running… and I almost let it go except she yelled after me “fucking chinky bitch.” Well…. and then the gloves were truly off. I had a professor tell me that my English was pretty good for a Chinese kid. My cab driver asked me why I was so tall for one of those “oriental kids.” The list keeps going…
I know there is this belief that most Asian people are passive and will not fight back. They will simply stare at you as you insult them up and down. I know plenty of people who believe that this passivity is their permission to abuse and speak poorly of Asian people. Passivity, no matter what ethnicity, is not permission for someone else to take advantage or abuse the passive person. Passivity is not weakness… instead it is the greatest strength that anyone can have. The act of doing nothing at all is not an act of giving up. It is a distinct choice to not act and demonstrates the kind of inner strength and power that is invaluable. When I was a child, my mother taught me the virtues of being able to sit still and not fight back even when I wanted to. She taught me that the physical, verbal and showy aspect of fighting guarantee losing. My mother instilled in me the value of standing strong and still against the waves of wrongful behavior. She taught me that when everyone else thinks you are being passive, the act of being immoveable is the greatest strength to win the battle because my opponent would tire themselves with their frantic and miscalculated actions.
I’m at the tail end of a dispute with a professor and he has this mistaken idea that because I have been a docile student that I will not fight back when he has unfairly assigned a low grade to me. He has the mistaken belief that my passive and calm demeanor means I won’t fight back. He thinks that he can make up lies and excuses and barriers so I cannot prevail… but what he doesn’t understand that my calmness and ability to be passive gives me more strength and power because his frantic and futile gestures carry no power over the calm and crushing calculating actions that I will bring down on him. My mere ability to be immoveable in the face of his inflammatory actions and juvenile behavior gives me strength that he does not have. I do not have to dispute this grade or have the grade changed to win. I win because despite his pettiness, I have not resorted to the mudslinging that he has. My honor and dignity remain untarnished because I did nothing wrong and in attempt to cover his wrongs he simply digs himself more futilely into the filth that he is.
The mistaken belief that passivity is losing is wrong. The mere act of being immoveable in the face of the onslaught of cruelty is the greatest strength and the most dignified way to win.
So, my dear Professor. Whether you believe you have won or not… I know that in 20 years when I look back on this incident that I did nothing wrong. I acted graciously and with dignity. I did not resort to any derogatory behavior. I learned from this incident and I grew into a more beautiful person. But you? In 20 years, I know that you will not be able to look back on this incident and be able to justify your silly behavior. I know that if there is any shred of decency in your body you will be embarrassed at your inability to shut your mouth and your inability to control your wild emotions.