November 7, 2008
I was in my favorite thread store choosing hand-dyed silk ribbon when I overheard 3 customers chatting on the other side of a bookcase. One of them used the offensive term “Chinaman” and I stepped out from around the bookcase to ask loudly, “WHAT DID YOU SAY?!” She thought I was interested in her story and said her son just came back from Beijing and wore a Halloween costume that included a cone shaped hat with a braid, and she used the word “Chinaman” again. Obviously, she had no clue. I told her, “You mean ‘Mandarin.’” She said, “Whatever,” but was forced to apologize after I told her, “Please, I’m sensitive to terms like that.” When I got to the counter to pay for my goods, the cashier said quietly that they’re from Imperial Valley, all farmers, which was her way of explaining the one woman's poor choice of words. I'm glad I called her on it, but I'm still offended. Of all the days to be wearing my padded Chinese vest too... I hope she was able to learn a little something while I staunchly defended my ethnicity.