I’m glad to see so many people, non-Chinese and non-Asian even, condemning the Fox News segment of Watters’ World in which Jesse Watters pulls out racist stereotypes to humiliate and dehumanize Asian residents and patrons of NYC’s Chinatown (which I actually did not watch & refuse to watch). Thank you for adding your voices.
I’ve been relatively silent on social media thus far about this for many reasons, including the fact that there is so much to be upset and angry about. That said, I want to say one thing, just to put some honesty out there.
What makes me the angriest about this is that it’s people like Jesse Watters and Bill O’Reilly, media like Fox News and MadTV, institutions that inform our social upbringing like Hollywood, that made me feel ashamed to be Asian when I was a child. I was acutely aware of my self-hate, even at a young age, but I had not yet learned why and what systemic racism was. But I knew that I hated the fact that I was the “weird Chinese kid” in a town that had a nearly 0% population of Asians. The struggle of identity and self-acceptance (that is, acceptance of oneself as an individual as well as acceptance of one’s culture, one’s family, etc.) as an Asian immigrant child growing up in White America is something that white Americans will never fully understand. The level of self-rejection is something that white Americans will never fully understand, no matter how woke you are (and trust me, I appreciate my woke white friends).
That self-rejection and the denial of a huge part of my identity was nurtured and ingrained by people like Jesse Watters, “news” like Fox, pop culture giants like MadTV, and cult classic movies like Sixteen Candles. I spent decades of my life unlearning this internalized racism (and continue to) and learning to accept my ethnic identity. And here is Jesse Watters trying to reinforce that shame. That is what makes me angry. How dare he undo the years of progress that we have collectively made to gain respect as Asian Americans and that some of us have individually made to accept ourselves.
Internalized racism is not just in others, it’s in ourselves too. Recognize it, address it, and don’t let scum like Watters and Fox push you backwards.