Alas alack political activists do get occasional hate mail

Oh yes friends of the fight to eradicate racism-- I do occasionally get hate mail from my people (which includes all people who feel marginalized because of race religion sexuality taste in music)-- who decide that I am part of the problem, not the solution.

Many of you have asked me on the road "how do people react to your work?" and you look nervously around at the white people-- thinking are white people LAUGHING at us? Are you making us look more ridiculous.? And I always answer that question with "How do YOU react to my work? Were you privy to the in jokes, the referencing of racist language in order to subvert it, the deeper issues of self hatred and division amongst racial minorities in this country? Were you personally affected in a negative or positive way. Most of the time, you will answer with "Well, I get it, but I am afraid that other people won't. And that white people will..." this is where it trails off usually. And I say, "My work criticizes people who make fun of asians. My work does not make fun of asians (except for the funny ones like my mom. And sometimes Bai Ling and her taste for crazy vintage flamingo dresses.) But seriously, I make fun of racists. Not asians in my work." And I think that the FEAR that is expressed when this question is asked is the fear of what people will think. Which silences us. Which makes us unable to be loud and proud and to have a sense of humor about the stereotypes that exist out there. But our silence does something else too...it allows words like CHINK to continue to fester in the minds of bigots because we NEVER call them on their shit. Out of fear. That if we say CHINK we are keeping that word alive and allowing it into our culture. Guess what boys and girls it exists out there. In the fuckface racists at ABC who allowed the guy on 'American inventor' to say on national tv last week "We better find the next american inventor or in 5 years we will all be working for the chinese and the indians" (DID YOU MISS THAT COZ I DIDNT!!!) and in the minds of people who at Cal State last year threw eggs as Asian students as they walked by. Oh yeah the word exists and our job is to look it in its so called chinky eyes and say oh yeah! Well I see your racism, and I raise you my intelligence, my understanding of cultural mores, and my ability to deconstruct and subvert your ignorant ass. So CHINK this! Unfortunately, there are casualties in the fight to disempower the racist language, and sometimes that casualty is me. Here is a recent piece of mail from an asian and my response for your consideration:

On Mar 24, 2006, at 5:37 PM, Kate C wrote:

"kate you shouldn'T be asian, because all you've done taken a horrible word and turned it into a disgusting show. You may say "people are people" and I agree with you, but theres no need to turn chink into a comedy. Now white people willl think its funny to call asians chink. All cause of you. If anything, you've shown that it's okay to call any asian a chink. You are supporting racism, which is why I say, you shoudn't be asian. If you were a pure white, you'd be called a racist. SO YOU KNOW WHAT? EVEN THOUGH YOUR ASIAN YOUR STILL RACIST CAUSE YOUR SAYING IT"S ALL RIGHT FOR ASIANS TO BE CALLED CHINK!!!! :@ :@ :@ :@ :@ YOU NEED TO GROW UP AND IT"S REALLY NOT FUNNY! AND DON"T THINK I DIDN"T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR SHOWS ALL ABOUT AND THINK " WHAT AN IGNORANT CHINK" CAUSE I"M NOT! SO YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU"RE ARE SO RACIST! RACIST RACIST RACIST RACIST RACIST! YOu're a cruel, not funny woman who really ought to get a racism check."

Those of you who know me personally know that I too am challenged by punctuation and grammar in my emails so Ms. C's rant in no way offends my ability to form syntactically correct sentences. But it did make me feel well, attacked as only an artist can who's heart is open to criticism. Here was my response:

"Dear Kate
a) have you seen my show?-- it is anything but disgusting it is empowering it explodes stereotypes by exposing them
b) i NEVER said it is all right for asians to be called chink
c) I am not racist and I am sorry you cannot see past words. I ask you to see past the "use" of the word chink in my plays which is by the way ALWAYS used in a context, to the ideas, namely, the exposition of racist language and the addressing head on of the issues in there that i espouse. Please read my blog: www.slantyeyedmama.blogspot.com
for more discussion of these issues as I take them very seriously.
d) you name calling me is understandable given your rage at the issue of racism, and i applaud you for taking on the issues, thinking critically about them and express ing yourself even if it means you call me cruel and racist. you are entitled to an opinion but perhaps you should read a few more of my writings on the subject, research my work and THEN make your judgement without, as so many racists do, stopping at your first impression of someone based on your own prejudices. Where do you think the word chink came from in the first place? People making gross generalizations about an entire diaspora of people (not just chinese--all asians) and refusing to look deeper at those human beings. I ask you to move beyond a harsh initial judgement based on your emotional reaction to one word, and have the same respect for me as I do for you though we may disagree on how political action is taken.
with respect,
kate"

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