Chink Children

Chink Children

Offering love and encouragement to children as they grow helps ensure their success. And sometimes doing and saying things that may seem harsh serve their higher good as well


For Henry and Lian

Chink Children

Your mother found out
What you needed to survive
To get by, to understand
Soon after she arrived here

Gook-bitch, whore, slut
Groping, grabbing, fondling
Gestures, whistles, jeers
Welcome to America

Outrage, anger, disgust
These are my people?
The apology to her is a band-aid
A futile gesture, an impotent act

Little chink boy, little chink girl
You want to cry, to scream?
You think this stops if you do?
Go ahead cry, see what happens

Sensitive boy, feeling girl
My tears barely hid, theirs forming
About to burst, about to flow
They know what’ll happen if they do

My heart breaks when I hear, when I see
I want to take them in my arms, to comfort
To make better, to show them they’re loved
Their mother does too

Why do you talk to them like that?
A knowing look, hardened resolve
No apologies offered
Love doesn’t apologize

Understanding diversity through the personal

This is a scene that played out between my niece and nephew and their mother. The kids were about 6 and 9 years old at the time. They are of Asian and European descent. Their mother, originally from China, had had a number of rude, crass (these words don’t do justice) experiences since moving to the US involving random people saying and doing despicable things. I’m sure she only shared a few of them with me.

At the time that mom was going after her children by calling them names and daring them to cry, I was horrified and couldn’t understand the cruelty I was witnessing. I wanted to run to the kids, grab them up in my arms, tell them I loved them, that I love the way they look, that I wouldn’t change a thing about them, that they were perfect to me.

It took me years, but eventually I came to understand that this was an act of love, an act of courage and compassion. One that was out of my realm of experience. The understanding came slowly to me like a glacier grinding its way to the sea, hanging out over the edge, calving an iceberg, which then crashes explosively into the sea.

Their mother did this to prepare them for the world, for our world, to get them ready for what they would have to face, consciously choosing to strike preemptively, to inflict damage, to scald, burn, tear and breach, then giving time to heal, so that her children would be able to let the insults, that would be spoken at future times, slide off them like water on a seal’s oily coat.

As a white man of northern European descent, my parents, family, schools, church, culture, etc never had to instruct me this way. It never crossed my mind that I would have to be taught this lesson, as I’m sure most people in my sphere had never considered it either.

It’s amazing how important these things become when they are about family, about people I/you love.

To Lian and Henry

Your mother did these things, said these things because she loves you. I’m sure you figured that out way before I did. She wants to prepare you for the world, to become adults that will embrace life and live it to its fullest. By arming you and toughening you, she is giving you the gift of not letting some of the horrible parts of life get you down, hold you back or suck you into the darkness.

On the surface it doesn’t sound like much of a gift, but it is, and I know that it wasn’t an easy one for her to give you. It’s not a gift I could’ve given you, although now I see the wisdom of it.

These lessons are part of her legacy to you. You’ll be the better for them. You already are.

With love, Uncle Tom

Question for you, the reader

Have you had any experiences like this?




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