The America I Know — A July 4th Reflection
As a Chinese immigrant, I can testify unequivocally that America is not characterized by racism. This does not mean that racist activities do not exist in America. Where there are humans, there are racial prejudices. But compared to other places, America is the least racist place.
As pointed out by one of the Chinese social media influencers, even during the heat of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943) which discriminated against the Chinese, Chinese in America still availed themselves of their rights to fight back through legal channels. Wong Kim Ark was denied re-entry into the U.S. after visiting his relatives in China. Should this have taken place in most other places, it would have been the end of the story. But Wong Kim Ark dared to challenge the government’s refusal to recognize his citizenship. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court. United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) was a landmark case. With a 6 to 2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, upholding his 14th Amendment rights.
Which court outside of America has ruled in favor of a person from a marginalized race? How often does this happen? Why have the Chinese still ventured to come here and stay in spite of the history of the Chinese Exclusion Act? I can tell you why! In the worst of times when the Chinese were mistreated in America, they still had more freedom, rights, and hope here than they would have in any other place — including their own home country.
Surely racial incidents still exist today in America. Where don’t they exist? Can anyone point to such a utopian place? However, what sets America apart from most other countries is her ability to recognize her mistakes and her willingness to correct them. We have made tremendous progress, haven’t we? Which country has fought a bloody civil war, ending with the winning side’s freeing slaves? Where else has this ever happened?
A visit to other countries would reveal that for the majority of the population in the world, the notion that racism or any other prejudice is wrong does not even exist in their frame of thought, let alone correcting those behaviors!
My Experiences With Racism
After I came to the U.S., I got a job working in a Chinese restaurant. The owner and his family had recently come from Taiwan. They always ridiculed mainland China where I grew up. I knew they wanted me to feel inferior to them because of the place where I came from. On the other hand, my co-worker, who was from Taiwan, was treated cordially.
When I asked when I would get paid, the daughter-in-law looked at me with such a contemptuous expression on her face and said, “You should be thankful that we’ve given you the opportunity to earn tips.” They never intended to pay me because I came from mainland China, a contemptible place for some Chinese. Should this have happened elsewhere, I would have given up because in most places, this is not an unusual phenomenon. Without the protection of law, a restaurant owner would be free to act on his prejudicial attitude and punish his employee however he wants. But behold, I was in America, the land of equality before the law! I told them that if they would not pay me, I would take them to court. I got paid immediately!
Many years ago, my father-in-law came across a Chinese lady who immigrated from Hong Kong not long before. When my father-in-law mentioned that his daughter-in-law, too, was a Chinese and was searching for a job, she said that she owned a flower shop in town and was looking to hire someone. When I got to her shop, she asked a few questions about my background. I could see the disdain beginning to creep onto her face. She said, “I can teach you how to arrange flowers without charging you.” I knew she wanted me to work for her without compensation and expected me to be grateful for her “magnanimity.” I was too insignificant in her eyes to be taken seriously. I was not worthy to be paid because of my origin. I thanked her and left.
My experience is not extraordinary at all. I have heard similar incidents from my friends from mainland China.
Though these two incidents took place in America, they offer a window of opportunity to look into the real-world prejudice that is so prevalent among humans, not just among the Chinese. While both examples do not directly relate to racism, they share the same essential characteristic, prejudice based on something that one cannot control, be it one’s national origin or skin color.
America is Different
From that point on, I seldom tried to work for a Chinese who had newly immigrated here because I didn’t want to live in America and be treated as if I were still in China.
I later worked for a magazine subscription company in Escondido, California. I had co-workers from various racial backgrounds, Hispanics, Whites, Blacks and American Indians. They all loved me. They were happy to be with someone speaking with a foreign accent and constantly asking questions. They were always eager to help. During my entire time in America, I have never had any negative experience with Americans because of my race. I found that Americans are the most generous and unprejudiced people, and the prevailing American culture does not reflect racial prejudice. In fact, racial prejudice is so rare that most Americans are oblivious to the subject.
Of course, I’ve not lived a problem-free life in America, but none of the issues I’ve encountered was race-generated. Exclusively, they involve personal conduct.
I’ve also learned of the racial injustice in America’s past. But that has not been my experience, which proves that America has made enormous improvements since the Chinese Exclusion Act. It would be dishonest and unethical for me to echo the accusations against America based on her past while I’ve been a beneficiary of her current unprejudiced culture!
The America I know is not characterized by racism!
Why is Racism Such a Hot Topic in America?
But why has racism become one of America’s chief sins that seems to deserve to be brought up again and again? Why are some so eager to seize any opportunity to remind us of America’s past, as if the Whites are still oppressing people of color?
First and foremost, it’s a hyped up phenomenon motivated for political purposes. As I have articulated in other articles, Marxism has been infiltrating our society for many years. The George Floyd incident and pandemic merely provided a favorable climate for them to take to the streets. Black Lives Matter, cancel culture and Critical Race Theory are a few crusades orchestrated by them to divide people and create chaos in order to gain political dominance. Like Marx, his running dogs are never interested in eliminating racial injustice. Race is just a prop used by politically motivated Marxists.
Following this trend, some “Chinese immigrants” started a movement, calling it Yellow-Lives-Matter. They claimed that in Los Angeles alone racial discrimination against Chinese has recently increased 100%. Such a dramatic increase surely sounds alarming. But as some Chinese quickly pointed out, this allegation is deceitful and unscrupulous when taking into consideration the base number of the reported racial discrimination cases. There are close to half a million Chinese living in Los Angeles. The average number of reported cases of racial discrimination against Chinese in Los Angeles is very low, only seven cases per year. Even when the number is doubled, it is still not sufficient enough to make the claim that racial discrimination against Chinese is a real problem in Los Angeles.
Why did those Chinese seek to mislead? They should have known better having come from a land that is impregnated with discrimination and prejudice. It turned out that this organization has direct ties to a foreign regime controlled by Marxists. Marxists everywhere never waste any opportunity to inflate the issue of racism in America! They all hate America and want her to disappear.
While I understand the intention of Marxists’ insistence on racism in America, I often wonder why the false accusation has such a strong pull to those who themselves have NEVER been victims of racial injustice.
Obviously, indoctrination and lack of knowledge of the history of Marxism contribute to the problem. But I think there is one area that has not been considered. I’ve noticed that people who have suffered a painful experience tend to concur with the false claim, even though their unfortunate experience is non-racial in nature. It’s quite possible that their experience is so painful that they perpetually view themselves as victims. In some way, the claim that America is a racist country validates their victimhood mentality. Therefore, so long as they identify themselves as victims, they will have the need to cash in on Marxist methods to substantiate their intense feeling of victimization. It’s a feelgood drug for them. For that reason, I call them parasitic Marxists.
Both hardcore Marxists and parasitic Marxists are dangerous. They both approach the subject of racism in America with their own motivations. Solving racism has never been their real goal in the first place. In fact, in the attempt to condemn racism, they create more racial problems and injustice in our society.
Politically Driven Racism
When my son was in high school, White students were regularly looked down upon and beaten up. The environment became too toxic for White students to feel safe. My son (mixed, White and Asian) brought chopsticks and Chinese food to school, trying desperately to get the message out. I am not White, so please don’t persecute me.
By no means is my son’s experience unique! But it’s also unique in that it differs from traditional racial injustice. It’s a contrived racism fabricated by a minority in our society under the disguise of racial justice. How can it be just when students of color are given the right to persecute the White students based on the historical racial injustice that the students of color themselves have never suffered from? How can it be just when the White students are expected to be punished for the crimes that they themselves have never taken part in?
Setting up one group against another is the quintessential practice of Marxists. In so doing, they have created a politically driven racism in America. And such racism is more despicable in that it turns racist behavior into a virtue. It makes the practice of racism a self-righteous act, giving the perpetrator power and justification to impose racial injustice in the name of racial justice. In today’s America, Marxists are responsible for such racism. In fact, they themselves are the real racists!
Words fail me whenever I try to reconcile the America I know with the present desecrated America.
The Least Racist Place
July 4th is an appropriate time to reflect on this nation. As an immigrant, I know America is an exceptional place in numerous ways, differing fundamentally from any other place. America recognizes that intrinsically a person has rights, value and dignity. That understanding is the foundation of Americanism, which not only enables her to recognize her faults but also gives her the willingness to make redemptive changes. America is like no other place. It’s the least racist place!
I also know that we have vicious adversaries who cannot tolerate what America stands for. They have and will continue to create chaos and purposefully exasperate racial tensions. We must spare no effort to expose and defeat them. They will not stop until we stop them.
July 4th is also a good time to reminisce upon our past. The American ship has sailed through many perilous storms and beaten unthinkable odds. In the dark moment during the Civil War, President Lincoln declared that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that she shall not perish from the earth. Today, we are facing no less formidable challenges. Our enemies are powerful and intimidating. Our sails are torn. Our ship is battered.
Will the American ship once again survive the storm? I say yes! I’m an immigrant and have been on different ships. I know how strong the American vessel was built and how courageous the people on this ship are! She will prevail!
Chenyuan Snider was raised in Communist China and majored in Chinese language and literature in college. After immigrating to the U.S. and having studied at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and Duke Divinity School, she became a professor and taught at Christian colleges and seminary. After March of this year, she sensed God was leading her to use her unique voice to provide a warning about various kinds of Marxist influences in our society. She lives in northern California with her husband and has two grown children.