Ethnic Slurs and College Life: A Personal Essay

Amardeep Singh in his blog:

1004062_10151788373260786_1061838894_nToday, then, I want to talk a little about my own experience with ethnic slurs. As you know I am a Sikh, with family from India. I wear a turban and full beard as part of the custom for Sikh men. All of the adult men in my family have worn turbans, going back many generations. Given what has happened on campus this week, I want to talk a little about the damage that can come from ethnic slurs – but also about the strange and sometimes paradoxical thinking that leads them to be uttered in the first place. I will use some personal experiences I have had as examples, but my goal is to use those examples in connection with some general ideas about ethnic and racial slurs on a college campus. This is a personal essay, yes, but it's not really about me.

In the books we have read in this class, slurs have sometimes entered into the story somewhat ambiguously. In T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain, slurs for Mexicans are used but in one instance at least Candido Rincon doesn't read enough English to understand what's being said — though he certainly understands the message since the vandals who spray-painted the words “Beaners Die” on a rock near his makeshift camp also destroyed his personal property. With Henry Park and Chang Rae-Lee’s Native Speaker, we had some discussion about the slur “gook,” that American soldiers coined with reference to the North Koreans they were fighting in the Korean War in the early 1950s. (As we discussed, “gook” would also be applied to other Southeast Asian people, especially the Vietnamese.)

More here.