First, Texas Rep. Betty Brown says that Asian Americans should change their names so that it’s easier for “Americans” to pronounce and understand:
Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?
…Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?
Lumping all Asian Americans as Chinese is monolithic and racist. Surprise surprise Brown, Asia is a big continent and “Asian” applies to more ethnic groups as well, not just Chinese people. And referring to Chinese people as “you and your citizens” is just otherizing and reinforces the idea that Asian Americans aren’t “real” Americans. Who are the “real” Americans? White people.
Besides, the problem isn’t that Asian Americans don’t have easy to pronounce names for Americans. Many of them have adopted “American” names:
Ko told the committee that people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have problems voting and other forms of identification because they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver’s license on school registrations.
Asian Americans, like many other minority groups in this country, have been and are still disenfranchised when it comes to exercising their democratic right to vote. So of course, when citizens of color (believe it or not, just because they aren’t white doesn’t mean that they aren’t citizens) want to reduce barriers that they face in voting they are being problematic and un-American?
Brown has refused to apologize for or retract her racist remarks and instead claims that the Democrats who have asked for an apology are using “racial rhetoric” to push back against the bill. “Racial rhetoric”? No, it’s just plain old racism.
The question should not be “Do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” but it should be “Do you think that it would behoove you to see past your white privilege for a change and learn how to embrace diversity?”
And now we have the bias incident at Tufts. We are clearly not beyond racism.