Getting jumped at Queen’s for being Asian

What I learned from a scary situation

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“You better start walking faster, you ‘chink gook’.”

These were the words of the shadowed men lurking outside of the Little Caesar’s on Princess Street. I shouldn’t have looked back; I should’ve kept going.

It was the Friday night before Queen’s Homecoming and I was heading home from Ale after a night out, talking on the phone with my girlfriend. 

In my drunken stupor, I unintentionally followed the aroma of baked cheese and dough and fell victim to the $5.99 HOT-N-READY Little Caesar’s deal. As soon as the door opened, my mouth watered for a warm cheesy slice.

The sight was typical: regular students and locals waiting patiently for their guilty late-night pleasures. The entire sequence was routine and soon I was headed out the door, armed with a fresh pizza, blissfully unaware of the remark I was about to receive.

“Nice Jackie Chan costume. You better start walking faster, you ‘chink gook’.”

Puzzled, shocked and curious, I turned around to be surprised by two 20-something year old men following me. Still on my phone, I thought out loud, “that didn’t just happen.” 

Hoping their comment was in poor-humor, I walked away to avoid giving them any more attention. A few steps later, I found myself nearing the intersection of Alfred and Princess and to my surprise, one of the two men was on my right, staring me down.

“I’m going to sleep you.”

Translation: he wanted to beat me until unconsciousness.

“Bro, I’m literally just going home with a pizza and I’m on the phone with my girlfriend, you’re not going to sleep me,” I responded, still puzzled.

“I’m not your bro, and I’m going to sleep you.”

That’s when the first punch landed on my right eye, still on the phone with one hand and holding a pizza with the other, completely uninterested and unprepared to fight back. Hoping to escape the situation, I made my way to the middle of the intersection to hopefully intercept the attention of oncoming drivers. 

To my horror, there wasn’t a taxi or vehicle in sight. Immediately, I directed my attention to people walking by.

“Are these guys serious? Did anyone just see that? This guy just punched me, is anyone going to help?”

I peered into the faces of a group of students who continued to walk away despite my cry for help. 

The two men who originally taunted me proceeded to chase after me up Princess St. as I fled home, my pizza still intact in one hand and a concerned girlfriend on the phone in the other. 

My escape attempt was in vain as they caught up after a few steps, having torn my hamstring two days prior. 

Suddenly, a hot and sharp pain shot up my leg, bringing me to a limping halt in front of Domino’s Pizza. I limped around my pursuers and tried to reason.

“Why are you guys doing this?”

No response.

“I’m literally not fighting back?”

The only response was another swing at my eye, but this time I was ready and dodged. My reflexes weren’t all I thought they were, as one of the men got his hands on me and my favourite shirt, wrestling me to the ground, tearing my shirt in the process.

I’d finally lost my temper and needed a plan. Never having fought more than a single person at a time, I decided it would go poorly if I chose to engage both perpetrators simultaneously.

Instead, I opted to pump as many shots to the head as I could on one of the men with the hard edges of my phone. His swings stopped connecting as more imprints of my phone case started to appear on his face. Soon, the second man stopped punching me from behind and tried to pull me off his partner. 

But I wasn’t done exacting my vengeance. Instead, I continued to chip away at the $129 I would have to pay to have Apple Care fix my phone, and proceeded to contour his face with my phone edge.

When I’d almost had my fill, they cried out to me:

“Man, the police are coming!!”

The sound of police sirens began to fill the void, and I stood there with my jaw nearly unhinged from disbelief at what had happened.

With a ripped shirt, bloody face and bloody knuckles, I felt like an idiot.

I looked down at my phone screen to see my girlfriend had been connected the entire time. She heard everything and had started running to me as soon as she’d heard the first punch. 

She arrived with tremendous speed, almost there when I had stood up to assess the damages.

The cops arrived shortly after and moseyed their way over to me. I instantly knew I was about to waste my time listing off the events that occurred with zero expectations of any kind of resolution. 

I knew my attackers were going to get away with it and as a student, I was far too busy to try and figure any of it out during the school year anyways. All I wanted was a new shirt and a fresh pizza.

I won’t even bother trying to think of why these people might hate Asians or me personally enough to assault a defenseless man trying to get home. 

The point of this short story isn’t to get sympathy or even support, which is why I chose to remain anonymous. 

I wanted to write this article to bring attention to how racism contributes to the life of a visibly Asian person living here on campus and in Canada, and reach out to the people who it affects.

It’s easy to say that people don’t judge you for being Asian. But how are you supposed to believe that when on Halloween I’m asked if I’m supposed to be Goku from Dragon Ball when I have matching whiskers and a coloured-in nose to match my cat girlfriend? Or when I’m asked if I’m supposed to be Jackie Chan when I’m dressed as a pirate. 

It’s also easy to say people should be able to take a joke in good humour and wear our insecurities like armour. But how am I supposed to feel when a friend tells me, “don’t worry, you’re the best looking Asian here”, to allegedly strengthen my confidence, yet all I can do is focus on why he had to point out my race in the first place.

I personally never took racism seriously growing up, as being called a ‘chink’ was always followed with laughter and didn’t seem to be a problem back then. That was until I started understanding the classification of racism against Asians as funny. We’re the butt of jokes, ranging from stereotypes of acing tests, eating pets, lacking proper English skills and never-ending small penis jokes. 

But my reaction towards this constant racism has slowly transformed into the dissociation with my own appearance. This view’s even caused me to limit the number of Asian friends I had to nullify my association with other Asians. 

All in all, I was embarrassed to be Asian.

I’ve never blamed people for being inherently racist. The way I see it, racism is just a part of culture, and in a multi-cultural society you can’t please everybody all the time. It’s a tough and unresolved reality but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a manageable issue.

It’s manageable because we as individuals retain sovereignty over how we choose to interpret the world. 

Education is the only solution to ignorance, but an advocate can’t and shouldn’t attempt to shove knowledge down the throats of the uneducated. Societies that support racism will continue to exist and will only be overturned once there’s a demand for it to do so. People won’t be held down forever.

I chose to allow myself to overcome this hiccup and use it as an opportunity to understand myself better, as well as bring awareness of the realities of racism on campus to my fellow students. 

I recognize everyone won’t be able to use humor to overcome these moments in life. However, I believe we’ll always overcome adversity — it’s only a matter of time and how we choose to channel our energy. 

Be it through the unleashing of an expression of art or music and by continuing to tell our stories, we can use moments like these to grow from the inside out for the better and affect positive change. 

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