This weekend TD and I went to a baseball game, which is always fun for this occasional baseball fan (I like live games, always forget to follow on TV/news). By a fortuitous confluence of events, his hometown team is my chosen adopted team (chosen before we met, when I first moved here two years ago), the result of spurning every team within a geographic radius of my hometown for various reasons (sellouts, soulless marketing, oh no they di'n't just betray my hometown). The game was painful to watch, mainly because it was like a running bloopers reel, and it never does good for your testosterone level to see your team get only one hit during the first seven innings and yet put themselves in position for a last two innings turnaround only to choke again.
But I didn't mind that so much. No such thing as being a fair weather fan. No, I minded that when a certain awesome American-born Japanese baseball player went up to bat, the asshole opposing-team fans behind us started heckling "Way to go, Toyota!" which was parroted by their nine year old kid "Yeah, way to go, Toyota!"
I got so mad that I wanted to turn around and say something, but knowing that the four large men probably wouldn't punch me but rather TD (I have fond memories of a law school friend starting bar fights over being called "Tokyo Rose," until our friends had to physically restrain her), I kept quiet. But I was bothered for the rest of the game, until TD reminded me that I can't be overly bothered every time someone acts like an asshole. He acknowledged that it was offensive and that the kid is probably destined for a life of douchebaggery, but I have to pick my fights and can't always go around picking a fight. He's right. They left after the 9th inning, and we stayed for the fireworks, and it was a good time.
Now, as racist epithets go, this is seemingly mild. And I may just be humorless and too sensitive, but I'm not the only one--and it's good to be sensitive to such things. Why was I so offended? Essentializing Asians as the perpetual foreigner really bothers me--I always try to tell people that I'm from Southern California, and they keep asking "no really, where are you from". Conflating the American-born ball player's identity with the foreign automaker that destroyed GM is problematic for so many reasons--remember Vincent Chin?
Anyway, those are enough reasons for me to feel bothered. I have "moved on," but not really. We're not in a post-racial world yet, and I don't think we'll ever be.