January 30, 2020
This article was originally published at Slate.com on January 27, 2020. It is reprinted here with permission of the author.
I am a black man. I grew up in a rough part of Detroit and I worked my ass off to make a life for myself and get out of the hood. Thanks to affirmative action, after finishing high school with mediocre grades, I was able to get into a community college in the early 00s. After finishing my associates degree, I was given a diversity scholarship with a full ride at Michigan State University, where I studied computer engineering.
I graduated with good grades in 2007, and thanks to affirmative action, I was able to land a job in Ann Arbor working in the IT department at a prominent American pharmaceutical company. By 2011, I was making enough that I was able to bring my elderly mother to Ann Arbor, where I could look after her. Shortly afterward, I got engaged to a beautiful Hispanic woman, with whom I now have two children.
Life was good in Ann Arbor, and I felt like I was living the American Dream. In 2015, when the Black Lives Matter riots started, I looked down on the protesters. To me, these people were simply not willing to work hard and take advantage of all of the nation’s generous affirmative action programs.
I was skeptical of the stories about the supposed racist killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, because I grew up in the hood, and knew about the way young black males interacted confrontationally with the police. And it turned out that I was right to be skeptical. All of the “racist killings” of the last few years turned out to be hoaxes by the media designed to make black people appear as victims.
I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but I have to say that I didn’t understand the outrage over Donald Trump. I voted for Hillary because I agreed with her policies, not because I believed Donald Trump was the racist psychopath that the media, including many black people in the media, had made him out to be. I know a lot of white people who did vote for Trump who do not have a racist bone in their bodies.
In fact, I lived most of my life believing that racism did not exist. I believed it was a spook, invented by the establishment to provide a boogieman for black people to blame all of their problems on. That is before I came face to face with real racism, when a group of female Chinese students moved in the house behind mine in the spring of 2019.
My first interaction with these Chinese women was when my two daughters, ages 4 and 6, ran in the house crying, pointing outside to the backyard. I went out to see what was happening, and found three Chinese across the chainlink fence in their own backyard, grilling what appeared to be rats on a charcoal grill. My dog Rusty, a Jack Russell terrier, was barking at them.
Before I could ask them what was happening, the Chinese began jeering at me.
“You black man, so dirty, you go back Africa!” one of the girls said.
“You face look monkey, you eat banana? I make you my slave, black man, you plow my fields!” said another.
They all giggled maniacally.
I was left thunderstruck. I had heard a few mild racial jokes in college, which I brushed off as having been made without any nasty intent. Never in my life had I been called dirty, a monkey or a slave. The fact that these women had so boldly spewed this hate left me totally without words.
The Chinese women continued laughing as they eyed me. When I could finally speak, I told them, “leave the kids alone, okay?”
“You kids like monkey, they climb tree to find banana!” said the girl that I had identified as the ringleader, a girl I would later see on TV as Miss Michigan – Kathy Zhu. She was wearing a MAGA hat.
I shook my head and walked back into my house to comfort my daughters, who were looking out the window and watching the scene. I told them that they should stay away from the Chinese, that they were mean people. I told them to play inside or in the front yard for the time being.
This marked the beginning of a months-long ordeal, with the Chinese students harassing and racially abusing me every chance they got.
One time I was out mowing my lawn and the Chinese began throwing bananas at me. I turned the mower off and ran up to the fence and Kathy Zhu screamed “no, you no rape me black man! You have AIDS! I calling police!” She ran inside, spilling a bowl of soup. I looked at the soup, laying there on the patio, and it contained the full body of a fruit bat. I shuddered at the sight of it.
Sure enough, an hour later, the police knocked on my door. I explained the situation to them. One of the officers, himself a black man, laughed and said “I can tell you from experience, the Chinese do not like us very much.” They told me that as long as the Chinese stayed on their own property, there was nothing I could do, that it was their First Amendment right to express their hatred for the color of my skin.
Bizarrely, it seems that the hatred of the Chinese for black folks was counterbalanced by an extreme sexual fetishization of white men. One time when a white male co-worker was visiting the house, he went out back for a cigarette, and the jeers from Kathy Zhu were much different than the jeers I had received.
“You handsome man!” I heard her yell at my white co-worker. “Me like handsome man! Me sucky sucky you! Me like big penis man, like sucky sucky!”
“They’re friendly,” he said upon returning inside.
“You don’t know the half of it,” I replied, rolling my eyes.
The situation culminated in July. When I came home from work one fateful Thursday afternoon, my faithful dog Rusty did not meet me at the door, as he had every day since the day I brought him home from the pound. I called for him, and he was nowhere to be found. I went out back, and there was Kathy Zhu, on her back porch, eating a strange piece of meat from the bone and grinning at me like the Cheshire Cat.
“You want eat, black man? I give you delicious snack, better than your banana,” she said, holding up the plate of grilled meat. As she cackled, I realized what that strange meat was: it was Rusty.
I felt dizzy, and bent over and vomited. Kathy only cackled louder. I wiped spittle from my lip and went inside. As soon as I saw my dog’s bowl, with the name “Rusty” engraved on it, I started crying.
When my wife came home, I told her what happened, and she suggested we move. We didn’t own the house, so it wouldn’t be that difficult, she said. I told her I would have to think about it. The idea of being forced out of my home by racism in 2019 shook me to the core.
A few days later, I was watching the news and learned that Kathy Zhu, the woman who ate my Rusty, had been crowned Miss Michigan. “If only they knew how ugly she was inside,” I thought, and decided to call the local media and tell them about the experiences I had had with Ms. Zhu.
But none of them were interested. When I got to the part in my story where Kathy Zhu ate my dog, all of them hung up on me.
The only person who took me seriously was Candace Owens, a black conservative who I contacted after I saw her tweeting about Zhu. However, even though she went to bat against Zhu’s hate on Twitter, she chose not to publicize my story specifically.
She is not the spirit of #MAGA at all. She is unstable and yes—deeply troublesome when it comes to race. Smart conservatism is knowing when to reject people that are hateful.
^This tweet will age well.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) August 1, 2019
Of course, it wasn’t long before Zhu had her crown stripped from her when it was discovered that she had posted racist materials on Twitter, attacking black people.
Kathy Zhu moved away, and my family was finally able to have a breath of fresh air, and reflect on what we had experienced at the hands of these Chinese students.
Shortly thereafter, Zhu was hired by the Donald Trump 2020 campaign, and I was left wondering if indeed I had been naive about Trump. Maybe he really was a racist? Why else would his team hire this woman who had so aggressively racially insulted me, before eating my dog?
I still feel that America is a great place to live, for a person of any race. However, the experience with Kathy Zhu shattered my innocence, and made me realize that there actually are people on this earth who would judge me for the color of my skin.
Update: This article has now been removed from its original place of publication on Slate.com. Edwin-Marcel has told me that they did not inform them as to why they removed it, but thanked me for keeping it up here.