Here we go again. A college in Colorado is now looking into launching a campaign to prevent students from using the common phrase “long time no see” because college scolds claim the phrase is “racist” to Asian people.
A columnist for the Rocky Mountain Collegian, the school newspaper for Colorado State University, told her readers that the school is looking to launch a new campaign to force students to stop using certain phrases that are not “inclusive” enough.
Writer Katrina Leibee said she was generally “excited” about efforts to scold people’s use of language when it comes to using the “right” gender pronouns such as “they/them/theirs.” But after seeing the newest list of banned words, she still worried that “it has become obvious that inclusive language extends way beyond gender pronouns.”
One phrase on the banned list, for instance, was the old salutation “long time no see.”
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Why? Because it’s racist, apparently.
In a meeting with Zahra Al-Saloom, the director of Diversity and Inclusion at Associated Students of Colorado State University, she showed me an entire packet of words and phrases that were deemed non-inclusive. One of these phrases was “long time, no see,” which is viewed as derogatory towards those of Asian descent.
Well, The Blaze did some digging on that question and came up with the following:
A 2014 National Public Radio piece got down to the nitty gritty regarding “long time, no see” and said it appeared in a couple of 1900 books referring to conversations with Native Americans. The outlet added that other explanations point to members of the British and U.S. Navy attempting to speak like Chinese people they encountered.
A letter published in “Our Navy, the Standard Publication of the U.S. Navy, Volume 13” includes the following, NPR reported: “Then Ah Sam, ancient Chinese tailor, familiarly known as ‘Cocky,’ after taking one good look at the lieutenant said, ‘Ah, Lidah, you belong my velly good flend. Long time no see you handsome facee.’”
But the outlet also said that “today, the phrase ‘long time no see’ is so widespread as a greeting that there’s nothing to indicate the term’s origins, be they Native American or Mandarin Chinese” and that it’s been “widely identified with American culture” beginning in the early 20th century.
Well, there you have it.
Of course, it won’t matter that there isn’t a single American who uses the phrase with the intention of being racist. Have you ever heard someone say the phrase in a mocking dialect? No, no you have not.
Indeed, we can point to a phrase that is still used and said in a mocking dialect that could be offensive to Asians. “Me love you long time, Joe,” is still used as a way to mock Vietnamese (or Asian) girls. And often, even when the user isn’t specifically trying to mock Asian women, they will still say it in that fake, mocking accent.
But, “long time no see” is never, ever used that way.
So, do you agree with the college that the phrase should still be banned?
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.
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