Oprah, the $20 lipstick and me

So, ya’ll have read about Oprah and the salesclerk at some chi-chi Swiss handbag boutique, right? Ms. Winfrey wanted to see a purse that retailed for just under $40,000. The clerk repeatedly told her it was very expensive and wouldn’t show it to her. Have any of you had a similar thing happen? I have, on a much smaller scale.

Why I write about the past

Someone privately messaged me and asked why I wrote so much about things that had happened in the past. Do I write about it so much? I’ve been writing professionally for the past three decades and I’d estimate that my pieces surrounding race issues encompass less than 1% of everything I’ve ever written.

Back to you, KTVU

As someone who worked in broadcast journalism—both on air and behind the scenes writing news to be read by reporters and anchors on the Teleprompter—I call a big B.S. on KTVU’s “mistake.” An anchor announced that the Asiana pilots involved in the tragic crash were “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk” and “Bang Ding Ow.”

On being served last

Have you ever waited an hour to eat at a half-empty restaurant, when you had a reservation? We did. We were repeatedly asked to wait for a table, while the hostess seated dozens of people before us, including those without reservations. Were they incompetent? Yes. Were they racist? Possibly. Have we gone back? Nope.

Shoplifting and graffiti

April 2, 2013

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Shoplifting and graffiti

When I was a young teenager, my parents gave me some money to buy a new outfit at Sears. We didn’t live too far from there, so I walked over by myself. I was always careful with money, so I looked at the items I was interested in, compared prices and then tried a few things on before selecting the final item I wanted to purchase. The cashier looked at the woman standing behind me. It turned out that the woman was a plainclothes security guard whose job it was to profile and trail people who were likely to shoplift. I’m not sure why I was pegged.

Just because you didn’t see it, that doesn’t mean it never happened

There was a little boy sitting nervously on his bicycle as my dad talked to him. The boy had called my father a chink, and my father was calmly explaining that it wasn’t a nice thing to say, and that his parents would be disappointed to hear him say that to an adult. (Who’re we kidding? We all know that this kid probably learned to be a racist at home. But my father was giving him the benefit of the doubt.)

Jeremy Lin Matters to Kyle: Comments

When my Op-Ed piece on Jeremy Lin ran in the Chicago Tribune, a lot of people wrote in to comment about their own experiences growing up. More than a few questioned the veracity of my experiences. Here are just some of the comments that the Tribune published.

Jeremy Lin Matters to Kyle

Jeremy Lin is riding a well-deserved wave of goodwill and adulation. After being undrafted and waived by not one, but two, NBA teams last year–the 23-year-old point guard for the New York Knicks has become the sport’s latest sensation. And Asian Americans are loving it. Each time Lin shows off his skills on the basketball court or does an on-air interview where—surprise!–he has no accent, he helps Asian Americans get one step closer to being accepted as “real” Americans.

Go Away With … Hines Ward

Born in Seoul, South Korea, to an African-American father and a Korean mother, Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Hines Ward was raised in Atlanta by his mother after his parents divorced. Because he looked “different,” it was challenging to make friends. But football became the great equalizer and suddenly no one cared what color the young phenom was. Now 35, Ward is the first Korean-American to have won the Super Bowl MVP Award. He’s hoping that his agility on the gridiron carries over to the ballroom. Ward is one of the contestants competing on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” this season.

Donnie Yen: Asians of change

Jet Li. Jackie Chan. Donnie Yen. Quick. Which one of these action film stars grew up in the United States? Or, more appropriately, which one of these stars had to leave the United States before he could make a name for himself in Hollywood? That would be Yen. Sure, while he’s not as famous in the United States as either Li or Chan, he has a loyal following worldwide and an impressive resume of films — the best of which were made in Hong Kong.

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