In this series, we explore expressions seen in everyday life and others with more obscure origins.
You’ve probably heard of the racial slur “banana,” used to describe a person of Asian descent who acts “white” on the inside. And “yellow peril,” the racially loaded color metaphor that reflected a fear of East Asian people that was especially prevalent in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Ethnic slurs against the Chinese, and Asians at large, have been around for a long time, but here’s something that emerged from the ongoing protests in Hong Kong that many are arguing is racist in nature.
It all began in September when a video clip emerged that apparently showed a group of police officers kicking a man inside an alleyway in Fung Yau Street North, Yuen Long, during a heated protest that turned violent.
During these sensitive times — and with resentment against the police seemingly rising by the minute — that didn’t sit well with protesters.
Things didn’t get better. At a press conference on September 23, 2019, police official Vasco Williams defended officers captured in the video and said that they had done “nothing wrong.”
It was a “yellow object” they were kicking around, he said — and not a person.
“We don’t know what that yellow object is,” Williams said, “but there are other videos that are more clear that show the entire incident and there is no malpractice by the police.”
Many insist that the “yellow object” seen in the video was, in fact, a man in a yellow shirt.
Given the violent nature of incident, it has exacerbated anti-police feelings, particularly among protesters. Plenty are questioning why police officers were using so much violence to begin with.
So, what gives? Do you think it was an ethnic slur — or just an ill-thought out comment in a press conference? You decide.