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Wowsa! Complainers Take the Gold!

February 15, 2010

I really maintain no opinion about this yellow/gold fiasco, but apparently others do. Check out this rider mail entitled “Something I love (To complain about)”:

Regarding the MARTA Gold Line:

I love how people – who I, honestly, assume to be mostly white – are bitching so much about the yellow to gold line for the following reason.

These people feel unjustly oppressed by the dreaded “political correctness” of this move, because white people might have to make considerations for the fact that they have been racist in the past, and that some things, while they may not be racist in motive, might have unsettling connotations due to past racial events. Such as near indentured-servitude on the old railroads. Or putting Asians into American prison “camps” during World War Two simply for being Asian-Americans when were fighting a war against Asian-Asians. Or how yellow, to some, is the equivalent of the N-word or other derogatory terms. Faced with the possibility that they might have to acknowledge this, this is the sequence of events:

1) Decry that the world is becoming “too PC!” and that our first amendment rights are threatened (even though nothing legal is involved here).
2) Draw ridiculous comparisons about how things like yellow mustard will be banned next.
3) Say unquestionably racist things about the subject group, proving that yes, the subject group really DOES have a reason to question the motives of many white folks when they say or name things questionably.

Man, people can be stupid.

While I was reading that, this one appeared entitled “More Yellow Line Hate”:

I keep seeing people make worthless and supposed “analogies” between MARTA’s Yellow Line and WMATA’s Yellow Line. It’s true – WMATA’s Metrorail Yellow Line does indeed stop at Gallery Place/Chinatown Station, which is by DC’s Chinatown neighborhood. There; I said it. Them’s the facts; that thar’s the truth. Here’s my take on the perspectives and what I consider the reality.

Poor, silent majority, oppressed white folks:
“Holy crap! Can you believe this? In Washington, the Yellow Line stops at a Chinatown Station! That’s so funny – Asian people are yellow, and the line is yellow! Oh my God! And since the station’s called Chinatown, it must be in the middle of Chinatown! And all of the Chinese and Asian people in all of DC, greater Virginia, and greater Maryland must live there! And they’re not offended, so why are those Asians in Atlanta? Why, they’re just thin-skinned, and enabled by the ACLU/Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton/other racial activist! Clearly, the Asians in Washington, who again, all live in Chinatown, are much better-adjusted and reasonable people, while the ones here in Atlanta are too sensitive about being called derogatory things. Oh well, I guess I’ll just make fun of all of them and talk shit about Asians in general and maybe I’ll feel better.”

More of a realistic, factual perspective:
Washington DC’s Chinatown is small, taking up only a few blocks. According to wikipedia, it consists of “about 20 of ethnic Chinese and other Asian restaurants and small businesses.” Though never huge to begin with, its decline started in the 1970s after DC’s 1968 race riots. The WMATA Metrorail station opened in 1978, though it was originally only called “Gallery Place” – it ignored Chinatown entirely, though the name was changed in 1986 during an attempt at highlighting the area’s cultural heritage. However, by the 1980s, most of the areas population had moved to the suburbs – as of the 2000 Census, fewer than 700 Chinese residents remained, fewer than in the 1930s. Again, it should be noted that the Yellow Line was built and operating prior to the addition – or even consideration – that Chinatown was along its alignment. The association of Chinatown with the Yellow Line and Metrorail in general was after the fact and part of a partnership.

On DC’s Chinatown:
Lost in Transformation: Can a Tiny American Chinatown Survive Its Success?
Bye Bye Chinatown
DC Chinatown Pictures

Chamblee and Doraville have an incomparably larger Asian population, and are thriving Asian community centers. It’s fallacy to equate DC’s Chinatown with Atlanta’s Chamblee and Doraville, and the repeated “that’s so funny” tone when comparing/talking about this issue calls the credibility (and intent) of people making this argument into question. This argument is just pure racist drivel, and ignores all aspects of the Yellow Line problem. The Yellow Line and its visual representation on the map had an insensitive cultural reference to significant communities that reside and work along it – compared to Washington, where there’s hardly any community left.

Again, not saying that I think it was worth all of this hoopla, and not saying that I’d be offended if I were Asian (who knows? I’m not), but this problem could have been seen a mile away. Given that MARTA put itself into a catch-22 situation, I think it took the right way out – to clear up something with negative racial connotations instead of cow-towing to a bunch of histrionic Tea Partiers. I mean, if you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, it was a better choice to not look like racists and piss of idiots in the short term than to look like you’re either racist or stupid forever.

The complainer went on to cite examples:

  • Railfans pull all stops between “Asian” and “Midget”.
  • Chattanooga keeps it real. (Real white, that is).

    (I mean, come on, Chattnooga and 61? Old white guy. And that quote about Delta – you don’t ever have to take a flight here, and if you do, get the fuck back onto the next one and go home)

  • Bloggers who get stuff wrong. (MARTA isn’t a “bus company” nor are any MARTA employees “unfireable” just because they have a “government job.”)
  • AJC’s “Gold Dome Live” (even though this isn’t legislative. AJC is either trying to capitalize on the mess, or their tag algorithms are all fucked up.)
  • Why the AJC Vent isn’t a good idea: “Give me a break !!! MARTA gave in to that FOOLISHNESS, and renamed the yellow line the GOLD line, NOW THEY WILL OFFEND GOLDDIGGERS!!!”

    Have I mentioned that I don’t give a shit?

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