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I was an Asian White SupremacistIt’s difficult for me to face my past. For the longest time, I tried to avoid it, block it out from my memory any way I could. But it’s time for me to talk about it.
I am a Taiwanese American woman. My mother and father were married in Taiwan and moved to the American south to open a Chinese restaurant. Typical, right? Before long, I was born. Shortly after that, my brother was born.
For most of my childhood, I experienced ostracization and bullying in my small, majority white town. The white children would pull their eyes back when I walked by, or refer to me using racial slurs like “chink”. I came to hate being different, and to wish that I was white. I would watch my favorite tv shows, and wish that I had blond hair and blue eyes like the women on Baywatch. And I would wish that I could have a blond haired, blue eyed white boyfriend, like Zach Morris on Saved By the Bell. To me, having a white boyfriend would represent the ultimate acceptance into American culture. White culture. It would bring me as close as possible to being a blond haired, blue eyed woman.
In high school, I started being a bit more social. I became friends with a white girl in my class named Kelly. We would watch Dawson’s Creek, and giggle about boys, and sneak shots from her dad’s whiskey collection. Kelly even invited me to parties, a huge step for me in fitting in with the white kids in school. At one of these parties, I met a boy from school named Brandon. Brandon had tussled blond hair and striking blue eyes. He was very, very white. I was instantly smitten with him. What attracted me to him? Was it his ability to hold interesting conversations? No, Brandon was the sort of sixteen year old who thought it made him interesting to make fart jokes, while I was the sort who read Sylvia Plath in my freetime. Was it his dashing good lucks and chiseled physique? No, Brandon was a bit overweight, too lazy to participate in any sports, and had a taste for Sonic burgers.
I was attracted to Brandon because he was white, and in my mind, his whiteness made him inherently better than my Asianness. Dating him would be an improvement; he was the one who was kind enough, empathetic enough, to date a lowly Asian girl like me.
After a year of dating Brandon (during which time he pressured me into having sex with him, and I pressured myself into believing I loved him), he began to change. He started frequenting Stormfront, and eventually joined a Neo Nazi organization. Instead of becoming put off by Brandon’s new racist views, I found myself turned on by them, and easily internalized those views myself. After all, wasn’t I inferior to Brandon? Weren’t white people superior to me? I myself had wished for blonde hair and blue eyes. Wasn’t that a tacit admission that white people were, simply, better?
It was a short step from that to internalizing the rest of the white supremacist dogma: that blacks were a dirty, fundamentally stupid race. That Mexicans, with their accelerated rate of breeding, would soon wipe out the white race. And Asians? Well, I reserved the greatest amount of hatred for Asians, which is to say I reserved the greatest amount of hatred for myself.
According to the Neo Nazis, Asians were close to the white race. Supposedly, Asians were intelligent and capable like the whites, but uncreative and servile. In addition, Asian men were patriarchal and abusive to women. Never mind that my father had been nothing but good to me and my mother, or that the most remotely patriarchal thing my brother had done was watch James Bond movies. No, Asian men were evil, along with a whole host of other deficiencies. As an Asian woman, I was somewhat absolved from the ills of the Asian man, if only because I recognized the superiority of the whites and tried so damn hard to be white. This was the ideology I parroted for Brandon, and that I parroted at his white supremacist meetings.
As my hatred grew, I could no longer stand living with my family. They had no idea I had adopted these views, and dismissed my growing anger and frustration as typical teenage venting. But the very sight of my parents or my brother was an inconsolable reminder that I was Asian, that my skin was yellow and my eyes narrow and my nose bridge wide. Eventually, I simply moved out of the house and told my parents not to look for me. I packed up my things, and Brandon and his friends picked me up to live in their house. They arrived in a pickup truck decked out in full Nazi regalia, swastika flags waving from the backseat. My father tried to stop me, tried to run after me, but I told him to let me go. When he wouldn’t, Brandon and his friends pulled a gun on my father, pistol whipped him, and smashed my father’s car with baseball bats. I stood on the side, cheering them on. At one point, I spit at my father and called him a ch*nk. Years later, after my father had somehow found the strength to forgive me, this is what causes me the most pain. So complete was my self-hate, so intense was my desire to be accepted as white, that I was willing to stand by and cheer while my so-called friends attacked my father. My father. The same man who had worked his fingers to the bone providing for me, making sure that even in a foreign land where he had nothing his children always had food on the table and a roof over their heads, the same man who had patiently taught me how to tie my shoelaces and ride a bicycle. My father may have forgiven me for this, but I will never be able to forgive myself. How can I?
Between the ages of 17 and 22, I lived in a house with my boyfriend Brandon and numerous other neo-Nazis. I lived, breathed, ate, slept white supremacy. I attended lectures filled with hate, read Mein Kampf cover to cover multiple times, discussed the various ways in which whites were superior and the problems of the other races. In between, there were barbecues to be hosted, and nights out at the bar, and baby showers complete with swastika-bedecked onesies for the gorgeous Aryan children who were the coming salvation of the white race. For the most part, my presence as an Asian woman did not seem to bother them, aside from the occasional comment that I was a “g**k” or a “ch*nk”, or suggestions that my vagina was horizontally aligned. I probably did a lot to put the others at ease by being so constantly vocal in my hatred of “n***ers”, “sp*cks”, and yes, even “ch*nks.” But then again, I wasn’t like those other ch*nks. I was practically white. Or so they told me. Or so I thought.
As I lived with Brandon in the house with the other neo Nazis, my self-hatred grew, and with it my hatred of anyone who wasn’t white. I’m ashamed to recount some of the things I did during those years. For all our talk of how much we hated minorities, of how much we wished to advance the white master race, the things that we did were more along the lines of teenage pranking. Spraying vulgar graffiti on black churches. Slashing the tires of cars owned by a Mexican family. Threatening the Pakistani man working at the convenience store and stealing Funyuns from him. Using racial slurs at every possible opportunity. This was what amounted to “white power” for us. For some reason, perhaps out of some strange twisted respect for me, they did not disturb my family, or my family’s restaurant, in any way. After I first left the white supremacists, in the midst of my delusions, I told myself that I had been protecting my family — that by joining the white supremacists, I was helping Asians like my family gain acceptance in the white community, and that I did what I had to do to protect my family from the white supremacists. Over time, I’ve managed to be more honest with myself, and have accepted that my actions were not done out of concern for my family. They were done, like so many of my actions, out of cowardice.
It took the birth of my son to leave that life behind. At first, Brandon was ecstatic to hear that I was pregnant. He spoke endlessly about his desire to give birth to a “little Aryan princess”. The possibility that I would have a son was simply never considered — how could my womb, my perfect almost-white womb, produce, in his words, a “slant-eyed g**k”? Alas, as an old Chinese saying goes, the plans of man are nothing compared to the plans of heaven. I had a son. A son who looked much more like me than his father: dark narrow eyes, wide nose, colored skin.
Brandon was devastated. I can still picture the disappointment in his eyes. I was disappointed too. I felt like I had failed him, like my fundamental flaws as a non-white Asian woman were being exposed. After the birth, Brandon became more distant towards me. He would rant about how he never should have gotten involved with a “dirty ch*nk”, how the child looked nothing like him, how he was really meant to be with a white woman who could give him an Aryan child. I put up with this behavior, partly because by then I was so conditioned to see myself as his inferior, and partly because I had no other options. I did not want to be a single mother with no way of fending for herself.
Eventually, Brandon started seeing another woman, a white woman. He told me I had three days to move out of the house, out of the room we had shared for over 5 years. And that was it. I was 22 years old, with no education, no real skills, and no home.
I can’t say enough about the women’s shelter that took me and my son in. I have never encountered as much selfless kindness as I did there. The women who worked at the shelter helped me register for community college classes, helped me get a job at a local grocery store that would help me pay the bills, helped take care of my son as I went to work. Their kindness was a beautiful, dramatic departure from the hate that I had been living with for five years. These amazing people did all this for me, even after they saw the grotesque swastika tattooed across my shoulder. Oh, and most of the women working in the shelter were black.
These days, I lead a content life. The swastika has been laser-etched off my shoulder. I have a stable job and a place of my own. I spend a lot of time with my son, who is now 7, and who continues to amaze me every day with his kindness and intelligence.
You may be wondering what has compelled me to share my story. To a large extent, I’d like to bring attention to the way our society makes young Asian women feel inferior, and tells them their only worth is in gaining acceptance by white men. This has led to an alarming trend of Asian women becoming romantically involved with white nationalists and white supremacists. Among others, Nigel Wise of the English Defense League, the white nationalist John Derbyshire, and countless others. My ex, Brandon, even tried to reach out to me, saying it’s become “acceptable” and “common” for white supremacists to date Asian women now. For those of you who may be judging myself and these Asian women, I ask that you please be empathetic. If you haven’t gone through it, you can’t understand the way that Asians are denigrated and made to feel lesser in all levels of American society, and the affect that this has on young Asian women.
You may be wondering, why now? Why, after so many years, have I finally decided to share these painful humiliating parts of my past? I wish I could say it’s because I still see so much hate, and I feel compelled to say something about it. That it’s because we live in a world in which young black men are being shot to death simply due to the color of their skin and a leading presidential candidate is calling for the mass deportation of all Americans of a certain race. But that would be disingenuous. The truth is, I’m writing this because of my son. The older he gets, the more my son resembles me — yellow skin, narrow eyes, wide nose bridge. I worry that men like my son’s father will attack my son, or try to use my son, or in any way, shape or form hurt my son. And if there is any way I can find a shred of redemption in this life, I will, I MUST, do everything I can to prevent that from happening.When I look into the mirror these days, I see my son’s Asian features. I no longer hate the way I look.