Feb 11, 2010

The Spitting Problem

I'll be the first to say it - the Chinese immigrants in Chinatown need to stop spitting on the street! Not only that, they need to stop blowing their nose into their hands and then shaking that crap off too. It's a personal affront when I see them doing stuff like this. It drives me crazy! Not only is it a filthy habit, it makes Chinese people look absolutely disgusting!!! I'm so ashamed of their behavior. It reflects poorly on me. The only reason why they do it - ignorance. 90% of the Chinese you see in Chinatown are from the Fujian Province. They comprise the newest wave of immigrants. These are not Hong Kongnese, Shanghai-nese, or Taiwanese (just roll with me even if you don't know the difference). The majority of Fujianese are villagers, farmers, people from very agricultural, low-income, and basic educational backgrounds. They come to NYC to make money in the restaurant community and send the money back to their families in China. Sounds noble? Yes and no.

For one thing, and call me a Fascist (I don't care!), if you are going to come to a new country and reap the benefits of what this country has to offer (higher pay, freedom, life & educational opportunities), the least you can do is TRY to conduct yourself in a respectable manner. I'm not saying they have to suddenly start doing double air kisses or say "Ciao, darling!" to every Harry, Tom, and Dick, but come on! Hacking up a big phlegm on Essex Street and blowing your nose onto the subway track? How is that civilized behavior? The way I see it, it's cultural rape. You come to this country, you don't pay tax (I'm pretty sure the rest business is cash and under the table), you send all the money back to your home country, and you take and take disrespecting the cultural norms of this country and disrespecting yourself. Where is my skin lightening cream???

My Dad, who is originally from Wubei, hates coming to NYC to visit me because he can't stand Chinatown. He says they are all peasants and behave like they are still standing in their rice paddies. So what's the solution? When I went to Shanghai six years ago, I noticed that the government has taken a huge initiative to put up public signs saying "No Spitting". Sociological change like getting the Chinese to stop spitting on the street is gradual and will take time. One of those Malcom Gladwell theories about the rule of 150 probably. Why can't Bloomberg install "No Spitting" signs in Chinatown? It will secretly make a lot of people happy. Me, for sure. If he is reluctant to do so then it's the job of the outreach organizations in Chinatown to educate the newcomers on basic Do's and Don'ts of living in the US. You want everyone to see how cool and interesting the Chinese culture is? Enough about the soup dumplings and the dragon dances. Stop the spitting first.


  1. i don't like networked blogs bc it steals all your comments....

  2. There used to be stenciled signs on the subway station walls that said NO SPITTING. I propose having some kind of animal mascot do an ad campaign. We have Smokey the Bear saying "Smokey's friends don't play with matches," and Woodsy Owl saying "Give a hoot, don't pollute." I want a character (a rat?) that says, "Give a shit, don't spit!"

    If you ever want to read a great detective story, that also tells you a lot about Chinatown's cultural clashes between Hong Kongese, Taiwanese, Cantonese and Fujianese (this was before the Vietnamese arrived), read Ed Lin's "Snakes Don't Run." It follows a Chinese-American detective, native of Chinatown, who is trying to track down vicious human traffickers. A great, fun book.

  3. are you kiddin me??? I am reading "Snakes Don't Run" right now!! I've been a BIG fan of Ed Lin since "Waylaid" and I recently met him at his open mic night at the Asian Writers Workshop with his co-host Jen Kwok - and I was totally starstruck! I think that's hilarious the rat as the anti-spitting spokes-animal.