Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

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Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by Trader Joe on Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:49 pm

Stems from a discussion sparked on PD when someone referred to Yao as a Chinaman. I don't think he honestly meant anything by it, but several other posters have said it is not offensive.

To me, however, it is. I have three adopted siblings from China, and I'd spill blood if someone ever called one of them that knowing the historic use of that word in this country.

Hicks says it is no different than using Englishman or Frenchman, which IMO is ridiculous in every sense considering again the historic use of the word, but yet is another example of Hicks having a somewhat ethno-centric view of the world.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by The Toxic Avenger on Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:58 pm

I would say offensive. Its all about the context though... just like Mexican is not an offensive term but if someone were to say, "Don't bother taking out the trash, I'll get the mexicans to do it."

Offensive.


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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by Trader Joe on Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:00 pm

At the same time TA, Mexican is the only word for describing someone from Mexico unless you are a fan of Latino or Latina, which I guess do work.

With Chinaman, you could call them Chinese, Asian, there are a lot of alternatives.

I think a lot of people forget that Chinaman and it's use stem from the almost slave like treatment of Chinese immigrants during the construction of the railroads.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by sig on Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:00 pm

Yeah, I saw that. It's tiring to see Hicks ALWAYS jump in on the pro-status quo and -homogeneity side of these things. I understand the logic, but to say "Chinaman is the same as Englishman" or "if we have Black Studies [or whatever], why not White Studies" is to presume that all races have (or have had) an equal share of social power.

I think it's an administrative error to rush in as quickly as he did with that response, as his actions speak for the forum as well as himself, and that sets an undesirable tone.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by The Toxic Avenger on Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:54 pm

Well if you ask any hick (pun) from Indiana columbians, dominicans, gautemalans, or costa ricans are all "Mexican" so I think its similar in that way but I digress...

I agree that Chinaman wont be acceptable for a very long time.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by balloon on Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:50 pm

Trader Joe wrote:Hicks says it is no different than using Englishman or Frenchman...
No

sig wrote:Yeah, I saw that. It's tiring to see Hicks ALWAYS jump in on the pro-status quo and -homogeneity side of these things. I understand the logic, but to say "Chinaman is the same as Englishman" or "if we have Black Studies [or whatever], why not White Studies" is to presume that all races have (or have had) an equal share of social power.

I think it's an administrative error to rush in as quickly as he did with that response, as his actions speak for the forum as well as himself, and that sets an undesirable tone.
Good post. And from discussions I've had with Hicks in the past, he seems to heavily advocate for those status-quo, normalized definitions and/or realities. In turn, he often misconceives of alternative realities/meanings as being unfounded, antagonistic, or non-existent altogether. I'm not going to blame him directly, as he would seem to fall victim to the much larger problem of colour-blindness.

The Toxic Avenger wrote:I would say offensive. Its all about the context though... just like Mexican is not an offensive term but if someone were to say, "Don't bother taking out the trash, I'll get the mexicans to do it."

Offensive.
I can understand what you're saying with regards to the term "Mexican" - but I don't think the term "Chinaman" has any appropriate context.

Trader Joe wrote:At the same time TA, Mexican is the only word for describing someone from Mexico unless you are a fan of Latino or Latina, which I guess do work.
This is a topic that has been debated for quite some time (labeling) - and there are many different opinions on what term should be embraced (if any one at all). Some have expressed problems with Latino/Latina - and there are other alternatives that also have their respective issues.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by sig on Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:11 pm

My grandfather is a Mexican who immigrated here in his youth. One day at Home Depot a couple months ago there was a young (twenties) Mexican in front of him in the check-out lane. As my grandpa was paying for his own stuff, he noticed that the guy before him forgot to grab the stuff he bought. My grandpa ran out of the store into the parking lot and shouted Somebody stop that Mexican!!!

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by cdash on Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:16 am

Not to me, but I am not a Chinese or a Chinaman.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by N8R on Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:37 am

I honestly never thought about it. I wouldn't think it was racist but I can definitely see it now with this discussion. I don't think I have ever really used the word unless I was making a stupid ironic joke.

If I refer to someone from China I would usually say Asian, most of the continent I would say Asian just because I know it is not offensive...I think??

I didn't know you had adopted siblings from China there Trader. Are they older than you? Any particular reason your parents did this? How did you find it growing up in a culture like that?

I have a few adopted aunts on my dad's side who are part Native (didn't even know they were until just a few weeks ago).

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by Trader Joe on Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:14 am

They are all younger than me N8R.

I have a 19 year old biological sister, and then a 10, 8, and 6 year old sisters from China.

My parents wanted to have more kids after my first sister, but my mom had miscarriages both times they tried to conceive, so we decided to adopt.

They were inspired by a family at our church who had adopted a little girl named Lucy from China. Which is a bizarre coincidence and one of my true personal moments of "There has to be a higher power with a sense of humor, otherwise how do you explain this??" For years and year there had been a painting hanging in the front entry way of our home that was done in a contemporary style by an artist my parents loved. It was interesting because it was a bunch of different little scenes with a sentence and each one was focused on a letter from the alphabet. Well, "L" was a little girl next to some lambs, and the caption was "Lucy leads the lambs".

Lucy has had a rough life, her parents are now divorced and have been fighting non-stop for the past couple years, but my family owes her a great debt. We consider my three sisters her "lambs" as she was the reason we were inspired to do it.

I was able to travel to China to receive my first sister, and that trip was amazing. There have been many other stories that occurred due to our adoption experiences that are proof to me of a higher power and are miracles in their own way if anyone would like to hear them.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by N8R on Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:01 am

Thank you for sharing Trader, unfortunately I now see you as a human and not just a poster on a forum...you must be taken out. Jack Bauer to the rescue.

So was it a family decision for you to adopt? And every sibling since has it just been an obvious choice?

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by Trader Joe on Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:43 pm

Yes, it was a family decision, but my parents felt truly called to do it. There are amazing stories/experiences involving all of my sisters.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by Los Angeles on Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:08 pm

Great story, TJ!

I can't for the life of me imagine a situation where using the term "Chinaman" wouldn't be offensive. "Chinaman" is offensive. Period.

Any argument to the contrary only reveals that the arguer's obtuse social ignorance.

It's right next to use of the word "colored" on the I-can't-believe-that-asshole-just-said-that scale.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by Los Angeles on Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:00 pm

Plus, if it were the dame as "Englishman" it would be "Chineseman". It's not. It's Chinaman. The place, not the people.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by cdash on Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:07 pm

Los Angeles wrote:Plus, if it were the dame as "Englishman" it would be "Chineseman". It's not. It's Chinaman. The place, not the people.

Englandman! Ehh, doesn't have a nice ring to it.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by N8R on Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:29 am

I brought this question up to a group of friends yesterday and they said they did not think it was racists but they agreed it wasnt a great term but they more felt it was offensive because if you called someone Chinaman who wasn't from China that would be the insult of it. I explained the true meaning behind the word and they began to see the true offensiveness of it.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by The Toxic Avenger on Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:30 am

I guess I don't really know its origins... Other than being used during the great railroad expansion era to describe Asian immigrants.

Because it seems the "N" word has NO purpose other than to be offensive. In that light "Chinaman" is as descriptive as a Shakespearean sonnet. Albeit derogatory AND offensive.

Again, I agree its offensive but what makes its origins SOO bad compared to words like Pollock or Mick or Kraut? Or am I just naive enough to think that NOBODY would use these words in our society unless they were being intentionally racist or trying to be endearing to a close friend.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by N8R on Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:44 pm

I was having lunch with my parents and my step dad used the word Chinaman. It is funny how you never hear the word for years or really ever and then it is brought up and sudden you notice it being said. He didn't use it to be offensive, from my understanding of how he used it he was actually using it to describe asians.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by kester on Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:42 pm

PERSONALLY, i DON'T BELIEVE ANY WORD IS OFFENSIVE IN AND OF ITSELF. Stupid caps lock.

Anyway...whether the word is meant as an insult is not, therefor, the crucial bit. The important thing is whether the word is offensive to your listeners. Some words are obviously so, and even if that list changes over the decades, we don't live in the 1890s or 1960s, we live in the '10s....so if it is considered offensive, and you are a person who wishes to avoid offense, you won't use it.

One thing I'm not real hip on is the 'it doesn't personally bother me, but I know it is offensive' comments. Mmmmm...maybe let the actually offended make the call? Or possibly those comments are just trying to be helpful, informing the uninformed.

Another comment from above this post somewhere...from sweabs...somehow concerning the insidious danger of 'color blindness'....really? That color blindness would be the ultimate goal, IMO. Perhaps some more hip, more relevant, more nuanced campus deconstruction has proven the inequality of egalitarianism or the essential bigotry of a lack of prejudice since I enjoyed life in a liberal community...but I don't get it (and don't think I would want to. It sounds about as logically straightforward as Heidegger).

Oh, OK, maybe just being disingenuous above....I probably could parse the logic of the sweabs thought fragment...something like 'to be color-blind ignores the genuine and multi-faceted concerns that each group of our diverse culture may have. It ignores history, and can be an excuse for reactionary policies.' If it's something along those lines, I get it, short-term, but if it means that in 100 years, color-blindness would still somehow be a bad thing, then perhaps I don't...get it.

-------------

In reference to 'race,' in general, I don't believe it is one of the scientific terms used in biological classification, no matter which taxonomic system you favor. So at the beginning of any discussion on race, we are setting sail into a great sea of inaccuracy. I don't see how any true conclusions can be drawn if we use inaccurate terms. We are the human race, or the term is useless (and worse, being divisive), IMO.

Other inaccurate terms: black, white, yellow. I am none of those, and neither are you, whoever you are. We are all some shade of tan...from pinkish tan to deep tan to shades of brown...all depending on the season and exposure to the sun as much as genetics, so not only is discussing race a rocky proposition in that you are discussing an essentially nonexistent (or at best, personally defined) quality...we most often compound that problem by using inaccurate terms as categories. And again, the most commonly used terms -- black / white -- are not only inaccurate, they are polar opposites, which I can't help but think helps to couch the discussion in terms of Us vs Them to begin with. Is it any wonder the whols topic is divisive?

National or regional origin, as terminology, makes the most sense to me, if we must discuss 'differences,' because a Canadian does have different outlooks, religious heritage, etc from a Lithuanian, from a Guatemalan, just as an Irish-American would carry different baggage than a Polish-American, etc.

Color certainly doesn't do it for me, as a basis of discussion, and as far as racial categories, you don't have to go very far into the future, I think, to see all the categories becoming really useless. My children already don't have a little circle to check on the school admission forms or the tax forms...they have to check more than one circle, or the only choices become 'N/A' or 'other.' What will their children check?

I kind of like the N/A.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by balloon on Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:46 am

kester wrote:Another comment from above this post somewhere...from sweabs...somehow concerning the insidious danger of 'color blindness'....really? That color blindness would be the ultimate goal, IMO. Perhaps some more hip, more relevant, more nuanced campus deconstruction has proven the inequality of egalitarianism or the essential bigotry of a lack of prejudice since I enjoyed life in a liberal community...but I don't get it (and don't think I would want to. It sounds about as logically straightforward as Heidegger).

Oh, OK, maybe just being disingenuous above....I probably could parse the logic of the sweabs thought fragment...something like 'to be color-blind ignores the genuine and multi-faceted concerns that each group of our diverse culture may have. It ignores history, and can be an excuse for reactionary policies.' If it's something along those lines, I get it, short-term, but if it means that in 100 years, color-blindness would still somehow be a bad thing, then perhaps I don't...get it.
I really like Kesty, so I'm not going to bring MH's name into any more discussions. That's a promise!

I enjoyed your post. You're right - I see colour-blindness as a problem, and I think you appreciate the concerns. You said "it ignores history"...and to my way of thinking, there could be no bigger crime. What history becomes ignored? We are products of our history - we are the living embodiment of those histories. In fact, "Chinaman" might actually be recognized for its oppressive and offensive nature if its history wasn't already ignored. Colour-blindness advocates that we do away with these histories altogether, which certainly benefits some people. Heaven forbid we recognize that some groups, based upon these histories, maintain a different perspective and outlook on life - or a different sense of reality. But they're told to repress that, or to forget it under the narrative of colour-blindness. And once we ignore how these people are affected by their histories, aren't they placed at an immense disadvantage in society? The pseudo-egalitarian message would then seem to suggest these people's experienced shortcomings and hardships are the result of some natural inability to succeed or be happy, which would do nothing more than reinforce racial stereotypes.

Kesty wrote:In reference to 'race,' in general, I don't believe it is one of the scientific terms used in biological classification, no matter which taxonomic system you favor. So at the beginning of any discussion on race, we are setting sail into a great sea of inaccuracy. I don't see how any true conclusions can be drawn if we use inaccurate terms. We are the human race, or the term is useless (and worse, being divisive), IMO.
Unfortunately, "raciology" is still very much alive. Believe it or not, there are still scholars who continue to examine 'race' as if it exists as a biological classification. The "research" they conduct is nothing more than excused racism in the name of "science."

Kesty wrote:Other inaccurate terms: black, white, yellow. I am none of those, and neither are you, whoever you are. We are all some shade of tan...from pinkish tan to deep tan to shades of brown...all depending on the season and exposure to the sun as much as genetics, so not only is discussing race a rocky proposition in that you are discussing an essentially nonexistent (or at best, personally defined) quality...we most often compound that problem by using inaccurate terms as categories. And again, the most commonly used terms -- black / white -- are not only inaccurate, they are polar opposites, which I can't help but think helps to couch the discussion in terms of Us vs Them to begin with. Is it any wonder the whols topic is divisive?
I like this point. As colours, black and white are most definitely insufficient labels to characterize such a wide variety of people. From a natural perspective, they make little sense. But society...history...has given meaning to these colours. So any discussion we have regarding race must acknowledge the way these colours exist or are used to signify meaning. Particularly Whiteness. It is crucial to interrogate what constitutes as "White" - since it has traditionally been framed as invisible. But its invisibility is what has afforded it with its power - tracing Whiteness, one can begin to see how groups such as the Irish were at one time not even considered "White" to begin with. I think you're right, that as natural categories these labels make little sense - but as social categories they have considerable meaning. And if we are to combat racism, it is necessary to acknowledge these social constructions.

Kesty wrote:National or regional origin, as terminology, makes the most sense to me, if we must discuss 'differences,' because a Canadian does have different outlooks, religious heritage, etc from a Lithuanian, from a Guatemalan, just as an Irish-American would carry different baggage than a Polish-American, etc.
Wouldn't this be something closer to "ethnicity", though? Race concerns itself specifically with skin colour. And like I've said, these colours have been constructed to hold so much meaning. Judgments are made based solely on skin colour - we can't ignore that. The Lithuanian maintains certain advantages over the Guatemalan based solely on the colour of his skin.

Kesty wrote:Color certainly doesn't do it for me, as a basis of discussion, and as far as racial categories, you don't have to go very far into the future, I think, to see all the categories becoming really useless. My children already don't have a little circle to check on the school admission forms or the tax forms...they have to check more than one circle, or the only choices become 'N/A' or 'other.' What will their children check.
Races are categories that are manipulated and invented by society.

Kesty, sorry for chopping things up here, but there were a few things I wanted to comment on. I like these discussions and I hope I did not say anything to offend. I really enjoyed reading your post.

balloon
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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by kester on Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:30 am

I just think any discussion of this anywhere desrves the comment that 'I am a member of the human race.'

We may know that black and white have been used as racial categories...are still used so...but that doesn't make it accurate, or worthwhile. Acknowledge and analyze the historical implications of that form of thinking as you will, but don't lend it legitimacy by accepting the terms and using them. That's what I say, by golly.

If you've ever tried to go without those handy-dandy black/white terms, you've probably seen how hard it is. It has been for me, anyway. African-American and Euro-American are soooo clunky, but at least they mean something. Really, I could go for months without the subject ever coming up, and I do work in a multi-cultural environment...or a monolithic culture in another way...because to the Army, everyone is green. We say that. We do.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by sig on Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:24 pm

Kesty, you work in the army?

I think those who have been oppressed and enslaved for centuries because of the arbitrary designation 'black' would disagree with you that it is an inaccurate one. The concept of race [to distinguish between humans] may not be a scientific one, but that doesn't mean it isn't real.

You don't have to "accept" the terms. They're there, regardless of whether you choose to acknowledge them. Ignoring their presence and pussyfooting around the word 'black' is in essence voiding the field to a) the way things are and have been, and b) the ignorant and vile [eg FOXNEWS drones] who have no problem at all w/ using these terms to their advantage.




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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by kester on Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:30 pm

Yes, I work for the Army. I teach networking...Cisco routers and routing protocols mostly.

Doesn't matter what anyone thinks. There are no white people. There are no black people. There are no yellow people. Get something actually black or yellow or white to hold up next to people. See. Doesn't match. Yes, sorry...obvious. I know you guys get that part.

Not using inaccurate, dialogue-damaging terms...black or white or yellow...is not pussyfooting. It is acknowledging the truth, and not sustaining a divisive lie. No one said anything about being disengaged, passive, or quiet. I am not ignoring their presence. I am actively opposing their presence. There are better terms to use.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by sig on Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:22 pm

Damn, I never knew that!!

kester wrote: There are no white people. There are no black people. There are no yellow people. Get something actually black or yellow or white to hold up next to people. See. Doesn't match.

Again, this is only true if you believe that if something isn't scientific or otherwise empirically based, then it's not real (or not worthwhile). Using this same logic you could denounce all of mathematics as foolish. [Go find me a number. . . see, you can't.] You're also ignoring the fact that 'black' or 'white' are not meant to be descriptors of actual colors. (At least not in this sense.) They're social categories. It's true that black the "race" != black the color. . . but it was never meant to.

I can refuse to call myself white all I want, but that doesn't change the fact that I as a person have all sorts of unearned privileges over others by the mere fact of being "white." Refusing to call it by its name does not make the probably go away, and to be honest it probably obscures that fact more than anything. The term 'white' makes my social privilege less invisible, and thus makes me personally responsible for how I use (or abuse) it. Reverting to calling myself Mexican-American (or American-Mexican??) would disingenuously side-step the question of race at all. Today I am white; hundread years ago, even with the exact same ethnicity, I probably am not.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

Post by kester on Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:18 pm

I believe any discussion as important as this needs a basis in reality. White and black are not true accurate terms, and, the kicker, they are opposites. That 'flavors' the discussion, just as it has flavored the relations between the people who ascribe to be members of those 'groups.'

Furthermore, skin tone is not a determining factor in behavior...not like ethnic background, national origin, cultural heritage...whatever you want to call it. Trying to address 'racial' inequalities of opportunity, resources, etc as an issue to be solved, while sticking to the 'black / white' terminology just seems to me to be deliberately limiting your ability to analyse. OK....not YOUR ability to analyse, but perpetuating the usage on to succeeding generations does not help. It sustains the divisiveness.

Our heritage of privelege comes from our membership in a European root-stock wave of immigration, and its members' exclusion of others because they didn't fit some category...white, protestant, anglo, 'good family,' monied, and so on.

I am not saying we should pretend history doesn't exist. I am saying we should not help perpetuate the problem by willingly using the terms that helped create the artificial (as in man-made) divisions.

Everyone, of course -- obviously, is free to use any terms they like, and if black and white seem to be the correct terms to someone, we'll just disagree there. I like to think that if something is worth saying, which references ethnic categories, then African-American or European-American, or terms something like those, lead us toward a more accurate dialogue. Yes, they are clunky terms, and awkward, but if I can't take the trouble to be accurate, perhaps I shouldn't be saying what I was about to say anyway.

---------------

Math is indeed a construct, a tool which helps us organise our thinking about the phenomonological world. And to the extent that it is good math, accurate math, it is a useful tool. Not foolish at all, unless you are trying to apply a faulty formula to a problem, or beginning with inaccurate terms.

---------------------

You must have never looked at my profile on PD. I don't do all this travelling to lovely locations like Hattiesburg, MS on tourist junkets. I'm on the road about six months a year teaching classes. Home for about a month now, though. Then either upstsate NY or another mission to NJ in September, I think.

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Re: Chinaman: Offensive word? Yes? No? Maybe?

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