Jeannie Harrell is scheduled to get her day in court on vandalism charges this Wednesday, reports the LA Times.
The 26-year-old, who is half Japanese and grew up in Tokyo, lives in Chicago and couldn’t believe the name of the restaurant she saw walking home.
“I thought ‘Who thought this was a good idea?'” said Harrell. “What business would want that kind of attention, and why would they want to make our neighborhood look that way?”
The name of the restaurant was Chop Chop Chinaman. She scrawled an angry message on the restaurant’s window, dropping an “F” bomb and writing the words “hate crime.”
The owner watched the whole incident from the inside.
The story is reminiscent of the restaurant formally known as Chinks in Philadelphia. That restaurant was originally owned by a White man who’s friends nicknamed him “chink” because they thought he had slanted eyes.
The owner of Chop Chop Chinaman is 3/4 Chinese. His mother is Chinese-Italian.
For Lee, it was all about finding a restaurant name that would stick out above the rest of the other Chinese restaurants in Chicago.
“You have to take the risk,” said Larry Lee. “The one who kills the rabbit, eats.”
If you didn’t know the details of this story you might assume this is a generational divide. Not quite. Lee is 46.
Harnell was eventually tracked down by police through social media after she tweeted about the incident.
Chinaman has long been considered a racial slur by most Asian American and similar-minded people. Others insist its not different from Irishman, but historically the term has never had a positive connotation. Popular historical phrases like “not a Chinaman chance” and “Chinaman must go” come to mind.
You can read more about what triggered Harnell’s reaction and why Lee sees nothing wrong with the name in the LA Times.