Coming home from, of all things, breakdance practice, I encountered a subtle form of racism that is fairly common for me. I was coming out of the Atlantic Avenue subway station in Brooklyn when I heard someone yell out "Jackie Chan!" in my direction. I turned to see a group of young black men and women hanging out near the station entrance. They all started laughing and then soon turned back to their conversation.
This happens fairly frequently when I’m in African-American neighborhoods, usually when I’m alone. And it always just takes the wind out of my sails. How do you respond when someone shouts in your face, "Bruce Lee"?
I’d like to respond, "Hey, that’s not cool. First of all, why are you shouting at someone you don’t know? And why is mentioning an Asian actor relevant in any way?" But I just keep walking, confused and angry.