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Uncle Tong's Cabin

I’m visiting Houston, and staying in a hotel room without a kitchen, so last night I went out to pick up some dinner from a restaurant within walking distance: Uncle Tong’s Hunan Cuisine.

The owner of the restaurant met me at the door, and she seemed nice enough at first, as she took my order. As I was leaving, however, she volunteered an opinion about the neighborhood in which she had put her business. “Don’t go over there after dark,” she said, pointing to the Greenspoint Mall. “It’s very dangerous. There are too many blacks and Mexicans.” She repeated the warning, over and over again. It was such a strange thing for her to say, without any provocation, that I was caught off balance. I didn’t know what to say. At that moment, I wanted to escape the situation, so I just left.

Afterwards, I regretted my hasty withdrawal. I wished I had thought of something to say, like, “It’s not right for you to say that entire groups of people are dangerous, because of nothing other than their ethnicity. It’s racist, and I won’t be coming back to your restaurant.”

I missed the opportunity… so I’m making a new one right now. I’m writing this article to call out the Uncle Tong’s restaurant, and warn other people who live, work, or visit near the Greenspoint Plaza towers where the restaurant is located.

Uncle Tong’s Hunan Cuisine is operated by racists who use their business to encourage others to embrace racism. Racism makes their food taste like garbage. Don’t eat there.

uncle tongs

2 comments to Uncle Tong's Cabin

  • Bill

    I share the offense you feel. When we first moved to NC my good-old-boy neighbor, quite a welcoming guy, warned me repeatedly not to go into town after dark…for the same reason Uncle Tong offered you. This was actually pretty weird, because the murder rate in this town is like 1/500th of the murder rate in our previous city; I feel completely comfortable there at night.

    Anyway, I swallowed my outrage and held my tongue, partly because I needed to live next door to the guy, but partly because I sensed that his underlying problem wasn’t so much hateful bigotry as it was simple fear of the unknown combined with extreme provincialism; fearing easily identified and unknown ‘others’ is an emotion as old as mankind, quite probably wired into us (though that’s not to say it can’t be overcome). Sure, it’s fear of the unknown ‘other’ that is exactly the root cause of racism, but to my mind true bigotry includes an additional dimension of intentional evil…ill intent toward the ‘other,’ not merely fear. In those cases that don’t rise to true evil I think we need to be a little gentle in edumacating such folks. But that’s just me.

    • Bill, a definition of racism as only that which includes “evil” intention creates a small fringe category that ignores the majority of what racism is. Racism also includes fear, and thoughtlessness, and cowardice, and habit, and history, and folklore, and ignorance, and laziness.

      To fail to work against these flaws in ourselves may not require an ill intent toward others, but it often does have an ill intent that merely seeks to avoid being blatant in expression. It’s sloppy, sneaky racism, instead of Nazi marching right down Main Street racism. Regardless of form, it has an ill effect.

      I wrote this article because I realized that I had acquiesced to the restaurant owner’s sneaky, whispering racism, and I wanted to correct my mistake. When people spread nasty, bigoted ideas, they need to be called out on it. They need to learn that it’s their own ideas, not other people’s ethnicities, that are the problem.

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