This is what Black on Asian crime looks like

Yes, we can still talk about this while supporting BLM

Ken Dow ✈️
13 min readJul 31, 2020

I grew up in a poor inner city neighborhood in the 90s. Like many poor inner city neighborhoods, the racial makeup of the city leaned heavily Black. But by no means were the poor only Black — there was enough poverty and hardship to go around for all races living there. Poor Asians, Latinos, Whites — you name it, we had it.

As is the case for many poor Chinese, my family worked in one of those Chinese takeout restaurants — the ones that you see on every city block where the menu and food is fairly identical to the one just down the street. It’s a competitive market where prices are low and doing just above breaking even for the business is considered doing quite well.

As a child of parents who worked in a Chinese restaurant, this also meant that I spent a lot of time working in the restaurant as well. Before the age of 10, I had more experience in the kitchen than most millennials today have by the age of 30. As you might imagine, working so many hours at a restaurant in a poor neighborhood is a master class for learning how to wrap dumplings and peel shrimp, but what might be less obvious is how much you learn about social and racial dynamics in poor America.

Our restaurant served the Black community. The prices are kept low and savings are passed onto the neighborhood. In the twenty five years of operating in the neighborhood, we’ve only raised prices once — a marginal amount compared to the inflation that the country has seen over the same time period. No one takes a break — you can count on these restaurants to be open late at night or on holidays.

More importantly, my parents were actively engaged in the community — they knew the names of their customers, their favorite orders, the names of their children, and participated in their fundraisers. If a customer’s child was selling girl scout cookies, we participated. If a customer was trying to launch a business selling artisan handcrafts, we’d be the first customers.

I remember very clearly one instance — a frequent customer (Jordan) came in wanting to sell jewelry. It seemed like a normal transaction as it happened before my eyes, but it was only after the transaction did my parents talk to me about it did I realize not only just how much of their lives revolving working and living in the community, but how much they tried to be a part of it as well. They knew at a first glance that the watch that Jordan was selling was fake, but they bought it from him anyways knowing that he had recently lost his job and had to support an entire family. Jordan left with a few hundred dollars and his dignity in tact as my parents never once showed any sign that they knew Jordan was coming to them in a position of weakness.

Interactions like these were the prettier parts of living and working in the neighborhood. And as common as these pleasant interactions were, there were a fair share of much more unpleasant interactions that were just as common.

For those who know anything about operating a Chinese takeout restaurant (or perhaps any restaurant in an inner city neighborhood), it might not come as a surprise that the hardest position to hire for, despite being the highest paid position, is that of the delivery driver.

The high pay doesn’t come from tips — tipping is quite rare in these neighborhoods, especially towards Chinese takeout restaurants. The reason that the pay is higher for the delivery driver is because of the danger that they face when driving alone to unfamiliar locations to deliver food to poor neighborhoods in the darkest of the night.

While a server or a cook can sometimes be in the same position for years, we expected to need to hire a new delivery person every three months. Three months is the amount of time on average that we’d expect our driver to get mugged, robbed, and/or beaten on a delivery and as a result, quit the next day. In fact, in the years that we’ve been operating so far, I can remember twice that we’ve had the delivery driver even hospitalized — for doing nothing other than his job in a dangerous neighborhood, all while having the face of someone who society would never care to defend if he were to get hurt.

If the gravity of that reality hasn’t settled in yet, let me ask you this. In what other job, might you expect psychical injury to be part of the job description at a cadence more often that once every 3 months?

When I was younger, I just assumed that this was the price paid for operating in a poor neighborhood. But as I grew older, I was able to notice the patterns a little more clearly.

While there were poor people of all races around the neighborhood, why was it that it was almost exclusive the Black customers who took advantage of the Chinese delivery driver? Why was it that while crime happened to delivery drivers of other restaurants, such as pizza shops or sandwich shops, it seemed to happen way more frequently to these Chinese restaurants?

Unfortunately, I can’t say that my personal stories are any less cruel. Like I mentioned above, we lived and worked in the neighborhood. We did all that we can to be as much a part of the community as we could.

I got my haircut just down the street from the restaurant — a Black barbershop. I went to a public elementary school in the area — a predominantly Black student body. I played basketball with the kids around the neighborhood — a predominantly Black area.

One night, I was walking back home to the restaurant after playing basketball at a neighborhood gym. As was normal for many kids in the neighborhood, I was walking alone. People who grow up poor don’t have the luxury of having parents with enough free time or nannies to transport the kids around everywhere.

Also, as was normal for a Chinese boy growing up in a predominantly Black neighborhood, sometimes I faced a little racism. On the easier days, it was being called a chink or having someone shout “ni hao” at me. On slightly harder days, it was part chink, part “ni hao”, part unsolicited shoving. I knew how to handle these situations. Don’t react and keep walking. Keep your head down and the bullies will eventually get bored and find something else to do other than pick on me.

On the hardest of the days, keeping my head down and continuing to walk just wasn’t enough. As I was walking back home to the restaurant from playing some pickup basketball that evening, I ran into two Black teenagers a few years older than me (I was about 12 years old at the time). The shoving turned aggressive and next time I knew, I was being grappled and held to the group. For a few seconds, I didn’t react. I let them have their fun with me, but when it became clear that I wasn’t going to be getting out of that situation anytime soon, I tried to break out of their hold and run.

And the moment I exerted some effort to break their hold on me, a knife came out. A knife came out and slashed me across my back and within a few seconds, blood was gushing to the ground. Realizing that this might not be the situation they’d want to get caught in, both my attackers quickly scurried away.

Did I do anything wrong to bring on this attack? Or did I just happen to have the face of someone who society would never care to defend if I were to get hurt?

I reached in my bag and took out my towel and tied it around my waist to control the blood flow. I walked home, took a shower, put some bandages over the wound and never told my parents about the incident.

Why didn’t I tell my parents about the incident? Didn’t I need medical attention? Didn’t I need at least some emotional support after being violently attacked by strangers as a 12 year old child?

Perhaps I did. But these concerns were easily outweighed by what I knew would happen if my parents were to find out about the incident. They would immediately go to the police and report the incident. News would travel fast and soon the entire neighborhood would know that my parents, two Chinese adults had called for an investigation on two Black teenage boys.

At best, my parents would have lost all of their customers. At worst, they would have been violently attacked themselves.

This is the reality of living in a poor, predominantly Black neighborhood while being Chinese. No matter what, no matter how much we tried to integrate ourselves as supportive members of the community, the community protects their own.

I walked around for the next 15 years of my life with knife fragments in my back. I always felt these small round bumps on my back where the attack occurred, but I never did anything about it. American healthcare is prohibitively expensive and I never had the money to have this “elective surgery”.

Those 15 years ended when I got a corporate job that came with insurance and finally went to go see a doctor to get these round little bumps removed. Needless to say, both the doctor and laboratory were shocked when they realized that these indeed were metal fragments some of which were located just millimeters away from my spine.

I look upon that night 15 years ago with a feeling of luck and fortune. Getting racially profiled and physically attacked before I had even reached my teenage years for doing nothing — that’s absolutely terrible. But what would have been even more tragic is if the knife just went in a slightly different direction and I would have been rendered paralyzed for the rest of my life or even worse, dead. And beyond that, this story would have never seen the light of day as I just happened to be born with the face of someone who society would never care to defend if he were to get hurt.

Fast forward to 2020 and imagine how I feel when I hear statements such as “Blacks have been oppressed for so long, they have no choice but to violently riot in the streets” or “destroying a business is nothing in comparison to being racially targeted by law enforcement”.

This isn’t a story about the politics of how valid those statements are. However, what I will say is that the people who tend to make those statements seem to think that rioting is a victimless crime. It’s not. The rioting and the societal defense that making those statements gives to empower those committing the crimes have real victims — and too often, those victims are people that look like me.

If you think my stories are just an anecdote and cannot be generalized to the general public, this is true — you have a point. This is indeed an individual story. If you don’t like my story — there’s plenty of other stories that sound similar. Just take a peek at this IG account which documents plenty of crimes against Asians. Take a look and can you realistically tell me that you don’t notice a trend among the perpetrators?

If you’re going to hold the position that individual stories are just anecdotes and cannot be generalized to the general public, then I ask that you do the same when you hear of all of the other individual stories as well. Perhaps these other stories of innocent people getting murdered, raped, and violently attacked should be discounted as well. If individual stories matter, they should all matter. If they don’t, then none of them should.

Picking and choosing which stories have more credence or significance over another is discriminatory and a sign sign of privilege, especially when the narratives that you support is one of which is in the driver’s seat of the mass media.

Let me be unapologetic about this. Blacks being targeted unfairly targeted specifically by law enforcement, especially white law enforcement, is an absolute travesty that this world should not have to contend with. Growing up Asian in America and being disproportionately targeted specifically by Blacks for violent crime is absolutely no less of a travesty that this world should not have to contend with.

If personal anecdotes don’t do much for you, let’s talk about the statistics. The DOJ releases an annual report each year detailing some statistics related to violent crime. Let’s take a look at what it says.

There’s a lot of numbers on this chart, but bear with me here. The stats will still come as a shock no matter how much you try to control your biases.

Blacks made up 1.15 million of “offenders” of violent crime and 0.64 million victims. That means that they are 2.0x as likely to be a perpetrator of crime than a victim.

At face value, that’s pretty bad. If you’re part of a group that’s 2x more likely to commit violent crime than be the victim of violent crime. Some of you may say that their are system issues causing this — overly aggressively enforcement against Blacks relative to other racial groups, growing up in oppressed and poor communities that tend to breed these more violent tendencies.

Let’s assume that that argument can explain away the 2x ratio. I’ll give this one to you. But here’s a ratio that is so ridiculously skewed that you can’t possibly attempt to even explain this away.

This is a chart shows the cross-race incidences of violent crime. For each row, it shows the victim of crimes by race and the columns are the perpetrators of that crime by race.

Let’s go through a simple one first. For the Black row, you’ll see that 10.6% of violent crimes against Blacks are committed by whites and 70.3% of crimes committed against Blacks are by Blacks. For the white row, likewise you’ll see that 15.3% of violent crimes against whites are committed by Blacks and 62.1% of crimes against whites are by whites. Dividing the 15.3% by 10.6% and the mathematical conclusion is that Blacks are ~50% more likely to commit crimes against whites than whites are to commit crimes against Blacks. This might come as a bit of a shocker to you, but I haven’t even gotten to the most ridiculous number yet.

In the Black row, less than 0.1% of violent crimes against Blacks were committed by Asians. In the Asian row you’ll see that 27.5% of violent crimes against Asians are committed by Blacks.

That’s a ~280x ratio — Blacks are 280x more likely to commit violent crimes against Asians than Asians are to commit crimes against Blacks.

In fact, if you look deeper into the data, you’ll notice that the most common racial perpetrator for any victim is the same as the victim themselves. This makes sense — living in communities with people who look like yourselves and you’re bound to run into more violent situations with those people. The ONLY exception to this rule is for Asians. For Asians, Asians are not the most likely race to commit crime against themselves. For Asians, the most common perpetrator by race is Black.

I need to end this story with a bunch of disclaimers.

If you’re the typical Medium reader, you’re probably the worst combination of being an ignorant liberal elite while brainwashed by the mass liberal media. I obviously disagree with your viewpoints, (which by the way, can you even call them “your” viewpoints if it’s nothing more than a regurgitation of the New York Times bible scriptures which you chant religiously which itself is a bit funny and ironic considering your probable opposition to organized religion).

However, I commend you for making it this far and having read so much which disagrees with everything you believe in. Truly, no sarcasm at all, I thank you.

You probably think I’m racist, specifically racist towards blacks. This is not true. I won’t list down all my Black friends or how quickly I’ll come to defend a Black person who is actually racially targeted. You won’t believe me anyways and you’ll just give me a load of shit about “just because you do blah blah blah, it doesn’t make you not a racist”.

Instead, what I’ll do is tell you this. I’ll call you a hypocrite.

You damn well know that not even cop is bad. I know that. You know that.

We also both know that raising and lifting individual stories of specific Blacks who are racially targeted lifts the conversation so that we as a society can do something about it. We may disagree about how big the problem is in policing, but we both know there’s a lot of room for improvement there. You and I both know that we’ll be willfully dishonest if we go out and say that all cops are good. You and I both know that addressing the bad cops out there actually helps out those that are the good cops.

What I also know is that there’s a hell of a lot of good Black folks out there. But there’s also some pretty messed up ones — we can start with the two teenagers that decided to shank an innocent Asian 12 year old 15 years ago.

Lifting individual stories of specific Asians who are racially targeted lifts the conversation so that we as a society can do something about it. We may disagree about how big the problem is in Asian-Black relations, but we both know there’s a lot of room for improvement there. You and I both know that we’ll be willfully dishonest if we go out and say that all Blacks are good. You and I both know that addressing the bad Blacks out there actually helps out those that are the good Blacks