TikTok embroiled in racism debate over UK slang for Chinese takeout

TikTok embroiled in racism debate over UK slang for Chinese takeoutTikTok embroiled in racism debate over UK slang for Chinese takeout
Soogia (@soogia1)
British food vloggers are going viral on TikTok for the way they refer to Chinese takeout.
It all started when American TikTok user Soogia (@soogia1) posted a video on May 2 questioning why so many British food vloggers on the platform refer to Chinese takeout — or takeaway, for people in the U.K. — as “a Chinese.”
Using videos by U.K.-based TikTok creators @Corysworldd, @Charlyannec and @laurenkategriffiths as examples, Soogia notes that while she recognizes that the phrasing is not meant to be offensive, it still gives her pause to hear it.

This is no hate to them whatsoever. I know it’s not intended to be racist, but it feels like it is a little bit. It’s like that prompt that’s like, “Tell me something that isn’t racist but feels like it is.” It feels like that. It feels so strange that they all call it “a Chinese.”

Soogia also questioned the Chinese food itself, which seems to mainly consist of fries — or chips, for people in the U.K. — and “chicken balls,” which are fried spherical pieces of chicken. This is all topped off with a heap of curry sauce.
“I didn’t see any dumplings, no hotpot, no mapo tofu, no bao buns, no long beans. No American Chinese food staples like broccoli beef or kung pao chicken.”
Soogia’s now-viral video has received over 3.1 million views as of this writing.
U.K.-based TikTok users flooded the comments of Soogia’s video, with some providing context for the phrasing while others reacted more defensively.
“It’s shortened down from ‘a Chinese takeaway’ we do it for everything, I’d say ‘fancy going for an Italian,’” one user explained.
“Hi! Brit here; we say this for everything ‘an Indian, a Thai, an Italian, etc…’ as we always know it to be in reference to food, not done in malice!” another user wrote.
“Not everywhere is the same as America,” another user said.
“It’s almost like different cultures have different ways of saying things,” another user commented.
Two of the TikTokers featured in Soogia’s video, Lauren Griffiths and Corys World, posted response videos explaining the colloquialism.
Griffiths explains in her video:

Over the last two days, my account has been flooded with Americans confused as to why we cause a Chinese takeaway ‘a Chinese’ saying it sounds like we’re talking about a person. I want to clear it up because we are a lazy nation – it’s literally just us removing the word takeaway off the end. We’d do it for all cuisines. It’s genuinely not meant offensively in any way, shape or form. I’m really sorry if it comes across that way.

Likewise, Corys World corroborated Griffith’s explanation while also clarifying that the food served by the Chinese family who owns his local Chinese restaurant is not the same food that they eat, as their menu has been created to cater to the British palate.
The attention from Soogia’s original video has prompted aggressive comments on both her video and the videos of U.K.-based food vloggers.
In her explanation video, Griffiths also asked negative commenters to stop visiting her page:

I just wanted to do the video because over the past 24 hours, it’s gone to a different level. My page is being overwhelmed with horrible comments, my videos have been used and mimicked. My page is a really positive place, and it’s literally all changed in the last 24 hours. I understand being curious, but when it gets personal I’m not meaning to be offensive, and that’s where it needs to stop. You can easily click not interested or block me and then you won’t be seeing my videos.

Likewise, Soogia made her own follow-up post stating that she, too, has been on the receiving end of hateful comments. Although she was explicit in her original video in saying that she does not believe people from the U.K. who refer to Chinese takeout as “a Chinese” are racist, Soogia says some of the messages and comments she has received have been.

But I will tell you, the amount of triggered people at me just saying the word “racist” in an effort to prove to me how racist they aren’t have called me a dog eater, have told me to go back to my country, have called me every slur in the book to prove how “un-racist” they are.

In her most recent follow-up video, Soogia calls out commenters who said her questioning of the phrase’s origins was “a reach,” pointing to one comment she received from a user who explained that some people in the U.K. also refer to Chinese takeout as “chinky.”
“Let me ask you a question. What’d your grandparents call Chinese food? Was it this?” Soogia asks as she points to a comment that reads, “We also call it – chinky – it’s food.”
“Apparently, that’s what it used to be called, and actually some people still call it that,” she says.

That, as I’m sure you know, is a slur. And I know a lot of you are going to say, “It’s not a slur, it’s just what we call it.” I’m here to tell you, it’s both. So for those of you who cannot fathom how I could have possibly questioned the origins of “having a Chinese” knowing what it used to be called in Britain and say that I was reaching? No this wasn’t a reach, in fact, it was handed right f*cking to me.

Comments on her follow-up video, which has been viewed over 540,000 times as of this writing, ranged from outrage to disbelief, with some users apologizing for the phrasing and others denying its existence.
“Brit here – would commonly say “having a Chinese” but the slur is not okay and I apologise that people still think it’s acceptable,” one user commented.
“Yes and yes! don’t stop calling us Brits out! we don’t seem to grasp casual racism is rampant in our largely white population,” another user wrote.
“I’m a Brit. We don’t say that,” another user claimed.
“Wait I’m British and I have never heard anyone call it that. If I heard a friend say that I’d be furious with them!” another user said.

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