Photo by Genghis
ETHNIC RIDERS: How common are they?.
“A term used to describe a society or time period in which discussion around race and racism have been deemed no longer revelant.”
The topic of ethnic riders is challenging subject to write about. I’m even at this late moment, deciding how to approach it. Let me first define what I mean by citing “ethnic riders.” By ethnic riders, I mean a group of bikers who’ve banded together, based on their common ethnic background. In popular usage, anything labeled “ethnic” is automatically assumed to subsist of groups made up of minorities. Just to be stubborn about this point though, even a majority ethnic group is “ethnic” by definition. Jus’ sayin’.
Until relatively recently, major outlaw clubs like the Hell’s Angels were all caucasian. However, that has changed, as you saw in my article “Another Chinese Member?” in which I wrote about a couple of contemporary Chinese Hell’s Angels. Although mostly white, outlaw motorcycle clubs have minority riders trickling into their ranks. This is a more open mindset not only among the white majority of these clubs, but also of the minority bikers (like Chinese Hell’s Angel Steven Yee) who are accepted into white-majority clubs. Here is an important point:
The minority biker must be open minded, in order to assimilate into such a group.
It is my contention that members of closed ethnic bikers groups lack the open-mindedness to join a assimilated club, due to a subtle form of reverse racism. For the sake of clarity (instead of hewing to technical accuracy), let’s stick to the commonly-used definition of “ethnic” riders or bikers, as any group in which all but the ethnic group is excluded, either by benign circumstance, or intentional enforcement. I recently had the chance to study such a group, which I will take pains to describe in only the most general terms—to protect this group’s privacy.
Another Chinese biker recently contacted me on Facebook. I and this other biker named Leland, had much common, because we are both photographers and ride Harleys. This other biker also has a background in having studied Hung Ga kung fu. This Chinese biker happens to live in a different American city than I live in, where he grew up in the Chinatown of that city.
Leland invited me to join a Facebook group of Chinatown bikers from his city. This Facebook group—other than me, because I live in a different part of the country than the members of this group—aren’t merely virtual bikers who don’t actually know and see others from the group, and only congregate through their keyboards. The members of this Chinatown riding group (this is not a one percenter club) all grew up in the Chinatown of the city they live in, and they ride together. Leland invited me to join the group, and the group members approved of my joining this closed Facebook group.
I would like to disclose at the outset, that I do not wish to insult members of this group with my observations, because they were kind enough to accept me into their closed group. That being said, I found profound differences between myself and the bikers in this group—primarily because I wasn’t raised in a Chinese enclave. I would also like to deny any value judging in my observations: We all are the products of our environments, no more and no less.
I find the attitudes of the bikers in this Chinatown riders’ group highly ethnocentric, swerving toward a technical form of reverse racism. I happen to have a Chinese friend who grew up in New York City’s Chinatown, and he has flatly stated to me that he never could have considered marrying outside of our ethnic group. I on the other hand, had a very different upbringing in an area of Queens, New York—which had very few other Chinese. As a result of growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, I don’t hold many of the ethnocentric attitudes of my New York friend, or those of the Chinatown riders from the other city. I find the confining attitudes of associating mainly with others of the same ethnic group, confining, claustrophobic and narrow-minded in the strictest definition of the term.
Frankly, in this day of racial division illustrated by the reaction to the George Zimmerman trial, I find this type of ethnic clinging to be destructive and unrealistic. Those vehemently protesting the acquittal of Zimmerman, act from a victim’s agenda, a mass perception of their ethnic group as isolated and distinct from society in general. This is unrealistic, and counterproductive, and ultimately self-fulfilling. If one acts like a victim, then one is a victim, destined forever to live in a cycle of self-hate and anger.
As an example, just listen to Barack Obama’s pitiful speech yesterday, in which he made it all about him, citing that, “Trayvon Martin could’ve been me…35 years ago…” Pathetic, thinking in terms of his own skin, instead of as the president of all the American people. Obama truly is our first “Victim President,” unable to think beyond his race. He was supposed to be our first “post-racial” president—something he has been unable to fulfill. If he wants to be a perennial victim, he should do it on his own dime, not as president of the United States of America. With Obama, it’s always all about him and his emotions, and his race. “Post-racial?” Wotta joke.
With regard to the Chinatown riders group, I can see no such overt racism, as I see in blacks who are protesting the Zimmerman verdict. However, what I do see with the members of this group are the subtle signs of ethnocentricity, such as associating primarily with other Asian-Americans. I for one, and glad that I grew up in Jackson Heights in Queens, because this upbringing gave me the outlook on the world that I have. Later.