That’s how Kert Lin, 35, of Seattle felt, as he heard someone yell “Chink, open your eyes, go back to China!” when he pulled into the parking lot of Home Depot on 2701 Utah Avenue South, just outside the International District (ID) on May 12.
Lin, a Chinese American, snapped a photo of the white man driving a company truck belonging to a local landscape company. The same man goaded Lin into getting out of his car while Lin called 911, all the while saying that calling the police would do no good, intimating that he couldn’t get fired because he was the owner of the landscape company, and that nothing would be done.
Lin said this happened in plain view of store security officers outside Home Depot.
What happened to Seattle elementary school teacher, Kert Lin, this past week at the Lander Home Depot should never happen to anyone. Kert was the target of an unprovoked racist verbal attack … an attack by someone who is so steeped in his own racial privilege that intimidating someone based on their race was just a mean joke.
I am 67 years old and know a few things about racism. The one truth is that being on the receiving end of a racist attack is one of the loneliest places in the world. It’s primal and frightening. You’re alone facing a person or a gang of people who hate you because of the color of your skin. You are forced to make split second decisions that can mean life or death for yourself or those you love. When confronting a toxic mix of rage, ignorance, and entitlement, there are no good choices other than survival. The one thing that is certain — a victim of racism never views life the same, and each incident in your life holds its own unique horror.