On my way home tonight, I saw something that felt really super-Shaw.

At the Chinese take-out joint across the street from me, a group of rowdy high schoolers—to lift from Zadie Smith: the sort who make 10 times as much noise as their number might suggest—were inside and outside of the little shop, purchasing nasty, greasy Chinese food, laughing and goofing around, as teens everywhere are prone to do in big groups.

Two little Chinese girls in school uniforms and ponytails, the older one (Je-je) holding her baby sister’s (mei-mei) hand, walked past the older youth with looks revealing equal parts curiousity, innocence and fear.

They walked around the shop front to the white door to the immediate right. As I had guessed, they are the shop owner’s children. After being buzzed in, they literally ran inside as quickly as they could. I can just imagine their mother screaming at her husband about moving the store somewhere else now, as the girls sit down to their homework and rice.

If this sounds stereotypical, it is: I’m Chinese, and I know how my parents think. Chinese parents are incredibly protective to begin with, and (for various reasons, some of them perhaps less politically correct than others) often highly distrusting of Black people. They also seem to be doing quite well: every time I walk past that store, there’s always local business. I’ve tried their grub once, and it’s a quality example of adaptable ethnic cuisine: it’s the most American-tasting Chinese food you could possible imagine.

But this is a scene I can see played out across thousands of tiny Chinese take-out stores across the country, and indeed, across much of the world. Poor neighborhood, crime-fearing parents..and cute little children.

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