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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pekin "Chinks"


I was pleased and surprised that the "Not In Our Town" conference (community responses to hate crimes) was held in Bloomington, Illinois. I grew up 40 miles away in Peoria, Illinois. I don't think of that area as a leader in the realm of diversity awareness. The town next to Peoria is Pekin, named originally after Peking, China. The high school moniker was the "Pekin Chinks!" I remember one year in the late 60's when Pekin High went all the way to the state basketball finals. I imagine newspapers all over the state carried a headline about the "Chinks Victory" without thinking anything about it. At least as a kid, I never thought about it. There was also an ice skating rink in Pekin. You guessed it..... "Chink Rink." They had a local TV commercial that portrayed a simple line drawing of an old Chinese man on ice skates, mixed with their voiceover and maybe some music. "Institutional racism" is the boring term for when racism is so pervasive it is invisible or like wallpaper. I'm sure it wasn't like wallpaper to any Chinese folks who lived around there, but I didn't know any.

I went to Wikipedia and found that there was an attempt to change the high school moniker around 1974, but it didn't actually get changed until 1980. (My family moved around 1969.) Now they are called the Pekin Dragons.

Link to a blog with more detail.

40 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:30 PM

    I was born and raised in Pekin. I enjoy reading the history of my beloved town and I am totally sick of people who think they know what they are talking but have no Idea. The Name Pekin wasnt named after "Peking" China. One of the first settlers wives gave the name to the town and it was in no way directed to or about China, She at the time I'm sure had no Idea china was on the direct other side of the world from us. And as far as the "Chink Rink" Being an Ice skating rink, it was not. It is a roller skating rink which is still here today. The Ice skating took place at the lagoon in our park until we built an Ice skating rink which is also located in our park. Changing the name of our school was a huge blow to all of us. If people didnt like the name of our town "which again had nothing to do with china" or the name of our school then thoughs people should stay the hell out of our town.

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    1. Anonymous11:43 PM

      Some of the people who don't like the name were born here and have no choice but to be in this town until they are adults and then trust me I will gladly leave this town!

      Delete
    2. Where to begin. First of all, Pekin, Illinois is not "on the direct other side of the world" from China. What you will find on the other side of the planet from Pekin is the southern Indian ocean.

      Second, the name of the town was selected by Ann Eliza Cromwell, the wife of one of the town's founders, who named it specifically after Peking, China. This is why the name of the high school team was the "Chinks" for 50 years, and why there were places like the "Chink Rink."

      Please don't pretend that none of this had anything to do with China just because you miss your ethnic slur.

      Delete
  2. That comment is why I'm embarrassed to be from Pekin.

    Thankfully, not everyone there is like Mr. Anonymous.

    (and my mom wonders why i never want to go home)

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  3. First off anoonymous is really only right on one point and that is the fact that the Chink Rink was a roller skating rink, rather than ice skating, he is way off on everything else. I was a graduate of the class of 75 I remember when the National Orginization of Chinese Americans came to our school to try and get us to think about changing the name since we were the Chinks. Yes there were Chines references all over the place including the dragon in the school logo and on logo on the local police cars. The local movie theather had a Chinese themed interior. We also had a Chink and Chinkette that would take to the floor a home basketball games dressed in Chinese pajamas and greet the opposing team. The Chinse references were everywhere so he doesn't know what the hell he is talking about or has very selective memory.

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  4. ropadopa11:21 AM

    The ignorance of Mr. Anonymous is a reason why this country will continue to have wrinkles in its great societal/cultural norm.

    Can you imagine if we there was a town by the name of Nekin, IL? Would it be appropriate to be called the "Nekin Niggers?" How about if a town called Spikin, IL? Would it be ok to have the moniker of "Spikin Spics?" My point is this...when there are politically incorrect monikers or labels about smaller and less dominant minority groups (i.e. Asians), no one cares and people don't say $hit. However, if it pertains to African Americans or a larger minority community (i.e. Hispanics) then it suddenly becomes a much bigger deal and people are prompt about making "changes" or being aware of "watchwords."

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    1. Anonymous7:00 PM

      also all the people who are insulting the Native Americans, i mean think about all the face painting at Atlanta Braves games, and the tomahawk throwing. suppose the New Orleans Saints’ fans decided to emulate Catholicism as part of their routine. What if they carried crosses, had a mascot dressed up like the pope, spread ashes on their forehead, and displayed enlarged replicas of the sacramental bread of Holy Communion while drinking fro chalices filled with wine Those would all be insulting to Catholics, as the acts above are insults to Native Americans. Giago goes on to explain what is important to Native American’s that white people use without thinking, “Eagle feathers play an important role in the spirituality to the Native Americans. Faces are painted in a sacred way. The Pipes that became known to the white man as “peace pipes” are known to most Indians who use them as part of their spirituality as Sacred Pipes.... To Most tribes of the Great Plains the Pipe was and is their Bible

      this shit needs to stop, so we can move on and all come together

      Delete
    2. Anonymous3:53 PM

      if the saints did that, it would be epic

      Delete
    3. I just want to say I am from Illinois and I am still pissed about the Illini change. Here in ND where I live now the Sioux Indians were fighting to keep the name the Fighting Sioux. Need we mention that there is a native school called the fighting whities!!! So how can we say what is right and what is wrong.

      Delete
  5. Anonymous4:52 PM

    im also from pekin, but ive only lived here for 4 years. I truthfully didnt believe people when they told me this, but pekin is known widly as a racist town, and ive witnessed it forst hand. this town is crap, dont live here, im gone as soon as im done with collage.

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  6. Anonymous8:14 AM

    So here I am, three years later, posting. I graduated in '78. I remember when members of our national Asian community came to the school. I remember at that time wondering what the big deal was. As I look back now, I am glad they changed the name. Imagine if Manual (another local high school) decide to call themselves the "Crackers" and their mascot was white faced, potbellied, beer drinking and toothless. Do you think that on the Pekin side of the river that they would accept, "Hey, when we choose Mr. and Mrs. Trailer Trash, we're referring to ourselves not you guys. Now mind your own business and shut up." Probably not. I am proud to have graduated from Pekin and I am also proud that the community had the wisdom to change the name, no matter how those that just can't seem to change, spun it.It won't let me post unless I go anonymous. My name is Tim, Class of '78 and proud.

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  7. Anonymous3:16 PM

    I attended PCHS for a year. ('73- '74) When I was told that the mascot was a "Chink" I didn't believe it. I thought that it was a joke...but it was true.

    Pekin was lily white at that time...no minorities at all. There were photos at the Pekin library of African Americans hung from the bridge that spans the Illinois River.

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  8. You people disgust me, you are nothing more than the marxist thought police.As a person who was born and raised in the area i am sick of the whinning. Do you know why many people feel the way they do about race, It's because assholes like you try to cram this shit down their throats. To this day i bet if put to a vote the name "Chink" would still appear on everything. And you have no right to try to impose your beliefs on other people. We live in a country where we are supposed to ignore the animal like antics of blacks, allow wetbacks to stream across our borders and provide medical care and welfare to them.And you call this a better world. Sorry this country was much better off the other way. This is a community where all but 5 percent live above the poverty line.Show me one of your intergrated Marxist liberal communities doing this well today and i'll agree with you. Otherwise shut the fuck up and let us do our own thing. The only thing i have ever seen you people do with any consistency and well is COMPLAIN.

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  9. Anonymous9:05 AM

    Long live the Chinks and screw all of you politically correct brain washed idiots.

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  10. Anonymous6:09 PM

    Look at all of these ignorant racists. I can't believe you honestly are not offended by the school heritage. However, I'm not surprised, considering one of the Grand Wizards of the Ku Klux Klan used to live in Pekin. And no, nothing about the Ku Klux Klan is honorable or valid, so don't even start.

    What I don't understand is how you think because you're a part of the majority in a town, you suddenly become the end-all to racial debates. What makes you any more human than someone from another part of the world, someone whose heritage precedes yours by millenniums? This has nothing to do with "Marxist" beliefs. I realize that not many people will read this comment, but it ought to be said for anyone else who stumbles upon this post. Pekin sucks, and I'm embarrassed that they are within 100 miles of my home.

    Here's to you, PeKKKin.

    Feb 7, 2010

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  11. Anonymous11:52 AM

    I was born and raised in Pekin in the 70's and 80's and am still to this day embarrassed to admit it because of the negative association with Pekin and Racism. Though I skated at the Chink Rink and had many friends who attended Pekin High (I went to AOL in Peoria.) I think most people from Pekin were like any of the other cities around. I experienced no more racism than I do now living in Chicago, but it certainly was a small white town (just like many small white towns in central IL.) The racists were the same typical population of racists you will see in any town - generally small-minded white trash, hicks. The racial stigma that still surrounds the southern states can be likened to people living in Pekin. No Black family wanted to be the first to move there then, and I wonder what it is like now... apparently the same from looking at these posts. I do know that good ol' Mauries candy store is still standing!!

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  12. Anonymous5:21 PM

    I take offense to the mention that southern states necessarily are highly racist. That is a boldly incorrect statement. In fact, in my small "hillbilly mountain" area of NC it is a type of melting pot of several races. You shouldn't confuse white trash, which exists everywhere, with hicks or hillbillies. There is a difference. Being southern doesn't mean being racist.

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  13. Anonymous10:22 AM

    My sister & I were born and raised in Pekin. We both went to Pekin Community High School. We were & always will be Pekin Chinks. The Chinks will always be no matter what the dragons do.
    Pekin Chinks FOREVER!!!

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  14. Anonymous5:00 AM

    My sister & I both went to Pekin Community High School. I graduated in 1971 & she graduated in 1961. We are both Pekin Chinks alumni.
    The Chinks NEVER should habve been changed to the Dragons. That was just WRONG to do.
    Pekin CHINKS forever!!!

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  15. Anonymous4:48 PM

    Wow I am embarrassed to be reading these comments. The people that posted racist comments are just doing that because they have never lived in anything other than a predominantly white community. I am a young non-white male that goes to a nearby high school and let me tell you I am absolutely disgusted by the racist pricks on this post. I think the other people on this post and on many others like this one explain the need to be open-minded and just to all races. I will be sure when I am older to be above the ignorance I see now.

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    1. Anonymous11:29 AM

      I agree my friend, But I did grow up here, 50's thou the 90's, But I'm not really white I'm Navajo.
      I moved out in the 90's but can back in 2002, And got married to a local.
      Yes it's still going on today, But they say things are changing, WHERE?
      I think that comes from those who don't want too admit, But it's still big in PeKKKin.

      I wish I never came back......

      Delete
  16. To the Anonymous Nearby High School Student:
    You are an admirable young man and it sounds like you're already very aware and mature. I agree with your insights that many people don't see their own prejudices or slurs because everyone around them shares the same ones. And that, ironically, many of these very people truly believe in being good and fair to others. I guess one definition of "ignorance" is when you just don't see something. Would that we could all walk for awhile in each other's shoes.....

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  17. Anonymous10:02 AM

    I was in the last class to graduate as a Chink from Pekin Community High School. I am proud I was a chink as were my brothers before me. If someone took Chink as offensive, they did not know the affection we had for the name. We were proud of our sister city in China and the Chinese people. We meant no disrespect to them. Yes Pekin was known as a racist town, and was heavily populated by the KKK in the 1920's. Black American's were not in Pekin in the 70's and 80's by their own choice at that time. Pekin then was no more racist than any other town, and much less racist than many. The students of Pekin who were known as Chinks were proud of it and a still are proud they were. We meant it as honor not as a racist slur. You who put us down for the name are the ones being racist. For negativity had nothing to do with the name. Chink and proud of it.

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    1. Anonymous11:57 PM

      Maybe to you it was not raciest but to a Chinese person it might be. What if a school mainly of Hispanic people had a mascots called the gringos and said oh we are proud of the white man that is why we had the gringos.

      Delete
    2. Dude, of course blacks didn't live in Pekin by choice. What black person would choose to move to a town with a rich tradition of racism?

      Delete
  18. I can feel your pride in your hometown and your high school experience and totally believe that you had no sense of racism or offense in the "Chink" moniker.

    I do not mean to put down Pekin-ites, but rather point out how we can promulgate slurs without even realizing it. I imagine if you'd asked a random bunch of Chinese Americans how they felt about the moniker, the overwhelming majority would tell you that the name felt hurtful and insulting.

    You comment that blacks did not live in Pekin in the 70's and 80's by their own choice. I have a good friend who was a contractor in Pekin in the 60's and 70's. He told me that he had a great black worker on his crew and was told by the local union officials that that man had to be out of Pekin by sundown every evening or there would be trouble. My point is that sometimes we don't know that something injurious or even racist is going on, because we don't ask the folks who might be getting targeted.

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  19. CINDY PIRO5:50 PM

    Pekin CHINKS forever I WAS BORN AND RASIED HERE AND PROUD OF IT!!! CINDY PIRO

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  20. Anonymous2:30 PM

    @Cindy Piro
    do you teach your little grand kids to be racist as well? no? well go tell them what chink means.

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  21. Anonymous6:22 AM

    I also grew up in Pekin, and left when I graduated from High School. It never occurred to me that "Chinks" was a racial slur until I went to college, and actually knew people of other races. Nowadays, 50 years later, I don't talk about Pekin except to very close friends. I was happy to read that the name didn't become Chinks until the 1930's, more than 100 years after people started moving to the area. It was nice to know that my dad who was a Pekin High School athlete in the 1920's was never a Chink.

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  22. Anonymous10:52 PM

    I grew up in Pekin and the people I grew up with were raised to be unprejudiced & kind-hearted.It was very rare to hear cricicism of anyone's race or religion. It is absolutely true that 50-plus years ago most of us kids didn't know that "chink" was a racial slur -- however naive that may seem now. I am very sentimental about Pekin, but I know that changing the school team to the Dragons was an idea whose time had come. There are plenty of good names available and no reason whatsoever to hold onto a bad idea. I do hope that those of us who get asked to explain our hometown history will offer truth & kindness in exchange for the sometimes nasty criticism we still personally receive.

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  23. Dennis Hauser8:08 AM

    I am also from Pekin and will always be a Chink! But I also understand why the change and believe this is for the better. As a Chink alumni and as others, we hold our memories of proud sports accomplishments and cling to them dearly.
    But like the old West Campus that once was our heritage,it is now an eyesore and something needs to be done. As long as our community develops properly, our heritage and memories will be remembered in the future as a developing stepping stone and not an embarassment.

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  24. LOL, I don't see the big deal. I'm chinese, and I feel honored :)

    I mean, think about it. A mascot is a symbol of their honor, not some derogatory shit they throw at people. So what if they're the chinks? It's just a word, and though there might be some cultural misunderstandings, there obviously isn't any direct hate or bigotry toward the chinese.

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  25. Anonymous8:27 PM

    And yet I have an opposite opinion. I'm Chinese and I feel pretty insulted.

    I'm not saying any people who went to this high school were racist or intended any harm, but from what I see, Pekin seems to have been a lily-white community that had no access to Chinese culture. It has nothing to do with being politically correct; how could a name like that possibly survive in a now-racially integrated society? You don't know how much a "harmless" name can sting until you ask around.

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  26. Anonymous5:23 PM

    As a Chinese person, I'm glad they changed the name. I imagine it would have been extremely uncomfortable for any Chinese living in the city had they kept it. No matter how welll intentioned the school was, an explicitly racist epithet has no place in the modern world.

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  27. Anonymous12:34 AM

    I was born in Pekin in '84, and I still live here. I just have a few things to add to everyone else's comments... my parents were "chinks" as were all my aunts and uncles. (Myself, I was a Raider, moving about fifteen minutes south of pekin for my school years.) I can tell you from a non partial p.o.v. that when they say "proud to be a chink", that (as for my family) it simply is only a pride in their high school. That being said, yes there has been and will probably always continue to be racism in this town/city. Where isn't there? Is pekin still "lily white"? Sort of. There are more ethnicities moving in, and there are grumblings from those same ignorant people who have nothing better to do than complain about everything. But I promise you, there are some of us who are more than the name our previous generations madefor us. You're gonna love us, hate us, glorify us or make us out to be villains. At the end of the day, it is what it is. We aren't the best town but we are making an effort, as time goes by, to move on from our "ignorance" and teach our younger and new generations that what we were doesn't have to define us and to be tolerant.

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  28. Anonymous12:36 AM

    Well i have lived in pekin for almost all my life and if you don't like pekin get the hell out of it we don't want you here.Oh my god let it fucking go with the chinks already it's not racisnt i anyway and if you think it is fuck you.I love pekin and well always live here.

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  29. you're evidently not Asian and if you were, you're not a very bright one. the word, "Chink," is derogatory and should not be used to represent a school, town, mascot, and definitely not a person. the word honor means high respect, there is no honor in a racial slur. we use racial slurs for crude jokes, express our dislike and hatred for other races, and in most cases, in the attempt to diminish peoples self-worth. i'm sure we can give the benefit of the doubt to the patriarchs of Pekin and presume that they did not intend to call their team the "Chinks" to offend and anger minorities. however, it did, and if the people in the town are indifferent about it and do not care to be viewed by most Americans as ignorant, foolish, and uncultured, then let them be it. i'm sure most of us do not share the same values and morals, but we should not try to diminish and fool ourselves to think that the word chink is not an offensive, derogatory, and a hateful word towards Asians. if you hate them, use it, but do not hide in spineless anonymity.

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  30. To be honest, I was born and raised in Pekin and I didn't know The word Chinks was racist. I never even thought of it that way. All I do, is I was have been VERY proud to be a Pekin Chink instead of a Pekin Dragon. My 2 older sisters and my older brother were Pekin Chinks and so was my Mom, her sisters and brothers, so why not be proud to be a Pekin Chink. I was very angry when they changed the name. I still wish I could have been a Pekin Chink. It may be a racial slur to all of you, but to me, it isn't. It's just another word. Everyone is the same in God's eyes, same color, we bleed the same color, so why think of it as a "racial slur"? It's stupid!
    As for the person who spelled Pekin as peKKKin, you seriously need to go back to school and learn how to spell all over again. I'm sorry, I guess my eyes are wide open and I see ALL of us as the same. "Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight...Jesus LOVES the little children of the world!!!!" Why be so hateful when God isn't? Life is just WAY too short to be STUPID!!

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  31. This shit freaks me out. I just moved here from a very culturally diverse city and am honestly disgusted by the racism that is very predominate here.

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  32. Anonymous3:58 PM

    I was born and raised in Pekin, am not racist but was ignorant in that I never knew the term "Chink" was derogatory. I seriously believed it was honoring Chinese people. Secondly, after reading many of these posts, many of you need to return to Pekin Community High School because your grammar and your spelling is horrendous! M. Bradley.

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