To make a long story short...this morning, I got into an argument with a woman in my apartment building. I won't go into all the details but let's just say that it started out being fairly inconsequential but then ended up getting pretty heated.
Now, I'm generally a pretty calm and level-headed guy but certain things push a button in me that can cause me to totally lose my temper. One of those things is being taunted racially.
As I said, the aforementioned woman and I were arguing vehemently. Yes, we were yelling at each other. But, in a way, it was just the sort of normal argumentative discourse that you head every day on the streets of New York.
However, at one point, she just looks at me, spits on the floor, and yells, "Fucking Chinese motherfucker!"...and I fucking lost it.
Instead of being the better man, I retailated right back at her on her own level. I'm not proud of myself but I called her a "f*cking Russian whore" and told her I was going to call INS and "ship her ugly ass back to Siberia."
I don't take racist shit from anybody and to hear it in my own building infuriated the hell out of me. Seriously, I was so angry that it ruined my entire day. I detest the stereotype of the mild-mannered Asian and, in my rage and fury, I fully unleashed on this woman.
Was I wrong to stoop to her level? Absolutely.
Having a child has taught me to be a better man and to set an example that my family can be proud of. But where are the limits of setting that example? I know I was wrong to retaliate with ethnic insults but is that worse than listening to this woman tauntingly insult my race and doing nothing? Hell, at one point, I was proud of myself for not putting her face through a wall.
And would I have acted differently if my daughter was present? Sure, most likely. The need to set a "better" example would have overridden my anger.
But again...when confronted with ignorance and racism, where is the fine line that we need to balance between "being the better person" and "defending one's race and sense of pride?" I don't want to teach my child to react violently when confronted with racism. But, at the same time, I don't want her to ever back down from it.
What would YOU have done in a similar situation? And where do YOU draw the line?