Hate Map: Tweets Negatively Referring to “Chink”

hate map close up

In my lifetime, I’ve been called a “Chink” more than a “Jap.” Of course this doesn’t stop people on YouTube from calling me a “Jap.”

Nasty Jap

To be fair, this was in response to my movie “Chink” and I did want to touch a nerve with people. Based on this person’s reaction, I guess it worked.

I remember the first time I was called a “Chink.” My first reaction was that I wasn’t Chinese/Chinese American. The least they could do was to call me a “Jap.” But that never quite felt right. After all, they weren’t calling me “Chink” to compliment me and they definitely weren’t trying to be ethnically correct.

I decided to do some research (“some” being the operative word here) on the word “Chink.” And according to the Wikipedia, it means:

Chink (also chinki, chinky, chinkie) is an English ethnic slur usually referring to a person of Chinese ethnicity.

The origin of the word seems to be in some dispute:

A number of dictionaries have provided different suggestions as to the origin of chink. Some of these suggestions are that it originated from the Chinese courtesy ching-ching, or that it evolved from the word China, or that it was an alteration of Qing, as in the Qing Dynasty (Ch’ing Dynasty), or that the word evolved from the other meaning of chink, which is a small crevice, crack, gap or a narrow opening, being a simile for squinty or slanted eyes. With regards to this latter meaning, the word is sometimes used as an adjective, as in chink-eyed.

Another possible etymology is that chink evolved from the Indo-Iranian word for China, that word now having similar pronunciations in various European languages, such as Farsi

But reading further down, I found this:

Although chink originally referred to those appearing to be of Chinese descent, the meaning expanded sometime in the 1940s to include other people of East Asian descent

I wonder what it was that transitioned the word “Chink” from meaning just Chinese people to meaning all East Asian people. Was it that people couldn’t tell the difference or didn’t care to? Or was it the result of the wars in Asia/Pacific (re: Korea and Vietnam)? Or was it something else? Can anyone enlighten me on this?

Anyway, this brings me back to the point of this article. Recently, a professor at Humboldt State University released a map visually depicting the location of hate words used in Tweets.

Here is a little bit more about the project:

The Geography of Hate is part of a larger project by Dr. Monica Stephens of Humboldt State University (HSU) identifying the geographic origins of online hate speech. Undergraduate students Amelia Egle, Matthew Eiben and Miles Ross, worked to produce the data and this map as part of Dr. Stephens’ Advanced Cartography course at Humboldt State University.

The data behind this map is based on every geocoded tweet in the United States from June 2012 – April 2013 containing one of the ‘hate words’. This equated to over 150,000 tweets and was drawn from the DOLLY project based at the University of Kentucky. Because algorithmic sentiment analysis would automatically classify any tweet containing ‘hate words’ as “negative,” this project relied upon the HSU students to read the entirety of tweet and classify it as positive, neutral or negative based on a predefined rubric. Only those tweets that were identified by human readers as negative were used in this analysis.

The tweeted hate words they used were around LGBTQ, race, and disability issues. For the purpose of this post, I’d like to focus on the racist words.

Here’s the map of the tweets that contained the word: “Chink”

hate map

Here’s the map of the tweets that contained the word: “Gook”


Here’s the map of the tweets that contained the word: “Nigger”

n word

Here’s the map of the tweets that contained the word: “Wetback”


Here’s the map of the tweets that contained the word: “Spic”


What I find most interesting about the maps are how much more prominent the use of the word “Chink” is to “Gook.” I guess it is proof that it is the preferred word for all anti-Asian Pacific Islander racism. But most of all, I am saddened by how “Nigger” is by far the most-commonly used hate word on Twitter. Of course, this isn’t surprising but to see it (as compared to other hate words) is.

One thing I would recommend is to take a closer look at each map. For example, on the “Chink” map it appears that all of states from Indiana to Maryland is guilty of using the word but when you zoom in on the map, most of it is centered in Virginia.

When you look at the map, what does it tell/teach you?

Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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