“chinese, japanese, dirty knees, look at these”… what does it mean and why do kids know it?

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19 Answers

  • When I was little, this rhyme was done with hand gestures

    you took your hands and put them on your eyes and slanted them up and down, for the chinese japanese, you put your hands on your knees for dirty knees, then you pulled the front of your shirt out ( like you had breasts). I think we giggled alot after that. Kids have alot of stupid rhymes for jump rope and clapping games on the playground. At least we did, I would guess kids still do. I never thought it was a put down to anyone just fun.

  • First off, the funny thing is that you are all wrong! Although the slanting of eyes is clearly racist, this addition can not be attributed to the author. This rhyme is cultural. It points out the meaning of a Japanese word for breasts similar to our word “****” The Japanese word is pronounced “knee knee,” as in two knees, and some may think **** are dirty. This explains the breast gestures. An example of this mispronunciation today can be found in the mispronunciation of the state bird of Hawaii (the Nene Goose), often mispronounced “knee knee,” which could offend Japanese or make them laugh at you.

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    To answer your question directly _ NO. you are not the only one. However you do paint an over simplistic and general view of the world. There are many different ways that one can earn a living, one can be married and have no kids if you wish. You can live a frugal lifestyle that doesn’t need a large income. People in less fortunate countries would swap places with you in the blink of an eye. For instance in parts of africa – you are born, have no education, are hungry and struggle to feed yourself, then you starve, then you die. You are wrong that most people want the path You describe, so many people have meaningful worthwhile jobs that they derive much satisfaction from and also help others. eg doctors, nurses, firemen, teachers, farmers, charity workers, sports coaches, pilots, i could go on and on and on…….

  • Not racist, are you kidding me??

    I m British born Japanese and had to grow up listing to this at primary school in the 70s. Kids would come right up to me face to face and taunt it at me in a mean voice with those gestures, fully knowing it was spiteful and a bully tactic. The upsetting thing was that other kids that normally did not behave this way would then join in. Back in that day, this kind of thing was rife though and racism was an unpleasant normal part of life. Parents would often join in. I couldn t pass kids in street without one racist taunt or other, aaasoo, spitting and the like. That was also the time of “paki s”, “blackie s”, “wogs”, etc. I ve come across this after l looking it up because my 7 yr old daughter has just encountered it at her primary school. Need to be nipped in the bud. Those of you claiming to be being unaware of racist connotations at the time…, that s a bulls**t excuse. You knew it was spiteful.

  • In my opinion I thought it was a way to try to offer a sense of gratitude, appreciation and acknowledgement for two cultures that are often overlooked and underappreciated.

    Chinese, eyes up, over looked. Japanese, eyes down, under appreciated. Dirty knees, hard working people often have to get a bit dirty. Look at these, notice these or them.

    Also to point at the chest I think is not to look at the breast but to see their heart.

  • When I was in elementary school, (1968-1975), sometime during that timeframe, a few white trash kids would say, “Chinese (slant their eyes up), Japanese (slant their eyes down), look at these (point to their breasts). I only saw boys do it, not girls. The first time I heard it with the “dirty knees” was a mean blonde girl in the movie The Devil’s Rejects said it a few times. It’s really scary, so don’t see the movie unless you can take a really scary movie.

  • I believe it is racist, sadly. “Dirty knees” comes from the fact that foreigners living in Asia had Chinese domestic staff who would, of course, spend time on their knees cleaning floors. “Look at these” would refer to the difference in the size of western and Asian breasts, which is often a source of wonder to Asians unused to seeing western women.

  • We did it in the playground at school in the 1950s. So around before the Vietnam war. As a child I never took it as racist, just people with different shaped eyes. Didn’t make me think they were inferior.

  • It is a harmless rhyme that kids sing….most kids don t even know what racism is. We weren t around a lot of Asians when I was young so to us, it was just a funny rhyme! Too many politiically correct idiots call it racism.

  • I don’t think it was ever meant to make fun of anyone. It’s older than dirt. I knew a girl who used to say it and then flash boys by lifting her shirt, and that was in the 70s. She also used to tell us to kiss her ***.

  • A nod to the Prostitutes in service to American troops during the Vietnam War. My Daddy said so. He would know!

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