This would often be recited by children as their fingers were used to pull up at the sides of the eyes so as to make them slanted. Variants include turning the rhyme into a question: "Are you Chinese, Japanese, or Dirty Knees?" and "Are you Chinese, Japanese, or Americanese? You must be Dirty Knees."

Considering the whole of the Asian continent besides China and Japan would be lumped under "dirty knees," you would think the Chinese or Japanese would be grateful to be excluded from that classification. To an Asian child, however, this really doesn't matter much. To an Asian adult as myself, this racist children's rhyme is merely a reflection of society.

It's somewhat amusing that this should be no more than a mere pointing out of the difference in physical characteristics between Asians and Caucasians. Still, the rhyming nature and eye-slanting is rather offensive in its taunting like a Vapors video. As much as I would like to ascribe it to children who see only the physical differences and nothing more, the fact that this meme has spread so far requires a widespread dissemination factor to explain it. And that is what makes this more nefarious.

This rhyme made me realize that girls are pretty interesting.

In third grade (Mrs. Jundrice's class), there was a girl named Terri King who flirted with me. Being a pre-pubescent boy, I was under the impression that Girls were, well, just plain weird. I dutifully ignored her and hung out with the Guys.

Terri decides one day to use this kiddie rhyme on me, but with a twist. She said:

"Chinese"         fingers pull the outside corners
                  of her eyes upwards.

"Japanese"        fingers pull the outside corners
                  of her eyes downwards.

"Dirty Knees"     her hands lift up her skirt
                  and she shows me her underwear.

"Look at these"   her hands lifted up her shirt
                  and showed me her 'boobies'.

That was the first time I had ever seen a topless girl. The other guys from my clique just stood there with their jaws open, and Terri's friends were aghast at her display.

My typical male reaction kicked in. "You wanna be my girlfriend?"

"It's about time," she said.

She was my first real girlfriend kiss ten seconds later. Unlike most folks, I remember almost everything about her, including her (then) complete address and her sister's name to this day. We were an item for almost six months, which is astoundingly long in kid years.


miravelle says hi, about your chinese, japanese, dirty knees, look at these WU, it's interesting, but the connotations are a bit offensive in that it wasn't stated that it was racist or derogatory, which may be understable in a child, but not when it is not put into context.

Very good point. Kids do say the strangest things, but out of context this can be construed as an offensive statement. No offense was intended, it was just a retelling of an event that I remembered after I first saw the node title.

I guess it was a sanitized version that some political appointee's wife once asked of Chou En-Lai at a state dinner:
Which 'nese are you: Chinese, Japanese or Javanese?

To which the urbane Chou replied,

I am Chinese. Now, which 'key are you? Donkey, monkey or Yankee?

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