What is a Zipperhead?

June 19, 2023

Did you know that zipperhead is a derogatory racial slur against people of Asian descent? It's one of many phrases that were used by American soldiers during the Korean and Vietnamese wars. It has multiple hypotheses as to its origin. One is that it was coined because if an East Asian person were shot in the head with a machine gun, their head would open up like a zipper when unzipped. Another hypothesis is that it was created because when soldiers ran over the corpses of Korean and Vietnamese soldiers with jeeps, they left behind tire tracks that looked like a zipper pattern.

Another famous use of the term zipperhead is when Clint Eastwood used it as a character name in the movie Gran Torino. Eastwood played Walt Kowalski, a racist Korean War curmudgeon who calls his Hmong neighbors zipperheads. The term is also used by other characters in the movie and is meant to be an insult.

In modern society, it's important to be aware of the different terms that are used as racial slurs and not to use them. It's unacceptable to use them in a racist way towards any group of people and can land you in serious trouble if you're caught. If you're ever confronted with someone who is using a zipperhead slur, walk away from them and call the police immediately. You don't want to engage with a racist as it could lead to violence or hate speech charges.


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