The town of Pekin, Illinois, just outside the city of Peoria, got its name from its location, which residents believed was on the opposite side of the globe from Pekin (i.e., Peking or Beijing) China. The town of Canton, Illinois, was named because of a similar belief: that it too was opposite a famous Chinese city, in this case Canton (i.e., Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong). As the two towns are much closer to each other than the original Pekin and Canton, it seems that some early Illinoisans were a bit shaky on geographical details.
Pekin has another claim to fame, however. Until 1981 it had a high school athletic team called the Chinks and a roller skating arena called the Chink Rink. The decision to change the team name to the Pekin Dragons is still remembered bitterly by certain residents, as shown by this apparently genuine email sent to a liberal website:
“I graduated from Pekin Community High School in 1960. I was also voted by the student body to be the mascot ‘Chink’. It was a great honor and still is to me today. Another girl in my class was voted ‘Chinklette.’ We wore Chinese costumes and greeted cheerleaders from the opposing team in the middle of the basketball floor before each home game. It was a gesture of a welcome and good sportmanship. I’m still upset today that the school buckled under and changed the name to Dragons in 1981. It was the result of pointy headed pablum sucking liberals who run the polictical correctness gestopo in this country. I do detest them so much. I am attending my 45th high school class reunion this weekend in God’s little acre called Pekin, IL and I will proudly wear my PEKIN CHINKS shirt. Liberal and their pathetic ilk can go to Hell!!
1960 Chink, Bob Brown”
As far as we know, the high school in Canton, Illinois, never adopted a racist slur as the name of its athletic team.