Monday, January 24, 2005

Tsunami Song

"New York's number one morning show's" comment on the Tsunami disaster:

"So now you're screwed, it's the Tsunami
you better run or kiss your ass away, go find your mommy
I just saw her float by, a tree went through her head
and now the children will be sold to child slavery..."

I had a completely thoughtful and coherent response until I made a tragic error--I figured before I commented, I should actually follow the link and listen to the clip in its entirety.

I really can't see straight at this point. I'm angry at the people who made the poorly produced, unoriginal clip. I'm angry at the station for running it. I'm angry at Sprint for sponsoring it. I'm angry at the DJs for their ridiculous commentary. I'm angry at those in the Asian American community who have jumped on this as an opportunity to express their hate against the African American community. I'm angry at the people who have failed to acknowledge the courage of Miss Info to try to speak up even as Miss Jones was going Bill O'Reilly on her ass.

I'm especially angry at those of ethnic privilege who without extreme empathetic effort on their own part, will never really understand what it feels like. It must be nice to be able to just look at negative events disapprovingly as individual events and not see the tight fabric of racism woven by institutions of this society. It's not necessarily their own faults, but sometimes it's hard to forgive.

I cannot listen to this clip without thinking about the FBI and "liberal" media's decision to encourage the racial profiling of Asian Americans as terrorists, or without thinking of Vincent lying in his grave or David in his cell. It's the same way I can't hear "Chinaman" without recognizing the origin of the slur--"To not have a Chinaman's chance!" referring to the likilihood of a Chinese migrant worker, treated like burnable fuel, surviving his work on the Transcontinental Railroad.

Because that's what this is about--the wanton disregard for human life. Do you truly believe that it's a coincedence that whenever it's deemed ok to disrespect a group's humanity, it happens to be non-whites, non-heterosexuals, non-males whose rights we are dismissing?

Why is it that everytime this happens, we stand by while people make careless statements like, "If they made fun of slavery in this way, it wouldn't fly!" Of course it would! It does everyday, and it's just as fucked up. What doesn't fly is if you do the same for "real Americans". They could drop a "colored bomb" on our whole damn country and most people would give a few crocodile tears, pat themselves on the back, and use us as an excuse to go overseas and kill more colored people. They'd probably spend a few bucks on our memorial and then spend the rest on trying to copy the bomb's technology.

The song does have one interesting reference--it mentions the fact that the tsunami hit Africa as well as Asia--a fact generally lost in the coverage of the disaster. Part of the disparity in coverage is natural because there was a lot less loss of life there than in the parts of Asia struck by the tsunami. But on two levels, this doesn't add up. First off, while it makes sense to distribute the funds according to the areas hardest hit, that doesn't explain the medias lack of inclusion of Africa. If the tsunami hit and killed there, there ought to be coverage of it. Secondly, I don't see why tsunami deaths are somehow worth more than non-tsunami disasters. We've turned a deaf ear to the heartrending cries of Africa again and again, but now since people are being killed by one big wave instead of massacres or famines, it's worthy of aid and coverage.

And that brings us full-circle--Miss Jones and all of the rest of us should be allowed freedom of expression, no matter how foul our expression, but we hold the responsibility for the results of that expression be they direct or indirect.

When we choose media sources that dehumanize groups of people over those that embrace them, we help create a world where ethnic minorities and "Other" groups are persecuted, tortured, killed and enslaved.

Do your part. Contact the sponsors of Hot 97's programming (see below) and moreover speak out and support those who do speak out like Miss Info did on the show.

Sprint/Sprint PCS
Media Contact:
James Fisher, 202-585-1947

Popeye's parent company:

Lisa Bartlett -

Jennifer Hawkins -

Reebok International Ltd.
PO Box 1060
Ronks, PA 17573

Corporate Headquarters:
Reebok International Ltd.
1895 J. W. Foster Boulevard
Canton, MA 02021
ask for David Pace (atty) or Paul Fireman (CEO)


Jackson Hewitt (ads on
Sheila Cort - Director, Communications
Jackson Hewitt Inc.


Blogger Learner said...

You are exactly correct in that we should contact the sponsors. You have done a GREAT service by publishing the contact sources.
This morning the news shows were all about the FCC which I think would be a mistake as it impinges on free speech.
One must be careful about using the government to gore someone else's ox. The Christian churches were OK when the government banned multiple marriages, young marriages, and the use of drugs, as part of religious practices, but now that they may have to accept homosexuals and non-believers into their work places the churches are not so happy.

8:55 AM  
Blogger xian said...

Thanks for reading, learner. I agree with your general sentiment--I think if the FCC is going to continue to be hard line on destructive speech, Hot 97's contribution is a choice candidate, but I would rather that our society dealt with destructive speech in alternate ways rather than trying to shut it down on a governmental level. After all, there are plenty of groups that argue that ANY anti-governmental speech is destructive, and that's scary.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Wow. Hot 97 has apparently taken care of the situation on their own (good deal), and suspended the parties involved. The president of the company that owns the station offered-up a good mea culpa, but I am troubled by the following part of the article:

"The incident is not the first time HOT 97 has been accused of racism and poor taste. The station made headlines when deejay Star, now at another radio station, called Jennifer Lopez a "rice-and-bean eater" and satirized the plane crash that killed R&B singer Aaliyah in 2001."

This really underscores a serious pattern of racism prevalent at the radio station, so one wonders why, if the owners are really serious about how sorry they are, they would continue to hire and employ folks who are so obviously prejudiced? Repeat offenses at a particular company, and by more than one employee, says much more about the company than it does the individuals.

Of course, in our overly-individualistic society, most people will be easily diverted by the suspensions, and wonder what sort of punishment will befall them. It's like giving someone with chronic headaches some heavy duty aspirin, while never looking into the possibility that they may have a brain tumor.

Truly frustrating.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

One wonders whether Hot 97's suspension is real though or whether it is a false show of contrition. If they are just "suspended" for a week or two and go back on the air once the heat is off...what does that say? In fact, sources have reported that there were callers in support of Ms. Jones, but callers to the station who wanted them permanently off the air were not being allowed to go on the air.

What is amazing to me is what sort of outrage would be going through the African American community now if for example, the earthquake and tsunami had primarily affected Africa and killed 100,000 Africans. If some Asian group put a song together making fun of "dead niggers", there would be riots in the streets.

3:37 PM  

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