Friday, January 27, 2006

Dear American People:

One of the assholes in Al Qaeda mailed me this letter. I hate those assholes, but I thought there was something interesting about it:

Dear American people,

We were shocked and vaguely amused to see your reaction to our actions on September 11, 2001. Flying two planes into buildings and killing thousands of people was merely meant as a political gesture and certainly was not meant to offend anyone. We are sorry if anyone was offended. We are not hateful, nor racist people. Perhaps you should grow thicker skin if you take our political gestures so seriously.

Saddama Bin Laden and Friends

Disgusting? Ridiculous?

Of course. And that's why everytime somebody promotes American racism and violence against ethnic other people, it disgusts me when people trot out the same fake-ass "apologies".

My point is not to equate the harming of millions of Asian Americans or other Americans of color with stereotypes to be on the par with the violent killing of thousands of people. It's that when someone has done an injustice to you, a hollow, insecure "apology" makes things worse.

So when CBS Radio's spokeperson responds to Adam Carolla's racial stereotyping of Asian Americans by saying, "The segment was meant to be humorous and was not meant to offend anyone,"
it's simply piling racial harassment on top of racial harassment.

Of course, this begs the question, "What am I supposed to do when, I do something horrendous and I'm expected to apologize?"

I proscribe three steps:
1) Empathize: Ask what bothered someone about the original transgression. In the case of racial issues, it's likely that the root of the problem is a racial perspective divide of some kind. Sincerely listen.
2) Respond with a sincere apology that addresses the specific grievance that were voiced.
3) Re-assess and learn: Listen again as the other person responds to your apology and ask them to honestly respond. Sometimes a simply apology won't be enough, but being empathetic and not trying to just end the encounter will help heal that. Apply what you've learned in future situations, so the same thing doesn't reoccur repeatedly.

In the case of Carolla and friends, here are some contact emails:
  • Joel Hollander, chairman and chief executive officer, CBS Radio, tel: 212-846-3939, email:
  • Dana L. McClintock, senior vice president, CBS Communications Group, tel: 212-975-1077, email:
  • Adam Carolla:
  • Dave Dameshek:
  • Rachel Perry:
  • Ozzie Castillo:
Please write in and express your own viewpoint on this issue. If you want to, please go ahead and forward your exchange with me here at xianb8 at the wonderful domain of yahoo dot com.

As one of my students says, "Two fingers, one word--PEACE!"

A racist trancemaster:

Xanga blogger Crazee Michi has been doing a lot of legwork on Adam Carolla's latest racist jackass antics.
On his radio show, Carolla ran a skit mocking the Asian Excellence Awards. Here is the transcript:

adam says:: the asians have an awards show now... can you believe it... we have some early tape of the show... here is the awardee's speech for best male TV performance..
(roll some award-show-ish music)


Then: the same thing, but in a female voice for "female tv performance"

You can listen to the clip here.

Cutting this apart, it's not hard to figure out what the "humor" is supposed to be here. Asian-looking people can't speak English and sound funny. The reason why I stress "looking" is because the two winners of those awards, as michi points out, are fluent English speakers. But I highly doubt that Carolla's people did that kind of research anyway. They just saw, "Asian" and thought "Ching Chong Ching Chong" and cracked themselves up.

There are two types of humor in the world. There is quirky, incongruous humor and there is conditioned, trance humor. The first is when someone says something completely unexpected and it elicits a laugh. The second is when someone says something that we have been taught to laugh to. There's deep artistry in the first type of humor and practically none in the second. It's really no different from pressing the "Laugh" button on the studio audience. Basically, over time, many people (not only whites) in society have been conditioned to laugh when the same racial stereotypes are raised again and again.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't laugh at these moments or they should be vilified. We should just recognize it for what it is: a complete lack of effort on the part of the "comedian", a conditioned response to a racist stimulus on the part of the audience, and most of all, a woeful lack of attention to the real damage that these stereotypes cause to other human beings (who happen to have the misfortune of being born the wrong color).

They have every right to make their money and laugh it up, but criticial thinking folks also have the right to say, "What a bunch of racist assholes!"

For those new to this topic, lets review a bit...What is this terrible hurt I'm referring to? Basically, Americans of Asian descent are viewed as permanent foreigners--eternal others, who can never be accepted as legitimate human beings like our white countrymates. That might seem abstract and not such a big deal to people who can take their sense of national belonging for granted, so let me put it more bluntly: Concentration Camps. Multi-generational Japanese Americans were thrown in concentration camps during WWII because of the perceptions of otherness that plagued them. In the present day, such "otherness" results in a problems in every area from education and employment to dating and socializing.

That's good and all, but what do we do to address this:
CBS radio has responded with the "generic white people offensive apology" (We didn't mean to offend anyone with our blantant racism. We think people should roll over and play dead whenever they experience racism.), but right now Asian American activists are organizing an action to encourage CBS to address the situation more concretely.

What should I do if someone says this to me on the street?
Let me start by saying, "Yes! It actually does happen quite frequently!"
I'm just a half-breed, but I get this crap relatively frequently, so I'd be super surprised if most Asian Americans don't fact it at one time or another.

The key is not to just cry, "Racist!!!" but to out the other person's racism in such a graphic display that nobody in their right mind would want to be complicit or aid them.

Here's one that I often use (and have written up before on The Fighting 44s web site)

I always find it useful to play it off like it wasn't meant to be a joke:
Racist Asshole: "Ching Chang Chong! Wing Wang Wong!"
Me: "Yeah, I agree, but I didn't know you spoke Chinese so well!"
Racist Asshole: "What?"
Me: "I was just surprised to hear you say, 'I'm a racist asshole' in perfect, accentless Chinese!"

If they protest, just say, "I'm not calling you a racist, you said it yourself!" and then ask other people in the crowd if they heard the same thing.

They'll probably quickly abandon their dreams of being the next Adam Carolla, racist trance humor master.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Lame-ass mechanism for humanization

Matt tossed up this on his blog, and I'm finally forced to admit these things have a purpose. One of my friends was telling me that I need to humanize myself more instead of being a "mythical debating creature", and since I seem to be impaired in my ability to do so, let's give this thing a shot...

Four jobs you have had in your life:

Grocery bagger
Japanese Human Rights Education Teacher
Software Developer
Assistant Educational Outreach Coordinator (wow job titles sure aren't helpful)

Four movies you could watch over and over:
Romeo Must Die!
God of Gamblers! (ok, the last two don't really have

Four places you've lived:
Chicago, IL
Champaign-Urbana, IL
Namino, Kumamoto, JP
Akashi, Hyogo, Japan
Raleigh, NC
Pittsburgh, PA
(So much for four...)

Four TV shows you love to watch:
Boston Legal
Grey's Anatomy
Hey! Hey! Hey!

Four places you've been on vacation:
Michigan Dunes

Four of your favorite foods:
chocolate mousse

Four sites I visit daily:
It's Matt's World
The Fighting 44's
Angry Asian Man
Baseball Think Factory

Four things that remind me of death:
The number 4
Copies of Video Tapes
Columbus Day
The "W"

Listed on