Hyphen Magazine


Source: Hyphen Magazine, April 12, 2010

Asian Jokes: Whatcha Gonna Do

Submitted by Ken Choy on April 12, 2010 - 1:34am

I laugh a lot. Much of the time inappropriately. No one can claim I don’t have a sense of humor.

Isn’t that the typical response to racist jokes targeted at Asian Pacific Islanders? That we should have a sense of humor?

I don’t find racist jokes funny.

Golf Digest’s writer Dan Jenkins twittered about golfer Y.E. Yang playing in the Masters this weekend. His 140 said, “Y.E. Yang is only three shots off the lead. I think we got takeout from him last night.”

Jenkins is said to be one of the greatest American sportswriters.

On April 5, Chelsea Handler’s Roundtable regulars Mandel and Wollack joked about a proposed Jersey Shore-esque production set in Koreatown. They bowed, and they made Chinese herb, math, and martial arts references. And with Michael Yo sitting next to them they cracked about not being able to tell the cast members apart. One of them -- which one is pretty insignificant as I can’t tell them apart because of their stupidity -- said he wants to know “what the slant of this will be.” While I’m appreciative of Chelsea’s comment that they were being racist, I wish Michael Yo’s fist would have had a collision with their faces. Instead he played the protestation-filled yet innocuous foil.

SNL's Seth Meyers this weekend also referred to the production showing a violin player as “their version of Snookie.”

Degree of offensiveness aside, what’s with this continual categorization of APIs?

“Whatcha gonna do?”

Is that something else you hear often in response to these situations?

I’ve been in Yo’s position more than I care to. And I’ve found that being the amenable, humor-filled play-along-with-the-jokes-with-mild-protests only spurs them on even more. So much so that their true racist colors come out.

Everyone was irate with situations like those of Don Imus and Bob Griese. Those instances were met with swift action. Not the case with the New York radio JV & Elvis situation which involved a prank call to a Chinese restaurant rife with demeaning comments about APIs, women, and LGBTs. The segment was actually replayed, and it took two weeks for the station to suspend the hosts. Adam Carolla has yet to receive any type of reprimand for his rant against Manny Pacquaio and the Philippines.

So what do APIs do? Do we continue to play along or do we do something else that incites a swift response?

The outrage at Britain’s Celebrity Big Brother over racist comments against Indian actress Shilpa Shetty led to sponsor withdrawal and government sanctions. LPGA abandoned its English-Only policy due to immediate reaction by Asian American Justice Center and Assemblymember Mike Eng.

Whatcha gonna do?

Photo of Shilpa Shetty by Rathika Mawtus via wikipedia.org

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