Last Thursday night,#CancelColbert seemed to be just the latest brainchild of Suey Park, creator such hashtags as #NotYourAsianSidekick and #BlackPowerYellowPeril. But four days and countless news articles and opinion pieces, including FOUR on Salon alone later, it’s clear that the hashtag has struck a nerve with the American public and sparked a weekend full of arguments on the Asian American and intersectional feminism Internets.
Image Credit: The Colbert Report
In case you missed it, #CancelColbert was prompted by a @ColbertReport tweet during last Thursday's episode, which used the phrase "Ching Chong Ding Dong" -- words said by the right-wing pundit character Stephen Colbert plays, in satire of actual right-wing pundits .
Here’s what I have to say. It’s complicated. Contrary to my high school English teacher’s advice, I can’t distill my thoughts down to one sentence. So here, I present you with…
5 Things I Have to Say About #CancelColbert
1. “Ching chong" is a slur almost every Asian Americans has experienced. However, I’m more concerned with real people who think it’s perfectly appropriate to make “ching chong” sounds. It happened to More Than Serving Tea blogger Kathy Khang just this week:
The other day as we were trying to enjoy a windy 65-degree day at the beach we could not but overhear three families sitting in front of us discuss the uselessness of spending time to learn a second language. As if on cue, one of the kids started in on the Ching Chong with at least one other child and one adult chiming in. Gotta love those everyday racist experiences.
2. It’s okay to disagree — with your friends, people of your same gender or ethnic group, celebrities that you like. That means critically examining media personalities whose political leanings you generally agree with. And calling BS on treatment of Asians should not just be left to Asians, just as speaking out about treatment of Blacks isn’t just for African Americans. In an op-ed for TIME, Park herself writes how it’s not okay to make Asians a punchline in the defense of Native Americans:
But this isn’t about white liberals wanting to change the name, or their devotion to destroying settler-colonialism: It’s about their feeling entitled to make jokes about “The Other” in the name of “progress.”
3. There are other, real life, political issues facing Asian Americans, such as the targeting of Asians as wedge in Affirmative Action debates, such as the bill that got scuttled in California’s State Senate earlier this month, the reports that over half of Asian American kids are bullied, or the recent attempts to pass anti-abortions laws based on the presumption that Asian immigrant women only want male babies.
4. Remember the Native Americans that were the center of the original discussion.
If you only read the headlines, you might have forgotten — or perhaps never heard — that Colbert’s “ching chong” comments were in the context of skewering the Washington NFL team owner Dan Snyder’s defense of the name… because he had established a foundation for “Original Americans”. Follow #NotYourMascot for tweets about the topic that started this all -- the Washington Redskins name.
5. Sometimes women of color are abused or dismissed more severely online, right down to threats of rape or death, on the Internet — because of their race and gender. And sometimes people just behave badly. It’s not as simple as one or the other, and often it’s a complicated web of race, gender, and individual personalities that shape a situation.
News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.
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