In Response to Mr. Neal's Letter
Mr. Neal's insincere apology reeks from his patronizing tone.
Mr. Neal states, "...our intent was to honor the Asian
community with our celebration!" I beg to differ-- the intent was
to make money. To try and cloak the irresponsible, insulting
and stereotypical Hotlanta River Expo ad campaign in a
blanket of "honor" or honorable intention is utterly
ludicrous. Confusing two entirely different cultures, and
creating "cutesy" names for parties such as "Fried Rice", "China
Doll" and "Tsunami" is colonialism and cultural rape and pillage.
Unintentional racism is still racism. Unfortunately, Mr. Neal
seems to have learned nothing from this experience. His conclusion
is that "people in search of justice" are simply "overly sensitive."
Tell that to the Asian American victims of more than 450 racially motviated
hate crimes per year (www.apa.org). The American Psychological Association,
The National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium and the Leadership
Conference on Civil Rights have all found that hate crimes against
Asian Americans are fueled by the perception that Asian Americans are
somehow different from the mainstream population, that we have less right to
be here, and that all Asian Americans are part of one large, cohesive
group. Advertising campaigns which use Asian imagery irresponsibly and
which mix up the many different Asian and Pacific Islander cultures only
heighten those dangerous perceptions.
According to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights,
hostility against one Asian Pacific American group can spill over
onto another, and hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise.
Despite what people think, only a small percentage of hate
crimes are committed by skinheads and neo-Nazis. Over 95% of
perpetrators do not belong to an organized hate group. Most
are otherwise law-abiding young people. Things like
seemingly innocent ad campaigns do affect people. I am
not suggesting that attending one "China Doll" pageant is going to
make a person go out and kill an Asian American.
But an ad campaign such as Hotlanta's, combined with all the other
stereotyping and exoticizing of Asians which is pervasive in the
media and in history creates a climate where explosions can and
will occur. Let's not forget the Chinese Exclusion Act of
1882 and the internment of the Japanese Americans during WWII,
among other examples of publicly condoned racism which
stemmed from the perception of these people as different and