A Question For The Asian American Journalists Association: If You Take Political Correctness Too Far, Do You End Up in China? (Shit, Was That Racist?)

Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky posted excerpts of an email sent by the Asian American Journalists Association yesterday (earlier today for those in China) that includes a list of stereotypes for journalists to avoid when covering Jeremy Lin. As Petchesky hilariously points out, “Half of these are references nobody’s even made yet, so thanks, AAJA, for giving racists some new ideas,” and then says, “Puns are the absolute lowest form of human discourse, and that’s still an insult to the entire concept of a pun.” We couldn’t agree more. But hey, if you’re a racist out there aspiring for cleverness, after the jump you’ll find a bunch of ideas for making fun of Asian Americans, courtesy of the AAJA!

“CHINK”: Pejorative; do not use in a context involving an Asian person on someone who is Asian American. Extreme care is needed if using the well-trod phrase “chink in the armor”; be mindful that the context does not involve Asia, Asians or Asian Americans.

DRIVING: This is part of the sport of basketball, but resist the temptation to refer to an “Asian who knows how to drive.”

EYE SHAPE: This is irrelevant. Do not make such references if discussing Lin’s vision.

FOOD: Is there a compelling reason to draw a connection between Lin and fortune cookies, takeout boxes or similar imagery? In the majority of news coverage, the answer will be no.

MARTIAL ARTS: You’re writing about a basketball player. Don’t conflate his skills with judo, karate, tae kwon do, etc. Do not refer to Lin as “Grasshopper” or similar names associated with martial-arts stereotypes.

“ME LOVE YOU LIN TIME”: Avoid. This is a lazy pun on the athlete’s name and alludes to the broken English of a Hollywood caricature from the 1980s.

“YELLOW MAMBA”: This nickname that some have used for Lin plays off the “Black Mamba” nickname used by NBA star Kobe Bryant. It should be avoided. Asian immigrants in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries were subjected to discriminatory treatment resulting from a fear of a “Yellow Peril” that was touted in the media, which led to legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

All this was available on AAJA’s website, but now all you see when you click on the link is 503 error, “Service Temporarily Unavailable.” (UPDATE: it’s because of server issues, apparently. The AAJA Twitter account is directing people here for the full advisory.)

I probably never did sign up for AAJA, but just in case: UNSUBSCRIBE.

    3 Responses to “A Question For The Asian American Journalists Association: If You Take Political Correctness Too Far, Do You End Up in China? (Shit, Was That Racist?)”

    1. Bo Sears

      TOPIC: Reporting on Jeremy Lin

      Resisting Defamation since 1989 has worked to let everyone know that the diverse white Americans are, in fact, diverse and Americans, and that any label given to us that papers over both those critical elements in our identity is bigoted. The diverse white Americans do have the same right as members of of other demographics have, after all, to name ourselves.

      We were disappointed this week to see that the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) claims to have the right to name us “Caucasian” which has obviously been deliberately chosen to smother awareness in various segments of our multi-racial society about our diversity and our nationality. In a word, the AAJA told us our name based on its claim to supremacy.

      The AAJA decided that we were “Caucasian” in this sentence: “Stop to think: Would a similar statement be made about an athlete who is Caucasian, African American or Latino?” What a supremacist insult.

      Let’s compare “Asian American” with “Caucasian” to illustrate AAJA bigotry.

      The word “Asian” explicitly invites awareness of diversity, including as that continent does national origins from Turkey and Israel in its west all the way across the world’s largest land mass to Korea and Japan. “Caucasian” is explicitly designed to smother our diversity.

      The word “American” explicitly claims nationality, while “Caucasian” is explicitly designed to smother our nationality.

      “Caucasian” is very clearly chosen as a label for us by the AAJA because it is a label that strips us of our diversity and nationality. The label reflects more racism, verbal thuggery, and bigotry. We can name ourselves, thank you very much.

    2. RFH

      My own thoughts:

      “CHINK”: If you need reminding of this, why are you even subscribing to this newsletter?

      DRIVING: You’re not allowed to make this comment unless you’ve been to China/Vietnam/Thailand and seen a ding-up. Plus have the statistics to back this up. You have? OK

      EYE SHAPE: See ‘CHINK’

      FOOD: Is there a compelling reason to draw a connection between Lin and fortune cookies, takeout boxes or similar imagery? NO. But for the purposes of deadlines, laziness and the stresses of the 24/hour news cycle, TAKE it AWAY! (Also, suggest doing something funny about his shirt number and ordering ‘the number 5′, you know, on a menu; can’t think of one now but you’re the journalists!)

      MARTIAL ARTS: People, the David Carradine references are old. Like 1970s old. Besides, most kung fu these days is practiced by white folks.

      “ME LOVE YOU LIN TIME”: We spent about four hours in the office spitballing, just to come up with this piece of gold and we’re damned if anyone else is going to use it

      Also banned: the offensive stereotype that Chinese don’t have a sense of humour


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