Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Miley Cyrus caught in “chinky-eyed” pose
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Miley Cyrus caught in “chinky-eyed” pose

Singer and actress Miley Cyrus with friends in a racist "chink-eye" pose. The photo is making the rounds on the Internet.

From Angry Asian Man: Miley Cyrus, the super popular teen pop star for her Hannah Montana song-and-dance act (she’s also the daughter of country singer Billy Ray “Achy Breaky Heart” Cyrus), is shown with a group of friends in a photo making the rounds online, pulling back her eyes in a “chinky” or “slanty-eye” pose.

It’s clearly a racial stereotype, the same kind of stupidity practiced in photos last year by the Spanish Olympic basketball team and the Spanish national tennis team team.

What kind of role model is that for young girls?

What’s a young Asian American girl supposed to think when she sees the photo? That she deserves to be the butt of racial stereotypes? Or a young European American girl? That it’s perfectly fine to make fun of people who don’t look like you?

The Organization of Chinese Americans has demanded an apology that says it all:

The photograph of Miley Cyrus and other individuals slanting their eyes currently circulating the Internet is offensive to the Asian Pacific American community and sets a terrible example for her many young fans. This image falls within a long and unfortunate history of people mocking and denigrating individuals of Asian descent.

“Not only has Miley Cyrus and the other individuals in the photograph encouraged and legitimized the taunting and mocking of people of Asian descent, she has also insulted her many Asian Pacific American fans,” said George Wu, executive director of OCA. “The inclusion of an Asian Pacific American individual in the photo does not make it acceptable.”

“OCA hopes that Miley Cyrus will apologize to her fans and the APA community for this lapse in judgment and takes the opportunity to better understand why the gesture is offensive.”

This makes me want to throw up.

And what’s with the Asian guy next to her, anyway? How does he feel about all this?

UPDATE: Here’s a statement from the Japanese American Citizens League‘s National Youth/Student Council, released this evening:

The Japanese American Citizens League’s National Youth/Student Council (JACL NY/SC), the youth body of the largest Asian Pacific American civil and human rights organization in the nation, is greatly dismayed with the photograph of Miley Cyrus and friends slanting and narrowing their eyes in an effort to mock Asian Pacific Americans.

The JACL NY/SC is well-versed in the racial mockery displayed by Ms. Cyrus. As Asian Pacific American youth and students, we recall the instances of childhood ignorance where classmates would pull back their eyes in jest. The pain the gesture evokes is powerful. This gesture is a harsh and constant reminder that Asian Pacific Americans are treated differently and not accepted as equals. It is a bold statement that uses Asian Pacific Americans’ immutable characteristics, characteristics we cannot alter, as a way to isolate and alienate us. As members of Ms. Cyrus’ generation, we condemn this behavior as insensitive and inappropriate.

Ms. Cyrus’ fan base is extensive and encompasses members of our organization. Many of us consider Ms. Cyrus as a role model who has now offended a portion of her fans. It is difficult to simply dismiss this as a prank when it is a source of anguish for so many Asian Pacific Americans. We hope that Ms. Cyrus recognizes the error of her conduct and offers an appropriate apology to deter future similar behavior.

Update Feb. 6: Miley Cyrus doesn’t just issue a “non-apology apology,” she comes out swinging at critics, pouting on her blog that the media are lining her up to be the next Britney Spears bad girl. She says she and her friends were just making “goofy” faces. “”In no way was I making fun of any ethnicity,” she insists, and says the photo was taken out of context (what, there are more???). Here’s another story from the Guardian in the UK.