I realize that when I point out how something as seemingly benign as the “won ton” font bugs me, readers might think I’m being petty and overly sensitive. But I hope those readers will respect my opinion if something does piss me off. Plus, I hope everyone can understand why certain things are just plain offensive to Asian Americans, not as a result of over-sensitivity but simply because they’re racist stereotypes.
One of them is the “ching-chong’ accent that comes out of the http://www.funvidapps.com/Site/LuckyFortune.html“>Lucky Fortune iPhone app, which Apple has approved for its iPhone App Store while they turn down other apps.
Both Jennifer 8 Lee’s Fortune Cookie Chronicles blog and Gawker have pointed out that this app is racially offensive. The Gawker post includes a video of the app in action.
It’s a cute idea at first: You break open a fortune cookie, and hear one of a series of pre-recorded fortunes.
The problem is the voice that reads the fortune is a fake Chinese accent — the kind I’ve heard all my childhood and even as an adult, when a racist taunts me. “Go back where you came from, Jap/Chink/Nip/Gook,” go the echoes in my head today.Asian Americans call it a “ching-chong” sound, a phony rendition of what a white person think is the sound of Chinese. Continue reading
I guess the upside is that some non-Asians have now learned (we hope) that saying “ching-chong, ching-chong” as a way of mocking Asian languages is offensive to Asian Americans. The downside is that many non-Asians are probably still left thinking that all Asian languages sound alike (they don’t).
And, Rosie O’Donnell probably skated from any further repercussions from this stupid gaffe by giving her on-camera “non-apology apology.” It’s just another typical example of someone brushing off responsibility by putting the blame of being offensive on the people who were offended (“I’m sorry you/they were offended”). I wish she’d just said, which she almost did when she admitted she didn’t know about Asian Americans growing up hearing “ching-chong” as a racist taunt, that she was sorry she said it, period.
Anyway, here’s the video, care of YouTube: Continue reading
Asians traditionally don’t speak up about injustices — it’s the “don’t bring attention to yourself,” “don’t complain, it’ll cause trouble” syndrome. But more and more, Asian Americans are different.
So when Rosie O’Donnell mocked the sound of the Chinese language a week ago on “The View,” the Asian American Journalists Association’s New York chapter e-mail list began a spirited conversation, with most members outraged and demanding an apology and some cautioning that O’Donnell hadn’t gone on a racist “rant” like Michael Richards, and that it was a poor attempt at humor.
I wasn’t laughing. Like many Asian Americans, I was familiar with that “ching-chong, ching-chong” sound, from when I was taunted by European-American kids telling me to go back where I came from. That sound makes my gut clench as much as a punch. (Click here for the video on YouTube.) Continue reading