Chinese Laundry Owner Blasted For Reinforcing Negative Ethnic Stereotypes

Top Headlines


Siblings Each Hoping Other One Will Take Care Of Aging Parents Someday

CLEVELAND—Explaining that they simply didn’t want to have to deal with the immense time commitment and emotional exhaustion, sisters Katie and Ellen Cattell each privately admitted to reporters this week that they were hoping the other sibling would someday be the one to take care of their aging parents.

Roommate Skulking Around Edge Of Party Like Victorian Ghost Child

SEATTLE—Appearing initially in the far corner of the living room and then several minutes later on the threshold between the kitchen and the hallway, local roommate Kelsey Stahl was, by multiple accounts, seen skulking around the edge of a house party Friday like a Victorian ghost child.

Man Praying Interviewer Doesn’t Ask Any Questions

MINNEAPOLIS—His mouth going dry and his palms growing sweaty as he arrived at the offices of Regent Advertising Partners to interview for an open account manager position, local man Devin McKee reportedly prayed Thursday that the hiring manager wouldn’t ask him any questions during their meeting.

Man Had No Idea Cough Was Going To Be Wet One

MUSKEGON, MI—Caught completely off guard by the viscous lump of sputum that was dislodged and sent rocketing upward from his lower respiratory tract, area man Luke Reese confirmed Wednesday he had no idea his impending cough was going to be a wet one.

Area Man A Staunch Single-Gender Voter

JOHNSTOWN, PA—Saying it was the only factor he considered when deciding who to cast his ballot for, local man William Swanson, 44, told reporters Thursday he is strictly a single-gender voter.

Weird Relative At Family Reunion Knows How Everyone Related To Each Other

WELDON SPRING, MO—Saying she possessed a seemingly limitless wealth of information on various cousins, step-siblings, and in-laws, sources at the 2016 Webb family reunion this past weekend confirmed that weird relative Susan Amos, 73, exhibited a strikingly intricate knowledge of how everyone was related to each other.

Woman Worried She Doing Bad Job Enjoying Massage

MALVERN, PA—Silently wondering throughout the hour-long appointment if there was anything she could be doing to enhance the experience, local woman Caitlyn Leigh reportedly worried Wednesday that she was doing a bad job enjoying the full-body massage she was receiving.

Cyclist Clearly Loves Signaling Turns

MILWAUKEE—Judging by the firm outward thrust of the woman’s arm and the length of times she held the gestures, witnesses confirmed Wednesday that a local bicycle rider clearly loves signaling turns.

Mom On Vacation Marveling At Time Difference Compared To Home

SAN DIEGO—Having already pointed out when everyone back home was getting off work and when the local nightly news was starting, area mother Pam Westin spent much of the first day of her family’s week-long California vacation marveling at the time difference compared to where they lived, sources confirmed Tuesday.
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next

Chinese Laundry Owner Blasted For Reinforcing Negative Ethnic Stereotypes

SAN FRANCISCO—Second-generation Chinese-American laundry owner Raymond Chen is under heavy fire this week from Bay Area activists who call him "an insulting caricature that perpetuates long-outdated, grossly prejudiced images of Asian Americans."

Activists are calling Raymond Chen, a Chinese American who owns a laundry shop and speaks with an accent, "a grossly offensive racial stereotype."

"It's frightening to think that, in 1998, some of us still haven't moved beyond the century-old stereotype of Chinese people as laundrymen," said Abigail Huber-Henson, a University of California at Berkeley cultural-studies professor and director of the Race Action Project, the campus group spearheading the crusade against Chen. "This man is a degrading anachronism that has no place in a supposedly enlightened society like ours. To meet him is to be directly confronted with America's shameful history of racism."

Added Huber-Henson: "We should no more tolerate this than we would a Pakistani convenience-store owner or a Jewish lawyer."

An extensive anti-Chen public-awareness campaign, including petitions, rallies, and letters to city and state officials, has already reduced business at the embattled Chen Chinese Laundry by 40 percent. Chen, 33, said he is puzzled by the strong reaction to him and his business.

"I do not understand why all these people hate me," Chen told reporters. "I run a good laundry. My family has owned and operated this business for nearly 60 years. I grew up here in this neighborhood. We do dry cleaning, starching, pressing–everything you need, no problem. We have good prices and even do emergency rush jobs for only small additional fee. I have done nothing wrong."

The controversy is expected to heat up Friday, when hearings begin at San Francisco City Hall. The hearings, which are expected to last several weeks due to the long list of academics and activists who wish to speak out against Chen, will determine if his presence in the community can be prosecuted under local "hate crime" statutes. Chen's opponents argue that the launderer should be ruled a violation of San Francisco's anti-hate-speech municipal code, established in 1990 to guarantee persons of color a living environment free of "offensive and emotionally damaging racial language or imagery." If convicted, Chen could face fines of up to $20,000 and up to 15 months in prison, as well as mandatory attendance at anti-racism workshops.

An anti-Chen rally in San Francisco.

"As long as Chen is allowed to continue this grotesque and derogatory display, we cannot consider the Bay Area a 'safe space' for Asian Americans," Huber-Henson said. "His cartoonish, insultingly narrow depiction of Asian Americans makes him, in effect, a cultural terrorist, wreaking untold damage to the self-esteem of millions of minority citizens. We demand that these people–who are human beings, just like you and me—be treated with the dignity they deserve."

Chen has responded to the controversy surrounding him with a series of local television spots, paid for out of his own pocket, in which he pleads his case to the community.

"Why is everyone so mad at me?" Chen says in one of the spots. "Because of how I talk? I was born in America, but I was raised in Chinese-speaking home. English is second language to me. Most of my friends and neighbors speak Chinese as their main language, too. There are many Americans who speak languages that are not English."

The 30-second spots have only intensified opposition to Chen. Said Janet Dundee, a sociology professor at UC-Berkeley: "Did you see those television ads? It's like seeing Charlie Chan up there on the screen, talking about his 'honable numbah won son' and saying, 'Pleasah, beg forgivaness.' Frankly, I am stunned that the local television stations would permit the broadcast of such blatantly racist material."

Though the potential penalties facing Chen are harsh, some believe they do not go far enough.

"With prejudice and intolerance still rampant in our society, anti-hate-speech codes are an important first step," said Beverly White, director of the San Mateo-based Stop Racism Now. "However, putting Chen in jail for 15 months is not going to erase the pain he has caused the countless Asian Americans he has mocked and insulted. The real issue here is so much bigger than just one man. No enlightened society should allow stereotypes like Chen to exist at all."

White then outlined her group's long-range goal to get legislation passed that would authorize the forced relocation of all ethnic stereotypes to internment camps in the California desert.


Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close