adBlockCheck

Chinese Laundry Owner Blasted For Reinforcing Negative Ethnic Stereotypes

Top Headlines

Local

Mom Sleeps In Past Sunrise

WOBURN, MA―Noting that she had somehow managed to sleep through both the dawn chorus of birds and her neighborhood’s early morning garbage pickup, 53-year-old local mother Laura Maloney confirmed that she did not awaken Monday until after the sun had risen.

Area Dad Needs More Time With Museum Plaque

NEW YORK—Leaning in close to the paragraph of text as his family continued on to the museum’s other exhibits, area dad and Frick Collection visitor Phillip Schermeier, 58, reportedly needed more time with the plaque beside Rembrandt’s 1626 painting Palamedes In Front Of Agamemnon Thursday.

Friend From College Wasted No Time Becoming White-Collar Professional

CHARLOTTE, NC—Noting how his fellow 23-year-old now takes business trips and apparently has a company-issued cell phone, local barista Daniel MacKenzie reported Friday that his friend Eric Sanford—with whom MacKenzie attended the University of Virginia from 2011 to 2015—has wasted no time at all becoming a full-fledged white-collar professional.

Waitress Who Took Over At Table Just Doesn’t Have Same Spark As Richard

FREEPORT, ME—Sensing things wouldn’t be the same once the woman removed their empty potato skin basket without so much as a playful acknowledgment of how much they must have enjoyed the appetizer, patrons at Downeast Grill confirmed Wednesday night that their new waitress, Allie, just didn’t have the same spark Richard had.

Man Practices Haircut Request Before Heading To Barber

MINNEAPOLIS—Having scripted a set of lines he hoped to deliver with confidence and decisiveness, local 34-year-old Jason Clyne carefully rehearsed his haircut request several times Friday before heading to his local barbershop, sources confirmed.

Ronald McDonald Statue Bears Full Brunt Of Teenagers’ Mockery

CLEVELAND—Remaining stoically silent throughout the barrage of vicious insults, unsavory accusations, and various other indignities directed at it, a statue of Ronald McDonald seated on a bench outside the fast-food chain’s Clark Avenue location is said to have borne the full force of a group of teenagers’ mockery Thursday.

Woman Leaving Meeting Worried She Came Off As Too Competent

OXNARD, CA—Silently chastising herself for the way she behaved in front of her colleagues and supervisors, Cobalt Property Insurance sales associate Leah Manning, 36, was reportedly deeply worried Tuesday that she came off as too competent during the company’s weekly sales meeting.
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