Enough is enough! I bit my tongue several months ago when Miley Cyrus came out with her chink-eyed picture. Last summer, I was pretty furious about the Spanish Olympic Basketball team and their team picture as the entire team slit their eyes. Numerous folks pushed back and said I was making a big deal out of nothing. Then, a couple other teams came out with the same pictures. And then today, another high profile celebrity -- Joe, one of the Jonas brothers -- has a picture out [above] doing you know what.
That's it. I'm taking down all my posters of Miley and the Jonas Brothers!
Okay, these "musical artists" are not on my favorites list but I know that they influence thousands if not millions of fans including the three young kids in my house. If you could see how my girls reacted when they heard that Miley Cyrus did that slanty eyes! Why? Because they experience this on a regular basis and because of how much it hurts them and how much it deeply grieves me as a father that some of the same stupid frackin' stuff keeps going on.
Folks will push back and say, "Asian dude, relax. They're teenagers," and I'd respond by saying, "I'd love to be your kids." Miley is 16 and this Joe dude is 19 [not sure when the pic was taken]. That's clearly old enough to know something is stupid and racist. And of course, there's the whole motivation push back:
It was meant to be affectionate and fun spirited.
Seriously!*$@ Go and have fun doing something else. While the intent may have been to demonstrate an "affectionate gesture," let's make this very clear: slitting or slanting your eyes is NOT an affectionate gesture. You don't mock physical appearance because you think it's affectionate.
For example, when was the last time you saw someone do this as an "affectionate gesture?"
Slitting or slanting your eyes has been used historically in the past and present as a way to mock, offend, and degrade Asians locally and globally. And if we don't make a big deal of this and other instances, it will continue to not only occur but be perceived by some as acceptable and affectionate. And as I shared above, I can't speak directly and authoritatively to the individuals involved. I'm not about to call out Joe and Miley as racists or whoever, but let's not mince words or stutter to defend the actions. They hurt, offend, and degrade all who are created with beautiful Asian eyes -- just as God intended.
We need to slam the slanted eyes gestures as racist gestures even if they come from a 16 or 19 year -- and for that matter, a six year old. Why? Because we don't want 50 million teens around the world to think that slanting your eyes is affectionate. Nothing is more scary that a Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers concert with 16,000 fans slitting their eyes. Right?
I love this comment from Jessica, one of my blog readers who also serves as one of our worship directors at Quest Church. I know some of you folks won't like it but I'll just ask that you read it and sit on it:
I know this incident hit a little closer to home for me so I may be ranting but per the comment that the outcry among whites about racial incidents a la Miley Cyrus being loud - Not NEARLY loud enough. The fact that Michael Phelps takes a hit on a bong and looses millions of dollars in sponsorships and meanwhile Miley Cyrus mocks an entire race of people and only blogs a couple half-assed apologies with no greater repercussions - BOGGLES MY MIND!
Where were the big protests? Why didn't any retailers pull merchandise? I mean, the mocking Cyrus did is STILL HAPPENING on playgrounds around the country, subjecting countless Asian-American children to the VERY denigration she perpetrated - children who were very likely fans of her career, children to whom she owes her very livelihood! And granted, I am just as guilty as anyone else for not making enough noise because truth be told, other than a mini-rant in my Race/Gender/Sexuality class this is my first public contribution. Nevertheless, to echo a sermon Pastor Eugene preached a few weeks ago about injustice, WE ARE NOT ANGRY ENOUGH. Okay, maybe I'M angry enough, but you get my point.
Eugene Cho, a second-generation Korean-American, is the founder and lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle and the executive director of Q Cafe, an innovative nonprofit neighborhood café and music venue. He and his wife are also launching a grassroots humanitarian organization to fight global poverty. You can stalk him at his blog or follow him on Twitter.