Racism Alert: University of Maryland Kappa Sigma Frat’s Email Leaked

What is it with racism and colleges nowadays? This past Friday, an e-mail from a member of University of Maryland’s Kappa Sigma Fraternity leaked and it is horrifying. Warning: abhorrent language below.


We may have heard the “slanted eye chinks” comment before, but “curry monsters?” Really? And of course, we have to point out what he said about consent. This man is not only just a racist man with abhorrent thoughts, he may genuinely be a threat to all women. Not cool, bro.

The Presidents of the University of Maryland and Kappa Sigma have both released statements condemning the racist email. But amazingly enough, this man still has his defenders:

From The Bottomline:

UMD varsity football player and Quince Orchard alumni, Alex Twine, an African-American. Twine, a Gaithersburg native, is a senior education and American Studies major at UMD. “I’ve known AJ Hurwitz for years,” Twine told The Bottom Line, “He’s never been a bad person or racist. He’s an idiot for that email, and I don’t know why he would ever say something like that. The email was very wrong and there should be consequences, but let’s not ruin his life. He is not the only person that has ever sent something like that; he’s just one of them that have been exposed.”

Another was Corday Thomas, also an African-American friend of AJ. Thomas, like Twine, graduated in the same 2011 class as Hurwitz. He said, “I think it [the email] was taken out of context, but it is just unacceptable to say things like that. I’m not so much offended as I am disappointed and embarrassed for him. Racism is never okay, and you should never refer to women like that.”

Thomas also acknowledged Hurwitz for an act of generosity in the past, “Freshmen year of college, when my family moved to New York, I had no place to stay for spring break. He let me stay with him, fed me, hooked me up; I’ve chilled with him countless times, and I know he’s not a racist. However, he has to learn from his mistakes.”


So he has not one, but two black friends. How progressive of him!

In all seriousness, what is in the air? From the time Duke University Kappa Sigma had it’s “Asia-themed” party to the old anti-Asian rant from Alexandara Wallace, it appears as if there’s an increase in anti-Asian sentiment at colleges. Is that actually true or are we just hearing more about racist incidents now? More importantly, how do colleges move past this? Let us know in the comment section below.






Students Fight Back Against Racist “Banana” Slur with #MyBananaStory

To some Asian Americans, the word banana represents more than just a piece of fruit. Instead, it is a slur that means “yellow on the outside, white on the inside.” I encountered the term in my high school and early college days, usually by international students who would laugh when I would identify myself as Chinese or Indonesian. “No, you’re just an American,” they would say. “You’re a banana.” As it turns out, plenty of Asian Americans were called a “banana” back in their youth, and were heavily influenced because of it.

Paradox, an Asian American sociopolitical student organization at the University of Illinois, took matters into their own hands and created a platform called My Banana Story. According to USA Today, “Paradox members’ Facebook profile pictures feature photos of themselves holding a banana to their head, which symbolizes a gun and each picture caption tells the members’ respective stories, featuring the hashtag #MyBananaStory.”

“This idea was to pose in a way where we’re committing suicide,” says Alex Wen, a co-founder of Paradox and a recent University of Illinois graduate. “Because [My Banana Story] is this idea of killing your own identity in order to conform.”

On the #MyBananaStory page, members detail their own experiences with being called a “banana.” For many, racialized taunts and bullying led them to assimilate into what they would think of as White American culture, only to feel a loss in identity when the slur was thrown back at them. Here is an example below:


“Racial slurs, death threats, and getting spit at was not what I was expecting from high school when I first entered during my freshmen year. After getting off at my bus stop, another student calls me a word I won’t write on here. But I respond rather passively, trying not to escalate the situation. However, he shoves me and calls me a “dirty chink” so I respond with some expletives. He goes on calling me more offensive and racial words, the usual targeted racial stereotypes like you smell gross because of your food, your eyes are too small, you sound weird and others that aren’t written as nicely as the previous ones. Normally, this would have constituted in punches being thrown. But despite the spitting, yelling, and shoving, I held back, because I believed what he was saying. It made me account my own social and academic failures to my culture rather than myself. So I changed. I tried to be as “American” as possible. A while later, my family visited Taiwan. I fell in love with my culture again. But once again, I wasn’t accepted. Every day I would play basketball at the same courts with the same groups of people. I was not seen as Taiwanese though. They clearly saw me as American through names, actions, and remarks. I wasn’t seen as American in America and I wasn’t seen as Taiwanese in Taiwan. I had no culture to identify with. I was a “banana” and it took me years to find myself again.” – Matthew Hom

#MyBananaStory is sparking discussions among Asian Americans as they share their stories and discuss the banana slur. Some people believe that the term can be reclaimed as a form of empowerment. Probably the most famous and vocal example of this right now is Eddie Huang, who embraces it and calls himself a “rotten banana.” As he writes in his memoir Fresh off the Boat (the same memoir that inspired the ABC sitcom starring Randall Park and Constance Wu), “Watching my white and Asian friends move away from hip-hop opened my eyes to this rite of passage that I was never going to join — the ascendance into whiteness. I was down with the rotten bananas who want nothing to do with that.”

Personally, I am not sure if the banana slur can reclaimed into a form of empowerment. What I can say is that I embrace the identity of being Asian American and multicultural. Today, I proudly identify as Chinese-Indonesian American, and no one can take that away from me. Not even myself.


Asian Community Offended By Apple’s New Yellow Emoji

Previously, Apple’s emoji humans only came in one shade: White. Thankfully, Apple seems to have finally realized that there is such a thing as a non-white customer (in fact, there are quite a number of us), so they decided to integrate diversity into their emojis to appeal to the masses. As a result, emoji humans will have six different skin tones, there will be flags from various countries and there is even alternate family types for families with same-gender parents.

This all sounds great, right? Most people seem to appreciate Apple’s effort to be inclusive and in general, the new changes have been met with positive feedback. However, there is one major complaint that is upsetting countless people: The yellow emoji.

As Quartz points out, “There is a long racist history of using “yellow” to describe Asians” so it’s only understandable that the Asian community reacts negatively or suspiciously with these yellow emojis. Honestly, that skin tone is really only fitting for Lego people or for The Simpsons.


Of course, Apple has tried to remedy this situation by saying the yellow emoji is not representative of Asians. Instead, it’s a default “non-human” color. Apple analyst, Rene Ritchie explained, “The yellow emoji aren’t meant to represent a skin tone. They’re default emoji yellow. Tap to hold to get one of the five skin tone choices.”

Apparently, we’re all supposed to understand that humans do not come in that shade and Apple never meant to suggest that Asians are yellow. Do you believe him? Tell us what you think.




Jpop Group Momoiro Clover Z Continues Japan’s Trend of Blackface

Last week, popular Japanese idol group Momoiro Clover Z tweeted out the picture above to promote their upcoming collaboration performance on Music Fair with the doo-wop group Rats & Star. You can guess what happened next, right? The photo was deleted from twitter, Momoiro Clover Z’s management released an “I’m sorry you were offended” apology and Music Fair cancelled the blackface performance.

Unfortunately, none of these things happened.

The tweet is still up, no apology has been released as of this date and the blackface performance is still set to air on Music Fair on March 7th. Instead, the backlash Momoiro Clover Z has been facing has mostly been coming from the online, non-Japanese media. After the image was first posted, tweets from New York Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi and Wired writer Daniel Feit caught the attention of 2ch, a popular Japanese online messaging forum not known for it’s cultural sensitivity and tact. While the 2ch reactions were a mixed bag as usual, lots of commenters could see how this was unacceptable. “Even in the 21st century, it looks there’s a backwards group of people doing a minstrel show,” wrote one 2ch commenter.

Therefore, it’s not such a surprise that Momoiro Clover Z cancelled a screening and press conference of their movie The Curtain Rises with the  Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) scheduled for February 23rd. No mention of the blackface incident was made in the email, which raises suspicions. While it’s clear here that someone in Momoiro Clover Z’s management realizes that the blackface incident is not a good thing, we can’t help but be suspicious that this cancellation was a tactical move from their management to try to wait out the blacklash storm in hopes that it will go away. After all, Japanese entertainment has had a long history of blackface without any ruckus. Why should things be different this time?

Blackface has been a recurring thing in modern Japanese entertainment, particularly for comedic variety shows. And not once has there ever been any acknowledgement of wrongdoing. Essentially, Japanese entertainers have always been able to get away with blackface without any damage to their careers whatsoever. Let’s look back at some of these incidents, starting with Momoiro Clover Z’s blackface partner-in-crime, Rats & Stars.

Rats & Star is a Japanese doo-wop group that has been parading around as a blackface minstrel show since 1980. Their group name is a palindrome, reading the same forwards and backwards, and symbolizes “rats” raised in the less affluent parts of town that could, by singing doo-wop music, reverse their fortunes and collectively become a “star.” Ever since 1980, Rats & Star has been releasing album covers and making television appearances where they have dressed up in blackface.

This group has doing blackface for over thirty years and getting away with it. You’d think the younger generation would have learned that blackface, just like yellowface or brownface, is a dehumanizing, degrading and racist caricature of a group of people who have suffered because of racism and is therefore unacceptable.

Except, they haven’t. Here are five recent incidents of blackface in Japanese entertainment.



1. Popular boyband group ARASHI did this blackface impersonation on a variety show. Despite this blackface incident, they still remain one of the top Japanese boyband groups today.



2. Here’s Sayaka Akimoto, a former member of AKB48, doing a Michael Jackson impersonation. Akimoto “graduated” from AKB48 years later, out of her own volition and not because of this incident.



3. Japanese “urban” singer Jasmine made her debut with “Sad to Say” in 2009. On the back of the single cover was blackface. Her second album was released in 2013.



4. Chara, a popular 90’s singer who still releases music to this day, had this image on the back of her fourth album Happy Toy.



5. This variety show performance in 2010 had half black/half Japanese enka singer JERO performing with a comedian in blackface. Yes, some entertainers in Japan have the nerve to do blackface in front of a black person’s face.



So yes, there is a serious problem about blackface in Japan that is worth discussing. It’s 2015. Blackface with no repercussion is unacceptable.

While the Momoiro Clover Z and Rats & Star blackface performance is a terrible thing overall, we feel the slightest sliver of hope at the steadily growing blacklash. This is the first time that blackface has caused any sort of response from the perpetrator. We can only hope that the backlash will grow louder. After all, Momoiro Clover Z’s and Rats & Star’s blackface performance is still scheduled to air on March 7th in Music Fair. Isn’t it time to put a stop to this?



‘American Sniper’ Triggers Racist Arab and Muslim Tweets


American Sniper is currently the #1 movie in America and managed to make an impressive 89 million on MLK weekend. Despite the box office success, American Sniper received a huge amount of backlash from the usage of fake babies to fabricated stories about the real-life American Sniper Chris Kyle, whose memoir served as the source material for this movie. The most troubling response to the film is the amount of racist Arab/Muslim sentiment.

To give you an idea of why the content is so controversial, here’s just a few excerpts from the aforementioned memoir:


Image courtesy of Rania Khalek


Image courtesy of Rania Khalek

From these excerpts alone, it seems Chris Kyle viewed Muslims and Iraqis more like enemies to shoot in a video game. That is indeed racist. The American Sniper film had the option to show this side of Chris Kyle, but when Kyle’s father personally told director Clint Eastwood and actor Bradley Cooper “disrespect my son and I’ll unleash hell on you,” the filmmakers decided to make the movie more of a character study.

Anticipating a possible backlash, Bradley Cooper urged viewers not to use the film to answer deeper questions such as the “political conversation about whether we should or should not have been in Iraq, whether the war is worth fighting, whether we won, whether we didn’t, why are we still there.” However, audiences could not simply take the film lightly, especially with the negative political stance towards the Iraqi people:


As we feared, the movie evoked countless racist tweets that were similar to the ones following Olympus Has Fallen and Red Dawn:


That’s not even the worst of it. Check out even more racist tweets here.

There is even backlash against the backlash. There are some who think the criticism of American Sniper is unpatriotic. As Sarah Palin puts it, criticizing this film is “spitting on the graves of freedom fighters who allow you to do what you do.”

Sorry Sarah, but this may be a film I’ll skip.


Lawsuit Against Brooklyn Chef For Serving “Worst Cuts” to Asians


Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare has made quite a name for itself over the years. It is a New York Magazine’s Critics’ Top Pick, books reservations six weeks in advance, has three Michelin stars and was called “one of the more extraordinary restaurants” by The New York Times. It’s undeniable that the food is extraordinary, but this ritzy eatery, which charges a flat $255 per person plus a $50 ‘service charge’ for each patron, has been facing some less than top-rated press lately.

A lawsuit has been filed stating that head chef César Ramirez insisted that the worst pieces of meat be served to Asian customers.


Photo courtesy of Getty Images 

And there’s more. In claims of blatant biases, some of his former sous chefs and servers have started making statements about his behavior behind kitchen doors.

Former server Emi Howard, who is of Asian descent, has alleged that Ramirez doesn’t just stop at “worst cuts.” Howard states that Ramirez ordered the staff not to put Asian customers too close to his section of the restaurant (the chichi counter), and made a habit of referring to them and Upper West Siders as “s- -t people.” When Howard “violated” these rules, the suit says, Ramirez would “subject Ms. Howard to a wild verbal tirade,” before more strictly enforcing the “no Asians near me” rule.



Photo courtesy of http://ny.eater.com

And when it came time to distribute cuts of meat during the fusion French-Asian meal service, Asians — along with suspected Upper West Siders — were given inferior scraps, while preferred diners were given choice chunks, the suit says.

The filed complaint about the difference in meat scraps versus prime meat chunks, seating arrangement and name-calling can be found in PDF form here. As a result, the restaurant has also been receiving some heated comments on its Facebook page:

race chef

As a response, Brooklyn Fare owner Moe Issa has said in an email statement to The Daily Meal: “At Brooklyn Fare, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our staff who hail from around the globe, and we welcome everyone who comes through our doors with open arms, be it a guest, vendor, or employee, regardless of their creed, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or nationality.”


Sephora Accused of Being Racist Against Asians


Recently, Sephora held a big 20% off sale for their “VIB” customers who spent over $350 during the year. Unfortunately, many of those top-tier customers faced technical difficulties — their accounts were shut down or their ability to place orders were restricted with absolutely no reason given. This certainly caused quite the alarm for loyal customers who wanted to partake in the sale, but this was nothing compared to the shocking theory behind these blocked customers: Sephora is being accused of blocking their Asian customers.

Allegedly, the customers banned from the sale were those who have e-mail addresses based in China, or those who have Chinese/Asian surnames. Styleite caught just a few of the thousands of Chinese Americans waiting for an explanation from Sephora.


Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 3.52.12 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 3.52.22 PM


If these allegations are true, you may be wondering why Sephora would use geographic and ethnic profiling. Many have theorized that such a move was done to prevent international bulk buyers and re-sellers. However, we can all agree that it’s impossible to actually tell which customers want to re-sell their products and which ones simply enjoy Sephora products. As expected, many Sephora users are outraged.

“Long-time Sephora customer here,” one reddit user wrote. “I moved to Taiwan a few years ago, but really wanted some Sephora goodness. I sent an order to my (western last name) friend and had her re-ship the package to me, I had no issues with the order. Recently tried to make another order and send it to my brother (Chinese last name) who lives in Miami to bring back to me on his next trip home. My order was canceled and when I asked, they gave me the same TOS bullshit. When I asked which part of the TOS they were talking about, I was ignored.”

Sephora eventually released a statement admitting their concern over reselling products.

Message for Clients

Sephora is dedicated to providing an exciting and reliable shopping experience and we sincerely apologize to our loyal clients who were impacted by the website crash that occurred yesterday.

Our website is incredibly robust and designed to withstand a tremendous amount of volume. What caused the disruption yesterday was a high level of bulk buys and automated accounts for reselling purposes from North America and multiple countries outside the US. The technical difficulties that impacted the site are actively being addressed and our desktop US website is now functioning normally. We are actively working to restore our Canadian, mobile website, and international shipping where applicable. There has been no impact on the security and privacy of our clients’ data.

The reality is that in taking steps to restore website functionality, some of our loyal North American and international clients got temporarily blocked. We understand how frustrating it is and are deeply sorry for the disruption to your shopping experience.

However, in some instances we have, indeed, de-activated accounts due to reselling — a pervasive issue throughout the industry and the world. As part of our ongoing commitment to protecting our clients and our brands, we have identified certain entities who take advantage of promotional opportunities to purchase products in large volume on our website and re-sell them through other channels. After careful consideration, we have deactivated these accounts in order to optimize product availability for the majority of our clients, as well as ensure that consumers are not subject to increased prices or products that are not being handled or stored properly.

As expected, many outraged customers are pledging never to shop there again. What do you think?


Is Your Halloween Costume Racist? Use This Handy Chart To Find Out!


There are endless possibilities when it comes to Halloween costumes. You can be a cat, a superhero, even a banana! We personally don’t care how silly, scary or sexy your costume is, but we will care if your costume is racist.

Many people don’t even seem to recognize when they’re wearing a controversial costume. They simply see Halloween as an opportunity to be someone else for a night. But that’s the problem, you can’t be someone else for a night. As Huffington Post explains:

“Borrowing from another culture is most problematic when it plucks from a minority group (especially one that has been exploited or otherwise oppressed). Using aspects of another culture from a position of privilege is a means of additional exploitation in that it disregards the shared experiences that led to the development of the culture in question and uses ideas and traditions for their benefit.”


And trust us, we’ve seen some pretty insensitive ones over the years. Just check out these three guys who decided to be the Asiana Airlines flight attendants after crashing the plane.





So if you’re confused about whether or not you’re wearing something insensitive tonight, we’re here to help. College humor created this handy flowchart for anyone that can’t figure out if their costume is racist. Check it out below:


“Here in America, We Don’t Eat Turtles and Frogs”: Chinatown Tour Guide Apologizes For Racist Rant


You may have seen the viral video which shows a tour guide giving a description of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a number of individuals aboard a tour bus. Doesn’t sound like footage that would go viral? Well that’s because when I say she gave “a description” of Chinatown, I actually mean she gave a drunken, angry rant full of racism and profanity.

The video, which was shot by a German tourist on the double decker bus, shows the tour guide explaining that it is her last day on the job. Apparently, she thought the perfect way to celebrate this occasion was to drop the F-bomb all over the city. After watching her controversial performance, we’re going to go ahead and say she’s not a fan Chinatown.



Unsurprisingly, it’s a two way street — Chinatown is not a fan of the racist tour guide either. A rally was held at the Portsmouth Square which allowed citizens to voice their opinion on the racist rant. Sue Lee of the Chinese Historical Society of America spoke out about her disappointment in the tour guide for turning to racism to entertain the bus riders, her disappointment in the applause the tour guide received at the end of her rant and (most importantly) her disappointment that no one stood up to say something.



In response, the tour guide, who remains anonymous, spoke out to say she was not drunk and was simply doing a “satirical comedic portion of the tour.” She contacted San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu and said “I thought that I could bend the rules. I thought that I could be a little outrageous, and it was something that went way too far.”

Many do not believe she was simply trying to be comedic. However, Chiu recognizes the importance of the tour guide taking responsibility for her inappropriate actions. In a Facebook post, he wrote:

“She also apologized and seemed to be coming to an understanding that her comments were not “satirical” or “comedic” but were instead incredibly harmful and offensive. I don’t know the woman’s name or her phone number but she said she was going to call me back today to talk about what she can start to do to make amends to the Chinatown community and all of San Francisco. I’m glad she’s starting to come forward and realize she needs to take responsibility for her actions.”





Controversy Over Miranda Kerr’s Vogue Japan Photoshoot: Cultural Appropriation vs. Cultural Appreciation


Miranda Kerr is certainly no stranger to Japan. This time last year, the 31-year-old Australian model attracted quite a bit of attention for her odd, Japanese detergent commercials. Well it looks like she’s back and this time, she’s on the cover of the special 15th anniversary November issue of Vogue Japan.

While this excited many Kerr fans, much of that excitement was replaced with confusion when shots from the photo shoot were released. It was immediately clear that the actress was dressed to look like a geisha, a samurai and even an anime character. Of course, this begs the question: Where is the line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, and what does this categorize as?

Most seem to be leaning towards cultural appropriation. Angry netizens question why a Japanese model wasn’t used for the 15th anniversary issue of  Vogue Japan. After all, the magazine is a Japanese-language magazine. Despite Kerr’s undeniable popularity in Japan, Japanese readers have been shaking their heads in disapproval of the choice to have a foreigner in “Japanese-inspired” outfits.



However, others have come to Kerr’s defense including the photographer of the photo shoot, Mario Testino. In response to the controversy he explained, “I wanted to represent ancient and modern Japan with these three characters. Japan has geisha and samurai, as well as manga, and I hoped to express these themes through Miranda to the Japanese people.”

Some Kerr fans have even used cosplay as an example of cultural appreciation and note that race does not matter when avid fans dress up as their favorite anime or comicbook character. They argue that this photo shoot does the same. To others, the rebuttal for this argument is simple: this is not cosplay. This is a magazine which creates influence and for some, shapes beauty standards.

Kerr has not released her opinion on the matter, but she has been putting up photos on her Instagram since earlier this month.

Check them out below and give us your verdict. Is this cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation?

mkv 1 mkv 2



mkv 3 mkv 4