Upscale home furnishing and fashion retailer Pottery Barn took its Halloween costumes of a sushi chef and a kimono off their shelves following complaints from an Asian American civil rights group.
Pottery Barn issued a formal apology late Monday and confirmed that the items were removed from its Pottery Barn Kids website.
“We did not intend to offend anyone with our Halloween costumes and we apologize,” said Leigh Oshirak, vice president of public relations and marketing for Williams-Sonoma, parent company of Pottery Barn.
A group of Asian American civil rights activists demanded “immediate removal” of the clothing and request an apology from Pottery Barn as the retailer began selling Japanese traditional clothing, kimono, and a sushi chef outfit that had the Rising Sun flag on it.
“It’s not that ethnic dress is offensive. What we find problematic is packaging this type of dress as a costume,” Ling Woo Liu, director of strategic communications for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, told the Los Angeles Times.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are real people who cannot and should not be commodified as costumes,” Liu added.
Halloween is only a few days away! Of course this means pumpkin-carving, candy overloads, scary movies and, unfortunately, a handful of racist Halloween costumes.
Just the other day, we came across an eyeful of “blackface” when a couple of guys thought dressing up as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman would be a good idea.
The public exploded with angry comments towards these guys who made light of a very serious issue. Unfortunately, it is clear that there are many more individuals who see no problem with trivializing serious matters.
Our most recent example is this trio:
Nope, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. These guys actually thought it would be a good idea to dress up as Asiana Airlines flight attendants after crashing the plane.
The costumes reference the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 at the San Francisco International Airport. The crash killed two people, injured more than 180 others and left several in critical condition.
The crash itself was pulled into racial controversy when KTVU gave inappropriate nicknames to the pilots on Asiana Flight 214.
Again, the public exploded with angry reactions and yet people do not seem to care. The men with the pilot costumes made sure to include the racist names in their attire.
How people can make halloween costumes out of a tragedy is beyond me. In case these guys didn’t irritate you enough, don’t forget to check out Angry Asian Man‘s list of racist costumes.
The Asian American band, The Slants, have been unsuccessful in trying to trademark their name. For four years, the six-member rock band hailing from Portland, Ore., has been fighting with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), which has denied approval, saying the name is disparaging for people of Asian descent.
Simon Tam, the founder and bassist of The Slants, responded by saying that the PTO has rejected their request on the basis of their ethnicity, while a Caucasian band would not be denied this name, NPR reported.
The group, which describes its sound as “Chinatown dance rock,” have already had several attempts shot down by the PTO.
In 2009, the group attempted to “reclaim” the racist term and applied for a trademark with the patent office. However, they were denied approval, to which the band responded by saying that the term holds multiple meanings. For instance, they argued that in their case The Slants referred to musical chords.
However, the PTO ruled that the “The intent of an applicant to disparage the referenced group is not necessary to find that the mark does, in fact, disparage that group.”
The band tried again in 2011, but with a different approach. This time they claimed the name has nothing to with anything Asian. However, it was refused for the second time.
Yet again, the band a now trying another tactic and are now preparing to take the case to federal circuit court, where they are claiming that their right to free speech has been violated. It will be another tough battle because the PTO does not forbid the band to call themselves The Slants, it just does not allow them to trademark the name.
The band is hoping the courts see it differently, and if not, the national attention from the legal battle won’t hurt them.
The guys who brought us Rebecca Black’s “Friday” are back and have unleashed a song that may very well beat their first viral phenomenon. Alison Gold is the face of this new troll video “Chinese Food” where she sings about her love for, you guessed it, Chinese food.
The video combines the poor musical abilities of “Friday,” more than a handful of racist stereotypes, and lyrics that leave you wondering what sort of condition the creators may have been in while writing this trainwreck.
The music video was only released yesterday and it has already logged over one million views. It also has over four times as many dislikes than likes, but we have a feeling the producers don’t really mind that. Will it be able to beat its predecessor’s 60 million views? Time will only tell.
If you can endure watching the whole thing through, you may find yourself asking a lot of questions by the end of it. Why are there so many rainbows? Why is a 12-year-old singing about clubbing? Why on earth is there a giant panda bear?
Clearly, Ark Music Factory wanted to test out just how many inappropriate stereotypes they could fit in a tween pop song. As Angry Asian Man points out, “Mongolian barbecue, hot sauce, geishas and an extremely creepy panda man flying away on rainbow power. As you can see, you don’t need scantily clad women to exoticize and objectify Asians — kids can get in on the racist fun too!”
If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to watch the whole thing though, Time Magazine did a lovely breakdown of the entire video:
0:16: Now we see our protagonist, Alison Gold, who sing-songily describes her average day of bowling, clubbing, hugging and being hungry. She’s basically your average 13-year-old.
0:59: It appears as though “chow-m-m-m-m-mein” is something of a catch phrase for Gold, almost like R. Kelly’s “toot-toot” and “beep-beep” from “Ignition (Remix).” The first time she says it, she makes it rain; the second time, she brushes her shoulders off (always good to see the next generation paying homage to hip-hop greats like Weezy and Jay).
1:45: Now here’s where things take a turn for the even weirder. Gold’s fortune cookie says, “You will find a new friend.” So she turns around and sees a person sitting at a table by themselves, wearing a panda suit. The panda gets a fortune that reads, “You will find a new friend too,” which makes even less sense once you think about it. Also, options if you’re a young girl sitting by yourself in a restaurant and someone in a panda costume is staring at you:
1. Call your parents
2. Call the police
3. Not this…
2:12: Things seemed to be going well in the park, so Gold decides to bring the panda home to play Monopoly with her friends (kids playing Monopoly in 2013 has to be the most unrealistic part of this video, if every trend piece of the last five years is to be believed). That’s when we get the big reveal…
2:13: The panda is Patrice Wilson! He also “loves Chinese food, and some wonton soup,” the latter of which would be covered under the Chinese food pronouncement, but let’s not focus on that too much. He is apparently crushing a group of pre-teen girls in a game of Monopoly and Gold seems none too pleased about it.
We were wrong. For once we thought the Asian community could have a win without a large of show of racist backlash. We thought we were safely out of the woods and had avoided another NinaDavuluri ordeal.
Let us all release a collective sigh of disappointment.
This past Saturday, Miss Philippines Megan Young won the Miss World Pageant 2013. The 23-year-old Filipina competed against contestants from 127 different countries. Just like Davuluri, who recently won Miss America, Young encountered negative comments simply because of her race.
A Facebook user who goes by the name “Devina DeDiva” went on a racist rant about her disbelief that Young took the crown. Devina DeDiva publicly released her opinion that all Filipinos are dirty, poor, and maids that should not gain glory.
Her post was immediately shared over 400 times and began quite the debate:
As you can see, many individuals tried to defend Young. Devina DeDiva was not phased and continued to stand by her opinion. As nice as it was to see people calling Devina DeDiva out on her racism, one must also note that there were an alarming number of people that also seemed to agree and like her racist comments.
Goodjob Devina, you may now join our list of racist individuals that obviously don’t know common courtesy. Devina DeDiva’s name, which has now been changed to Arabic because of all the angry responses pelted back at her, topped the Twitter trending list in the Philippines.
After spending a week talking about the controversy surrounding Miss America Nina Davuluri, we said NO MORE. As much as we support her, continuously talking about her haters will only draw more attention to them. As Kunal Nayyar pointed out, there’s no need to “empower them by giving them importance.”
But then we came across this jewel and we couldn’t pass it up. How could we not post something this funny?
Featured in our Fall 2013 issue, comedian Hasan Minhaj is a favorite here at Audrey Magazine. Clearly, he is maintaining his spot there. Minhaj sends comeback after comeback to the various racist tweets. And unlike the racists out there, he actually uses logic. The inner kid in us can’t help but use the phrase “burnnnn.” Trust us, you don’t wanna miss this.
Oh and Hasan, we agree with your mom — you should totally talk to her.
There were many reactions to Nina Davuluri winning Miss America. Unfortunately, many of these reactions were not the praise and compliments that are typically showered upon a newly crowned Miss America.
Twitter exploded with racist comments about the first Indian Miss America. Many tweets referenced 9/11, called her a terrorist and even refused to acknowledge her as an American despite her being born and raised in New York. As expected, this gained nationwide attention, though not the attention we would hope for.
In the midst of all the undeserved hate and racism, some good came from this. Many individuals fought back in support of Davuluri and her well-deserved title.
Among these supporters was The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar. The actor tweeted his congratulations, then quickly commented on the negative reactions to Miss America.
On Sunday night, New York’s Nina Davuluri made pageant history by becoming the first woman of Indian descent to snag the prestigious title of Miss America.
But not long after the coveted crown was placed on her head, Davuluri, who performed a Bollywood fusion dance routine for the talent portion of the competition, quickly became the focus of discriminatory and racist comments on various social media platforms. The 24-year-old aspiring doctor was referred to, among other things, as “Miss 7-11,” “Miss Al-Qaeda,” and as a “terrorist.” Some expressed their disappointment that an “Arab” who had performed “Egypt dancing” won Miss America, just days after the 9/11 anniversary. Some even retorted that a Miss America winner “should have to be American.”
In her first press conference as Miss America, Davuluri addressed the issue, quickly (and gracefully) putting aside the negativity.
“I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity,” she said. “I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America. … I have to rise above [the comments]. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
Going into the pageant, Davuluri’s platform issue was “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency,” and sad instances such as these prove the platform’s continuing necessity and relevance in the U.S. Thankfully, in about an hour, the Twittersphere exploded with tweets in support of Davuluri, drowning out the small minority of ignoramuses.
A billion-dollar love triangle is big news right? So it would have probably been a good idea for People magazine to publish a picture of the right Asian girl, but I suppose that’s asking for too much. Apparently you put Google Glass on two Asian women and it will make them indistinguishable.
This is downright silly. Last month, news broke that Google founder Sergey Brin is splitting with his wife Anne Wojcicki, amid reports that he is dating a 27-year-old employee, Amanda Rosenberg. Honestly, none of this is news I give a crap about … except when People has a hard time getting two Asian faces straight.
In its coverage of Brin’s breakup, instead of posting an image of Rosenberg, People used a photo of completely different Asian woman, albeit also wearing the awkward Google eyewear. The photo is actually a cropped stock image of an unidentified non-Rosenberg woman taken on the streets of New York.
And as Angry Asian Man points out, this inability to tell Asians apart isn’t new to People magazine. Back in 2008, they published an article Rain making his Hollywood debut. The only problem? They didn’t include a picture of Rain. Instead, they put in a picture of Karl Yune who played a smaller role in the featured film.
People, you may want to think about hiring staff to do some basic fact checking. Or who don’t think all Asians look alike.
Employee Hani Khan, 18, was fired from her job at the popular retail store after refusing to remove her hijab while working. The hijab is a head scarf worn by Muslim women to show modesty, but to Abercrombie & Fitch, the hijab simply does not fit their look.
After four months of working with the company, Khan was approached about her head scarf. Naturally she felt uncomfortable having to explain the cultural background behind the tradition. When she refused to take it off, she was terminated from her job. Abercrombie & Fitch offered to re-hire her 11 days later, but with a catch — she could only return if she no longer wore her hijab. Khan turned down the offer.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on Khan’s behalf in 2011. Although the company claims that it does not discriminate based on religion, Abercrombie & Fitch commented that they believed the hijab would negatively affect sales.
Of course, the company was not able to provide any proof of a decline in sales while Khan wore the head scarf while working.
It is important to note that this is not the first time Abercrombie & Fitch has been publicly scorned for discrimination. The company received quite the amount of backlash when chief executive Mark Jeffries openly commented that Abercrombie and Fitch is made for the “cool kids” and plus-sized women were not part of that group.
Many believe that the company’s reputation has been tarnished since those statements and unfortunately, Abercrombie & Fitch seems to continue digging its own grave.
Audrey Magazine is an award-winning national publication that covers the Asian experience from the perspective of Asian American women. Audrey covers the latest talent and trends in entertainment, fashion, beauty and lifestyle.