Politics, Moderate



Racism against Asians should not be tolerated

Esther J. Cepeda on

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement afterward, but the only people paying attention at that point were the ones concerned that, as Korean-American author Matthew Salesses noted: It seems to be OK to make fun of those who comprise our country's fastest-growing racial group.

"The truth is, racism toward Asians is treated differently in America than racism toward other ethnic groups. This is a truth all Asian-Americans know," Salesses wrote on the website of the Good Men Project. "While the same racist may hold back terms he sees as off-limits toward other minorities, he will often not hesitate to call an Asian person a chink, as Jeremy Lin was referred to, or talk about that Asian person as if he must know karate, or call him Bruce Lee, or consider him weak or effeminate, or so on."

The South Asian versions can be summed up in three words: "Oh my goodness." They are the subject of comedian Hari Kondabolu's new documentary, "The Problem with Apu" -- a reference to the cartoon Kwik-E-Mart proprietor from "The Simpsons."

Featuring many of America's most successful South Asian actors and comedians -- Aziz Ansari, Kal Penn, Sakina Jaffrey and others -- the documentary delves into the pain caused by a contemptuous parody in one of TV's most successful and longest-running shows.

Sure, it's comedy. But when a bunch of comedians, actors and even a former U.S. surgeon general tell you how destructive "Apu" has been to their actual lives, it merits reflection.


I'm looking forward to seeing it. But no one should need a whole movie to know it's wrong to make fun of Asians' eyes or how they talk.


Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group



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