- Blog Post by: Bao Phi
- December 20, 2011 - 8:31 AM
My family and I were among the first wave of Vietnamese refugees to come to this country, and the State of
Of course she was talking about me, though if she had asked me, she would learn that my family had a dog and cat that we loved as pets. All of us kids cried for days when they died of old age many years later. Of course she was talking about me, though I don’t have a doubt that if we were less fortunate in escaping Vietnam, and had to endure the starvation of the late 70’s, I am sure my family would have been lucky to eat a cat or dog if we could find one. And that would have absolutely nothing to do with race or culture.
Years later, as a young adult, I see that the local restaurant Chino Latino plastered billboards all over town with signs that read “As Exotic as You Can Get Without Eating Dogs,” an “edgy” campaign that won national awards. One man’s edgy is another man’s racism, I guess. Professor Cathy Choy writes about seeing one of their billboards in her excellent essay, Salvaging the Savage: On Representing Filipinos and Remembering American Empire (Screaming Monkeys, Coffee House Press, 2003), and delves into the colonial roots of these racist beliefs. At the 1904
It’s been theorized that the name “hot dog”, for the popular wiener-in-a-bun that has become a staple at ballgames and picnics, actually came about because of the sensationalist depiction of Filipinos at the World’s Fair – and opportunistic food vendors there. Digging deeper, I find out that Europeans such as the Germans and the French have also eaten dogs as a part of their history and culture – and yet no one goes around accusing the French and Germans of eating Fido.
I was disappointed, but honestly not surprised, when WCCO ran an investigative report by James Schugel about a
Now, as others have pointed out, a responsible journalist would have, at that point, asked the person to spell things out. Instead, the journalist asked if they sold dog meat for people to eat. The person, who thought he said “duck”, said yes.
Relying on a simple exchange with one worker who’s grasp of English was shaky at best, WCCO ran the story. It has since been pulled, but questions remain about how a story like this would make it on air without fact-checking, among other things. The market in
Community groups such as Community Action Against Racism and Asian American Journalists Association have asked for an apology and an explanation. While WCCO did meet with AAJA, that meeting is confidential - WCCO has not responded to community inquiries. This is especially curious, as the story they decided to ran was loaded with racial stereotypes, ended up being completely false, and was damaging to people's livelihoods. Sure, everyone makes mistakes – but usually the decent thing is, you apologize and explain yourself, especially if your recklessness has caused undue harm to another person – and I hope I’m not alone in thinking this, but especially if you let racist sensationalism over-ride process and professionalism, not to mention common sense, and hurt a business and an entire group of people with your actions.
What few people are talking about, is the effect of this article on the Asians who work and own the market in
“This is just one example of how stereotypes of whole communities of color are perpetuated by the media,” remarks Margie Andreason, community activist and member of CAAR. “It’s a privilege for white folks to not have to think about the impact stories like these influence perceptions of neighbors, colleagues, teachers, and policymakers. All mainstream media cares about is a sensational story, even if it is based on a bias from the start and then leads to being untrue.”
Community members still seek an apology and explanation from WCCO. Read more about it here:
Thanks to Juliana Hu Pegues, Margie Andreason, and Boa Lee for contributing to this essay
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