American comedians and wannabe jokers get a lot of mileage out of racist, faux-Chinese names. Not too long ago, a news agency landed itself in hot water, using “Sum Ting Wong” and “Ho Lee Fuk” as names for pilots.
Now, another news agency caught itself in a controversy over use of blatantly racist “Asian” names in a failed attempt at humor.
On August 21, a photo featuring a Philadelphia councilman named Mark Squilla and seven other people of East Asian descent appeared in the Philadelphia Public Record. See if you can find the racism:
“Chinky Winky” and “Dinky Doo.” That’s not just racist, that’s puerile. I’d find more maturity in group of preschoolers.
And then there are the typos: “For” is spelled wrong. “Guang Zhou” appears twice, and there are 12 names despite there only being 8 people.
Philly Mag, who broke the story, asked the publisher, Jimmy Tayoun, Sr., about the caption. Tayoun called it “a proofreading error” and said the editor who was supposed to be responsible for the photo was “a Britisher” who “didn’t mean anything by it.”
Later, a formal apology was issued on the Record’s website:
In our Aug. 21, 2014 issue an offensive slur was accidentally published in the Philadelphia Public Record. This shocking lapse of professional conduct occurred contrary to our editorial directives and in no way reflects the views of our staff or our organization.
An internal investigation is underway to uncover the source of this intolerable abuse and to prevent it from ever happening again. We apologize whole-heartedly to the Asian American community and to all Philadelphians of this vibrant, diverse city who work together to make it the best place in America to live and to grow.
And as of 12:08 today, according to Philly.com, Tayoun reportedly fired the Record editor who wrote the caption. Given that Tayoun had initially tried to defend him, it’s a welcome turn of events.