Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pulling the Slanted Eyes Face - Racist or Not?

So for those who don't know about it, here is the link. Notice the Asian guy not making a goofy face, which is how Cyrus has defended her actions. Just making goofy funny faces. Notice all the other non-Asian friends making slanty eyed or slitted eyed faces. Yes, they somehow all decided to make the same slit eyed goofy face for the camera.

Then read the comments. Some of them range from, agreeing it was racist to others saying she's just a kid who doesn't know any better. But here's the reality. If you aren't Asian don't(expletive deleted) tell me this isn't offensive. Don't (expletive deleted) tell me to lighten up and say the political police needs to back off and crap like that. Until you have taken a walk in my shoes and felt the ugliness of a group of kids slanting their eyes and calling you a "Chink" - spitting at you - throwing rocks and glass bottles at you - and telling you to go home to China where we all belong - don't you dare tell me this is harmless kid stuff. Kids can be vicious and brutal and have the capability to inflict incredible damage on others. We all know this to be true. So don't excuse her behavior. She's not 2, she's a teenager. She knows better. Now I wouldn't go so far as to sue her, even to me that seemed excessive. But anyone who would brush off her behavior by saying she's just a kid and we should just leave her alone, fails to see the problem of high profile public figures who by their actions may affect a whole new generation of children. One of the commenter's wanted to know why only Cyrus was forced to apologize why not the other kids. Well they should all apologize, but only Cyrus is the public figure. Only Cyrus is idolized by millions of young girls throughout the world. So only Cyrus really needs to come out with a real apology.

One commenter said what's the big deal, everyone has probably once in their life pulled the slanty eyed face so leave her alone. Why does this fact make it alright? Maybe this person is right. Maybe some non-Asians have pulled this face in private or public at least once in their lives and laughed about it. Maybe they really don't know that it is hurtful. Ok - so maybe it is time to educate them. As an Asian American, I can tell you that the slanty eyed thing is not only offensive it is extremely demoralizing and demeaning to us. It hurts.

A kid at school pulled this on Angus last year when she was 6. She didn't understand why he was doing this, but she knew it hurt her. She knew it was insulting to her. She came home depressed and a little bit shaken up. Her first experience with racial ugliness. I can't protect her from it. I can only teach her to speak up for herself. I have to teach her the right way to act. For me, I always reacted with my fists first. But for my kids, I am teaching them to verbalize and stand strong.

If we don't speak up, people won't know what hurts us. So a public outcry over Cyrus's actions is indeed a good thing, if only to tell the world that this type of behavior is absolutely wrong and will not be tolerated any longer.

33 comments:

Stephen Parrish said...

Your outrage is justified. But please be aware that the numbskulls in that picture represent the minority, and that we, your loyal readers, think you're gorgeous.

Travis Erwin said...

Her dad is the king of Mullet International, they had her take lewd photos, they exploit her at every angle.

These people are not to be trusted to do the right thing ever.

Lisa said...

I'm glad you are posting this and it needs to be done. Racism toward Asians and Asian Americans has always been much more insidious than it has been when it comes to other races. Perhaps because there are less people who speak out, the "slanted eyes face", mockery of accents and other demeaning expressions don't draw the kind of criticism and reaction that other kinds of overt racism do. I honestly believe there are probably a lot of children and even adults who are too ignorant to realize their behavior is insulting and hurtful. This is another example of how we do need to talk more in this country. Good for you Ello.

kathi430 said...

I was appalled and disgusted when I saw that photo a few days.

She should absolutely apologize - how can she justify her behavior?

Her voice already affected me like nails on a chalkboard, now I can't even stand looking at her.

Grow up, Cyrus. Grow a set and say you're sorry.

McKoala said...

I think it's ridiculous that she has not made a genuine and humble apology. Her behaviour is completely offensive. Trying to come up with inane excuses merely makes it worse.

Steve Malley said...

Sometimes I hope that when the last of the Segregrated Generation die out, the worst of their attitudes will too.

Then I watch them pass their poison to the young and wonder if we'll ever be free...

Ello said...

Aw Stephen! You are lovely! And of course I know that! I was reacting to the commenters remarks which I found depressing in some cases.

Travis - Those pictures were so wrong for her age and I still don't understand her parents actions. But in the picture you can see she is with older kids who look to be drinking so clearly they are not supervising her at all.

Lisa - Thank you. Your comment and your recognition means a lot to me.

Kathi - I have never understood her appeal but I always thought she was at least a cutie. Now I'm definitely not that fond of her.

Mckoala - She did come up with a little better apology but still not good enough. Which is why some LA woman is suing her now. Which I think is ridiculous also, but what do I know. But the whole blaming the media thing just really bugged me.

Ello said...

Steve - I so hear what you said. I feel like I could have posted that myself as it is something my heart aches about. Will we ever be free of hatred? I just don't know the answer.

ecm-sketches said...

Thanks for the heads up about this, Ellen. I had not idea. Miley needs to be held accountable for her racist action. What get's me is that the girl dismisses the negative public reaction. Hello, Miley, knock, knock, knock... is there anything in there? (Knocking on her brain AND heart!)

Cynthea said...

Okay, that does it.... In my GREAT CALL OF CHINA video (the uncut version) I directly addressed this particular gesture and how hurtful it can be.

But i decided not to air that portion because it was not directly related to the book. Not because I didn't want to talk about it.

I can't believe this happened again with more public figures!!!

I've had it done to me, too. When I was six. I didn't get what was going on, but I, too, knew it was insulting.

I still remember those kids. There were two of them. I remember where I was exactly when it happened And I'm 33 now!

So people, teach your kids what's right and wrong. Take the time to educate them about things like this (even if a racist incident never comes up as a problem you should address). No kid should think it's okay to mimic "goofy-faces" like this to their friends. Or be as ignorant about it as Miley is when they get older. If you're pulling this sort of face, you should be doing it because you have a major migraine or your pony-tailed is pulled too tight - NOT TO GOOF OF WITH FRIENDS AND POSE FOR CAMERAS. Give me a break, Miley!

Have you all heard about this thing called Operation Respect? www.operationrespect.org.

It's this major thing Peter Yarrow is promoting about teaching kids to respect others. Rolling this out to schools.

I wish they would roll it out to Hollywood, the South American Olympic teams, and pretty much, every adult alive!

Anlyledo said...

It's so heart breaking for all the young girls who will be hurt by this. And so awful that other young girls will see it as acceptable to do because Hannah Montana did. Bleck.

Lana Gramlich said...

I understand your position, entirely. Eddie Murphy once did a bit about this (in his stand up movie, "Delirious,") but the mocking person got theirs, in the end.

Colorado Writer said...

I don't have girls, but if I did, I would BOYCOTT all Hannah Montana merchandise, television shows, movies, music etc.. It is total bullcrap that people still do that kind of stuff. And she should know better.

Patti said...

when i first came across the picture, i was stunned. how could she not know, especially at her age and extraordinary exposure to the world. how?!

Cheryl Kauffman said...

I had not heard of this. Thanks for posting about it. When I see things like this in the news, I try to speak to my kids about it so they know this is not acceptable behavior. Both of my kids idolize Cyrus and she should be expected to act appropriately. I'm sorry your daughter had to go through that torment. My daughter is bullied all the time because of her OCD, and I know how helpless it can feel not to be able to protect your children.

Merry Monteleone said...

Is it just me, or does it look like everyone else in the photo planned it to make fun of the asian kid?

Obnoxious little twat. Sorry, Ello, you should probably censor me, but still, she is.

I don't know what to say about the number of kids that look up to her... on the plus side, my daughter's in fifth grade and it's already 'uncool' to like Miley by that age... which means her time in the spotlight is almost up.

pacatrue said...

As you may remember, Ello, three or four years ago I taught at a summer school where all the students were either local Korean-American kids or kids from Korea visiting the U.S. for the summer. I was knocked over one day when one of my (Korean) American kids pulled out the slant-eye face himself during class.

I think I told him to stop it, but I still don't understand what it was about. As I vaguely remember, he was making fun of Chinese people with it. My best guess was that he had picked up somewhere that this is how you make fun of Chinese kids and so was just doing that. Of course, I'm also aware that my reaction is a slightly racial one on my part, because the oddness of it to me was due to the fact that I was seeing him as Asian myself.

To explain that last comment, what I mean is that the oddness of it in my view was from me seeing another Asian person doing the slant-eye face to make fun of another Asian person. That's slightly lumping people together.

Anyway, it was interesting. He definitely wasn't being ironic (intelligently redirecting the insult really) like the Notorious Cho when she pulls that out.

writtenwyrdd said...

You are right in your outrage. When I moved up here to the statistically whitest state in the nation, it apalled me how some people behaved cluelessly like that. Still. In this day and age when they have no excuse not to know better.

The Miley Cyrus behavior was bad because she's a public figure. It may rankle with some, but if you become a public figure you have a responsibility to behave, at least in public, with a bit of circumspection.

That said, I always wanted to be Asian, so when I pulled the slanty eyed thing as a grade school kid it was because I was pretending to be a kung fu master or something. Still not right to do it, though.(Kung Fu the tv show was on at the time, and it bugged me then that they had David Carradine playing a Chinese man.) Or white guys playing Indians.

cassandra-w said...

I didn't get to the thread before it was locked but I was really disappointed to read some of the responses.

I'm sorry but Internment camps were far too recent in our history for anyone to think that this kind of racist behavior is passive.

I'm really ticked that thread was locked before I could add my two-cents. Glad Edna posted the link.

Rena said...

I agree, Ellen. When I heard about it, I thought the media was making a big fuss again over here. Then I saw the picture and it spoke louder than words. I thought it was insulting too.

Ello said...

Thank you everyone. I'm glad to hear from all of you. As Cynthea pointed out, it is about education at this point and we do have to teach the younger generation that this is not acceptable. But if people just brush it off, what message is being sent? Every person out there (not here!) who defended her and said we should all back off, they need to be educated.

When the whole Spanish basketball team pulled the slanted eye face for a team photo, most everyone understood our outrage. But Miley is 16 so she is excused? That's ridiculous. She is not excused. She can be forgiven, but she is not excused.

Charles Gramlich said...

That's actually the first tiime I've looked at that pic. It's unfortunate that anyone has the kind of influence on others as someone like Miley Cyrus has. It's clear what was intended here so she should apologize. And so should the others.

laughingwolf said...

until now, totally unaware of this [i don't get out much]

noblesse NOT obliged to apologize?
then it's time to get after her so-called 'parent'... not that anything sincere would pass his lips, either! grrrrrrrrrr

that should be considered a hate crime...

i'm sorry your child was subjected to this is outrageous behavior, el :(

like trav sez, none of those mofos can be trusted... ever

good that you teach your kids better... the psychic harm does not show, but will last a lifetime :(

Larramie said...

It's bad enough when a one-on-one incident/insult occurs as experienced by Angus BUT this is unconscionable. She's no kid, rather (pathetically) she's an idol and role model to far too many "kids."

People voted for CHANGE in this country, yet the needed change can't be legislated...it must begin at home by teaching one lesson: The Golden Rule.

Jennifer said...

Just making faces?? Yea, we're all just making the same face, conveniently. I'm sorry for what your daughter had to deal with on an individual level, and for all of the children collectively harmed by one of the most ubiquitous teen stars around(in other words, this has reach). As the mother of one African American and two half Pakistani kids, I know too well the subtle racism that kids of color face-but this is not subtle. Not even close. I hope some sponsors of Disney etc weigh in.

Angie said...

This is absolutely racism and anyone who says it's not is either horribly ignorant or is cynically trying to spin the incident.

I commented on this elsewhere when it first came up, but it's good that you're talking about it too, because yeah, there are still some people who just don't get it. :/ You know, whenever I or my friends made "goofy faces" when I was a kid, the first thing we did was stick our tongue out at some weird angle, or grimmace really big, or both. That's sort of the Baseline Goofy Face(tm) and you add from there. How come none of those kids were sticking their tongues out, if they were "only" making goofy faces...? [raised eyebrow]

It's total bullshit. They were definitely making "Chink" faces, and I'd be willing to bet they did it deliberately to make fun of the Asian kid sitting in the front, who couldn't see what they were doing. Whether or not they meant to deeply hurt him (or for that matter, whether he was deeply hurt when he saw the pic, since I suppose it's vaguely possible that he's a good enough friend that he just laughed it off, or punched some arms and plotted similar revenge, or whatever) is immaterial. As you said, Ms. Cyrus is a public figure whose actions influence millions of kids. This is unacceptable behavior from her, period.

Oh, and did you see any of the follow-up? The travesty of an apology (basically an "I'm sorry you're upset" sort of thing), and the obviously posed picture of her standing with several Asian people at... I think it was the Grammies? [eyeroll] If her handlers think this sort of crap with fix things, she has the lamest PR team in existence.

Angie

Nandini said...

Ello,
I'm glad you brought this up. When people are willing to talk about how it effects them personally the apathy shifts to awareness and hopefully more responsible behavior.

My daughter had to deal with teasing (it was just one kid) at school last year. I shrugged it off initially but when this kid repeated it IN FRONT of me as I was checking out his library book (I used to volunteer at school). He forgot I was her Mom. I had words with him then and there and later with the teacher and his parents. Funny thing is I am pretty sure he liked her in a second grade kind of way and was saying anything to get some attention from her, but he still needed to realize it was wrong.

I really feel for your little girl.

I hope Miley realizes the impact of her actions.

JKB said...

Your poor kid. (hugs)

It doesn't surprise me she did this - she appears to come from an ignorant background...to be sad about it, I think it is SO TACKY and hateful. She has to realize people are going to get their hands on bad pictures. Same with Phelps.

I'm with Stephen, here.

Anonymous said...

Incredibly, I can still remember what I later realized was my first encounter with overt racism.

We had a substitute teacher for music class in kindergarten,and during the class I was goofing around with some fellow classmates while the teacher was speaking.

Eventually, she called on me to stop talking and repeated herself once or twice before finally stating aloud, "Oh never mind, he probably doesn't even know what I'm saying anyway."

Upon hearing these words, I remember feeling embarrased at first, but then I felt very uncomfortable and hurt without really understanding why.

So yes, it will take some more time to help educate people as to the ill-effects of the racisom that (any type of) minorities encounter, but unfortunately incidents like this will make it a longer wait.

Da' Man

writtenwyrdd said...

I just reread my post. It sounded like I meant Mylie's behavior was only bad because she is a public figure, which I hope you know wasn't what I meant! She acted badly and should apologize. And so should the rest of the kids in that picture. There's no way to take that picture other than making fun.

I am sorry you and your family have had to go through any prejudicial treatment.

Mary Witzl said...

Way back when, I remember arguing with a group of friends about whether there was racism against Asians in San Francisco. They insisted there was; I was sure it wasn't all that bad. (They were all Asian, I should add. I should have known better than disagree.) The very day after our disagreement, I went out with about four of them, and we got cat-called by some kids (Caucasian) in a car. They offered us a lift; we declined it. Their response was to throw a coke bottle at us and scream "Japs!" (My friends on that occasion were two Chinese-Americans, one Okinawan, and one Japanese kid who didn't understand what was happening and so, thankfully, was not offended). That was my wake up call.

I showed the photo to my girls and their response was 'idiots'. (And 'hot guy'.)

J. L. Krueger said...

My stepmother was Vietnamese. I have a gorgeous Vietnamese stepsister and numerous "hottie" Vietnamese cousins. I had a Thai girlfriend for many years.

I have always found the slanty-eye thing highly offensive, even to me.

My eldest daughter told a joke she heard at school complete the slanty-eye bit and was shocked when I nearly took her head off. (Ok I just did it verbally, not physically!) She got the message though.

Twill said...

Your outrage is clearly out of context.

Look at the photo again. The one asian guy is holding his eyes unnaturally wide, actually making a sort of Mylie face - he is participating in the silly-face episode, too.

Search This Blog