DEAR EDITOR: That was an outstanding article on Shaquille ONeal and Yao Ming, APA Community Should Tell Shaquille ONeal Come Down to Chinatown, (Jan. 2). It was well-written, eloquent and so relevant to our community and the larger community. For once, juvenile racial slurs and verbal taunting against Asians are called out for what they are plain old simple racism.
And dont let Shaq hide behind the innocence of an attempted joke or of trying to be a comedian. Of all people, being a black American male, he ought to know something about racial insensitivity. If called out by todays standard of decency, the producers of these shows would probably attempt to hide behind the same arguments
Oh, well, we are just trying to entertain, to have fun
its all good natured humor. Cmon, have a sense of humor.
Trent Lott had to resign his post as Senate majority leader for his comments during Thurmonds birthday roast. The NAACP and the activist Afro-American community did not let him get away with his attempt to hide behind excuses.
It is not to say that Shaq is any more important than Lott, certainly not in the realm of politics and legislation. However, as a sport figure, he has, in fact, much more import and relevance in influencing the mindset of young American kids.
I cannot tell you, as an Asian Pacific American, how many times while walking in a public place, the mall, anywhere where you come across groups of teens, that the same ching-chong verbal insult is thrown about either directly at you (when they have a good many friends around) or furtively as you pass by.
If the NAACP chooses to honor Shaq with an Image Award, I am assuming they are unaware of what he has said and done before and after he was so honored. Now that this egregious behavior is called out to the organizations attention, what is it going to do? If it says that it is OK because Shaq has apologized, go tell that to Trent Lott!
Hiem Thong, M.D.
DEAR EDITOR: As an African American woman I was particularly dismayed by Shaquille ONeals comments, which Irwin Tang wrote about. His ignorant attitude underscores the fact that racism is not just a black/white reality. I agree that there should be a strong response from the Asian community, but I also think that he needs to be checked by the African American community. We have been effective in addressing other peoples racism but strangely tolerant of our own. The worse thing that could happen is to have two communities of color pitted against each other for any reason and in any way. Shaq doesnt just need a trip to Chinatown, he needs a mandatory class in human decency.
Nancy E.R. Johnson
DEAR EDITOR: In response to Irwin Tangs article about Shaquille ONeals comments: Mr. Chang, you imply that Asians as a whole do not stand up for themselves, and that we let insults sink slowly into the APA collective unconscious and ferment as self-loathing. While I applaud your vivid imagery, I take issue with this statement. Remember the incident involving Abercrombies t-shirts and their Chinese laundry logos? Those were pulled in a hurry as a result of the ensuing row. The point is, we do know when to make a fuss.
Yes, if a white player made monkey noises to taunt a black player, hed probably be publicly flayed. Not that I find monkey noises to be appropriate, but I personally do not wish for my people to be known as overly sensitive whiners who dont have anything better to do than to bicker with the public over the meaning of fleeting, meaningless remarks especially if they are emitted by someone as unaware, albeit talented, as Mr. Shaq ONeal.
Yes, what Shaq said is pretty offensive. But I also thought Yao handled it beautifully. His witty comeback, Yeah, I had a hard time learning Chinese as a kid, was both gentle and appropriate. It also shows the public that Yao, at least, knows how to pick his battles. In addition, Shaq did apologize.
This isnt a battle worth fighting, Mr. Chang. We are a proud, respected people. We are just less ostentatious than most groups. Please dont confuse annoyed tolerance with respect.
DEAR EDITOR: First off, let me say that I am an American-born Chinese, and that I speak Mandarin fluently (though admittedly not nearly as well as I did several years ago). I would just like to say that I, for one, did not find Shaqs comments offensive at all. They were an obvious misguided attempt at humor, and they should be treated as such. The interview (as I recall it) was done pretty much entirely in jest, and the interviewer ended it by asking Shaq if (and I quote as closely as I am able to remember): Did you want to say anything to Yao Ming in Chinese? Shaq responded with his now-controversial quote.
It is insane and absurd that this has even been made an issue of. It was a joke made in bad taste, and it should be treated as such.
Tang says: Lets not beat around the bush. If a white player had, for instance, made monkey sounds to taunt a black player, it would have been a national controversy. But Yao is Chinese and Asians are fair game.
If the author of the article cannot see the vast difference between parodying the Chinese language and making ape sounds at a black man, then he is an idiot. By parodying Mandarin, you mock the language at worst; by making ape noises at a black man, you say that he is subhuman and cannot even speak a language.
DEAR EDITOR: I am in total understanding of Irwin Tangs thoughts of racism in the United States. It seems that whenever someone mentions the word racism, people immediately think of white people oppressing black people. I find that a very ignorant ideal. There are many races out there in the world that have been racially criticized and had it overlooked. Asians are one of the races that had to take on this idea with shut mouths. Many just dont talk about it, and others just turn their heads and walk away. I am glad that Yao Ming was given the chance to step up and has given the Asian communities a chance to speak out on their thoughts. People such as Yao Ming and Tang give us all a voice in the world. I want to thank you for writing the article and telling the world of the suffering that Asians go through.
DEAR EDITOR: As a member of the Pakistani community in New York, I commend Mr. Irwin Tang on his article relating to Shaquille ONeal. Mr. ONeals remarks are all the more worrying considering the rumors that he has accepted Islam. As a member of both the Islamic and Asian communities, I totally stand against Mr. ONeals remark: whomever taught him Islam obviously did not teach him every man in the sight of Allah is created equal.
God willing, Mr. ONeal will apologize sincerely and not merely in front of the media to save face. He has also showed acts of arrogance in the past. What he does not realize is the agony and torture his forefathers had to go through, if he only knew he would never make any such remarks.
DEAR EDITOR: This editorial on Shaqs racist remarks outraged me, being an Asian Pacific American woman especially because I have a 7-year-old nephew who is a huge Laker fan and idolizes Shaq.
In a time where children are learning to accept each other for the quality of their being rather than the color of their skin, it is ignorant for a national sports icon to stand in front of a camera and blatantly throw racist slurs around like they are a regular part of the English language. Unfortunately, that is the society we live in. Unfortunately, these are the people our children look up to and learn from. Im disheartened by the fact that this remark will probably be swept under the carpet and ignored as if it is not a big deal.
Im a mother of three and my daughter is in the first grade. I teach her every day to love who she is and be proud of her heritage, despite the fact that the other children make fun of her should she bring something a little ethnic in her lunch pail. How can parents like myself teach our children to be proud of who they are and to not let race or culture matter, when their heroes say otherwise?
I do hope an apology comes to pass, but Shaq shouldnt worry about just apologizing for his comments. He just lost a fan.
Ellen Thuy Brown
DEAR EDITOR: I totally agree with Irwin Tang. I regret to say it, but at first I thought the Rockets made the stupidest move by picking up an Asian player. I thought to myself, no Asians can play in the NBA. But now I have grown to love Yao Ming. He is amazing. He is one of the few unselfish big men in the NBA and one of the few big men with a shot. The league has changed so much: all players think about is me me me now. When I heard Shaqs comments I thought, Ahhh, its a joke. Yao should just laugh. But after reading your article I truly understand where you are coming from. And although I myself am not Asian, I know people who face these things every day and it is not funny. You are so right about the fact that if another man insulted a black man it would be national news, but the sad thing is if an American insults a foreigner it is taken as a joke. I wish you the best of luck on trying to stop this racism in our country today. And I promise to do my best to help in anyway I can.
DEAR EDITOR: I think that it is sad how thin-skinned we have become when it comes to tolerance of others. Yes, it may be insensitive of some players to joke about others nationality, but I find Irwin Tangs twisted account of what happens in the NBA and all of America to be insulting and distasteful. In a recent article for your periodical, Irwin Tang spoke of how he was insulted and teased in school when he was a kid and that is why he felt so bad for Yao Ming.
Well, every kid in the United States gets picked on in school. It does not matter if they are being teased because they have red hair, they are short, they are different, or because they are a different nationality. It is just one of the things that happens. It is part of learning that we are all different and differences can be a good thing. The trick is to learn from it, be comfortable with who you are and press on. I believe that Irwin Tang has some latent issues with an inferiority complex and some couch time might allow him to become comfortable with himself. Irwin tried to sell his sky is falling racial slurs to all of the big sports papers and shows. What a surprise that no one wanted it.
I believe that if Irwin Tang would open his eyes, he would realize that Shaq and all of the other NBA players respect the new player in Houston.
I loved the part where Tang stated that the new Houston player was too ignorant to be upset at Miami giving out free fortune cookies. I am sure that a much wiser man would still be upset today. Imagine one hundred thousand people associating fortune cookies with China. Next thing you know they will be associating kilts with Scotland and kangaroos with Australia; now there is some stereotyping for you.
There are enough real racial issues in the world without a two-bit reporter digging up some petty arguments of this nature and trying to make the big time by creating some waves. Please tell this man to sit down. We have all heard his song before and we do not want to buy his album.
Patrick and Christine Beaudion
DEAR EDITOR: Regarding the intelligence of Shaquille ONeal, I have this to offer:
He made the movies Kazaam and Steel.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
DEAR EDITOR: I want to applaud and congratulate Mr. Irwin Tang and AsianWeek for doing a marvelous job in standing up for Asian Pacific Americans. I am so proud to know that there are other APAs out there who feel the same way I do about negative stereotypes and the media concerning our community.
Mr. Tang, I commend you 110 percent for pushing the issue and not giving up. I imagine it must have been an extreme up-hill battle, fighting the NBA, the Associated Press, and Sports Illustrated as you pushed this issue. No matter what other people say, you did well by sticking to your guns and standing for principle.
I am a die-hard Laker fan. However, from this day forward, I will never support and cheer for Shaquille ONeal. I am so disappointed that the Lakers did not take more action to stop this kind of behavior.
You would think in the year 2003 this kind of ignorance and racism would stop. I guess it goes to show we still have a long way to go.
DEAR EDITOR: As a black man I am very upset with Shaq. I want you to know that there are plenty of basketball fans from all walks of life who appreciate what Yao Ming has done for the sport and I personally feel he will grow into a force in the NBA not seen since the days of Chamberlin and Russell.
The fact remains that you dont joke or make any reference about a persons race. Period.
One thing I know for sure: Yao Ming will dominate this league, and I will be behind him 100 percent. He also has the integrity to shrug this off and just play ball. Thank you.
Elk Grove, Calif.
DEAR EDITOR: I am of Indian heritage. Now, I know that not being Chinese certainly does not put me into the category of those fans most offended by Shaqs ugly comments, but I was moved by Irwin Tangs article about the comments. Certainly, John Rockers comments about New Yorkers had major headlines in ESPN for weeks. But, Shaqs comments have barely surfaced to the national audience. Why is that? Rocker offended a state. Shaq offended an entire nation, a nation that Commissioner David Stern is actively trying to incorporate into the NBAs global market. Letting a marketable player, certainly a face of the NBA, like Shaquille ONeal get away with his insensitive comments wont help his cause nor help the NBAs ever-growing negative image. Stern should come down harshly on Shaq for his blatant stupidity, and the Asian media organizations should push this incident to the highest degree of exposure to make sure he is punished just like any other athlete who makes racially insensitive remarks about blacks or whites.
DEAR EDITOR: I want to take a few moments to set the record straight on what actually transpired on my nationally syndicated radio show, Tony Bruno Sports Extravaganza, over several days in December.
Let me start by apologizing to anyone who has become understandably outraged at the perception that I mocked or purposely used my program to insult Asians or any other race, color or creed. My show is a sports show, which primarily is a fun four hours dealing with the games, events and personalities in the world of sports. We interview big names and take listener phone calls and e-mails. There is plenty of laughter, as I truly enjoy interacting with my audience and try to put a smile on peoples faces every day. No viewpoints are screened-out. No caller who wants to correct or disagree with anything said is filtered or not allowed on the air. In fact, I am one of the few hosts who invite opposing comments.
As Irwin Tang admits in his column, APA Community Should Tell Shaquille ONeal Come Down to Chinatown, I was the FIRST person to air the taped flippant comments of Shaquille ONeal on my program. Mr. Tang says he went to various media outlets that didnt think it was a legitimate story; he didnt have to come to me. I played the tape where ONeal does his mock Chinese accent and asked the following question of my listeners: Is that racist? I followed up with: I dont know because Im not Asian and cant feel what an Asian feels when he or she is offended, much like blacks, women or other groups of people. I only know and feel hate or insensitivity when someone says or does something about Italian Americans or members of my religion.
The intention was not to turn the show into a forum on racism. I was merely looking for a reaction from members of the Asian Pacific American community who might have been listening so they could come on the air and legitimize my question. My going off on a rant and declaring Shaq a racist would have been totally inappropriate based on what I just described. Obvious racism and hate are things we can see and denounce immediately. The only assumption made by me and my partner Andrew Siciliano were at the very least to say that what Shaq did was insensitive. That days program moved on to other topical discussions of football and other sports and didnt dwell on this matter.
The very next morning we saw a story about the Miami Heat staging a fortune cookie night when Yao Ming played in that city and I started off the program with another question and strong statement. My comments were to the effect: How many people in that teams front office did that have to go through to become a reality; and didnt anyone think that this could be offensive?
My partner Andrew (whose most recent girlfriend is Asian) then added, What will other teams think of to welcome Yao to their city? Bicycle parking night? The intention again was to illustrate how some groups can be dealt with in an insensitive matter without very much outrage, yet other groups wouldnt accept that kind of attempted humor as clever or non-offensive.
Mr. Tang proceeds to do something in his column, which is not only factually incorrect, but downright inflammatory and the reason many are outraged to the point of threatening me and my family with violence. He says I INVITED my listeners to then call and e-mail in anti-Asian comments. That is an ABSOLUTE and TOTAL FABRICATION and utterly irresponsible journalism. What proceeded to happen sporadically throughout the show was that we brought up some other idiotic promotional ideas that other teams without any sensitivity could use as a tribute to Yao Ming. One caller humorously said: The New York Knicks were going to have a no MSG night. A two-pronged reference to the arena in which they play Madison Square Garden and the MSG found in many Chinese foods. I scolded the attempt at humor, even though I know the intention was to humiliate the Miami Heat for being the first team to think of a stupid/insensitive promotion. Since my program is four hours, I see how someone just tuning in or out might misinterpret our purpose for mentioning these common stereotypes: we never would ask people to say or do racist or harmful things.
One thing is very consistent in what I do every day of my life on the air or off I believe people should be responsible and accountable for what they say and do. I have been responsible for over 31 years of radio broadcasting and try to treat people with respect and dignity (even those who have threatened and said vile and far more hateful things than I have allegedly said).
Mr. Tang has never had the decency to place a single phone call to my program. People are taking his gross inaccuracies as fact and running with it all over America via the Internet. Why not address this instead of trying to illicit hate and anger through a column aimed at stirring up unwarranted outrage at me?
He is welcomed to appear on my program any time he wants to set the record straight and resolve what has become a truly sad situation. Shaquille ONeal is the one Asians should be questioning. The Laker-loving media in Los Angeles is afraid to say anything remotely critical about the basketball star. I apologize again if my intentions offended anyone. Deep in my heart I know what I was trying to do, even if a reporter distorts my attempts to expose Shaq and the NBA as the real culprits of severe insensitivity. Thank you for this opportunity to explain what really happened.
Los Angeles, Calif.