Friday, October 06, 2006

SPEAKING OF STEREOTYPES...

A friend of mine passed this along: "Chinese Hotel Laundry Bag. The description is aces:
    "No one knows laundry better than the Chinese. They’ve even perfected the bag. We’ve found it useful for carrying everything from dirty clothes to snorkeling gear, plastic toy sets, vegetables from the Farmer’s Market. The real thing, these sturdy 100% cotton twill Chinese laundry bags have a mystic, irresistible appeal. No fortune cookie included, though."
If only this were some Blacklava, irony-laden put-on.

Alas. No.

--Poppa Large

20 comments:

Mama Nabi said...

This reminds me of an ad that's been bugging me - it's an ad for a tech college and this young woman, who looks bi-racial, whose name is Soon something, is now dressed for success, but used to help others dress for success (shows her working at a dry cleaners)... yeah... bugs me.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Isn't this blog supposed to be about dads and their experience/relationship with their children? It seems to have turned into a racial stereotype expose/rant. Yes--bad sh-t exists in this world. But this was supposed to be a support system for Dads, right? Let's try to stick to the topic.

Anonymous said...

Racism is a parenting issue. It's not the best plan to leave the education of your children regarding empowerment and stereotypes to the media. Treating everyone with compassion and respect is a skill mostly learned at home.

thisislarry said...

re racism and parenting:

The ad this post is about comes from a pretty normal-looking catalog, like one you might get in the mail at home.

So, how does a dad explain to a curious beginning reader why this catalog says that Chinese know all about laundry? My son the Rabbit Dragon is exactly at this stage. I can't protect him from discovering this kind of stuff on his own (unless I read all the junk mail first), so what do I do when he
comes accross something like this? What would others in a similar situation do?

Having a forum like this is perfect.

Anonymous said...

OK Fine. Let's discuss racism on this forum. Did it ever occur to anyone here that the tendency to exhibit racist behavior is an instinct that is deep within the primal makeup of human beings. It can be traced to the earliest forms of natural selection and survival. It is nice to talk about treating everyone equally and with compassion, but the human brain has not evolved fast enough to keep up with the way the world has changed. No one--truly not a single human--can truly say they have purged themselves of racist feelings.

la dra said...

thisislarry-- Good question. We're obviously not at this stage yet. But this is something that will come up eventually. Would he understand if you told him that in American history many Chinese people had laundry businesses but each person has their own talents and interests? Really, I don't know what to say. That some people don't know many Chinese people and so have to rely on generalizations?

Poppa Large said...

Uh, why is anyone bothering to take this a**hole seriously?

papa2hapa said...

One time at blog camp...

I'm telling you. The first time I mentioned racism on my blog, some people got all sensitive.

I think it just goes to show that racism still exists. That doesn't make it excusable, nor should we say things like, "well it's just human nature." That really takes away the power of the pain racism causes.

This blog isn't about being a Dad, but about the experiences that AA dads have on a daily basis. Anything that affects me, is going to affect how I feel as a parent.

peachboy said...

P. Large, I used the link to get the website and sent this message to their customer service:
"How did you create the racist Chinese Laundry bag? Takes a lot of ignorance or outright racism to sell a product like that.

Here's the response from the Duluth Trading Company:
"Thank you for your recent email. I am very sorry that you were offended with our Duluth Trading ad. Our aim with all of our creative efforts is never to offend any individual or group, but rather to promote a lighthearted spirit of fun. I can't promise we will never again offend anyone with our advertising. However, I can promise that our creative approach will always aim for a bit of entertainment, occasionally on the edgy side. Our apologies if we crossed the line with you. Your input and opinions are valuable to us, and I will forward your comments to our management team."

If any of you register your complaint, I bet you'll get the same boilerplate.

One more thing, shove off, "anonymous." Clearly, this is not the site for you.

honglien123 said...

Larry: One thing that I've tried to teach my daughter is to not believe everything she reads or sees. I believe that if my daughter came across this ad and if she could read it; I would hope that she would understand that it doesn't necessarily mean anything, ESPECIALLY since it is an advertisement. If this were in a textbook, then I would seriously start something at her school. Do I need her to know that it's offensive and stupid? Not at this point, when she's only starting to learn how to read. Perhaps when she is a little older and they start discussing different cultures in school we can discuss why the ad says what it says, right now I'd hope more for her not giving two seconds thought to it.

Anonymous said...

Hey. It seems racist, but anyone with common sense knows that Chinese are no longer sterotyped for laundry operators. No doubt that the long/older American experience with Chinese is Laundry 1910 - 1960 or 'The Chinaman's store.' So what? That is simply past American history. Remember 'The Courtship of Eddy's Father?' Mrs. Livingstone must have been the last Japanese domestic in the USA in 1970! She was a truer character from the California of the 1930s-1940s though. Is it really racist now or just ridiculous?

Ka_Jun said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calgon

Anyone with common sense would know that the discussion of racial stereotypes is inherently an aspect of being an APIA dad raising APIA children.

"That is simply past American history."

Past history puts things that happen to our children in context, anyone with common sense would know that.

Kid at the playground circa 1985: "Hey, you look just like Short Round! Say, 'No time fo' luv Docta Jones!"

Me: *shocked silence* WTF?!?!

Fast forward to 2006 when I have my own son. "How do I deal with and help my own kids address these issues when they come up?"

anonymous, maybe you just don't get it. Maybe you don't have your own kids, or have never experienced racism, or are living in your own insular social bubble. That's okay, but maybe you should read and try to learn something, rather than attempting to foist your own agenda to sanitize this site from discussing issues you find, uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

Ka Jun,

Not all 'anonymous said' comments are from the same person. Mine was the 4:21 AM, October 10, 2006 post. I know very well and personal about racism and stereotypes. I also think it is important to discuss in the forum so no lectures please. I just don't think the laundry bag is a big deal. The urban outfitter t-shirts were a big deal in my book by the way. My son is only a few months old so my educational plans are always subject to change! However, I will educate him about racism, how understanding of different ethnicity has changed over time and why he should be always proud of his heritage. I won't teach him to deny the past problems of his countries or scream racism at every little thing. Sorry for what you heard on the playground in 1985. Standards change. That was offensive then, but people would flip if it was said in 2006. I still thing calling a Chinese American and laundryman today is as riduculous as using any pre WWII sterotype you can name. It just rings hollow and silly. I always thought that old Calgon commercial played with the laundryman stereotype to say that it was incorrect in a 1970s kinda indirect way. Was that a highly racist comercial or a catalyst for changing the stereotype? I'm sure goofy marketing execs at Calgon never though it wsa either! There must be something to it since everybody remembers it (or was it just rerun 10 million times)?

peachboy said...

Hey, anonymous 4:21 AM, I don't perceive ka_jun's comments as anymore lecture-y than yours. Check out ka-jun's consistently compelling comments across this site.

Don't know how you draw a distinction between racist and ridiculous. Seems flimsy. Are some manifestations of racism sensible rather than ridiculous? The Calgon commercial as a catalyst for change? Give me a break. Sounds like you'd have no problem reading a Sambo storybook to your child -- so ridiculous and ancient and silly, right?

Please give yourself a handle and we won't confuse you with another "anonymous."

Anonymous said...

Peachboy,

Read the Wikipedia url Ka Jun provided. It also states that many people viewed the Calgon ad as a satire of a stereotype. You forget that in its time that stupid spot actually humanized Chinese for middle America as not being foreign at all. Anyway its Wikipedia so not exactly the definite source for the truth.

Nice uncalled for dig on me about Sambo. That is actually a good example of someting that was in bad taste in its time (late 1800s I believe), but not at all acceptable today. Or not acceptable in America I should say. It is in current print in Japanese and Chinese in Asia and remains very popular. People commonly do not accept it is racist in those countries. I know because I have had the discussion on that specfic topic many times.

I will sign up soon and get a handle. I never suggested Ka Jun is not a a solid member/poster and I was the one attacked as the racist (or maybe me plus one of the 'other' anonymous posters who said 'stop the rant' (which I don't agree with by the way). I do think there are things to fight about and other things which are not a big deal and the silly laundry thing is the latter in my book. I am sure that this blog would disagree with me though! http://angryasianman.com

I would never teach my child to be oversensitive and paralyzed by any little comment/ad/etc. that could be taken the wrong way. I hope to teach him mainly that he is as good or better than anyone else as is his family and cultural heritage. Secondarily I will teach him to not tolerate overt racism and stand his ground.

Hope that gives you a better feel for this dad. If not, feel free to call me some more names!

Mama Nabi said...

I think how we perceive racism, what's a big issue and what's not a big issue, what's a worthy battle and what's just a waste of time depends on what we individually have faced. I don't think anyone is wrong - and perhaps we should stop arguing about what's considered an offense to whom, but maybe think about why it'd be offensive to that group of people.
I used to work at a drycleaning machine/parts company - you'd be surprised to know that the whole Korean drycleaners and Chinese launderers image is not ancient history. Among the white drycleaners and launderers, the racist joke fly - trust me... it's not pretty or past history. However, before I worked there, I didn't even know that stereotype existed - perhaps because I live where our drycleaners are either white or Middle Eastern... and the jokes were all about the Middle Eastern drycleaners.
I am proud of our Rice Daddies who are breaking one of many stereotypes (one that I, too, held for a long time) regarding Asian dads and I, for one, am glad that they have room for a forum like this one... and it's comforting to know that these dads all have my back when I discuss the racism (big or small - although I think racism is racism, period - no racism is too small to deserve some attention, especially when it comes to our children). On that note, I think we should warmly welcome our new commenter ("anonymous 4:21am" :-D it's kinda cute handle, no?) - it IS refreshing to have any new voice.

Ten Feet of Steel said...

Hey, to all the anonymous people out there--you can enter comments as "other", which will allow you to enter whatever name you want. You don't have to enter a web page--it is an optional field.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all. I will get signed up and try to do better than 'anonymous 4:21am' if I can.

Here is a link to a site that may be of interest. It basically shows that the entire concept of 'race' is most unscientific and that the borderline between 'races' or within races is at best something left to the eye of the beholder.

http://www.geocities.com/racial_reality

I liked the most recent post from mama nabi. I don't know anything about the dry cleaning business, but cleary what used to be slurred as the "Chinaman's store, Jew store, Dago store, Greek, Lebanese etc." is today replaced by the Korean, Arab, Indian or Pakistani version of the same nasty terminology. Whatvever group is newer or working earnestly to level up in society has always been tarred with that same brush in America.

americacleaner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
americacleaner said...

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