No one would’ve ever heard or cared about Pete Hoekstra’s congressional challenge of incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow if it weren’t for one crazy ad run during the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago. The ad, which garnered national attention, features a bike-riding, rice-patty hat wearing, broken English speaking Asian woman (who was supposed to be Chinese) thanking Debbie “Spend it Now” for her supposedly pro-Chinese and anti-American business votes in Congress.
Fortunately the good people of the state of Michigan and the press have summarily slammed Hoekstra – but, for me that was never the end of the story. Whenever this kind of racist nonsense occurs in movies, television and even commericials I’m always struck with the question:
“What was the MINORITY in this ad THINKING?”
It is one thing for one group of people to say racist things or create racist images of another group. That is common and likely won’t change in my lifetime. But, what compels a minority person to actively participate in the degradation of their own people? Is it money, ignorance or self-loathing … or a combination of all of the above?
Unfortunately, an answer to this question was not forthcoming when Lisa Chan the actress who played “Rice Patty Girl” eventually apologized for her role in the on her Facebook page stating:
“I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven.”
The sad irony in all of this is that Chan runs an organization called “The Strive” in the Bay area that is dedicated to youth empowerment, education and leadership amongst the diverse community in San Francisco. How is it that someone who is clearly as dedicated to progress could willingly participate in something like the Hoekstra ad? While that answer may not be coming, she does deserve some credit for actually apologizing and taking some responsibility. If only all minorities were as self aware …
If you remember last summer Tea Partier Craig Huey ran this insanely racist and sexist ad against his opponent Democrat Janice Hahn during a special Congressional election to fill a seat vacated by Rep. Jane Harmon (D-CA):
The ad was so over the top you would’ve thought it was a sketch from CB4 and not an actual political advertisement. Of course, the producers of the ad never apologized but what made it worse was that Kue Dog and Uncle Head, rappers from the group SPLACK PACK that starred in the ad, didn’t apologize either, insisting it was just business, not at all racist and that performing a song with the chorus “Give me Yo Cash B***h” and all the language within it was fine in politics.
In an interview with Slate magazine’s Stephen Spencer Davis the rappers justified their actions repeatedly with the typical contradictory logic of the self-loathing and foolish:
I spoke to Kue Dog and Uncle Head separately by phone yesterday, and each defended the commercial. When asked if he thought the ad was racist, Kue Dog said, “It’s not racist.” He did concede, though, “It might be sexist.”
Uncle Head, clearly wanting to make sure that he was not confused for a thoughtful or reflective man went even further stating….
But Uncle Head says he’s fine with people using the word “b***h” all they want—with one exception: “As long as nobody calls my daughter a b***h, I’m cool.”
So as bad as Lisa Chan’s offense may be, at least she had the decency and dignity to apologize and take some responsibility (even if she can’t explain why she did this to begin with). But, this clearly won’t be the end of these types of ads. As long as money grubbing shuck and jivers like Splack Pack exist to be exploited in political ads we’ll be right back on this story in no time.