Thursday, April 3, 2014

A defense of Suey Park, the activist behind #CancelColbert


Let me address right away what I thought of the #CancelColbert debacle. The joke that aired on The Colbert Show that paralleled the real life craziness of The Washington Redskins’s owner Dan Snyder’s racial insensitivity was funny satire, but I thought that the tweet from the official Colbert Show Twitter account was just asking for trouble by featuring a racist comment with no set up. 
The verified account for The Colbert Show tweeted the words
"Ching-Chong Ding-Dong" and "Orientals"
with no link to the video or any type of set up for the joke.
The offensive tweet was dumb and deserved to be called out; and social media activist, Suey Park, the woman responsible for the recent Twitter racial conversations #NotYourAsianSidekick and #HowIMetYourRacism, was the one to do so, and considering her history, she was logically the one to do so.  I disagreed with the tone of her tweets, but those tweets definitely did not deserve the shit storm that followed. While some people supported Park’s campaign, others spewed racial and sexist slurs at her and called for her rape and death. The original issue about Dan Synder’s team and foundation was drowned out, and it soon became Suey Park vs. The Colbert Show, which led to Suey Park vs. the liberal media, which then led to Suey Park vs. nearly everybody.
@ChippahsMudder writes: "@suey_park Please kill yourself.
I hope you die of beast cancer and aids combined you chink."
And people wonder why Asian-Americans are hurt
by racial stereotypes masked as jokes?
Watching all of this happen, I couldn’t believe how this hashtag turned the liberal media against a social justice activist, who in the #CancelColbert instance may have picked the wrong battle but was still fighting for the worthy cause of protecting the representation of Asian-Americans. Critics argued that Park’s hasty rush to anger eclipsed the real issue of Dan Snyder, and although they are correct, the magnitude of the backlash she received was heinous and overblown. All in all, it seemed as if the racist and misogynistic vitriol spewed her way was pent up hatred that people were dying to lash onto someone, and Park made herself stand out as a target by being a loud, angry voice in a minority group that many tend to view as “the model minority,” a stereotype which is the reason so many groups feel it’s okay to mock Asian-Americans. People aren’t afraid to say Ching-chong because Asians-Americans have never been known to fight back on a scale that was truly terrifying. Worse, many Asians thinks it’s okay to mock themselves, which further opens the door for other groups to join in. Case in point, this headline from Deadspin:
Deadspin's headline: "Gooks don't get Redskins joke" came from Asian writers,
so it's okay to publish, right? Right? Um...
People weren’t afraid to use Asian-Americans as the punchline of jokes that is until Suey Park figuratively stood up and told people “fuck you.” This message was jarring and abrasive, and most of all it was new and dangerous, which is why it scorched the internet for a few wild days.

Since the craziness has died down, and the news cycle has moved onto another story, I cannot help but be impressed with how Park handled herself. Although many may have disagreed with how she handled her original reaction to the offensive @ColbertReport tweet and the fact that she never apologized for the #CancelColbert campaign, I have come to respect her defiance. While many who would have received the barrage of hate spit her way would’ve deleted their accounts and hid, she faced the world and never stopped telling people her message. In fact, she kept saying it until others started to wonder if maybe she had a point. Even if others refuse to acknowledge the validity of her views, no one can deny that she has forced people to confront them. I agree with The Nation's article “Who’s Afraid of Suey Park.” Park has something every writer wants—the power to be heard and the power to move people. Park may have faced a backlash with this campaign, but let’s not forget that every leader has made mistakes on his or her journey for change. Park has proven that she is not going anywhere, she has proven that she has something to say, and she has proven that she’s going to say it whether or not people like her.


Personally, I find this refreshing, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.