I have to say, I’m not a regular reader of AsianWeek. Available as a free weekly throughout the Bay Area, AsianWeek doesn’t really seem to reach the Mission District. But I am very familiar with the newspaper: I worked there as a reporter, managing editor and editor-in-chief from 2000-2003. That said, I have no familiarity with Eng or his column, which has the strange title “God of the Universe.” He does seem to be the author of two books: Dragons: Lexicon Triumvirate and Reincarnations. His Amazon.com bio lists him as the “youngest published science fiction novelist in America.”
Hmmmm. I don’t know about you, but this is certainly the resume of the guy I want to write columns about race relations!!
In an earlier column, entitled “Proof that Whites Inherently Hate Us,” Eng wrote: “Most Asians know that everywhere we go, white/black/Hispanic people hurl racist remarks at us. I have already received about 10 racist remarks in the past three months and I have only been out of my home a handful of times.” Oh AsianWeek! Did you give a column to one of those crazy recluses that never leave their house and talk to themselves on the bus??
Unfortunately, the column in question seems to have been pulled from the Internet, but you can view Eng’s other moving work by searching for his name here. Including, my favorite, “Why I Hate Asians,” which has the line: “I am also sickened when I hear Asian people imitate Negro slang in an endeavor to sound "ghetto."
Now, I can tell you, that working for AsianWeek, run by the Fang Dynasty, was a complicated job. Just like here at Hyphen, working on a pan-Asian American publication means trying to cover a lot of ground. For me that work is essentially about the intersections between communities and my favorite stories were those about multicultural alliances. Yet, I was told that the main aim of the paper was to represent the Chinese American community, the pan-Asian American-ness more of a marketing tool and less of a reality. Obviously, there seems to be very little excuse for running a column by a self-proclaimed “Asian Supremacist,” (AKA: a straight up racist) but to do it in a publication that already has such iffy ties with community. Bad idea.
Here’s the petition that’s been circulating about the column:
ASIAN AMERICAN LEADERS CRITICIZE ASIANWEEK FOR PRINTING 'WHY I HATE BLACKS' COLUMN
(Feb. 23, 2007) Asian American leaders joined together Friday to criticize AsianWeek for printing Kenneth Eng's column "Why I Hate Blacks" in its Feb. 23 edition. The leaders condemn the piece as irresponsible journalism, blatantly racist, replete with stereotypes, and deeply hurtful to African Americans. They called on AsianWeek to take immediate action and issue an unequivocal apology, terminate their relationship with Kenneth Eng, print an editorial refuting the column, review their editorial policy and process, and hold those responsible accountable.
“Eng's article is unacceptable and offensive not only to African Americans, but to all Americans,” said Karen K. Narasaki, President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center. “AsianWeek has a responsibility to its readers and to the community to take immediate and appropriate action to repair the serious damage it has caused by publishing this piece.”
“Most Asian Americans would not be here in America today, but for the civil rights movement led by African Americans that resulted in the change to racist immigration quotas," said Stewart Kwoh, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.
“It's irresponsible for a publication like AsianWeek to publish an article that advocates hate and bigotry," said Vincent Pan, Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action.
“The publication of these racist statements is completely irresponsible and damaging to all our communities. Not only should there be a retraction but a serious effort to repair the harm caused,” said Gen Fujioka, Program Director of the Asian Law Caucus.
“Asian Americans should recognize the debt we all owe African Americans who blazed the civil rights path we have walked on in our journey to equality," said Dale Minami, President of the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans.
"Eng's column harkens back to a era of Jim Crow and bigotry that should not be tolerated in our society," said Eric K. Yamamoto, Professor of Law.
"Eng's vile racism is a setback to the efforts of people of color working together against discrimination, oppression and injustice," said Keith Kamisugi, Associate Director for Communications at the Equal Justice Society. "His words alone are disgusting; that it was printed in a prominent English-language Asian Pacific American newspaper is shameful."
"Asian Americans do not share Eng's extremely racist views. Asian Americans need to take this opportunity to reach out and build a constructive dialog," said Yvonne Lee, Former Member of the U.S . Commission on Civil Rights.
"It is critical that our Asian American community stands up and tells America -- and particularly our African American brothers and sisters -- that our community has no tolerance for the racism expressed by Mr. Eng," said David Chiu, President of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area.
The leaders call on all individuals to contact AsianWeek on this matter at (415) 397-0220 or asianweek [at] asianweek.com.
An online petition is available at: http://www.capaweb.org/awpetition