Anniversary of the 'Macaca Incident'

August 11, 2008

Allen's excuse was classic, saying there was no racial motivation behind the name-calling and that he didn't even know what "macaca" meant. He said it sounded like "mohawk" and that he used it to describe Sidarth's haircut, which was actually what most of America would refer to as a mullet.

The outrage demonstrated by Asian American voters at the time helped Webb defeat Allen in the election by about 8,000 votes.

The event — featuring Penn, Northern Virginia Democratic Party political director Joe Montano, Democratic strategist Toby Chaudhuri, and Asian American Obama supporters — is taking place as we speak, but the rest of us can still ponder the stupidity of racists and the power of the Asian American vote.


Sylvie Kim

contributing editor & blogger

Sylvie Kim is a contributing editor at Hyphen. She previously served as Hyphen's blog coeditor with erin Khue Ninh, film editor, and blog columnist.

She writes about gender, race, class and privilege in pop culture and media (fun fun fun!) at and at SF Weekly's The Exhibitionist blog. Her work has also appeared on Racialicious and Salon.



Honestly, though, I agreed with Cynthia Tucker when she said that "macaca" was nowhere as offensive as Allen's 'Welcome to America and welcome to the real world of Virginia' which presumed because the was Asian he couldn't be American or be a lifelong Virginian. I was disappointed that got discussed so little because the stereotype of Asians as always being foreign can be seen again in Cokie Roberts' recent "I know Hawaii is a state but..." statement.
i missed that cokie roberts thing first time i just read up on it.seriously. wtf?but lyle, you are so right about that. we got focused on macaca, when there was actually plenty in what he said that was really offensive and not befitting an elected official.still tho, glad media picked up on it at all, rather than ignore it a la mccain's gook comment.