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There's 'Sum Ting Wong' with Racism

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One of the most prominent events of July 2013 was the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214. On July 6, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International Airport, leaving three Chinese students dead and 181 passengers injured. The incident made major headlines and was broadcasted by numerous TV networks all over the world.

However, the professionalism of one American news channel was to be questioned after an inappropriate report was broadcasted. A few days after the accident, KTVU-TV, California's bay area news station, reported the names of the pilots to be "Sum Ting Wong", "Wi Tu Low", "Ho Lee Fuk", and "Bang Ding Ow". Obviously, these names were fake and an offensive wordplay against Koreans and all Asians. Controversy arose, and Tori Campbell, the anchor who read the bogus crew names live on air immediately apologized after the incident. The next day, the National Transportation Safety Board followed up with an apology as well, stating that the names were erroneously confirmed by a summer intern.

When read aloud, the names phonetically spell phrases such as "Something Wrong" or "We Too Low", making fun of the way Asians speak English with their accents. You'd think someone would've noticed the error and corrected it before it went on air. But no one did. It is hard to believe how no one at KTVU was able to realize that the names were fake and racist. This is even more astonishing because nearly a quarter of the region is made up of Asians. Anyone with common sense could have been able to stop the phony names from being aired, and that is why some even believe that the mix-up was not a mere mistake.

Although some people commented that the jokes aren't much of a big deal and that they're just for fun, I disagree with their opinion. This type of racial mockery has been around ever since Asians started immigrating to the US at the start of the 20th century. For decades, Americans have made fun of the chop-suey English of Chinese immigrants, the Konglish accent of Koreans, and other Asians as well. The same used to be for African Americans, who were once called 'Negroes' or 'Niggers', which are very offensive and inappropriate words nowadays. If Americans don't call African Americans 'Niggers', even as a joke, why should it be okay to call Asians by insensitive puns?

This controversy is not only about just a bad choice made by a news channel. Rather, it also concerns the stereotypes about Asians that many Americans have, and the insensitivity that led to such an epic failure. The 20th and 21st centuries have witnessed humanity getting rid of many kinds of discrimination, one by one. Racism has diminished greatly as well, thanks to high-speed media that connects different cultures and various efforts made by human rights groups. Still, there is a need for people to know how to respect other cultures, and to determine whether or not something is appropriate in other contexts. The Asiana joke incident should be a reminder to everyone about the offensive manner of racism.




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