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Skirting Racism and Stereotypes

Saturday, August 21, 2004; Page A17

I was disappointed, shocked and outraged after reading "Tempest in a T-Shirt" [Style, Aug. 10].

The article seems to glorify the fact that some black business owners have found it "unifying" to combat an Asian business owner who has done nothing illegal or wrong. It is great to see solidarity in the black community, but the kind of behavior discussed in Natalie Hopkinson's story is not the type of solidarity celebrated in a Metro article appearing the same day regarding the 1963 march on Washington led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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These black business owners have engaged in a racist campaign against Korean American businessman Jung Won Kang. Did your editors not see anything racist about the fliers used by the Unity Clothing Association? Also, I cannot believe that your paper saw fit to print images of the disgusting fliers. The Unity Clothing Association is portrayed in the article as an effective grass-roots activist organization. The only thing it has been effective in doing is promoting racism and damaging an honest business.

Part of my disappointment with the article stems from my background. My wife and I, both Asian, live in the mostly African American neighborhood of Marshall Heights. When we moved there three years ago, we were greeted with skepticism and comments such as, "You're the first of your kind," and, "The only Asians we ever see around here are the owners of the liquor stores." I have worked hard to break down these stereotypes and perceptions among my neighbors. Yet your paper sees fit to promote not only these kinds of stereotypes but the malicious actions based on the stereotypes.

-- David H. Inoue

Washington

The writer is a member of the board of the Japanese American Citizens League's Washington chapter.

It is unbelievable that Natalie Hopkinson's article had no mention of the extreme racism displayed by the members of the Unity Clothing Association.

These gentlemen seem to have a problem with one individual, but they are comfortable targeting the entire Asian population. The picture on the flier alone is enough to set Asian American relations back to the days of the Japanese internment camps.

Why are there still two sets of standards? One could just imagine what would happen if a group of "white" businessmen got together to target an African American business person in a similar fashion, perhaps by using a picture of "Uncle Ben" or "Aunt Jemima" on a flier.

-- Paul Thieberger

Springfield


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