Margaret Cho is a Korean-American stand up comedienne whose act focuses on social and political problems, with special reference to race and sexuality. She is scheduled to perform at Cornell on April 6. However posters advertising this performance, created by the African Latino Asian Native American Students Programming Board have been defaced on campus amid accusations that the Chop Suey font used on the posters was overtly racist.
ALANA apologized and promised that a different poster would be produced, but noted that the original poster had been approved by Cho's management prior to release.
Scorpions X, the group who claimed responsibility for the vandalism, said that the apology didn't go far enough.
They added that members of Cornell community have unfairly accused Scorpions X of being "militant, confrontational and angry" for speaking out on racial issues.
"It is no coincidence that when marginalized people or any group that is not in power SPEAK OUT, it is deemed militant, radical and dangerous," Scorpions X wrote in the email. "Would you have preferred silence and inaction, acceptance and complicity in the face of racism behind the Margaret Cho poster?"
Margaret Cho sympathized with the protestors on her blog and said the poster had originally been approved as she is numb to such things having seen variations on the theme on most of posters for the entire time she's been performing.
I appreciate the effort that someone has gone to on my behalf, and for the Asian American students on campus who don't need to be bombarded with racist imagery. It makes me think that things are changing for the better, and I think that anger is a great tool to make wrongs right. I realize how many times I have let stuff like this go, because it's happened more than I like to admit. In the constancy of my racial awareness, I have been worn down
Scorpions X responded that perhaps Cho wasn't an ideal person to promote diversity if she originally found the font's use to be acceptable and said that ALANA wasn't justified in bringing her to campus.
While student groups are aware of the extreme fallout these issues can have on campus, people outside campus aren't all convinced that a font can actually be racist in and of itself.
I do not think the font itself is racist. However, if it reinforces oriental stereotypes or fosters a sense of Asians as a threatening "other," as in the Hoekstra, ad then the font is being used in a racist manner.
It would be hard to say that font, an arrangement of ink on a page in the old fashioned sense, is racist. It might not be an authentic representation of the principles of Chinese calligraphy, but that is as far as it goes.