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Racism Charges Leveled Against Fojol Brothers Food Trucks

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Setting aside the fetish part, what's wrong with other cultures being treated as foreign and unusual? To nearly everyone but a native, they are. My hair and skin color boggles Africans whenever I'm over there. And despite spending a significant amount of time in Ethiopia, Sudan, and other countries, those cultures remain foreign and unusual to me, whether I'm overseas or in DC eating at their restaurants, viewing their art, or whatever else.

I really hadn't thought about the Fojol thing until it came up and really don't know where I stand. I guess I just thought they were kind of celebrating and having fun with the eclectic heritage of their food, but I'm glad to hear from others on this because it makes me reconsider.

To me, this is a typical example of white privilege. You (general you) don't understand the problem with someone viewing you as a curiosity because you don't have to deal with it every single day of your life, and having your entire personality, abilities, life based solely on what race you are, or what color your skin is, or where you were born/your parents were born. Hypothetically, if you moved to any African nation today and had to deal with this, you'd be fine with it. Who doesn't want to be seen as special? But in reality, you have to deal with it every single day, it's always in the back of your mind, it's a part of you and how you interact with people, it's institutional racism/bigotry. You will never be seen as part of the larger group, like everyone else. Whether you like it or not, it affects how you live your life and you have to question yourself on things that the majority doesn't. Just because one learns to cope with it doesn't mean everything's great and there are no problems.

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I really wasn't trying to be flip what I typed this before, but putting a microscope on Fojol is news-worthy now because the media decided "Hipster Racism" is a story two weeks ago and it is turning out to have some legs. It is a story that in damn near any incarnation is guaranteed for massive online discussion and page clicks right now... because people don't like 'hipsters', people don't like racism, and people bristle at any suggestion that they might support either thing.

Well, the extreme cynic in me surmises that the majority didn't care about it enough until someone from the majority pointed it out in a very public way.

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To me, this is a typical example of white privilege. You (general you) don't understand the problem with someone viewing you as a curiosity because you don't have to deal with it every single day of your life, and having your entire personality, abilities, life based solely on what race you are, or what color your skin is, or where you were born/your parents were born. Hypothetically, if you moved to any African nation today and had to deal with this, you'd be fine with it. Who doesn't want to be seen as special? But in reality, you have to deal with it every single day, it's always in the back of your mind, it's a part of you and how you interact with people, it's institutional racism/bigotry. You will never be seen as part of the larger group, like everyone else. Whether you like it or not, it affects how you live your life and you have to question yourself on things that the majority doesn't. Just because one learns to cope with it doesn't mean everything's great and there are no problems.

Thank you for the analysis. I lived in Sudan. But you provide an excellent example of how assumptions can ruin a good discussion.

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i think maybe the differences between you living in sudan and being a minority in the us are

1) over there, depending on how long you lived there, you are different, you are american, and come from an entirely different culture and are an outsider in some ways, so maybe being seen as an outsider doesn't hurt as much. when i'm in india i'm seen as different and an outsider, but that's ok with me because i am in fact an outsider. however, being born and raised here, and repeatedly having people assume you arent "a real american" or doing things like being surprised when i reminisce fondly about summer camp just like the majority of american kids hurts a bit more.

2) was it possible that the assumptions and stereotypes you dealt with weren't that negative? i have to say, people assuming i'm good at math and science has never bothered me half as much as them assuming i'm subservient, not good at sports or cheap. But i don't know, maybe living in the sudan you had to deal with some unfortunate stereotypes and/or were treated badly because of your ethnicity/nationality. if so, trust me, you have my sympathy.

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I really appreciate the discussion in this thread. It makes me very aware of the log in my eye.

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So the highly evolved (sensitivity-wise) Mr. Franklin called somebody sur-named "Vitarello" a "goombah"? Physician, heal thyself.

Not making light of the very real issues in this debate (PS--Fojol Brothers? Knock it off); just struck me as a) ironic and b ) indicative of how unconscious we "white boys" (again quoting Mr. Franklin) can be about ethnic sensibilities...

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I've read this discussion with much interest and, in some cases, a lot of empathy. I wouldn't presume to tell anybody how they should feel about what they find offensive. But, I saw the report on NBC 4 news this evening--never having seen or eaten at the Fojol truck before--and what struck me immediately about their outfits is that look exactly like (except for the young lady--what's that about?) those old-fashioned costumes on the figures in the old nickelodeons. They were mechanical items that you put a nickel or a penny in and the "people" inside moved in various ways. Rather than being specifically Indian or any other nationality, they represented what the West considered the "Exotic Orient." I used to be fascinated by these items in the late, lamented Sutro's museum in San Francisco back in the 1950s. They had rows and rows of these and, more importantly to me at the time, an ice rink in the basement. They even had displayed the wedding clothes of Tom Thumb. The place burned down sometime in the 1970s and a whole lot of what was considered entertainment or curiosities in the late 1800s and early 1900s was lost. I could be completely wrong about this, but the Fojol costumes seemed to me to come out of that whole genre, rather than anything specifically aimed at any actual people. I don't mean to imply that anybody shouldn't be hurt by them; rather, I'm wondering if the Fojol Bros. reached back into a more obscure, naive part of American popular culture. To be Hipper-Than-Thou, of course.

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This issue is the subject of a NBC4 piece airing right now.

Of note: neither this August, 2009 NBC4 piece nor this February, 2011 NBC4 piece about the Fojol Brothers had a single criticism or mention of racism. I'm not criticizing NBC4 here, merely pointing out a potential inconsistency in one media outlet covering the Fojol Brothers.

I will say, again, that I find the Fojol's to have more in common with early 20th-century American carnival barkers than just about any other group of people. That said, I think we need to honor and respect the opinions of those who wear turbans as religious symbols (are these even "real" turbans by meaningful religious standards?); I'm hardly the person who should be passing any sort of judgment here, one way or the other.

And, speaking as moderator, i.e., [my words being inside of editor's brackets]...

[i have not deleted or edited a single post in this conversation (except for just now when I changed southdenverhoo's B) to a b ) - the space prevents the smiley face which was clearly unintentional). Carry on. This is an entertaining, educational, and thought-provoking conversation, and I'm glad I resurrected it. The issue for me will be: Do I keep it in this thread, or do I move it as a separate topic into News & Media. There's no rush, and I'll decide that at a later date (and, at the minimum, link to it from here if I do).]

What a wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent group of people are on this website. You should be proud of yourselves. I'm proud of you.

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Setting aside the fetish part, what's wrong with other cultures being treated as foreign and unusual? To nearly everyone but a native, they are. My hair and skin color boggles Africans whenever I'm over there. And despite spending a significant amount of time in Ethiopia, Sudan, and other countries, those cultures remain foreign and unusual to me, whether I'm overseas or in DC eating at their restaurants, viewing their art, or whatever else.

This is a bit of a digression from the Fojol Brothers discussion. I meant foreign and unusual as "weird", which is maybe a different shade. I guess it just reminds me of all the times as a kid when I and other Asian kids got picked on for bringing Asian food for lunch. Oh how I longed for Lunchables! (But now I realize I was lucky.)

But even now people still look at my choices, food and cultural as "weird." Different people handle being an outsider differently. Some adapt, others rebel, and others shrink or some combination of all of those.

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Thank you for the analysis. I lived in Sudan. But you provide an excellent example of how assumptions can ruin a good discussion.

It does change some things that you live in the Sudan. But the fact that you probably do not live like the majority of the population where you live and are probably in the upper social classes, in part due to your ethnicity and race, does not change your white privilege and pride in being a "novelty". I do apologize if you thought I was insulting you in any way. I want to make it clear I am not, but do realize that your simple question of "what's so wrong with being seen as different?" is incredibly ignorant and somewhat callous to the complicated racial history that not only the history of the United States, but the history of the world since the 1700s, and to those who still have to deal with that fallout. And yes, I did take that question the wrong way because I get that question a lot, unsolicited. I would say on a monthly basis. And it's frustrating when someone just does not want to see how it can be a huge burden.

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It does change some things that you live in the Sudan. But the fact that you probably do not live like the majority of the population where you live and are probably in the upper social classes, in part due to your ethnicity and race, does not change your white privilege and pride in being a "novelty". I do apologize if you thought I was insulting you in any way. I want to make it clear I am not, but do realize that your simple question of "what's so wrong with being seen as different?" is incredibly ignorant and somewhat callous to the complicated racial history that not only the history of the United States, but the history of the world since the 1700s, and to those who still have to deal with that fallout. And yes, I did take that question the wrong way because I get that question a lot, unsolicited. I would say on a monthly basis. And it's frustrating when someone just does not want to see how it can be a huge burden.

qwertyy's question wasn't "what's so wrong with being seen as different," it was "what's wrong with 'other cultures' being treated as foreign and unusual." I think there's a difference. I lived in northeastern Japan for two years, in a small house in a regular neighborhood with my husband and dogs. Yes, I was treated differently; yes, I got questions about what I would or wouldn't eat; yes, I got needlessly complimented on everything from how well I used chopsticks to how well I spoke the language (okay, maybe that legitimately deserved praise over time ;)). Sometimes, it seemed that people only wanted to interact with us because we were "the foreigners." We could sense that and disliked it intensely, and often opted out of interacting with those people. There were enough people who wanted to hang with us because we had things in common and genuinely liked each other. I didn't consider it an affirmative obligation to educate my hosts about "what Americans are like," I simply lived my life as best I could and was as patient as I could be with the questions and the differential treatment. However, it was very clear that regardless of how fond our community was of me and my husband, we would never be fully embraced as one of them. It stung, but them's the breaks.

Our town was also home to "American World," a rather cartoonish American-themed shopping and entertainment complex. American World was home to "American Books," which had approximately ten English-language books for sale at any given time; "American Sports," a game center with batting cages, half-courts, and air hockey; "American Wave," the music store/toy store/31 Flavors (again, I mention the Pop Rocks in the ice cream) conglomerate. . .and a Ferris wheel. I think it's fair to cite this as an example of viewing American culture as foreign and unusual, and not offensive. Is it accurate? Not entirely. But I don't think that's the point; I think the point is that cultures are different and that it's appropriate to see them that way (fetishization aside).

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Setting aside the fetish part, what's wrong with other cultures being treated as foreign and unusual? To nearly everyone but a native, they are. My hair and skin color boggles Africans whenever I'm over there.

We go to small towns and non tourisy neighborhoods when in Italy, and definitely feel "outsiders." I do not get this feeling in a wine bar in San Marco or even a smaller area of Venice that is not a guide book favorite nut still well touristed; but it is inescapable in some parts of Cannereggio or San Polo or Castello. Go the the odd parts of the Maremma in Southern Tuscany {Viterbo, Bomarzo Art Park, many areas of Etruscan ruins where it may be days or months between American or English speaking tourists visits} and you really do feel a vastly different culture. In fact, this is a reason we like to travel the way we do.

We love our outsider status and look on it as a challenge to be let into the "real culture", knowing full well that real is only as real as the insiders wish to reveal. We don't view the real as quaint or our outsider status as anything but a fact. How do they order caffe in a bar? How do you ask where the toilet is? How do you convey the desire to eat the food the locals do? We don’t always get there, but some of our best memories are of when we do. And the time that a restaurant, where the proprietors barely spoke a word of English and certainly did not understand much of my bad Italian, took one of our business cards after we fially conveyed that we owned a restaurant in DC and posted it above the table we sat at, and an Italina couple came into Dino based on seeing our card thee before coming to DC, was a moment of joy.

On the other hand, I worked at a restaurant in LA that was featured in a Japanese tour guide for "Salarymen" and we would get table after table of Japanese businessmen either on Saturday afternoons, or on weekdays after they had concluded their business and before going out to dinner. The challenge here is to reverse the table... to give them a bit of what the restaurant was really like and not just have them order exactly the two dishes names in their guidebook.

Are other cultures "exotic" and "interesting"? Of course. So is our own heritage {the culture of a civil war battlefield in Mississippi is vastly different than that of one in a part of Tennessee that spent long stretches under both Northern and Southern control vs Battlefields that were almost entirely held by the north during the war. If you go to places, or look at different cultures with a sense of discovery, with a desire to find out, with a childlike sense of wonder at what you find, then yes the world is exotic and we need to celebrate that. But go read the comments on the City Paper piece on the Fojols. Read the hatred expressed. Read the slamming of various cultures and their sensitivities. Is it coming only from whites not aware of "White Privelege"? No.

Precisely. I think that a lot of people, from any culture or nationality, will view whoever "stands out" or is "different" as the one who should be teaching everyone about their special, unique, exotic heritage. Heck, look at the way even British/Irish/Australian people are treated by Americans, like their accents will cure the ailing or something. … you naturally just start asking yourself if anything you say will ever make a difference, and then just go to ignoring and not giving second chances. It's the cynical way, not everyone chooses it, but to be totally honest, I have.

And also, one has to wonder why it took so long for this ridiculous Fojol thing to blow up? They've been out for two and a half years, and I remember them being just as ridiculous then.

While it is tiring to be the one to "tell the story" or "answer the questions" of the ignorant, is it just as tiring or annoying to answer the questions of the truly curious?

To you second point, why did it take so long? Because this screed was written with inflammatory language and posted on the internet. One can be offended and vocal or offended and not vocal and both choices are OK and neither diminish the offense. But if you want to stop something, than a necessary condition is to speak out. And in today's internet world, usually speaking out with intemperate language does a more effective job. I mean I am perfectly aware of the history of Newt Gingrich and Fox News.

I have written much about Chik-Fil_A and gay marriage, but my words only wound up on NBC-4, HuffingtonPost.com, Citypaper.Com and in a post on DCist many times longer and more thoughtful than the original post I said "f*ck-em both" to Chik-Fil_A and DCist. The interesting thing is that all the places I did wind up used the term "unfortunate" or "ineffective" language in describing my diatribes. How ineffective could they have been when 10,000's of thousands of folk read about them. Hell, I even wound up on the front portal page of the Teamsters Union Truck drivers local website!

qwertyy's question wasn't "what's so wrong with being seen as different," it was "what's wrong with 'other cultures' being treated as foreign and unusual." I think there's a difference. I lived in northeastern Japan for two years, in a small house in a regular neighborhood with my husband and dogs. Yes, I was treated differently; yes, I got questions about what I would or wouldn't eat; yes, I got needlessly complimented on everything from how well I used chopsticks to how well I spoke the language (okay, maybe that legitimately deserved praise over time ;)). Sometimes, it seemed that people only wanted to interact with us because we were "the foreigners." We could sense that and disliked it intensely, and often opted out of interacting with those people. There were enough people who wanted to hang with us because we had things in common and genuinely liked each other. I didn't consider it an affirmative obligation to educate my hosts about "what Americans are like," I simply lived my life as best I could and was as patient as I could be with the questions and the differential treatment. However, it was very clear that regardless of how fond our community was of me and my husband, we would never be fully embraced as one of them. It stung, but them's the breaks.

Our town was also home to "American World," a rather cartoonish American-themed shopping and entertainment complex. American World was home to "American Books," which had approximately ten English-language books for sale at any given time; "American Sports," a game center with batting cages, half-courts, and air hockey; "American Wave," the music store/toy store/31 Flavors (again, I mention the Pop Rocks in the ice cream) conglomerate. . .and a Ferris wheel. I think it's fair to cite this as an example of viewing American culture as foreign and unusual, and not offensive. Is it accurate? Not entirely. But I don't think that's the point; I think the point is that cultures are different and that it's appropriate to see them that way (fetishization aside).

How about going into restaurants as a well recognized, regular dinner and not being able to order a tofu dish truly MaLa, or having a fork tossed contemptuously at me when i was 90% done with my meal, or getting my Seoul Long Tang without tripe and being told that the restaurant never served tripe in its SLT nor did it have it, when it said it did on the menu? I can fight, tell them off or not go back. Since i have spoken up at these restaurants before, I just will not go back. There are too many Cinese restaurants and Korean restaurants where the folk working are only too happy to respond to an outsider's curiosity or ignore it but not denature the experience. They are deserving of my support. As are food trucks that can sell food without demeaning anyone.

Clearly my issue expressed in these only semi lighthearted examples here is a "Dominant culture" issue and is offered not to make light of the issues raised above, just to point out that all outsiders face issues when dealing with insiders. What varies is the frequency of how often you have to face it.

If you believe "white privilege" is pervasive, try being a white transgender. Try being a white gay youth in rural Tennessee. Try being a lesbian couple out for a walk in front of the Viet Nam memorial a few years back and hearing a Vietnam Vet screaming at them "50,000 of our good boys died because of you bull daggers" {He may have said bull dykes, in my shock at witnessing this, I did not take careful notes. But I am sure his children who witnessed it were imprinted. Sure hope none of his kids were gay}.

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I think this thread raises very good points and should make us all consider the moral and ethical practices of more of the places where we spend our money. Sometimes there might be things we don't consider and public conversation on those matters is thought provoking and adds awareness for us to make informed decisions. What that decision is remains individual, as we all have different moral and ethical beliefs. There are a lot of places that have practices which may be questionable whether they be fairly obvious to the eye as in this case, or not so much as in many other unspoken corporate policies. I was very interested in some information I learned from Mr. Boone at the Sou'Wester dinner and it made me rethink a restaurant that on occasion when traveling I went to, that I will no longer be patronizing.

It's not very effective to demand a business give up a profitable model, that's not illegal, and I can't blame them for fighting back after investing a lot of time and money into developing a successful business. I think we can as a society make it profitable for companies to follow practices that we as a society feel promote our best interests as a whole. And I think we should respect peoples' decisions but also continue public conversations like these to continue to raise awareness on important social questions.

People jumping on the hate bandwagon and being opportunistic, or "hipster awareness" (think Portlandia) does bother me, if they don't learn something from this and don't take the lessons elsewhere to be applied in similar situations. But I hope that those people listen into the dialogue they have created and do truly learn something. I would like to say I have learned a lot from this thread and questioned a lot of things. What a great site and group of people we have here, having a dialogue about important social questions, and being very brave in sharing opinions that might have never otherwise done.

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While it is tiring to be the one to "tell the story" or "answer the questions" of the ignorant, is it just as tiring or annoying to answer the questions of the truly curious?

To you second point, why did it take so long? Because this screed was written with inflammatory language and posted on the internet. One can be offended and vocal or offended and not vocal and both choices are OK and neither diminish the offense. But if you want to stop something, than a necessary condition is to speak out. And in today's internet world, usually speaking out with intemperate language does a more effective job. I mean I am perfectly aware of the history of Newt Gingrich and Fox News.

I have written much about Chik-Fil_A and gay marriage, but my words only wound up on NBC-4, HuffingtonPost.com, Citypaper.Com and in a post on DCist many times longer and more thoughtful than the original post I said "f*ck-em both" to Chik-Fil_A and DCist. The interesting thing is that all the places I did wind up used the term "unfortunate" or "ineffective" language in describing my diatribes. How ineffective could they have been when 10,000's of thousands of folk read about them. Hell, I even wound up on the front portal page of the Teamsters Union Truck drivers local website!

How about going into restaurants as a well recognized, regular dinner and not being able to order a tofu dish truly MaLa, or having a fork tossed contemptuously at me when i was 90% done with my meal, or getting my Seoul Long Tang without tripe and being told that the restaurant never served tripe in its SLT nor did it have it, when it said it did on the menu? I can fight, tell them off or not go back. Since i have spoken up at these restaurants before, I just will not go back. There are too many Cinese restaurants and Korean restaurants where the folk working are only too happy to respond to an outsider's curiosity or ignore it but not denature the experience. They are deserving of my support. As are food trucks that can sell food without demeaning anyone.

Clearly my issue expressed in these only semi lighthearted examples here is a "Dominant culture" issue and is offered not to make light of the issues raised above, just to point out that all outsiders face issues when dealing with insiders. What varies is the frequency of how often you have to face it.

If you believe "white privilege" is pervasive, try being a white transgender. Try being a white gay youth in rural Tennessee. Try being a lesbian couple out for a walk in front of the Viet Nam memorial a few years back and hearing a Vietnam Vet screaming at them "50,000 of our good boys died because of you bull daggers" {He may have said bull dykes, in my shock at witnessing this, I did not take careful notes. But I am sure his children who witnessed it were imprinted. Sure hope none of his kids were gay}.

You're going into territory that was far beyond what I was going to, not that I mind, but I was speaking more of the "white privilege" in regards to the Fojol Bros. franchise and how this type of Orientalism dehumanizes those who already identify as American and "one of you", so to speak. The question of "Why is it so bad to be seen as foreign, exotic, different, an outsider?" Well, not so bad if you actually are one. But what the Orientalism of the Fojol Bros. type does is to drive home that, even in the immigrant-reliant history of the United States, there is a large percentage of Americans who identify as Americans, but are not seen as Americans to the majority population, thus denying equal footing. The issue of the LGBT community is a whole other thing, and equally as depressing and disparaging due to recent events and fervor.

As for your first point quoted above, it's quite easy to tell in person if someone is just curious or if someone is just ignorant and has no desire to learn anything about your heritage or culture. I'm not this perpetually angry Asian lady going around yelling at people for asking me about my heritage and don't mind if someone is truly curious or wants something cleared up. The problem is, and this goes with any group of people, no one demographic is monolithic and I can only speak for myself. If you (general you) are offended that I am offended and place the blame of offense back onto me instead of acknowledging some sort of self-awareness, that tells me enough about you for me to avoid any further interaction. That was my point, initially.

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While it is tiring to be the one to "tell the story" or "answer the questions" of the ignorant, is it just as tiring or annoying to answer the questions of the truly curious?

I can't speak to this from the viewpoint of a racial/ethinc/cultural minority. I can speak to it from the viewpoint of one with a visible difference that has resulted in the "What's wrong with YOU?" questions and looks.

Yes, it is. Always being the teachable moment it exhausting. And really, they have no right to ask anyhow. People are not a sideshow. People only have to be the teachable moment if and when they want to.

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While it is tiring to be the one to "tell the story" or "answer the questions" of the ignorant, is it just as tiring or annoying to answer the questions of the truly curious?

In my experience, it depends. Sometimes it was fine, sometimes I'd had a long day or didn't feel well and just wanted to buy my nattou, okonomiyaki ingredients, and butter and be on my way. I part ways with saf on this point because I think people can ask whatever they want, but they need to be okay (and if they're not, that's on them) with my saying "I'm American. Excuse me, but I have to go" without answering every question they have. I'm a person, they're a person, and while it's okay to be interested in the obvious differences, my personhood should be respected as much as one of their countrymen. Here, it's more amusing than anything because I'm half-Mexican/half-Euromutt, but get taken as everything from Latina to Native American or East Indian.

How about going into restaurants as a well recognized, regular dinner and not being able to order a tofu dish truly MaLa, or having a fork tossed contemptuously at me when i was 90% done with my meal, or getting my Seoul Long Tang without tripe and being told that the restaurant never served tripe in its SLT nor did it have it, when it said it did on the menu? I can fight, tell them off or not go back. Since i have spoken up at these restaurants before, I just will not go back.

I can't speak from the perspective of being well-recognized, but I don't have any patience for this kind of stuff. You can explain it to me once, but if my requests aren't met, I'm not coming back. As you say, there were plenty of places in Japan that were willing to serve me whatever stereotypically non-foreigner-friendly food I wanted that I didn't need to bother with places that wouldn't.

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... there is a large percentage of Americans who identify as Americans, but are not seen as Americans to the majority population, thus denying equal footing. The issue of the LGBT community is a whole other thing, and equally as depressing and disparaging due to recent events and fervor.

Missed that read in your original post, but I do think that the two are definitely related. People is people and need to be dealt with as people, not labels. Being white in America, while a HUGE advantage, the advantage does not spread to all. And being of a non white ethnicity can be seen as exotic or negative... depending.

As for your first point quoted above, it's quite easy to tell in person if someone is just curious or if someone is just ignorant and has no desire to learn anything about your heritage or culture. I'm not this perpetually angry Asian lady going around yelling at people for asking me about my heritage and don't mind if someone is truly curious or wants something cleared up. The problem is, and this goes with any group of people, no one demographic is monolithic and I can only speak for myself. If you (general you) are offended that I am offended and place the blame of offense back onto me instead of acknowledging some sort of self-awareness, that tells me enough about you for me to avoid any further interaction. That was my point, initially.

Agree totally. Sensitivity, that is one's personal sensitivity to others, should grow over time. It is called growing up and maturing. Calling me immature or angry because my sensitivities are different today than when I was 10 years old isn't a comment about me, but about the person making the accusation. It is hard to beleive that there was once a TV program like Hogan's Heros on TV much less that I enjoyed it as a kid. {warning: Godwin's law alert} Man were those Nazi's funny, even if they did kill 38 of my family members. Now that I am an adult, I don't think it remotely funny and am appalled when I see it on a rerun channel. DO people need money that much that they can put on something that desentizes us to what a horror happened in a time where holocaust denial is still happening?

Sometimes it was fine, sometimes I'd had a long day or didn't feel well and just wanted to buy my nattou, okonomiyaki ingredients, and butter and be on my way.

natto?!? okonomiyaki?!? Arrrrggggghhhhhhhhhh! [runs screaming in horror]{/runs] :rolleyes: It is funny that with all the weird Japanese food I have eaten, I cannot take either of these two foods.

I can't speak from the perspective of being well-recognized, but I don't have any patience for this kind of stuff. You can explain it to me once, but if my requests aren't met, I'm not coming back. As you say, there were plenty of places in Japan that were willing to serve me whatever stereotypically non-foreigner-friendly food I wanted that I didn't need to bother with places that wouldn't.

True, in both directions, in Annandale and Wheaton too! Hey, if I don't realize that my Naeng Myul will taste better with a little white vinegar in it, tell me. But don't throw forks at me AFTER I have eaten most my meal with chopsticks!

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This is getting away from the seriousness of the above posts, but I just read an article in Israel's Haaretz newspaper with an unfortunate graphic that reminded me of the Fojol discussion. Take a look:

3021398537.jpg

This recent conversation has made me think that there's a distinction between what's racist and what's inappropriate when it comes to other groups of people. Both this graphic and the Fojols probably fall into different degrees of the latter category. Based on what I've seen from the Fojols and their seemingly diverse staff, I have trouble believing they hold (as Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines it) "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

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Missed that read in your original post, but I do think that the two are definitely related. People is people and need to be dealt with as people, not labels. Being white in America, while a HUGE advantage, the advantage does not spread to all. And being of a non white ethnicity can be seen as exotic or negative... depending.

My point was that discussing LGBT discrimination, while very important in the general scheme of society and civil rights, has a very tenuous relation with the Fojol Bros discussion, which is focusing mainly on a racism/xenophobia discussion. I've no doubt that LGBT discrimination is horrible and beyond what I, a heterosexual, will ever be able to truly understand. I also have no doubt that being black in the U.S. is horrible and beyond what I, not a black person, will ever truly understand. I know people are people and need to be treated as such. The horrible-ness of different forms of discrimination wasn't, imo, relevant to the Fojol Bros, especially when I was specifically referring to Americans not being treated as Americans because of the color of their skin (which is what this Orientalist Fojol Bros schtick basically does). I just didn't want to get dragged into a game of "well, other people have it just as bad or worse, too." because it never turns out well for anyone involved.

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My point was that discussing LGBT discrimination, while very important in the general scheme of society and civil rights, has a very tenuous relation with the Fojol Bros discussion, which is focusing mainly on a racism/xenophobia discussion. I've no doubt that LGBT discrimination is horrible and beyond what I, a heterosexual, will ever be able to truly understand. I also have no doubt that being black in the U.S. is horrible and beyond what I, not a black person, will ever truly understand. I know people are people and need to be treated as such. The horrible-ness of different forms of discrimination wasn't, imo, relevant to the Fojol Bros, especially when I was specifically referring to Americans not being treated as Americans because of the color of their skin (which is what this Orientalist Fojol Bros schtick basically does). I just didn't want to get dragged into a game of "well, other people have it just as bad or worse, too." because it never turns out well for anyone involved.

[FWIW, I think this conversation kind of jumped the shark at some point, but it was very interesting for awhile. Carry on as desired...]

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[FWIW, I think this conversation kind of jumped the shark at some point, but it was very interesting for awhile. Carry on as desired...]

My post will actually push this firmly into the "shark on a motorcycle jumping the Fonz" territory, but I think there are some important perspectives being missed, both here and presumably (I haven't read it) in the Huffington Post article.

First, to be absolutely clear, I am firmly in the "highly disapproving, solidly offended, and shocked, but sadly not surprised, at the lack of uproar since day one" category.

However, and by no means do I seek to offer an apology for this, having occasion to work with many in this age and socio-economic group, I find that most middle class high school, college, and recent grad aged kids see themselves as so post-racial as to allow themselves to express--ironically, of course--highly offensive, provocative, even intentionally inflammatory, ideas as the very proof of how impossible it is for them to espouse those ideas.

Any viewer of "Family Guy" or "30 Rock" or pretty much anything on Adult Swim is already familiar with this phenomenon--and this is the direct legacy of Howard Stern for those who were recently waxing nostalgic regarding his "glory" days. Hard to argue with how mainstream, entrenched, and accepted this is--it all just depends on your age group and where the arrow is pointed.

In fact, I resent the smugness behind 30 Rock's self-aware, ironic but explicit racism much, much more than the idiotic tomfoolery of the Fojol Brothers, and I am surprised than no similar article has been written on the actual pervasive and far-reaching iterations of overt/covert racism and active religious bigotry on national TV, rather on the local, even parochial, food truck example.

Harder to argue is the role of through the looking glass pop culture phenomenon like "Boondocks" (best line ever--Huey: "I see piss coming, I move. She saw piss coming, she stayed.")--but then again, does anyone remember Dick Gregory, Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, hell, even Bill Cosby?

So that was jumping the shark. Here's the shark jumping the Fonz:

One, who can blame or judge these fools, and two, where is the real outrage when these 25 year olds grew up and live in a culture where they are constantly exposed to and constantly see being affirmed:

1) The sanctioned pedophilia of Toddlers and Tiaras.

2) The sanctioned child abuse of Dance Moms.

3) The obscenely glorified ethnic, racial and religious self-abasement for-profit on Bravo, etc. of Shahs of Beverly Hills, Jersey Shore, Housewives of New Jersey, and All-American Muslim, Sister Wives, Doomsday Preppers, etc. etc..

4) The obscenely glorified sexual orientation-based self-abasement for profit on pretty much every Bravo Show, including Top Chef.

Those are the obvious ones. Even more insidious, and even more wildly popular, and especially disgusting for being aimed at children (but which each and everyone of us supports every day) are the racism and ethnic, cultural and religious bigotry in the modern "critically heralded and universally adored" Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks animated films.

No one is offended by Alladin? Pocahontas? Whatever jive-donkey Eddie Murphy plays in Shrek? The even jiver-zebra in Madagascar?

Why don't they just re-make "The Jungle Book" as a Broadway musical with the Bandar-log in black-face, Baloo played by Stepin Fetchit, and Mowgli opening a Quik-E-Mart after borrowing from the money-lender Thuu (who he later righteously kills in the big finale so he doesn't have to pay back the filthy usurer's interest)?

And why are we not up in arms at the familiarly grotesque appearance of the "Trolls" in the Harry Potter movies, gold-hoarding, bank-owning, devious, sub-human tricksters that they are?

Or at the oh-so-precious, lispy and emasculated gay best friend in every romantic comedy, as perfected in Sex and the City?

And as far as the argument made above that the Fojols are far worse for the fact that they make money from it--well, apart from the inherent profit motives in all of the above, and closer to the relevance to the food industry, why should they question anything they do for money when they see our supposed role models, Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain, and Michael Symon degrading and abasing themselves for money every day? Or care, now that Super Mario Batali was defeated by and secretely replaced by his cousin Wario?

So in short, let's hope they stop, these young idiots whose biggest crime is being stupid and completely in-line with current pop-culture norms (many of which are sacred cows of the very people doing the condemning--stereotyping the Huffington Post writers and editors here, I am).

But who is going to do anything about all the rest?

Good night and good luck.

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Wow. Well, ML really nailed it.

I was reading about this for the first time after Tim Carman tweeted about it. I had no idea that this was going on. As someone who has been asked more than once if I'm a "dot Indian" or a "woo woo Indian", I often get tired by these sad characterizations and depiction, yet I also understand stereotypes exist for a reason. So my initial thought on Fojol Bros is that it's probably not mean spirited racism but ignorant, stupid, and in poor taste.

And (as ML points out), doesn't pretty much everything that is ignorant, stupid and in poor taste get rewarded in our pop culture?

So let's direct our outrage where it truly belongs and quietly ignore the Fojol Bros - both their cultural parodies and the products they sell.

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