Project Anti-Disguise
  September 22, 2004 01:59 PM
October 24, 2002 Takes on Culture Vultures

Picture this. It’s October 31st, Halloween, at dusk. You’ve stockpiled your apartment with a nuclear winter’s worth of teeth-rotting candy. Trick-or-treaters are converging on your home, ready to run your Hershey’s inventory dry. When the bell rings, you open the front door, only to be confronted by…bucktoothed Asian people. Not real Asians, but precocious children wearing Halloween masks of slanty-eyed, nostril-flaring, bucktoothed ‘chinks,’ ‘gooks,’ ‘japs,’ ‘gooks’ or whatever Disguise Inc. had in mind.

Disguise, Inc., the largest costume manufacturer in the world, had produced a costume called "Kung Fool," which consolidated the worst stereotypes of Asian features and culture into a snazzy uniform -- for young children! A harrowing Halloween could very well have become an Asian American nightmare, if not for the grass-roots activism from the people behind This watch group calls itself "an online community portal dedicated to the cultivation of a collective Asian political and social consciousness." quickly organized Project Anti-Disguise, an alliance with other Asian American groups, to raise awareness among the AsAm community and to voice its message -- the exploitation of Asians for a children’s product is unacceptable. They publicized their message across media channels -- television, radio, print and online -- and organized a petition that eventually accumulated over 8300 signatures.

Project Anti-Disguise finally achieved its goal when the costume manufacturer Disguise, Inc. issued a letter of apology and recalled its ‘Kung Fool’ product from retailers. Disguise spokesperson Chris Wahl states that, "Disguise is a culturally sensitive company. We apologize to anyone who may be offended by the design. No insult or offense was intended against any race, ethnicity or individual by the sale of this product."

The Founder Elbert Oh had this to say: "We urge costume retailers nationwide to follow the corrective actions taken by Disguise and send the message that corporate America can no longer profit from marginalizing the Asian community -- because we`ll have the last laugh."

-- by H.H. Lam

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