Project Anti-Disguise
  September 22, 2004 01:59 PM
October 19, 2002
Asian organizations fight against discrimination: Costume maker recalls Kung Fu mask

By Xiaoqing Rong, Sing Tao Daily, 18 October 2002. Translated from Chinese by Xiaoqing Rong.

Asian organizations accused San Diego-based costume maker Disguise, Inc., of discrimination because their Kung Fu-style mask, which Disguise, Inc. put on the market this September in time for Halloween.

The mask was sold with a set of Kung Fu clothes, and depicted a bucktoothed, slant-eyed Kung Fu figure, with a Chinese character on its headband that read “defeated.” It was named “Kung Fool” and was sold for $25 to $34 at Walmart, Party City and Target stores nationwide. Strong reaction from Asian organizations and the media prompted Disguise to issue a recall and promised to buy back those masks already sold to customers.

The Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium and the National Asian Students Alliance all published statements criticizing Disguise for racism against Asians. They said that the mask perpetuates racism and dehumanizes the entire community.

In a protest statement, Christine Chen, executive director of the OCA, said, “Disguise claims they produce high quality, innovative products. What they do is far from what they say. Asian American customers are not interested in this product at all. Asian Americans have $250 billion consuming power. To single out this community isn’t wise even from a commercial perspective.”

Spokesman Chris Wahl issued a formal apology on behalf of Disguise Inc., which is one of the nation’s leading costume manufacturers. The company said its original intention was to present the Kung Fu figure humorously, and didn’t mean to offend any racial group.

But the Asian community was pissed off. Internet users posted notes in protest on BBS and the issue was widely discussed in chat rooms. The Asian news website yellowworld.org also organized a sign-to-protest campaign. Elber Oh, founder of yellowworld.org said, “Asian Americans don’t want to be the plaything of Halloween.”

An Asian Internet user, who posted a note on BBS, said that he was very hurt when he saw the mask. “I was shocked. The mask brought back the bitter memory of when I was called ‘alien’ at school. Decades have passed, and society is still biased [against Asians]. Fortunately, the Asian community is not as it was. We are strong enough to fight back,” he said.


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