1.03.2006

boycott Spencer Gifts

** for all updates on this campaign please go to http://wearingracism.blogspot.com ** (they've apologized and pulled the shirts but go to the link for details, thanks everyone!)

Thanks to my observant friend Jong who was doing some shopping at Mayfair Mall in Victoria (with his camera phone close at hand), we got some photos of some very offensive t-shirts being sold at Spencer Gifts. Obviously the execs at this company weren't paying attention when Abercrombie put out their line of racist shirts. Please take a look and email/send a letter/call Spencer Gifts to express your rage. The contact info is listed below along with my own letter. (If that's too much work, at the very least, sign the online petition http://new.petitiononline.com/APA911/petition.html)



To Spencer Gifts:

You obviously learned nothing from the Abercrombie & Fitch debacle. I am appalled and disgusted by your line of “Asian-themed” t-shirts featuring stereotyped Asian caricatures and offensive text. The shirt that reads “SUK MAI COCK POULTRY FARM” is an obvious mockery of the Chinese language and sophomoric jab at Asians and their supposed difficulty with English spelling and comprehension. The shirt featuring the likeness of Buddha, which reads “I MAY BE FAT BUT MY COCK IS HUGE,” demonstrates blatant disrespect for a religious deity and the religion’s followers. One need only replace the image of Buddha with that of Jesus Christ and swap “fat” with “skinny” to see how offensive this would be to the Christian majority. Finally, the shirt that reads “HANG OUT WITH YOUR WANG OUT” features a caricature of a slanted-eyed, buck-toothed Chinese man wearing a queue and rice paddy hat and childishly holding his penis. This image is demeaning and painfully reminiscent of racist images in popular culture in the early 1900s.

Whether you intended to offend or be funny and irreverent is not the issue. The issue is that the shirts are plainly offensive. Images like those on shirts sold by Spencer Gifts serve to promote the misleading notion that Asians are exotic foreigners to be insulted and ridiculed without consequence.

The shirts are not funny, innovative, novel, or edgy. They are racist and degrading and I demand an official public apology and a recall of the aforementioned shirts. Until then, I vow to boycott all Spencer Gifts stores and encourage others to do the same.

Respectfully,
Vanessa Au

Email the execs:
Steven Silverstein
President and CEO
Isaac Silvera
EVP and CFO
Michael D. (Mike) Champion
Manager, Promotion and Publicity

Call or write to corporate headquarters:

Spencer Gifts, LLC
6826 Black Horse Pike
Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Phone: 609-645-3300
Fax: 609-645-5633

Website http://www.spencergifts.com/

Company Profile from Hoovers.com

Teen years are peppered with trips to mall-based Spencer Gifts for lava lamps, posters, whoopee cushions, and the fuzzy dice dangling from your rearview mirror. Other products include apparel, jewelry, room decor, and seasonal items, including Halloween merchandise. The retailer is expanding its home products selection to appeal to young people looking to adorn their dorm rooms or apartments. Founded in 1947, the novelty gift retailer was acquired in 2003 by Gordon Brothers Group from Vivendi UNIVERSAL Entertainment. Spencer Gifts operates more than 640 shops in the US and Canada, as well as about 130 seasonal Spirit Halloween Superstores in the US.

23 comments:

Cyrus said...

good for you. well written. i`ve seen some things that are on the hairy edge of being racist, but that one definately goes over the top - especially since its an actual product. perhaps a local (or national) news organization might pick up the story?

Egan said...

You are a person of action. Only if we were all like you we wouldn't have that dumbass as our president. Good for you for calling attention to this matter.

I am tempted to write Disney a letter to encourage them to place more recycling containers at Walt Disney World. Take care.

Van said...

Egan, if it chafes your hide, write a letter. You'll feel darn good about it after. You can also use tools like petitiononline.com and citizenspeak.org. Cheers and keep on blogging, I read yours daily!

Egan said...

That's very kind of you to say such things Van. Maybe that will be my goal this year, take more action.

gt said...

Good looking out. Great letter. I am actually going to bring this up with the legal association I am a part of. I had written a similar letter when the Hot 97 Tsunami Song came out. Personally, I believe its more of an insensitivity and ignorance issue rather than actual racism.

Van said...

GT, thanks for this. I did my best communicating the Tsunami Song issue too. That was a really bad one. I played it when I gave an undergrad lecture on race and US media. Needless to say, jaws dropped. Again thanks for the support and please fwd me any sites you post that point to this campaign.

Rob said...

Hi.

I'm not a member of blogger.com, but my friend sent me a link to your blog, because I was miffed and offended by the same thing. I just wanted to say that your letter is extremely well-written, and is powerful. Hopefully the executives at Spencer Gifts will take notice.

If we had more intelligent and conscientious people like you, this world would be a much better place. And we wouldn't have a psychotic retard in the whitehouse.

Jun Zuniga said...

Good job on spotting this and taking the initiative to fight! I've posted this on several APIA oriented boards I frequent and forwarded your email notice to AsianWeek, Audrey, and AAmovementZine, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. You should see if your state or area has either a Human Relations Commission or a Commission for Human Rights that you can report this to. I'll also be writing a letter to the corporation. It's actions like these that illustrate that the APIA community cannot be ignored. Keep up the fight!

Rose said...

Hmm...I am not the least bit offended by the shirts, I think they're quite funny. Spencer is in the novelty business and I am sure they have many other shirts that depict similar humor for other races. Would it make a difference if the creators of these shirts were Chinese?

Van said...

Rob and Jun, thank you for carrying the momentum. It takes people like you to make things happen! Please keep me posted.

Rose, didn't you graduate from SFU Communication?? I think you need to crack open a history book. Caricatures like that of the queued slanted eyed buck toothed Chinese man were developed at around the turn of the century by racist white folks of the time (The Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act era) to insult the Chinese much the way images of African Americans with exaggerated features and chains around their necks or picking cotton were used to insult them. You would NEVER see the latter on a shirt because our African American friends do a much better job of making a stink about it and we can only learn from them! Asians too often keep quiet. In fact there were no other races targetted by Spencers, only Asians, so you're wrong about that. I highly doubt the creators are Asian. If they were they were, they, like you, would need to seriously learn a little more about our ancestors' struggles in the west and the history of racial oppression in North America.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rose,
When I actually spotted these t-shirts at Spencers, I purposely double-checked to see if any other races were targetted - nope, albeit a single t-shirt saying something like 'I love Rednecks' with a Confederate flag (but that's another story). The point is, is that at this store there was humour, distasteful humour, and then there was racially distasteful humour. I found the latter, which was mostly directed towards Asians and no other group. The other point is that making racist jabs at your own race can still be considered racist. In the end that is what this campaign is about - racism.
JONG

EMOB said...

I think it would be racist if the shirt read "I may be fat but my cock is TEENY TINY...because I'm ASIAN"

You guys are all hilarious...thanks for the laugh.
I guess we all have our own wars to wage. Much luck to y'all.

Anonymous said...

and the president of spencer gifts is a jew. you'd think a jew would be sensitive to hateful, racist material. apparently not.

allow me to stoop to his level: dumbass kike bastard.

Rose said...

Hey Van, please don't assume that I am ignorant simply because I don't find the shirts offensive. I am well aware of what the Chinese immigrants went through at the turn of the 19th century. This is just my opinion, please respect it.

Anonymous said...

thanks for calling my attention to those shirts i ordered all of them...(pardon my french)stop being an overdramatic cunt...having pride in ones nationality is great but a sense of humor is priceless in days like today...playing the race card is easy and don't make things bigger than they are...its not like because of this shirt asian people are going to have to go back into internment camps...they are jokes, and just because they aren't that funny(to you) doesn't make them racist...they are made in jest... and your comment about buddha their are countless t shirts with pics of jesus doing all types of things...no one is making a stink about those...so please please i beg you...grasp this thing called humor, the world would be a better/peacful place if everyone had a better sense of humor...good day!

Anonymous said...

For the sake of fairness and humor, can someone please find me a T-shirt of Jesus Christ remarking on how hungry he is yet laughing about his girth? Better yet, send me the link to the webpage of the major Corporation who makes and sells these T-shirts...Thank you.

Anonymous said...

http://www.bustedtees.com/product.php?name=jesusshaves

http://www.cafepress.com/buy/jesus/-/pv_design_details/pg_1/id_3516515/opt_/fpt_/c_/hlv_t

http://www.cafepress.com/buy/jesus/-/pv_design_details/pg_1/id_1125209/opt_/fpt_/c_/hlv_t

http://www.cafepress.com/buy/jesus/-/pv_design_details/pg_1/id_3902703/opt_/fpt_/c_/hlv_t

there are hundreds if not thousands more, although they don't talk about his girth(that would be asisine,jesus was never depicted as a large man)some are quite suggestive, and although some jesus fanatic might not appreciate them, i think these show the same slight towards jesus as they do buddha. Also buddha the man,Siddhartha Gautama, didn't consider himself to be a deity at all. i think the main point you all need to grasp is get a sense of humor and make sure your cause is noble, don't make a mountain out of a mole hill just because you want to feel like you are down for the "Cause"...there are much more serious ills in the world then some unfunny tshirts...millions of africans stand to die this year because of a drought that left most of the land unfarmable and most people w/o food...thats a just cause...people are going to die...do you think those people give two flying fucks about some silly tshirt in the mall...seriously get a grip

Andres Bonifacio said...

Get a grip? "the world would be a better/peacful place if everyone had a better sense of humor"? So I guess we just don't "get it", huh? So we uppity Asian Americans should just laugh along with the racist joke, eh? African Americans should just laugh along with 'blackface' and 'minstrel shows', eh? Anonymous, you're the one who needs to get a clue. You want to close your eyes, go right ahead, but don't ask everyone else to swallow the racism you tolerate because it makes YOU more comfortable. Wake up! What a dullard.

Anonymous said...

I think you misunderstand the girth that I'm referring to. Those T-shirts that you linked to are not comparable to the ones that were found by Van. Do you honestly think that most Asians shouldn't be offended by that grotesque caricature wearing the China hat? Millions of Africans may stand to die this year and mostly nothing will be done about it - why? Perhaps a reason is that the starvation over there seems so far away compared to the relative luxury we live in. The problems over there seem to be almost unreal/inhuman compared to where we live. That is the same problem with stereotyping and racism - we begin by treating something as inhuman and the topic becomes detached from us (much like the suffering in third-world countries). As a result, we become desensitized to the issue. I applaud Van for taking a stand in something that is obviously offensive and trying to put a stop to Spencer's lack of humanity.

Anonymous said...

see my father grew up in pre segregated mississippi...and he told me about real racisim(local white kids coming by and using black kids for bb gun target practice)...this gives me a renge of depth to analyze supposed racism...its not asking people to close there eyes but to infact open your eyes and realize that this is a joke and jokes may be offensive...the problem is that people are too egotistical to laugh at themselves..and if a poorly thought out joke can't be recognized as such and it must be done away with...then we are essentially losing those freedoms that the civil rights movement worked so vigorously to bestow upon minorities - Noah
if you wanna be real activist go here:
http://www.linkglobal.org/

Jose Rizal said...

Noah, Noah, Noah...putangina mo, Rudyard Kipling.

Anonymous said...

The tshirts are in poor taste, plain and simple; fighting to get them removed is good. But lets not go Howard Dean-Ted Kennedy nutty, ok? Conservatives are on your side also, Van. :)

Obskure said...

I hope all goes well and these t-shirts will be removed