"There's already some backlash against Asian Americans, who are seen as
anything but fierce champions of freedom, fighting racism wherever they find it.
Instead, they're now being portrayed as humorless scolds -- politically correct,
even -- as if standing up for some moral principle could ever be considered
wrong or shameful.
Hey, I can take a joke. Most Asian Americans can. But maybe what's
needed here is an updated lesson on ethnic humor. For example, if I want to call
myself a slant-eyed laundry boy, that's okay. That's funny because it's
self-deprecating. (Even President Bush is good at this style of humor, though
sometimes unconsciously so. We don't just laugh at him because he's president.)
The beauty of self-deprecatory humor is that it gives people permission to
laugh. It makes the teller the butt of the joke, and invites us all to be in on
But if a non-Asian makes references to Asians as caricatured slant-eyed
laundry boys, then we have a problem. That's not self-deprecation. That's just
denigration imposed by another."
-- Emil Guillermo