The Abercrombie and Fitch article I wrote for Owen’s online newspaper in 2002…
I’m sure you have all heard of the Abercrombie and Fitch shirts that poked fun of Asians. I’m not sure if all of you heard that A&F said that they have pulled the shirts off their shelves, nor the fact that people have found three stores in this area that were still selling the shirts as of a few days ago.
Just some tidbits of information before I hit my main point.
Well, actually, there isn’t really a main point, just a few things to think about before we get all hot-headed and dive into an irrational call-to-arms, mobilizing the front line of the Asian and Asian American community in America against the tyrant that is known as Abercrombie and Fitch.
Yes, the shirts were offensive. They were very offensive. Especially the “Two Wongs make a White” one. And yes, we were right to speak up against it.
But seriously, folks. Enough’s enough. After A&F had agreed to pull the shirts off the shelves, I was still getting 5 emails a day about them. Thanks to our voicing our opinions, A&F has heard the Asian American view on these shirts. And they have conceded to our requests for the shirts to be pulled. That in itself can be considered a small victory for the Asian American community.
Abercrombie was wrong to assume that they could poke fun at Asians and get away with it without creating an uprising of sorts, as we have seen. The problem here is that this is an Anglo-American company making products for an Anglo-American target consumer pool. Think about it this way. Would we still find the shirts offensive if they were made by an Asian or Asian American company for Asians? Probably not. As a matter of fact, to do that would probably be very powerful in breaking these stereotypes. For Asians and Asian Americans to perpetuate these stereotypes simply makes these stereotypes look like the ridiculous inventions of society that they are, however true their origins may be.
What’s my point? I really don’t have one. Frankly, if I were still in high school, I would probably have a good laugh over them with my friends and forget all about it. But because I am now “educated” as a college student, I do feel that these shirts are offensive and I did make my voice known as well. Furthermore, there were petitions and whatnot circulating campus immediately after the shirts were on the shelf. It’s not as if we are laying around passively, seeing A&F exploit our race and community. However, on the other hand, I don’t feel we have to be overly vocal about it as well. We should show A&F our views by our actions, not our words. Teddy Roosevelt said “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” In this case, I prefer to talk softly as well.