Sushi Service for Two?: Perpetuating the “Oriental” Stereotype

Came across this item on It’s a sushi set with none other than the derogatory “chinaman” image perched on a red plate complete with the notorious straw hat and slanted eyes.

The presence of this seemingly harmless plate raises many issues that we, as Asian Americans, are facing to this day. The image itself is reminiscent of how Asians and Asian Americans were portrayed and viewed as backwards, uncivilized creatures in the early 1900s incapable of becoming “American.” Seeing this image on a popular site, like target’s, hints subtly at the notion of the “perpetual foreigner” or forever yellow. Asian Americans are still seen as foreigners.

Another issue that is brought up is how racism is so ingrained in our culture that is goes unnoticed. When reading the comments on how “cute the set is” or “how it made a perfect gift for a couple because the wife was Japanese and they ate a lot of sushi” personally makes me cringe. We have come a long way from the days of blatant racism- the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, “yellow-face,” and Executive Order 9066. But this is a humble reminder of the work that still needs to be done for the Asian American community. Education and awareness is the first step and may still be the key to combating derogatory racial stereotypes.

Something as small as a plate still brings years of past racism to 2012.

What do you think? Do you feel that Asian Americans will be forever yellow?