In Response to Peter Hoekstra’s Superbowl Campaign Ad

From APSA @ UC Irvine

On Sunday, February 5th, a racially offensive television advertisement was aired during the Superbowl. This advertisement was created by Peter Hoekstra’s campaign team to promote his bid for the US Senate. The advertisement was targeted against his opponent, Debbie Stabenow, as she is accused of contributing to the China’s economic prosperity at the expense of the US economy. The advertisement featured an Asian woman who spoke in broken English. In the video, she thanks Stabenow for alleged US policies that increased US debt to China, strengthened the Chinese economy, and allowed Chinese people to take jobs from US citizens. This advertisement is blatantly racist because it frames Chinese Americans as ‘job stealers’ and that Chinese Americans are to blame for the US’s poor economy.

We are offended and disgusted by the advertisement because it falsely portrays Asian Americans as an enemy of the US economy. This video and its accompanying website sends the message that though many Asian Americans were born in the US, schooled in the US, and even work in the US, they will always be seen as perpetual foreigners. This advertisement is an indication that we are not living in a post-racial society and that Asian stereotypes are alive and strong today. The fact that this advertisement was approved and aired during the Superbowl is worrisome because of the impact that the media has on tainting the minds of our society to find truth in stereotypes. This message is dangerous for our communities because it paves way for Asian Americans to becoming the scapegoat in times of struggle and challenges.

This video advertisement is a painful reminder of how dangerous stereotyping can be for the Asian American community. We cannot help but to remember Vincent Chin, a fellow resident of Michigan, who was brutally beaten to death in June of 1982. For similar reasons as pointed out in the video, Chin, due to his appearance, was blamed for taking the jobs of “Americans.” Following a flurry of accusations, Chin became a victim of a hate crime, which was the result of the portrayal of Asian Americans as the perpetual foreigner and the enemy of the US economy. We want to highlight the magnitude of the effects of Asian American stereotypes because it is important to be aware that stereotypes can be averse and extremely dangerous impacts on the well-being of our communities.

Since the advertisement has aired, the video and website has been removed from Hoekstra’s campaign. However, he refuses to apologize for the Superbowl advertisement. We want to call upon Mr. Hoekstra to reconsider his refusal to apologize. We urge him to recognize and apologize for the insensitive, stereotypical portrayal of Chinese Americans in the Superbowl advertisement and its accompanying website.

We ask the voters to not support Peter Hoekstra in his campaign for the US Senate. Let us all do our best to keep this man from holding public office, especially one as esteemed as the US Senate.

We ask for those who have seen the video to start discussions on what it means to be an Asian American in the US and to raise awareness that we are not living in a post-racial society.

We ask for those who have not seen the video, to watch it in order become aware of how Asian Americans are being perceived by society. It is important to be aware that racial thoughts and ideas are still prevalent today because we claim to be living in a post-racial society but this video is evidence that we are not. In order to progress as a community of critical thinkers, it is important to be aware of the problem first before addressing how to remedy the problem.

More than ever, this advertisement is a strong indication that we all need to become critical thinkers and unite as a community to combat the racial stereotypes that target our identities and ridicule our roots, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds.

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