Washington, Mar 10: A Vermont newspaper has defended itself against accusations of racism over a poster it published in support of a local sports team that read “fry Rice” in type associated with Chinese calligraphy, saying it meant no offense and simply wanted to play on words.
The back-page poster, printed in Thursday’s editions, was intended to support St. Johnsbury Academy’s basketball team in its game against Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, the Caledonian Record wrote in an unsigned editorial, reports the New York Daily News.
The paper newspaper acknowledged that the poster’s wordplay, punctuated by the chosen font, “evoked a particular ethnic cuisine” but did not constitute racism. It further said that a fair accusation of racism would at least pre-require the reference to actually be demeaning or degrading. Simply invoking ethnic customs (food, dress, design) doesn’t do that, nor does it suggest any kind of characteristic about the culture, its people or a history of oppression by the majority, it added.
The president of the Asian American Journalists Association, Paul Cheung, who had criticized the poster after it was published, said that the editorial missed the point.
Cheung said he does not believe the newspaper’s intention was to be racist, but that it showed “a lapse of judgment and poor taste”. He said it evoked a racial undertone and a negative stereotype.
St. Johnsbury Academy ended up losing the game to Rice Memorial.
Headmaster Tom Lovett said that none of the school’s Asian students were offended by the poster. He said their students often see such things as a way to celebrate their culture, not demean it. (ANI)