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The Los Angeles Times this week caused controversy by running a piece declaring that mispronunciation of Asian names is "casual racism."
Ashley Lee Los Angeles Times writer - picture from twitter

The Los Angeles Times this week caused controversy by running a piece declaring that mispronunciation of Asian names is “casual racism.”

There has been a heightened awareness of anti-Asian bigotry in recent weeks following last month’s shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors that left eight people dead. While there is no evidence the gunman in that spree targeted Asian-Americans, the fact that six of the victims were Asian Americans has triggered a rush to declare the shooting a hate crime.

The article, by Times staff writer Ashley Lee, stemmed from a previous report on a local theater’s award ceremony “where organizers mispronounced the name of an Asian American nominee and displayed a photo of the wrong actor.”

Lee wrote she was “disheartened” by the emails the Times received that were quick to mock the report and dismiss it as “Asian victimhood.”

“The Ovation Awards’ snafus — and some of our readers’ reactions to the news coverage of them — are emblematic of the casual racism in the theater world and the world at large,” Lee wrote. “Mispronouncing someone’s name, accidentally or on purpose, at the very least demonstrates a selective laziness to learn the correct way to address or acknowledge a person. The name is perceived as particularly difficult only because it’s beyond the [W]hite European names that have been deemed normal.”

She continued, “When done willfully, it’s a conscious decision to weaponize one’s name — a deeply personal signifier of ethnic background and family lineage — against them, othering and invalidating them in a culture that already upholds [W]hite supremacy.”

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