Featured Image

Regarding “Ching Chong House” and Anti-Asian Racism in the Wake of COVID-19

Jay Serrano, Editorial Director

August 15, 2020

Early in July, a fake restaurant emerged on Instagram and Yelp. This fake restaurant was entitled “Ching Chong House” and had various racist menu items ranging from Corona cocktails to “Crispy Burnt Pug.” Although it is clear that this stunt is merely another in a long list of edgy shock humor, it is still worth examining given the social context we find ourselves in. As of July 2, 2020—just one day after this fake business first posted—2,120 anti-Asian hate incidents had been reported between March and June. The number is almost certainly higher now.

I initially planned to censor the title of the restaurant in this post, but ultimately realized that the power of it was something I did not want to dilute or obfuscate. Reclaiming slurs is not new amongst marginalized communities, but this is clearly something different—this is meant to evoke taunting and give permission to be hateful under the guise of comedy.

At risk of relying too much on my heritage to inform my blog posts, I still feel like it is appropriate to disclose that I am part Korean and that while this rhetoric obviously has emotional consequences, it also has material consequences. I am already keenly aware that the growing anti-Chinese sentiment in this country has made my family less safe. I have seen the contemptuous stares people give my mother and have watched as she has become more and more guarded whenever she leaves the house. Of course, even those with no personal ties to Asian communities can clearly see the racist nature of these comments and grasp their harm, but there is often a more intimate and acute anger that one feels when their own community is targeted. Still, if you need more to get angry, there are other cases far more severe, such as when an Asian student was accused of having COVID-19 and subsequently assaulted and hospitalized or when a Korean student in Manhattan was grabbed by the hair and punched in the face and accused of being a COVID-19 carrier. There are many similar stories.

In a moment swelling with racial tension and rising xenophobic rhetoric—specifically Sinophobic rhetoric that has been espoused by both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party—this is an accelerant. Normalizing this brand of racism gives permission to the next person to do the same. The account owners attempted to excuse their behavior by proclaiming they themselves are Asian and that this is merely situational comedy. Putting aside that this “humor” is on par with 8th graders who think slurs and Szechuan sauce are the height of comedy and the fact these people are probably not Asian (and are likely attempting to avoid culpability with a vague and unprovable statement), their intentions and races are ultimately irrelevant. Internalized and intracommunity racism are a demonstrably real phenomenon and your race does not exempt you from perpetuating racism.

Although our politicians’ rhetoric is quickly devolving into blatant xenophobia and still insists “China Virus” comments are in good faith, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. I am deeply disaffected by our governmental representatives and find that I no longer view them as lighthouses in a vast sea of mere citizens. If anything, the way elected officials have handled COVID-19—from granting the stock market more funds than civilians, to refusing to freeze rent, to offering a measly and incompetently handled stimulus check, to turning both parties into anti-China propaganda machines—has further convinced me we are living in a dystopian hellscape that we cannot trust them to rescue us from. We must, as civilians, be better than the people who are representing us.

I urge CSU’s President Joyce McConnell to take strong action against any students or staff involved—it is suspected that the architects of the account are CSU students and at least 13 students and 1 staff member have been confirmed to be following the account. I have, in the past, found CSU’s response to racism incredibly underwhelming and gestural, but I have noticed a shift in tone that no longer defends these actions as freedom of speech and insists it is impossible to punish racist students. If there is truly a “zero tolerance policy” on racism at CSU, there must be consequences—if there aren’t, then you quite literally have a “tolerance policy” on racism. I sincerely hope these students are held accountable in ways more than rhetorical. Their prank is making people less safe. If that isn’t grounds for dismissal, I’m not sure what is.


  • The Asian/Pacific American Cultural Center at CSU released a statement on their website here.
  • The Collegian has written an in-depth article here.
  • For more on the history and usage of the slur ‘Ching Chong,’ you can read this.
Comment Form is loading comments...