Eugene Cho

“my name isn’t lady chinky eyes”

Did you see this?

Probably not  because who cares about receipts from fast foot joints like Papa John’s? But if you look carefully, you’ll notice that an employee tried to be “funny” and wrote in “lady chinky eyes” to identify the Asian customer.

Here’s 6 things you should know:

1. Umm, don’t hate. My slanted eyes are beautiful.

2. The customer’s name was 24-year-old Minhee Cho – the exact same name as my wife. Some of you asked and emailed me. Unless my wife has a private jet, she was not in New York this past weekend. She was home in Seattle so this was a different Minhee Cho.

3. Minhee Cho posted the picture on her Twitter account and the next thing you know, it went viral. The last time I checked, it was viewed 209,154. Wow. And before you knew it, it was posted on Huffington Post and the New York Daily News.

Can someone say “the power of social media?”

4. I was pretty upset. Bummer that this still happens. Sad to say but it happens to my kids at school. Real bummer.

5. I obviously don’t know the 16-year-old employee and honestly, I really wished she wasn’t fired. Really. I know that our initial mindset is usually inclined towards thinking that justice = firing but I disagree in situations like this. Jobs are scarce. 16-year-olds that are working seem scarce.

Rather,  I just wanted Papa John’s to invest time and money on cultural awareness and sensitivity – not just for the employee but for all the employees including the manager who blamed this incident on the influence of “modern music” or “hip-hop music.”  Double huh.

And wished that other companies would see this as a great opportunity to check their company’s cultural sensitivity.

Wonder if cultural sensitivity should happen even at churches. Another post later on this.

6. This is a big deal despite what folks sometimes think. Why is this important? I know what you ‘re thinking. Someone always thinks this way:

  • This isn’t a big deal.
  • There are more important things in the world.
  • Grow thicker skin.
  • I’m sure they were just trying to be funny.
  • They meant good.
  • It’s a pizza receipt.

Yes, I’ve heard them wall – w/ the exception of “it’s a pizza joint.”

But  it is a big deal. Small things matter. They add up. They impact people. You should know that slitting your eyes or calling someone ‘chinky eyes’ has been used and said historically in the past and present as a way to mock, offend, and degrade Asians locally and globally. And if we don’t make a big deal of this and other instances, it will continue to not only occur but be perceived by some as acceptable.

But it’s not acceptable. Not in my face. Not to my children. Not to this Minhee Cho. And not even on my fast food receipt.

But want to know what’s awkwardly funny?

I – temporarily – made a decision to boycott Papa John’s Pizza when I saw this receipt on Saturday morning – until at least some formal apology and plan for cultural sensitivity was shared. Yesterday,  I went to church and after our morning services, we had a meeting at our church basement. While we occasionally serve pizza, we’ve NEVER served Papa John’s but behold…12 boxes of Papa John’s Pizza.

Couldn’t help but to laugh – awkwardly.

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27 Responses

  1. Firing one employee = window dressing. You’re right. Papa Johns (and many other corporations/businesses) need to institute cultural credibility training.

  2. The weird thing is this appears to be a copycat. Just a couple of weeks ago, there was a story of two Asian guys finding that their food server had put “Ching and Chong” on the receipt. Are we looking at a rash of fast food racism?

  3. Dennis says:

    Seriously, why was she eating Papa John’s Pizza in New York City. What!?!

  4. Tony Lin says:

    Justice = every “chinky eye” person gets two large Papa John’s Pizza of their choice… one for each eye.

  5. nicky vender says:

    totally agree. but it’s not just cultural sensitivity that is needed, we need human sensitivity all around. my daughter has special needs and i can’t tell you how much the R word hurts. it’s not even appropriate to use as a medical term any longer, but people continue to use it as a term for stupid, ugly, a joke, etc. words matter.

  6. Thanks for “going there” Eugene. I would say you are being a bit too diplomatic however. People who hide behind this kind of lamely-claimed “humor” are holding up a thin veil behind which there is hostility, anger, even hatred. To the recipient, they want to devalue, degrade or worse. Unfortunately the extent to which our thought leaders/ civil society go is to implement ever more shallow exercises in political correctness. And we have a media that cavalierly deals in caricature and sound bite. Given that, why should we be surprised that a pizza guy gets passive aggressive? Awesome of you to “go there” with clarity, depth and grace.

  7. Stacy Chan says:

    I completely agree with you. And, for the last paragraph- God is funny, isn’t He. :)

  8. Rick says:

    Now I have a second reason to boycott, beside the really bad pizza issue.

  9. Kathryn Sciba says:

    The single best class I ever had in school was called Counseling Class. We went twice a week during elementary school. We learned about self-esteem and diversity. I loved it and I’m sure it would pay dividends for our students for years to come if all schools had a similar program. Peace!

  10. Jay says:

    At the risk of offending people, there are more important things to be addressed in the world.

  11. paul says:

    if there is a bright side, this event is being reported and is getting media attention. many direct slurs happen each day and go unreported. young people like cho should be commended for what she has done as these are the steps that lead to change in mainstream attitude.

  12. […] the Church? Yes, it’s true: These portrayals will likely continue to happen. Incidents like Lady Chinky Eyes – sadly – will continue to take place but imagine the pain of these incidents happening […]

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One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

my tweets

  • The best part of wanting to change the world...is being humbled, learning you're not the savior of the world & being changed in the process. || 3 hours ago
  • Cheer up Toronto & Canada. Great season. Also, you have free health care, toonies and your political candidates are not as crazy as America. || 16 hours ago
  • Make friendships more than transactions. There's a huge difference between "I appreciate you" and "I appreciate what you can do for me." || 1 day ago
  • There's much to ponder in this article. Much to repent. Much to grieve. "Seattle's vanishing black community." - seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-mag… || 1 day ago
  • People often ask, "How do stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much.… instagram.com/p/BF2giXwyWTY/ || 2 days ago
  • Don't obsess about your platform.Just do your thing with passion, humility, integrity. We do what we do for God's glory, not human applause. || 3 days ago

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