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

As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

my tweets

  • The Gospel, not social justice, is our identity as believers but the Gospel compels us to love God/love people incl. work 4 the common good. || 17 hours ago
  • Folks often ask me, "What is social justice?" "Social justice" are fancier words for "Give a Damn". || 17 hours ago
  • RT @EugeneCho: Just met Edna, a sister-in-Christ. She's 90 years old. She met Jesus when she was 85. You're never too young or too old to f… || 18 hours ago
  • Thank you @fullerfyi @KPowellFYI for this important resource about listening, engaging, and discipling young people: churchesgrowingyoung.com || 18 hours ago
  • Just met Edna, a sister-in-Christ. She's 90 years old. She met Jesus when she was 85. You're never too young or too old to follow Christ. || 1 day ago
  • RT @jennysimmons: Hard to convey the profound impact @EugeneCho has had on me. His endorsement of #MadeWellBook means a great deal. https:/… || 1 day ago

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