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

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#DontCallUsBeautyAndTheBeast
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#19YearsAndGoingStrong Grateful for the life and leadership of Dr. John M. Perkins. There are alot of sprinters in our culture but make sure to also look for those who are persevering in the marathon of justice and reconciliation. When I think of him and others I consider mentors in my life, they're not necessarily flashy or fancy. Rather, I'm reminded that a life faithfully and honestly lived through life's trials and messiness is one's greatest sermon. The best thing a father can do for their kids...is to care well for their mother. It took me awhile to learn this and I'm still learning this. As a leader, I refuse to sacrifice my marriage and kids for the sake of ministry. How can I? Loving my family IS ministry and leadership.

I acknowledge that I'm so privileged with platform, resources, and opportunities - including the opportunity to travel and take vacations like this trip last month. Its not lost on me. I'm so grateful. I want to steward that privilege well - not just for personal or family enjoyment - but also for the sake of others and the building of the Kingdom of God. 
As I pour into others, I'm also learning how important it is to care for oneself; To care for your spouse; To care for your family; To be about the marathon. Preservation not for the sake of self-preservation but for the sake of discipleship and faithfulness.

I used to feel guilty about Sabbath-ing, vacations for my family, being in the outdoors, fishing, and self-care but it's too important  As a lifelong recovering workaholic, I don't want to burn out and I don't want this for others. Flying in and out of Seattle never gets old. One of the most mesmerizing topographies in the country. #windowseat Thank you, Chicago. Put in 10,000 steps. Still one of the best cities to walk. Want to change the world? 
Start with your own heart. Examine yourself. Grow in your faith. Begin in your homes. Love your family. Pour into young people. Engage your friends. Meet your neighbors. Seek the welfare of your city. Empathize and advocate for the hurting and marginalized. And yes, it's very possible that God may stir your heart for the nations; For people, causes, and issues in other countries but till then, start in the here and now. Be faithful. Be present.  With the people, spaces, and places right in front of you. Selah.

my tweets

  • Dear Kabul, We mourn the tragedy & violence. We confess that our mourning is often limited to the West. Forgive us. We long for peace w you. || 20 hours ago
  • We often say every person is created in the image of God & rightly so. But this must include those who suffer in "other" cities like Kabul. || 21 hours ago
  • C'mon! Angels in the Outfield. 19.5 years together and we still got it. And how about that… instagram.com/p/BIOFh7ShpvH/ || 22 hours ago
  • We're all feeling weary. So, take the time to retreat and rest. But resist the temptation to stop caring. May our hearts not become callous. || 1 day ago
  • Dear Munich/Germany: We are so sorry. We mourn the violence & tragedy in your city/nation. We pray for safety & peace. Lord, in your mercy. || 1 day ago
  • RT @EugeneCho: Dear Christians: Read the Scriptures. Be encouraged by the words of Jesus. Press on. Faith. Hope. Love. - https://t.co/YCGLH… || 2 days ago

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