Last night on 'The Colbert Report' host Stephen Colbert was forced to shut down his fake charity entitled 'Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation of Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever' after activist Suey Park started #CancelColbert as a Trending Topic on Twitter. As the backlash to the (fake) foundation gained steam on social media, Colbert saw he had no choice but to shutter the nonexistent charity and send all nonexistent funds raised to the real charity of 'The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.'
Confused about what's going on? Don't worry, I'm gonna break this down into bite-sized chunks for all of us who don't follow every news story about social media armchair activism.
On Wednesday March 26th, Colbert did a segment about how Washington Redskin owner Dan Snyder was trying to deflect how horrifically racist the team name and mascot of is by setting up a foundation ironically entitled 'The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.' The foundation mission statement is to help American Indians by “[…]utilizing the national platform of professional sports organizations and their partners to address the challenges in the daily lives of Native Americans based on what Tribal leaders tell us they need the most.”
Credit: The Colbert Report
Colbert responded by setting up his own (fake) foundation saying, “My beloved character Ching-Chong Ding-Dong … the point is, offensive or not (not) Ching-Chong is part of the unique heritage of the Colbert Nation that cannot change. But I”m willing to show the Asian community that I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”
The latter was sent out as a tweet the next day – which has now been deleted – that was picked up by Asian activist Suey Park as being racist.
I used to respect and enjoy your work, @ColbertReport. Fuck you.
– Angry Asian Woman (@suey_park) March 27, 2014
Whether or not she realized it was satirical and if that would have mattered to her is unknown. Within hours, her #CancelColbert hashtag has picked up steam. You can see a timeline of the backlash and the inevitable backlash to the backlash over here.
Throughout this entire controversy though, somehow Dan Snyder and his actual real foundation have managed to dodge even the slightest bit of blowback. With all the focus on Colbert and what is either a brilliant satirical dig at one of the most obvious cases of cultural racism in America today or a tone-deaf attempt to fight racism with racism, the real message has been lost. The Washington Redskins need to stop throwing money at the problem and just change the name of their team, history and tradition be damned. By all means, support American Indian and First Nation people, but don't do it as a way to assuage guilt over using a racist slur as a sports moniker.