Two weeks before Christmas, Lil Pump released a “sneak peak” of his new single, “Butterfly Doors,” in which he sang, “They call me Yao Ming because my eyes are real low,” and the derogatory phrase “ching chong” in the chorus. It is not the words said, but the implications of the Gucci Gang singer’s words, has across the East Asian Community in terms of the normalization of the Popular Rappers words and the implications it has for young teens and young adults in a world, where the U.S teaches these words as part of History, instead of an alarmingly reality of many Chinese/ East Asian Communities.
Chinese people first immigrated to the United States during the mining industry boom of the late twentieth century, when American citizens valued easy access to cheap labor. Racial slurs and stereotypes weren’t uncommon during the time and were popularized in media through movies and newspapers that portrayed the Chinese as uneducated and ‘wild,’ using words as ‘ching chong’ and ‘Yellow Face’ to be comedic.
Decades after this, Lil Pump has catapulted us back into a period of racial injustice and discrimination.
The rapper did what anyone would do after receiving backlash from his song “Butterfly Doors,” which included derogatory terms towards Chinese/East Asians. But the damage is done, and now the whole world knows he used words which historically have been used to mock those who are East Asian/Chinese and the Chinese language and culture. It’s no surprise, in a world becoming increasingly interwoven and culturally aware, that the consequences are very real, but what makes the situation all the more astonishing is what happened after.
Lil Pump apologized publicly. He removed the words from his track. He removed the ‘Sneak Peak’ from his Instagram Page. Lil Pump did take steps to step back from his actions and reflect on the language he used in his song as inappropriate, racist, and simply wrong. He said,
“I came to tell you for my part that I’m sorry and I apologize for posting that,” he said in the later video. “It was not my intention to hurt nobody or do none of that. Dead a**. Because I’ve got Asian homies. I f*** with everybody, got nothing against nobody. It’s all love.”
His apology is faulty as it does little to show that he is genuinely remorseful and instead attempts to excuse his actions by mentioning his Asian friends. Being friends with someone of a different ethnicity or race, is not be excused for any derogatory terms or slurs you use against that person’s culture.
Yet the real issue isn’t about Lil Pump. Instead of focusing on the rapper, the perpetrator, the media should step back from Lil Pump and take a real look at who is affected by those slurs and words because in the history of the U.S we largely sidestep the Asian narrative.
Instead of talking about the person who said these slurs, let’s think about the greater community and lend a hand to those who still are belittled and attacked for their identity.
By practicing respect and solidarity, we practice allyship, which we all need a little more of right now.