Remember Alexandra Wallace, the UCLA student who sparked controversy after filming herself mocking the dialects of Asian students she complained made too much noise in the library? Well, she's back--in spirit, that is. Although Wallace withdrew from school after the "Asians in the Library" controversy, four UCLA students who run a food delivery service called UCLA Munchies have joined up with Chinese eatery the Palace Restaurant in Brentwood, Calif., to form Ching Chong Ling Long Gourmet Takeout.
The name is a nod to the disgraced Miss Wallace, who famously exclaimed, "Ooh, ching ching ling long ting tong, ooh!" while filming herself mimicking her Asian peers. Evidently, the students behind UCLA Munchies feel humor is a good strategy to counteract racism and convinced Palace owner Rachel Lee that the name of their new partnership made a fine joke. The Ching Chong Ling Long website notes:
"We believe that the best way to combat intolerance is through a positive cultural experience mixed in with a healthy serving of humor and hope that after you try us, you too will feel that way."
Lee, though, did initially have concerns about the name, and she's not the only one. While Jen Wang of the blog Disgrasian.com said that she enjoyed the endless series of satirical videos inspired by the Alexandra Wallace controversy, she's not so sure Ching Chong Ling Long is an appropriate name for a company. "What happens down the road when the video and Alexandra Wallace are ching chong ling long-forgotten?" she asked. "Seems like that 'healthy serving of humor' may only wind up leaving a bad taste in your mouth."
Wang has a valid point, but it's based on the assumption that this food service will have staying power. Sure, if Ching Chong Ling Long has a successful run for several years, its patrons may forget the name's origins. If this happens, this Asian-run business will be known by a stereotypical name, and the reason why will be ignored. Even if the Alexandra Wallace controversy is forgotten, there's a good chance that many people will recognize that the company's name pokes fun of a stereotype. Ultimately, the concern about Ching Chong's name conjures up debates about the N-word. Skeptics wonder if language used to disparage minority groups can ever be reclaimed. The same question applies to this case.