Boycott ABC-Disney Unless a Real Apology is Issued

Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 36, October 14-20, 2007

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) strongly takes the position that ABC’s one-paragraph “apology” for the racial spat against Filipinos in the Sept. 30 episode of Desperate Housewives was insufficient, inappropriate, and insincere. In fact, in a dialogue in New York City Oct. 5, the company’s senior vice president for diversity and talents, Robert Mendez, added insult to injury by telling NAFCON leaders and other representatives that Filipinos should be grateful the incident became a venue for making people more aware about “how great Filipino medical practitioners” are.

Unless the ABC management immediately fulfills satisfactorily the six-point demand that NAFCON – in the spirit of justice – put forward in the Oct. 5 negotiation, the alliance and its affiliated organizations all over the U.S. will call for more street protests in other cities and lead an international boycott campaign against all ABC-Disney shows and products, including its Desperate Housewives program. We will support all other peaceful and contructive forms of action in seeking redress, including media and legislative intervention, within the bounds of the law.

We reiterate that the racial slur episode maligned not only the integrity and competence of Filipino medical practitioners and health care providers in the United States, the Philippines, and all over the world but also constitutes immigrant bashing that warrants condemnation not only by the victims but all defenders of freedom as well. It is also a disgrace to millions of patients, young and old, who have experienced the compassionate service of Filipino medical practitioners and health care providers for several decades – as well as to reputable institutions that have attested to their skills and proficiency.

More than these, the episode speaks of deep-seated biases and prejudices against the Filipino people which have historical roots. We are concerned that the incident gives encouragement to the racial profiling of Filipinos and other nationals as well as contributes to the anti-immigrant hysteria brought about by the failure of the Federal government to enact a genuine and comprehensive immigration reform to benefit the more than 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Fr. Benjamin E. Alforque, MSC of Riverside, California and President of NAFCON said that “such an anti-Filipino racial slur is both obscurantist and morally decadent.”

“It is obscurantist,” he said, “because it lies about the reality of outstanding professionalism, great loyal service, and tender loving care that Filipino health practitioners and health care providers have been noted for. Such a slur, for whatever purpose it was made, constitutes a moral decadence that harks back to the cruel racist attitudes and worldviews of less-civilized peoples of long ago. These morally-decadent racist tendencies are now being corrected by the richness of multi-culturalism, an appreciation of which marks a cultured, educated, and morally upright person in our time! It does not augur well for ABC to be made an instrument of obscurantism and lies, of miseducation, cultural bankruptcy and moral racist decadence.”

It is for these reasons that ABC’s three-sentence apology, which was merely emailed by a minor official of the ABC to a Filipino reporter, is unacceptable for being insufficient, inappropriate, and insincere. It is not commensurate to the indignities and malicious innuendos of the racial spat, broadcast as it was and watched by millions of viewers all over the world. The more than 100,000 people who have protested by email and the increasing number of Filipino groups, as well as other nationals – enraged by the incident and infuriated by the way ABC took light of the spat – who have called for a boycott of ABC-Disney, and for the filing of class suits attest to how severe the injury had been inflicted on the Filipino communities.

We have reacted to this unfortunate incident not only with principled statements and e-petitions but also with street advocacy to manifest the global indignation that the issue has provoked. We have taken this with sensitivity and seriousness so that the issue can be resolved with justice and redemption. We also hope to bring about a more objective, fair, and responsible media that respects the color, values, rights, and cultures of a diverse, multi-ethnic society. Racial and irresponsible remarks should never be equated with humor, or slanders with artistic freedom.

We ask for justice, and we ask ABC to listen and listen intently.

We ask the ABC management to undertake more concrete steps that would constitute a decent, proper, and satisfactory remedy to the issue. In particular, we demand the ABC network:

1) To broadcast a sincere, proper, and satisfactory apology before the show’s next three episodes; such apology is to be addressed to the Filipino people and signed by its top management;

2) Together with its parent company, Disney, to conduct a thorough investigation of the show’s writers, editors, and producers and take appropriate action;

3) To show proof of its decision to cut the scene from the episode permanently and never to air it again, including in all productions of DVDs and boxed sets of the series;

4) To hold cultural-sensitivity programs for all management and employees;

5) To commit concrete support for groups advocating positive images and constructive coverages in the media especially of the often nameless and marginalized communities; and,

6) To acknowledge publicly the decades-long contribution of Filipino medical practitioners and health care providers to the U.S. medical community.(

Oct. 9, 2007
New York City

*The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) is a national multi-issue alliance of Filipino organizations and individuals in the United States serving to protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos by fighting for social, economic, and racial justice and equality. It was launched in San Jose, California in 2003. NAFCON’s members and affiliated groups encompass over 23 cities in the United States.

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