Ching Chong: A Brief Historical Note
The Asian American Journalists Association, and individual Asian-Americans Beau Sia and Michelle Malkin are but a few of the many, many individuals and organizations that have become exercised over Rosie O'Donnell's stereotypical use of the phrase "ching-chong" to imitate individuals of the Asian race. This negative reaction to Rosie is quite appropriate, and hardly unexpected, for all of the obvious reasons.
Likewise, the big uproar over a scheduled performance by a band that had called itself "Ching Chong Song" was certainly what one would and should expect.
The primary purpose of this post is to present a brief historical note on the phrase "ching-chong," which has long been a racist schoolyard taunt directed at Asian-Americans. The fact that I happen to join in the censure of Rosie O'Donnell is only incidental.
In the New York Times of 24 March 1931, on page 3, the following item appeared:
"Teachers to Satirize Schools.
A satire on the city's public school system, entitled 'Ching Chong and the School Commissioners,' an 'educational burlesque operetta,' will be presented by the Teachers Union next Sunday Night in the auditorium of the Washington Irving High School, Irving Place and Sixteenth Street, it was announced yesterday by the Union."
The announcement was rerun substantially verbatim the next day, 25 March 1931, on page 48, under "Educational Notes."
And in the New York Times of 29 March 1931, on page 31, the following version of the announcement appeared:
"Teachers to Give Operetta.
'Ching Chong and the School Commissioners,' an original burlesque operetta in three acts, will be presented by the Teachers Union of this city at 8:30 o'clock tonight in the Washington Irving High School. The occasion will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the union, members of which comprise the cast of the production."
I really do not know anything about the score or substance or plot of the operetta, but I would certainly wager that it involved some sort of stereotype of Chinese-Americans that even Rosie would not air on her show.