By Geri “J-Lan” Orante, Staff Writer
May marks the celebration of both Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. It began first as only a 10-day long commemoration in 1977, but in 1992, APAHM was signed into law to become a month-long celebration.
Comedienne Margaret Cho, who is Korean, may not be the typical Asian-American leader that one would think to celebrate, but tell that to the citizens of San Francisco, Calif. On April 30, 2008, San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom declared it “Margaret Cho Day” — most likely because that she is a Bay area native who became a very successful comedienne. Many of her comedic routines focus on race and sexuality as social and political problems. On her “I’m the One That I Want” tour, she jokes about how difficult it is being the only Asian surrounded by white people.
Cho is a well-known advocate for LGBT rights, winning a Golden Gate award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for making “a significant difference in promoting equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.” She also received the Justice in Action award from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education fund for her contributions in advancing justice and equality.
She criticized the media on how they affect the way women look at their own body images. In 1994, Cho had a show aired on ABC titled “All American Girl.” In her stand-up, she talks about how she starved herself because network executives said her face was too round, and the end result was kidney failure. She jokes in her routine that the executives also told her she was both “too Asian” and “not Asian enough” during the show’s production. They even hired a coach to teach her how to “be more Asian.”
Cho rose above all of this, though, and was able to talk about it through her comedy on “I’m the One That I Want.” Now, she strives to improve the way women think about body image. Recently, on her weblog, she criticized John Mayer, not just for saying such a hateful word during his interview with “Playboy,” but for claiming to have a “David Duke c**k.” For those who do not know, David Duke is part of the Ku Klux Klan. Cho criticizes Mayer for basically saying that he would never sleep with a woman of color. She states “it’s a slap in the face to all beautiful women of color … it’s hard enough to be a woman of color in this world and feel beautiful. It’s hard enough to live in this skin and feel good without having rock stars saying that you are not worthy.” She also criticizes the media for accepting his apology on his act of racism, and for not even talking about his proclamation.
Margaret Cho has done a lot for the Asian community in speaking out against stereotyping. Not only has she focused on Asians, but for the LGBT community and women as well; representing much of America’s minority. What a wonderful woman to celebrate during Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.