Just wanted to call your attention to this new restaurant in Philadelphia that's been getting a lot of buzz: Roundeye Noodle Bar. Whaaaat.
It's a "hip noodle spot" created by two self-described "white boys from the suburbs," and the name is indeed a racialized play-on-words referring to themselves. But I have to ask, if we're going there, isn't "roundeye" just a say-it-without-saying-it reference to "slanteye"?
The community organizers at Asian Americans United make a good point: Flap over 'Roundeye Noodle Bar.'
"But if these self-named 'white boys' are the 'roundeye' noodle makers what does that make the Asian noodle places they're modeling their place after? As a city notoriously home to Chink's Steaks, it's really a shame that a well-regarded spot like Matysons [sic] would lower their reputation to a legacy of petty, derogatory names in an effort to be 'hip.'"If this pop-up restaurant eventually finds a permanent home, I really hope they change the name. Or maybe they can just set up shop next to Chink's Steaks.
She continued: "I don't think the owners of 'Roundeye' had specific intent, but that's exactly the problem with racial stereotypes - they're so deeply ingrained people don't even question it.
I also heard from AAU executive director Ellen Somekowa, who wrote: "If you grow up Asian in America, there is no more common put down than ridicule of the shape of our eyes. There is no way to hear the name, 'Roundeye,' without at the same time hearing what it is being contrasted to. .. A very hurtful racist slur -- SLANTEYES."
UPDATE: The owners are reportedly changing the name of the restaurant, in response to the controversy: Restaurant owners change Roundeye Noodle Bar name.