6.24.2013

Racist mockery greets riders at AIDS/LifeCycle



What the hell is this? What kind of racial mockery is going on here? Would you believe that this racist spectacle is somehow supposed to be in support of AIDS awareness?

Each year, thousands of cyclists take part in AIDS/LifeCycle, an annual 7-day charity bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise funds and promote awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS. I'm told that it's an amazing experience, and quite the love-fest. So what the hell is this crappy sight doing in the event?

Along the ride down the California coast, there are a number of official rest and food stops on the route for each day. To refuel and keep the riders' spirits up, the AIDS/LifeCycle crew sometimes go all out with a theme for each stop. This particularly theme, as you can see, is someone's bad idea for an Oriental theme.

Richard, who participated in the ride and took this photo, explains:

This year, on Day 5 of 7, it happened again. Day 5 is the traditional "dress in red day." Many people take it further by making it "red dress day" by wearing red dresses. Red is the color of AIDS awareness and with thousands of red cyclists we create a huge display of solidarity down the coast of CA. The attached picture is of the crew for the "letter G" gear truck. They made a play on their being the letter "g" truck by calling themselves the "Geisha House" that day. They completed their decor with Chinese lanterns and promises of happy endings... It's hypocritical for ALC to be so focused on spreading understanding about disease, sexual orientation, and gender but COMPLETELY drop the ball on issues of race and culture.
This apparently isn't the first time he's seen this kind of crap at AIDS/LifeCycle:
Last year, on Day 4 of 7, I pulled into one of the official rest stops for the ride, and was surprised to be greeted. My surprise turned to disgust as I realized that I was being welcomed by a Caucasian woman dressed in a kimono, with chopsticks in her hair, and bowed to me while saying, "konichi wa." She wore heavy eye make-up in a yellow-face manner. I looked around and discovered that the theme of this rest stop was "Chinese New Year" as the sign stated. All of the ALC workers of this rest stop were dressed in various asian inspired attire that included but weren't limited to shaved heads with ponytail braids, fu manchus, and black eyeliner to reshape their eyes. They were all pretty jazzed up and dancing to Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting" which was blasting on the speaker system.
Seriously? People think this ching chong geisha shit is perfectly fine? Richard says he's brought this issue to the attention of AIDS/LifeCycle organizers, but never heard back from them.

AIDS/LifeCycle is produced by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. Perhaps they should be made aware that this kind of blatant racist imagery is not okay at an event that's supposed to be about community and understanding. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to direct them to the contact info posted here.

(Thanks, Richard.)