lisa chan, the actress in pete hoekstra's racist campaign ad

All right. Ever since Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra's racist bullshit campaign ad and its awful accompanying website assaulted the masses, one of the nagging questions has been about the Asian actress, aka "yellowgirl," who participated in shooting this godawful commercial. Who the heck is she?

The actress in question is named Lisa Chan. She's 21, from the Bay Area, graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in sociology, founded a nonprofit organization for at-risk youth, and recently competed as the reigning Miss Napa Valley in the 2012 Miss California USA pageant. (Yeah, I knowwwww.)

She's also a part-time model/actress who just added an extremely unfortunate credit to her resume.

The details about her identity are out there, slowly trickling in. And I imagine Ms. Chan is about to receive a lot of unwanted attention. I actually agonized over whether or not to post this information. I'm not trying to demonize her -- people have already done plenty of that, and I think that takes our attention away from the real culprit, Pete Hoekstra and his blatantly racist fear-mongering. And I hope you, good readers, will keep cool heads about this.

I'm not saying Lisa Chan is blameless. I go back and forth between wanting to hang her out to dry for making such an idiotic, destructive choice, and feeling sorry that she was just doing a job, manipulated by a politician's ugly tactics.

The truth is, I fall somewhere in the middle, and in the end I'd just like to know how a seemingly intelligent, educated person with a history of community involvement could willingly take part in something so fantastically awful and so harmful in ways that we can't even anticipate.

I want to hear her side of the story.

I've reached out to Lisa through a mutual friend. From what I understand, she feels terrible (and fearful of the fallout) over her participation in this ad. She's young, and I'm guessing she wasn't fully aware of how her image would be used. That's not an excuse or justification -- she always had a choice -- but it does indicate there is indeed more to it.

This is a heads up. From what I understand, she's now proactively trying to address and undo her role in the racist messaging of Hoekstra's campaign, and has partnered with a community organization to release a statement with her version of the story. More to come soon. Stay tuned. (Thanks to Duane, Julia.)

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