A cartoon depicting New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang as a tourist walking around Times Square was denounced on Twitter for being racist.
The AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) Victory Alliance—formerly AAPI Progressive Action—admonished the cartoon posted and published by the New York Daily News.
"This is disgusting and wrong," wrote the organization, adding:
"Every single day Asian Americans have to fight the notion that we are foreigners. We are here and we're not going anywhere. That's why AAPI representation like [Andrew Yang] is so important. Do better [NY Daily News]."
This is disgusting and wrong. Every single day Asian Americans have to fight the notion that we are foreigners. We… https://t.co/y9SHVGejIb— AAPI Victory Alliance (@AAPI Victory Alliance) 1621892970.0
In the cartoon drawn by Daily News cartoonist Bill Bramhall, a man illustrated in a T-shirt identifying him as "Andrew Yang", is emerging from a subway station. He walks past a souvenir shop whose White owners express optimism at seeing the return of "tourists" to the city.
The cartoon suggesting Asian people in Times Square are tourists caught the attention of Yang's wife, Evelyn Yang.
She said she couldn't believe seeing the "racist disfiguration" of her husband on social media.
"I can't believe my eyes. To publish this racist disfiguration of [Andrew Yang] as a tourist, in NYC where I was born, where Andrew has lived for 25 years, where our boys were born, where 16% of us are Asian and anti-Asian hate is up 900%."
She finished with the hashtag #StopAsianHate.
To demonstrate not much has changed regarding the perpetuation of AAPI stereotypes and discrimination, Yang juxtaposed the image with another Asian caricature.
@EvelynYang @EvelynYang I'm so sorry to you, your family and all AAPI. This is low brow racist garbage. Its heart b… https://t.co/BzKn7X9JlL— Calvin V. 🗿🧢🍎🦉 (@Calvin V. 🗿🧢🍎🦉) 1621906383.0
Yang—who ran as a Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential election—was ridiculed by New Yorkers for declaring Times Square was his "favorite" subway station during an interview with Showtime interview host and comedian, Ziwe Fumudoh.
As a resident of Hell's Kitchen—which is a West-Manhattan neighborhood adjacent to Times Square—Yang defended his statement at the time with:
"It's my stop, so Times Square. It's big, it's cavernous, there are entertainers there. Sure, what's not to like?"
An editorial published in the Daily News described the statement from the city's gubernatorial candidate as one that was "out-of-touch" relative to everyday New Yorkers.
The article said:
"Andrew Yang may be a quick study, but all the cramming he's done since jumping into the mayor's race can't make up for years of inattention to New York politics and policies, best evidenced by the fact that he has never bothered to vote in a local election."
But even critics of Yang objected to the cartoon.
@BillBramhall not supporting andrew yang for mayor, but this is bad. as an asian-american, these things are very hu… https://t.co/KwTpq34zCF— Aerin Chen (@Aerin Chen) 1621892073.0
@BillBramhall This is bad. Criticize his policy all day every day, but portraying him as an outsider when he's live… https://t.co/j3RF7BuW7Z— AfricanAmericansForYang🧢 (@AfricanAmericansForYang🧢) 1621890879.0
Others remained frustrated over the appearance of targeting a candidate based on their race.
@aapialliance @AndrewYang @NYDailyNews It's been going on for months in the media.Yang as the foreigner.Yang's pers… https://t.co/DF0v4obNHR— NYC State of Mind (@NYC State of Mind) 1621896629.0
@aapialliance @ZachandMattShow @AndrewYang @NYDailyNews Billions of years of evolution... for more of the same. Xen… https://t.co/CGTJKp1EZB— Sanchez (@Sanchez) 1621899570.0
@EvelynYang Even our top asian figures can't escape racism and discrimination in America. The US is truly broken.— SeekLiberty (@SeekLiberty) 1621912571.0
@EvelynYang Doesn't even look like Andrew. Just looks like a super cliché (and racist) depiction of an Asian person… https://t.co/0PrzZvIo8Q— TotesMagotes 🧢🗽 (@TotesMagotes 🧢🗽) 1621894457.0
@EvelynYang People need to decide whether or not to vote for Andrew Yang based on his merits or lack thereof as a c… https://t.co/NcnSddPyja— Adam Villani (@Adam Villani) 1621944902.0
@EvelynYang This is terrible! How is this even remotely acceptable in 2021??— Almost (@Almost) 1621949593.0
@aapialliance @AndrewYang @NYDailyNews So basically ~ “You can fight in our wars but you’re still a tourist 😊 “ ... that’s real nice— Ahmad (@Ahmad) 1621895643.0
@EvelynYang Heartbreaking. This kind of vile and disgusting racism towards Asian-Americans has to stop. @EvelynYang… https://t.co/va1PzQxW6O— Arie Burshtein 🧢 (@Arie Burshtein 🧢) 1621895508.0
Yang was reported as the frontrunner in the mayoral election. He was ranked as voters' first choice with 21% support, according to results from a Schoen Cooperman Research poll.
Posting of the controversial cartoon coincided as the month celebrating AAPI heritage, May, draws to a close in the United States.
Anti-Asian hate crimes have spiked in the past year from roughly 100 annually to nearly 3,800 reported cases, according to the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate.
Many Democrats have attributed that spike to former President Donald Trump's perpetual use of phrases like "China virus" and "Kung Flu" in discussions relating to the pandemic.
The idea of anyone who isn't White or Black as a foreigner is a longstanding White nationalist perspective which impacts the daily lives of United States citizens of Asian, Middle Eastern, South and Central American and even Indigenous ancestry. This racist othering is often displayed as telling non-White people born in the United States to "go back" where they came from.
Ken Tanaka captured that constant questioning—which is a racist microaggression—in his video, seen here:
Whether that "othering" was the intent of the cartoon or not, it's something people felt the NY Daily News should have been aware of and avoided.