Northwest Asian Weekly
On Oct. 1, the new name of a rail line in Doraville, Ga., is currently under fire for being racially insensitive. Formerly called the Doraville to Airport Line, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) decided to give its lines color designations instead. The Doraville Line is now called the Yellow Line.
The Yellow Line serves an area that is heavily populated by Asian residents and businesses.
Historically, the color yellow has been used to describe the Asian race in a negative way. The Yellow Peril (also called the Yellow Terror) is associated with the skin color of East Asians and the belief that mass immigration of Asians threaten American sensibilities, wages, and standards of living.
The term originated with the 19th century immigration of Chinese laborers and later encompassed Japanese immigration in the 20th century as well.
In October, John Yasutake, Manager of Equal Opportunity and Conflict Resolution in MARTA’s Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office, spoke out to MARTA about the racially insensitive name.
Yasutake wrote a letter to MARTA’s General Manager and CEO Beverly Scott stating his concerns. Scott responded with, “[Mr. Yasutake], although we recently changed the names of our rail lines to colors … it was done to bring MARTA into alignment with the rest of the transit industry that uses color coding to refer to their various rail lines.”
She continued by saying, “While it was certainly not our intent to be contemptuous in changing the name of the Doraville Line to the Yellow Line, we thoroughly understand the historical perspective that you shared with us on this matter. As a result, this gives us added impetus to increase both our internal and external cultural diversity efforts to maximize the Asian American community’s inclusion in sensitivity training.”
However, Georgia Asian Times reported on Nov. 16 that the Asian community in metro Atlanta was “neither consulted nor contacted on the new color coding prior to the impending change.”
On Nov 13, according to the Times, Helen Kim, director of advocacy and education of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS), organized a meeting with MARTA’s team of Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity seeking clarification on name designation. MARTA’s team was headed by Reginald Diamond.
In the meeting, MARTA representatives did not present any resolution to the controversy. MARTA officials have implied that their decisions are final and that they are not planning to waive their decision on the Yellow designation.
Subsequently, Kim suggested that MARTA consider changing the yellow name to gold instead, a precedent set by the Los Angeles Mass Rapid Transit system.
MARTA representatives confirmed in the meeting that they would propose to higher management on the gold renaming request, according to the Times. ♦