In the first week of February, more scandalous photos of Disney teen idol Miley Cyrus popped up on the Internet.
We didn’t pay that much attention to Cyrus when she was stuck in a similar predicament last year. She had undressed for a magazine photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz, garnering criticism that she was too young and that the pictures were inappropriate. We chucked it up to youthful rebellion. Or maybe it’s just what happens when you are imaginably rich. Maybe it’s the Disney Channel curse.
We started paying attention when photos surfaced of Cyrus and her friends posing by pulling their eyes to make then look slanted.
We seriously started paying attention when she issued the worst apology in the world. Cyrus denied that the gestures were meant to be racially offensive, that they were just making “goofy faces.”
That’s not good enough.
To be frank, we’d rather have no apology than a lazy, patronizing apology. At that time, it did not sound as if she was sorry that she offended a whole race. She was just sorry that the race was sensitive enough to be offended when, clearly, she was just “goofing.”
The lesson to be learned from this is twofold.
First, when mistakes are made — and of course, we are all human, so it happens — at the very least, own up to it. What is the point of apologizing if you’re just making excuses for why you are not at fault? What is the point if you don’t truly mean it, or if you don’t even know what you’re apologizing for?
For once, we would like to see a celebrity stand up and say, “I am sorry. Thank you for alerting me to my mistake,” without all the extra excuses. Do you understand that, Michael Richards? Do you understand that, Jose Calderon?
Secondly, the Organization for Chinese Americans did the right thing. It spoke up, and went on record stating that it expected and demanded an apology. This is precisely what we should all do when faced with racism. It’s hard and can be uncomfortable, but something should be said to an offender. On one hand, the offender may not even know he or she has offended, so the whole episode can be a learning experience for all parties involved.
On the other hand, sometimes offenders mean it, and there is nothing we can do to change a stubborn opinion. However, in all cases of racism, there is at least one victim. We need to stand up for the victims, especially because all of us have experienced hatred in our lives. (end)