On the 11th of February in Atlanta the CEO of MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) announced they were changing the name of their 'yellow line' to the 'gold line'. Sounds like some dull uninspired marketing ploy by the latest soulless intern doesn't it? If only that was the depth of bullshit involved. The actual reason for the pointless act is because the line in question runs into Doraville, a very large Asian-American community.
It would seem some community representatives have decided that the colour yellow is offensive to the Asian community. At this point I'm tempted to ponder if it's the colour that offends them or the word of the colour being written down. It turns out it's mostly the phrase. Helen Kim, director of advocacy and education at the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (the number of words in her title alone speaks volumes) explains why the word yellow is so unspeakable.
"Yellow" has historically been used as a derogatory term for Asians, such as "the yellow peril" or "the yellow hordes." Our thought is, why don't you change it to gold? It's really more of a 'why not?' question. Why not change it?
- Helen Kim
While pushing for the change Kim put forward the steller argument of "Why not?". Lets assume for a moment that such an argument is ever a valid reason to change something.
Minority communities and the members of them have a lot of challenges to face in any society. Members of these communities have had a long and difficult struggle against oppression and for acceptance and equality in society. Though it is becoming easier all the time, I'll be the first to admit they are far from over. Racism still exists, there is still large amounts of fear, uncertainty and doubt expressed towards minority communities. Discrimination still goes on in employment and society as a whole. These are big issues and require huge amounts of work to tackle them.
This cause will never be helped by a charade such as this. A community or their spokesmen should not be getting their knickers in a twist because of a primary colour. What will be next? The yellow warning signs on platforms, are they a descrete reference to the "yellow peril"? This sort of behavior only goes to expose such communities as up tight and inflexible. The continuation of such actions can only lead to further derision and schism in society.
Ignoring the annoyance that money will be wasted on this re-branding, this sort of hyper over sensitive political correctness is extremely tiring and unsettling to observe and the lack of common sense, ever startling. These people like Helen Kim should have far more important things to do with their time. There is a generation of people going through the US school system who could be learning about the benefits of a unified and understanding culture. Instead they will get to observe how as long as you tread on eggshels in public life you can keep those pesky minorities at arms length.
This was not a victory for racial sensitivity, it was one more crushing defeat for equality and common sense.