Funny joke or racist stereotype? ‘Chinese Driver’ stickers spark debate
Lynda Steele and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Tuesday, March 17, 2015 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 18, 2015 11:40AM PDT
A car decal that resembles an ICBC new driver “N” sticker or “L” learner sticker is raising some eyebrows in Metro Vancouver.
The yellow “C" stickers have the words “Chinese Driver” written underneath and they have sparked a debate: Are they meant to be funny or are they a racist stereotype?
Gary Menard was out walking his dog in Vancouver’s West Side, when he noticed the unusual sticker on his neighbour's car.
"I just didn't know quite what to think, whether it was a joke or an actual warning or what. It kind of caught me off guard," he said.
He wondered why the driver put the sticker on their car and so did we. But no one was home at the house where the car was parked.
So consumer reporter Lynda Steele tracked down the store selling the controversial sticker, the Super Garage in Richmond's Aberdeen Mall.
When she asked the retailer who was buying the stickers, she was told it was mostly purchased by Chinese people.
“But sometimes we also get Caucasians buying it because it's funny," said the retail clerk.
But not everybody felt the same way. All of the Caucasian people who were asked were offended by the sticker. But the majority of the Chinese people CTV News questioned didn’t feel the same way.
"It could be very light hearted. Maybe people are just trying to amuse people," said Queenie Choo of S.U.C.C.E.S.S, a group that provides social services for the Chinese community in Metro Vancouver. “I don't know what are the intentions are, but I don't think there was any intentions to be racist."
And since most people purchasing the sticker are Chinese, one UBC sociologist says it's probably a form of gentle self-mockery meant to unite, not offend.
"Some would argue it actually increases solidarity because we all acknowledge there's a stereotype, we’re okay with it because it's not true, so we're going to show you we don't mind and we're going to have fun with it. I think that's the difference," said Dr. Elic Chan.
But in an area like Metro Vancouver, where 43 per cent of the residents are of Asian heritage, Gary Menard thinks there’s no room for racial jokes, regardless of who’s making them, or why.
"It's wrong to do the ICBC-looking thing, and it's just not an area where I think we should be going," he said.
Watch CTV Vancouver at 6 p.m. for the full report from Lynda Steele