LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Some Asian Americans expressed their outrage over a taxpayer-funded video mocking the Asian community at the city’s Board of Public Works meeting on Monday.
Last week, CBS2’s investigative reporter David Goldstein uncovered the controversial film produced by the Department of Public Works, which showed a non-Asian man dressed as a geisha girl who spoke with a phony Japanese accent.
The short, shot at the Japanese Garden at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, was apparently meant to teach viewers about recycled water.
The video was made as part of L.A. CityWorks, a program on YouTube and on the city-owned Channel 35.
Resident Sean Yee summed up the video in a few words.
“It’s racist. Period,” he told Goldstein.
Yee added, “When I found out it was through the city, I think I wanted to gag. It was disgusting, especially for Los Angeles.”
Mark Masaoka of the Asian Pacific Policy Council said it was definitely a racist video.
“It played and reinforced very demeaning racial stereotypes for Japanese Americans,” he said.
The Public Works board issued an apology, with Commissioner Warren Furutani, who is Asian American, going a step further.
“This is racist. This is a problem. I appreciate you coming down here and talking about the issue. We’re going to take care of it and deal with it,” he said.
When asked if that apology was enough, Yee said, “Gimme a break. Gimme a (expletive) break. No, it’s too clean.”
City officials told Goldstein they were re-evaluating the entire CityWorks campaign.
They’re also looking into disciplinary actions for those involved with the video.