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Carolla’s racist statements vs. Pinoys shows vulgarities of marginalization in media

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Contact: Bernadette Ellorin
Chairperson, BAYAN USA

BAYAN USA joins the millions of Filipinos in the United States and around the world in taking collective offense to the tasteless remarks recently made by radio personality Adam Carolla regarding Manny Pacquiao, the Philippines, and the Filipino people on his nationally-syndicated show The Adam Carolla Podcast. We also agree with the demand that Carolla issue an official apology for his insensitive and vulgar insinuations about Manny Pacquiao, Filipinos, and most especially Filipina women and children in the sex trade industry.

It’s sad that in 2010 it must still be pointed out that the two unfortunate realities of the Filipino people that Carolla despicably chose to goad with ridicule — the Filipino people’s overwhelming pride in Manny Pacquiao’s success and the existence of the sex trade industry that consumes mainly young Filipina women and children — stem from the most unfortunate reality of all, widespread poverty and joblessness in the country.

Only in a very poor country such as the Philippines, where people are afforded very little economic opportunities to rise from impoverishment, can the sex trade or any black market industry proliferate into a cultural norm.

Carolla’s tirade against Manny Pacquiao being “illiterate” and “praying to chicken bones” is no different than mocking Filipinos for being poor. Carolla mocks further by stating that all Filipinos have going for them is “Manny Pacquiao and sex tours.” Clearly, poverty and the choices it leads people to make in the so-called Third World is game material for comedy and cheap laughs from the likes of Adam Carolla.

Perhaps the even bigger offense beyond Carolla’s words that should not go unchecked is the mainstream corporate media’s tolerance and allowance of such derogatory and racist comments to even air. That a white radio personality such as Adam Corolla can boldly make those remarks against a racial minority with seemingly no air of reservation for the social ramifications ultimately reveals that corporate media here in the US has barely progressed from the turn of the 20th century when, during the long-forgotten Philippine-American War, mainstream US newspapers blatantly depicted caricatures of Filipinos as “niggers”, monkeys, and dog-eating savages, all in the efforts to justify what was to be the US’s first colonial project abroad.

CBS Radio Inc., which broadcasts The Adam Carolla Podcast, is one of the largest owners and operators of radio stations in the United States, with more than 140 radio stations across the country, reaching billions of listeners everyday. In 2007, CBS Radio fired radio host Don Imus for racial slurs made against African-Americans on his now-cancelled show Imus in the Morning. Incidentally, CBS Radio was also the former home of notorious radio personality Howard Stern, who in 1992 used his nationally-syndicated radio show to issue a warning that the Philippines “is a country where fathers sell their own daughters for sex”… and that he wouldn’t recommend anyone go to the Philippines “unless you want to get laid.”

Despite making contributions to United States for more than 100 years, Filipinos — one of the largest Asian groups in the country, numbering at nearly 4 million — are still painfully absent from mainstream media. With the likes of Adam Carolla, Howard Stern, Alec Baldwin, David Letterman, and even the writing team of ABC’s Desperate Housewives each taking very public jabs against Filipinos and Filipino culture, it is no wonder why Filipinos would welcome and rally in support when one of their own rises from underdog obscurity to become perhaps the most successful boxing champion in recent history and deservedly earning worldwide respect and admiration.

Corporate media outlets such as CBS Radio Inc, Clear Channel Communications, Citadel Broadcasting and the media oligarchs such as Viacom that own them, literally profit in the trillions annually off one task — disseminating information to the public and shaping public opinion. When left to the hands and interests of multi-national corporations, we see how racists such as Adam Carolla, Don Imus, and Howard Stern are offered lucrative deals and the power of their own nationally-syndicated shows. While it remains to be seen how CBS Radio Inc. will respond to Carolla’s remarks now that the Filipino community is rightfully taking issue with it, clearly the bigger fight remains in the struggle against systemic institutional racism and for responsible media messaging that entails inclusion and representation of all racial minorities that suffer from marginalization.