Cai Apologizes, Responses, and Media Attention

Cai's apology on his Facebook page.
Due to criticism, especially my Chinese blog post, Cai A-Ga decided to retire his Black man mask, and posted an apology on his Facebook page. Roughly, the apology states he is sorry for making foreigners "uncomfortable" and therefore will not use the mask again. 

Granted, I feel there is a sarcastic undertone to his response (he's a comedian after all), but he made a good decision and it is certainly a step in the right direction. He personally told me he will not use the mask in the future, but curiously felt the need to state the mask was from Japan. I told him that may be true, but he made the decision to buy it. I also suggested he use his popularity to tell his viewers in a fun way that discrimination is wrong:

Will Cai accept the challenge? I'm leaning toward "no", but I'm glad this issue has sparked a conversation that Taiwan desperately needs to have, especially as a country with a somewhat noticeable foreign population. The responses to Cai's decision run the gamut from bizarre to sympathetic. In this post, I share some of the interesting ones with you, as well as touch the recent media attention I have gotten regarding this issue.

Facebook comments:

Unsurprisingly, after Cai posted his Facebook apology, a slew of people voiced their opinions on the subject. Naturally, voices of disdain were prominent. Several people argued their points on why they feel the mask was not offensive, why Taiwanese people do not discriminate against others, why they don't believe the video should have been taken so seriously, etc. 

There were a few particularly interesting comments. I picked out some to summarize here.

Paul Lin basically feels only Black people in America would feel offended by the mask, and Black people in Africa would find it quite amusing. According to his reasoning, the African American experience of slavery has strengthened their sense of self, thereby giving them a superiority complex whereas Black people in Africa do not possess a strong sense of self (no slavery), resulting in their inferiority complex. Has this man heard of imperialism? That was slavery for many people in Africa. This argument is so strange and inaccurate I'm not sure where to begin. Luckily Tristan Tu tried to set him straight. What's sad is many people "liked" OP's comment—including Cai.

Albert Liou expressed Cai's removal of the Black man mask from circulation is a discriminatory action because the mask is inclusive of Black people; therefore, no Black man mask = no Black character = discrimination. Additionally, he feels I spread a false view regarding the mask's discriminatory nature. He also thinks that Black people are generally portrayed in a positive light in Taiwan, and that I must be looking at Taiwan in a completely different light. Needless to say, I believe most people think it's better not to include a Black person than to include them in a highly negative way.
Mr. Xu believes there might be discrimination in Taiwan, but doesn't think it has anything to do with the video. Although I did explicitly in my last article, he asked that I point out which aspect of the video is discriminatory. He goes on to say that he did not discriminate against Black people when he worked in Nigeria. Furthermore, he states people tend to think Nigerians emit a strong oder because of their diet, especially the consumption of cassava. He thinks everyone in the world should try and respect each other, but that I'm going too far in stating the video was discriminatory.

I don't know where Mr. Xu got his information from. As a Nigerian American who grew up eating lots of cassava, I don't have a chronic body oder problem. Excessive consumption of cassava has resulted in Nigeria having the highest twin birth rate in the world (I don't think I know a Nigerian family without twins, there are sets on both sides of my family)...but not BO, sorry.
Some commentors decided not to give armchair sociology a try and succinctly expressed their disdain of the mask's retirement: 

"I think it's too difficult to meet everyone's demands, and that Black person's
opinion doesn't represent everyone. Also, is it necessary to be so serious
about an entertaining video? I think the person (who was offended by this)
has a personal problem."
The emoticons say it all.
"You don't have an English announcement for our
foreign friends (offensive term used)."
"When are you going burn some Roots [clothing] again?"
"Let's all go watch the most recent Black man video."
Positively, some people attempted to explain the offensive nature of the mask to other posters. 

Ms. Zhu: "If a white person from America wore a yellow person [Asian] mask with slit eyes, high cheekbones, a square face, and rotted teeth and spoke English only using [simple] words like "I", "you", and "thank you", while eating tofu, how would we feel? And, what if they said it wasn't discrimination? That's how this Black friend feels toward Cai's movie. We're now a cosmopolitan nation, so we need to respect and tolerate other opinions instead of attacking the voice of others. Right now, Taiwan has huge room for improvement."

"If a white person made a video standing next to a person
with a silly yellow person [Asian] mask, we'd be uncomfortable~
[Cai] made a good decision."
There was also great commentary on Taiwan Explorer's Facebook page:

YouTube comments:

There were some thoughtful Taiwanese commenters who expressed their opinions on YouTube. I especially liked Mr. Lee's POV:
"Concerning the critical responses, Taiwanese people still unconsciously racially discriminate, masked under a sense of humor. In showbiz there is discrimination against foreigners, people with disabilities, LGBT, and other groups.  
Is this video deliberately discriminationing against Blacks? In my opinion, definitely not. 
[But] from the many responses, most people think this isn't wrong, which is terrible. People get used to this form of discrimination, won't they form discriminatory behavior in their daily lives without noticing it? If this mask is easy to buy, it shows we've even commercialized discrimination. 
Maybe this video could be a wake up call for Taiwanese people. If Cai can use this criticism to educate the public, I would begin to see him as a role model"
This was beautifully stated, but unfortunately, I don't think Cai will do as Mr. Lee suggested...

Ms. Chen had an interesting perspective:
"Thanks for promoting environmental protection Cai, but...although many people see the Black mask as funny, I have to say: Taiwanese people have no feelings [opinions?] regarding racial discrimination. When I was growing up in a foreign country, it was common for yellow people [Asians] to experience stereotyping like 'dirty', 'stupid', 'small eyes', etc. Some people laughed with them, but we felt very hurt and unequal to them. Eventually, more countries began to realize the exsistance and danger of racial discrimination, and teach people not to discriminate based on appearance and culture. When people say it's just fun, it's just a mask, I remember how I was ridiculted in a foreign country. If you replace [the Black masked man] with a man wearing a silly yellow man [Asian] mask, what would you think? A country's progress starts from the people. Don't you think this is discriminatory toward Blacks?"
I think those two comments deserve a huge round of applause.

Media attention:

The UDN article
The Yahoo! News article
My comments made it into Taiwanese media through UDN and Yahoo! News Taiwan. Both articles summarized comments made by myself and Taiwanese posters who believed I was taking the situation too seriously. 

The UDN article expressed concerns related to the Buddha mask as some people believe I'm being contradictory by stating the Black man mask is offensive, but not mentioning the Buddha mask. In the Chinese version of this post, I urge Taiwanese views to tell Cai their sentiments on the Buddha mask if it offends them. I don't like discrimination of any kind, but as I am unaware of whether the Buddha mask is offensive from a Buddhist standpoint, there isn't much I can say on the subject.
A Facebook commenter asking whether the Buddha
mask will be used in the future.
I appreciate that the writer of the Yahoo! article translated some of my initial English post and comments from YouTube. I'm particularly happy about this part:
"她接著表示,「台灣有台灣式的種族歧視」,像有的補習班不想讓黑人工作,「因為他們覺得黑人很可怕」。台灣人可能覺得蔡阿嘎使用的黑人面具很好笑,但在很多國家,「那是很有攻擊性的東西」 。
The above section reiterates my comments regarding how it is difficult for Black people to find work in Taiwan because of discrimination, and my objection to the government okaying the film when most of Taiwan's allies are predominantly Black countries.

With that, I'm glad my 15 minutes of fame has resulted in sparking an important conversation in Taiwan, especially with the current foreigner-bashing fad going on there. Taiwan is a beautiful country with many kind people, but there is a palpable discriminatory mindset which will turn many away if change doesn't occur.


  1. Buddhist symbols aren't sacred, but ridiculing Buddhism is offensive (in America) because it's used as a tool of anti-Asian racism and pro-imperialist agenda. Elsewhere, it's fair game. Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, the big three, are more cultural factors than religious ones.

    I'm glad Taiwan is having this conversation as we all dive headfirst into globalization. The institutionalized racism is unwelcome and inexcusable. Racial preference in hiring practices? Right there it's already utterly harmful, and sets a precedent on how they treat Black and Brown peoples in the future. Those people trying to dismiss your concerns have no idea, and ignorance is no excuse when the example of America lies before them. I hope for Taiwan's sake that they continue this conversation and don't repeat America's ugly evils.

    Some of those commenters tho...showing their a**es. Ignorance is shameful.

    Awesome sauce, N. Just awesome.

  2. I'm glad you stuck with it. Even though I, too, took his removal and comment as sarcastic. He just wants to up his foreign viewership I bet. 白他一眼