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INCIDENT UPDATE: After their first press release, Adidas continued to receive negative response and pressure from those who found the shoe caricature offensive. On April 26, 2006, Adidas released another announcement that it would pull the remaining shoes from the marketplace.

by Kai Yu, Special to MANAA, April 2006

Adidas HUF/Twist sneaker

At the March general meeting, MANAA members discussed the Adidas HUF/Twist sneaker featuring a buck-toothed, slant-eyed Asian caricature on the tongue of the shoe.

In a press release, Adidas defended its Adidacolor 'Yellow' Series HUF/Twist sneaker as a way to 'celebrate self-expression, customization, and personalization,' and 'Art.' The company does not plan to apologize or stop selling the sneaker.

Barry McGee aka Twist, the creator of the image writes: 'Ray Fong is a character I developed well-over four years ago for an art installation in New York.' McGee, a Chinese American, modeled the character after a picture of himself when he was eight years old, and never thought the image was 'racist.'

However, Adidas is not displaying the image in an art exhibit. The company is selling the image on a sneaker sold to consumers, including youth, who don't know McGee or his 'art.'

Since the 1800s and throughout American history, Asian Americans have been portrayed in caricature and yellowface. Such depictions were reflective of the periods of anti-Asian sentiment. Even today, such images persist in the mass media and on products sold to consumers (see images below).

Viewed in its historical context, how can consumers see the Adidas shoe as anything other than a buck-toothed slant-eyed Asian caricature reminiscent of periods of anti-Asian racism in America?

T-shirt: "Hang Out with Your Wang Out"
Spencer Gifts, 2006

Yellowface in "The Surreal Life,"
Viacom/VH1, 2005

Yellowface in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
Viacom/Paramount Pictures, 1961

Propoganda cartoon
Warner Bros, 1943 circa WWII

Propoganda cartoon: "The Chinese Must Go"
The Wasp, 1878 circa Chinese Exclusion Act

Would you proudly display images of bucked-toothed slanted eyed Asian Americans as part of your 'lifestyle?'

Send your comments to Adidas and cc: us as manaaletters@hotmail.com when you write to the company. We'd like to hear your comments.

Liad Krispin
Adidas Head of Trend & Lifestyle Marketing/US

Kristen Caruso
Adidas Spokeperson


© 2006 MANAA and others. All rights reserved.