A recent Chinese American visitor to Label’s Delicatessen in West Los Angeles was horrified to find a racist caricature advertising their chinese chicken salad, with the phrase “You don’t have to be Chinese to enjoy our new dish.” He left the restaurant and called owner/manager Bruce Krakoff to ask that the sign be removed, but Krakoff stated that he was free to do whatever he liked in his store and would not remove the sign, which he also claimed that his customers loved.
This is unfortunate, because the caricature is evocative of anti-Chinese discrimination and violence from the turn of the century, when the image of the “coolie” represented an oppressed lower class that was systemically excluded from citizenship and civil rights in the United States because they were seen as alien. Given this history, it is by no means a harmless cartoon, and should not be used in this context.
Since then, the Anti-Defamation League and OCA have both sent letters to Krakoff, and as far as we know this sign can still be seen in the deli. The original complainant says that this is not the picture he saw, which was much more offensive, suggesting that there are multiple versions of the chicken salad advertisement.
MANAA would like to add their voice to the mix by requesting not only that all advertisements with racist caricatures be removed from the store, but also that Krakoff issue an apology to his customers.