Yesterday, Vancity Buzz began a poll asking readers whether they found the recent “Chinese Driver” decals, mimicking the ICBC “L” or “N” stickers, offensive. With over 15,000 survey responses, the results are in.
“Chinese Driver” stickers have been found displayed on the backs of vehicles around Metro Vancouver for several years now, especially in Richmond and Vancouver’s Westside. According to yesterday’s CTV report, these signs are mostly purchased by Chinese people and placed on their car as an ironic, self-deprecating joke.
While a lot of people praise the decals and the people who buy them for their sense of humour, many people also find them to be racist and promoting stereotypes.
Intrigued by this divide, we started a non-scientific online poll to determine the common attitudes toward the signs.
Our poll options, randomly ordered, offered five possible responses to the question “Is a ‘Chinese Driver’ decal offensive?”
The results show that a substantial 85 per cent of people decided the decals are not offensive, with 36.26 per cent believing “It’s a joke, people are too sensitive” to be the best answer and another 35.04 per cent believing the decals are not offensive “if a Chinese person chooses to buy it”. An additional 13.83 per cent don’t think they are offensive, but believed some people might.
Only a small percentage, 12.97 per cent, believed the “Chinese Driver” decals are “most definitely” offensive. 1.9 per cent remained undecided.
When asked to comment further, people’s beliefs were more thoroughly explained.
Of those who believed the signage was offensive, comments included:
- “I think it’s offensive because the purpose of this sticker is vague (at best), unstated (at its worst). It seems to presume that all Chinese drivers are bad drivers. It’s unstated intent is to presume that all “white” drivers are good drivers. Neither one of those assumptions is correct.”
- “I’m a Chinese-Canadian, born and raised right here in Canada. I enjoy great jokes, and even horrible ones. But I find it offensive. And I think anyone (especially those who are of Chinese heritage) who don’t find it offensive miss the damaging stereotypes that it reinforces. It’s a big step backwards.”
- “It’s racist. No if, ands, or buts.”
- “Perhaps the inappropriate part of the joke is the Chinese driver taking pride/making light the stereotype of their cultures’ perverse driving ability. Does that mean it is then acceptable to laugh and mock people based on stereotypes against them? It’s all about context.”
And on the other side of the spectrum, people firmly disagreed.
- “This is not racism. People are simply too PC. If one can joke about their own race, how could it be racist?”
- “Not offended by this at all, and for those who are: GOOD! Being offended means you are being exposed to new ideas. Next time you are offended, instead of shouting it from the rooftops, find a way how it might make you grow”
- “If a Chinese person (or any person) wants to label themselves, they have every right to do so. How on earth could white people be offended by this?!”
Some came at the issue from a logistical perspective.
- “We just don’t need this kinda junk sticker cluttering up the official signage that actually means something. The only addition I’d entertain would be a yellow D for Drunk Driver – to be displayed for 2 years after a DUI conviction. Ban all other stickers that could be confused with the official signage.”
The topic of racism in Metro Vancouver is an issue we have looked at before. Our population is one of the most diverse in the country with 43 per cent of residents having an Asian heritage.
Regardless if you think these “Chinese Driver” decals are racist or not, these are the type of conversations that need to happen to make a difference in a city where subtle racism does still exist.