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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mixed reaction on MARTA's ‘yellow line' rebranding

When I finally graduated from Morehouse, I discover that the MARTA system has changed once again. A few years ago the Atlanta transit system transitioned from tokens to farecards. Last year they color code their rail lines.

There's a "minor" controversy with one color-coded line according to the AJC:
MARTA's decision to brand its train line into Doraville "yellow" has stirred quiet debate among some within Atlanta's growing Asian-American community.

That's not to say any Atlantans of Asian descent think it's a particularly good idea, considering that "yellow," when used to describe skin color, carries a racist connotation. But judging by a random sampling of patrons and business owners Tuesday at Doraville's Asian Square, a groundswell of opposition to the rebranding seems unlikely to build.

"Medium upset" is how Amigo Electronics co-owner Sue Gung described the community's reaction. Her husband was medium indifferent.

"What difference does it make if it's yellow, gold or black," said Gary Gung, noting that New York and other major cities use color coding to help commuters better navigate their transit systems. "Make the issue about the economy or something else more important."

Though transit authority officials were warned by their former manager of equal opportunity and conflict resolution that some might be offended by a yellow line to Doraville, MARTA CEO Beverly Scott said his complaint was not indicative of everybody's feelings.

Scott says she has asked Asian-Americans whether they were offended by the use of "yellow line," and they told her they were not.
You know at first glance I had declared this much ado about nothing then I saw this part, and I think I understand:
[Helen Kim, advocacy director for the nonprofit Pan Asian Center] said reactions to the controversy vary based on several factors. Some Asians new to America may be unaware of the racist connotations of yellow, for example. And previous generations who've endured more racism are prone to be more sensitive to its usage.

"If my parents or grandparents knew about this, they would raise hell," said Kevin Hoang, 30. "[MARTA officials] should've thought this through more."
I like this answer:
John Nguyen, owner of Saigon Deli, took a different approach. "I don't consider myself yellow. I'm gold," he said, smiling.
Excellent answer!

To me it's just a color, but to others within that community it's disrepect. It seems that many may understand that the coloring scheme wasn't made with the intention of offending anyone, but over a simple color there are those who feel slightly offending. All it took was to name a line that just so happened to terminate near the home of the Asian community.

I never really thought of Atlanta as a "cosmopolitan" metropolis. Although it's a long way from being merely a Southern city. Just imagine what would have happened if CTA has named the Red Line the Yellow Line instead. The current Red Line runs through two predominantion Asian communities. Instead the Yellow Line goes through this north suburban area called Skokie.

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