SuChin Pak was a journalist at MTV News for seven years
Those who watched MTV News in the early aughts remember SuChin Pak. The journalist was a mainstay on MTV as a correspondent for seven years until she left in 2008. This week, in the wake of the alarming spike in anti-Asian hate incidents over the past year, most recently the tragic shooting spree in the Atlanta area that led to deaths of eight people, six of whom were Asian women, Pak is speaking out about a racist and misogynistic incident she endured while working at the network.
Pak took to Instagram on Thursday to open up about a colleague at the time who told a room full of people that she looked like a “me sucky sucky love you long time” whore — a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film Full Metal Jacket featuring a Vietnamese sex worker. Pak is Korean.
“Years ago… I overheard a colleague of mine, while watching me do the news that evening, tell a room full of people that I looked like a ‘me sucky sucky love you long time’ whore,” Pak wrote. “I was young, afraid as usual to cause a fuss or be seen as difficult or too ‘sensitive’ being the only female in the news room, so I didn’t say anything in the moment.”
Pak went on to detail how the comment made her feel the next day.
“I woke up the next day, though, and it hit me that he said it in a room full of people, mostly women, who somehow now think subconsciously or consciously that this kind of [misogynistic,] violent, racist language could be overlooked and dismissed and that worse, that someone like me would just swallow it and shrink into the small space that I had been allowed to occupy,” she wrote.
Pak fought to have the person “removed,” but according to her post, executives attempted to mediate a reconciliation instead.
“I refused,” she wrote, adding that that dragged on for months.
“I did not do this because I had an agenda or even courage,” she said. “I just had this sinking feeling in my gut that I had to do this. It’s the kind of sinking feeling, though, that doesn’t give you strength, or bravery. It was the kind that kept me in bed for a month, crying, scared and uncertain about everything.”
Pak eventually received a letter written by the man “as a final gesture, to bring me to submission.”
“I was reminded once again, by the white male executive, that someone’s livelihood was on the line, that I was somehow responsible for that,” she said. “I walked out, never touched or opened that letter.”
Pak’s post follows thousands of hate incidents targeting the AAPI community.
According to nonprofit coalition Stop AAPI Hate, 3,795 incidents were reported across the country between March 2020 and February of this year — up nearly 150 percent over 2019.
Stop AAPI Hate is proud to announce our latest national report, measuring anti-Asian hate incidents from March 2020-Feb 2021. In the last 12 months, we have tracked 3,795 hate incident reports from APIs in all 50 states and DC. pic.twitter.com/fbKUUdByvj
— Stop AAPI Hate (@StopAAPIHate) March 16, 2021
“In this moment, as many of you are shaking with fear, uncertainty and anger, feeling like you don’t have any power to do anything, know that in the midst of feeling small and invisible, you have a deep sense of dignity, of self worth and holding on to that in the darkest of places is enough,” Pak wrote.
“And one more thing I know now something that I didn’t quite understand then, Asians have been the butt of jokes, but these jokes are not to be dealt with lightly,” she continued. “These jokes are just the timid veneer that hide violence, hate, misogyny, racism and white supremacy. Our grandparents, our elders, our brothers and sisters are being spit on, punched, shot, attacked and murdered while these ‘jokes’ are being spit in our faces.”