Resolution Opposing Use of Racial Slurs in Business Names

WHEREAS the word “Chink” originated in the 19th Century as a racial slur against people of Chinese descent after a movement was started to expel Chinese workers from the United States; and

WHEREAS the word “Chink” is now widely used throughout the United States as a racial slur against people of Asian descent; and

WHEREAS Joseph Groh owns and operates “Chink’s Steaks” at Torresdale Avenue and Benner Street (“Wissinoming”) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and

WHEREAS the C’s Steaks location in Wissinoming opened in 1949; and

WHEREAS until recently, Groh prominently displayed the name “Chink’s Steaks” at his cheesesteak stand at Columbus Boulevard and Christian Street (“South Philadelphia”) which opened in 2008; 1 and

WHEREAS C’s Steaks was named for the previous owner, the late Samuel “Chink” Sherman, who was not of Asian descent; 2 and

WHEREAS Mildred Sherman, the widow of Samuel Sherman, disclosed that her husband received the nickname “Chink” because “(h)e had slanty eyes…and the kids started calling him ‘Chink’”; 3 and

WHEREAS in 2004, Susannah Park, then a resident of Philadelphia, and others including the Anti-Defamation League, implored Joseph Groh to change the restaurant name and educated him about the racially-charged history of the word “Chink” and the hate crimes and bullying which have accompanied its use; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Groh refused to change the restaurant name; and

WHEREAS Ms. Park’s campaign to change the name and media coverage generated considerable xenophobic hate mail to Ms. Park and Daily News reporter Myung Oak Kim; and

WHEREAS in 2008, members of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania (APABA-PA) asked Mr. Groh to re-consider his stance on changing the restaurant name, particularly as he opened the South Philadelphia location in close proximity to a thriving Asian American neighborhood and has publicly acknowledged the problems associated with capitalizing on such a provocative racial epithet; and

WHEREAS , despite this knowledge, Mr. Groh perpetuates and widely advertises a racial epithet as the restaurant’s name; and

WHEREAS in passing the Fair Practices Ordinance, the City Council of the City of Philadelphia found that discrimination in places of public accommodation causes embarrassment and inconvenience to citizens and visitors of the City, creates breaches of the peace, and is otherwise detrimental to the welfare and economic growth of the City; and

WHEREAS the Fair Practices Ordinance makes it unlawful for business owners to post any communication, notice or advertisement to the effect that any of the accommodations of any such place shall be refused, withheld or denied to any person on account of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, physical handicap or disability, or marital status, or that the patronage of any person of any particular race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religious creed, ancestry, national origin or physical handicap or disability, marital status, is unwelcome, objectionable or not acceptable, desired or solicited; and

WHEREAS the Philadelphia Bar Association has long demonstrated its support for human rights and commitment to diversity and inclusion through its adoption of resolutions condemning discrimination, whether directly or indirectly, on account of account of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin; and;

WHEREAS its Board of Governors adopted the Statement of Diversity Principles on June 26, 2008.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association denounces the continued use of the name “Chink’s Steaks,” supports all reasonable efforts to change the name of “Chink’s Steaks,” and authorizes its Chancellor and Board of Governors to conduct a public education campaign about the reasons for the name change, to draft public statements or letters to publicize the Bar Association’s position and to take any other necessary steps, including the recommendation of legislation, to bring about the name change.

1 Mr. Groh has taken the “Chink’s Steaks” signage down , but we do not know whether this is temporary measure. The Philadelphia Bar Association will continue to monitor the situation.
2 Keith B. Richburg, Asian Groups Fight to Change Eatery’s Name, Washington Post, April 15, 2008 at A2.
3 Myung Oak Kim, Steak Shop’s Name Stirs Controversy, Phila. Daily News, Jan. 9, 2004.