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Thursday, August 2, 2012
Backlash over racial skate T-shirt

By Keith Hamm

Asian-American pro skateboarders Don "Nuge" Nguyen and Daniel Shimizu expected to get plenty of laughs for their new off-color T-shirt that reads "The G--- of Hazzard" above a cartoon of the two skaterboarders in a tricked-out Japanese sports car dubbed the "General Li."

But they're also getting some backlash. In a statement directed at Nguyen's board sponsor, Baker Skateboards, the Washington, D.C.-based Asian American Justice Center said it's "unacceptable for [Baker] to create a depiction of Asian Americans which uses racial slurs and perpetuates racist stereotypes. Baker Skateboards, and the outlets that sell this shirt, should be aware that use of the term 'g---' on their apparel is offensive and quite simply amounts to racism for sale. No one should seek to profit from racism."

Under the direction of owner and skate legend Andrew Reynolds, Baker has maintained its sense of humor on the issue. On its website in an Aug. 2 post entitled "You soo funny," Baker linked a T-shirt backlash article featured at, encouraging readers to see how the skate company is "damaging the Asian community," and thanking the entertainment website for the free advertising.

Baker Skateboards and Heroin Skateboards -- which picked up Shimizu earlier this year -- are both under the Baker Boys Distribution umbrella, cofounded by Reynolds, Jim Greco, and Erik Ellington.

Baker fans born after the 1980s would have to rely on television reruns to gain cultural reference for "The Dukes of Hazzard," which aired from 1979 to 1985 on CBS, or check out the 2005 big-screen adaptation.