Friday, February 12, 2010

anti-racism excess: the yellow line is now the gold line

MARTA "Yellow" Train Now "Gold": Atlanta Asian Community Pushed For Change:
The Metro Atlanta Regional Transit Authority, known as MARTA, announced the change Thursday. MARTA recently renamed its train lines with colors – yellow, red, blue and green.

The yellow line went to Doraville in the northeast suburbs, an area that has a large Asian population.
And the red line went to an American Indian village, the blue line went to a tree of Na'vi, and the green line went to Mars.

ETA: Dear anti-racists, the color yellow is not racist.

ETA 2: As you would expect, there's a Mixed reaction on MARTA's ‘yellow line' rebranding.
"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."
Kenny Wong, manager of the Hair Capital salon, said such racial issues tend to be overly scrutinized in America.

"I heard about [the controversy]," Wong said. "It doesn't matter to me. Only racial people think about things like this."

His friend, John Nguyen, owner of Saigon Deli, took a different approach. "I don't consider myself yellow. I'm gold," he said, smiling.
ETA: I tweaked the title. See justified rudeness? and an apology.


  1. Seeing as the story of Atlanta is the story of money -- "Gone with the Wind" makes more sense this way than any other narrative I've found -- a Gold line makes absolute sense.

  2. Steve, it's true the article is short and vague. Maybe there were a lot of people mocking Asians for riding the "yellow line." But my suspicion is this was an issue created and driven by a few middle or upper class Asian anti-racists who think yellow is a racist color. It was probably a pet project of the woman who is mentioned in the article, Helen Kim of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services.

    There are capitalists who would call my posts about classism "hissy fits" or worse. That's part of life on the web.

    Now, it's true that I'm not elevating the discourse. But something the article didn't point out: Because some anti-racists thought the color yellow is racist, a whole lot of money was spent to change signs and maps. To me, that's just about the definition of a hissy fit: much sound and fury over nothing.

    If I was a Cherokee in Georgia, I would object to the red line, just to see how many hoops anti-racists are willing to jump through.

    Hmm. Adding a PS to the post now.

    Scott, that works with the green line, too! So red could be the blood of the workers, but what's blue?

  3. My thoughts on anti-racism are stull quite muddled. I do live in Atlanta, and the Doraville area (where the line went) is a pretty Asian heavy part of town. Someone brought up in an article I read about this "well, what if the line through the West End was called the Black Line?" West End is where Morehouse, Spellmen, etc. are and a heavily black neighborhood. If they put in a train to Midtown and called it the Rainbow Line.

    That being said, I do think Marta probably should have listened to the employee who said that it would probably offend some people, but I'm willing to bet the vast amount of people...could honestly care less about the name. I'm willing to bet almost all of the loudest voices complaining about it never ride Marta in the first place.

  4. kinsi, now I wonder how early the objection was made, because you're right; changing the yellow line's name or swapping it with, say, the blue line would've been easy before the maps were made.

  5. Here's what I read - "A MARTA employee who dealt with diversity issues warned the agency a month before the change that it could offend some in the Asian-American community" -

    Although, honestly, I don't know how many people care in Atlanta. For those with MARTA worries, most definitely, they are worried about the company that was fudging elevator and escalator repairs/inspections.

  6. So, if they had had a Black Line through the west end would re-naming it the Ebony Line have made everybody happy? 'Cause, you know, I doubt calling the Yellow Line the Gold Line actually involved any changes in color.

  7. Excellent question. 'Cause the artist in me is pretty sure yellow is yellow, but gold has some red in it.

  8. The MARTA livery is far from primary colors. Gold works. Blue -- slate, really -- perhaps Fidelity?

    Or pull in the state motto: Wisdom, Justice and Moderation?