SAN FRANCISCO – The editor of a weekly newspaper calling itself "The Voice of Asian America" on Wednesday apologized to community leaders and fired a columnist who wrote a piece titled "Why I Hate Blacks."
"At AsianWeek we take full responsibility for the mistake we made, apologize for the publication of the piece, and assure it will not happen again," said Ted Fang, AsianWeek's editor-at-large. "Promotion of hate speech of any kind cannot and will not be tolerated."
A statement on the newspaper's Web site said Kenneth Eng, 22, had been fired.
In the piece, which appeared in Feb. 23 edition of the San Francisco-based newspaper, Eng explained why he supports discrimination against blacks, saying "they are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years."
Eng has described himself as an "Asian Supremacist." Among the columns he wrote for AsianWeek, a paper with a circulation of 48,505, are pieces titled "Proof That Whites Inherently Hate Us" and "Why I Hate Asians."
Fang refused to explain why Eng wasn't censured after the publication of the first two pieces despite repeated questions from reporters.
"For 27 years, AsianWeek has prided itself on promoting interracial, intercultural pride and harmony," said Fang, whose family owns AsianWeek and the Independent, a local paper. "We fell down on the job."
More than a dozen politicians, community activists and religious leaders spoke out against the racist column.
"Speech that promotes hate has no place in San Francisco or anywhere in our country," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said in a statement. "Eng's words were not only offensive to African Americans, but to all Americans."
Asian leaders denounced the feelings expressed in the piece, saying they are not representative of the larger Asian population, which has often been the target of discrimination.
"As minorities, we've all experienced hurt," said the Rev. Jeff Louie, senior pastor of San Francisco's Sunset Church. "It's how they chose to respond to negative experiences that sets people apart."
Other members of groups that have been singled out by racism called for greater unity.
"I know, as a Muslim, what it is to be hated, to be tormented," said Souleiman Ghali, president of the Islamic Society of San Francisco. "We need to come together as a community and stand together against hate, because hate against one group is hate against all of us."
Black civic and religious authorities pointed out the recent slur didn't happen in a vacuum, but as part of continued prejudice against blacks.
"Eng's comments expose the racial tension — often hidden, but still very much present — in communities across America," NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon said in a statement. "These types of remarks widen the racial divide and further promote negative stereotypes."
Others pointed out that in San Francisco blacks often lack access to good schools, affordable housing and crime-free neighborhoods.
That neglect has caused a steady decline in the city's black population, said the Rev. Arnold Townsend, San Francisco's elections commissioner and assistant pastor at Rhema Word Christian Fellowship Church.
"They've been run out of town," Townsend said, adding that Eng said what he did because "he thought he could get away with it in this town."