At a recent startup event I was handed a card that I initially did not pay much attention to except noting that it was some game designing company. A week later while sifting through my wallet I happened upon the card again and this time took a closer. That’s when I noticed that the name of the company was CoolieLab, and immediately thought “Wow that’s racist!”
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, the word coolie is a racial slur directed at Asian laborers particularly Chinese (Wiki entry). The word has fallen out of use, but the racist history and connotation behind the slur is still widely known.
With a company name like that the founder can forget about doing business in the United States. In addition, the fact that a Singaporean government funded a company with such a name makes me think they are just throwing money at every startup that comes knocking.
Often times, we think of cultural insensitivity going West to East, but this is a perfect example of how cultural ignorance works both ways of the East-West divide. Though, I am extremely surprised this is the name of a Singaporean startup with a Singaporean Founder given that the coolie slur was used by the British in Singapore. Maybe everybody in the world is in need of some better history education?
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