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February 20, 2012 4:31 PM More from the Department of Demeaning Things People Do When They Have Too Much College Debt

By Daniel Luzer

Last week College Guide ran a piece about the single mother working as a prostitute in order to make payments on her student loans. There are apparently a lot of other unfortunate things people do when they desperately need jobs after they finish college.

Remember the creepy, racist advertisement that ran during the Super Bowl for Peter Hoekstra, the man running for the U.S. Senate against Debbie Stabenow? Yea, that one.

What Asian-American woman would do that? Who would assume an accent like that to appear in that video?

The answer is, apparently, U.C. Berkeley graduate Lisa Chan. According to an article by Katy Waldman at Slate:

How should we think about Lisa Chan, the recent UC-Berkeley grad who starred in Pete Hoekstra’s devastatingly racist campaign ad against Debbie Stabenow? In the clip, which aired on the night of the Super Bowl, 21-year-old Chan, the daughter of “100 percent Chinese” parents, smiles beatifically between spells of Pidgin English. “Debbie spend so much American money,” she says. “You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak.” Then, with an adorable shrug: “We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow.”
But it’s still hard to understand why a Chinese-American woman would take on such a demeaning role in the first place, even if she is struggling to pay off student loans. Why didn’t Chan run screaming from the script when she first read it? Sometimes it can be difficult to be the first to express outrage. You second-guess yourself.

It’s not that hard to understand. When college graduates face debt they have to service that debt, however they can. She didn’t run screaming because it was money.

Chan, incidentally, apologized on her Facebook page for appearing in the commercial. “It was absolutely a mistake on my part,” Chan said.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer