I have been recently reading about the history of what are called chop suey fonts, fonts that in their design refer to Asian calligraphy and thus evoke a connection to things Asian in the mind of the reader. Consider for example:
This font, Shanghai, came from 30 Useful and Free Chinese-Styled Fonts a site which seems innocuous although the “Technojap Gont” is problematic.
This question of Asian fonts came up because Pete Hoekstra’s controversial attack ad featuring an Asian-American actress speaking broken English directed viewers to this website.
I do not think the font itself is racist. However, if it reinforces oriental stereotypes or fosters a sense of Asians as a threatening “other,” as in the Hoekstra, ad then the font is being used in a racist manner. The article “Stereo Types” by Paul Shaw on the history of this font and other “ethnic” fonts explains the origins and notes that the chop suey fonts were used by Chinese restaurant owners in San Francisco marketing chop suey. So, the font is not a nefarious cultural mockery contrived by evil occidental minds. Besides, it would be hard to say that font, an arrangement of ink on a page in the old fashioned sense, is racist. It might not be an authentic representation of the principles of Chinese calligraphy, but that is as far as it goes.