"Is Hollywood racist? You're damn right Hollywood is racist."
For anyone that watched this past Sunday's 88th Academy Awards you'll recognize that line as one of the most memorable moments of
roastmaster host Chris Rock's opening monologue where he eviscerated the Oscars, or as he called them, the "White People Choice Awards." Besides a Stacey Dash joke (that's redundant, I know) one of the most awkward moments of the night was Rock's joke that involved three Asian kids and ultimately proved the quote above. One of the kids parents, has spoken out against the joke, revealing they had no clue what the joke was until it was too late.
As a refresher Rock brought out three cute little Asian kids to the stage introducing them as the "dedicated, accurate, and hard-working" accountants of PricewaterhouseCoopers who helped count the Oscar ballots, as Vulture reports. Their names? "Ming Zhu, Bao Ling, and David Moskowitz." Yikes. The audience laughed and Rock addressed any potential backlash to the racist joke with more racism: "Now if anybody's upset about that joke, I want you to tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."
Eight-year-old Estie Kung was one of the kids. Her mother Laura spoke out in an interview with Public Radio International yesterday saying she only head the joke when it was time for rehearsal, which was after they had signed a contract. According to Laura, the joke put a "damper" on Estie, who had been very excited to be at the Oscars.
"In this case, it wasn't until the rehearsals, after Estie got her tux fitted and was already looking forward to the opportunity to be on the Oscars, that her parents heard the entirety of the joke for the first time. But they had already signed the contract and had to confront the very likely possibility that their daughter would be part of a racist joke that would cause an uproar. After talking to Estie, they ultimately decided to take the optimistic point of view, believing that an inappropriate Asian joke that might provoke a difficult public conversation may be preferable if the status-quo alternative was to have no Asian presence at all. So, they braced themselves."
Laura said she did wonder why all of the kids cast were Asian, but didn't suspect anything. "…I assumed there was a bigger picture, a more complex joke given all the emphasis placed on diversity at the Oscars this year," said Laura.
In the controversy of #OscarsSoWhite many, including Rock, ignored that that also means lack of representation in the Asian and Latino communities. It's time to do better for next year.