AAPI leaders, orgs outraged by Fox News Chinatown segment

Asian Pacific American organizations and prominent members of the AAPI community are outraged over a Fox News segment, aired earlier this week, that depicted Chinese Americans in a stereotypical fashion.

“The O’Reilly Factor” segment sent ambush interviewer Jesse Watters into New York City’s Chinatown to ask Chinese American voters about the upcoming presidential election.

Advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) said the segment – which featured Watters asking Asians if he was “supposed to bow to say hello” as a greeting, mocking Chinese New Year and traditional herbal medicines, and mimicking martial arts and dance moves – was blatantly racist and offensive despite the show’s claims that it was just “all in good fun.”

“It is unconscionable that a news organization would sanction a segment that laughs at a community of people, including Watters ridiculing elderly Chinese Americans who were limited English proficient,” AAAJ said in a statement. “We, as a community, refuse to be mocked and trivialized.”

Watters, in response to criticism, tweeted that the segment was intended to be “tongue-in-cheek.”

The segment drew ire from Asian American members of Congress.

“Your recent segment mocking Asian American voters using every conceivable stereotype was, at best, racist, and, at worst, really racist,” Congressman Ted Lieu said in a public statement to Fox News. “If you are not racist at heart, then you would apologize immediately.”

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu said it was highly insensitive for Fox News to broadcast such a segment, and that, instead, it could have been a legitimate opportunity to gather the opinions of Asian Americans about November’s upcoming presidential election.

“As the fastest-growing racial population in the United States and an increasingly influential voting bloc, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders deserve better coverage than being the butt of a joke,” Chu said in a statement. “This segment was an opportunity to create greater understanding, but instead, it marginalizes Asian Americans. I call on Fox News to stop such racially insensitive coverage from being aired on their network in the future.”

According to an AAAJ report, 9.3 million Asian Americans are eligible to vote this November, a 1.3 million increase from 2012. The same report found that Asian Americans make up nearly 6 percent of New York’s population.