Chinese Americans protest Kimmel joke in NYC

Updated: 2013-11-09 11:58 By KELLY CHUNG DAWSON in New York (chinadaily.com.cn)

Chinese Americans protest Kimmel joke in NYC

Protestors gather outside ABC-TV's headquarters in New York City to protest a skit on the Jimmy Kimmel show, on Nov 8, 2013. [Photo by Wan Li / For China Daily]

Approximately 300 protesters gathered outside ABC-TV's headquarters in New York on Friday in response to a segment last month on the late-night television show Jimmy Kimmel Live, in which a young boy joked about killing everyone in China to erase US debt.

Although both ABC and Kimmel have apologized for the Oct 16 skit, various Chinese American advocacy groups are pushing for further action, including firing the host and taking steps to prevent such future incidents.

"Today we stand here to protest not only the Jimmy Kimmel Kids Table Show, but also ABC's lack of a sincere, public apology for Jimmy Kimmel's misguided decision," organizers said in material distributed at the protest. "You should hold yourselves accountable for teaching our children that killing others is an acceptable practice."

Kimmel's on-air apology on Oct 28 is viewed by the groups to be insincere because his defense of his actions was delivered in a light-hearted fashion, organizers said. That apology came one day after a written statement from ABC executives was released through the pan-Asian American political advocacy group 80-20 Initiative.

In the letter, ABC stated that it "would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large." ABC promised to pull the clip from its website and delete it from any repeat broadcasts.

Kimmel also apologized to protesters outside his studio in Hollywood on Oct 30, but his reference to "cultural differences" that might have contributed to the misunderstanding of his humor only further angered advocacy groups.

"We do not treat it as a joke," said Chunyan Li, a professor in accounting at Pace University and one of the organizers of the protest. "And I do not believe that we misunderstood the joke. We do not share his sense of humor."

More than 100,000 people have now signed a petition at WhiteHouse.gov, reaching the threshold for the number of signatures needed for an official response from the White House.

Beixin Lin, a professor in accounting at Montclair University, attended the protest with her son. She believes that Kimmel and the network need to release statements that do more than apologize for offending the Chinese community.

"They said, 'We apologize for upsetting anyone,' but they never admitted that what they did was wrong," Lin said. "We think that's unacceptable. Hiding behind a joke is a cowardly way of dealing with the matter."

Lin's son Timothy, 11, expressed a belief that Americans feel comfortable joking about Chinese people because Chinese are less likely to fight back. Chinese Americans are perceived to be successful, but still face discrimination, Lin said.

"Asians are successful in professional areas in medicine, research and education, IT, but we think that second-and third-generation Chinese need to be in more diversified areas so we can fight for our rights more," said Lin. "This happened because people don't respect Chinese, and they know they can joke about us because we don't do anything, we won't fight. So I'm very happy about the turnout today."

Wan Li contributed to the story

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