JACL Deplores Radio Host Remarks and Station Response
On Wednesday, March 22, WEEI radio show producer Chris Curtis was discussing the upcoming banning of single-use liquor bottles, sometimes referred to as nip bottles or “nips” which also happens to be a slur against those of Japanese background. As the actual show participants named their favorite types of liquor, Mr. Curtis, the show producer, chose to interject snidely with Mina Kimes, a Korean American sportscaster for ESPN in obvious recognition of her Asian heritage. Mr. Curtis’ employer, WEEI responded that he has spoken in error and intended to say Mila Kunis to cover up Mr. Curtis’ racism. The station has since suspended him for one week.
While the culture of sports radio may thrive on outrage over bad referee calls and the failures of the local team, our outrage is much more consequential. The racism and sexism displayed by Mr. Curtis serve only to dehumanize and objectify Asian American women. As our country has seen significant rises in the reporting of anti-Asian discrimination and violence, Mr. Curtis and WEEI have now become contributors to the problem.
We call upon Mr. Curtis to fully apologize for the clearly racist joke he made on air. By arguing he misspoke and meant to say, Mila Kunis, instead of Mina Kimes, he is trying to remove all responsibility for the clear racist intent and indicates zero remorse for his actions. WEEI’s efforts to cover up for Mr. Curtis are equally deplorable and the station must take accountability as well. As reported in the Boston Herald, WEEI is a “radio station with an infamous history of racist comments.” In response to the most recent incident, all employees should have received sensitivity training. This is clearly not the case or the training was ineffective.
There are clear systemic elements to the racism at WEEI and they must address this immediately. JACL calls upon all advertisers to withdraw their ad buys until the station can take concrete steps towards correcting the racist culture that exists at the station and take responsibility for both the actions of Mr. Curtis and the station’s complicity in trying to cover it up.