Stephen Colbert Faces Backlash On "Racist" Tweet

March 31, 2014
The hashtag #CancelColbert reached trending status in the US after comedian Stephen Colbert allegelly mocked Asian stereotypes on his show The Colbert Report on March 26, 2014. The official Twitter account of his show posted: ?I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.? The tweet was meant to be satirical analog of Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder who recently created the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. In his TV show "The Colbert Report," the host highlighted the absurdity of the foundation's name. It had been funny on TV. On Twitter, however, where context and punchline can easily get lost in 140 characters, things can get largely misconstrued. Suey Park, a 23-year-old freelance writer and social media activist, came up with #CancelColbert, tweeting that she used to respect the comedian but decided to attack Comedy Central by requesting others to trend the hashtag. Park is renowned as one of the most influential individuals in digital media and is well-known for her strong anti-racist principles. Throughout the show, Park tracked how well #CancelColbert trended and posted tweets from both victims and other racist offenders. The hashtag peaked several times from March 26 to 28, totalling 112,400 tweets and over 381 million impressions. Here are its most prolific users. Stephen Colbert was quick to apologize and said that he was not aware that someone tweeted something of the sort. He said that he merely took in context that fact that Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins football team, answered complaints about the name of the team and declared to start a foundation to aid Native Americans. Without such context, the Colbert Report tweet would easily offend Asians. Other social media users immediately spread Park?s tweet, making it trend well on Twitter.


In an interview with The New Yorker, Park had said that she did not really want the show to be cancelled, despite what the hashtag says. Instead, she saw it as a "way to critique white liberals who use forms of racial humor to mock more blatant forms of racism." "Well-intentioned racial humor doesn't actually do anything to send racism or the Redskins mascot," Park was quoted as saying. The tweet has now been removed.


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