On Christmas, while I was unwrapping Roots leader Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s musical memoir Mo’ Meta Blues, Questlove himself was fielding accusations of racism due to some posts he made on Instagram in a conversation with celebrity chef Padma Lakshmi and booking agent Dawn Englehart that mocked the Japanese accent. The post has since been deleted, but as Gigwise points out, Questo posted, “Hey @dawnenglehart is it racist for me to write the Sour Tlain? #chipanesedownunder2013″ and compared a video of Japanese women singing to speaking in tongues. Englehart, of Asian heritage, replied, “Nah you’re in The Loots. You’re … Arrowed.” There was also this:
— Questlove Jenkins (@questlove) December 21, 2013
The day after Christmas, Questlove posted an apology to Facebook for promoting Asian stereotypes:
ok. addressing the elephant in the room on christmas
unfortunately, i’ve offended my asian brothers & sisters with an IG post which i made during my recent tour of japan. in that post, i likened a japanese department store employee’s vocal intonation to that of a (church) deacon speaking in tongues. clearly, i didn’t intend to offend anyone (asian or otherwise), clearly, i *thought* that comparison was funny-cute
… and clearly i thought wrong.
in hindsight, it’s easy to see how my post was yet another example of the ugly, american flipping yet another ugly/racially/culturally insensitive script. so, let me make this abundantly clear….
THE ISH THAT I SAID WAS DUMB (PERIOD).
And no, it wasn’t Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson mean spirited-xenophobic dumb (but the last time i checked, sleep was still the cousin of death)
—look. i’m a human being and dumber yet, i’m a public figure. if you’re lucky enough to be either of the aforementioned, then not only should one stay clear of saying or writing hurtful things, one should actively work against feeling comfortable, thinking hurtful thoughts. given that black culture consistently finds itself at the butt end of so many offensive “outsider” jokes, I should be way, way more sensitive (after all, who’s zooming who). I for one, should never allow my cultural bias to take precedence over my “examined life” (clunkers be damned). i know the whole kinder and gentler thing reeks of a self serving political correctness, but eff it, it’s “all me”.
so, here i am once again, publicly coming to terms with some more of my stupid “say, say, say” ish. allow me to ask for forgiveness and understanding from anyone that i’ve offended. I will be better in 2014 (i promise)