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This Oscars 'Joke' Is NOT OK

"Meet Ming Zhu, Bao Ling and David Moskowitz," Chris Rock prattled from the stage at the Academy Awards. I was only half-paying attention to the program while I did dishes and helped my son with his homework, but I dropped everything when I saw three little Asian kids decked out in tuxedoes walk onstage.

Did Rock really just joke that these children were the accountants who tabulated the Academy's votes for the award winners? After the whole #OscarsSoWhite campaign and Rock's opening bit about Hollywood's "sorority racism," I didn't expect this.

"If anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."


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So I went to Twitter and posted my reaction to it.

I know, I took the bait. But as an Asian American mom, I couldn't just watch that train wreck without saying something. I wasn't the only one who thought this gag was inappropriate either.

At first, I was excited to see people retweeting my post and to hear other people—even non-Asians—noticing how inappropriate it was. As the number of retweets hit 200 … 300 … 400 and is still going strong the next day, the trolls started coming out, accusing me of being everything from a humorless liberal to a millennial (that may be the funniest part of the whole night), and trying to say that Asians being stereotyped as good at math is actually a positive thing.

And then there's the people who seem to think that all Asian actors are foreigners and don't seem to be aware that there are over 20 Million Asian Americans…

Yeah, I get that humor can be used as satire. But in light of the fact that Asian Americans are still so underrepresented in the entertainment industry, it's sad that this is the way we get acknowledged. Sure, there were a smattering of yellow and brown faces (quite beautiful ones, too—Olivia Munn, Priyanka Chopra and Lee Byung Hun!) onstage presenting awards and even a foreign filmmaker receiving a documentary award, but like the precious little kids who were the voiceless human props in that gag, their presence didn't really show us anything about the creative contributions of Asians in America, except to be colorful window dressing to say, "See! The Oscars aren't so white!"

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At the end of the show, what I was really most upset about was the message this is sending to our kids. I wonder if the kids who were standing onstage even understood what was going on. One little boy didn't seem to even have had directions on where to stand. I'm sad for all the kids who dream of making it in show business but whose parents will tell them, "See? Hollywood will use you as a gag and a prop. Be an accountant instead."

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Photograph by: Getty Images

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