Remember when Miley Cyrus did it?
And when one of the Jonas brothers did it?
Many people defended them as just being young and stupid.
Now Toby Keith has done it -- the eye-pulling gesture, when Will Smith rapped about "black, white and yellow [a problem in and of itself!]," at a party while in Norway for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony of all things. Keith can't use youth as a defense. Does that just make him stupid? Or are we willing to call it what it is, a racist gesture?
Toby Keith made a hand gesture at a Nobel Peace Prize after party last week that has two Asian organizations seeing red.
During an impromptu performance in Norway with Will Smith and Wyclef Jean, Keith briefly pulled back his eyes in a stereotypical expression when Smith rapped the word "yellow" about 26 seconds into the song "Rapper's Delight," TMZ.com reports.
While the move didn't garner criticism at the time, now that the video has gone viral, Asian organizations are slamming the "Shock'n Y'All" singer.
"Toby Keith embarrassed himself and his country, denigrated the Nobel Peace Prize and offended Asians and Asian Americans by using a crude, racist hand gesture," a
spokesman for the Asian American Justice Center tells TMZ.
"By doing this, he is telling Asian fans, ‘You don't matter, you're not on my radar,'"
chimes in a representative from the Media Action Network for Asians.
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Keith has yet to issue a formal apology, and his reps are dismissing the incident.
"No one at the concert thought Toby was out of line," his camp said. "Everyone was impressed with his rapping skills and that's it . . . all of the artists liked each other, hung out, and it was a very friendly,genuine, and supportive atmosphere."
So it seems Keith's defense is that none of the black guys were offended, and they liked each other, so no way can the gesture be racist. "Some of my best friends are people of color. . . ."
I look forward to the blogosphere's determined attempts to minimize what he did. That seems to be what always happens after something like this. I can hear it now: "He didn't mean anything by it." "Stop being so sensitive." "It was a joke." "Maybe he was just scratching his eye." "Just because he did this doesn't mean he's a racist." "My brother-in-law's cousin's hairdresser is Asian, and he said it wasn't a big deal." Sigh.