"It's not OK": Mass. AAPI community reacts to Chris Curtis' on-air slur that led to WEEI suspension
BOSTON – A WEEI personality apologized Thursday for an on-air remark that is considered derogatory to Asian people. Members of the local Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community hope the incident will serve as a learning experience.
A ban on miniature liquor bottles was proposed Monday by Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, garnering attention from neighbors and local media outlets - including "The Greg Hill Radio Show" on WEEI.
The show's hosts were discussing the ban, using the nickname for the airplane-sized bottles, when producer Chris Curtis appeared to refer to Asian-American ESPN journalist Mina Kimes in a racist manner. Curtis said Thursday that he meant to bring up actress Mila Kunis in a way that he said called "sophomoric and sexist."
"It dragged (Kimes) into a controversy through no fault of her own regarding a slur and her race. I want apologize for the stupid lame attempt at a joke," Curtis said Thursday during an apology on the show.
Curtis was suspended by WEEI until Wednesday for the remark.
"Is it ever clever to be clever at the expense of somebody's identify? I don't think so," said professor David Howell, who teaches Japanese History at Harvard.
"It's very much a term used during WWII to refer to the Japanese when they were the enemy during the war. If you're in a public forum if it's a classroom or on the air using the term almost makes it sound like it's OK to use the term, even if it's not OK," said Howell, who expects to hear from her students regarding the incident.
Dr. Gary Chu, the chairman of the Massachusetts AAPI Commission, spoke to WBZ about the comment.
"Hearing those comments are hurtful. Let's not go back and perpetuate hate, especially AAPI hate, which has been on the rise not only in the U.S., but in Mass. and the City of Boston," said Chu, who said he is hoping for accountability from the radio host – and more representation moving forward.
"Anytime we can denounce things like that will help. We're working to talk about these issues, providing resources to elevate the messages of what is going on so everyone understands the diversity of the AAPI population," Chu added.
ESPN called the comments hateful and extremely offensive.
WBZ-TV reached out to WEEI's station owners but did not immediately hear back.
This marks the second high-profile suspension of a Boston sports radio personality in a span of a month, after 98.5 The Sports Hub's Tony Massarotti was suspended by the Beasley Broadcast Group for making racially insensitive comments on the air.
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