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Steve Harvey apologizes for racist jokes about Asian men

Steve Harvey speaks with the media on Jan.

Steve Harvey speaks with the media on Jan. 13, 2017, in New York. He has apologized for jokes he made on his talk show. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Bryan R. Smith

Comedian and daytime talk-show host Steve Harvey has apologized for racist quips about Asians.

“I offer my humblest apology for offending anyone, particularly those in the Asian community, last week,” Harvey said in a tweet Tuesday, his 60th birthday. “It was not my intention and the humor was not meant with any malice or disrespect whatsoever,” he wrote.

On Jan. 6 on his namesake talk show, Harvey had done a roundup of dating books, including “How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men” by Adam Quan. A paperback published in 2002, it appears to be the only product of Asian World Press. After announcing the title and eliciting studio-audience laughter with a “can-you-believe-this” expression on his face, he joked that the book would be only “one page” and did a monologue of an Asian man asking out a white woman: “Excuse me, do you like Asian men? No. Thank you.”

He then imagined an African-American woman being equally dismissive: “You like Asian men?” “I don’t even like Chinese food. It don’t stay with you no time. I don’t eat what I can’t pronounce.”

While Rep. Grace Meng, state Assemblyman Ron Kim and New York city council member Peter Koo all denounced Harvey’s comments last week, the comedian’s apology followed a New York Times Op-Ed by restaurateur Eddie Huang, author of “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir,” on which the ABC sitcom is based.

Writing that “every Asian-American man knows what the dominant culture has to say about us,” including that “we could never in a thousand millenniums be a threat to steal your girl,” Huang went on to say that “the one joke that still hurts, the sore spot that even my closest friends will press, the one stereotype that I still mistakenly believe at the most inopportune bedroom moments . . . is that women don’t want Asian men.” He wrote that Harvey “for his own personal profit [is] willing to perpetuate the emasculation of Asian men regardless of how hypocritical it is.”


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