Jimmy Kimmel’s Casual Racist Jokes At Oscars Detracted From Diversity Wins
As we celebrated “Moonlight’s” win, people of color were still the butt of the jokes.
Sunday’s awards show saw the most diverse group of recipients in Oscars history. A record number of black stars won. The world celebrated the achievements of “Moonlight.” And the speeches were politically charged, with actors and directors speaking in favor of differences and against divisive walls.
But then Kimmel used Mahershala Ali’s name as the butt of two different jokes.
Kimmel made a comment about the Best Supporting Actor award recipient’s newborn daughter’s name, saying that with a name like Mahershala, “You can’t name her Amy.”
Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. He adheres to Ahmadiyya, a sect of Islam that has been historically persecuted. So, he could probably have done without Kimmel’s jokes designating him as different, as people on Twitter pointed out.
Kimmel also made fun of Asian names during the same skit. When an Asian woman in the tour group told Kimmel her name was Yulree, he turned the joke on her. When Yulree’s husband stated right after that his name was Patrick, Kimmel said: “See, that’s a name.”
In another moment that had some viewers shaking their heads, Kimmel lifted up “Lion” star Sunny Pawar, channeling the iconic “Lion King” scene in which Simba is held up over a cliff. It felt utterly well-intentioned, and the 8-year-old’s reaction even tugged at the heartstrings.
But as some viewers pointed out, the image of Kimmel, a white host, holding up a brown child who doesn’t speak English as a prop in a skit with African music playing has racial undertones that are impossible to ignore.