Daniele Venturelli /Getty Gemma Chan
In a Monday Instagram post, the Crazy Rich Asians star re-shared a clip from British newspaper The Sunday Times‘ report on Prince Philip‘s recent funeral — specifically, a passage that called the late royal “an often crotchety figure, offending people with gaffes about slitty eyes, even if secretly we rather enjoyed them.”
“This was written by a journalist who should know better, approved by editors and sent to print,” Chan captioned the post. “To trivialize casual racism in the most widely read Sunday broadsheet at a point when the Asian diaspora is experiencing a surge of attacks is deeply irresponsible.”
“We need more people of color in newsrooms,” added the English actress, 38, concluding by asking readers to sign a petition requesting “a retraction and an apology” from the newspaper.
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According to The Guardian, Prince Philip (who died at age 99 on April 9) once told students from a British university during a trip to China in 1986, “By the time you go back home, you’ll have slitty eyes.”
On Tuesday, the editor of The Sunday Times, Emma Tucker, issued a statement apologizing for the outlet’s wording. “This so-called ‘gaffe’ made by Prince Philip was a well-known aspect of his life story,” she said, according to The Guardian.
While Tucker insisted that the paper “did not intend to condone” Prince Philip’s comment, she added, “It was noted by us on Saturday night that the sentence was offensive and it was not published in digital editions.”
“Christina Lamb has spent her whole career reporting on discrimination and injustices against people in every part of the world and never intended to make light of his remark in any way,” Tucker concluded of the paper’s chief foreign correspondent, who wrote the piece.
Matt Dunham/Getty Prince Philip
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The controversy comes amid a rise in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including the March 16 shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women.
A recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found that anti-Asian hate crimes increased 150 percent in America’s 16 largest cities, despite overall hate crimes dropping 7 percent in those cities.
It found the first surge in violence against Asian Americans came last year, as COVID-19 cases started to spike in March and April.
If you’ve been attacked or witnessed an attack, please contact your local authorities. You can also report your incident here. To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop the AAPI Hate, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.