SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The San Jose Giants on Wednesday apologized for a failed public relations stunt connected to the team’s Japanese American Heritage Night that many critics called out as racist.
By all accounts, this year’s evening saluting Japanese-American culture with the San Jose Giants was a success. The team had Taiko drummers and calligraphy lessons for the special themed event at the teams South Bay ballpark.
But shortly afterward, the team’s Twitter account posted a brief video of three men on the field dressed in traditional Japanese robes.
The man on the left was doing karate kicks, the player in the middle was bowing with his palms together, and the one on the right was fanning himself.
The animated looping video was tweeted two weeks ago, but finally got deleted Wednesday morning amid a flurry of backlash.
“Whoa, @sjgiants you may want to rethink this, like immediately,” read one response to the Tweet.
“This is super racist and tacky,” said another.
“Casual Asian racism is still racism. The @sjgiants need to correct this immediately,” read a third.
“They’ll just make these mistakes over and over again,” said Tom Oshidari Co-President of the Japanese American Citizens League’s San Jose chapter. “It’s something that we’ll just have to keep fighting.”
The JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the country. The group’s work nowadays involves reminding people of the horrors of the Japanese internment camps during World War II.
Oshidari told KPXI 5 the tweet from the San Jose Giants perpetuates old stereotypes.
“The offense is in the eye of the offended. So if somebody is offended, you offended them,” explained Oshidari. “You can’t just pass it off and say ‘I didn’t mean it, I didn’t know.’ You know? ‘Just give me a break.'”
Team representatives declined an on-camera interview, but tweeted an apology Wednesday morning that read in part, “…unfortunately our message on social media was tone deaf… and we deeply apologize to those we have offended and apologize that our content released on social media did not represent the intention and spirit of the event.”
When asked if the tweet changed his opinion about the team, Oshidari replied, “I don’t think so. I think it’s a minor mistake. Hopefully, they’ll do better going forward.”