As the US deals with a surge in hate crimes against Asian-Americans, it has come as a shock to many that the writer-director of ‘The White Tiger’ was subjected to racist taunts while he was in the midst of a Q&A with Oscar voters.
In an account to People, Iranian-American director-writer Ramin Bahrani, who is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Netflix’s ‘The White Tiger’ at this year’s Oscars, was subjected to racist insults from a bystander; all this while he was speaking to a group of Academy and BAFTA members.
According to People, the incident occurred last week when Bahrani was in the midst of a Zoom call with Ava DuVernay, who is also the executive producer of ‘The White Tiger’, along with Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
“I was in Atlanta on location in a residential neighbourhood directing a TV pilot for Apple,” Bahrani, 46, told People. “We had worked late that day, so I had to do my Zoom interview with Ava on my phone while we were still in the street. During the interview, I noticed a car parked behind me. When the driver saw me and my colleague (who is South Asian) he said, ‘You all think you run the world. You all don’t run [expletive]’. His friend told him to calm down and leave it alone. As the driver pulled away, he shouted, ‘Go back to your own country!’”
While DuVernay didn’t hear the words, Bahrani shared what had occurred. “Ramin was very calm, very matter of fact. Which saddened me. It was as if he was used to that type of treatment,” she said.
As the call continued, DuVernay prompted Bahrani to speak about what he had been subjected to when he spoke about being the subject of racial targeting in the past as well in public places.
In a statement to People, Chopra Jonas also weighed in, asking a question that many before have raised: “Who belongs here, and who doesn’t? Isn’t America a melting pot of all people from all backgrounds? This country was built on the back of immigrants in search of the American dream, a life of freedom, opportunity, and a safe place not only for themselves but for their families.”
Bahrani isn’t the only celebrity subjected to racial hate. Last month, South Korean pop superstars BTS opened up about experiencing racism and condemned the recent spate of violence against Asians that has gripped the US.
In a joint statement posted on Twitter, the septet sent their “deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones” and said that felt “grief and anger”. While they did not mention any particular case, their statement comes soon after the March 16 shootings in Atlanta that left eight people dead. Six of the victims were Asian women, four of whom were of Korean descent.
The group — made up of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook — revealed examples of racist treatment they have faced in the past.
“We recall moments when we faced discrimination as Asians. We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English,” read the note, posted in English and Korean.
“We cannot put into words the pain of becoming the subject of hatred and violence for such a reason. Our own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks. But these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away our self-esteem,” they added.
‘Killing Eve’ star Sandra Oh made a surprise yet powerful statement when she joined a rally in Oakland last month to lend her fame to speak out against the Asian hate movement.
“One thing I know many of us in our community are very scared, and I understand that, and one way to get through our fears is to reach out to our communities,” she said, challenging rallygoers to reach out to community members and support “our sisters and brothers in need.”
Oh, who is Canadian and of Korean decent, also led protesters in a chants of ‘I am proud to be Asian and ‘I belong here’.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho also spoke out earlier this month saying that attacks on the minority communities make him feel “quite fearful”.
The ‘Parasite’ director made the comments during an interview at Chapman University’s Dodge College in Orange, California, reported Deadline. When asked about the incidents of racial discrimination and violence towards Asian people, Bong, who was speaking through a translator from his home in South Korean, said he has an outsider perspective on the issue.
“But as someone who is a part of mankind, as a person, it’s quite fearful to watch the hate crimes against Asian-Americans and the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement,” he said.