ESPN has denounced a comment made by a radio personality about Mina Kimes, a sports analyst for the Connecticut-based network.
On March 22, Chris Curtis of WEEI-FM in Boston was on “The Greg Hill Show” discussing a city proposal to ban miniature bottles of alcohol, often referred to as “nips.” When asked to name his favorite “nip,” Curtis said, “I’d probably go to Mina Kimes.”
“Nip” can be an anti-Japanese clur, though Kimes is of Korean descent on her mother’s side.
ESPN said in a statement, “There’s no place for these type of hateful comments, which were uncalled for and extremely offensive.”
Kimes told The Washington Post that she would “let ESPN’s statement represent me as well.”
After a video of his remarks went viral, Curtis appeared on “The Greg Hill Show” again to announce that he was being taken off the air until next Wednesday, and to apologize.
“In a pathetic, failed attempt at a one-liner, I attempted to bring up Mila Kunis, which was not really that funny. Sophomoric and sexist,” he said. “But for reasons I don’t understand, I said Mina Kimes. That was never the intention for me to say her name, it had nothing to do with the subject matter. And it dragged her into a controversy through no fault of her own regarding a slur, her race, and is not at all what my intention was.
“But it doesn’t matter because of the absolute chaos that my words created for someone who’s just doing her job covering the NFL at ESPN.”
Audacy, WEEI’s parent company, told The Hill that it had “nothing to add to Chris’ on-air apology.”
Kimes, who joined ESPN in 2014, regularly appears on shows such as “First Take,” “Around the Horn” and “NFL Live,” and hosts her own sports podcast titled “The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny.”
In response to Curtis’ apology, Kimes tweeted an image of Bart Simpson rolling his eyes and replaced her profile picture with one of Kunis.
Sports commentator turned cultural commentator Jason Whitlock, who works for Blaze Media, criticized Kimes, tweeting, “Raise your hand if you knew ‘Nip’ was an ethnic slur? I did not. Tell me how Mina Kimes’ life was impacted by this? Other than nailing herself to a cross, I don’t see the damage. She will dance to rap music calling black people N-words repeatedly without uttering a complaint.”
Kimes fired back, “Nailing myself to a cross? I made one joke and went back to work…because unlike you, I still talk about sports for a living. Have a great day.”
The Japanese American Citizens League issued the following statement: “On Wednesday, March 22, WEEI radio show producer Chris Curtis was discussing the upcoming banning of single-use liquor bottles, sometimes referred to as nip bottles or ‘nips,’ which also happens to be a slur against those of Japanese background. As the actual show participants named their favorite types of liquor, Curtis, the show producer, chose to interject snidely with Mina Kimes, a Korean American sportscaster for ESPN, in obvious recognition of her Asian heritage.
“Mr. Curtis’ employer, WEEI responded that he has spoken in error and intended to say Mila Kunis to cover up Mr. Curtis’ racism. The station has since suspended him for one week.
“While the culture of sports radio may thrive on outrage over bad referee calls and the failures of the local team, our outrage is much more consequential. The racism and sexism displayed by Mr. Curtis serve only to dehumanize and objectify Asian American women. As our country has seen significant rises in the reporting of anti-Asian discrimination and violence, Mr. Curtis and WEEI have now become contributors to the problem.
“We call upon Mr. Curtis to fully apologize for the clearly racist joke he made on air. By arguing he misspoke and meant to say Mila Kunis instead of Mina Kimes, he is trying to remove all responsibility for the clear racist intent and indicates zero remorse for his actions. WEEI’s efforts to cover up for Mr. Curtis are equally deplorable and the station must take accountability as well.
“As reported in The Boston Herald, WEEI is a ‘radio station with an infamous history of racist comments.’ In response to the most recent incident, all employees should have received sensitivity training. This is clearly not the case or the training was ineffective.
“There are clear systemic elements to the racism at WEEI and they must address this immediately. JACL calls upon all advertisers to withdraw their ad buys until the station can take concrete steps towards correcting the racist culture that exists at the station and take responsibility for both the actions of Mr. Curtis and the station’s complicity in trying to cover it up.”