Country singer Toby Keith has joined tween queen Miley Cyrus and Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers in the hall of shame for making a slant-eyed gesture considered derogatory by Asians during a public performance.
Two groups representing Asian-Americans suitably expressed outrage today (Dec. 16) after a video of Keith pulling his eye back when viral on the Internet.
Keith was at a Nobel Peace Prize party in Norway, no less, when the incident occurred.
During an impromptu performance with Will Smith and Wyclef Jean, he pulled back his eyes in the stereotypical expression when Smith rapped the word “yellow.”
Smith was singing “Rapper’s Delight.” The performance was caught on video and posted on YouTube.
When the Asian American Justice Center got wind of it, the organization went ballistic. “Toby Keith embarrassed himself and his country, denigrated the Nobel Peace Prize and offended Asians and Asian-Americans by using a crude, racist hand gesture,” a spokesman for the group told TMZ.com.
“By doing this, he is telling Asian fans, ‘You don’t matter, you’re not on my radar,'” added a spokesman with the Media Action Network for Asians.
Disney sensation Cyrus provoked a similar outrage earlier this year and was also blasted as a racist when a group photo surfaced showing her and other teens slanting their eyes in the presence of an Asian partygoer. Cyrus later apologized in a YouTube video. The gesture is about 25 seconds in.
So far, however, Keith hasn’t done the same.
“No one at the concert thought Toby was out of line,” said a rep. “Everyone was impressed with his rapping skills and that’s it.”
Not long after the photo of Cyrus surfaced on the Internet, a photo of Joe Jonas pulling back his eyes went viral as well.
The Spanish Olympic basketball team also drew a similar rebuke for making the gesture in a team photo during the Olympics.