The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has issued an apology after facing backlash for Chris Rock’s Asian jokes at the 2016 Oscars.

The Academy Apologizes

“The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive,” reads the Academy’s statement. “We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive.”

During the opening monologue, Rock skillfully targeted the Academy and Hollywood in general for its lack of diversity, and the lack of people of color represented at this year’s ceremony. Rock even got a few cracks off at Oscar boycotters, most notably Jada Pinkett Smith. Though Rock’s performance as host looked poised to be on the receiving end of ample acclaim, it took a turn for the worst later on in the show when he decided to use some Asian stereotypes for a laugh.

Midway through the show, three Asian children were trotted out onto the stage with some awards show results. The jokes were about sweatshops and Asians tending to be skilled at math. Things only got worse when satirist Sacha Baron Cohen came out onstage as his retired alter ego Ali G, and made a quip referencing the movie Minions, which many thought was also a joke at Asians’ expense.

The insensitive jokes led to more than two dozen Asian members of the Academy – including director Ang Lee and actor George Takei – signing a letter sent to Academy leadership, admonishing the organization for permitting the ongoing stereotyping of Asians.

Below is the letter that was sent to the Academy in full:

We are writing as Academy members of Asian descent to express our complete surprise and disappointment with the targeting of Asians at the 88th Oscars telecast and its perpetuation of racist stereotypes.

In light of criticism over #OscarsSoWhite, we were hopeful that the telecast would provide the Academy a way forward and the chance to present a spectacular example of inclusion and diversity. Instead, the Oscars show was marred by a tone-deaf approach to its portrayal of Asians.
We’d like to know how such tasteless and offensive skits could have happened and what process you have in place to preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts.

We look forward to hearing from you about this matter and about the concrete steps to ensure that all people are portrayed with dignity and respect.
We are proud that the Oscars reach several hundred million people around the world of whom 60% are Asians and potential moviegoers.

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