Telemundo celebrity chef James Tahhan has drawn ire after making the racist “slant eye” gesture while celebrating Mexico’s entry into the World Cup’s Round of 16 thanks to South Korea’s victory over Germany.
The Venezuelan chef was seen making the gesture on the morning show “Un Nuevo Dia,” which he co-hosted.
@Telemundo, don’t let your host make racist gestures on the air. 😐 Thanks!@UnNuevoDia#MundialTelemundo pic.twitter.com/01lCzOULvP
— Jimmy Sanchez (@JimmyJam99) June 27, 2018
In the viral clip, Tahhan can be seen pulling his eyes to the side, a gesture considered offensive by many East Asians.
Co-host Janice Bencosme, who was on Tahhan’s right, then appeared to imitate the gesture.
The hosts quickly caused outrage on social media, with many seeking for repercussions over their outdated and insensitive humor.
I will always speak out when I see wrong doing, but especially to my own people- i have to, because Asians are not known to fight back or make any noise in the face of discrimination. Well, @chefjames and @janicebencosme just messed with the wrong group of Asians. @diet_prada @benballer @bryanboycom @songofstyle @prabalgurung @evachen212 @lynn_ban – we ain’t your typical bow down kowtow to injustice against our people. When @chefjames gleefully made racist eyed gestures about the South Korean team that helped keep Mexico in contention, it shocked the Western world. It was pure ignorant racism. And on telemundo of all places! Millions of people including our youth are watching along! Are you the shining example for your culture?? You should be ashamed of your actions and be fired for conducting yourself that way on live television. Your colleague who joined you should also be fired along with the producers of the show who laughed along instead of cutting out to tell you all that’s not appropriate behavior. Instead, they goaded you on. We call for an apology and real action behind the words. (half asses on posted on insta but it’s not enough) ** UPDATE** We also call for a public apology on LIVE TV during the games. So the millions of Asians around the world who watched his ignorant antics will get to watch him apologize and admit wrongdoing. That’s the only this will go away @chefjames and @telemundo – you’ve read the comments. (Special thanks @diet_prada for putting this video for me and editing mama’s jet lagged caption rant. Thank you for that. )
Shortly, Telemundo released a statement saying that both hosts have been suspended indefinitely.
“We are extremely disappointed with our morning show contributors James Tahhan’s and Janice Bencosme’s gestures referring to the South Korean national soccer team.
“Our company takes this type of inappropriate behavior very seriously as it is contrary to our values and standards.
“As a result, both James Tahhan and Janice Bencosme have been placed on an indefinite suspension.”
Tahhan, for his part, acknowledged his mistake and apologized:
“During the celebration for Mexico’s qualification, I made a mistake and made an inappropriate and insensitive gesture towards the Asian community.
“It was a lack of sensitivity on my part. I admit that I did something wrong and wanted to apologize to anyone who was offended by it.
“The World Cup is a great opportunity to bring together friends, strangers, families and entire countries, and not to divide our communities.”
— James Tahhan (@ChefJames) June 28, 2018
Bencosme also expressed regrets over her actions.
“I want to apologize to the public for my behavior yesterday after the game between Mexico and South Korea.
“My gesture, besides being inappropriate, was offensive to the Asian community. I was wrong and I want to offer my sincere apologies.”
— JaniceBencosme (@JaniceBencosme) June 28, 2018
This act of ignorance transcends TV personalities. Mexican fans have apparently done their share to make things worse:
Todos somos Corea 🙌🏼⭐️ pic.twitter.com/AGV0JfwqGk
— Aleks Syntek (@syntekoficial) June 27, 2018