ABC just learned the hard way that a well-meaning gesture can go terribly wrong quite quickly on social media.
The network’s Twitter account for the new series, Fresh Off The Boat, featured a tweet that some found to be rather offensive.
The tweet featured an image with the message “we’re all a little fresh off the boat,” no doubt referring to the fact that the United States has always been and remains a nation of immigrants and their descendants.
But things turn very problematic for the ABC twitter account very quickly.
The Fresh Off The Boat tweet mentions that the world is full of different hats. And then you get to the images of people of color from around the world wearing said hats.
Why would a seemingly innocent and supportive tweet be so upsetting?
First, notice the only non-POC hat features a cowboy hat. Although the cowboy hat has its origins in Mongolia, the cowboy hat as we know it, and as pictured, is a purely American image. As in, it belongs to America, and is not readily associated with those who immigrated to America.
People of color are all treated as foreigners, when, in fact, a number of immigrants hail from all over Europe. Why weren’t any hats associated with European immigrants used?
And lastly, there is the fact that being “fresh off the boat” is often a term used to describe newly immigrated foreigners.
Although the tweet wanted the hats to represent different cultures, there seems to be little appreciation for the fact that these hats aren’t necessarily an accurate representation of the various individuals and cultures as they exist today.
You won’t go to Mexico and find most people wearing a sombrero, and the entire Asian population does not walk around wearing rice hats.
These images are often heavily tied to archaic stereotypes that are linked to racist impressions of non-white foreigners.
As such, there was quite a bit of backlash.
ABC’s “Fresh off the Boat” deletes offensive promo tweet http://t.co/EttgVHABMs
— HuffPost Celebrity (@HuffPostCeleb) January 30, 2015
The account has since deleted the offending “Fresh Off The Boat” tweet, no doubt hurriedly doing so after Eddie Huang, the man whose memoirs the show is based on, commented about the offensive tweet.
— RICH HOMIE HUANG (@MrEddieHuang) January 29, 2015
It’s also been repeatedly noted that the phrase “fresh off the boat” tends to be used in a derogatory manner that is mainly aimed at people of color, especially Asians.
However, it’s important to note that the show is called Fresh Off The Boat at the request of Huang.
It’s clear to see that ABC, despite its recent strides in diversity, still struggles in some areas when it comes to relating to foreign-born, non-white Americans.
Do you think the “Fresh Off The Boat” tweet was racist?
[Image Credit: Fresh Off ABC Twitter]