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Asian groups respond as Purdue Northwest chancellor comments spark continued outrage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Asian advocacy organizations say an apology isn’t enough. They are calling for more action against a Purdue Northwest chancellor who recently spoke to graduates mimicking an Asian language. They say with Asian Hate crimes on the rise this type of behavior is not harmless.

The video, Asian advocates say is what some would call casual racism. And no matter how small it seems; they say the implications have far reaching consequences. And to have it come from a person in power at a respected university adds to it.

Purdue Northwest Chancellor Thomas Keon, in just five seconds. Asian advocates say is an example of racism through linguistic mockery.

“When I first saw the video, it was not just the words but the how he acted out,” said Rupal Thanawala, president of the Asian American Alliance.

“It is also such an outrageous action. Its racist, but it’s also juvenile,” said Melissa Borja, co-chair of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Indiana.

Feedback swiftly rolled in as the video from the Dec. 10 graduation made it’s rounds on social media. Days later, the outrage grew.

“The type of mock Asian language that the chancellor used on stage is the type of language that was often used in attacks targeting Asians and Asian American people over the past couple of years,” Borja said.

She helped write a response condemning Chancellor Keon’s words.

“That white supremacy allows acts of casual racism and very public racism often enacted by people in power.”

Keon apologized saying “I made a mistake” adding that he didn’t mean to be hurtful. The Purdue Board of Trustees accepted his apology, but many say it’s not enough.

“If a chancellor today can make a comment about Asians. I wouldn’t be surprised tomorrow if he says such comments about women any brown and Black people,” Thanawala said.

She says there needs to be actual repercussions and tacking on more diversity training won’t be enough either.

“When you are a leader of this large organization you have to embody character, and he absolutely did not show that,” Thanawala said.

She says to really fight these type of acts, it’s important to always call it out.

A petition is going around now, collecting signatures calling for Chancellor Keon’s resignation.