An Australian broadcaster is under fire after asking an Asian journalist, “Are you yellow?” during a contentious interview.
Red Symons, who hosts a morning show on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Radio Melbourne station, apologized Monday morning for comments he made while being interviewed by colleague Beverley Wang for her new ABC podcast, “It’s Not a Race.”
During the chat, Symons told Wang he wished he could host a similarly themed podcast, “What’s the Deal With Asians?” according to HuffPost Australia.
Wang replied, “OK, let’s tackle that. What is the deal with Asians, Red?”
“No, I ask the questions. First question is, are they all the same?” before claiming the question was “a useful, general question about the nature of our culture and how one should interact with people who have a different cultural background.”
Other questions weren’t useful at all, like when Symons asked Wang, “Are you yellow?” according to News.com.au.
Symons also questioned if Wang was Chinese and seemed surprised when she explained she had a Taiwanese background but was born in Canada.
Symons: “Do they speak Mandarin or Cantonese?”
Wang: “Who’s ‘they’?”
Symons: “The people in Taiwan.”
Wang: “They speak Taiwanese and they speak Mandarin. And in Canada, where I’m from, they speak English and French.”
Symons: “I knew that. You’re probably from the west coast of Canada.”
Wang: “Why do you think that, Red?”
Symons: “Because it’s closer to Asia.”
The interview was enough of a train wreck that the Australian Broadcasting Corp. removed the podcast from its website Friday and apologized “for the content going to air,” according to The Guardian.
Symons apologized for the interview Monday morning on his radio show.
“I came across as racist, and I was wrong in the way I conducted the interview,” Symons said. “This is not who I am, and I acknowledge that on this occasion I caused offense and hurt not only to Beverley but to our listeners.
“The plan was to take on a serious topic, race and culture, and talk with Beverley about a range of related issues. I offer my sincerest apologies. We need to talk about these issues but be careful how we consider them.”