In the wake of comedian Ali Wong’s confirmed divorce with husband Justin Hakuta, media outlets rushed to break the story, and the coverage fell victim to what many online are calling “wrong Asian” racism.
The outrage was sparked by Parade Magazine’s article on the divorce. The story, which was shared to Twitter on Tuesday, featured a photo not of Wong and Hakuta, but of the comedian and her Always Be My Maybe co-star Randall Park.
“Come on! Can we not ruin the news of Ali Wong’s divorce with Wrong Asian racism?” tweeted Korean-American blogger Phil Yu.
Come on! Can we not ruin the news of Ali Wong’s divorce with Wrong Asian racism? pic.twitter.com/87SZ21cVQ7
— 👁 Phil Yu (@angryasianman) April 12, 2022
Parade wasn’t the only perpetrator. MSN news also used an incorrect photo — the image didn’t even have Wong or Hakuta in it, just Park.
— 👁 Phil Yu (@angryasianman) April 13, 2022
On Wednesday Parade released a statement apologizing for the mistake and acknowledging its impact on the Asian community.
“We understand how hurtful this photo mistake was and the impact it can have, and we sincerely regret it,” the magazine tweeted.
Our sincere apologies. pic.twitter.com/77KGpm7LZl
— Parade Magazine (@ParadeMagazine) April 13, 2022
For context, the Baby Cobra star, who announced the divorce after eight years of marriage, has always used Hakuta as source material for her comedy specials. One of her most famous jokes in her first Netflix special was how she “trapped” Hakuta, who’s a Harvard Business School graduate and Fullbright scholar, into marriage.
In her latest special, Don Wong, she made dark jokes about being jealous of single people, foreshadowing the separation. Fans pointed out on social media that anyone who works in media and follows Wong should know about Hakuta, and even more so that Fresh of the Boat actor Park is not the comedian’s husband.
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Fans started tweeting the hashtag #wrongasian to share their frustration with the continued racist microaggressions Asians and other people of colour experience.
“If people, newspapers, etc. can’t tell who Randall Park is, what chance do the rest of us have,” tweeted sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen.
If people, newspapers, etc. can’t tell who Randall Park is, what chance do the rest of us have???
— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) April 13, 2022
Having been mistaken for the Only Other Black Woman on several occasions, I am disturbed that this is still happening. Wong and Hakuta can at least be properly identified if their personal trauma is going to be reported in the media. #wrongasian https://t.co/nCfwRK77jW
— Not THAT Karen, thank you (@karenbates) April 13, 2022
— Thuy Thi Nguyen (@ThuyThiTweets) April 14, 2022
Some shared their own personal experiences with “wrong Asian” racism.
When I was in 8th grade, my school replaced my yearbook photo with the one other Asian girl.
— bubbles (@nighttimebath) April 14, 2022
The number of times this has happened to me… ESPECIALLY in theatre #WrongAsian
— lol im so sleepy (@bluberryspice) April 14, 2022
Sources told People that the divorce was amicable, and Wong and Hakuta will continue to co-parent their two children.