NPR is taking heat on Twitter after it labeled actress Michelle Yeoh, who was born in Malaysia, as a person who “identifies as Asian.”
“Michelle Yeoh wins the Oscar for best actress making history as the first person who identifies as Asian to win the award,” NPR tweeted in a controversial post with over 2 million views.
Yeoh is of Hokkien and Cantonese descent and grew up speaking English and Malay, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica.
NPR’s clumsy wording was flamed on Twitter, with many media personalities pointing out that Yeoh is clearly an Asian woman.
“She IS Asian because she was born Asian. It doesn’t matter how she ‘identifies,’ what does that even mean?” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ rapid response director, Christina Pushaw, wrote in response to NPR.
“Identifies as Asian? Are you kidding me? Does NPR identify as the National Enquirer?” SmartBlocks CMO Mark Fidelman wrote.
“Delete your g– d— account. She is Asian. She doesn’t ‘identify as’ Asian,” political commentator Ian Miles Cheong told NPR.
Twitter’s Community Notes feature added an explanation to NPR’s tweet.
“The tweet is factually correct, but missing context to explain wording. Merle Oberon was the first Asian woman nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1935. Oberon hid her heritage to avoid discrimination. Michelle Yeoh, however, is open about her Asian heritage.”
The Hollywood Reporter has likewise been criticized for similarly calling Yeoh the first person who “identifies as Asian” to be nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards back in January.
Some media critics made similar arguments at the time in defense of the terminology, referencing Oberon, an actress who “passed for white,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Academy Award winner Yeoh made headlines Sunday for an apparent jab at CNN host Don Lemon during her acceptance speech.
“This is proof that dreams do come true,” Yeoh said.
“And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you’re ever past your prime. Never give up.”
A number of media analysts and journalists argued that Yeoh’s comments were a thinly disguised jab at Lemon.
“Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,” Lemon told his female co-hosts on “CNN This Morning” in remarks that have since gone viral online.
“A woman is considered to be in their prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s,” he added.