Comic actor and host of The Masked Singer Ken Jeong appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Monday to talk about the rise in anti–Asian American hate crimes in the U.S., the Atlanta spa shootings, and how both of these were directly influenced by racist rhetoric, like “kung flu” and “the China virus,” disseminated by a certain former president he did not call out by name. Jeong began by praising Late Night writer Karen Chee, “who had a very eloquent piece on the day that it happened.” Jeong said, “It was very moving. It’s just a sign that with the Asian American community, enough is enough. We’re just fed up. And in the study that Karen cited on your show a few days ago, anti–Asian American crime has risen almost 150 percent in the last year, and in that same study, overall hate crime went down 7 percent.”
Jeong explained why this rise has occurred: “This is precisely due to weaponizing terms like China virus and kung flu. And also the fact that, in this particular crime, there’s debate whether this crime is racially motivated. Asian American women are two times as likely to be assaulted in America. This was clearly, clearly racially motivated. This was clearly a hate crime.” Jeong continued, “As a guy who used to be a doctor and whose wife is still practicing medicine, I have an idea of how to solve COVID. It’s mask, vaccination, common sense, don’t be an asshole. But as a human, I don’t know how to solve racism. It takes listening, learning, loving, being tolerant. But it really starts off, in our particular case as Asian Americans, this ‘kung flu’ shit has to stop. And we really need to express that loudly. And we are.” It’s a powerful statement, especially coming from someone with a comedic persona like Jeong, and it’s refreshing to see him speak so candidly in a context without giant singing furries.