Memo to Non-Asians: Jeannie Mai is not Brenda Song, and Riz Ahmed is not Dev Patel | #NotAllTheSame

February 13, 2017
Jeannie Mai (left, at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, photo credit: Style Bistro) and Brenda Song (right, photo credit: Twist Magazine)

It’s only been a month since racist Trump trolls misidentified a woman at Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing as Washington Post editor Doris TruongInside Climate News’ Lisa Songtravel and parenting writer Leslie Hsu Oh, or basically any East Asian woman journalist of any prominence — and already people who think all Asians are the same person are at it again.

Over the weekend, the Twitter account for Burberry tweeted excitedly about actor Dev Patel at the British Academy for Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) ceremony, who wore a custom Burberry tuxedo to accept his Best Actor in a Supporting Role award for his part in “Lion”. The picture that accompanied the tweet? That’s actor and Swet Shop Boys member Riz Ahmed… who is also not Dev Patel.

A tweet quickly deleted from the Burberry Twitter account over the weekend, which mistook Dev Patel for Riz Ahmed (Photo credit: Twitter).

Even if the person who runs Burberry’s Twitter was racistly confused when presented with the fact that two not-the-same brown men both went to the same black-tie event at the same time, this hapless Burberry tweeter should have been clued in by the fact that Ahmed’s suit isn’t even blue. There is basically no excuse.

Meanwhile, TV One was covering the red carpet at the NAACP Image Awards which also took place over the weekend when the person in charge of TV One’s twitter tweeted out a picture of the powerful women who host The Real, a daytime talk show on Fox Television which was nominated for a Best Talk Show Image Award. Take a close look at that tweet, though: it tags a picture of Jeannie Mai, who is a host of The Real… with Brenda Song who (among other fairly conspicuous details) is not.

A deleted tweet from TVOne, mistaking Jeannie Mai for Brenda Song.

Image is, indeed, everything; and this looks really bad, TV One.

I can’t even with this tag team of “all-look-the-same-ness.” Between Burberry and TV One, it’s like some people see an Asian face and that’s literally all they see: a nondescript Asian face. Our distinct facial features? Our names? Our distinctive humanity? The fact that we’re not all clones of the exact same person, or that we’re not time travelers capable of occupying multiple points in space-time? None of that information seems to permeate.

To their credit — I guess — Burberry and TV One quickly took steps to correct their errors. Prompted by a totally appropriate barrage of Twitter mockery, Burberry deleted their original tweet and replaced it with two corrected ones. The fashion house also issued the following apology:

“We apologize unreservedly for the incorrectly titled pictures of Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed posted late last night. This was a mistake that should not have happened and was corrected immediately. We have apologized directly to Dev and Riz. We are checking our processes to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Meanwhile, TV One deleted their tweet and replaced it with one that actually identifies Jeannie Mai as Jeannie Mai. They also named The Real‘s hosts as among the best-dressed on the Image Award red carpet, although the caption for the photo on their website lacks any names for anyone.

But, you know what would be even better than Monday morning mea culpas? Making even a modicum of effort to tell two Asians apart in the first place.

Read More: Hey, TV One. That’s Not Brenda Song. That’s Jeannie Mai. (Angry  Asian Man)

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