This opinion piece by NYWIFT Member Mellini Kantayya originally appeared in The Washington Post. The following is a brief excerpt.
“Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize,” actor Hank Azaria recently said on a podcast. The source of his remorse was the 30 years he spent voicing the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the Indian immigrant Kwik-E-Mart clerk on “The Simpsons.”
The apology comes after years of complaints about the character. The debate was brought to the fore with the 2017 documentary “The Problem With Apu.” In the film, Indian American comedian Hari Kondabolu criticized the character and Azaria for perpetuating harmful racist stereotypes. Azaria announced last year that he would stop voicing Apu.
When I learned of the apology, I listened to the podcast. And much to my surprise, I cried.
As an Indian American actress, for me the shadow of Apu loomed larger in my life than I realized.
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