Squawk Box got a little bit awkward on Friday as one host made some tasteless comments while discussing India’s currency, the rupee.
“Are they good at 7-Eleven?” CNBC personality Joe Kernen mused after mocking an Indian accent. “I’m sorry I take it back, I apologize before I have to,” Kernen said, as his co-hosts Andrew Ross Sorkin and Becky Quick tried to move past the subject as quickly as possible.
Kernen’s comments play off common stereotypes regarding 7-Eleven franchisees and Asian immigrants. For example, the long-running cartoon show the Simpsons has perpetuated this stereotype with a character named Apu, who has an Indian accent and runs a “Kwik-E-Mart,” a convenience store inspired by 7-Eleven. When the real-life convenience store chain transformed some of its locations into Kwik-E-Marts to promote the Simpsons movie in 2007, some Indian-American store owners weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea, the Associated Press reported at the time.
But at least there are some prominent voices out there looking debunk the stereotype. Indian-American comedian Aziz Ansari told a crowd of comedians earlier this month, “Those stereotypes are so tired! There are more Indians with sitcoms now than 7-Eleven's.”
Another prominent Indian-American Kernen should probably be paying attention to: CNBC Editor-in-Chief Nik Deogun, aka Kernen's boss.
(Hat tip: Media Matters)
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misspelled Joe Kernen's and Becky Quick's names.