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Derek Holland issues apology for racist “joke”

San Francisco Giants v New York Mets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

As the resident Derek Holland fan on the staff, it is with a heavy heart that I must report that Holland was racist in a spot with the MLB Network’s Intentional Talk. Holland appeared with Giants’ massage therapist, Haro Ogawa, who is Japanese, and proceeded to perform an incredibly stale bit of racist caricature while basically using Ogawa as a prop for the whole thing.

Things went from bad to worse when the Giants stepped in to make a statement to Deadspin, saying (emphasis mine):

“The Giants organization does not condone that type of behavior in any way,” Giants spokesperson Matt Chisholm told Deadspin. “We spoke to Derek regarding his interview yesterday and he completely understands the severity of the situation and he apologizes if it offended anyone. That was not his intention at all, but he’s taking full responsibility for it. It was not his intention at all to embarrass Haro.”

Apologizing if you offended anyone is no apology at all and is the opposite of taking responsibility. It implies that it is the responsibility of the other party for taking offense, not on you for being offensive. It misses the point entirely and is, sadly, a common refrain in the majority of attempts at public apologies.

Holland issued another statement earlier today:

Holland seems truly upset to have caused this, and says that he takes full responsibility, which is a good start. However, he never acknowledges that he understands why what he did was wrong, instead doubling down on stating that he didn’t intend to offend anyone. Which I’m sure is true, but regardless of whether or not you intended to offend anyone, or be racist, your words and actions can still be offensive and/or racist.

I am of the mindset that racism is bad, unlike a lot of people who are being very vocal about how opposed they are to supposed “PC Culture” in their defense of Holland today.

I am also of the belief that sometimes people can be genuinely sorry, learn from their mistakes and change their behavior so that they do not do something like this again, and I hope that ends up being the case here.

This is in no way meant to excuse Holland’s actions or overlook what was lacking in his apology. What he did was wrong.

However, I think it’s better if we (as in those who are not the group who is the target of the offensive words/actions) take the time to explain to the person in question why what they did was hurtful so that they have the opportunity to grow as a person.

If we never take that time, especially with someone who seems to be sincerely upset about their actions, then we become a society that just writes people off one by one, never challenging people to become better, and therefore never challenging society itself to become better.

So, here’s a message to Derek, if he happens to be reading this:


You’re a likable guy and a good baseball player. Giants fans have pretty much welcomed you with open arms this season.

But the Asian “jokes” have got to stop. This is the second time in a little over a week where you’ve done this. First, that t-shirt the other day and now this. Come on, man.

You may think it’s just a joke, but it’s lazy, stereotypical, and racist. When the joke is just that the person next to you is Asian and you’re using a bad accent or wearing a shirt that mimics an accent you don’t have, that’s not a joke. It’s mocking a large group of diverse people that you are reducing to a “joke.”

Stereotypes push generic and oftentimes negative views of groups of people who don’t look like you and help contribute to the cultural fear and dislike of the other that we have in this country right now.

You seem like a nice guy, and I’m sure that isn’t your intention, as you stated in your apology. So, maybe in the future you can take the time to think about how what you wear, say, or do might affect others.


Your many fans in San Francisco

And lastly, for those fans who are of Asian heritage who have been saying they didn’t mind what he did, I do not pretend to speak for you. Just as you don’t speak for the many Asian fans who were offended by what he said. So let’s allow people to feel how they feel about the situation and discuss it in a respectful manner.