Twelve-year-old Ananya Vinay became the 13th consecutive Indian-origin kid to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the United States. As the news came quite at heels of the US President Donald Trump’s coining a new word on Twitter — Covfefe, it is not surprising that Vinay was made to spell out the word by CNN. But it so happened that she spelled it out as COFEFE (heavens forbid!), to which Alisyn Camerota, one of the hosts, said: “It’s a nonsense word. So, we’re not sure that its root is actually in Sanskrit, which is what you’re probably, uh, used to using, so, I don’t know. Anyway” — a comment that has since then been garnering flak on Twitter, for its racist implications.
Watch the video, uploaded by stand-up comedian Jeremy McLellan, here.
12-year-old Ananya Vinay won the National Spelling Bee so naturally CNN had her on to spell “covfefe” and say some racist stuff to her. pic.twitter.com/Qirb8CpBV9
— Jeremy McLellan (@JeremyMcLellan) June 3, 2017
Here are the reactions that the video has since them been generating on the micro-blogging site, mostly criticising the Camerota and calling her out for ‘Sanskrit comment’ of stereotypical nature.
Sanskrit? No she’s used to using English, in which she can spell every word. http://t.co/Vr2lDZQhxg
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) June 4, 2017
— Monica Jasuja (@jasuja) June 4, 2017
She said “that’s what you’re probably used to” that’s a pretty clear stereotype
— Sidharth Masaldaan (@masaldaan) June 4, 2017
@CNN Are you proud of this racist exchange with a 12 year old? Who is the ignorant female working for you?
— G Star 7508 (@GStar7508) June 4, 2017
Racist and regressive comments by a CNN anchor !! Appalling to say the least.
— Augustine (@alchemydruid) June 4, 2017
She may be completely ignorant of Sanskrit. She could have avoided exposing herself so badly. How such specimens get employed in CNN?
— Balakrishnan G Nair (@BalakrishnanGN) June 4, 2017
Most comments, including that of Kumail Nanjiani, Indian origin TV actor, strongly condemned the host’s ‘ignorance’ and her belief that Sanskrit’s usage is still widely prevalent in India. “No she’s used to using English, in which she can spell every word,” wrote Nanjiani. “Racist and regressive comments by a CNN anchor !! Appalling to say the least,” wrote another Twitter user.
But there were others who spoke out in support of Camerota. Many explained that she probably was talking about looking for the root of the word in Sanskrit and mustn’t have implied it in a racist way.
Clearly you’ve never participated in a Spelling Bee. One looks for the root of a word in e.g., Latin, Germanic, and Sanskrit. Very common.
— Liza Vasquez (@LifeCoachLiza) June 4, 2017
She meant using Sanskrit to determine the derivation of certain words. Sheesh people get off your judgmental high horses and find a hobby!
— Shad Willingham (@Shadspeare) June 5, 2017