(NEW YORK) — A racially charged post against Asians by a California lawyer has led a civil rights group to start a petition to have the attorney formally disciplined.
Christina Ignatius, an attorney from Orange County, posted the rant last week, apparently sparked by the blockbuster hit “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Ignatius’ comments, which were first posted on a private Chapman University Fowler School of Law Facebook group, drew comparisons between the wealthy characters and their lavish lifestyle in the film to the “Asians who flooded into Orange County then took over our mall at South Coast Plaza.”
She also said Asians “will drive in their Mercedes” and cut across lanes to get to the mall.
“That’s why we have the term ‘driving like an Asian,’” Ignatius wrote.
She also mocked her interpretation of Asian accents. A law school tutor, Ignatius said many students went to the University of California Irvine to become doctors.
“They were raised by Tiger Moms who told them ‘to become docta,’ and then if they were not smart enough to become a doctor, ‘to marry docta,’” she wrote.
The post has since been taken down.
Ignatius, who has deleted or suspended all of her social media accounts, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.
After the uproar of her posts, Ignatius wrote that she “posted something funny about ‘Crazy Rich Asians'” and didn’t think “talking about stereotypes would be so provocative.”
“I really love them,” she said of Asians. “And I find differences to be funny and interesting.”
Ignatius told the Mercury News that the post was meant as a joke for Facebook friends and that she has received numerous threats because it fell flat and then went viral.
“I didn’t have any intent of anger and hatred,” she told the paper. “If you have no malintent, you didn’t do anything wrong.”
She added that she was riffing on the “Things Asian Moms Say” memes popular on the internet and Youtube.
“They (Asians) poke fun at themselves,” she told the paper. “I love them. I work with them. I love their culture. That’s why I love ‘The Things Asian Moms Say.’”
The derogatory posts have spurred the Asian American Advancing Justice, a nonprofit civil rights organization and legal service that act on behalf of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, to push to get Ignatius to be held accountable.
The group has started a petition to submit to the State Bar of California to have Ignatius formally disciplined.
Sylvia Kim, the organization’s regional director, said the comments “devalued an extremely diverse community.”
“There was shock and outrage that resonated with our community members,” she said.
“The timing is ironic,” she said, adding that because of the success of “Crazy Rich Asians” it made the comments “even more outrageous.”
Screenshots of Ignatius’ post went viral soon after she posted it last week and drew an immediate backlash.
After the post was shared on a private Facebook page of the Chapman University Fowler of Law, a spokeswoman for the school called the post “regrettable.”
Jamie S. Ceman, the spokeswoman, added that Ignatius’ comments were “certainly not consistent with the values and beliefs we hold at Chapman University.”
Ceman, who confirmed that Ignatius was an alumna of the school, said the Facebook group has no official affiliation to the university.
Meanwhile, Leah Wilson, the executive director of the State Bar of California, said racial bias “has no place in the practice of law.”
Wilson added that though investigations of attorney misconduct are confidential, the bar takes them seriously.
The bar is limited, though, to the current rules of professional conduct and are not at liberty to say whether a rule is applied to any given case, said Rebecca Farmer, its director of communications.
However, Wilson said it is expanding its guidelines by adding new ethics rules that will “allow the State Bar to better hold attorneys accountable for discrimination and harassment based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other protected categories, in their representation of clients and in law firm operations.”
The rules are expected to go into effect November 1.
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