A YouTuber with 14 million subscribers responded to accusations of racism after he said 'konnichiwa' to a Chinese man at a World Cup match: 'I thought he was Japanese'

Screenshots of IShowSpeed.
Gamer Darren Watkins Jr. goes by the online moniker IShowSpeed.IShowSpeed via YouTube and Twitter
  • Darren Watkins Jr., known online as IShowSpeed, is a gaming YouTuber with 14 million subscribers.

  • Watkins Jr. faced backlash earlier this week for comments he made to a man who said he was Chinese.

  • Online users accused the YouTuber of racism for repeatedly addressing the man with a Japanese greeting.

A controversial gamer with 14 million subscribers who was criticized for comments he made to a Chinese man on a livestream said he did not intend for his words to be offensive or perceived as racist.

Darren Watkins Jr., who goes by the online moniker IShowSpeed, faced backlash after a clip from one of his YouTube livestreams went viral on Twitter.

The clip was taken from a two-and-a-half-hour livestream posted by Watkins Jr. on December 6, in which he vlogged his experience attending a World Cup football game in Qatar.

Towards the end of the livestream, the 17-year-old YouTuber addressed a man who walked by him wearing an Argentina jersey, repeatedly saying the word "konnichiwa," which is a Japanese greeting. The man responded by saying he was Chinese. The YouTuber then said the word "konnichiwa" again at a louder volume.

Many on Twitter — including people who said they belong to East Asian communities — accused Watkins Jr. of "racist" behavior towards Asian people because they said he made assumptions about the man's background.

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Some users also referenced a short series of unintelligible sounds Watkins Jr. made towards the end of the clip, saying they thought it sounded like he was "imitating" and mocking a Chinese accent.

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"Assuming the country an Asian person is from, assuming their language, and even mocking it is not funny. It's racist," said one user.

Kristofer Yee, an American Twitch streamer of Chinese and Hungarian heritage with 300,000 followers, responded to the clip in a Twitter reply by saying, "I know he's still young and people make mistakes, but I'm kinda over racist jokes towards Asians being "more okay" cause we won't get in your face about it."

Hours after the clip went viral on December 6, Watkins. Jr posted a video statement on Twitter addressing the criticism. He said he did not intend for his comments to be offensive.

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"Hey guys, there's a clip going around where people are saying I'm being racist to an Asian guy, and I just wanted to say some things. I wasn't being racist to him, I promise you. I seen him, I thought he was Japanese, so I said, 'konnichiwa,' I watch a lot of anime," he said.

The YouTuber concluded his video by apologizing to those he offended: "If I did offend any Asian person out there, trust me, man, I'm not racist. I love Asians; I love all, man. So I apologize if that came out that way."

The apology video — which has now been viewed 4.1 million times — was met with a mixed response. While some users expressed support for the YouTuber, others said he failed to take proper accountability for the comments.

"You were 100% being racist towards him, mocking his language and misstating his ethnicity when he said he was Chinese," wrote one user in response to the video.

"'I'm not racist' why tf is it so hard these days for people to simply say, 'My bad if you were hurt by what I said. I didn't mean it that way, but if it offended you, I'm sorry I didn't mean it that way.' No accountability whatsoever," another user wrote.

As for the random sounds Watkins Jr. made after repeatedly saying konnichiwa, the YouTuber said he'd simply repeated: "a nickname that they call me in China."

Watkins Jr. has made public apologies and received backlash for controversial online behavior in the past. In April, he said he was "completely wrong" for telling a female gamer to "go do your husband's dishes" while playing Valorant, a first-person shooter game, leading online users to accuse him of misogyny.

Last December, the streaming platform Twitch permanently banned Watkins after he commented on wanting to have sex with a female gamer when he appeared on her live stream, Dexerto reported. The YouTuber shared a screenshot from Twitch noting that he was "indefinitely restricted" for violating Twitch's terms of service but didn't comment further.

The YouTuber is well known for streaming popular video games like Fortnite and NBA 2K. He has been dubbed one of the fastest-growing creators on the platform by various entertainment outlets. In July 2021, Dexerto reported that he was able to gain a million YouTube subscribers in under a week after going viral on TikTok.

Watkins Jr. did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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