90 Day Fiance: Before The 90 Days viewers have had a lot of sympathy for Mike Berk.
Despite what Ximena Cuellar said about Mike, he just seemed like a slightly weird, well-intentioned guy.
Unfortunately, some of his posts from an older, alternate social media account paint him as considerably more malicious.
From racist talking points to casual transphobic slurs, Mike’s attempts at "jokes" have fans recoiling in horror.
There is a lot to be said on this topic, including an acknowledgment that one of Mike’s castmates was fired and edited out of the show over a similar scandal.
Before we delve into this at length, we should simply explain that Mike has been on social media for a long time.
While his older Instagram account seems to have mostly been devoted to talking about cars, there are some truly inhuman "jokes" that were posted around 2013.
Please brace yourselves, because some of these posts contain slurs.
Others are vile in other ways. Some are just tone deaf.
We will start, however, with the worst:
“The government is shut down and n—-s are making jokes…" read one old-timey meme that Mike posted to Instagram.
He continued: "’til they try to swipe they foodstamp card and Dora the Explorer pops out saying swiper no swiping!”
Yeah, there’s a lot to that to discuss, but there’s more.
Mike also shared a racist hashtag referring to the "birther" conspiracy about President Barack Obama.
“Obama go back and be president in Kenya,” the tag read.
The tag then demanded that President Obama, who is an American citizen and was born in Hawaii, “Work like the rest of us.”
"Is this guy Mexican or Jewish?" read the block text across a photo of infamous murderer George Zimmerman.
"I’m so confused on how white people are involved at all," the text continued.
Mike captioned: "What’s the commotion about white people … is it too soon."
"I blew a t—-y means something totally different to a mechanic," another of Mike’s shared posts read.
While this was clearly intended to be a pun, it used a transphobic slur that has no place in any joke that Mike should make or repeat.
And then came a line that would have been cringe at best in 2013, asking if products sold within China read "made around the corner."
While I am not Chinese or of any Asian descent, I can say that this bad "joke" at least seems like an attempt at humor.
Is it tone deaf? Yes. Was it dumb, even in 2013? Also yes.
But after some of Mike’s other posts, he set the bar so low that "didn’t use a slur this time" gets him some points.
We sincerely doubt that Mike is reading up on the backlash that he is receiving, but we hope that he has learned a lot since he shared that deeply dumb George Zimmerman post.
White supremacy is a systemic injustice, enabling and encouraging even people of color to perpetuate anti-Blackness, even to the point of ending a 17-year-old boy’s life.
Also … just for the record, being Jewish doesn’t mean not being white. There are Jewish communities of all races.
"Birtherism," the baseless conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the United States and thus ineligible for the Presidency, was always racist.
We all knew that in 2013.
If you wanted to make an ironic joke about President Obama at the time, you’d say "thanks Obama" after stubbing your toe, as if to pretend that it was his fault.
What’s really interesting about the post about Black people attempting to use EBT cards is that, for starters, there are more white people on food stamps than any other demographic.
The use of racial slurs is not okay, and this was not a secret in 2013. Why Mike felt comfortable sharing these is unimaginable.
This specific slur, in fact, reminds us of one of Mike’s castmates who was fired from this very season.
While Alina Kasha has apologized for using the N-word in multiple posts, she was fired from the show.
Production even took the unprecedented step of editing out her story, and that of Caleb Greenwood, from the rest of the season.
She almost certainly sincerely meant her apology, and that’s great, but there are some lines that cannot be uncrossed.
Alina is Russian by birth and, despite having attended some school in the United States, claimed that she did not understand the nuances of the N-word, thinking it to be a swear word.
Mike obviously has no such excuse.
On the other hand, Alina’s posts are from 2014 and 2015, while Mike’s are from around 2013. Does that make a difference?
It’s hard to say, because we have surely all grown as people since 2013.
Certainly, society has grown much more understanding and aware in terms of systemic inequality and the harm of slurs and casual bigotry.
2013 was arguably after the years of "ironic bigotry" humor that swept over social media and comedy shows in the ’00s … but was Mike just late getting the memo?
We can understand a lot of ignorance and tone deafness and even accidental bigotry from very old social media posts, because people learn and change over time.
But … those slurs that Mike was sharing, and some of those racist sentiments, are difficult to explain away … even if we wanted to.
People are going to have complicated (at best) feelings about Mike now. It would be interesting to hear what he has to say for himself. Let’s hope that he starts with an apology.