February 12, 2008

The APA Vote and the Kristof Technique

This is being discussed on the message board here (thanks, yellowdawg), but I thought I’d repost it on the main page. Above is the youtube version.

I think this segment does a great disservice to Asian Americans. It’s the Nicholas Kristof technique, where they pick harmless token examples of Asian Americans to represent the many. (For more information about the Kristof technique, check out his article here, as well as his response to angry Asian Americans here ,where he tells us what’s best for us.) CNN picked the newest immigrants to interview. They chose people who don’t speak English very well, who do not occupy positions of power, and who do not yet have the confidence or knowledge to work the system. They chose people who are new to this country and who are still in survival mode, and they used them as a vehicle to generalize the whole culture. There are so many people who were born here, some of us two or three generations ago, and yet they chose to ignore us.If they had asked one of the 44’s or anyone from any of the big Asian American blogs/message boards, they would’ve had a better story. They could’ve interviewed people at the many universities in Washington or California. They could’ve spoken to professionals or politicians of Asian descent. They could’ve spoken to community leaders. They could’ve easily done better than getting a woman voting for Hillary because she’s a “white lady” or a 14 year old boy saying that he would vote for Lincoln.

What I find especially mind-boggling is that these media companies are not racially homogenous anymore. Every news station has an Asian female anchor, and I’m sure there are tons of Asian guys working as grips and editors in the newsroom. If they want the Asian American news, why don’t they ask Asian Americans? If Kristof himself wanted real answers about Asian Americans, why doesn’t he just ask his Chinese wife? As you can see from Kristof’s original blog, we complain all the time (and yes, I was actually one of those Asian Americans who sent him an angry letter and got dismissed), but whenever we bring up complaints or suggestions, we get brushed off with the same Kristofian answer: “I don’t buy it.” I love how he supposedly gives us the last word, and yet two years later, the NY Times still doesn’t have a prominent Asian American Op-Ed writer.

The media is supposed to report the news. So why don’t they get of their butts and report the news instead of yapping about the same old orientalist nonsense?

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