Here’s a thought-provoking essay from the NYT about Joe Biden’s use of the word “articulate” last week to describe Barack Obama (free registration required). Continue reading
Note: The blog I just posted got me to thinking about a column I wrote way back in the day, before blogs were a twinkle in some developer’s eye, about Asians on TV. It’s posted in the archives of my Nikkeiview site, but I thought I’d re-post it here. I wrote this after seeing the final “Seinfeld” episode.
Like a zillion other people across the country, I tuned in to the final episode of “Seinfeld,” and I gotta say, I was only mildly impressed. Oh, I liked the show whenever I caught it, but I was a casual viewer, so the nasty humor that the characters reveled in didn’t connect with me the way they may have for diehard fans.
What the show did, especially with its segments making fun of foreigners, was get me thinking about Asian faces on TV. As a Japanese-American kid enchanted by American popular culture of the 1960s, it never occurred to me growing up that there were very few people like me on the shows I watched for hours on end. Continue reading
Erin and I attended a networking event tonight of a new organization forming in Denver, the Colorado Chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals, and had a great time with a spirited group of Asian Americans. We saw some familiar faces, but Erin and I were delighted to find that we didn’t know most of the attendees — it’s nice to see new (and young) Asians adding their voices to the APA community.
During the meeting, which was held in a hip and popular Cherry Creek sushi bar named Hapa, one of the women asked Erin if she was Chinese, and didn’t believe it when Erin replied she was Japanese American.
Then the woman looked at me and asked if I was mixed, or hapa (a Hawaiian word for half-white which started out as a derogatory, but is now widely used and accepted). I explained I’m full Japanese — my dad was born in Hawai’i but he was full Japanese, and my mom is from Japan. Continue reading
I guess the upside is that some non-Asians have now learned (we hope) that saying “ching-chong, ching-chong” as a way of mocking Asian languages is offensive to Asian Americans. The downside is that many non-Asians are probably still left thinking that all Asian languages sound alike (they don’t).
And, Rosie O’Donnell probably skated from any further repercussions from this stupid gaffe by giving her on-camera “non-apology apology.” It’s just another typical example of someone brushing off responsibility by putting the blame of being offensive on the people who were offended (“I’m sorry you/they were offended”). I wish she’d just said, which she almost did when she admitted she didn’t know about Asian Americans growing up hearing “ching-chong” as a racist taunt, that she was sorry she said it, period.
Anyway, here’s the video, care of YouTube: Continue reading
Asians traditionally don’t speak up about injustices — it’s the “don’t bring attention to yourself,” “don’t complain, it’ll cause trouble” syndrome. But more and more, Asian Americans are different.
So when Rosie O’Donnell mocked the sound of the Chinese language a week ago on “The View,” the Asian American Journalists Association’s New York chapter e-mail list began a spirited conversation, with most members outraged and demanding an apology and some cautioning that O’Donnell hadn’t gone on a racist “rant” like Michael Richards, and that it was a poor attempt at humor.
I wasn’t laughing. Like many Asian Americans, I was familiar with that “ching-chong, ching-chong” sound, from when I was taunted by European-American kids telling me to go back where I came from. That sound makes my gut clench as much as a punch. (Click here for the video on YouTube.) Continue reading