There is no shortage of stereotypes plaguing media portrayals of Asian-Americans. Regardless of their platform, the stories we do or don’t tell about Asian people in the United States have not only enshrined harmful misconceptions, but have made a diverse network of cultures in this country invisible.
To untangle how these myths affect Asian-American communities — and what needs to be done to reclaim them — Mic spoke with Jennifer Fang, creator of the race and culture blog Reappropriate, and Lauren Jow, a journalist and communications professional based in Los Angeles.
Below are some of the stories Fang and Jow say need to be told about Asian-Americans in the media today — and which stereotypes need to die.
1. We, too, are American.
“Asians are rarely identified as Asian-American,” Fang told Mic via email. “[Most] media portrays them as foreign, and often threateningly so, which contributes to stereotyping them as perpetually alien and therefore abnormal, unpatriotic, perhaps even disloyal.”
This notion has precedent: The late 19th century rash of so-called yellow peril — the idea that East Asians posed a threat to global stability — prompted racist propaganda campaigns across the United States and a wave of exclusionary immigration policies.
The forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II continued this fear. And most recently, concerns about Chinese influence in global affairs have assumed a suspiciously similar tenor.
More bad news for the fearful: Asians are the “fastest-growing minority group in the United States,” Jow said. The number of Asian-Americans stands to grow 128% between now and 2060, according to U.S. Census projections, making this segment of hyphenated Americans one of the more vital components of America’s future.
2. We are not your “model minority.”
Fang says Asian-Americans are also “portrayed as the ‘model minority’ — scholarly, obedient, unassuming, technically oriented.”
“In advertisements, Asians typically are cast in the role of the educated techie or nerd,” Jow said. “There’s the stereotype that Asians are good at math and science, they’re really into gaming, they’re obedient and submissive, they’re intelligent and unemotional, they value education and hard work but they’re not leaders.”
Right-wing pundits have also used this stereotype for years to belittle other Americans of color: “Look how well Asians are doing in the U.S.,” their logic goes. “Why are black Americans struggling so much?”
This straw man argument both ignores centuries of systemic anti-black violence and discrimination, while presenting what Fang calls a “narrow and stifling portrayal of the Asian-American experience,” that limits how people feel permitted to imagine and present themselves.
Not to mention it can be flat out wrong: As Mic‘s Jamilah King has written previously, the popularity of Asian-American comedians, chefs, artists, athletes and others in America speaks to a range of ways to “be Asian-American” as any other group has, far outside of the obedient nerd stereotype.
3. We are diverse.
Too often the term “Asian-American” is presumed to mean Chinese, Japanese or other groups of East Asian descent.
“It’s important to remember that Asia is a continent, not a country,” says Jow. “I’d like to see stories about different kinds of Asian communities, what makes their culture unique and how it changes when blended with mainstream American culture.”
Indian-, Pakistani-, Cambodian-, Filipino- and Samoan-Americans — among many others with roots in the Pacific Islands, South and Southeast Asia — have all placed their unique mark on the cultural landscape in the United States, yet often go ignored when we consider the Asian-American experience.
This does no one any favors. Part of pushing back against media stereotypes means broadening our understanding of what this complex and diverse demographic — which encompasses descendants from more than 20 countries — actually looks like.
4. We are political.
Part of the “model minority” stereotype includes the notion of apolitical Asian-American obedience to the status quo, says Fang. This is exacerbated by the “documented invisibility” of Asian guests on political talk shows: “[Our] absence reinforces the myth that American politics does not involve or pertain to us,” she says.
In truth, Asian-Americans have a long history of political involvement in this country. One of the defining battles of mid-century Bay Area politics was spurred by Filipino-American residents of San Francisco’s International Hotel and its surrounding neighborhood — which was set to be demolished in the late 1960s in the name of “urban renewal.” Protests, refusals to move out and courtroom battles ensued over the next decade until the final hotel residents were evicted in 1977.
Today, Asian-Americans have further bucked stereotypes that essentially frame them as docile allies to white Americans by shifting away from conservative politics. In 2012, President Barack Obama won 73% of the Asian-American vote, which accounted for a larger segment of his support base than both Hispanics (71%) and women (55%), Politico reports.
5. We are not all martial artists.
This should go without saying. But if you’ve so much as glanced at a TV over the past 50 years, you’ll notice, as Fang says, that “both [Asian-American] men and women are disproportionately depicted as martial artists.”
While the influence of martial arts cinema on the United States — from Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to The Matrix— cannot be overstated, Asian-Americans are far more complex than this narrow depiction.
“I’d love for media to depict Asian-Americans in broader and more varied ways,” Fang said, “which I think would better acknowledge the many ways people are Asian-American. I’d love to see Asian-Americans being and doing non-stereotypical things. An Asian-American action hero who can’t do martial arts. An Asian-American who maybe struggles in school.”
Jow adds, “I’d like to see stories about poor Asian families, LGBT Asians, overweight Asians, Asian kids who didn’t grow up with a Tiger Mom or didn’t have a mom, Asians running for office, ditzy Asians in high school, Asians trying to date in the modern world, Asians who are lost and trying to find themselves, Asian CEOs and businesspeople, Asians who are physical and violent and not in a gangster/kung fu kind of way, Asians being eloquent and preachy and emotional — in short, Asians doing all the things we do that have nothing to do with being Asian.”
6. We are not all wealthy.
As Mic has previously reported, Chinese- and Indian-Americans — two of the largest Asian-American subgroups — average among the highest income and education rates in the nation.
This does not mean all Asian-American people are well off. Hmong- and Bangladeshi-Americans, for instance, face poverty rates above 20%, while 37% of Cambodian-American adults lack a high school diploma, Mic reports.
“Pacific Islanders have drastically higher rates of poverty than East Asian Americans,” Jow said.
Acknowledging this diversity among Asian-Americans in terms of both educational attainment and income is not only key for eliminating stereotypes — it creates a space wherein the unique needs of, and disparities facing, these populations are actually addressed on a broad scale.
7. We are beautiful on our terms, not yours.
Debate around Asian-American desirability proliferates in the media. “Asian and Asian-American women are often stereotyped as sexually or romantically available,” Fang explains, while Asian-American men are “rarely depicted as a desirable romantic lead” — a phenomenon Mic has reported on previously via the fashion photo series “Persuasian.”
This is exacerbated, and perhaps even informed, by statistics around spaces like online dating: OkCupid data from 2009-2014 found that Asian women, on average, are one of the most desired groups on the platform, while Asian men are among the least.
This reflects a problematic trend by which notions of desirability are meted out along racial lines in American culture — and reinforced by the media. As such, part of eliminating stereotypes means moving away from this trend. “I’d love to see an Asian-American female lead who isn’t a romantic interest, and an Asian-American male lead who is,” says Fang.
The degree to which media portrayals of Asian-Americans either cause or reflect stereotypes is hard to say. But the inaccuracy of their limited, stereotypical portrayals still stands.
To uproot these problems, Fang works to support a diverse portrayal of Asian people in media, while supporting artists and filmmakers who “can self-express a more authentic and unfiltered Asian-American voice,” Fang said.
The key is “presenting Asian-Americans in a more complex, and therefore more human, light,” she added. “For me, that can only come when we are able to shape our media portrayals directly, as through the independent arts.”
“Tropes and archetypes serve their purpose in certain contexts,” Jow said. “But without the benefit of more diverse storylines — and more storylines in general — the myths are all we have.”
ABC host Martha Raddatz asked Jindal if he, born to legal immigrant parents, was troubled by the “derogatory things” other GOP candidates have said.
The term “anchor babies” to refer to children who are automatically granted citizenship despite the citizenship status of their parents has been used by some presidential candidates, includingDonald Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Jindal himself said last week that he was also “happy to use” the term.
On Sunday, Jindal told Raddatz that his parents have never taken the United States for granted.
“And I think this election is largely about the idea — the idea of America is slipping away in front of us. When it comes to immigration policy, what I’ve experienced and seen is that a smart immigration policy makes our country stronger; a dumb one makes us weaker. We’ve got a dumb one today,” Jindal said.
“Yes, we need to secure our border. Stop talking about it,” he continued. “I think we need to insist that folks who come here come here legally, learn English, adopt our values, roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Raddatz interrupted Jindal and asked him to clarify what the difference was between “American values” and those of immigrants.
“Look, what I worry about is you look to Europe, the contrast is — you’ve got second, third generation immigrants that don’t consider themselves part of those societies, those cultures,” Jindal said. “We in our country shouldn’t be giving freedoms to people who want to undermine the freedom for other people. I think we need to move away from hyphenated Americans. We’re not African-Americans or Asian-Americans, Indian-Americans, rich or poor Americans: we’re all Americans.”
“He’s avant garde,” Palin said in a desperate attempt to convince America she knows what that phrase means
On Friday’s episode of a program whose title isn’t the least bit ironic, “On Point with Sarah Palin,” the former Alaskan governor and failed vice presidential candidate conducted an interview with Donald Trump in which the pair of strong American patriots did little more than whine about the unfairness of it all.
“This is a movement,” Palin said introducing her guest, “of Trumpeters or Trumpservatives or whatever these folks are called. He’s avant garde, and crushing it in the polls. One America viewers, he wants to connect with you, to those who are going to show up at the polls and elect the next leader of the free world.”
Palin said that she spoke to Democratic strategist James Carville, who to her mind is famous for having said, “it’s the economy, silly,” and asked Trump how he felt about the current volatility in the world market.
“It’s really pretty sad,” he replied, “they’ve just destroyed our job base, and we have to make a lot of improvement.” That sort of banal generality characterized much of the interview, whether the subject was the venal nature of the IRS or the unquestionable awesomeness of the United States military.
For example, she asked Trump what it’s like to be respected by the military for being “a truth-talker, instead of being punched in the nose for seven years by Obama.” To say that it played out like a scene from “Idiocracy” is an insult to the denizens of Mike Judge’s fictionalized future, especially when the issue of “gotcha” journalism was raised. Palin lamented a journalist’s attempt to “get” Trump by asking him to name his favorite biblical verse, which was totally “off the table” despite the fact that Trump’s repeatedly declared the Bible to be his favorite book in interviews.
“I listened to that going, ‘Do they ask Hillary that? What does it have to do with running for the office of the presidency? Is it anybody’s business?’” she asked, unaware that Clinton had been asked that selfsame question earlier this year and recited Corinthians 13 by way of answering.
“These personal ‘gotcha’ questions, really trying to get you, us, anybody running for office off game,” she continued. “How are you finding that, and finding a technique to put them in their place so that the American public isn’t wasting their time and actually get to hear what’s important via candidates’ message?”
“You saw that. I love the Bible, and I’m Protestant, I’m Presbyterian. And they were hitting me with different questions, one right after the other,” Trump replied. “I don’t know if it’s ‘gotcha questions,’ it probably is. And then they said, ‘What’s your favorite verse?’ You know, that’s a very personal thing. I don’t like giving that out to people that you hardly know. Frankly, I don’t know if they’re fair questions, or not fair questions, but there are certain things that you, myself and a lot of other people think too personal.”
Palin did not press Trump on why it’s not too personal to declare the Bible your favorite book, then decline to provide any evidence you’ve read it or regularly attend church services, because of course she didn’t.
Watch the entire interview below via One America News Network.
The actor was scheduled to join the cast of “The Color Purple” Sept. 6.
Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the youngest actor — and the first black actor — to play the lead role in a Broadway production of “Les Miserables,” died after a tragic fall from his mother’s fire escape Friday. He was 21.
Broadway World confirmed the news of his death, publishing a statement from Jean-Baptiste’s company that expressed condolences to his family.
“The entire LES MISERABLES family is shocked and devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Kyle, a remarkable young talent and tremendous person who made magic – and history – in his Broadway debut,” the statement says. “We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time.”
The actor made his debut on Broadway this summer in the iconic role of Jean Valjean, the protagonist in “Les Miz,” the longest running musical in the world. Thursday was his final show.
“Today is my last performance as Valjean on Broadway,” he wrote on Instagram beneath abefore-and-after picture of him in costume. “What an incredible experience. I’ve learned and grown so much. Grateful for the people I’ve met and this opportunity. I will never forget it. Dedicating this performance to someone special to me. They know who they are. Also sending love to everyone who supported me. Family friends etc. Until next time.”
Jean-Baptiste appeared on HuffPost Live in July to discuss his passion for acting and how it felt to make history as the first black actor to take on the role of Valjean on Broadway.
“I had always wanted to play Valjean when I was younger, but never thought it possible on Broadway because I’m black,” he said. “Now that I’ve done the role, I’ve realized how this news can inspire.”
The United States has a massive problem with higher education. Tuition prices have soured upwards by 500% since 1985. Since very few people can afford to pay their tuition upfront, students have become burdened with a huge amount of debt. In 2013, 69% of seniors graduated from public and non-profit colleges with an average of $28,400 dollars of debt. On average, the graduating class of 2015 will end up having to pay back $35,000 dollars to fully pay off their student loans.
Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the two top Democratic presidential primary front-runners have laid out policy plans that would make public higher education free for students. Of course, conservatives are freaking out over the idea and making many of the same ridiculous assertions that have been by those who oppose a single-payer healthcare system.
A major talking point being used by those who have completely dissociated themselves from reality is that students should work to pay their own way through college. The Chronicle of Higher Education has thoroughly ruled that argument as absurd with the release of a map that shows how long it would take a person who works part-time for minimum wage to pay a year’s worth of tuition.
Here is the map:
The Chronicle of Higher Education found that:
“For the forthcoming academic year, attending a flagship university will cost about $10,500, on average, while the average minimum wage across states is $7.90. To put that in perspective, if you work a minimum-wage job for 20 hours a week, it would take you about one year and three months to get in the black.”
What is even more interesting is that even if the minimum wage were raised to $15/hr. it would still be absurd to think that most people could work their way through college on their own. Here is what The Chronicle of Higher Education found when they crunched the numbers again, this time with a $5/hr. minimum wage:
“If the federal minimum wage were raised to $15 an hour, a year’s worth of 20-hour work weeks would cover the average in-state tuition and fees in most states. (In Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Illinois — where tuition and fees exceed $15,000 — you’d have work at least two extra months to break even.)”
Therefore, if the minimum wage were raised to $15/hr. tuition would become affordable to many students. However, since the map does not take into account the cost of things like books, room and board, and the miscellaneous supplies necessary to go school, which can double the cost of pursuing a degree.
For the majority of students, working their way through school simply is not possible without financial aid or taking out student loans. That means conservatives are going to have to come up with a better argument against tuition free higher education, and accept that the current student debt crisis is not a result of students laziness.
A new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll shows Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) only 7 points behind Hillary Clinton in the race for the Iowa caucus, a worrying sign for the Democratic frontrunner. Clinton leads with 37 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers, with Sanders following at 30 percent.
As Clinton’s campaign struggles to counter negative press from her ongoing email controversy, Sanders has energized liberal Democrats with impassioned talk of political revolution. According to the poll, 96 percent of Sanders supporters said they support him for his ideas, while two percent said their support lies mostly in the fact that they do not support Clinton.
The poll also includes Vice President Joe Biden, who captured 14 percent. He has yet to announce a presidential bid.
Clinton has lost a third of her support since May, the poll found. This is also the first time Clinton has fallen below the 50 percent mark in a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll this year. “It looks like what people call the era of inevitability is over,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll.
While the poll results show a notable departure from Clinton’s presumptive lead, they don’t necessarily predict what’s to come. In June 2011, former Rep. Michele Bachmann was polling just one point behind eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney in Iowa. Bachmann finished in sixth place, with a dismal 5 percent of the vote at the caucuses.
The poll, conducted August 23-26, is based on telephone interviews with 404 likely Democratic caucusgoers. The findings have a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
Sanders is currently polling at a hair under 30 percent in the HuffPost Pollster chart, which aggregates all publicly available polls.
In 1988, Jeb!’s daddy—not to be confused with his sugar daddies—famously declared “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
That promise helped the elder Bush win the election, but it also played a role in his defeat four years later.
Fast forward to 2015.
Jeb!’s nemesis, Donald Trump, is letting his hat do the talking, and its message—”Make America Great Again” (by forcibly ejecting todos los mexicanos)—is resonating with the GOP base in a big (yuge!) way.
It’s not just hat aficionados like David Duke who are feeling Trump’s (sick) burns—he’s even converting some of his toughest critics into believers.
He has Peggy Noonan’s Dominican friend on his side—a sure sign of … well, something.
Meet the Press: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R); Roundtable: Matt Bai (Yahoo News), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Melissa Harris-Perry (MSNBC) and Republican Strategist Steve Schmidt.
Face the Nation: Louisiana Gov. Bobb Jindal (R); New Orleans, LA Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D); Historian Douglas Brinkley; Photojournalist Mario Tama; Mark Zandi (Moody’s Analytics); Roundtable: Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic), Ed O’Keefe (Washington Post), Mark Leibovich (New York Times Magazine) and Pollster Ann Selzer.
This Week: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Roundtable: Julie Pace (Associated Press), LZ Granderson (ESPN), Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Cokie Roberts (ABC News).
Fox News Sunday: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R); Roundtable: George Will(Washington Post), Christi Parsons (Los Angeles Times), Michael Needham (Heritage Action for America) and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times).
State of the Union: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
60 Minutes will feature: a report on Jack Barsky, who held a job at some of the top corporations in America and lived a seemingly normal life as a father and husband—all while spying for the Soviet Union in the last days of the Cold War (preview); and, a profile of Chinese tennis champion Li Na, who stood up to her country’s stringent sports system (preview).