Thirteen days ago, a fellow LinkedIn member, Susan Miyabe - Sugimoto posted a question-- “Does anyone know why there are no "Asian Voices" on the Huff Post?” even though there are black, latino, and gay voices categories-- on the LinkedIn group Asian American Leadership Network, in which we both belong. Though there are 609 members in the group, no one responded to her. She commented on her own post: “..perhaps the HuffPost came up with the same conclusion that no one cares about the Asian Americans...there just is not a large enough market share out there for them to be significant.” And then she added she decided to send a message to the Huffington Post to see why they themselves decided not to have Asian Voices.
I didn’t see Susan’s post until a few days later. But reading her post and her comment about no one responding to her post struck me for two reasons. One, damnit, she’s right. Why isn’t there an Asian Voices in the Huffington Post? Why are we less important than the Black community, Latino community or the gay community? Is it because of our numbers? Sure we are smaller than the black and hispanic communities, but according to the US Census, we have the highest growth rate of any racial group, and I am sure we are bigger than the gay community. Heck, Huffington Post even has a “Weird News” category. Is weird news more relevant than Asian Americans?
The second thing that struck me about Susan’s post, her comment to her post actually, was that why didn’t any anyone respond to her post and because of this lack of interest, is that the same conclusion Huffington post came up with? That Asian Americans don’t care to have a voice? That struck me more deeply than the original post by Susan, on why Huffington Post don’t have Asian Voices?
I responded to Susan, after she commented again that after 5 days, Huffington Post still had not responded even though she went through all the protocols for contacting them. I said, “It's unfortunate but it just shows we have to make our own voices. And I think more and more of us are doing that. We are trying with TigerStartups to enable Asian American entrepreneurs to have a voice and to have a place to promote themselves. I do hope Huff Post, as a huge medium, does see that we are a people that have a voice and that we are a market that is worth marketing to.”
In reply Susan said, “ It’s sad, but maybe the Huff Post looks at us as a group that does not have a voice...therefore, no Asian Voices.”
As I read Susan’s response, I couldn’t help but think she may be right. Maybe the Huffington Post doesn't have Asian Voices because there is just no demand for it. No demand from any Asian Americans of influence (that I know off) that is loudly asking Huffington Post why they feel that we Asians don’t deserve a voice, but other minorities do? Perhaps not enough emails and telephone calls asking Huffington Post why they don’t to represent Asian voices. Basically not enough Susan Miyabe-Sugimotos. I thought this was probably the reason. And it made me sad but not totally surprised.
For too long Asians are known as the mythical model minority. A minority that works hard, studies hard, is affluent and stays out of trouble. I never liked this label put upon me let alone the community to which I am supposed to belong. Yes, I am a hard worker, and yes I studied hard enough to go to college and get my degree though my family was in poverty. I didn’t like this label because I felt it propagated Asians from thinking they are the “accepted” minority while the other minorities, black, and hispanics are somehow less accepted. That implication, was antithetical to me. It made me think we are glad to be accepted by the white majority, thus subservient to them and not as equals. It insinuated an “us against them” mentality, them being the black and latino communities. That just made me very uncomfortable if not sick.
I can’t help but think that we are still feeding this model minority label. And because of this, we are still not speaking up for our voices because we are the model minority so we shouldn't rock the boat. But damn it, this is not 1902 when race riots occurred against Asian Americans. This is not 1942 when Japanese Americans were interned. This is not 1982 when Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, was murdered on the day of his bachelor party because a laid off United Auto Worker thought he was Japanese and getting away with the murder - to this day not spending a day in jail. This is 2012. We are supposed to past this fear of speaking for our voices. Maybe if we spoke up and had our voices heard long ago, Vincent Chin’s murderers would have faced justice. Maybe it’s because we failed to speak up for our rights. And to speak up for our rights, we need to raise our voice. We need to have a voice period.
Thank you Susan Miyabe - Sugimoto for speaking up. We need more like you and when we do we will finally have Asian Voices in the Huffington Post. To do your part-- tweet, facebook and write and email the Huffington Post demanding that your voice be heard.
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