By Ed Diokno
From the admittedly biased perspective of Views From the Edge, diversity — or the lack of it — racial justice and racial inequities are some of the underlying issues permeating almost every issue in today’s world.
On the first day of the Republican National Convention , it was a pleasant surprise to see some Asian American faces on the CNN news panels.
Well, OK, it was early morning and not prime time, but let’s not quibble … small steps are better than no steps.
A week ago, a coalition of prominent Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) civic and civil rights organizations united to deliver an open letter to CNN, MSNBC and Fox News — the three largest providers of cable news in the U.S. — asking that the networks address the persistent underrepresentation of the AAPI community in their programming.
“Networks need to ensure that Asian American and Pacific Islander voices and perspectives are heard and that issues of importance to our communities are discussed,” said Christopher Kang, national director of National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA). “If we are invisible in the media, racial slurs and inaccurate portrayals of AAPIs will persist, but when Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are better represented–in particular, in the news–it allows for a more diverse understanding across all communities. All Americans–including AAPIs–deserve more accurate representation in our media.”
“The profound underrepresentation of Asian American and Pacific Islander people on prime time news exacerbates the injury caused when someone like Ann Coulter uses her time as a guest of Hardball with Chris Matthews to mislabel Asian Americans with the racially charged term ‘Mandarins’, as she did last month,” said Jenn Fang of Reappropriate, an online blog on Asian American issues.
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“Networks may not be wholly responsible for their guest’s commentary, but it is troublesome that they routinely enable the broadcast of offensive comments while they simultaneously deny members of targeted communities the same opportunity to respond and engage with our national political discourse,” she said.
The letter, signed by 23 civil rights and community groups, asks for a meeting with network executives to discuss representation and “recent incidents that involve news hosts and guests who made disparaging remarks about the AAPI community on the air.”