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Commentary: The Media is Failing Asian Americans

Police brutality protests across the nation, the latest political bargain between Democrats and Republicans in Washington, and the never-ending Covid-19 coverage would have you believe that nothing else of significance exists within the country. 

It is blatantly obvious that the media is more than willing to provide 24/7 coverage of the violence that has permeated our nation after peaceful protesting in a push for ‘racial justice,’ and rightfully so. Violence and police shootings get the most views for outlets, so why not cash in on the broadcasting and publishing?

Yet, despite the recurring narratives seen played out every day to gather the most clicks, the media have impressively and inadvertently downplayed the abhorrent hate crimes and racism towards the Asian American communities across the United States. 

Even before the coronavirus hit, the daily racism that Asians have yielded over the years seems to be non-existent from established media sites. Asians roughly make up about five percent of the entire U.S population, and only about two percent here at Drake University, second to last above Native Americans. Defending established media for the act of simply ‘going to the next topic’ only reiterates the lack of Asians represented in mass media and journalism as a profession. 

Where exactly is their representation of Asian culture and daily struggles in a predominantly white culture and being the minority of minorities in today’s media?

The following is just a snippet of the number of hate crimes against Asians in the past few months: 

CBS News published a piece on July 2, 2020, reporting that 2,120 hate incidents against Asian Americans were reported in a three-month span. Citizens of all races, other than Asians, have been shown to maliciously target and beat Asian Americans just for the sake of their race. 

Axios published a story in May 2020 which reported that over 800 cases of hate incidents occurred over a three month period in California. 

Just recently, in late July,  in New York City, ABC 7 reported on an incident where an Asian woman was beaten and set on fire by two men. The heinous incident’s motive is noted as to be because of the woman’s Asian descent. 

Journalist Andy Ngo, who has also been the victim of racially motivated assault, reported on a video from Philidelphia posted to Twitter showing a group of men beating an Asian man until he lay incapacitated. As the man lay on the ground, the men stomped, kicked, and threw a cone on his head. 

Vox News also posted a video in San Francisco of an elderly Asian man being harassed and beaten by another group of men. ” We don’t want to start a race war,” said the mayor of San Francisco when asked about the incident. 

In Albany mid-June, 6 News reported an Asian employee being beat by a man after being told to follow the store’s COVID-related guidelines by wearing a mask. The customer told the man,” Go back to your country,” and proceeded to sucker punch and kick the Asian man. 

In St. Paul, Minnesota, three teens are seen recording a confrontation with an Asian woman as one of the teen’s drops kicks the woman in the face. 

Also this May in Vancouver, another man is seen walking up to a 22-year-old Asian woman and punching her in the face, according to NowThisNews. 

This is not including the numerous Asian-owned businesses that were looted and destroyed amid the horrific incident of George Floyd. The Global Times interviewed a Chinese business owner, Huang, in Minneapolis whose restaurant was shot at by rioters. 

“We Asians are a weak group in the U.S. We don’t dare speak even if our stores are smashed in the protests,” Huang said in an interview with the Global Times. “Blacks are under protection of the so-called ‘political correctness,’ but Asians here are protected by nothing.” The piece noted that, though many Asian Americans support the stand against police violence, Asian Americans interviewed feel “there wouldn’t be such a large scale of protests if the victim was not a Black man but an Asian.”

The Columbia Journalism review interviewed Russel Jeung, a San Franciso Asian-American Professor, who studied how the media covered Asian Americans. When asked his opinion on,” How do you think mainstream media serves Asian Americans In General,” Jeung responded with,” They tend to neglect us. And again, stereotype us.”

Where are the protests? Where is the 24/7 news coverage for the hate against Asian Americans? 

Where’s the declaration of a National Emergency? If this were to happen to any other minority race at this astronomical rate these past three months, this would be headline news coverage for weeks. 

Where’s the justice for those suffering in the Asian American communities who are being verbally and physically harmed daily for the past few months?

It wasn’t until COVID hit that I began to notice my own identity as being Korean. People have and continue to stare at me in stores and various restaurants whenever I am out. During the summer, I took up a delivery job for DoorDash, in which some individuals would glare at me as they stood on their front lawns that displayed their proud Confederate flags. 

Even before COVID I have experienced discrimination, whether that be being made fun of because I am “not living up to my Asian heritage” in mathematics, or being forced to wear a “Jackie Chan” name tag by a manager at work since I was the only Asian employee. 

 As an Asian American myself, the only thing I can concur from current reality is that Asian lives don’t matter in the media, let alone in the scope of public opinion. The message is clear to myself and other Asian Americans across the country,” Your obstacles of racism are neglected, and your race is only used to display what it means to be a ‘Token Minority.’


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