The independent news organization of Duke University

Media's portrayal of Asian Americans has improved

As glad as I am to see Hua Wang's column increase awareness of issues that can be difficult for Asian Americans, I don't think the correct mindframe is to dwell on the stereotypes the media employs but to focus on the vast improvements made in the past couple of decades.

In order to point out racial animosity, Wang draws from the movie Lady and the Tramp. Not only is using the scene with Siamese cats as an example of racial injustice a questionable attempt, but the movie was released in 1955. In the past 35 years, society has certainly improved by leaps and bounds in the terms of racial equality. Fast forward to 1999, when Lucy Liu is cast in Ally McBeal as a brilliant lawyer with radical views and the attitude to voice them. Like Liu, Asians and the Asian culture are now making a huge and positive impact on the media in a multifaceted way. Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat have become household names; Asian-influenced clothing is appearing on the racks of the GAP and mainstream society is reading The Tao of Pooh.

One of my Chinese-American high school teachers once told me that when she hit adolescence, she decided to finish high school in Taiwan because she found it too hard to grow up with a lack of Asian-American role models. Nowadays, children-not just Asian Americans-are looking up to Amy Tan, Michelle Kwan and Ang Lee. With more positive role models, the portrait of the typical Asian American fades, the group becomes more diversified and stereotypes can not be effectively cast.

The media will continue to stereotype every kind of group and race, be it a majority or minority, as long as people continue to clump different people together. Instead of scrutinizing every single case to pick out the injustices, we should recognize the progress made in diversifying the mainstream and the people who contribute to it.

Lynn Wang

Pratt '02


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