Current Events Stories

It’s Not Funny (Nor Has it Ever Been)

Asian Stereotypes are not funny & they have real world consequences.

“Fox News’ Jesse Watters went to New York’s Chinatown to ask people what they thought of Donald Trump and Chinese-American relations for The O’Reilly Factor.

Or at least that’s what he said he was doing. What Watters was really doing was making fun of the people he encountered with the broadest, dumbest Asian stereotypes imaginable — making it clear they were there as props for him and his viewers for what he clearly considered a hilarious joke, rather than to actually give their opinions.“ (vox)

By laughing at Asian stereotypes, playing along with them ourselves, and framing them as benign or even positive, we perpetually silence Asian Americans and invalidate their personhood. We are denied political legitimacy and our issues do not make it onto policy agendas.

This video is a small example of a larger, systemic problem.

“O’Reilly pronounces himself impressed that Asian people who live in the US could answer basic questions about the presidential election.” (vox) This is a view that’s shared by many Americans, including Asian Americans. Asian Americans have statistically the lowest turnouts for elections, largely out of a belief that our voices don’t matter or that we don’t have a stake in this system.

This might also be in part due to the fact that “[i]n past elections, Asian Americans have faced a series of barriers in exercising their right to vote. For example, poll workers were hostile and made racist remarks, poll sites had too few interpreters to assist Asian American voters, translated voting materials were missing or hidden from voters, and ballots were mistranslated listing Democratic candidates as Republicans, and vice versa. When the news media reported on election results and the vote by specific groups, Asian Americans were often overlooked.” (AALDF)

Watters said: They’re such a polite people they won’t walk away or tell me to get out of here.

Our “politeness” is a tacit acceptance of oppression. We are not represented in the government or the media, and there are dire consequences for that. Racism is violence. We need to speak out, and we need to speak out now.

If you’re interested in making a difference:

On November 8, 2016, AALDEF, along with other Asian American groups and bar association, will be monitoring the elections and conducting non-partisan voter surveys at poll sites in Asian American neighborhoods.

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