To the Editor:
I applaud the recent actions and proposals of various community groups to respond to racial issues on campus, specifically those prompted by the latest allegations of racism in publications such as the Yale Record and last spring’s Rumpus. However, these large-scale efforts directed against external perceptions and portrayals only highlight the lack of internal scrutiny within these organizations.
As an Asian American, I was horrified and embarrassed to read the Sept. 26 edition of the Asian American Students’ Association publication Informasian. Crystal Chen ’09 first tries to make a hero of an Asian American woman who proves that she was “clearly not the stereotyped meek and submissive type” by taking a picture of a New York City subway flasher with her camera phone to turn him in to the police. But then Chen reinforces Asian American stereotypes by claiming that flashers should beware, since “many Asian Americans are quite adept at using technology to their advantage.” Trying to disprove one stereotype simply by reinforcing another demonstrates a fundamental lack of insight into racism, and while a comment of this sort is not nearly as overtly disgusting as the ones espoused by the Record and Rumpus, it is perhaps more insidious. Chen does not even have the excuse of parody. With the amount of energy that AASA puts into combating negative stereotypes in other publications, it should expend some effort to educate its own members, or at least exercise some judicious editing.
Anne Nguyen ’07
Sept. 26, 2006