Source: The Daily Northwestern, April 16, 2010
'Angry Asian Man' challenges racial stereotyping at APAC's spring event
By Lauren Mogannam
Updated: Friday, April 16, 2010
At the front of a University Hall classroom Thursday night, Phil Yu (Communication ’00) dared the audience to identify the photos of 12 Asian-American actors from the world of television. After Yu narrowed it down to a requirement of naming six, an audience member volunteered but was unable to muster enough answers.
“We don’t know who they are,” said Michelle Nitahara, a Bienen sophomore. “It is ironic that we say ‘the guy’ from ‘Heroes’ or ‘Lost.’”
About 50 Northwestern community members took in the presentation from Yu, who discussed his blog, Angry Asian Man. The room erupted in laughter as the Asian Pacific American Coalition’s spring speaker insisted that he isn’t quite what the title of his blog implies.
“Don’t use this in my presence,” he said, pointing to a picture of New York Yankees fans holding a poster reading “Matsui we love you long time.” “If you do then you might see the angry Asian man.”
Yu’s blog focuses on issues confronting the Asian-American community, Yu said.
“It mixes pop culture, entertainment, politics, basically anything that Asians living in America encounter on a daily basis,” he said. “Hopefully if people come to the site for entertainment at least they will get some of the more serious stuff.”
Yu, who is also a contact producer for Yahoo.com, was an ideal speaker for APAC’s annual spring event because his blog is in line with the group’s mission to highlight Asian-American issues, such as discrimination and racism, said Joe Spiro, APAC president.
“Hopefully this will awaken people’s consciences to latent and sometimes vocal anti-Asian-American racism by calling Asians the model minority, glossing over any flaws in the community,” the Communication junior said.
The model minority, or the idea that all Asian-Americans are doctors or engineers, is detrimental to the community as a whole because there are Asian-American groups suffering, Yu said.
With the creation of a “Jersey Shore”-type show focusing on individuals in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, the idea that all Asian-Americans are alike might dissipate, he said.
“This reality show is going to be painful, but admit it—you’re going to watch it. I would totally watch this,” Yu said. “Ultimately it will be a good thing and show that we aren’t all the same thing.”
Yu’s idea of creating a way to communicate issues and thoughts shared by Asian-Americans has its roots in NU, Yu said.
“This is where it all started,” he said. “Going to college was a time of discovering who I was as an Asian-American. I was trying to understand how to fit in and I was struck by really revolutionary ideas after taking an awesome Asian-American studies course.”
It is important for the NU community to create dialogue on issues faced by different groups like Asian-Americans, said Irene Liang, APAC’s co-programming chairwoman.
“I feel that these events might help people understand issues better and grow by learning about others different than themselves,” the Weinberg junior said. “I just wish more people would come.”
While the number of attendees was what Spiro expected, he said he wished a more diverse crowd had attended.
“I expected a less homogeneous crowd,” he said. “I was really surprised at the lack of diversity.”
Nitahara, a member of APAC, said she enjoyed the event.
“I was engaged the whole time,” she said. “I thought it was fun, enlightening and funny.”