An open letter

First published

In response to Ebony S. Montgomery’s letter to the editor Negative stereotype of Asians in Daily Tar Heel, which was published in Thursday’s edition of The Daily Tar Heel:

TO THE EDITOR:

On the second page of Wednesday’s Daily Tar Heel (Nov. 11) paper, the Daily Dose contained an article titled Woman finally passes driver’s test. This article talks about how a South Korean woman has just passed the written exam portion of the driver’s test after her 950th try.

Although this piece was somewhat humorous, newsworthy and entertaining, it also works to confirm the negative stereotypes.

Was the fact that the woman is South Korean really so important that it had to be explicitly stated? The article would not have even mentioned the woman’s race had she been white. If her race was really that important, people could have figured it upon reading her last name.

Wait, I’m sorry. Mentioning the country where a story takes place — one of the necessities of any news report — perpetuates racist stereotypes?

Seriously?

(Never mind that the assertion that South Korean is a race is flawed at best, anyway. A nationality, maybe, just like German or Ecuadorian or Ethiopian or, yes, American, all of which would have been mentioned had the story taken place in any of those countries.)

By the way, drawing inferences about a person’s country of origin from their name somehow seems a lot more insensitive than simply writing that a woman lives in South Korea. Would you like to guess my nationality from my name?1

This is just like the way that news stations use the black male when talking about violence and/or acts of crime. It is like linking all Republicans with racists or white supremacy groups.

No, no. It really isn’t. Please don’t make this analogy.

Negative stereotypes are enforced through articles like this one. I am sure that the person who wrote the article did not mean for it to sound like this, but we all need to be more careful about how we portray and receive people.

Yes, we do. For example, we should try to avoid implicitly branding the writers of short articles on funny topics as racists, even if it’s just subconscious accidental ones.

  1. People who already know I’m Chinese: no telling. ↩︎