Monday, 24 September 2012

Asians and misrepresentations

The stereotypes are true.

From childhood, I've heard "Be a doctor" or "Be a nurse" escape from the mouths of my parents on numerous occasions. But all I wanted to do was write. Why wouldn't they tell me to be a writer? In a roaring sea of loud, angry Chinese, writing was the only voice I had growing up. On a blank piece of paper, I could be as honest and raw and real as I possibly could. But because of this, most of my conversations were by myself.

It seems I wasn't the only immigrant's daughter who felt this way. Enter my rhetoric professor at the University of Winnipeg, Jacqueline McLeod-Rogers, who asked me to participate in a study of hers called Immigrant Parents and Rhetoric Daughters*. To the best of my memory, it was a paper about how immigrant parents deal with their daughters' choice to reject tradition and choose a career in writing. I'm oversimplifying, but that was basically the gist of it.

I was quite pleased this study existed, and I was even more pleased that I wasn't the only daughter of an immigrant couple who chose to write instead of tending to patients.
Photo from
There are plenty of Asian journalists. To name a few, Lisa Ling of the Oprah Winfrey Network, Julie Chen of CBS, and, let's get closer to home, Pay Chen, formerly of Winnipeg's Breakfast Television. I wanted to be next in line in that Asian hall of fame.

Lately, I've been looking at job ads and most of them more or less say the same thing: "[News company] encourages applications from women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities."

I'm a woman. I'm a visible minority.

Because I fulfill two characteristics by default, does it mean it's easier for me to get a job? In a fraction of a second, I immediately assumed it meant the company needed a token Asian woman to fulfill some sort of hiring quota. I suppose that's only a part of it unless someone can prove me wrong.

My sex and my race may be part of my getting the job, but I want my skills and personality to be the reasons I stay at that job.


* May not be the actual name of the study.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting points, Cindy.
    No matter what skills or attributes help a journalist land a job, only good performance will help her or him keep it.