Tag Archives: NPR

On South Korean “Superficiality”: We Are Deeper Than You Want To Know

By Guest Contributor Esther Choi

Image by Byoung Wook via Flickr Creative Commons.

Existing in very distinct manifestations of Korean American diaspora, but occupying similar spaces, we the American-born Koreans defined “fobs” (Fresh Off the Boat, more recently immigrated Koreans) by their cutesy antics, superficial looks, plastic surgery craze, and love of K-pop. We may have considered it all in good humor, but ultimately it assured us we were morally superior, a higher art form.

When I finally grew up a bit and began challenging my own internalized racism, I began to realize my judgments of “fob culture” were more about my desire to raise myself above it rather than any attempt to understand their world. Perhaps we thought that by defining ourselves against the less assimilated, we could stamp out our own sense of foreignness.

I am now living in South Korea, the place I was never from but to which my life has always been bound. Centering this society, I find a renewed appreciation for the ways that the Korean side of my bi-cultural divide has always challenged and deepened my perspectives. As I learn more about the connections between Korean society today and its incredible history of struggle and endurance, which echoes throughout the next generations and across diasporas, my identity takes new roots.
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The Science Of Racism: Radiolab’s Treatment Of Hmong Experience

By Guest Contributor Kao Kalia Yang, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

Kao Kalia Yang. Photo courtesy of the author.

On September 24, NPR show Radiolab aired a 25-minute segment on Yellow Rain. In the 1960s, most Hmong had sided with America in a secret war against the Pathet Lao and its allies. More than 100,000 Hmong died in this conflict, and when American troops pulled out, the rest were left to face brutal repercussions. Those who survived the perilous journey to Thailand carried horrific stories of an ongoing genocide, among them accounts of chemical warfare. Their stories provoked a scientific controversy that still hasn’t been resolved. In its podcast, Radiolab set out to find the “fact of the matter.”

Yet its relentless badgering of Hmong refugee Eng Yang and his niece, award-winning author and activist Kao Kalia Yang, provoked an outcry among its listeners, and its ongoing callous, racist handling of the issue has since been criticized in several places, including Hyphen. When Hyphen’s R.J. Lozada reached out to Kao Kalia Yang, she graciously agreed to share her side of the story for the first time. What follows are her words, and those of her uncle.

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Open Thread: On Mona Eltahawy And #MuslimRage

By Arturo R. García

Journalist Mona Eltahawy was arrested in New York City Tuesday for defacing one of several Islamophobic posters paid for by right-wing radio Patricia Geller. Though the arresting officer never answered her question, Eltahawy was indeed charged–she revealed on Twitter that she was booked for criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

Geller, who helped popularize the “Ground Zero Mosque” myth, has been shown by at least one study to be part of the dog-whistle playlists that make up much of the conservative airwaves.

And if you thought photographer Patricia Hall’s attempt to block Eltahawy in the name of “free speech” was dubious, you’re not wrong: Reuters columnist Anthony De Rosa pointed out that last month, Hall posted a bizarre photo essay trailing Muslims in Times Square asking, “Is Sharia coming to America?”

You might also recall Eltahawy gaining attention earlier this year for “Why Do They Hate Us?,” her cover story for Foreign Policy magazine:

Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt–including my mother and all but one of her six sisters–have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme.

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Asians Are Stealing Our Boyfriends On This American Life

By Guest Contributor Elisha Lim



(Please note, the above image has been Photoshopped from its original text.)

I am a reluctant fan of This American Life. The NPR storytellers can be such refreshing and endearing alternatives to mainstream radio. But you have to tolerate a strictly white, middle class point of view, a flaw that has been pointed out and ridiculed before. A case in point is a recent January episode–the first segment was in solidarity with “illegal” immigrant Latin@s of Alabama, but it was ironically followed by a white stand up comedian mocking the Spanish language.

The Valentine’s Day show, however, pushed me to new levels of downright rage. It’s a series of stories all about the mishaps of love, and in the last, 12-minute segment, writer Jeanne Darst describes her outrage when she discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her.

She reserves a special anger for the fact that he’s cheating on her exclusively with Asian women. That makes her furious. Not, as we might hope, because she is disturbed and angry to discover that not only is her boyfriend unfaithful, he also has a grotesque racial fetish–but because it offends her own whiteness. She reads his journal in slow dramatic tones:

And then I read that he did not have an attraction to… white women. White women like me. I knew he dated some Asian women and his ex-wife was Asian, he had Asian assistants, but I didn’t think too much about it… Maybe it was my fault. I should have said, right at the start of the relationship I’m. Not. Asian. Before anyone got hurt. Me. Before I got hurt.

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Voices: Remembering Don Cornelius [Culturelicious]

When I looked at “Soul Train” host Don Cornelius back in the ‘70s, I didn’t see a pro-black entrepreneur who would become the “African American” Dick Clark.

I saw my dad. And his entire generation.
- Eric Deggans, Tampa Bay Times

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The Truth Hurts The Wrong Side: NPR Acquiesces to The ACORN Hitman

By Arturo R. García

Another week, another politically damaging phone con. This time, National Public Radio was the mark, and it got hit hard.

NPR CEO and President Vivian Schiller was forced to resign Wednesday after a fellow executive, Ron Schiller (no relation) was caught on tape describing the Tea Party as not just “Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic. I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

Now, what could ever have given Mr. Schiller that impression?

Photos and video are under the cut. Warning: photos contain racist language/imagery.

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All Things Inconsiderate?: Issues Arise With New NPR Book

By Arturo R. García

Like any good journalistic outlet, NPR prides itself on thorough coverage and accuracy. Which makes the errors in its’ 40th-anniversary retrospective, This Is NPR, stand out even more.

(Note: As mentioned in the past, Racialicious Editrix Latoya Peterson is a consultant for NPR, and has contributed a piece to one of their blogs.)

First, as St. Petersburg Times columnist Eric Deggans reported Friday, there’s no mention in the book at all of All Things Considered host Michele Norris, the first black woman to earn a regular hosting slot on the network. From the story:

Norris was asked to contribute a chapter, along with other staffers or people who appear regularly on NPR for the book, which weaves the stories into a chronological history. Other contributors include Cokie Roberts, Nina Totenberg, P. J. O’Rourke and Paula Poundstone. But because she was writing her own book, The Grace of Silence: A Memoir, Norris couldn’t contribute an essay and was not included anywhere else, said NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm.

It was an inexcusable mistake,” Rehm added. “She should have been in the book.”

Deggans also notes the book’s omission of the recently-released Juan Williams, who had been a news analyst with the network for more than a decade before his firing last month; and of the African-American Public Radio Consortium, the group that helped NPR develop The Tavis Smiley Show, which first aired on the network before Smiley and NPR parted ways in 2004. Smiley doesn’t have an essay in the book, either, though he is referenced three times.

The only POC mentioned in the book who contributes an essay is Tell Me More host Michel Martin, who writes about covering the inauguration of President Obama in 2009. Oddly enough, though, the picture running alongside the story is of reporter Audie Cornish, who isn’t mentioned at all otherwise.


Stuff White People Do: Warmly Embrace A Racist Novel

By Guest Contributor Macon D., originally posted at Stuff White People Do

I refuse to go along with this week’s warm, feel-good celebrations of Harper Lee’s novel (published fifty years ago today), To Kill a Mockingbird. Simply put, I think that novel is racist, and so is its undying popularity. It’s also racist in a particularly insidious way, because the story and its characters instead seem to so many white people like the very model of good, heartwarming, white anti-racism.

A few days ago, NPR (National Propaganda Public Radio) aired a typically laudatory piece on the novel, voiced by reporter Lynn Neary. As usual on the soothing, soporific NPR, this piece was filtered through, and aimed toward, a well-educated white perspective. These implied people are all too happy to be reminded that racism is a thing of the past, and that things are oh so much better now. The writers of this NPR segment were careful enough to interview some black teachers and students about Lee’s book, but if any offered significant criticism, their perspectives were left out.

The segment begins,

Harper Lee had the kind of success most writers only dream about. Shortly after her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, came out in the summer of 1960, it hit the bestseller lists, then it won a Pulitzer Prize, and then was made into an Oscar-winning movie. Her novel has never gone out of print.

But, in a move that’s unheard of in this age of celebrity writers, Lee stepped out of the limelight and stopped doing interviews years ago — she never wrote another book. Still, her influence has endured, as we mark the fiftieth anniversary of its publication.

NPR’s print version (entitled “50 Years On, ‘Mockingbird’ Still Sings America’s Song”) goes on to say,

For the high-schoolers reading To Kill a Mockingbird today, America is a very different place than it was when Lee wrote her novel 50 years ago. Lee’s story of Scout Finch and her father, Atticus — a small-town Southern lawyer who defends a black man unjustly accused of rape — came out just as the nation was fighting over school desegregation.

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