Commentary

It’s time for media companies to #passthemic

One of the biggest mistakes the media punditry made about the 2016 election was underestimating the power of racist rhetoric in the campaign. There was a disconnect between what journalists of color were seeing and what white reporters were seeing.

Where’s the empathy for black poverty and pain?

In the 1890s, sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois noticed something disturbing about how Americans viewed the plight of blacks in Philadelphia who had suffered through unsanitary living conditions, high rates of consumption and back-breaking labor.

“The most difficult social problem in the matter of Negro health is the peculiar attitude of the nation toward the well-being of the race,” he wrote. “There have, for instance, been few other cases in the history of civilized peoples where human suffering has been viewed with such peculiar indifference.”

It’s a long march to equality for women of color

At the time, it was mostly educated, white women who were the dominant voices in the national discussion around women’s rights. Being a young Latina feminist was rare. Finding other brown and black women who called themselves feminists was even rarer.

So when I got to the women’s march on Washington last Saturday I was heartened to see women (and men) from many backgrounds turning out to protest and yes, wearing pink pussy hats. Three of the four national co-chairs for the march were women of color and a diverse list of speakers took to the stage.

Puerto Rico is far from being okay

As Americans watched the devastation unfolding in Puerto Rico last week I read, listened, tweeted and posted information on my social media timelines. Then came the text bubbles on my cell phone screen:

“Is your family ok?” they asked.
“I’m praying for you,” they said.

The Asian disadvantage (that’s being ignored)

Recent articles in The New York Times (“The Asian Advantage“) and The Economist (“The Model Minority is Losing Patience“) have focused on a racial group considered to be one of the most successful in America and the numbers are compelling.

Overall, Asian Americans are more educated: More than half of Asian Americans (51.5%) have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 30% of the general U.S. population

How newsrooms can stop being so white

She described the team that covered the 2016 presidential election as having “less diversity than you’ll find in Donald Trump’s cabinet thus far,” and noted that, of the 20 reporters who covered the presidential campaignjust two were black. None were Asian or Latino. The six reporters assigned to cover the White House are also white.

Media Coverage

A peek inside Her Agenda

Tanzina Vega is a trailblazer. After undergrad, she decided to leave her normal life behind and take on Spain with little to her name. While working abroad, she launched her own business teaching English as second language. She expanded her reach to South Korea as well. In 2004, her passion for journalism led her back to the U.S. where she worked as an editor and produced podcasts for a technology magazine.

Vega is no stranger to hard work or embracing the road less traveled.

#MediaDiversity Hashtag Reveals Hardships of Minorities in Media

Mainstream media has a diversity problem, and a Twitter conversation started yesterday by CNN correspondent (and former New York Times national race reporter) Tanzina Vega is bringing attention to issues of race, reporting, and hiring bias.

A powerful story about being asked where you’re really from is getting great responses.

“Where are you from?” might seem like it’s just innocent small talk, and as Vega says in her latest story at CNN, it often is. But there’s another layer to it also worth examining, especially when answers like “New York” or “San Francisco” aren’t satisfactory for the questioner.

Modern Racism Can Be So Hilarious

“I’m Asian American… and I want reparations for yellow fever,” says Kristina Wong, one of the four comedians profiled in The New York Times’ new video series, Off Color. Launched last Tuesday, the edgy (or very edgy, by Times’ standards) segments explore race and ethnicity in ways that traditional reporting cannot, showing how humor is being used to expose the new ways that race often plays out in America today.

In a Time of Racial Turmoil, Why Change Course on Covering Race?

To state the obvious, it seems like an odd time to discontinue the one Times beat devoted solely to race and ethnicity. (A few words of reminder: Michael Brown of Ferguson, Eric Garner of Staten Island, Tamir Rice of Cleveland.)

But that’s what happened this week, as The Times announced that Tanzina Vega, who has covered that beat for the national desk, would be transferred to the metro desk and go off to cover courts in the Bronx – a new beat for The Times.

What will happen to The New York Times’ race beat?

The future of race coverage at The New York Times is under scrutiny as Tanzina Vega, the paper’s sole reporter on a national race and ethnicity beat that she created one year ago, is moved this week to the metro desk to cover the Bronx courthouse.

Feature Writing

Minority Gun Owners Face Balancing Act, Weighing Isolation and Stigma of Violence

Standing in a small booth surrounded by displays for rifles, pistols, holsters and other firearm accouterments, the Rev. Kenn Blanchard signed copies of his book “Black Man With a Gun: Reloaded.” Amid the sea of thousands of white faces that descended on this city for the National Rifle Association convention in late April, Mr. Blanchard, an N.R.A. member since 1991, offered his reasoning for why he was one of the few black visitors.

Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue

To hear Mikia Hutchings speak, one must lean in close, as her voice barely rises above a whisper. In report cards, her teachers describe her as “very focused,” someone who follows the rules and stays on task. So it was a surprise for her grandmother when Mikia, 12, and a friend got into trouble for writing graffiti on the walls of a gym bathroom at Dutchtown Middle School in Henry County last year.

As Parents Age, Asian-Americans Struggle to Obey a Cultural Code

Two thick blankets wrapped in a cloth tie lay near a pillow on the red leather sofa in Phuong Lu’s living room. Doanh Nguyen, Ms. Lu’s 81-year-old mother, had prepared the blankets for a trip she wanted to take. “She’s ready to go to Vietnam,” Ms. Lu said.

But Ms. Nguyen would not be leaving. The doors were locked from the inside to prevent her from going anywhere — not into the snow that had coated the ground that day outside Ms. Lu’s suburban Philadelphia home, and certainly not to her home country, Vietnam.

Students See Many Slights as Racial ‘Microaggressions’

A tone-deaf inquiry into an Asian-American’s ethnic origin. Cringe-inducing praise for how articulate a black student is. An unwanted conversation about a Latino’s ability to speak English without an accent.

This is not exactly the language of traditional racism, but in an avalanche of blogs, student discourse, campus theater and academic papers, they all reflect the murky terrain of the social justice word du jour — microaggressions — used to describe the subtle ways that racial, ethnic, gender and other stereotypes can play out painfully in an increasingly diverse culture.