Inflammatory article turns nay-sayer into staffwriter
Three years ago, as I sat in the UC black chairs, I could not believe what I was reading in The Tartan. I had been aware of the cynicism that the school newspaper had always expressed toward Asian student organizations, but this one was particularly hurtful. Although the editorial may have been written solely to deliberately elicit a response from the community, it was still published. Sean Mintus, a senior staffwriter, pointed out that Asian Greeks were groups that promoted exclusiveness and ran counter to the ideals of cultural diversity. While I truly believed that Mr. Mintus was sorely mistaken, I was helpless in responding because I fit the exact profile of the exclusive Asian he was describing. I had only Asian friends, and my life revolved around only Asian organizations. On that day, I made a promise to myself that I would one day write for The Tartan and break the stereotype of the typical Asian-American.
The debate about whether Asian American Greek organizations are helpful or hurtful to diversity remains inconclusive and is not the question here. The purpose of this editorial is not to persuade you to see things my way. In fact, when I joined The Tartan this past fall, I didn?t want to write about Asian American issues. I wanted to be just like other staffwriters. I wanted to write about political issues. I wanted to write about worldy issues. I wanted my readers to be unable to identify my race solely on the basis of my writing. I wanted to be the perfect assimilated writer. This notion did not last very long.
Earlier this semester, I wrote a piece about my position on affirmative action. When I showed a first draft to a friend, he said that, though I made a few good points, it did not sound different from arguments made by other people. Perhaps I should give my own personal perspective on the topic, rather than make objective assertions anyone could read from other sources. He felt that my perspective would be quite unique, because it is not often that an Asian-American writes opinion pieces in The Tartan. I should bring my ethnicity out in the open, rather than try to hide it.
It was on that day I realized he was right. My opinions and feelings about issues always seemed insignificant. This was because the people who I shared my ideas with were just like me. This was my one chance to share my opinions with people who never understood what it is like to be an Asian-American. Instead of being beaten to death and cliched, my stances on issues were suddenly novel.
With graduation just around the corner, my time here at The Tartan is coming to an end. It saddens me, because this has been a very new and enlightening experience. The Tartan is not filled with anti-Asian writers and editors, as I had previously thought. The editorial staff that I have worked with have been nothing but completely supportive of any opinions that I have. Even when I used some very divisive language in my articles, my editors always went out of their way to make sure that I did not feel as if my ideas were being censored. Perhaps it is because I became a staffwriter after the ?Natrat? incident, but to me, The Tartan goes out of its way to promote diversity of thought and opinions without crossing the line.
I?m not trying to say that The Tartan is perfect. One thing that I would really like to see in the future, is more Asian-Americans taking up writing positions. We make up nearly a quarter of the undergraduate population, yet we are largely underrepresented on the writing staff. It?s no wonder that so many people have misconceptions of how we are. A friend of mine mentioned to me that some members of The Tartan think ?most Asians on this campus are really airheaded and stupid.? It is up to us to debunk this myth. One step in the right direction would be to join The Tartan.