Norman Hsu, the Paw Family and Responsible Media Coverage

Leaders of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), a nonpartisan nonprofit civic engagement organization, today urged media outlets to examine how their ongoing coverage of allegations involving political campaign donations by individuals of Asian descent may wrongly generalize the civic engagement of Asian Americans in the political process.

“An accumulation of stories focusing only on allegations involving donors of Asian descent creates an incomplete picture of Asian American civic involvement by neglecting to report on the overwhelmingly positive impact by Asian Americans in the political process,” stated Vida Benavides, Chair of APIAVote.

“Prominent Asian Americans have in the past been subjected to generalizations in media coverage, such as Olympic athlete Michelle Kwan being identified in headlines as a foreigner, which is indicative of the ongoing struggle by many Asian Americans to dispel the myth that we are a homogenous group of outsiders to lawful campaign activity,” said Eunsook Lee, APIAVote Board Member.

Asian Americans who donated to political candidates are exercising their right to participate in the electoral process. In 2004 it is estimated that Asian Americans raised and lawfully donated more than $6 million to local, state and federal candidates.

Gloria Caoile, APIAVote Board Member, urges the media to “report also upon the positive advancements that the Asian Pacific Islander American community has made over the last several election cycles and about the critical role this electorate will play in 2008 as potential swing voters in many jurisdictions nationwide.”

Taeku Lee, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, wrote in an article published in 2000 that the media should not “racialize the issue of campaign contributions” by routinely representing “Asian Americans as homogeneous, voiceless, perpetual foreigners, and as Yellow Peril. Such media coverage surely feeds into the widespread myth and misconception about the political legitimacy and activism of Asian Americans.”

The Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) is a national non-partisan, nonprofit organization that encourages and promotes civic participation of Asian Pacific Islander Americans in the electoral and public policy processes at the national, state and local levels.

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