I love the Asian American Journalists Association. I really do. When I was a reporter, I was a huge cheerleader for them. I’d cover high school graduations, and if there was at least one out of the dozen or so kids I’d interview who said they wanted to explore journalism, I’d tell them to look up AAJA. When I was a Pulliam Fellow in Arizona, I told my roommate she should join, but she remarked, “I’m not Asian.” (She’s Korean. However, there is some dispute as to whether she was kidding or not. She’s now president of the Arizona chapter.) I’m still a huge cheerleader, and I truly hope I can participate more than I am doing so now.
But I’m not blind, nor do I lie to myself. It’s a pretty liberal organization, and its something I’ve come to terms with, just like I’ve come to terms with living in liberal Los Angeles and having close friends who are mostly liberal journalists. Hey, its either come to terms with it and be OK with it, or be angry all the time – and I just don’t have the energy to be that angry all the time. But last week, when I filled out my convention survey (the online form they use to get convention attendees to rate the workshops, events and convention overall), I drew a complete blank on who I’d like to see speak next year.
But later that night, it occurred to me – Michelle Malkin is a journalist of color, and it surprises me that I’ve never seen her participate in one of these conventions. In fact, she’s not just a journalist of color, but she’s a pretty well-known journalist of color. So why have I never seen her or heard about her participating at one of these conventions? Because she’s a “right-wing” conservative?
I don’t know all the circumstances, of course. Maybe she has been invited, and she declined. Maybe she was never invited because she’s so unabashedly conservative. Maybe its because she makes regular appearances on Fox News, who knows. But it really seems to be a shame that she’s not included, because that would constitute some real diversity. Diversity is not just color – its diversity of opinions, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, life experiences.
(And as an aside, she has a funny little quiz that demonstrates how people are more conservative than they think. Check it out:
1. I have never voted for a Democrat in my life.
2. I think my taxes are too high.
3. I supported Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
4. I voted for President Bush in 2000.
5. I am a gun owner.
6. I support school voucher programs.
7. I oppose condom distribution in public schools.
8. I oppose bilingual education.
9. I oppose gay marriage.
10. I want Social Security privatized.
11. I believe racial profiling at airports is common sense.
12. I shop at Wal-Mart.
13. I enjoy talk radio.
14. I am annoyed when news editors substitute the phrase “undocumented person” for “illegal alien.”
15. I do not believe the phrase “a chink in the armor” is offensive.
16. I eat meat.
17. I believe O.J. Simpson was guilty.
18. I cheered when I learned that Saddam Hussein had been captured.
19. I cry when I hear “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood.
20. I don’t believe the New York Times.
You score 5 points everytime you mark “Yes” to each statement. I scored a 45, so I guess I’m really not that conservative.)
Anyway, my challenge to AAJA is to diversify their lineup – don’t just include liberal or centrist Asians, especially since not all Asian Americans are liberal or centrist. I truly do enjoy hearing keynote speakers like Lisa Ling, Sanjay Gupta, Connie Chung and other notable journalists.
But they’re so safe. C’mon AAJA. Live a little.