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San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, Aug. 3, 2001

Asian Americans' Wavering Image
By Ryan Kim, Chronicle Staff Writer


2001 San Francisco Chronicle


The past year has been a mixed bag for Asian Americans.

On the one hand, census numbers show they have increased by 48 percent to more than 10 million nationally, becoming the fastest-growing racial group in America.

But the past 12 months also have included the conclusion of the Wen Ho Lee espionage case, the downing of a U.S. surveillance plane in China and a national survey that found one in four Americans held very negative views about Asian Americans, all of which have revived some anti-Asian sentiments.

In an attempt to make sense of these and other developments and their effect on Asian Americans, a panel of national Asian leaders will hold a town hall meeting tomorrow at the Asian American Journalists Association annual convention in San Francisco.

The 9:30 a.m. event at the Hyatt Regency hotel on The Embarcadero will be an open forum to discuss the future of Asian Americans and their coverage in the media in light of lingering stereotypes and ethnic scapegoating.

"We hope to generate some dialogue on how we can meet the challenges of the continuing use of racist imagery and stereotypes in this country," said association President Victor Panichkul. "I think that for many we're still viewed as foreigners even though we're just as American as our Caucasian counterparts."

The panel will feature Henry S. Tang, chairman of the Committee of 100, which sponsored the national survey that found 25 percent of Americans hold negative views toward Asian Americans.

The group also includes Columbia University journalism Professor Sreenath Sreenivasan, Pulitzer Prize nominee K.W. Lee and Phil Ting, president of the Bay Area chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

Sreenivasan said that for years Asian Americans have craved attention and are finally getting it, both good and bad. But he said Asian Americans need to be vigilant in advancing a broad and nuanced view of the community.

"I think this is a very important time for Asian Americans in this country in terms of the visibility and impact we're having in the country, but it comes with a lot of responsibility," said Sreenivasan.

Tang believes that Asian Americans also need to be more educated about issues involving their community and more willing to voice their views.

E-mail Ryan Kim at

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