who could speak for all Asian Americans
Suppose a mainstream media outlets wanted to identify and interview leading Asian Americans. Someone recently asked me to suggest at least 3 community leaders for a news documentary piece. I need your help.
The African-American community has Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who do Asian Americans have? (Granted, Sharpton and/or Jackson do not represent everyone in the African-American community, but they are vocal representatives, even if self-appointed.)
So, who should I suggest as spokespersons or representatives of the Asian American community? Someone who could speak representatively for the 15 million Asian Americans?
- Ronald Takaki, retired professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and author of Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans
- Frank H. Wu, recently Dean of Law School and author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White
- Helen Zia, journalist, activist, and author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People
- Vijay Prashad, Professor of International Studies at Trinity College
- Van Tran, Orange County member of California State Assembly
- John Liu, Councilman in New York City and co-founder of Asian Political Leadership Fund
- Hyepin Im, President and CEO of Korean Churches for Community Development
- Eugene Cho, Pastor of Quest Church, Seattle
- Ken Fong, Pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles
- Dave Gibbons, Pastor of NewSong Church in Irvine
- Steve Wong, Pastor of Grace Community Covenant Church
- Tom Lin, Regional Director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
- Tony Sheng, mobilizer of student missions
- Francis Chan, Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley
- Jaeson Ma, President of Campus Church Networks
Because of my connections with Christian ministries, many responded with Asian American Christian leaders. My name was mentioned too, but I’m playing that bashful Asian race card, and left my name off the above list.
I’m not sure any one person could represent the whole 15 million, with over 30 different ethnicities and languages under the “Asian American” label; it’d take at least 30. The 3 who are most knowledgeable about the whole are probably Ronald Takaki, Frank Wu, and Helen Zia, listed above.
There are a number of Asian Americans who’ve been in government roles, elected or appointed, like Bobby Jindal, Gary Locke, Elaine Chao, David Kuo. Some would say that a political or government leader is more of a community leader than a leader in the realms of business, sports, arts, medicine, or media. There are plenty of Asian American leaders, just don’t recall any that speak out on mainstream media.
But, I can’t think of any one Asian American leader that’s a household name among even 50% of the Asian American population.