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In this issue of Disillusionment Weekly, let's examine how the New York Times online edition has used its Times Topics: Asian-Americans tag (note the hyphen) to categorize articles both peripherally and totally unrelated to Asian Americana.

That's right - a first thought for anyone upon seeing this classifier might be one of pride or relief, a feeling that somehow your issues haven't been forgotten in purportedly the finest newspaper in the world. But take a closer look and you'll see how the tag is used on articles that only speak to an objectified bridging of East and West or simply feature an Asian American person without any note of racial identity. The articles below classified by this tag highlight the hilarity of this exercise in racial awareness for those who lack it.

Old-Growth Finds the New World: Never would I have thought Orientalism can occur with a kind of wood. This article writes about the teak wood fad in household flooring that not only has nothing to do with any sort of Asian peoples in the Americas, but is based only on the idea of resources changing hands, from old to new but more implicitly from East to West.

Las Vegas-related articles are frequently tagged "Asian-American". Maybe the Times just had to remark on how many Asian people they've seen there, but instead of examining gambling as an affliction to Asian American communities, they write about everything else. In Las Vegas Wins Big, the Asians are by no means Asian Americans, but rather the "very high-end foreigners" who casinos now earn revenue from. In Las Vegas Caters to Asia's High Rollers, the message is mostly the same, pictures illustrating the fetishist decor of these casinos. What little mention there is of Asian Americans refers to aggressive targeting of these communities.

Class Divide in Chinese-Americans' Charity: (Among more interesting things,) thanks for pointing out the obvious - that rich people donate more than the working class immigrants.

Wal-Mart Wants to Carry Its Christmas Ads Beyond Price: For a one-liner about how Wal-Mart made television commercials for Asian Americans, I'm not really seeing the true relevance.

So while this entire post is probably testament to my boredom and inactivity this winter break, it's obvious that our issues still have to be made crystal clear to those who don't understand them purely by means of journalistic, political, or institutional training. A plug for ethnic studies belongs here, but more importantly, mainstream media must see the necessary distinctions between race and nation and the obvious differences between "Asian" and "Asian American".



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