I live in America and I’m an American. I happen to have black hair, narrow brown eyes, dark skin, and one of those Asian noses that doesn’t seem to have a nosebridge. There’s no reason for me to think this is unusual, because at least half of the Americans I see every day have similar features.
Half of the Americans I see in everyday life, that is. If I should happen to pick up a magazine or to turn on the television, that fraction quickly drops to well below the national norm. You’d never guess by reading a magazine or watching prime-time television that ten percent of Americans is of Asian descent.
It’s better today than it was when I was a kid, though. My mom, a naturalized citizen from Japan, mopped floors, but none of the women hawking Pine-Sol on TV looked anything like my mom. My friends ate M&Ms, but none of the kids in the M&Ms commercials looked anything like them, either. You know who we had? Arnold from Happy Days and he was replaced by Al after one season. If I weren’t also twelve-and-a-quarter percent Italian, I’d have boycotted.
Before you go mentioning George Takei on Star Trek, I’ll remind you how absolutely boring Star Trek is to a seven-year-old kid. I didn’t discover the coolness of Mr. Sulu until I was well into high school.
That’s just it, though. You could probably keep saying, “But what about–?” and name an Asian here or an Asian there, and that’s weird, because there are a heck of a lot more Nakamuras in my community than there are Smiths, so mainstream national media has never looked anything like real life to me.
That made sense to me, even as a kid, and yet the coloring books we worked on featured kids who looked nothing like me, and the drawings we drew of teachers and doctors and astronauts didn’t look anything like us, either.
We all sucked.
There’s this sign, though, that I saw while taking a walk yesterday. That’s gotta be a good sign, right?