Why It Matters, II

Why It Matters, II. Or, Why It Matters, To Me.

I remember when all newscasters were men. All. I remember one of the earlier women newscasters was on TV. I was maybe, 12 - coincidentally the first year Connie Chung is on national TV. I was in a room of several and a man looked around the room and said, "I just can't trust anything a woman (newscaster) says." I remember I said, "What, you think she's lying?" That smart-ass comment to an elder was not appreciated by my parents. That moment set the stage for what my parents would come to expect from me: disrespectful smart-ass comments.

I don't know what spurred Jessica Savich, and I'm mystified at the strength and audacity of Oprah Winfrey and Connie Chung. I don't follow the paths of journalism's stars. I just know there was a time when there weren't any. Then a handful of super stars and weather-candies. Now there's this flood of women. East Asian women. I personally believe that Connie Chung, (as well as other female news casters) influenced the slew of them on the TV screen now.

When I was a teenager, who were my role models in the media? How about the sweet but befuddled housekeeper who used to say "Harro - Mistuh Eddie's Fadur?" or, I know! I know! how about Nancy Kwan on Flower Drum Song. A hussy! I know, it's not like I can only admire someone just like me. But it sure helps! I admired many people in my life: men, women, white, black and otherwise. But here was my reality:
Connie Chung was the only modern, strong East Asian woman
that I knew.
On TV. Or Mattel. Or Ford Modeling. Or in my school. Or Glamour. Or at the hospital. Or in my picture book. Or Saturday cartoons. If you, with your green/blue/hazel/tawny eyes and blonde/auburn/brown hair couldn't aspire to Barbie/Cybill/Nancy Drew, then certainly, I . . . I, I with blackhairalmondeyesshortlegsflatchest could never. Never. Never.




AmyP said...

The first time I really got this was in college. My roommate, Daphne, was from the same city I was and was black. Many of the girls on our floor were from small towns (very, very small) around Kansas and we learned that some of them had never, NEVER seen a black person in real life. WHAT?! They were 18 years old and had only met white people for their entire lives. Everything they knew about minorities was what they saw on TV. Sad in so many ways. And poor Daphne. The things they asked her. The ridiculous assumptions they made. I was shocked, and as much a part of the lesson as anything...she was not.

Jenean said...

America has definitely come a looooong way. I remember when Connie Chung was THE most influential Asian woman on television. She paved the way for many Asian Americans / Women / Women of Color to make great strides in Americas acceptance of us.