Letter to the Editor, The Economist:
I love your publication especially the creative, witty headlines and graphics. You can imagine my dismay and disappointment when I saw the feature photo for the Who Is Chinese? article.
Of the limitless images, creative ways to convey ethnicity, culture, and identity (available even to cell phone users), the photo you selected represents and perpetuates common images and rhetoric of popular, politicized and negative, anti-Asian, anti-immigrant stereotypes used throughout history, especially to rally support for discriminatory legislation or bigoted leaders (recent election, hello?). If you wanted a group photo, I would have happily supplied one of my family pictures!
A throng or “mass” of faceless, endless, limitless stream of “Orientals” and Asians who “look alike”, like a Chinese fire drill?? “They (all foreigners, for sure) are taking over” our elite universities, dominating Silicon Valley, gobbling up US corporations, casinos, call centers. Superpower, Chinese “dragons” taking over the global economy, holding US debt hostage. Several dragon images and references used in your past issues…need we go on?
A picture says a thousand words…and yours did, of ignorance, carelessness, and editorial efficiency (?) The damage is done, unfortunately, and anyone who remotely looks Asian or “foreign” looking–American citizen or not–will be lumped under the stereotype and may suffer adverse consequences. Perception is reality, after all.
For all your claims of intellectual rigor, expert resources and worldly sophistication, your publication is expected to highlight and challenge stereotypes, not reinforce them. The world needs enlightened media now more than ever.