Photo credit: Tony Hisgett Creative Commons
UPDATE: Thanks everyone for your support! Check out this update Disney-ABC to reach out to #AAPI moms for #FreshOffTheBoat!
“Don’t make waves.”
I have heard that mantra countless times from my Vietnamese immigrant parents. We were taught to keep our heads down and work hard in order to achieve the American dream.
Today I’m not just making waves, I’m going to rock the boat.
This week’s premiere of ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat was groundbreaking for me and many of my Asian friends. The best part was that the show was good. Really good. While I’m not Taiwanese American like the Huangs, I could relate to the show as the child of immigrants. I think that any person of color who grew up as the token minority in their community can relate.
I’ve raved about the show to my friends. Not because it’s about Asian American family, but because it’s funny, sharp, and well-written. I want everyone to watch the sitcom, not just Asian Americans.
Then last night, my friend Grace of HapaMama shared the photo above (thanks for the photo Mona!). The photo is from the current mom and dad blogger press junket for various ABC and Disney productions, including Fresh Off the Boat.
Notice anything? Take a look, I’ll wait. (See photo on Reappropriate)
There are no Asian faces on blogger bus. In fact, none of these bloggers seem to be a person of color. All white faces on a blogger tour for the only current TV show about an Asian American family. None. Zip. Zero.
So why were Asian American bloggers not on this trip? Was ABC concerned about our reaction to the Fresh Off the Boat? Would we ask too many deep questions? How come we’re only allowed a voice about the show only as outsiders and not given access to the inner circle?
Asian Americans incredibly influential consumers. Nielsen calls our demographic Significant, Sophisticated, and Savvy. In fact,
Asian Americans make up the leading segment of online shoppers, with 77 percent making internet purchases in the past year, versus 61 percent of the general population.
For marketers, understanding the Asian American population is critical for realizing the bottom-line potential of many key product and service categories.
Because we live in a multicultural world (especially online), Asian American bloggers reach an incredibly diverse group of readers. The readers of this blog are not just Asian, but other races and cultures. The same for HapaMama, Boston Mamas, The Napkin Hoarder, Hey Mona!, and many other Asian American parent bloggers. Our readers connect with us in ways that don’t involve race.
Were Asian American bloggers deliberately excluded? ABC missed a huge opportunity by not hosting any Asian American bloggers on this press trip. Many of our non-Asian friends came to us with questions about the Fresh Off the Boat. “Was this racist? Is it ok to laugh at these jokes? The show makes me uncomfortable.” They trust us and our viewpoints when it comes to Asian culture and race issues. Imagine how an Asian American blogger would be able to approach their readers’ concerns if they had access to the show’s actors and creative team?
This makes me feel that the exclusion might have been deliberate.
In order for this Fresh Off the Boat to succeed, we need everyone to watch this show. Not just Asians. I don’t know all the bloggers on the #ABCTVevent, but it’s important to share thoughts on the show from our point of view. It’s our story and we should have a voice in it too.
I write about race on this site often. I’m always terrified to click “Publish.” The good little Asian in me doesn’t want to make waves. But we can’t create constructive conversations and grow as a society if we don’t rock the boat. Change is not comfortable.
Come rock the boat with me. Leave a comment. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media you’re active on with the hashtag #AAPIVoices
Visit the other bloggers’ posts about this #FreshOfftheBoat #ABCTVevent and do the same with their posts.