I am a person who turns on the television to watch news and find myself disappointed that there are not people who look like me on the screen.
I am also a person who cares deeply about national and international politics and find myself surrounded by people who look like me who could not care less.
I love being Chinese-American. Growing up, I was part of a loving family who valued education, upward mobility, and a commitment to truth. My parents loved explaining things to me, and were always patient when I asked asinine questions. But now, as I found myself out of the home, in college, and surrounded by a new family, I find myself troubled.
My main topic of discussion these days is the upcoming 2016 election. I love to criticize candidates on their debate performances, on their platforms, on their policy. However, there is more going on around the world than just America’s longest-running presidential campaign season. Refugee crises in Europe. Debt crises. Conflict in the Middle East. The Iran Nuclear Deal. Elections in East Asian countries. International environmental accords. These topics fascinate me. But when I try to talk to my Asian friends about these topics, their eyes glaze over and they have nothing to offer.
I feel like the most common question I hear from my friends when I talk to them about the news is “what?”
My biggest complaint about Chinese-Americans and Asian-Americans is that they are largely indifferent as a political community. Yes, they vote in the general election, and are starting to be recognized around the country as an important political bloc, but Asians largely do not care about politics much further than the White House.
I, on the other hand, broke away from the pack at an early age. I love politics. Local, national, global; I read up on politics and news voraciously. I am frequently on my phone, not playing games or checking text messages, but using the New York Times mobile app or scrolling through Vox’s interactive data-driven pages.
I want to be a journalist because I want to be that face on the screen talking about politics. I want to be that Asian-sounding name in the byline. Not for personal fame, fortune, or screentime; I want my own people, Chinese-Americans, Asian-Americans, whoever, to read the news and be more interested in the events surrounding them. Representation in media is of the upmost importance. Having a person on the screen, whatever the medium, that looks like you, that sounds like you, or has an ethnic last name like you means a lot.
By being that person, I will get my own people to care as much as I do.
Good thing I got a head start.