[cross-posted from djchuang.com]
African Americans have their Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. While these few do not represent the whole, they boldly speak up for the whole. And, the mainstream media goes to them for their perspectives.
Caucasian Americans have their Billy Graham and Rick Warren. There’s also Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Again, they don’t represent the whole diversity of Anglo Christians, they boldly speak up for the whole.
Latino and Hispanic Americans kind of have Jesse Miranda and Luis Palau as their voices. I don’t know exactly who speaks for their tribe, but I think they’d boldly speak up for the whole.
Even the Hebrews had their Moses and Joshua.
Asian Americans have no one who boldly speaks up for the whole. We need a voice.
What would it take to have that voice?
Passion. A clarion voice that boldly speaks up with confidence and persuasion. You can’t fake passion. You have to have that fire in the belly, no fear to speak up even if you’re misunderstood, even if you don’t have the perfectly-crafted words. Public speaking is 93% about delivery and only 7% about the words.
Platform. A clarion voice has a large audience that listens to what s/he has to say for both intangible and tangible reasons. Some call it charisma. Definitely need cross-over appeal in both the religious and civic realms, as well as inside the tribe and outside. Need to have an organization with financial supporters that keep that platform active too.
Conviction. A clarion voice has to have something to say. That person has to have a sufficient understanding of the tribe’s compelling concerns. And that person is taking action to address those concerns and boldly advocating others to join the cause. That person lives out that conviction with an unwavering lifetime commitment through both actions and words.
Like it or not, we as Asian Americans will be stereotyped because we have that face. But without a voice, there is no way to change that stereotype of silence. Without a voice, we’ll be invisible and misunderstood.
I know there are many differences among Asian Americans: ethnicities, languages, cultures, generations, affinities. “Asian American” is not an attractive label or strong rally cry. Asians are known for being group-oriented, but Asians aren’t known for rallying around a voice. Without a voice boldly speaking up for the whole, we’ll remain apart.
Could I be that voice? You’ve got to be kidding! I know a lot of things I don’t have in and of myself. It takes a driven and focused Type-A personality to be that clarion voice.
What I do have is my personal blog. I’ve occasionally advocated for the next generation Asian Americans. But like others who are in this space, I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed or stereotyped. I prefer being eclectic and speak of my many varied interests.
But last week has changed me. I will use my words to advocate for the next generation Asian Americans. 7% still counts.