From Artspiral Magazine Issue #1
with the Enemy: New York Newsday's Review of Ancestors," 1995
by Joan Kee
On Tuesday, May 2, New York Newsday published a review of the exhibition and its key figures, including Director Robert Lee and several participating artists. In it, multiracial artist Yolanda Skeete was quoted as remarking, "Bob Lee is saying, 'You're [Skeete] a half-breed, but we love you anyway." The author, David Garrick also quoted Skeete as saying, "Never before have Chinese held their hands out to an African group like this," despite the fact that the Ancestors show was a joint African American-Asian American effort. Skeete never made any of these comments. The editorial and management leadership of Newsday did meet with Asian American community leaders and agreed to "look into the matter." However, neither they nor Garrick could later be reached for comment. This occurred a few months prior to the termination of Newsday's Manhattan edition.
While the prominent placement of the article on page 2 and phrases like "ancestral harmony" and "common roots" suggest a step towards the elimination of racism, Newsday's article is a reminder that racism through words and generalizations still permeate even the supposedly liberal side of the mass media. However, instead of direct name-calling, writers like Gerrick opt to perpetuate racist sentiments by roundabout ways enabling them to escape accusations of racism. Since mass publications like Newsday reach a wide audience, these manifestations of racism can be disseminated over a large area and Newsday's liberal reputation lend credibility to these racial slurs as acceptable and legitimate expressions. By allowing "half-breed" to infiltrate a major article, Newsday has endorsed racism, and betrayed the ideals of tolerance and harmony it feigns to purport.
To read the original Newsday article by David Garrick, click here.
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