The Asian American Journalists Association have sent an angry letter to Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone “calling out Norman Mailer as a racist” but more importantly calling him out for dissing on “the accomplishments of all women and journalists of color” by calling Michiko Kakutani a “two-fer”: the “token” “Asiatic, feminist” at the Times. To paraphrase: Yo, Norm, she’s from fucking Connecticut, and you, America’s Greatest Living Novelist, are a bigot. For shame.
Actual text of the letter after the jump.
June 29, 2005
Jann S. Wenner
Editor and Publisher
290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104-0298
Dear Mr. Wenner,
Calling out Norman Mailer as a racist, after he described Michiko Kakutani as a “kamikaze,” would be easy. But that’s not why we’re writing.
We take greater offense at his reference to her as a “two-fer” and a “token” because she’s “Asiatic, feminist,” which essentially diminishes the accomplishments of all women and journalists of color. It insinuates that media companies keep people like Ms. Kakutani on staff simply because they are women and minorities-a dangerous, dismissive and, certainly, misguided notion. (Mr. Mailer must be aware that Ms. Kakutani won the Pulitzer prize for criticism in 1998.)
On a side note, with Mr. Mailer’s firm grasp of the English language, we’re sure he knows that “Asiatic” — like “Oriental” — has long been considered an offensive word to describe Asians or in the case of Ms. Kakutani, a Connecticut native, Asian Americans.
On behalf of the 2,000 reporters, editors and industry executives of Asian descent represented by the Asian American Journalists Association, we’d like to thank Rolling Stone for exposing the bigotry of one of America’s prized authors.
To Mr. Mailer, we’d simply like to say: Shame on you.
Esther Wu, AAJA National President
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, AAJA National Media Watch Representative
cc: Norman Mailer, author
Michiko Kakutani, book critic, The New York Times
Will Dana, Managing Editor, Rolling Stone
Mae Cheng, President, Unity: Journalists of Color
Herbert Lowe, President, National Association of Black Journalists
Veronica Villafañe, President, National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Dan Lewerenz, President, Native American Journalists Association
Deepti Hajela, President, South Asian Journalists Association