Sydne Didier: Gazette’s photo headline an ‘appalling stereotype’

Published: 6/28/2020 6:00:18 PM

As a longtime subscriber, I look forward to receiving my Gazette every morning. It’s a moment to catch up on local news, occasionally seeing a friend or neighbor, and to relish life in a small town environment.

One morning earlier this month, I looked at an adorable photo of a ethnically Asian mother and child picking strawberries, the child looking intently at a cute double berry.

Then, I noticed the headline and recoiled. “Berry Interesting,” it read.

For those who are not familiar, and it appears the editors and caption writers at the Gazette are not, this represents an appalling stereotype about Asian and Asian American, accented English, and has been used as a racist trope time and time again. Think Charlie Chan, incidentally played by a white actor, and countless other cinematic portrayals like it.

This kind of stereotyping has impacted Asian Americans for generations and persists in a way that is completely bewildering to me in a time when news outlets and other media sources have the ability to know and to do better.

As the mother of an ethnically Asian man, I cannot tell you how often we have confronted this very issue. When it is perpetuated by mainstream media, you do families like mine a disservice. It is offensive and unacceptable.

At a time when we are witnessing what feels like a true moment for change, it is appalling to me that newspapers and other media outlets continue to make these kinds of mistakes.

The fact that this was missed in editing tells that there is a problematic lack of diversity among the Gazette staff, and that appropriate training and education around news featuring people of color has not been done. This went through, I am assuming, a process where more than one person saw this headline. And yet, it was OK’d. That speaks to a lack of people of color voices in the Gazette newsroom, and a lack of white allies and accomplices who have chosen to educate themselves on such issues.

I believe that the Gazette owes this family an apology and a promise to examine inherent bias present among the Gazette staff.

With the decline in print media, and readers moving to the variety of alternative online news sources, I have remained committed to my print copy every morning. Now, I will wait to see how the Gazette handles this, and perhaps, like countless others, move on to other sources.

Sydne Didier

Amherst




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

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