Through In-Depth and Educational Programming, Public Media Addresses Anti-Asian Hate

May 3, 2021

Asian American and Pacific Islander Public Media Programming

Public media has addressed the appalling rise in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through local and national news coverage, public affairs programming, documentaries, and supplementary educational materials that provide history, depth and context.

While hate crimes in America’s largest cities have declined overall during the coronavirus pandemic, hate crimes against Asian-American and Pacific Islanders have increased by 169% since the first quarter of 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Public media has offered a wide range of local and national coverage, from PBS NewsHour’s April 1, 2020, interview with Cynthia Choi, founder of Stop AAPI Hate; to local stations’ journalism that provides community perspectives; to NPR’s coverage of the Senate’s bipartisan passage of an Asian American Hate Crimes Bill April 22, 2021.

Among recent programming:

  • California’s weekday public radio program “Forum,” hosted by Mina Kim of KQED, has focused on anti-Asian violence in multiple programs, including a discussion with experts and state officials about how anti-Asian violence affects communities and individuals and what can be done to stop it (February 16) and the emotional and psychological toll of anti-Asian racism (April 19).
  • WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” interviewed Arun Venugopal, senior reporter for WNYC's race & justice unit, about the rise in attacks on Asian Americans in New York and nationally since the pandemic began (March 1).
  • Two days after a gunman in metro Atlanta shot eight people, including six Asian women, “1A” aired an episode titled The Intersection Of Race, Misogyny And The Experiences Of Asian Americans (March 18).
  • Connecticut Public Radio’s daily public affairs program, “Where We Live,” convened a discussion with local Asian leaders and state Attorney General William Tong on confronting anti-Asian bias in the United States (March 22).
  • NPR’s “Code Switch” featured episodes about how to start conversations about anti-Asian racism with your family (March 24) and an interview with Paula Yoo about how the death of Vincent Chin inspired a generation of Asian American activists (March 27).
  • PBS’ American Experience, in partnership with the CPB-supported Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and WORLD Channel, held a Facebook Live conversation (March 26) on the Roots of Anti-Asian Hate in America. CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong moderated the discussion with University of Minnesota professor and author Erika Lee; actor Hoon Lee, and Li-Shin Yu, who produced, co-directed, and edited “The Chinese Exclusion Act,” which was rebroadcast on PBS on March 27 and is currently streaming.
  • NPR’s “Rough Translation” (March 26) interviewed Korean-American novelist R.O. Kwon, who wrote an essay for Vanity Fair addressing fellow Asian women.  
  • Hawai’i Public Radio’s “The Conversation” (April 2) featured UH Manoa professor Jonathan Okamura on race and ethnicity in Hawai‘i, comedian Frank De Lima on ethnic humor, and Honolulu Anti-Asian hate rally organizers Jeff Kim and Mylen Yamamoto Tansingco.
  • NPR’s “Morning Edition” featured a crowdsourced poem grappling with violence and discrimination created by resident poet Kwame Alexander titled “Today, I am Witness to Change” (April 12), as well as an original song, “For Every Voice That Never Sang,” (April 14) by Kishi Bashi, part of NPR’s Song Project of original songs about the COVID era. 
  • “Down a Dark Stairwell,” a documentary about the shooting of Akai Gurley, an innocent Black man, in Brooklyn, and the trial and subsequent conviction of the Chinese American police officer, Peter Liang, who pulled the trigger, casting a powerful light on the experiences of two marginalized communities thrust into an uneven criminal justice system together, aired on Independent Lens (April 12, now streaming for free).
  • PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz interviewed “Be Water” director Bao Nguyen about “Together,” his short film PSA tracing 150 years of anti-Asian hate in America, on Instagram Live (April 27).   

PBS, in association with CAAM, has also curated a collection of films, interviews and other media on Many of the programs are being rebroadcast on local stations and are streaming for free on the PBS Video app.

PBS LearningMedia offers more than 30 lesson plans based on Asian Americans, the five-hour docuseries series that premiered on PBS last year and will rebroadcast on PBS on Saturdays this May (check local listings).

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

What was the Joy Luck Club? | Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir | American Masters | PBS, by American Masters

Throughout Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, public media will broadcast and stream numerous programming highlighting the rich history and modern-day experience of Asian Americans in the U.S.

  • New PBS programs include “Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir,” a documentary about the “Joy Luck Club” author, on American Masters 9 pm EDT on May 3; and “The Donut King,” a documentary about Ted Ngoy, who fled Cambodia for the United States and built (and lost) a doughnut empire, on Independent Lens at 10 pm EDT on May 24 (times may vary).
  • The 10th season on “Pacific Heartbeat,” a four-part anthology series presented by the CPB-supported Pacific Islanders in Communications in partnership with PBS Hawai’i, airs on local PBS stations and on WORLD Channel, the multicast public television channel airing in over two-thirds of the country, throughout May (check local listings).   
  • WORLD Channel features more than 40 films focused on the Asian American and Pacific Islanders, including “Far East Deep South”  (May 4), “Curtain Up!” (May 11), “First Vote” (May 18) and Hamtramck, USA” (May 25) all airing on America ReFramed, along with Meet the Makers: AAPI Stories and Filmmakers, an online panel with the American ReFramed filmmakers at 1 pm EDT on May 7.  
  • The Center for Asian American Media presents CAAMFest 2021, an Asian and Asian American film festival May 13-23 featuring live and on-demand virtual screenings and events, as well as screenings at San Francisco’s only drive-in theater. Marquee screenings include “Try Harder!,” Debbie Lum’s documentary about San Francisco’s Lowell High, funded through ITVS.
  • GBH is holding a virtual community forum on the rising violence against Asian Americans, moderated by John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. The forum will be held at 6 pm EDT on May 13; reservations are required.

Photos above include a 1968 protest at San Francisco State University from the PBS docuseries "Asian Americans"; an American Experience Facebook Live conversation on the roots of anti-Asian hate in America, held in partnership with WORLD Channel and the Center for Asian American Media; and a photo from "Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir," courtesy of KPJR Films. 

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