[PRINT] AsianWeek's Celebrate its 25th Anniversary (August 1979)
- John Fang's Dream
By James Fang, Nov 12, 2004
It seemed like an unsolvable situation: How could Asian Americans,
given their wide variety of cultural, language and ethnic
differences, communicate amongst themselves and, perhaps just as
importantly, to mainstream America?
Even within the ethnic Asian communities, how would first-generation
Asian Americans immigrants with the primary goal of economic
survival relate or communicate with third- or fourth-generation
ones, who viewed themselves first as Americans but still retained
the physical appearance of their Asian grandparents? What of the
hapa community Asian Americans whose mixed heritages defied a
In August 1979, one person, the late John Fang, with just a few
employees and a splash of red ink on the cover, came up with a
vision that would serve as a major cornerstone in binding, melding
and molding a collective voice for our community: He founded
AsianWeek became the first and continues to be the only paper to
publish weekly from a shared Asian American perspective, using the
English language as a connecting source to bind all of us.
It was a daunting challenge to cover an entire community as diverse
as Asia and as wide as the United States. But carefully and
meticulously, AsianWeek began to establish a nationwide network of
correspondents and civic/community leaders. The job of these
correspondents and community leaders was to provide a national
AsianWeek harnessed this tremendous amount of data into a two-
pronged directive: to advocate against injustices and to draw
attention to Asian American individuals who were succeeding and
making a difference in our community.
AsianWeek acted as a forum in advocating for those Asian Americans
who were defenseless and voiceless in the face of an uncaring power.
Whether it was in bringing much-needed national and decisive
exposure to the killing of Vincent Chin or in demanding justice for
Wen Ho Lee and Capt. James Yee, the strength of AsianWeek has been
its unequivocal eagerness to support our community.
Conversely there has always been an equal effort given to
highlighting those Asian Americans who, through their cultural
background and hard work, have become successful symbols to both our
community and all of America.
AsianWeek has always and continues to place a special emphasis on
the political involvement of Asian America. Politics in America is
an immediate and tangible vehicle to ensure equal opportunity and
social justice for all Americans. Regardless of party affiliation,
the effort to become more politically conscious is essential to
preventing miscarriages of justice like the internment of Japanese
Americans during World War II.
AsianWeek has been proud to report on Elaine Chao and Norman Mineta,
the pioneers who became this nation's first Asian American
appointees to the Cabinet, or former U.S. Sen. S.I. Hayakawa and
former California Secretary of State March Fong Eu, who were the
first to hold statewide offices in a major state. The appointment of
California Supreme Court Justice Ming Chen is a major step not
only in terms of breaking through another barrier but also in terms
of serving as a symbolic deterrent to those who might deny us our
rights as Americans.
In 1995, AsianWeek changed its format to a full-color one and
converted itself from an exclusively paid circulation newspaper to a
hybrid publication consisting of both free distribution and paid
subscribers. AsianWeek also remains the only Asian American
publication that has its circulation numbers audited by an impartial
Special sections, such as the exclusive APA guides to the Democratic
and Republican conventions and the Summer Olympics, presented
tangible examples of the newspaper's commitment to celebrating Asian
Americans' achievements. In the spring of 2003, AsianWeek also
partnered with the University of California at Los Angeles to
produce a book on the 2000 Census, titled The New Face of Asian
For the last 25 years, AsianWeek has been the mirror of our
community, showing our triumphs and shortcomings, serving as both
the face and conscience of Asian America. We were exhilarated when
Ichiro Suzuki broke baseball's all-time hit record, cried when
astronauts Ellison Onizuka and Kalpana Chawla died while reaching
for the stars, laughed when Margaret Cho performed comedy, were in
awe when Yo Yo Ma played his cello, and proud when entrepreneurs
like Jefferey Yang taught America how to use the Internet.
We are now filled with a sense of apprehension and optimism
apprehension because racism, bigotry and hatred continue to be the
obstacles stifling our progress. Indeed, recently in San Francisco,
the unofficial capital of Asian America, 20 white youths chased and
beat five Asian American youths. Only one of the attackers has been
caught, and his sentence was 100 hours of community service.
Yet we are optimistic because the community's future is bright and
filled with potential. This week, U.S. astronaut Leroy Chiao touched
the heavens in his space shuttle and while in orbit voted in the
U.S. presidential election. Back home, Timmy Chang, quarterback for
the University of Hawai`i, broke the all-time college passing record.
Space flight, football and democracy: What better symbolizes America?
As our community and its voice in AsianWeek approach the future, we
are ever-cognizant of our difficult past and current obstacles but
also approach our journey and the Asian American experience with the
determination and confidence given to us by our forefathers who came
to America. Who knows, in the next 25 years, might we have an Asian