Netan Sansara, an 18 year-old Indian soccor player from England, has often spoken about the lack of Asian role models for young people.
Netan Sansara, an 18 year-old Indian soccor player from England, has often spoken about the lack of Asian role models for young people.

American teens and children spend time watching television, listening to music, and surfing the internet daily. This can influence them in many ways. Popular television shows such as Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana”, Nickelodeons’ “Drake & Josh”, “iCarly”, and the CW’s “Gossip Girl” can play a role in a young person’s life, by giving them new ideas, ways to solve problems, teach lessons, and can even give them role models to look up to. Pop culture is influential and has direct access to young people. But I have noticed that all of these shows lack something fundamental – someone they can relate to and identify with on a meaningful level. They lack diversity, especially Asian Americans.

Magazines, movies, and shows seem to be based around Caucasians. Because of the lack of representation, Asian American kids may feel left out and not good enough. Growing up as a young Asian and African American girl, I watched shows on Disney Channel and read through Vogue magazines daily. There was one show I looked up to — “That’s So Raven” which starred a main character who was a young, female African American. I liked that I had someone to relate to and the character “Raven” was different than most girls on other shows. It made me feel like being different was okay and that I could be pretty, too. I liked other shows and the humor in them but they would leave me not feeling good enough. I noticed all of the main characters were white and only had white friends. And, in magazines, the models and celebrities were white, too.

It seems that American media has this stereotypical image of Asians: they are only good at math, engineering, music, and are very conservative. Although this may be true for some, it does not apply to all. Because America is familiar with seeing Caucasians play main roles in movies and shows, producers may not want to take a chance with something new, creating a lack in Asian American visibility and ultimately, role models.

Although there are very few famous Asian Americans in media, there is Connie Chung. Like her or not, Connie Chung has been a successful news anchor and reporter for various news channels for more than 30 years. I believe that she can be a good role model for many people. She’s an example that you can reach your goals no matter who you are or where you came from. She is somebody I can relate to because she is an Asian American working in the field that I too, want to go into.

America is viewed as a melting pot, full of diversity yet the media does not seem to reflect that. Children and teens may get the idea that only Caucasians are dominant and successful while others are outcasts, different, not worthy of being portrayed. I think if Asian American kids and teens had more role models to look up to, they too, can feel they are part of society and can reach their goals no matter who they are.

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