7.17.2009

That's the way it is

I really liked Katie Couric's show tonight on Walter Cronkite. It's truly the most appropriate format for an obit on this legendary newsman.


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I really hope Cronkite's standard of journalism isn't dying. Some would argue that it's already dead, but I don't agree. I think things are simply evolving and adapting to some seriously disruptive technological changes. The love of truth and representing important issues and stories to the public is what drives real journalism, and I can't see human beings ever surviving without that.

All these deaths lately are making me realize that I guess I finally am "growing up" (a.k.a. getting older). With Michael Jackson, it was remembering "Beat It" as one of the first music videos I'd ever seen. This time, it's remembering watching Walter Cronkite on the evening news. My mom would have it on during dinner, and I remember hearing him count each night how long the hostages had been held in Iran. I guess getting old isn't so bad -- think of all the history you get to see! (Uncle Walt himself would probably attest to that.)

I think what astonished me most about Katie's report was the part where they showed his old papers, and his old reporter's notebooks. He kept everything! I can't wait until that guy publishes his biography. I'd love to see some of Cronkite's old notes. It also makes me sad my own notebooks have rarely if ever captured anything worth saving for decades, and even when they have, my notes have always been so sloppy I don't think they'd be worth poring over ever again. I might have 'em tucked away somewhere nonetheless. (I guess reporters are reporters, whatever the generation! Gotta save your notes!)

7.09.2009

Belonging

I hope I'm getting this just in under the wire of relevant Michael Jackson posting, because it has got to be said. Every time the question of Michael Jackson's kids' paternity and custody comes into question, somewhere an adoption angel dies. Really. I've really been wondering how adopted (or any non-traditionally conceived) children feel when they hear these newscasters pondering that because Jackson may/may not be the biological father to those children, it's just a complete MYSTERY who is going to take care of them now that he's gone, and really, to whom do these kids belong? It's ridiculous. Why should his kids (which I assume are legally his kids, especially if their mother relinquished her parental rights) be treated any differently than any other kids whose parents/guardians die? To say that they should be treated differently because they might not be genetically related to their father is such outright ignorance and stupidity, and I can't believe how glibly it keeps getting stated and questioned over and over again.

The other thing that has been nagging at me is this question of whether the kids are his, based completely on their looks, and whether there's any way those kids could be half-black. I thought we had come farther than this as a society, I really did. I mean I grew up with people questioning whether my dad was really my dad, questioning whether I was really Chinese, etc. and I never really held it against anyone. Back when I was growing up -- believe it or not -- multiracial marriages and mixed children were still quite unusual. But nowadays it is so obvious how quickly "dark" genes can get diluted. I'm not saying it's the norm, but it can happen in a single generation. Genetics are weird, and there's so much living proof of this fact that it is simply ignorant and embarrassing for people to insist that there's just no way those kids could be half-black. That's simply not the case. I'm not gonna go on record and say I think they actually are half-black, because frankly, Michael Jackson's life and ways give me plenty of reason to believe that they might not be genetically related to him at all. But to be so ignorant of the reality of mixed ethnic heritage in the multicultural era in which we live makes you painfully out of touch.

And then finally, to top it all off, today when I was finally saying, ah, well, I'm taking this all too seriously and just need to let it go, I see this ridiculous, embarrassing, preposterous story on ABC News of all places (Peter Jennings, please be rolling in your grave!) about Michael Jackson's "white" kids and the challenges they are going to face getting along with his black family. I don't think I need to break down all the things that are wrong with this article, but I do have two questions for our friends at the network:

1) Did Luchina Fisher, the author of this story, and whoever edited it get a serious talking to? Will an apology be appearing for this frankly racist "news" article?

2) If not, then when are you guys going to do a retrospective on my life growing up as the one "white" kid dealing with an all-Chinese family? The language barrier! The hair color! The pressure to do well in school! The chopsticks! Oh, the stories I can tell! If only I'd realized earlier this was breaking news!

Race in this country is a complicated issue, and judging by how contemporary media are handling the strange, sad, unusual story of Michael Jackson's life and death, it's clear that whatever progress we so celebrated when we elected our first black president back in November was -- important though it may have been -- still just a baby step toward combating our tribal, xenophobic, and prejudiced human nature.