Norman Mailer Plays the Race Card

June 30, 2005

Racist or not, Mailer is certainly part of the mindset that keeps the mainstream media -- whether it's journalism or the entertainment industry -- so lily white. If you're a person of color and get in, then of course it must be because you were some affirmative action case.

I've experienced this in my career, taking a job at a big newspaper and having most people assume I was an intern from the minority internship program. Even at other jobs, there is always a subtle undercurrent that the few non-white people on staff were there only because there was some mandate to hire minorities.

Sure, sometimes a minority candidate gets hired when they're not ready for the job. I've seen it. I've also seen a lot of white people who aren't qualified get hired as well. Having a diverse workforce is generally good, but it has to be done right, with good hiring decisions that don't fall into the affirmative action trap that Mailer is complaining about.


Harry Mok

Editor in chief

Editor in Chief Harry Mok wrote about growing up on a Chinese vegetable farm for the second issue of Hyphen and has been a volunteer editor since 2004. As a board member of the San Francisco and New York chapters of the Asian American Journalists Association, Harry has recruited and organized events for student members. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was also a graduate student instructor in the Asian American Studies Department.



I've often been one of only a handful of minorities in a newsroom. And usually, I was the only Asian American. Having so few people of color in a newsroom does perpetuate a lack of news coverage of minority communities, and the general invisibility of people of color in the media. I'm not saying that white people can't cover stories that are in minority communities. Any reporter can cover stories well if they take the time to learn about the subject, do the research, and immerse themselves into the community. (And by community, I don't mean just ethnic communities, but subcultures too like people who are into cosplay, or who are obsessed about electric cars, or whatever.) But oftentimes, stories don't even land on the radar because people don't know where to look in the first place or lack an awareness of the culture and issues.Of course as a reporter, I don't want to be pigeonholed to covering just my own community either. You know what I really hate about being the only Asian American in a newsroom? Co-workers coming up to you and asking you some random question they think you should know the answer to because you're Asian. Like questions about China or what the educational system is like in Japan. I've never even been to Japan, OK?
Oops, he did it again. Jewish-American novelist Norman Mailer, agrumpy old fart at 82, takes a swipe at Japanese-American literarycritic Michiko Kakutani in a magazine interview recently. [PHOTOS OFBOTH HERE:]Kakutani, 50 and the daughter of a retired Yale maths professor whocame up with the "fixed point theorem," is a Yale graduate and hasbeen a book reviewer for the New York Times for over 25 years, evenwinning a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1998. In the interview,Mailer, whose books have often been dismissed by Kakutani, usesseveral terribly racist and politically vulgar (PV) terms, calling the Timesreporter a "one-woman kamikaze" [divine wind suicide bomber] and an "Asiatic, a feminist," who isa "token" minority hire at the august national newspaper. So just who isMichiko Kakutani? Click here [] and readan informal, gossipy blogsite about her.Note: I was shocked, shocked to read about Norman Mailer's feud with MichikoKakutani. Whatever reasons Mailer might have to feel abused by hercritical powers at the Times (and he does seem to have some goodreasons), Mailer should not have singled out ethnic background, of allthings, as part of his criticism. Kakutani is not "Asiatic." She, aJapanese-American, is just as "American" as he, a Jewish-American, is.Shame on you, Norman, for having a go at the race card. You losethere.
http://kakutani101.blogspot.cominteresting background info on Ms. Kakutani from 1997 blog, if you can believe it. Really. Updated, but the original 1997 blog here.
If Mailer was criticzing a Jewish book reviewer named Miriam Kirschbaum, would he have labelled her a one-woman kike kritic; or if she was Mary Kennedy, Irish, would he have called her a one-woman Irish witch; or if she was black, would he have called her a one-man nigger critic; or if she was German named Mirelle Katrina, would have called her a one-woman kraut bitch?Why can he get away with call MK a one-woman kamikaze? He should lose his license to practice public utterances. A sad sick man.
He's been a bigoted asshole for a long time. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he's made similar remarks about other minority women.
Asians are racially disgusting until they themselves are slighted, at which point they themselves suddenly and inexplicably become "minorities", "people of colour", etc. Oh, boo hoo.
Last I checked Asians are "minorities" and are "people of colour" so what is your point OMFS? And what does racially disgusting mean?
Mailer's full of shit! Kakutani called Alice Walker's novel 'Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart' a 'remarkably awful compendium of inanities'.