This is a letter in response to a Dartboard piece ("A Beef With Bamboo Shoots," Feb. 19, 1995) about the art exhibit co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association (AAA) displayed in the Science Center. We hadn't realized The Crimson had the luxury of replacing editorial space with tabloid gossip. We guess you couldn't even call it that--though the cattiness is there, most columns do a bit more research into their subject to avoid looking foolish after publication.
Allow us to correct--or better, to provide some facts about--the piece discussed. As a part of Asian American Cultural Month: Celebrating the Diversity of Asian American, AAA commissioned Mona Higuchi, an Arizona-based artist, to incorporate the responses of over 300 Harvard-Radcliffe students into a coherent exhibit. Collected in various dining halls earlier in the year, these were responses to the question, "Do you identify strongly with being Asian American, or is it just another label?" In the spirit of inclusion and celebrating the multiplicity of the Asian American perspective, all responses were displayed. With the help of two other artists, one a Romanian specializing in the presentation of text, Ms. Higuchi designed an exhibit with materials both appropriate aesthetically and economically.
The Crimson piece belittles the content of the work as "pathos-laden drivel," summarily writing off all who expressed themselves as "self-serious Asian college students looking to add excitement to their petty bourgeois existence." As you chose not to engage the piece as a work of art, i.e. giving it a critical review in the Arts pages, you attack and insult the population of Asian American students at Harvard-Radcliffe on a directly personal level.
Your piece goes on to mock the artist's alleged hypocrisy in form for her use of red paper and bamboo. The point is missed again. Breaking stereo-types is about digging beneath the surface to appreciate the complexity of exteriors. Here The Crimson clearly failed. Not only has the article generalized and dismissed all concerns regarding identity of Asian Americans, it starts itself by mentioning the posted Chemistry 30 exam scores, exhibiting the Crimson's stereotypical association of Asian Americans on campus. And what about the recent scrutiny on Asian American identity in the Registration issue of the Crimson. Let's apply The Crimson's own criticism of form and content to the Oriental brush-like font chosen to title that piece?
The exhibit doesn't move you, you say. Call you unfeeling or not trendy enough, you challenge. Let's just call it what it is: bad journalism. It wasn't necessary to elicit emotion from everyone, rather the intent was to receive a response. We're sorry The Crimson couldn't pull together some-thing better than what it offered. As a piece of art you didn't get it. As a statement from an Asian American community you didn't get it. Dear editors, perhaps it is because you just don't have it. Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association Steering Committee