Our twist of fate with Obama
Last updated 1-15-09 at 1:08 p.m.
cover of “President Obama Election 2008” is a collection
of newspaper front pages selected by the Poynter Institute. The
Poynter Institute is a school dedicated to teaching and inspiring
journalists and media leaders through seminars, publications,
and education on its Florida campus.
By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
I have to admit, I did not even know how to pronounce Barack Obama’s
name when he declared his presidency, but it did
not stop me from supporting him.
The Northwest Asian Weekly and its sister paper,
Seattle Chinese Post, share a significant date
with President Obama. Jan. 20 is Inauguration Day for U.S. presidents,
the day when they begin their term. When I started the newspapers,
I had no idea that our anniversary issue would be published on the
same day as the inauguration issue. Jan. 20 is the 27-year anniversary
for both the Northwest Asian Weekly and the Seattle Chinese Post.
We are honored to celebrate this day with President Obama.
Like Obama, we overcame difficult challenges in
2008. Despite all the negative news for print media,
we are still here.
For the first time in our 27 years of history,
Obama is the first presidential candidate that
our papers have covered extensively. Is it because he’s a person
of color? Is it because of the connection brought by Ruthann Kurose
and her family?
It’s all of the above.
Kurose’s children actively campaigned and worked for Obama
for two years and provided us with sources and
connections have brought President-elect Obama
closer to Seattle’s
Another association came from one of his classmates
and a supporter. I got an email last February from
Cathy Lee Chong, our former intern and Obama’s classmate.
“I hope you will vote for Barack Obama tomorrow (in the Washington
state presidential primary election),” wrote Chong. “Barack
Obama graduated in 1979, one year before me,” she continued, “from
Punahou School in Honolulu. There were few African American
students at Punahou, so most of us knew ‘Barry Obama,’ as
he was called back then. He wouldn’t remember me, but all of
us remember him.”
Punahou School has a student body population of
1,600 and enrolls elementary through high school
students. Imagine all the school pals from grade school through law
school who have campaigned for Obama. The number of supporters cannot
be estimated. He has touched lives without even realizing it.
Why did I support Obama and not Hillary Clinton,
despite the fact that I have been a Clinton supporter
for many years? The truth is that the United States
initially identifies me by my skin color and not my deeds. I am a
person of color first, a woman second.
King County Councilmember Larry Gossett convinced
me to vote for Obama without even talking to me specifically
about him. Gossett is also a Black man. On Feb. 10, 2007, Gossett
appeared at the Organization of Chinese Americans’ Lunar New
dinner. I saw Obama’s face in Gossett’s. If Obama ran
for president, Gossett could, too, I thought. If
Black people can run, Asian Americans can, too! How Obama transcends
racial barriers! People of color should not hold back or limit themselves.
What excuses do we have for not achieving greatness?
“Have you met Obama?” I asked Gossett. “Are you
supporting him?” His reply was positive.
“Can you introduce Obama to the Asian community?” I
invited him to write an article about Obama. His
Obama article was published in May 2007 in the Asian Weekly.
You might be aware that Obama placed a half-hour
prime-time TV advertisement for seven network stations
at $1 million a piece. It was remarkable how he also paid attention
to small organizations like us. His Washington state campaign office
placed four full-page advertisements in Northwest Asian Weekly and
Seattle Chinese Post. No other presidential candidate had done that
for us. We are immensely grateful to him and his campaign staff.
The ultimate gift for us was when the Northwest Asian
Weekly’s cover of Obama’s election was chosen for the
Poytner Institute’s book, “2008 Presidential Covers.” Our
newspaper was one of the 75 national and international
newspapers to be chosen for the book. Our Nov. 4 issue’s editorial
on Obama’s victory was quoted several times by the Maynard
Never had we expected rewards come to us from supporting
Obama. Obama becoming the president of the United
States is our reward. The icing on the cake is that he has enhanced
our fortunes and our visibility.
As Obama begins his presidency, he will face many
challenges and turmoil. May he ride out all the tsunamis
and make every American proud. (end)
Assunta Ng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPECIAL INAUGURATION ISSUE