The New York Times triggered a social media backlash for a tweet stating that Asian-Americans are “vividly overrepresented” in figure skating.
“Asians make up around 7% of the U.S. population but have become vividly overrepresented in ice rinks and competitions at every level, from coast to coast,” said the newspaper’s Wednesday tweet. “Gradually, they have transformed a sport that, until the 1990s, was almost uniformly white.”
The description drew outrage from those who accused the newspaper of using a “loaded term” to suggest there are too many Asian Americans in the sport, citing the backdrop of rising hate crimes and legal battles over alleged efforts to cap Asian American admissions at elite universities and high schools.
“For 2 years, we’ve been feeling explicit racism against Asians,” tweeted Parents Defending Education vice president for strategy Asra Q. Nomani. “We’re ‘overrepresented’ at Stuyvesant HS. Thomas Jefferson HS for Science & Technology. Lowell HS. Now we’re ‘vividly overrepresented’ in ice-skating?! @deanbaquet, the anti-Asian bigotry at the NYT must stop.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, tweeted: “Liberals embrace racism, especially against Asian-Americans. NYT complains that Asians are ‘vividly overrepresented’ in ice skating.”
Los Angeles comedian Jenny Yang tweeted, “um just because ‘overrepresentation’ is a statistical term doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for social media headlines. you must’ve known that ‘overrepresented’ is ALSO a very loaded term when used to describe a ‘minority’ population right @nytimes?”
The article, “The Asian American Pipeline in Figure Skating,” appeared shortly before U.S.-born Team USA athlete Nathan Chen won Thursday men’s figure-skating gold at the Beijing Winter Olympics. His parents immigrated from China.
New York Times sportswriter Andrew Keh, who wrote the article, responded that “overrepresented” was not intended to convey any sort of “judgment.”
“I used the word after hearing [it] in conversation with multiple Asian American sociologists,” Mr. Keh tweeted. “It literally just means that participation is clearly disproportionate to the population stat cited in the same sentence. There’s no judgment baked into it.”
Disagreeing was author and advocate for sexual-assault survivors Evelyn Yang, who’s married to Democratic politician and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
“The judgement IS baked in,” Ms. Yang tweeted. “I know it wasn’t ill-intended but ‘overrepresented’ is the wrong choice of words here and harmful because it suggests that there should be a ceiling to our achievement (ie in universities) and that any quota-defying presence is alarming or undesirable.”
Among the ensuing satirical takes was a tweet by New York state school superintendent Joel M. Petlin, who said, “Woke journalists *have become vividly overrepresented* at the @nytimes.”
“Gradually they have transformed a profession that, until recently, was almost uniformly dominated by journalists who didn’t discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion,” Mr. Petlin quipped.
Others asked if The Times would ever have made such a statement about other minority groups whose participation in an endeavor exceeds their percentage of the population.
“Imagine if the @nytimes wrote a piece saying ‘Blacks make up around 14% of the U.S. population but have become vividly overrepresented in the @NFL & @NBA from coast to coast. Gradually they have…,’” tweeted Curtis S. Chin, former U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank. “And yet the #NYTimes tweets this.”
The Asian American Project tweeted: “WOW - just WOW. We dare anyone to find a NY Times tweet or article stating Blacks are ‘overrepresented’ in the @NBA or @NFL. NYT management needs to dig deeper on the pervasive #AntiAsianRacism among its reporters and ‘progressive’ thinkers.”