HOME - JackOng.com

August 29, 2000
 To : Jim Cho, A Magazine
 From : Jack Ong
 Hi, Jim - Thanks for your call about AACTION. Here’s how it came about:
 1. On May 28, 1999, the L.A. Times featured a front page article titled A White, White World on TV’s Fall Schedule, which is self-explanatory to you, of course.
 2. The EEOC of SAG and AFTRA, on which I served as co-chair (with Sumi Haru) of the Asian/Pacific Islander-American Subcommittee, met unoffcially to plan action with the NAACP to work for diversity on the networks. This “unofficial” coalition was named We Won’t Be Ignored. It was co-chaired by Anne Marie Johnson, Jaime Ferrar, Eva Larson and myself. Other members of the SAG/AFTRA EEOC also came aboard to work with us. At that time, the union guilds were not taking an official stand at all.
 3. By that meeting, I had already been so alarmed and impassioned by the Times article that I had written up a petition and begun an internet campaign (“armchair activism,” I call it - so easy) to get signatures protesting the lack of diversity on the networks, to encourage people to write the networks, etc. The response in emails was amazing.
 4. I enlisted Tim Dang of East West Players and chaired the second meeting of We Won’t Be Ignored in the courtyard of East West Players. Representatives of the Beverly Hills and Hollywood chapters of the NAACP, along with reps of Nosotros, joined us at that meeting.
 5. That afternoon, Alex Nogales called, representing the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council and the National Hispanic Media Coalition; he invited me to meet with him and the national NAACP in Baltimore. I suggested that we include Native American representatives as well, so that any coalition of the racial minority groups would be fully inclusive. Alex thought that was a fine idea, and enlisted Sonny Skyhawk within two days.
 6. Since (by then), the NAACP was already responding to the Times article in a very vocal way, Tim Dang suggested that perhaps we should enlist other Asian-American groups to form our own coalition to address the diversity situation. Realizing I needed assistance to do that, I called George Takei, Sumi Haru (who was too committed to other demands, but offered to do what she could in the future), Dan Mayeda, Guy Aoki, Ken Narasaki and George Toshio Johnston (a columnist for the Hollywood Reporter). Johnston had been one of the first to respond to my internet petition and wanted to help with publicity if necessary. At our luncheon meeting at the Century Plaza Hotel, Ken suggested we try to enlist Karen Narasaki. She happened to be in L.A. that very weekend, so met, agreed that we could all work together, sharing the load, and she even provided me a plane ticket back to the Baltimore meeting. However, I booked a gig on “V.I.P.” and -- luckily -- Ken Narasaki was able to attend the meeting for us.
 7. Oh, when I met with George Takei, he had asked if I had a name for our coalition, which I hadn’t even considered (things were moving so quickly). I said I’d think one up. George said to make it a very “active sounding” name. By the time I got in my car, AACTION came into mind, and I called George from his driveway and we both thought “Asian American Coalition for Total Inclusion on the Networks” would be perfectly succinct.
 8. In the meantime (and all this happened very quickly, remember - all within a matter of weeks), Dan Mayeda had written a compelling statement to use in future meetings with network executives. Karen Narasaki enlisted Norm Mineta to be our national spokesperson (George Takei had taken on the chairmanship of the Japan American National Museum). We all worked at getting as many Asian-American groups as possible to build a nationwide coalition, and then we adoped the umbrella name, National Asian-Pacific American Media Coaltion. AACTION at that time became one of the national coalition members.
 Soooooo...regarding the movement behind the diversity struggle, I feel AACTION only began with one person, perhaps, but it was able to grow immediately only by the concerted efforts of many others.
  Top of Page