The New York Times has been exploring race and ethnicity using various storytelling tools. At the start of every effort was a conversation with diverse audiences.
Last year, Michael Luo, a former Times editor, had a racist remark hurled at him while out to brunch with his family after church. A woman yelled out at him and his family, “Go back to China.”
Mr. Luo wrote about his experience in an open letter to the woman. Asian-American readers responded in droves.
We captured that reaction in follow up articles, but wanted to do more to give voice to the experiences of these readers. We asked Asian-Americans to tweet the racial insults directed at them using #thisis2016.
The responses poured in on social media. We made a video of people reading their tweets on camera which was watched by more than 10 million people on Facebook, making it one of our top social videos of all time.
We didn’t stop there. Readers signaled that they wanted to continue the conversation, so we hosted a live online chat with experts and the public to discuss not just discrimination against Asian-Americans, but also the divide between East Asian and South Asian experiences.
In 2016, The New York Times collaborated with the independent documentary showcase POV to create innovative video-driven projects to spark conversation around the ideas of identity and race. “Hyphen-Nation,” a series of videos that marry emotional interviews with lively illustration, explore conversations with Americans who don’t necessarily always feel embraced by their country. “Who Me, Biased?,” a video series explaining the concepts of implicit bias, used stop-motion animation and interviews with bias experts. The series is now being used in classrooms around the country to introduce students to the biases all around us.
Case after case, our work provoked discussions and insights that might not otherwise have been had — pulling people together across the lines of race, ethnicity, generations, class and politics.