‘The Real’ Jeannie Mai Jenkins No Longer ‘Retreating’ When It Comes to Asian Issues

“The Real” co-host Jeannie Mai Jenkins admitted she is “not proud” that she’s only celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month for the first time this year, saying she “could do better.”

Using her platform: Feeling the urgency to shed light on Asian issues, the 42-year-old host, and only Asian American woman on the show, told Yahoo in an interview on Tuesday she now wants to use her platform to celebrate her heritage. 

  • Jenkins, who is of Vietnamese and Chinese descent, recognized she can no longer retreat or stay silent about issues concerning her community, including the rising number of anti-Asian hate incidents
  • According to Jenkins, she represents the Asian community in the show because “everything that comes out of my mouth is going to come from my culture, my lifestyle, my upbringing.”
  • She highlighted the recent three-part series they made talking about three important subjects that negatively affect Asians: “the model minority myth, fetishizing of Asian women, and the long history of racism towards Asians.”

Breaking the chains: The Emmy Award winner recalled how she first publicly showcased her heritage six years ago when she featured classic Lunar New Year dishes during a segment on her show.

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  • When the episode did not rate well, she “felt embarrassed” that it prevented her from bringing up another Asian topic.
  • The current social climate has made her realize what she can do, saying “I’ve broken those chains. Now, I don’t care where I’m speaking about it. If you want me, if you want Jeannie Mai Jenkins, that is coming with me. And you are going to learn about my culture and my people.”

Solidarity with other minorities: Jenkins told Yahoo Finance that she and her husband, Grammy-nominated singer Jay Wayne Jenkins (Jeezy), have talked about the importance of solidarity among underrepresented groups. 

  • “I think the first thing that all minority groups should acknowledge is that until Black Lives Matter, none of us will. Until ‘Black Lives Matter’, none of us will receive the respect that we deserve,” she stressed.
  • She pointed out the historical oppression of Black people and the current challenges they face in the justice system.
  • Jenkins also added the model minority myth separated Asian and Black communities.
  • “These are more opportunities for us more than ever to speak out and to speak up proudly for ourselves. If you can’t speak up for yourself, how am I going to believe that you speak up for other people?” she asked. 

Featured Image via The Real Daytime (left, right)

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