March 30, 2015

DC Mar 25: An evening with Rep. Mark Takai

Asian American Action Fund
cordially invites you to
an evening with Rep. Mark Takai
with delicious food and delightful wine pairings

AAA-Fund kicks off 2015 with an intimate dinner with Rep. Mark Takai on Wednesday, March 25th at 6:30p in downtown DC.
Rep. Mark Takai is a 2014 AAA-Fund Endorsee & Honorary Board member & represents Hawaii’s 1st Congressional district. Mark previously represented Hawaii’s 33rd House District in the State legislature 1994-2014 & currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 6:30p-8:30p

RSVP, tickets, info HERE
Queries, email RSVP to Sarah Jeong
Download our event flyer or hit “Attending” on our Facebook Event to spread the word.

Suggested Donations
Individuals: Friend $500 Sponsor $1000 PAC: Silver $2500 Gold $5000

Donations will go to the AAA-Fund to support its continuing efforts to elect Asian American Democrats and politically activate the Asian American community. The AAA-Fund is a progressive political organization dedicated to empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the United States.

The AAA-Fund accepts contributions only from individuals using their own personal funds of up to $5000 per calendar year and contributions will be used for federal elections. Under federal law, the AAA-Fund cannot accept contributions from Federal government contractors (note that employeees of federal contractors are free to contribute personal funds), foreign nationals who are not permanent residents; or those making donations using the general treasury funds of corporations, labor organizations, or national banks. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the full name, mailing address, occuption and employer of any individual whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year. Paid for by the Asian American Action Fund (www.aaa-fund.org) and authorized by Representative Mark Takai.

In Support of Phil

Editor’s Note: The views espoused below or in our blog are those of the writer & not that of the parent organization, the AAA-Fund.

We’ve linked to Angry Asian Man whose proprietor Phil Yu is a tireless, foremost advocate for so many causes in our community, many of which are ours here at the AAA-Fund and its Blogteam both. His leading in publicizing matters, writing credible posts & lending his name & time & energy to our causes is steady, reliable & much appreciated.

Thus when Lela Lee, the founder of Angry Little Asian Girls, threatened to sue Phil due to trademark (don’t say copyright, she’ll get you) infringement, the anger and backlash against her were unleashed. Internet bullying is deployed fully against her, not that I advocate it but namely that she brought it upon herself with her caustic attitude, sharp writing, snide sarcasm, personal attacks, and request to keep everything private.

My 2nd offense is at her attacking. I don’t mean to say the AAPI community has to act as 1 or is 1 happy family, that’s unrealistic and unhealthy, but her attitude is so poor by any measure that it must be called out.

My foremost offense is at her hijacking the community and moniker “Angry Asian” for herself. Who gave her that right? With the same arrogance of lawyer combined with businesswoman, she swoops in to belittle, chastise, and bump off an innocent person? Who said she could exclusively be the only Asian to give emphatic expression? What right does she have to own the whole idea of an angry Asian much less its trademark? But the harm to our community, our cause, no way, such damaging persons cannot be left to do their craft.

The solution is to publicly shame her by simply, innocently, merely re-posting her posts a.k.a. archiving her blog from which she already deleted past items (but nothing online is ever deleted). Her harming the community with her selfish act deserves commensurate action. All our official and unofficial cross-posting partners from 8Asians (excellent letter) to ReAppropriate (excellent coverage always & especially good writing) and FascinAsians and Phil‘s original post and our friend Jeff Yang all agree, Lela Lee is wrong.

Why are Evangelicals Silent about Dead Egyptian Coptic Christians?

beheading Coptic Christians

Let’s jump right in, why are evangelicals silent about the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians? Or for that matter, any of the 1000s of Coptics killed for decades?

Some background, conservative pro-Christian media is usually very fast to promote news that makes evangelicals (that’s not the same as all Christians as they think they’re right & all other Christian sects are wrong, basically) look good. This time, their universe is silent. Here’s why:

  • Egyptians are all Arab and Muslim, right? what’s the difference anyways?
  • They’re dark so they’re not like us. We can’t care.
  • We’re comfortable in suburbia and that’s just too far.
  • Isn’t it normal in that part of the world?
  • Isn’t Libya also bad? Where’s Libya?

Extremist Christians are bad because religious extremism is the root of this whole problem. Using Christian extremism won’t solve the Muslim extremism.

I thought about doing this article as a split column with my reaction on the right, but likely your reactions to the Christians cited above is the same as mine. Explanations would kill the sarcastic joke.

Fresh off “Fresh Off the Boat”

First, why I’m writing about ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” here at the blog of a PAC whose mission is to increase AAPI involvement in US politics. Part of that is educating, identify, outing & resolving race issues in the US whether by political means or others (grassroots, education, public embarrassment, etc.). This show is an important step in that movement, a movement close in heart & action to those of our PAC.

There’re countless eloquent & well-written tributes to the show including

I add my own to the pile.

Constance Wu’s character Jessica Huang steals the show. At last, as the sentiment which underlies Asians Not Brainwashed By Media and this fan of On the Media yours truly is sharply aware, an Asian woman who is a real woman. Not some meaty object of desire, not some caricature, not some shell of a human being, not a moist stereotype, not just a generic “wife and mother” character as America is so apt to love, but a true human being with feelings, complexities, arguments, and growing pains.

Next, the father, wow a man of the house, haven’t we seen a lot of these on tv? Sarcasm, people, and now we add to the slowly growing list of responsible Asian men in American media, always a sore tender point.

And the kids, whoever casts for ABC with their many kids in many shows recently is great & I can only be so proud of them & their parents for raising such fine actors & aware people.

And my immediate reaction: wow, it’s my life on tv. At last, it’s like therapy.

Faith-based Deniers

Science Denial

What’s a term for faith-based psychos like birthers, deniers (climate & interrogation both), anti-vaxxers, truthers, etc.? Their main trait is using personal truth to refute truth. It’s reminiscent of religious folks, especially those I’ve long called GOP Christians who use the flag of Jesus and the US to self-justify personal flaws.

I don’t seek to write some long academic prose about how to carefully define such folks. We’re a blog & no one has that kind of attention span. Plus, peer citations are what those psychos use to justify themselves so peer citations are no assurance against psychos.

What is the most disparaging term for such folks? Comment below. I’ll use this such term in the future to better write against those psychos whose beliefs cause them to vote and be politically involved in ways which endanger our nation, rights & futures.

Job posting: UCLA Visiting Scholar Fellowship in Asian American Studies

UCLA AASC : 2015-16 IAC Visiting Scholar/Researcher Fellowship in Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies

The UCLA Institute of American Cultures, in conjunction with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center (AASC), invites applications for in-residence appointments for support of research on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders for 2015-2016. We especially encourage applications that advance our understanding of new social and cultural realities occasioned by the dramatic population shifts of recent decades, including greater heterogeneity within ethnic groups and increased interethnic interaction.

DEADLINE: Applications must be received by Wednesday, February 4, 2015. Awards will be announced in April 2015.

FELLOWSHIP PERIOD: October 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016

APPLICATION/ INFORMATION: http://www.iac.ucla.edu/fellowships_visitingscholar.html

ELIGIBILITY/FUNDING: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and hold a Ph.D. from an accredited college or university at the time of appointment. UCLA faculty, staff, and currently enrolled students are not eligible to apply.

Two types of awards will be offered: 1) Visiting Researcher appointments for persons who currently hold permanent academic positions and 2) Visiting Scholar posts for newly degreed individuals. In 2015-2016, AASC IAC Visiting Researchers/Scholars will receive funding for three quarters, with a maximum stipend of $35,000 (contingent upon rank, experience, and date of completion of their terminal degree). Awardees may receive up to $4,000 in research support (through reimbursement of research expenses).

Please see attachment for more information or contact AASC’s IAC Coordinator, Melany De La Cruz-Viesca, at melanyd@ucla.edu

Fresh Off the Boat: On Margaret Cho, media, art & representation

[Author’s note: wrote this last night. This morning, NYMag put out Eddie Huang’s evisceration and reclamation of the sitcom version of his book.]

I’m old enough to remember when it was novel to see Asian Americans on tv. Not on tv shows, but in commercials. I would get all excited and point out the computer geek or family seeking a bank to my college friends. I was happy to even see stereotypical representations in sitcoms because it was so rare. Part of why Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle remains a favorite, highly rewatchable film of mine is because it showed Asian American teens transcending the model minority, and yet, still seeking the American Dream. I was a teen, trying to find my identity, and the extraordinary thing is that the movie that I still find to be emblematic of Asian American suburbia is written by two Jewish boys from Jersey. It was really what they saw in their friends. The white lights of that burger joint are to Harold and Kumar what the green lights that beckoned Nick Gatsby across the bay were. There is something profoundly American about seeking a burger, with its all-American patty resting under a square of slightly limp American cheese.

Now I have higher expectations and I no longer blink at seeing Asian Americans on tv. I cheer shows like The Mindy Project for being fully fleshed out and written and run by a kickass Asian American woman. (So much better than the awkwardness of Outsourced.) Before the Mindy Project, before Blackish, Shonda Rhimes portrayed Asian American doctor Christina Yang in a relationship with Preston Burke, an African American attending. It was radical, and remains radical, and I thank Shondaland for great, diverse, and powerful programming on Thursdays, even as I have outgrown Grey’s Anatomy.

We are in an extraordinary time. I feel blessed to be able to watch shows that focus on diverse lives like Jane the Virgin, Blackish, Cristela, How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, Mindy Project, Key & Peele, and the too short-lived Selfie. Big Hero 6 was one of the great movies of the year and featured animated Asian American leads. As a child, I never had the expectation that I would see so many faces that reflect the diversity of this country on the small screen. And yes, there is still long way to go.

In February, I and many other Asian Americans look forward to Fresh Off the Boat, which will feature a predominantly Asian American cast. It’s based on Taiwanese American chef and journalist Eddie Huang’s book which is hilarious and true. I literally couldn’t stop laughing while reading about his family life, about the shorties, about his parents, and even about his life detour from law to food. He writes about hope, his identification with black America, his parents hitting him, and he leaves it all out on the floor. It is blunt, hard-hitting, real, and wicked funny. The migration of the Huangs are a story that deserves to be told.

And yet I have some anxiety about how it will be received. Over the holidays, my family member said, “I hope it will be as good as Blackish.”

I said, “I think that’s too high a standard. Blackish is my favorite new show. It’s funny, incisive and so smart and sophisticated about race. I hope it’s at least as good as Modern Family.”

Tonight, I rewatched Margaret Cho’s The Notorious C.H.O. (2001), in which she has a sketch where she talks about how she always knew she wanted to be a comedian but she had limited expectations for her potential roles. She looked forward to playing a hooker or an extra on M.A.S.H. The truth is, Cho made history in 1994 with All-American Girl, the first ever Asian American sitcom that I could have watched. It failed.

Cho was simultaneously told that her face was too round (she dieted and it led to kidney failure), that she was “too Asian” and “not Asian enough.”

Talk about giving someone a complex and setting them up to fail.

Since the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act which lifted quotas and restrictions on immigrants from Asia to the U.S., it has taken decades for Asian American culture to seep into the mainstream, beyond the food, beyond the fold.

It has been twenty long and mostly silent years since the last Asian American sitcom aired. I hope this one lasts for twenty years and mines the comedy gold that is Asian American family life and culture.

–Caroline

Out of Control Anger

Officer Rafael Ramos (left) and Wenjian Liu (right) were killed on Saturday in an ambush by a gunman in a Brooklyn neighborhood.

Endless political hate speech ensues. Let’s hope it’s dampened now that more died. All the causes are facing opposite directions compounding out-of-control anger.

Conservatives focus on the fact that both men died while resisting arrest & are responsible for their own demise, the risk to law enforcement by such folks, that blacks are the majority of violent criminals & thus risks to their & others’ well-being as well as an orderly peaceful society.

Liberals focus on how both criminals were victims of excessive law enforcement force, racial profiling and discrimination, blacks in the context of historical misdeeds, and decriminalization of “small” offenses.

Blacks focus on not being represented by 2 petty criminals, being generally hard-working law-abiding citizens, victims of persistent society-wide biases, how the system is gamed against them, and how disrespected they feel at all times.

Anarchists focus on hijacking the cause, openly calling for the execution of police, lionizing anarchistic assassins (including o called “civic” “leaders” advocating killing cops), and turning demonstrations into excuses for violence.

AAPIs focus on not being hijacked then overwritten for another’s cause, emphasizing safe communities (not anarchies), and educating each other about AAPI cases of police brutality.

Some are not for justice, they’re for hell on earth. Where are the sensible people? The overheated (hopelessly full of emotion) inane (excessively idiotic) discussion avoids the rational, intelligent & productive debate which a such thorny, ingrained controversy requires. Hope no more die in these so-called causes.