March 29, 2015

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

Press coverage of AAA Fund & endorsees

Caroline’s Note: Thanks to Asian Fortune and Jennie Ilustre for the extensive shout out on the rise of Asian American candidates. Also, congrats to everyone who ran for their leadership and courage.  -Caroline

Gautam Dutta, executive director of Asian American Action Fund, a political action committee based in the nation’s capital, is optimistic about Honda’s chances in November. “Having beaten his opponent by a 2-1 margin last June, Congressman Honda is in a strong position to win in November,” he said. Triple-A Fund has endorsed Honda and the other Democratic candidates for Congress. It enjoys a good batting average in its endorsements. “In the 2012 elections,eight of our 13 candidates won, a success rate of nearly two-thirds,” Dutta pointed out.

Other AAA-Fund endorsed candidates are: US Rep. Ami Bera (CA), running for reelection;U.S. Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), running for reelection; US Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-8)), running for re-election; US Rep. Mark Takano ((CA-41), running for re-election; Mark Takai of Hawaii, candidate for Congress; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2); and Dr. Manan Trivedi, an Iraq War vet who’s running for an open congressional seat from Pennsylvania.

US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa lost in the tight primary for the US Senate to Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, who was appointed to fill the seat of the late US Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. Pundits say Schatz is a shoo-in in November.

At press time, Dutta said AAA-Fund has not decided on endorsement regarding Leland Cheung, who is running for election for Lieutenant Governor in Massachusetts. Other state races feature Stephanie Chang, candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives; and Pramila Jayapal, candidate for Washington State Senate.


In every election cycle, Asian American leaders note the importance of becoming candidates and also voter turn-out, citing the critical issues at stake. But due to recent news on immigration, for example, the stakes are higher, indeed.

Triple A-Fund Executive Director Dutta said this year is crucial, both for issues of concern to the community and to mainstream America. In telephone and email interviews from San Jose, California, he said, “Important issues that affect our families are at stake. The newly-elected Congress will be in a position to decide a number of critical issues, including immigration reform, education and economic opportunity.”

Midterm elections are notorious for low voter turn-out. “I urge everybody to turn up on Election Day,” said Dutta of Asian American Action Fund. He said voters can show up on Election Day, or mail their ballots through early voting.

Key takeways from AAPI in-language Election Eve poll

Editorial Context: National Election Pool (NEP) is what AP, CNN and the major news services rely upon for exit polling data. It found AAPIs had a huge swing from 2012 and were the group that Republicans made the largest gains with, coming out 52D-48R (revised by them to 50D-49R.) This is slightly controversial as it doesn’t capture the Limited English Proficiency AAPIs in our population. I will also add that some of the debate around how pollsters got 2014 so wrong, some say is because pollsters pegged too closely to the US Census American Community Survey and therefore did not capture the midterm audience accurately (tends to be less diverse and older than voters in presidential years.) Also it should be noted that this in-language poll was taken pre-election.

Here are a few links about how  and why the polls were so wrong. Also any errors/ ommisions in typing were mine as I was taking notes on the call. For pretty graphics look at the presentation. -Caroline

Asian American Decisions did an in-language election eve poll of 2014 AAPI voters found here: http://vote.18mr.org/static/AAD_EE_Presentation.pdf

 

All findings from www.asianamericandecisions.com & Taeku Lee
1150 voters in 6 languages versus

National Exit Poll was of 129 voters in English, margin of error could be as high as 9%.

2-1 margins in favor of Dems 61-34%.
Although AAPIs have certain progressive values, most AAPIs do not identify as Democrats.

Texas Gov race: Asian Ams went 48-48 for Davis and Abbott.

VA Sen: AAPI 68-29 for Warner. Independents went 65-30 for Warner. Vote margin for Warner was estimated 25-30k votes, larger than Warner’s margin of victory.

Key issues:
Economy/ Jobs 32% (less prominent than 2012-2008)
Education Schools 22%
Health Care

40% of AAPIs indicated healthcare was either the most important issue or one of the top issues.

Immigration was lower down the list. 22% said immigration was not important in voting.

Partisanship:
Dem ID 97%
Republican ID 83%
Independent 58D.

Obama approval:
58-33 (15 pts higher than general population via Gallup)

Dem vote share went from 73% in 2012 to 66% in 2014

2012:
45I 14R 41D

2014:
40I 22R 39D

Partisan split on Obamacare
52 favorable 37 unfavorable

Immigration
60 support 26 oppose

Rep ID 47 support (more than oppose)

Min Wage
74-18 support

Rep ID: 57 support 32 oppose
Indep ID 67-24 support

Affirmative Action
63-26 support

Dem ID: 86-10 support
Rep ID: 38-48 oppose
Ind ID 56-30 support

Media consumption
37% internet
36% tv
12% paper

1 in 4 rely on ethnic media
1 in 6 rely on Asian language ethnic media

40% of sample was in language polling

56% were not contacted about voting

Contacted about voting by:
22 D only
11 R only
39 both parties
21 community org

2016:
65 D
35 R
33% said they were undecided or refused to give a response

Hillary Clinton:
62 favorable
23 unfavorable
2 not heard of
13 don’t know

GOP hopefuls have high unknowns, unfavorables.
Jeb Bush
25 fav 46 unfav 11 unheard 18 don’t know

Christie had 43% unfavorables.

Q & A:
Immigration sounds like it’s less important as an election issue than for the Latino community. Not single most important issue. 2014 is not a big change for AAPIs.

High no opinion rate that shows up in most polls. Party ID high portion of AAPIs either ID as independent or say they don’t know how to answer that q. Also for 2016 a high undecided portion. Tend not to share vote choice and partisanship in phone surveys until close to closing days.

Immigration linked to pathway to citizenship, were there other options provided for immigration reform? Big change between 2008 and 2012 in terms of big increase in AAPI support for immigration reform with pathway for citizenship. in 2008 it was 1 in 3. 2012 increased to majority. 2014 still a majority.

Since this is partnership between Asian American Decisions and Latino Decisions, any additional info on Young Kim & Janet Nguyen, 2 AAPI Republicans who won over Latino Dems in Orange County & implications?
Oversamples CA TX VA representative of AAPIs throughout the state. Didn’t ask horserace questions but will look into more info.

If you are only tapping English-only AAPIs, then that’s only one slice. NEP weighting moved from 52-48 D then they moved it to 50-49. This survey is pegged to Census weights. Still waiting to see why NEP they changed the weight. NEP is low sample size and they haven’t designed a way of getting an accurate picture of how AAPIs voted.

 

AAAF Seeks Campaign Fellows for Reps. Honda, Bera

APPLY NOW FOR MIKE HONDA CAMPAIGN FELLOWSHIPS! DEADLINE SEPT 22

Looking to work on a campaign and want to get paid for it? The Asian American Action Fund seeks two Mike Honda Campaign Fellows to work on targeted campaigns for AAA-Fund endorsed candidates. Fellows should be willing to relocate. Stipend of $2,000 per month plus supporter housing. Send resume and a cover letter to asianamericanactionfund@gmail.com. Please specify which position you ‘d like to be considered for.

Field Organizers

AAA-Fund is looking for a fellows to help implement voter contact plans for targeted races in several states, build relationships with activists and community groups on the ground, and work to turn out the vote for the campaign.

Qualifications.
– Candidates must be willing to work long and/or odd hours through the campaign.
– Candidates must be able to speak and work with diverse communities and leaders.
– Candidates must have strong interpersonal skills and be a team player.
– Candidates with past experience on an electoral or issue advocacy a plus.
– Bilingual candidates preferred, but not required. (Mandarin, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Cantonese, and/or Spanish)
– Candidates must have reliable transportation and their own laptops.

Responsibilities
– Implementing an aggressive voter contact program
– Recruiting, managing, and training volunteers
– Planning events and house parties throughout the district
– Building relationships with political stakeholders, activists, and neighborhood leaders
– Collecting and managing data from the field efforts
– Report to the field director

Legal Protection Fellow

AAA-Fund is looking for a qualified fellow to manage the voter protection efforts for a highly targeted Democratic Congressional campaign in California. Most important qualities:

1) Being able to recruit/train/deploy/lead a team of election protection volunteers
2) Manage relationships outside of the campaign, particularly at the County Registrars office
3) An entrepreneurial and strategic thinker who can anticipate where voter challenges are likely to crop up.

Fellows will be working full-time on a Congressional campaign; therefore, he or she should also be comfortable long hours, be a skilled multi-tasker, team player, dedicated to the cause, and be flexible and willing to help the campaign wherever help is needed!

A J.D. is strongly preferred, but not required. The candidate should be prepared to work with lawyers/law students as well as County election officials.

–Caroline

Health disparities and Electronic Medical Records

I have been thinking in my personal life about electronic medical records (EMR.) A number of friends are doctors who service multiple hospitals, and they sometimes encounter different systems at each hospital (if the hospitals even have electronic medical records.)

As a privacy advocate, it might be weird for me to be advocating electronic medical records because of the potential hazards, but as a patient, it is much, much easier to have continuity of care with EMR. I don’t have to drag a paper printout of my test results with me to each new doctor. When I was insured via Kaiser, it literally took minutes from the time I walked from my doctor down to the pharmacy below for my prescription to be filled. The doctor had ordered the Rx while I was with her, and sent it electronically. It was truly a beautiful streamlined feat that I still wonder at. Like pressing the Staples “Easy” button.

Not being a medical professional, I don’t have to worry if I’m repeating back the precise medical jargon that was fed to me before. For patients who have limited English proficiency (LEP), it is easier than having family members serve as sometimes imperfect translators each and every visit. This doesn’t negate the need for each doctor or specialist to ask questions, but it can be helpful for establishing and cross-checking prior medical history. And it’s important for EMRs to be tailored to specific communities – recommendations for best practices are outlined by HHS and Partnership for Women and Families.

Obviously, having a nationwide EMR system exposes a ridiculous amount of HIPAA data to hackers, and there would have to be the most stringent measures taken to protect patient safety. However, there are already certain nationwide EMR systems such as the one used by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which was one of the early adopters of EMR. Despite some of the ways in which the VA is currently broken, the agency deserves kudos on this count. Doctors actually point to the VA EMR system as a model of efficiency even compared to systems at top university hospitals. (That the VA system and the Department of Defense systems don’t talk to each other is a whole other story.)

The same way that I can get a prescription filled in different cities because my information and insurance is in the system, it would be great if not only veterans, but all Americans, could see healthcare practitioners who understand their medical histories without having to wait for the home institution or doctor’s office to fax over information.

I could even see a system that has translations of diseases, causes, symptoms, and treatments that a patient could look over. This isn’t perfect because not all patients are necessarily literate in their native languages, but it could help to overcome some of the barriers. Obviously we still want more culturally and linguistically competent providers and translators at hospitals, but this is a way of bridging the divide. We can make tech work to increase voter participation and allow people to cast ballots in their native languages, why not to improve health outcomes?

–Caroline

Ferguson riots

[Written August 11th. This is as much an update for friends and family as it is a perspective from someone who is new to town.]

So I moved to St. Louis 6 weeks ago. Been out of town for about 3 of those weeks. Let’s count it as 3 weeks on the ground. Everyone is very friendly, strangers talk to you on the street. My A/C broke and my neighbors who I had only ever met once before offered me the use of both of their fans. (We only needed one for the bedroom.) Then I bumped into a new neighbor whom I had never met, and she offered to lend me her fans. Overall, St. Louis is great.

Everyone talked about the racial divide, the Delmar divide. We saw glimpses of it here and there. Fireworks in Forest Park and the 2 separate stops for folks coming from the East side and the West side. White and black divided by railcars moving in different directions. I was in Los Angeles, the site of racial riots in 1992, this weekend for the OCA convention when the Mike Brown shooting happened. Picking me up from the airport this weekend there was a police blockade. Now the cops are throwing tear gas bombs in Ferguson and shooting rubber bullets. My AFLCIO coworkers were at the FTAA in Miami in 2003 when they got shot with rubber bullets. They hurt. And actually were moved off the non-lethal list of weaponry. Last night a Walmart was looted and a gas station went up in flames. This is real and this is live. Here’s a good article about why Ferguson, why riots: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/relationships-and-special-occasions/parenting/aisha-sultan/why-ferguson-burned-explaining-st-louis-area-riot-to-kids/article_725f501f-ba21-538a-acaf-f00221add91d.html

Brown’s own family members have said the destruction in their hometown is salt in their wounds. When peaceful protests turn to a city’s self immolation, there is no justice for anyone. What’s left is a community used to being unheard, roiling in the wake of a deadly police shooting. A powder keg of unemployment and poverty, of neglect and frustration, and those willing to exploit a tragedy for personal gain.

–Caroline

AAA Fund Congratulates Erika Moritsugu on her Confirmation as Assistant Secretary for HUD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 7, 2014

AAA-Fund Congratulates Erika Moritsugu on her Confirmation as Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Washington, D.C. — The Asian American Action Fund congratulates Erika Moritsugu on her confirmation as Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the Department of Housing an Urban Development.

Ms. Moritsugu has previously served as Executive Director and on the Advisory Board of the AAA-Fund, a Democratic political action committee. Directly prior to her appointment, she was Deputy Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Earlier, Ms. Moritsugu was the Deputy Legislative Director for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, and Acting Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

“On behalf of our Board, we heartily congratulate Erika,” said AAA-Fund Executive Director Gautam Dutta. “We salute her leadership and commitment to public service,” he added.

Ms. Moritsugu received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary in Government and Fine Arts and a J.D. with honors from the George Washington University Law School. She was raised in Hawai’i.

AAA-Fund Deputy Executive Director Melissa Hampe stated, “I look forward to Erika continuing to serve with distinction. From her time at the city prosecutor’s office in Honolulu, to her Senate and other high-level federal service, to now, she has been a talented leader in policy development. We are thrilled to see someone with her depth of experience and expertise leading one of our nation’s most vital agencies and working to improve access to housing for all Americans.”

###

–Caroline

Organizing from love

This is not a political post. Not really.

Back during the Suey Park/ Colbertgate debate, a journalist asked me for my take on it, something that was polarizing the AAPI community. It offered an opportunity for me to reflect on how much I have grown and changed since I was in college, when large scale events like 9/11 and the Iraq War helped form my political voice and identity.

Like many young student activists, I initially found my voice through subtraction or by filling a void. I forged it in opposition because there was so much gratuitous violence and rolling back of liberties in that time. After maybe 5 years out of college, a friend and I were talking about how a whole generation in DC grew up without the benefit of knowing how to navigate the levers of power because the Dems had been out of power for nearly a decade. We only knew how to fight against things, not how to build. There was a lot to fight against, and the struggle could be exhausting. We lost more than we won. I knew it was bad when even John Ashcroft refused to sign the wiretap authorization documents from his hospital bed.

Sometime in the past few years, and somewhere in my many travels across the United States, I gained some grace and some perspective. Whether it was by mentoring younger women, or learning that life holds so many surprises (some sharp, some delightful), I came to find the power in organizing from love. Love binds people who come from different backgrounds together and helps reach across boundaries.

When people hold differing views, I try to see how their life experience has shaped them, and to remember that they have loved ones who they are concerned for – that policies that I support, they might see as unduly impacting their families in a negative way. The positive picture trumps the negative most of the time.

All my work has always been done out of love of and for the community. It’s what my mother has taught me – responsibility to and for our own, however we define it. I have been fortunate to call many cities home, and to be welcomed by many communities. I look forward to connecting people and communities anew. Multiplying opportunities and seeing potential in individuals and organizations has always brought me great joy, and my current blessing is to have a whole new arena in which to roam.

–Caroline

Bringing back earmarks?

There is an argument to be made that Congress functions better with earmarks than without. The latest version comes from Jim Dyer, a Republican who worked under Presidents Reagan and Bush, and served as Staff Director of the House Appropriations Committee. His point is that part of the reason that the Veterans Administration was not reformed before is that Congress hasn’t been able to use earmarks to microtarget problems and fund solutions.

After all, what good is a national transportation policy if we can’t fix the potholes on Main Street? What good is a national recreation policy if our local parks are unsafe? And while we debate climate change, can we at least repair specific cities and towns ravaged by hurricanes, floods and fires? And, if we are going to rightfully allocate $1.5 billion more in funds to the VA this year than last because our postwar era needs exceed prewar demand, can’t we at least arm the custodians of the purse with the power to ensure it is spent wisely? (Politico)

I am not wholly convinced that earmarks are the only way to go to fix the VA because let’s be honest, the issues there are systematic and very long-standing and precede the current moratorium of the past three years. However, there are so many issues that Congress has not moved on (such as reauthorization of unemployment insurance benefits or a larger jobs bill) that benefit Americans of all stripes and if it takes funding pet projects in districts to get bills passed, folks are questioning previous disdain for earmarks. Some writing from left of center argue that at this point, Congress is broken enough that we just need some levers to get it moving again. And if earmarks can spur action, so be it.

“There is no question that sometimes, to get bills through, you have to ask people to vote for things that are going to cause them political pain at home, and you ease that pain by compensating them with earmarks,” said former Massachusetts representative Barney Frank in an interview. Today, he added, there are other things a party leader can do to build support for legislation, but “earmarks were the best.” (Boston Globe)

Additionally, it’s not as if the process of earmarking has ended, it’s just gone underground as “lettermarking.” Or elected officials threaten to withhold votes for agency funding or appointees unless their pet project gets money. Or, in the worst case scenario, Congress just shuts down government.

While earmarks required publication of a pork project—along with the amount of taxpayer money being spent and identification of the elected official proposing the earmark—lettermarking allows for such expenditures without any identification of the project, sum and sponsoring legislator whatsoever. (Forbes)

No one wants bridges to nowhere, but Congressional dithering on other common sense issues such as transportation reform and VAWA that have previously passed with large bipartisan majorities could make progressives and conservatives alike rethink earmark opposition. Needless to say, federal funding spurs job creation and workforce training in the states. Sometimes the only thing worse than pork is a complete standstill.

–Caroline