April 18, 2015

Please Spread the Word: $9.5 million for Boys and Young Men of Color

Calling all nonprofits, community leaders and agents of change: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently announced a new Call for Proposals  for Forward Promise, a $9.5 million initiative that focuses on innovative, community-based projects working to strengthen health, education, and employment outcomes for middle school- and high school-aged boys and young men of color. The Foundation will award 10 grants of up to $500,000 each to support projects with preliminary evidence of impact in school discipline, dropout prevention, mental health interventions, and career training.

RWJF is particularly interested in hearing from projects focused on AAPI boys and young men – so get applying! And good luck!!

Jay Hayden to MC AAAF Annual Reception

We’re very excited to announce that Jay Hayden will be MCing our annual reception on April 17th in Washington, DC! You may know Jay as the actor from as Chris “Tak” Davis from Hulu’s Battleground:

Or from the AT&T Mobile commercial below:

– Liz Wu

David Mineta and the ONDCP

I spent most of this week at the annual Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) in Washington, DC. On the second day, Deputy Director of Demand Reduction at the ONDCP David Mineta spoke about the recent policy shift around drugs, addiction and treatment that began when President Obama took office. Addiction is now viewed as a public health problem and the Administration is serious about curbing it.

The White House is also addressing the racial disparities in drug laws, said Mineta. President Obama’s Fair Sentencing Act dramatically reduced the 100 to 1 disparity between cocaine and crack sentences that disproportionately affected people of color. Over the past three years, the Administration has spent over $31 billion on federal drug treatment programs and is actively working to divert nonviolent drug offenders to treatment through drug courts instead of just straight incarceration.

Big thanks to Mr. Mineta on his dedication to helping folks struggling with addiction. And it’s great to have another Asian American mover and shaker to look up to.

For more coverage on JMATE, check Reclaiming Futures Every Day.

Bryan Stevenson at TED 2012 on Injustice, Juvenile Justice System, Need for Reform

This article was originally published at Reclaiming Futures Every Day.
“How can a judge turn a child into an adult?” That’s a question lawyer Bryan Stevenson has spent years asking. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit group providing legal representation to communities that have been marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment.

Stevenson was invited to speak at TED2012, an annual conference showcasing big thinkers and doers throughout the world. He spent his 20 minutes discussing the power of identity, the dire need to reduce inequalities (including disproportionate minority contact), the injustice of juvenile life without parole sentences and mass incarceration. In his own words:

Here’s an excerpt from the TED Blog:

In the middle of a case where a judge ruled that a 14-year-old was fit to stand trial as an adult, Stevenson wondered, “How can a judge turn a child into an adult? The judge must have magic powers.” So, late at night and very tired, he worked on a motion to ask that his 14-year-old poor black male client be tried as a wealthy privileged 70-year-old white male. He wrote a searing critique and went to bed. Woke up and realized: He’d hit Send.

Months later, he went to court, wondering what the judge would say. On the way there he met a janitor, who found out he was a lawyer. The janitor hugged him and said he was proud of him. Then Stevenson went into court, and the judge was furious. Inside the court, people were angry. “Angry that we were talking about race, and poverty, and inequality.”

The janitor had come in and sat behind him, and at recess a deputy demanded to know what a janitor was doing there. The janitor replied, “I came into this courtroom to tell this young man, ‘Keep your eyes on the prize, and hold on.’”

Today, Stevenson wants to tell us, “All of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone,” and we can not be fully evolved human beings until we care about justice for all and are truly willing to confront our difficult past.

According to the TED organizers, Stevenson’s talk “inspired one of the longest and loudest standing ovations in TED’s history.” His talk was so powerful that audience members contributed $1.12 million to his campaign to “end excessive sentencing of children and stop the practice of putting kids in adult jails and prisons.”

Stevenson is arguing a case on that exact issue before the Supreme Court next month. Stay tuned for updates!

New Study Says AAPI Students Underserved in New York City Schools

95% of AAPIs in New York City do not attend the most selective public schools and face the same challenges of many other minority groups.

From Education Week:

A Bangladeshi girl who spends her out-of-school time translating documents for her parents’ immigration hearings. A group of Chinese high school boys whose teachers can’t figure out why they’re so disengaged. A Vietnamese boy who speaks almost no English and is the only Asian student at his low-performing school. A Korean-American girl at the top of her class at Bronx High School for Science.

They are among New York City’s Asian students, and their needs are profoundly diverse, says a report released last week. It highlights the gap between the perception of Asian-heritage students as almost universally high-achieving and a more complicated reality that scholars say holds true nationwide.

“The challenges around poverty and access issues are not things people think about when they think about Asian-American students,” said Vanessa Leung, the deputy director of the Coalition for Asian-American Children and Families, a New York-based advocacy group that was one of two organizations that released the study.

Read the whole article, here.

AAJA Media Advisory on Jeremy Lin News Coverage

Editor’s Note: The release below comes from our friends at the Asian American Journalists Association.

AAJA Media Advisory on Jeremy Lin News Coverage

Feb. 22, 2012

As NBA player Jeremy Lin’s prowess on the court continues to attract international attention and grab headlines, the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) would like to remind media outlets about relevance and context regarding coverage of race.

In the past weeks, as more news outlets report on Lin, his game and his story, AAJA has noticed factual inaccuracies about Lin’s background as well as an alarming number of references that rely on stereotypes about Asians or Asian Americans.

Please give careful consideration to the following tips to ensure fair, accurate and sensitive portrayals of Lin and others who are Asian American.

AAJA and AAJA MediaWatch stand ready to assist any news organizations that have questions or concerns about news coverage and race. We all have the same goal: good journalism.

Stop to think: Would a similar statement be made about an athlete who is Caucasian, African American or Latino?

Use caution when discussing Lin’s physical characteristics, particularly those that feminize/emasculate the Asian male (Cinderella-story angles should not place Lin in a dress). Discussion of genetic differences in athletic ability among races should be avoided. In referring to Lin’s height or vision, be mindful of the context and avoid invoking stereotypes about Asians.

1. Jeremy Lin is Asian American, not Asian (more specifically, Taiwanese American). It’s an important distinction and one that should be considered before any references to former NBA players such as Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi, who were Chinese. Lin’s experiences were fundamentally different than people who immigrated to play in the NBA. Lin progressed through the ranks of American basketball from high school to college to the NBA, and to characterize him as a foreigner is both inaccurate and insulting.

2. Lin’s path to Madison Square Garden: More than 300 division schools passed on him. Harvard University has had only three other graduates go on to the NBA, the most recent one being in the 1950s. No NBA team wanted Lin in the draft after he graduated from Harvard.

3. Journalists don’t assume that African American players identify with NBA players who emigrated from Africa. The same principle applies with Asian Americans. It’s fair to ask Lin whether he looked up to or took pride in the accomplishments of Asian players. He may have. It’s unfair and poor journalism to assume he did.

4. Lin is not the first Asian American to play in the National Basketball Association. Raymond Townsend, who’s of Filipino descent, was a first-round choice of the Golden State Warriors in the 1970s. Rex Walters, who is of Japanese descent, was a first-round draft pick by the New Jersey Nets out of the University of Kansas in 1993 and played seven seasons in the NBA; Walters is now the coach at University of San Francisco. Wat Misaka is believed to have been the first Asian American to play professional basketball in the United States. Misaka, who’s of Japanese descent, appeared in three games for the New York Knicks in the 1947-48 season when the Knicks were part of the Basketball Association of America, which merged with the NBA after the 1948-49 season.

“CHINK”: Pejorative; do not use in a context involving an Asian person on someone who is Asian American. Extreme care is needed if using the well-trod phrase “chink in the armor”; be mindful that the context does not involve Asia, Asians or Asian Americans. (The appearance of this phrase with regard to Lin led AAJA MediaWatch to issue statement to ESPN, which subsequently disciplined its employees.)

DRIVING: This is part of the sport of basketball, but resist the temptation to refer to an “Asian who knows how to drive.”

EYE SHAPE: This is irrelevant. Do not make such references if discussing Lin’s vision.

FOOD: Is there a compelling reason to draw a connection between Lin and fortune cookies, takeout boxes or similar imagery? In the majority of news coverage, the answer will be no.

MARTIAL ARTS: You’re writing about a basketball player. Don’t conflate his skills with judo, karate, tae kwon do, etc. Do not refer to Lin as “Grasshopper” or similar names associated with martial-arts stereotypes.

“ME LOVE YOU LIN TIME”: Avoid. This is a lazy pun on the athlete’s name and alludes to the broken English of a Hollywood caricature from the 1980s.

“YELLOW MAMBA”: This nickname that some have used for Lin plays off the “Black Mamba” nickname used by NBA star Kobe Bryant. It should be avoided. Asian immigrants in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries were subjected to discriminatory treatment resulting from a fear of a “Yellow Peril” that was touted in the media, which led to legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

See AAJA’s “All-American: A Handbook to Covering Asian America”

Special thanks to AAJA members Ji Hyun Lee, Ursula Liang, Danny O’Neil and Jay Wang for their contributions to this advisory.


The Asian American Journalists Association is a non-profit professional and educational organization with over 1,400 members across the United States and in Asia. Founded in 1981, AAJA has been at the forefront of change in the journalism industry. AAJA’s mission is to provide a means of association and support among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) journalists; provide encouragement, information, advice and scholarship assistance to AAPI students who aspire to professional journalism careers; provide to the AAPI community an awareness of news media and an understanding of how to gain fair access; and, research and point out when news media organizations stray from accuracy and fairness in the coverage of AAPIs. AAJA is an alliance partner in UNITY Journalists of Color, along with the Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. AAJA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. Tax ID #95-3755203. For more information, visit www.aaja.org.

New Siblings Brain Study Sheds Light on Addiction

*This post was originally published at Reclaiming Futures Every Day.

A new study published this week in Science, suggests that addicts have inherited abnormalities in some parts of the brain, which interfere with impulse control.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge examined 50 pairs of biological siblings (in which one sibling was addicted to cocaine or amphetamines and the other was not) against a control group of 50 healthy, drug free and non-related volunteers. First they tested the self-control levels and then performed brain scans. What they found could have big implications for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and addiction.

From Science:

Much to the researchers’ surprise, the siblings who didn’t use drugs performed as poorly on the test as the ones who did. All of the sibling pairs did worse than the healthy controls, the team reports in the 3 February issue of Science.

Brain scans also showed that both members of the sibling pairs had abnormal interconnections between parts of the brain that exert control and those involved with drive and reward. Some individual brain structures were abnormal as well; the putamen, which plays a key role in habit formation, was larger in the siblings than in control subjects, as was the medial temporal lobe, which is involved in learning and memory. Because these anomalies appeared in the siblings but not in the unrelated controls, Ersche believes the finding provides a measurable, biological basis for vulnerability to addiction.

While this study sheds light on the predisposition to addiction, it’s important to note that while both siblings had abnormal brain structures, only one was an addict while the other managed to abstain from substance abuse and addiction. Upon further study, the researchers discovered all the same early life risk factors in the siblings including domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Marines Accused of Hazing Harry Lew Go to Trial

On April 3rd, Lance Corporal Harry Lew killed himself in a foxhole in Afghanistan after being brutally hazed for 3 hours and 20 minutes by his fellow Marines. Lew, nephew to California Congresswoman Judy Chu, was subjected to beatings, repeated pushups and mouthfuls of sand by 3 Marines after being caught sleeping on duty.

One of the Marines, Lance Cpl. Jacob Jacoby, pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a rank reduction, after a judge ruled that his abuse did not lead to Lew’s death.

Sgt. Benjamin Johns, a squad leader, has been charged with wrongfully humiliating and demeaning Lew and dereliction for failing to supervise and ensure the welfare of Marines under his care. He will go to trial next week in Honolulu.

Lance Cpl. Carlos Orozco III has been charged with assault, humiliation Lew, cruelty and maltreatment. His court martial is currently pending.

According to the LA Times:

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, in a stern message to service members last month, said, “I will not tolerate any instance where one service member inflicts any form of physical or psychological abuse that degrades, insults, dehumanizes or injures another service member.”

Chu and several other members of Congress said in a recent letter seeking congressional hearings that, although they welcomed Panetta’s condemnation of hazing, they were “shocked to learn that some of the services do not keep track of the number of hazing incidents and they don’t have policies in place to determine if their training and education about hazing is effective.”

We’ll continue to keep you updated as the trials progress.

Update: Mike Honda has issued a press release. One of many to come.

Twitter more addictive than alcohol, cigarettes

Apparently I’m not the only one who is super addicted to Twitter.

From the Atlantic Wire:

Twitter is harder to resist than alcohol and cigarettes. Less fun and more addictive … a sad combination. Not that we don’t enjoy some Twitter time, but it’s fun as a work distraction, not as a Saturday night activity. Alas, looking at BlackBerry users, researchers found they desired doing Internet things more than than they wanted to imbibe tobacco, alcohol, and coffee — things that are physically addictive. The researchers have an explanation that makes the whole thing a tad less depressing. “Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist,” explains Wilhelm Hofmann.


Happy Superbowl day! Which team are you rooting for?

Photo from The White House flickr feed.