March 30, 2015

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.

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.

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

Tammy & Bryan welcome Abigail O’kalani Bowlsbey

Editor’s Note: Duckworth is a 2-time AAA-Fund Endorsed Candidate.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. (H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)

We congratulate Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and her husband Bryan Bowlsbey! Their statement:

My husband Bryan and I are thrilled to announce that we are the proud parents of a baby girl. Abigail O’kalani Bowlsbey was born on November 18. Bryan and I were deeply honored that Senator Akaka acted as Hawaiian elder and selected her middle name. We are grateful for the love and support of our family and friends. We also appreciate the respect for our privacy during this important moment in our lives.”

More at HuffPo.

DC, June 13-14: World Premiere of “An American Soldier”

Justice for Danny Chen

We covered the hazing death of Pvt. Danny Chen in parts 1 and 2.

Commissioned and produced by the Washington National Opera, Huang Ruo’s new opera An American Soldier will receive its world premiere at The Kennedy Center on June 13 and 14, as part as the Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. Composed by Huang Ruo with a libretto by David Henry Hwang, An American Soldier is based on the life and death of American soldier Pvt. Danny Chen. On October 3, 2011, Chinese-American Army Pvt. Danny Chen was found dead in a guard tower at his base in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. The real circumstances behind his death, though, illustrate a darker undercurrent to life in the military. Based on a true story, and drawing from the ensuing courts-martial of Chen’s fellow soldiers, An American Soldier explores what happens when the very people who are supposed to protect you in a combat zone become your enemy. For more information about the opera, visit its event page & NY Times review.

June 13 Friday 7:30 pm, The Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, Washington D.C.
June 14 Saturday 2:00 pm, The Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, Washington D.C.

David Paul, director
Steven Jarvi, conductor
Washington National Opera
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

APABA: Celebrating 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Editor’s Note: The below is from our friends at the Asian Pacific American Bar Association. We support their many years of service to our community with continued postings about their activities.

Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County

Please join APABA and Kollaboration at our upcoming APA Heritage Month Event: Celebrating 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The event will begin with a light reception followed by a performance by local artists and a panel discussion. 1 hour of MCLE credit will be provided by APABA. See the event page for flyer and further details.

Celebrating 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Wednesday, May 28
6:30pm Reception & Performances (Co-sponsored by Kollaboration)
7:30pm Panel
9:00pm Close

Location: Greenway Court Theater
544 N Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(near the corner of Fairfax and Melrose)

Speakers include:
Ahilan Arulanantham, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU
Warren Furutani, Director of the Serve The People Institute and Former California Assemblymember
Joann Lee, Directing Attorney of the API Unit at LAFLA
Anna Park, Regional Attorney for the LA District Office of the EEOC
Moderator: Karin Wang, VP of Programs and Communications at Advancing Justice

This event is free, but RSVPs are requested to contact@apabala.org.

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact co-chairs Kathy Khommarath at khommarath.kathy@gmail.com and Arnold Lee at arnoldlee.law@gmail.com.

They Helped Build a Railroad − and a Nation: Honoring the Chinese Railroad Workers

We wrote about the Secretary Tom Perez’s inducting the Chinese Railroad Workers into the Department of Labor’s Labor Hall of Honor last week. Read about it at Tom’s blog post! Personally speaking, the importance of the railroad in America’s development in so many ways relied on the railroad in ways which effect us to this day including where cities are, interstates, universities, economic networks, etc.

For more labor news, note also new AAPI unemployment data to educate you about how our community experiences work before you go out to make improvements in it.

Their latest is at Facebook.com/departmentoflabor, their blog or @LaborSec as always. Have a great weekend, all!

May 8, DC: DNC Reception, Briefing

Editor’s Note: Note today’s DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Our Board Member Be Leong-Hong is also the DNC AAPI Caucus Chair. Many DNC actions to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month include the Presidential Proclamation. See our Facebook and Twitter daily for even more that is better posted there than here!

Democratic National Committee

CHAIR DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ,
VICE CHAIR TULSI GABBARD AND
DNC AAPI CAUCUS CHAIR BEL LEONG-HONG

CORDIALLY INVITE YOU TO A RECEPTION AND BRIEFING
IN HONOR OF

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

FRIDAY, MAY 8TH, 2014
1:30-3:00PM
WASSERMAN ROOM
DNC HEADQUARTERS
430 SOUTH CAPITOL STREET, SE
WASHINGTON, DC

To RSVP, email tobias@@dnc.org

PAID FOR BY THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE, WWW.DEMOCRATS.ORG. THIS COMMUNICATION IS NOT AUTHORIZED BY ANY CANDIDATE OR CANDIDATE’S COMMITTEE.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on AAPI Heritage Month

Editor’s Note: The below is a repost from our friends at the DNC. Many events happening like our Election 2014 coverage, Annual Banquet and Reception June 18, phone banking daily until June 3 for Mike Honda in DC daily until June 3 and regularly updated Facebook and Twitter celebrate our colorful and engaged community, past, present & future.

Democratic National Committee

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2014

Contact: DNC Press, 202-863-8148

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Washington, DC – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:

“This May we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and honor the community’s valuable contributions to our nation. A thriving AAPI community is an integral part of our nation’s prosperity and the product of generations of struggles and sacrifices. Their successes are a testament to the enduring power of the American Dream.

“Under President Obama, Democrats have made progress on the priorities that AAPI communities share with so many American families. We have invested in education and cut taxes for middle-class families. The Affordable Care Act has increased access to quality, affordable health care, including preventive care with no co-pay and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans. AAPI small business owners have been empowered by small business loans, tax cuts, and credits to provide health insurance for their employees. Democrats are also committed to enacting common sense reform that will fix our nation’s broken immigration system, facilitate family reunification, and provide a path to citizenship for those already here, including DREAMers.

“Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity that makes our nation stronger, and to rededicate ourselves to the shared values that bring Americans together.”

###

Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! We’re reposting/reTweeting posts and events to our Facebook and Twitter at least daily.

May 9, DC: CAPAL Gala

Ed. Note: The below comes to us from our friends at CAPAL, the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization dedicated to building leadership and public policy knowledge within the Asian Pacific American community. We share their goal to empower Asian Americans in politics. Note also that Asian Pacific American Heritage Month starts next week and lasts the month of May.

CAPAL 2014 Gala

The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership will be hosting an evening gala to commemorate APA Heritage Month and CAPAL’s 25th Anniversary on Friday, May 9, 2013 at the Sphinx Club (1315 K St NW) in Washington, DC. Last year, CAPAL had over 500 attendees and over 14 partnering organizations. This year’s evening event will celebrate the role of APAs in our society and connect over 500 young professionals with APA leaders committed to public service. Confirmed speakers include Secretary Norman Mineta and Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu.

Proceeds from the gala will go toward CAPAL’s “25 Scholars and Interns in 25 Years Campaign” which will award scholarships to students pursuing unpaid internships in DC.

After party at Lima Lounge!

We the AAA-Fund sponsor a 10% discount to the first 20 AAA-Fund readers who purchase tickets to the gala using code AAAFund. Visit www.capal.org/gala for more info.