July 25, 2014

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.

April 21, DC: AAPI Mentoring with Nina Davuluri & Julie Chu

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

The White House Office of Public Engagement, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), and White House Council on Women and Girls invite you to an armchair conversation with

  1. Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014
  2. Julie Chu, four-time Olympic Medalist of the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team
  3. Moderated by Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on AAPIs.
  4. Other panelists to be announced.

You are welcome – and encouraged – to forward this invitation to young women who are students, interns, young professionals, or emerging leaders in your networks. Mentorship is an important part of our efforts and we hope this event will provide these young leaders a chance to hear and learn from our special guests.

Monday, April 21, 2014
1:00 – 2:00 PM
The White House
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Space is limited and RSVPs will only be accepted until we reach capacity. To RSVP, complete and submit the attached security spreadsheet (.xlsx with header fields: LastName, First Name, Middle Name, Date of Birth, SSN, Citizen, Country, Gender, City, State, Email Address) to AAPI@who.eop.gov by 12 pm (Noon) EDT this Friday, April 18th. You are not confirmed for the event unless you have correctly completed the attached form AND receive a confirmation e-mail.

DOL Labor Hall of Honor Inducts Chinese Railroad Workers

Editor’s Note: We re-Tweeted the DOL’s Tweet about this news.

Chinese Railroad Workers

The United States Department of Labor invites you to join Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez for the induction of The Chinese Railroad Workers into the Labor Hall of Honor

Friday, May 9, 2014
11:30 a.m. — 12:30 p.m.

U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave NW
César Chávez Memorial Auditorium
Washington, DC 20210
Vistor’s Entrance: 3rd & C Streets NW

Registration and identification are required to attend. This invitation is non-transferrable.

Register at webapps.dol.gov/DOLEvents/Event/View/288 before Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

Contact Jeremy Bishop, Special Assistant to the Secretary
in the Office of Public Engagement, at bishop.jeremy@dol.gov with any questions or concerns.

The politics of pilgrimage: Vietnam Veterans War Memorial

VVWM

(Photo from Fischer Art History)

The lines of people angle in, respectfully, along the powerful obsidian walls. Some are here on a pilgrimage and have come armed with light paper and crayons for tracing the names of their loved ones, to bear away some of the memory. Some are tourists from inside and without the homeland, checking off stops on a planned itinerary of historic places. This does not detract from the sacred nature of the place.

I breathe in the smell of earth and listen to the birds chirping brightly on this windy day. Time stops and the field of vision freezes. All there is, is in front of me.

The V of the wall rises like a gash in the earth, and the ground dips slowly like a curtsey, mimicking the descent into the underworld. And all the people follow the trail, with a sharp line dividing the black stone from the green grass and wildflowers that line the top edge. In contrast, families and friends have left bouquets that have withered in the sun, cut off from any source of sustaining nourishment.

In seventh grade, my class took a trip to Washington, D.C. and I brushed my hands along the cold marble wall. The wall transmitted such sadness and I felt the etched names like a mantra. I watched as families clustered in tight blossoms of sorrow around the name of a loved one who had died defending his or her country. At the age of twelve, I was transfixed by the flat shininess and the ghostlike reflections of the visitors in the face of so many names. As if we were the mirrored ghosts, paying our respects to those who had come before.

In the midst of my twelve year old reverie, a lady scolded me, saying “It’s disrespectful to touch the names.” My hand had been tracing etched letters on the wall, feeling the differential between my hot little hand and the somber, polished stone. It had never occurred to me that the memorial was meant for anything but touching.

I take in a deep inhale and exhale, now in my thirty-two year old self. Finding out later, in college, that Maya Lin was twenty when she submitted her design for the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial blind competition, a complete unknown student at Yale, gave me the context of her courage. What she endured was only magnified when you understand that her design was chosen out of 1,421 submissions, including entries by internationally recognized architects.

Lin faced a great deal of controversy, including detractors who thought that it was wrong for a young Chinese American woman to design a memorial for fallen American soldiers of the Vietnam War, that she looked too much like the people who had helped kill our veterans. She wound up having to defend herself and her vision to Congressional inquiry and soldiers who had returned from war. The former Secretary of the Interior even held up the building’s permits in an attempt to get her to change her design. It has since become one of the most cherished and significant memorials. More than a physical replica of soldiers in battle, walking the long wall and watching the names of the fallen rise to a height beyond humanity, and then walking away from the apex, and seeing the names taper is a heart-wrenching journey of finality and closure.
If it cleaves the earth, it is because it is a memorial to one of the most divisive wars of the modern American century. The memorial is magnificent because it is simultaneously the cut, the scar, and the healing. It has taken me twenty years to pin down what resonates about the memorial, and yet, I am always glad to put a name to a visceral feeling.

–Caroline

“Where are you ‘from, from?’”

A recent campaign organized by Harvard students called “I, Too, Am Harvard,” has sparked discussions of racial comments and the diverse experiences people of color face.

The campaign highlights black Harvard students’ experiences of fleeting racial comments based on stereotypes associated with being black on a university campus. Originally organized as a play stemming from interviews with members of the black Harvard community, the campaign has expanded to a photo series, where black students hold up signs with statements such as “Can you read?” and “You’re lucky to be black…so easy to get into college!” to illustrate these stinging comments made by classmates, friends and others.

“Our voices often go unheard on this campus, our experiences are devalued, our presence is questioned—this project is our way of speaking back, of claiming this campus, of standing up to say: We are here. This place is ours. We, TOO, are Harvard,” read the description of the campaign’s Tumblr page.

Harvard, where black students make up 11 percent of the class of 2017, has responded positively to the campaign, according to a recent USA Today article.

Although the campaign focused on Harvard’s black community, a recent New York Times article explored how subtle comments like those highlighted at Harvard can have bigger racial and ethnic implications on minority groups. The article showcased some Asian stereotypes, such as hiring “the Asian computer programmer because you think he’s going to be a good programmer because he’s Asian.”

Others in the Asian-American community have also addressed similar issues of ethnic identity and origin. Wong Fu Productions, a California-based film production company run by three Asian-Americans, recently posted a video skit called “Accidental Racism,” where coworkers of different ethnicities probe each other about their ethnicity and origin.

In the skit, one of the actors asks her Asian-American coworker, “Where are you from, from though?,” to which he responds, “If you’re asking me where my family is from—China, I guess.” It is also interesting that the Asian-American coworker then asks another man from Kentucky the same types of racial comments without realizing the similarities and stereotypical undertones.

Another video series from ISAtv, a YouTube channel focused on issues of the Asian-American community, called “Level: Asian,” follows two Asian-American brothers as they explore what being Asian means to different people. In their most recent video, they ask UCLA students about the Asian college lifestyle and the question, “Do you think all Asians go to good colleges?”

Have you ever been asked about your ethnicity and been offended by someone’s probing question of “No, where are you actually from?” Or do these questions not bother you? Can these comments be considered “racism 2.0” as one source in the recent New York Times article labeled it? Or do these questions stem from genuine curiosity from someone who may not be as familiar or aware of your culture as you are?

Jayna Omaye recently earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. As a student reporter, she previously covered politics, immigration and demographics in Washington, D.C. for a number of national media outlets, including USA Today, McClatchy, MarketWatch and the Military Times.

Follow her on Twitter: @JaynaOmaye