It looks like that Harvard University isn’t the only Ivy League university having problems offering a breadth or depth of courses Asian-American courses and studies. The Yale Daily News reports (2/28/08), “Task Force seeks to widen Asian-American courses“:
“Asian-American students make up the largest minority on campus. But many feel their culture is a bit underrepresented in the Blue Book. So this academic year, students have made efforts to bolster the Asian-American Studies Task Force, to push for an increase in courses addressing Asian-American issues and to encourage an increase in the number of Asian-American faculty…By all accounts, the number of courses offered this year dealing significantly with Asian-American studies can be counted on one hand, although counts provided by faculty and students differed… Several faculty members acknowledged that more needs to be done to incorporate Asian-American studies into the Yale curriculum. Faculty members have worked with students on the issue, but there are no current systematic faculty initiatives to bolster the field… “Yale certainly has a long way to go,” said professor Stephen Pitti, director of the Ethnicity, Race and Migration major. “There’s considerable work to be done in broadening the course offerings to make them representative of fields that really do matter.” Pitti lauded students for their efforts and said student support for wider offerings is “absolutely critical” to expansion of Asian-American studies at Yale. Although Asian-American studies is not an official concentration, some ER&M majors have focused in Asian-American studies in the past. “Students are demanding something that they ought to be demanding,” Pitti said… Asian-Americans currently make up 14.9 percent of non-international undergraduates this academic year, making them the largest minority group on campus, according to figures compiled by the Yale Office of Institutional Research… Meanwhile students have come up with their own ways to compensate. By the end of the academic year, students say they expect the Asian-American Studies Task Force to host five separate faculty events, bringing both Yale and outside professors to speak on important Asian-American issues.Task Force members said they also hope to stoke interest among the general student body through these activities.”
As noted in the article, Yale University is pretty well known for its strong liberal arts tradition. Whether or not every university (Ivy League or not) should have an Asian-American Studies program or major is of course up to each university. However, universities with a strong major such as Yale’s “Ethnicity, Race and Migration,” one wonders why Yale, as well as Harvard and other similar universities don’t have a better commitment to Asian-American issues. I don’t think a university’s Asian-American population necessarily mandates such studies (i.e. MIT is about 25% Asian-American, but I don’t think it’s MIT’s mission to offer Asian-American Studies major, though the do offer some classes in this field).
Get the day's stories from 8Asians.com, delivered to your inbox every evening.
As I had written last year in “Taiwanese-Americans: Do You Know What 228 Is?,” today is the 61st anniversary of February, 28, 1947 – better known as “228.” AFP reports this historic moment in “Taiwan marks 1947 massacre anniversary“:
“Less than a month before Taiwan’s presidential elections, the island’s political leaders rallied supporters on Thursday to honour thousands killed in a 1947 crackdown by nationalist troops…The February 28 massacre came following riots sparked when a Kuomintang inspector beat a female vendor in Taipei for selling untaxed cigarettes. Chiang [Kai-Shek] — then fighting a civil war against Mao Zedong’s communists in China — ordered nationalist forces from the mainland to crack down on the riots which were spreading across Taiwan, and a killing spree ensued. The massacre remained taboo for decades under Chiang’s rule. He died in 1975 after ruling the island for 26 years. It was not until 1995 that then KMT president Lee Teng-hui made the first official apology. Parliament later agreed on compensation for the victims and made February 28 an official holiday.”
“2/28/47” is an unforgettable act in modern Taiwanese citizen’s consciousness that should never be forgotten.
Jerome White, Jr. – Jero for short – is a 26-year old African American originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Oh, and he’s also a popular enka singer in Japan. I’d write more, but TokyoMango puts it better:
…He’s a quarter Japanese, and he promised his now-deceased Japanese grandma that he would become a famous enka singer. In 2003, he moved to Tokyo and started entering singing contests. Soon enough, he got picked up by a record label and some really famous songwriters helped him kick off his career.
Here, he performs his debut single, Umiyuki, which broke the record for debut enka single on the famed Oricon charts this week with 3.5 million copies sold.
Viewing some other Jero videos, I love how he starts singing for this Japanese variety show and the hosts just go “WHAAAA?!” once they realize he’s singing enka, and then again once they realize he can speak fluent Japanese. (Also, what’s up with the dude in the speedo at the one-minute mark? Variety show, indeed.)
A South Korean tourist, left, and a North Korean guide at Pakyon Falls, the first stop on a tour
Ok, in my last post I very subtlety blasted the efforts of North Korea’s effort of a “Symphonic Diplomacy.” Being of Korean descent myself, I am very “touchy-feeley” when it comes to talking about this topic, whatever that means. In fact, when I blew out my birthday candles for the past 5 years I wished that I would have the opportunity to be alone with Kim Jong-Il inside a dark room with a samurai sword in my hand (and f.y.i., on the strength of those failures I have decided this year to just wish for a pony.) But staying on course, jennifer said:
“I can only hope that even with a little exposure to the outside world will make some sort of positive impact in North Korea”
Hope. Many events have given me hope for North Korea. The treatment of foreign press during the concert for example. I wrongly assumed (as I usually do), that they were on extremely strict leashes, with as much freedom as an Asian student during SAT season. Surprisingly they were provided with cell phones, unrestricted internet access, interpreters for every few journalists, and they even gave photographers unusual high freedom in what they snapped. Even the South Korean press got involved as South Korean television channel MBC drove in satellite trucks into the North. In more good news the North opened up a tour of Kaesong, which unlike Pyongyang, is just a regular town with regular civilians, although it is very picturesque, hence the tour.
BUT with all these unprecedented activities going on its hard for me to have hope for the North Korean people. I can not remember or think of a group of ethnic people separated by different countries where both groups of people being well off. Ireland comes to mind. So does Cyprus. The Kurds in Turkey/Iraq and the imperialist split-up disaster that is Africa. Hundreds of thousands of lives were sacrificed to stop the split of countries. Abraham Lincoln ONLY decided to go to war after the South decided to seceded. The VietCong absolutely bitch-slapped any attempt of splitting Vietnam. I refuse to believe any of this “opening of North Korea to the West” BS. Hell, the 2016 Olympics can be held in Pyongyang I still wont believe it. In the NYT article on the tour to Kaesong there was a story:
“One bus was filled with South Koreans who had grown up in Kaesong and were returning for the first time in six decades. Everything had changed, they said, except the very same tourist spots they were visiting.
On the steps leading to Sungyang, a Confucian lecture hall, another North Korean guide with a white bullhorn was dramatically interrupted by an old man who jabbed a large finger in the air and yelled out: “Why isn’t there a nameplate on the entrance? Every Korean house should have a nameplate.”
Flustered, the guide remained speechless as the South Koreans streamed past her into the hall. Inside, though, she said, “The Japanese imperialists took the nameplate and burned it during the occupation.”
Later, the man with the large finger, Lee Hee-tae, 80, who had lived here until the Korean War, said he was dissatisfied with the answer. “I don’t think the Japanese took it,” he said, “because I saw it after the end of the Japanese occupation.”
Overhearing his comments, a young North Korean guide asked, “Is there anything wrong?”
After listening to Mr. Lee’s explanation, the guide said simply, “I can’t believe you remember what happened 60 years ago.”
That just captures everything. He does remember. And hopefully things should change for the better while people like him still remember. But allow me to be the cynic, with apologies to everyone. But I guess thats “the audacity of Hope and there is nothing false about hope.” [(c) Obama] But again, some things will never change. [(c) Tupac Shakur]
…as long as Kim Jong-Il is alive anyway, stupid birthday wishes…..
p.s. Wow i just quoted Tupac and Barack back to back. That cant be scholarly writing…
If you haven’t heard, NBA Houston Rockets’ basketball player Yao Ming injured his left foot, as report in “China Holds Breath for Yao“:
“Amid pollution, traffic and human rights concerns, Beijing is facing a new Olympic threat: Yao Ming’s left foot. Chinese basketball fans, bloggers and multinational corporations Wednesday all expressed their condolences to Mr. Yao, the 27-year-old, 7 ft. 6 in. superstar center, who announced Tuesday in the U.S. that a stress fracture in his foot would prevent him from finishing the season with the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets. While doctors say he requires only about four months of recovery, Mr. Yao’s ability to perform in China’s vaunted Olympics this August is in question. The Chinese national basketball team wasn’t expected to win a medal at the Games, but hopes were high that Mr. Yao, China’s most famous athlete, would be the public face of the nation’s Olympic pageant. The Xinmin Evening News, a Shanghai daily, ran the headline “National Treasure Injured,” using a Chinese phrase usually reserved for pandas, China’s beloved national animal.”
As you may or may not know, Yao Ming is probably China’s most well known Chinese athlete in America, if not the world. Yao has been a boom for the NBA as the NBA has tried to attract literally hundreds of millions of mainland Chinese as fans of the American sport. Yao endorses and is the pitchman for Reebok International, Coca-Cola Co. and Visa International Inc. Let’s hope for Yao’s quick recovery. If you don’t know much about Yao Ming, there is a pretty good documentary that I’ve seen on him following Yao in his first year in the NBA titled, “The Year of the Yao.” On a side note, do any of you know of an Asian American swho plays for the NBA, or for college basketball (as March Madness is coming up soon…)
The New York Philharmonic held an unprecedented concert in Pyongyang that was supposed to lead to warmer ties between North Korea and the United States. Oh wait, let me rephrase that; better relations between Kim Jon-Il and the United States.
I can be pretty confident in saying that the people of North Korea bear no ill feelings toward the States. It was great, I suppose: a bunch of Kim Jong-Il’s cronies and supporters dressed up in suits and hanboks (Korean traditional wear) attending a concert for the sake of friendship. They played the respective national anthems of each country as the crowd held their applause until they both finished, just as they were ordered to, I assume. And ‘Arirang’ was played, a traditional Korean song, which lead to many of the crowd to tears; tears of happiness and joy, again I assume. Ironically, the almighty dictator was not present. Music director Lorin Maazel dismissed the significance of Kim’s absences:
“I have yet to see the president of the United States at one of my concerts. Sometimes a statesman is too busy.”
President and Dictator are synonyms to the musically inclined, I assume. (Wow, a lot of assuming I’m doing here.) He went on to say that this concert may have “This might just have pushed us over the top” in finding a way of the two countries cooperating. Really?
And more on the audience: they wore badges of Kim Jong Il’s father and had digital cameras… because you know people in North Korea don’t have food, but they have digital cameras. Oh wait; these were Kim Jong Il’s cronies, I forgot.
I have a hard time taking news like this seriously. Oh, and Kim Jong Il’s desires to have Eric Clapton to perform there soon also.
In “On Diversity, America Isn’t Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is,” The Wall Street Journal reports:
“More than 40 years after job discrimination was outlawed, the wage gap between white men and just about everyone else persists. The one exception is for Asian-American men, whose median wages were just 1% less than those of white men who worked full time, year round, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ survey in 2005, the latest year for which data are available. Black men, by contrast, earned 74% of the wages of white males; Hispanic men earned 58%. Women, overall, are substantially lagging behind men in pay. Full-time female employees earned 77% of all men’s median wages. Breaking it down in terms of race, Asian-American women earned 78% of the median annual pay of white men; white women earned 73%; black women, 63%; and Hispanic women, 52%.”
As an Asian-American man or woman, do you feel that you are being paid for what you are worth, relative to your white counterparts? It’s pretty interesting to see that Asian-Americans are the least “wage-discriminated” against according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ figures. As the article goes on to describe, there are many factors that affect wages, including education and experience.
For those of you who haven’t seen the television reality show Beauty and the Geek, a synopsis: Pretty girls are matched up with classic geeky men as a “social experiment” of sorts – the girls try to teach the geeks basic social skills, while the geeks try to teach the girls basic skills in quantum mechanics, rocket science and relativity theory. (Or at least, how to change a tire.) The show always stresses that it’s not a dating show, but usually a geek or two gets a makeover and hooks up with one of the girls anyway. It’s a symbiotic relationship that’s fascinating to watch, provided that you love the CW (check) and reality television (check.)
But one geek that definitely will NOT be hooking up with the girls is Greg: a 23 year old “Sole Proprietor/Clothing Designer/Pastry Chef” and self-proclaimed Gaysian. Because he’s gay AND Asian! Aaah, good times.
I’ll be honest: I’m totally on the fence on this one, even as a fellow Gaysian. While I’m all for more of us on TV, look at him – he’s got the hipster glasses, the Panic and the Disco! haircut, the fabulous gray shirt / argyle sweater combo. If he was spotted in the Mission district in San Francisco, people wouldn’t think “geek” so much as they’d think “on his way to buy a soy latte at Ritual Roasters.” Also, since when has a clothing designer become a geeky job? Are the girls going to teach him how to dress? He designs clothes. Add to that that the Beauties now compete against the geeks. Shark jumping, anyone?
The show did introduce the world to Rubik’s Cube world championship solver Tyson Mao, however, so I’m still keeping the faith. And who am I kidding? If Greg sticks around for the makeover episode, I’ll be keeping notes; I do have the same glasses and haircut as the guy.
South Korea will be sending their first astronaut, Ko San, into space on April 8th aboard a Russian spaceship bound for the International Space Station. The New York Times reports that San will be bringing with him one of Korea’s iconic dishes – kimchi in “Starship Kimchi: A Bold Taste Goes Where It Has Never Gone Before“:
“Three top government research institutes spent millions of dollars and several years perfecting a version of kimchi that would not turn dangerous when exposed to cosmic rays or other forms of radiation and would not put off non-Korean astronauts with its pungency… The South Koreans created versions of several other foods for Mr. Ko’s mission, including instant noodles, hot pepper paste, fermented soybean soup and sticky rice. But kimchi was the toughest to turn into space food… Ordinary kimchi is teeming with microbes, like lactic acid bacteria, which help fermentation. On Earth they are harmless, but scientists feared they could turn dangerous in space if cosmic rays and other radiation cause them to mutate… Another problem was that kimchi has a short shelf life, especially when temperatures fluctuate rapidly, as they sometimes do in space.”
The Korean government spent millions of dollars for space kimchi – that’s pretty crazy! I guess when you are in space, having comfort food can be pretty important. Apparently from the research, scientists have found a way to slow down the fermentation of kimchi for a month so that it can be shipped around the world at less cost – which will lead to helping the globalization of kimchi.
One of my friends is the most politically active American (let alone Asian American) I know – Sophia (and her husband) recently launch their website, Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders for Hillary ’08 (www.aapiforhillary.com):
Although Asian Americans make up about 5% of the U.S. population, in California, Asian Americans make up 12%. If you’ve been following the political commentary on Super Tuesday in California, Hillary Clinton won the Asian American vote 75% to Barack Obama’s 25% – leading many pundits to ask, Does Obama Have an Asian Problem?
The big test for Clinton is in the next week and a half with the Texas and Ohio primary – where Asian Americans constitutes 3.6% of Texas and 1.7% of Ohio.
I’ve mentioned a past event for Asian Americans for Obama already, so thought I’d let others know about a blog for Hillary. If there are any Asian Americans for John McCain sites or blogs out there, let me know.
Just read this interesting article in the Advertising Age website by Bill Imada called, “Have Asian Americans Done Enough for the Black Community?”
It’s sad that I think the really obvious answer to this really is, no. Given the history of what I’ve seen, on how we treat black people as customers, as friends, as people to emulate and yet not really understand their histories and how they’ve paved the way for other minorities to fight for social and economic justice, and how Asians view blacks with so much hatred and fear because of how blacks have been portrayed in the media (like the infamous AsianWeek op-ed piece), I think that there should be more introspection into how we’ve been taught to fear and hate each other and learn how to respect each other and our histories and that we’re dealing with many of the same issues they are.
Yes, this is really painfully obvious, but sad that people need to write articles like Imada’s to make us see that we’ve got a long way to go…
(Flickr photo credit: yngrich)
Cinequest is an annual film festival held in San Jose, California. This year, there is a lineup of Asian interest films during the festival, running February 27th – March 9th, including: