8 Asians

I love playing Halo. So I really had a load of fun watching the webseries Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. Aside from giggling like a school girl every time the Warthog drove by (that’s my Halo ride) and screaming “Duel wield!” every time they found a weapon on the ground, I calmed down enough here and there to notice that there was an Asian American character Junjie Chen (Osric Chau) among the cadet soldiers in training, and unfortunately, the kid was overly stressed about grades and test scores, getting high-pressure video messages from an overbearing tiger dad, and he went the way of Donnie Yen in Blade II, ending up just some canon fodder. Yup, pretty stereotypical model minority Asian character.
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President Obama delivers remarks an the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at the White House earlier this week. What got the most attention from Obama was his remarks on the lipstick on his collar. One of the honored guests attending, former runner-up American Idol contestant, Jessica Sanchez – her guest, her Aunt, had embraced Obama when meeting him and accidentally got some of her lipstick on her collar. Obama wanted to clear the air and the First Lady know that there wasn’t any Clintonesque hanky panky going on in The White House…

The overall 6+ minute speech focus on Obama’s connection with Asian Americans and Asia, having a half-sister who is an Asian American as well as his brother-in-law, as well as having lived in Indonesia for a few years and going to high school in Hawaii growing up with many Asian American friends. Obama spoke of the rich history and contributions of Asian Americans in this country as well as the many challenges the Asian American community has faced. Additionally, Obama had reminded all in the audience that most Americans – at one point in their family history – were immigrants to this country and that America is a country of immigrants.

 

 

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By Lianne Lin

I’m a second generation ABC (American Born Chinese) who grew up knowing little to no Chinese.  My father is ABC as well, born in San Francisco to immigrant parents from Guangdong, China, and my mom was born in Taiwan to parents who emigrated from Shandong, China.  She came to America at age 14 and by the time she married my dad at age 22, she was fluent in English.

I think my mom tried to teach me some Chinese when I was little, but gave up after I showed no interest in learning, which is pretty common for children of immigrants.  However, most ABCs know more Chinese than I do, because their parents speak it at home, and/or they are forced to attend Chinese school, which I wish had been the case with me.  But back then, my parents had no idea that I would want to learn it later on.

My mother taught my brother and me a few phrases in Mandarin, bare basics like “hello (你好),” “thank you (謝謝),” “young lady (小姐),” “let’s go (走吧),” and “let’s eat (吃飯啦).”  But the phrases we knew best were what she yelled at us when she was mad, when her English would suddenly switch to Mandarin.  It was stuff like, “spank your butt (打你屁股),” “annoying kid (討厭鬼),” “you make me mad (氣死我啦),” etc.

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Mark Twain – Asian American Activist

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With May being Asian Pacific American heritage month, there are plenty of Asian American heroes to celebrate. But the majority of Americans may have overlooked the Asian American activism of one very prominent American hero–Mark Twain. Lauded as the father of American literature, few know that one of Twain’s first written, rejected, and finally published articles was a satiric criticism of the poor treatment of Chinese Americans in the 1800s, “Disgraceful Persecution of a Boy”, published in The Galaxy Magazine in May of 1870. The genius in this piece is that he starts out sounding like he is on the side of the boy who is punished for stoning a “Chinaman”, reeling the racist reader in, and then he comes in for the final blow where he reveals that the real culprit of this child’s cruel sin (on a Sunday no less!) was the community of racist bigots that raised him with such xenophobic views. It takes a village, right?

“Everything conspired to teach him that it was a high and holy thing to stone a Chinaman, and yet he no sooner attempts to do his duty than he is punished for it…”

 

Twain’s pro-Asian and Asian American activist writing doesn’t stop there.
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While stories about the wealth and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been widely publicized, many AAPIs aren’t rich and struggle in dangerous surroundings.  This video tells the story of Pelenise Faataui, who teaches Samoan dancing in front of her home despite living in the violent San Francisco area of Bayview/Hunter’s point.  She is the daughter of Kirisimasi Faataui, who was one of the first Samoans to migrate to the area through the US Navy.  The fact that she grew up in that neighborhood gains her street credibility.  I also like how she attracts students of different ethnicities, not just Samoans.

This video by Jean Melesaine is another feature from Silicon Valley De-bug, a Silicon Valley community organization.

 

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At a business brunch with a dozen Chinese investors, the topic of Tibet came up. It started when one of them said that the Tibetans are lazy, stupid, spend all their time on prayer, refuse to work, and only take the hard-earned money of the Chinese. China has to send billions of dollars of aid to Tibet every year and do the Tibetans even appreciate it? Oh no. They don’t. Because they’re stupid and lazy and refuse to work, only want to pray.

Not sure how I would reply to that without exploding, I said as evenly as I could manage, “Then why not give Tibet its independence?”

The entire table erupted in groans and head shaking (the negative kind). “You don’t know anything. You grew up in America your whole life and have been brainwashed by the American media and the Dalai Lama. You have no idea what the Tibetans are really like. The Tibetans are lazy. Can’t get them to do any work.”

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When I saw the title of this YouTube video, I was wondering what it was all about? (like, Model Minority Asian? Hipster Asian?)

When I saw a white guy approaching the Asian American woman, I thought this video might be about yellow fever. But the question comes up from “Where are you from?”  (as in the micro-agressive question – “Where are you *really* from?”) a question many of us can relate to.

This smartly written and performed comedy bit has a twist and makes some very keen observations and reminds me of my blog post on “I’m from Denver” from the television sitcom Modern Family and the time when I was getting my passport renewed and was asked, “Are you here for your citizenship?” I got a real big laugh out of the video and hope you enjoy it too – for its comedic yet observant commentary.

Visiting Manzanar

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Have you been to Manzanar? If not, go. Go soon. It is worth the trip on so many levels. I had the good fortune and opportunity to visit Manzanar National Historic Monument this past spring. First, the ride there.
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If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend, then reserve your tickets to the Terracotta Warriors Exhibit at Asian Art Museum now.  Monday, Memorial Day, will be the final exhibition day before the warriors leave the museum. Although the exhibit garnered lukewarm reviews, I disagree and say that it is highly worth the viewing for any Chinese history aficionado. Lines are long, so be sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time. For ticketing information, click here.

The terracotta army was the result of one emperor’s, the first emperor of China Qin Shi Huang’s quest for immortality. And he achieved it, if perhaps the immortality he has obtained is not quite in the form he hoped for. Getting to see the eighth wonder of the ancient world without trekking to China was a blessed convenience, though after seeing the exhibit, Hubby and I are making plans to see the greater Terracotta Army exhibition in Xi’an.

Our opportunity to see the exhibit was arranged through a new start-up called Datepress, which my dear Asian fellows should definitely bookmark. The site curates exclusive packages for two and totally takes the stress out of planning dates. You’ll never have to wait in line again, make reservations, and you and your date will get ushered in past the red ropes first. And thank goodness for that at the Terracotta Warriors exhibit! The lines were crazy long and thanks to Datepress, Hubby and I didn’t wait a minute in the cold. More about Datepress and its founders after the jump. Continue Reading »

By Leeland Lee

Spoiler alert: In the latest installment of the Star Trek franchise reboot, Lieutenant Sulu dies a cruel, horrific death.

How does it happen? Does he get vanquished at the hands of a murderous Klingon? Sucked into a worm hole? Blown into subatomic particles by an out-of-control warp core breach?

No, actually it’s far worse than all those treacheries combined.

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In my lifetime, I’ve been called a “Chink” more than a “Jap.” Of course this doesn’t stop people on YouTube from calling me a “Jap.”

Nasty Jap

To be fair, this was in response to my movie “Chink” and I did want to touch a nerve with people. Based on this person’s reaction, I guess it worked.

I remember the first time I was called a “Chink.” My first reaction was that I wasn’t Chinese/Chinese American. The least they could do was to call me a “Jap.” But that never quite felt right. After all, they weren’t calling me “Chink” to compliment me and they definitely weren’t trying to be ethnically correct.

I decided to do some research (“some” being the operative word here) on the word “Chink.” And according to the Wikipedia, it means:

Chink (also chinki, chinky, chinkie) is an English ethnic slur usually referring to a person of Chinese ethnicity.

The origin of the word seems to be in some dispute:

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Let me start my first article on a lighter note–an anecdote from my freshman year of college, more than 10 years ago. I was at the In-N-Out across the street from the dorms sitting on a bar stool along with two Asian-Americans dormmates I had just met. We sat facing the window, with a clear panoramic view of the campus. It was orientation week at UC-Irvine, so school hadn’t yet started, but I was excited. Finally, after six years living in the Midwest, I was in California and, happily, already making friends.

A short Asian girl with an oversize backpack passed our view. “She definitely Chinese,” said the guy sitting next to me.

I looked at her, perplexed. Did they mean ethnically? After all, this was UCI, and though it was majority Asian, it was also 98% Californian. There were very few international students here. And how could they tell her nationality just by looking at her?

“That one, definitely Korean,” said the other guy, pointing at a tall guy in glasses. Was this some sort of game Californians played? Guess-the-ethnicity? Was it a skill?

“Filipino for sure!”

Across the street, I saw two Caucasians males walking toward the In-N-Out. I could play this game too.

“Over there, that guy is definitely German, and the other, Irish,” I said, barely able to not giggle. I turned to them, expecting laughter.

Instead, two faces stared at me with a mix of perplexion and pity, clearly saying – are you mentally troubled?

Hurt, and not sure how to respond, I quietly went back to my burger.

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