When slaves were kidnapped and forced into servitude in the United States before 1808, in an extreme case of involuntary assimilation, they were forced to give up their culture. Speaking in African languages was forbidden, everyone was converted into Christianity, and English was taught (at least, enough English to take orders). Hundreds of years later and countless inter-generational mixing, most African-Americans today have no idea of their families original heritage. It had been lost to a sad history we Americans know too little about.
Yet, even this example shows how culture, in its most basic forms, is more powerful, and more pervasive, than we believe possible. Despite this terrible history, despite the centuries, there is one piece of African culture that has proved resilient.
Black American cuisine has distinct ties to the countries where most slaves originated. Pot-cooking – think of gumbo – oil-frying, southern methods of preserving meats, all originate from pre-colonial West Africa kingdom. Moreover, some popular American crops, such as Okra, Watermelon, and peanuts, are also African, likely smuggled aboard slave ships and propagated in slave and sharecropper gardens over generations. Some ingredients have changed – cayenne peppers instead of grains of paradise, butter instead of palm oil, potatoes and corn instead of cassava – but the spirit, and flavor, is connected to pre-slavery traditions from another land.
Why does this matter?
Get the day's stories from 8Asians.com, delivered to your inbox every evening.
It looks like our old friend Edward Hong finds himself pitching a mindblowing film idea for the new AT&T initiative, Take Your Shot, created to inspire and give a lifetime opportunity for Asian youth to pursue their passions.
AT&T is calling for aspiring Asian filmmakers to win a unique opportunity to work with famed Asian-American filmmakers who will mentor and help them create their short film, using the latest AT&T devices. Three finalists will be paired up with one of the mentors – Wong Fu Productions, Freddie Wong, and Jon M. Chu — to create their short films to debut at AT&T Mobile Film Festival online in October.
The submission of your ideas starts now! For submission and official rules, please visit www.TakeYourShotFilms.com.
“New York is the second most populous state to ban the fins, after California, whose ban took effect earlier this month. All told, eight states have bans in effect. There is also international opposition: Last July, officials in China announced a ban on the soup at official banquets. New York’s ban takes effect in July 2014, which should give restaurants and banquet halls enough time to use up their stockpiles of fins, which are dried and bleached for sale.”
New York not only joins California, but also six other states in the ban of the sale of shark fin, including: Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.
While waist size is an indicator for potential hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease, the standards for Asians is stricter stricter than for non-Asians. This is similar to the situation with Asians and Body Mass Index (BMI), where standards for a healthy BMI are stricter for Asians. The Mayo clinic lists the following as problematic waist sizes:
Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters, or cm).
Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 cm).
Asian men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 36 inches (91 cm).
Asian women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 32 inches (81 cm).
Limited data seems to indicate that these numbers are low for Pacific Islanders and African Americans. Waist measurements are said to be better indicators than weight or (BMI) for potential heart disease and death for people of normal weight.
(Flickr Photo Credit: TinkerTailor)
Although details are still not exactly clear as to how exactly racist fake pilots’ names for Asiana Airlines made it on air on local noon broadcast for San Francisco Bay Area Fox affiliate KTVU, there have been consequences for a few involved in the incident:
“Station sources confirmed late Wednesday that investigative producer Roland DeWolk, special projects producer Cristina Gastelu and producer Brad Belstock were all sent packing following an in-house investigation into the July 12 broadcast of four fake names of the pilots involved in the Asiana Flight 214 crash at San Francisco International Airport on July 6. A fourth – noon news producer Elvin Sledge – told colleagues he was leaving for health reasons.”
And apparently, these firings may not be the end of things.
Also, according to the San Francisco Chronicle sources, the fake names – which had been previously posted on the Internet days before the false reporting on KTVU, came to the KTVU via e-mail from an expert source who had provided information to the station in the past. So either that source was trying to punk KTVU (which seems somewhat doubtful) or that “expert” also got duped. In either case, KTVU’s rush to report contributed to reporting the obviously fake names is a definite #fail on their part.
As I had blogged earlier, the NTSB intern who had confirmed the fake names, had been fired. The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) had also met with KTVU to express their concern over the broadcast and continue to follow-up with the issue with them. This is still an on-going story and issue that will not stop for KTVU until the full investigation and facts are uncovered and made transparent to the public.
When I read this article in my morning paper about how California was moving prisoners from Central Valley prisons because of “valley fever” problems, one line in particular got my attention:
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson last week ordered the transfer of most black, Filipino and medically at-risk inmates from Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons because those groups are more vulnerable to the naturally occurring fungal infection that causes valley fever.
Searching for valley fever, I found on its Wikipedia entry the above picture of part of a lung from a valley fever victim. I also found this line:
In order of decreasing risk, people of Filipino, African, Native American, Hispanic, and Asian descent are more susceptible to the disseminated form of the disease than general population.
African American inmates were dying of valley fever at twice the rate of non-black inmates, but Filipinos are at greater risk. Other Asians too are at extra risk, although not at the same degree. All this while the Center for Disease Control (CDC) finds that occurrences of this disease is on the rise. Just what is valley fever?
By Kevin Liu
A few months ago I found myself sitting at the airport terminal for a flight back to Los Angeles with an uncomfortable thought: I’m never quite sure what to call home.
I remember talking to a shop clerk and it wasn’t more than a few minutes when she made the oh-so-classic “Hah, you’re not Taiwanese, are you?” At this point in my life, having met with this kind of reaction all too often since being in America, I have become quite unfazed. Jaded, even.
While I usually just shrug it off as a compliment and justify it to myself as “proof of being raised abroad,” cause God knows how any of us will ever be able to justify the point in the millions of dollars spent on getting a full “Western” education, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of exclusion: a sharp sense of not belonging. Excluded by my own kind, the hundreds and thousands of black haired, brown eyed, Taiwanese faces my parents have convinced me were my kin from an early age. It is a distressing thought.
The reality, however, is a little more blurry – while we do share similar features, speak the same tongue and enjoy the same luxuries such as Taiwanese sausage and Stinky Tofu, when you spend most of your life, your childhood, outside of “where you’re from,” it is difficult to really identify yourself as simply Taiwanese, Chinese or Korean. What it really comes down to is a struggle and negotiation of the identities we, as Asian Americans, have to balance. As APAs, we’re always going to be “on the fence” in terms of our ethnic identity. Beyond the colour of our skin, we are far more complex identities coloured by our experiences.
As Asian Americans, we go through a fundamentally different experience than our compatriots at “home.” I look Taiwanese, I have a healthy appreciation of the cultural heritage but I grew up in an English-speaking world with different values. I did not get the Taiwanese experience and since I didn’t go didn’t go through that, there are certain things that will, regardless of where I go, differentiate me from the others who also hold a Taiwanese passport. Because of my experiences, my life story, the way I think, feel and how I navigate this world is different.
The question that comes out of all this is how do we really deal with this crisis of identity? Being “on the fence” is just a euphemism for “I don’t know who I am” or “I don’t truly belong to one or the other.” I am humbled by the wealth of experiences my family has provided me, but is that enough to find who I am?
I joked back to the store clerk “Hah, in America, people don’t consider me an American and here, people don’t consider me Taiwanese,” laughed and then left the store, merging back into the sea of black haired, brown eyed, Mandarin speaking individuals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kevin Liu is a Taiwanese-American who finds himself in California after spending most of his life across the ocean in New Zealand. He is finishing up school in Los Angeles and is passionate about helping start-ups and innovative ventures take off. When he is not studying or working, he is a dedicated foodie and enjoys running around downtown L.A. Learn more about Liu’s work at http://kevinliu.co/.
Photo Credit: Marcus Obal, Wikimedia.org Creative Commons
Christian churches are strange, complicated gatherings of people where the tension between acknowledging brokenness and appearing virtuous is constantly present. Growing up in a Korean American church I always felt this awkward back and forth. People interacted with each other in superficial ways and no one spoke of their problems or struggles unless in hushed voices during some moment of juicy gossip. But, actually I guess that hasn’t changed too much even now. And, in my experience as clergy it certainly isn’t limited to just Asian churches.
I had originally thought I was done with this article, and wasn’t going to go further, that it would be short, simple, and sweet, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt and still feel really pissed off about the way women are treated these days.
The past two weeks, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report hosts and staff have been on vacation. Well, the shows were back on air this past Monday and wasted no time mocking KTVU’s ineptitude for inadvertently reporting the four racists Asian names.
Stephen Colbert also mocks Asiana Airlines’ lawsuit against KTVU, which I agree with – the suit is ridiculous, IMHO. The KTVU incident doesn’t damage Asiana Airlines’ reputation – a plane crash does (whether or not it was Asiana Airlines’ fault or not).
Lastly, Colbert rightfully asks why KTVU has yet to come clear as to how those racist names came to be at the station, and makes up a mock racist name for the KTVU news director, Munchma Quchi. In somewhat breaking news, the NTSB intern has been identified as Alexander Fields-Lefkovic, a junior attending Cornell University.
I’m not sure why Pepto Bismol decided to upload this holiday commercial to YouTube in the middle of summer, but I’m just grateful they did so that we can see Parvesh Cheena shaking the tiny hand(?) of a squirrel.
Merry July, or whatever.
“White Vengeance” was directed by Hong Kong director and screenwriter Daniel Lee. The story is set after the fall of the Qin Dynasty around 200 BC, and two sworn brothers fight together and then against each other for rule over China. Of course, they are in love with the same woman, played by Yifei Liu from Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s first collaborative movie, The Forbidden Kingdom.
I picked this film out of my Netflix stream because I’m in the midst of writing book two of my teenage kung fu romance wuxia story, The Legend of Phoenix Mountain (aptly named The Return to Phoenix Mountain, hold the applause). I wanted some warring states action going on since I’m planning for some epic battles in my book, and this movie basically delivered exactly what I was looking for. It starts off kind of slow, somewhat like a Tolkien novel where it seems like a dense genealogical history lesson, but once you zero in on who the main characters are, everything comes together quite nicely, and you simply get immersed in the complexity of the multiple layers of conflict drowning all the characters. Recommended for audiences who enjoy Chinese history, war strategy movies, and lots of epic bloody battles. There is one part that will have you cradling your hand in tears. You have been warned.
I recently saw these two video spoofs of JAY Z & Alicia Key’s “Empire State of Mind” with instead of New York City being a state of mind, Beijing and Taipei being a state of mind. I first saw the Beijing State of Mind spoof (which video and singing production quality is a bit higher than the Taiwan one IMHO) first, though the upload YouTube date is posted for July 9th, while I just saw the other day the “Taiwan State of Mind,” which has an upload date of July 5th, brought to you by the infamous Taiwanese animators Next Media Animation. Enjoy!
Beijing State of Mind
Taiwan State of Mind