8 Asians


By Greg Watanabe

Regarding the #cancelColbert kerfuffle.

So, there’s two things:

The first being the sketch itself, which is about the Washington Redskins’ owner creating the “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation” to mitigate the pr damage from having such a fucked up name. In the segment Colbert uses the following joke:

“Folks, this move by Dan Snyder inspires me, because my show has frequently come under attack for having a so-called offensive mascot, my beloved character Ching Chong Ding Dong….Offensive or not — NOT — Ching Chong is part of the unique heritage of the Colbert Nation that cannot change. But I’m willing to show the Asian community that I care by introducing the Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitive to Orientals or Whatever….I owe all this sensitivity to Redskins owner Dan Snyder. So Asians, send your thank-you letters to him, not me.”

So, this is awesome satire to me. It’s a clear send up of Dan Snyder and his “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation”.

The second thing is Comedy Central (apparently separate from Colbert and his writing staff) tweeting out part of that segment via the Colbert Report Twitter account:

“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

I understand how it could be interpreted to be fucked up and racist if you didn’t know the context of the rest of the joke.

I think it’s good that Comedy Central took it down.

So, they took it down because Suey Park of #NotYourAsianSidekick fame weighed in and created #CancelColbert, which basically accuses Colbert of anti-asian racism and calls for twitter followers to “trend” the hashtag and call for cancellation.

It gets crazy from here. But before going forward, I’ll say this: The accusations of the racism of this bit, and therefore of Colbert, are totally off the mark. The tweet was inexpert and ill-advised and it was good that it was taken down, but seeing that it was clearly derived from the complete segment, it was not racist.

I’d leave it at that, but accusing a celebrity of racism means controversy and backlash. If Suey Park was right, I’d totally be with her, especially in the onslaught of racist and misogynist backlash on Twitter (which, honestly, is constantly awash in racism and misogyny).

But, she’s not right, not in this case. And I feel like there’s a conversation to be had on why I think that and an explanation of why she and others think it is true.

But here’s what’s frustrating to me: it seems like the negative backlash is given as a reason why she’s right. For sure, racism and misogyny abound, and all the fucked up shit directed at Suey Park is a flagrant example of that, but that isn’t proof that her original accusation is well-founded or true.

The same can be said for some of the arguments brought up in defense of Colbert and the joke (again, from the wisdom of the internets): the fact that those arguments are false is not proof that you’re right.

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Taipei 101 tower

I recommend that upon arrival in Taipei, Taipei 101 should be the first place you visit. This recommendation is not because this building is a feat of human engineering and a major tourist must-see in Taipei.

Going to Taipei 101 first is probably the most practical first stop of your visit because from the top most floor’s viewing lounge, you can see practically all of Taipei in one leisurely stroll and really get a sense for where everything is in the city. This is excellent for developing a mental map of the whole place before you descend upon it. We didn’t get to Taipei 101 until about midway through our trip, so as soon as I got to the top of this colossal building and saw the resources available in the viewing lounge, I immediately regretted not making it our first stop.

What makes the viewing lounge an excellent area recon center is that it’s not just a look out of the window. The lounge itself is like a mini-museum, and they have audio guides in multiple languages that take you around to all the points of interest in this sprawling metropolis along with a history lesson of the construction of Taipei 101. And that’s not even the best part–there are massive touch screen screens all over the place that have time lapses of the view outside with floating buttons of all major points of interest.

Taipei 101 View
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8$: Iconic Asians with Dina Yuen


8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)


WHO: Dina Yuen.
“My background spanning seven industries (industrial engineer, trained chef, musician, author, consultant, web designer and entrepreneur), allows me to establish a unique rapport with each Iconic Asian.”

WHAT: Indiegogo project: Iconic Asians with Dina Yuen

Iconic Asians with Dina Yuen is a groundbreaking television series that showcases a day in the life of an influential Asian person in a format that combines the best of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and The Oprah Show. Featuring celebrity chefs to global CEOs, politicians, musicians, celebrated athletes and human rights activists, we discover never-before-seen aspects of these Iconic Asians whose life stories inspire us all.

From discovering how the Berkeley riots brought Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to tears to why bestselling violinist Sarah Chang refuses plastic surgery to how The Hangover villain Ken Jeong segued from real life physician to Hollywood star, I share with you an in-depth look into each of these Iconic Asians’ lives and success stories.

WHEN: Deadline to contribute is Saturday, April 5, 2014 (11:59pm PT).

About the Indiegogo:

Your contribution will help me bring the next few episodes (beyond the pilot) of Iconic Asians to Hollywood executives I’ve been in talks with, while also proving to them that there is a substantial market for an intelligent and entertaining show that brings to light the lives and contributions of influential Asians.

Your support ultimately means that you get to change the world by inspiring generations of Asians who will now have a show that features their role models.

Iconic Asians with Dina Yuen shows Asians (particularly children and young adults) around the world that there are ways to become what they dream of and pull themselves out of extreme poverty, slavery and prostitution, just as some of their idols have done.


By Timothy Fong

I would prefer to resolve disagreements with mutually respectful dialogue. But when that fails, I’ll take fear.

On Thursday, the Colbert Report did a skit where the punchline was “I am willing to show the Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” The editor of the show’s Twitter account then tweeted the joke. In response, Suey Park, a writer and activist instigated the  hashtag #CancelColbert. That same evening, the tag trended, and received wider media attention, with Park appearing on HuffingtonPost Live. Park’s follow up tweets attracted positive and negative attention, including the all too predictable misogynistic psychos. Some prominent Asian American bloggers and celebrities thought that Park was going too far.

I think her callout of Colbert was completely appropriate.

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David_Chang_Audi_commercialI was watching a March Madness basketball tournament game and was pleasantly surprised to see celebrity chef David Chang (of Momofuku fame), star in this television ad. Chang talks about the human touch of not only cooking, but the human touch control of an Audi.

On the Audi USA YouTube site, David Chang talks about being honest and truthful to himself in becoming a chef:

Review: The Garden of Words



The Garden of Words (2013)

Voices of Kana Hanazawa and Miyu Irino. Directed by Makoto Shinkai.

Available on DVD at Amazon

garden of words 1The Garden of Words (言の葉の庭, or Kotonoha no Niwa) is a Japanese animated movie that, to its great credit, continues one Japanese cinematic tradition and, to its great discredit, follows another.  The animation is almost mind-blowingly beautiful, at times startling in its realism and at others so pretty and perfect that it has to be the work of an imaginative, artistic hand.  Even for Japanese animation, it’s visually outstanding, and a worthy continuation of Japan’s animation traditions.

Takao Akizuki is a fifteen-year-old high school student, living with an adult brother and a single mother who disappears for days at a time and leaves her sons to fend for themselves.  During his mother’s absences, and (one assumes) even when she’s around, Takao assumes many of the household responsibilities, including preparing dinner for the family.  Yet he is a far less conscientious student, choosing to take the long way to school on rainy mornings so he can enjoy the beauty of a large public garden (The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, according to Wikipedia) and work on sketches of shoes he plans to make someday.

garden of words 2Takao dreams of being a shoemaker, a fantasy that distracts him from classroom lessons and the drudgery of his home life.  When he encounters Yukari Yukino, a pretty twenty-something woman, in a gazebo in the garden on one rainy morning, Takao at first barely acknowledges her presence, focusing on his sketches while she, in this early morning hour, makes a meal of beer and chocolate.  As they share the shelter of the gazebo on subsequent rainy mornings, they get to know each other, in a way, as Takao shares his dreams and Yukari shares an encouraging word, a sympathetic ear, and very little of her own life.

garden of words 3The first forty minutes of the film is dedicated to the exploration of this friendship, and it is beautiful and poetic and possibly inappropriate, and colored with so much sadness and bittersweetness that, like so much great Japanese art, it made me want to weep for my own loneliness and impermanence.  There is a predominant Japanese aesthetic that finds beauty in the fleetingness of every moment: a black bird on a high-rise is bathed in red light for a moment, is seen as its natural self the next moment as the light blinks out, then takes flight, circles the building, and is not seen again.  A raindrop clings to a green leaf, then trickles slowly down its length until it clings to the leaf-tip, growing in size until its weight pulls the leaf slightly toward the muddy earth before letting go and splashing into the puddle below, releasing the leaf that springs back to its former position to await the next drop.  Director Makoto Shinkai takes the time to share these moments and a hundred others, leaving it to the viewer to interact with them however they will, and it’s a beautiful experience.

garden of words 4At forty-six minutes in duration, it is about as long as a one-hour television episode, minus commercials, and is structured very much like one, except that it is a self-contained story, and those first forty minutes are the stuff of halls of fame, so wonderfully are they sequenced and framed.  But those last six minutes are a baffling continuation of another Japanese dramatic tradition: my people (I’m half Japanese) have an embarrassing flair for melodrama, at least in television and cinema.  Japan’s is such a reserved society that perhaps it needs exaggerated, comical catharsis in its popular media just to keep itself functioning normally, the way teenaged boys need to joke about sex in order to have any conversation at all about it.

Whatever the reason (and of course I’m willing to be told I’m completely wrong about this), the resolution of this film is just kind of awful, and it is followed by a closing-credits song whose lyrics tell you how to feel, just in case the melodrama doesn’t explain it blatantly enough.  Endure the terrible song, though, if you want to feel better about everything: the director gives us a post-credits sequence that’s much more like the raindrop and the leaf.

The unsatisfactory resolution is enough for me to drop it from a 9 to a 7 out of 10. But it’s definitely worth a look.

Miriam Nakamoto and Lauren Murphy
Get more pictures like this from SHERDOG.COM

When I covered the Invicta FC inaugural bantamweight championship, it was definitely an unsatisfying result. At the time, though, Murphy was a gracious champion offering Nakamoto a rematch, and Nakamoto even defended Murphy as champion, saying Murphy was the legitimate winner. It seemed like good sportsmanship all around. But then this interview of Murphy came out, and it sounded like Murphy was saying Nakamoto basically chickened out and quit the fight prematurely.

“Some people have said I don’t deserve that belt and that she should have won. I think that’s just silly, for a lot of reasons. Miriam asked for that fight to be stopped, not me. She fell and did not pull guard or try to fight off her back. She did not look for sweeps or armbars or anything…I was willing to fight Miriam on one leg. I would have crawled out to the 4th and 5th rounds if I had to, that’s how badly I wanted win. Some fighters would rather quit than take an ass beating. Me, I’d rather take an ass beating than ever quit. That’s why I am the champion.”

Needless to say, this has started quite a firestorm of online arguments between the camps and fans of the two fighters.

Personally, I do find Murphy’s words quite offensive and the complete opposite of sportsmanship. Granted, I am a Nakamoto fan, but I feel the video footage of the fight speaks for itself. Nakamoto was winning, and the fight only turned tides with the injury, and it was the referee who waved the fight and stopped it. The win was Murphy’s–injuries do happen–but to say that Nakamoto chickened out? That she quit? Wow, that’s just wrong. I wasn’t a huge fan of Murphy’s, but I actually think she is a great fighter and a nice person, so I wonder if all the questioning of her championship status and the yes-men who have been telling her she deserves the win to counter those who say she doesn’t have just gotten to her.

You can watch the edited version below and judge for yourself, but for those of you who are more scrupulous fans of MMA, the whole bout is also available on Invicta FC’s Youtube channel at time mark 2:53:00.

As I have blogged previous, one of the closest watched Congressional races for this November 2014 will be for California’s 17th Congressional District, where two Democrats, incumbent Congressman Mike Honda and newcomer Ro Khanna are running (whom I had interviewed last year). Khanna has impressively been a fundraising machine, and has been aggressively running hard – which he should – raising a total of $3.2 million with $2 million on hand as of Q4 of 2013. Feeling some heat, Honda had recently highlighted support by famed ‘Star Trek’ actor and activist, George Takei, in a fundraising email:

“I want to make sure you saw this message from my friend George Takei, who I’ve known since my days as a County Supervisor. In that time, George has used his popularity as a powerful platform to advocate for equality, including last month’s successful campaign to defeat a “turn away gays” law in Arizona. His advocacy and courage is one reason that I am so proud to have his support. At last night’s fundraiser, George spoke about our shared childhood experience in internment camps, behind barbed wire fences, because of our Japanese-American ancestry. He also spoke about how for much of his life he faced a different kind of barbed wire fence: discriminatory laws with sharp barbs of prejudice and ignorance. I’ve spent my life fighting against these fences, and I need your help to continue this work.”

I had the great pleasure of being invited and attending that fundraiser in San Francisco to meet George Takei and his husband Brad.


It was really interesting to see Takei talk about his deep respect and support for Honda. Takei did mention about Honda’s opponent, including the Republican candidate, who supposedly has a lot of money from conservative backers, and a reference to Khanna, “However the opposite is true with him, he has a lot of money, but absoluted no experience in elected public service.” Takei went on to say that unfortunately money can play a big role in elections, but ultimately it is the voter who decides who will be elected.

In the most recent polling I had read back in February, (maybe there have been newer ones), Honda was still leading by a good margin:

“Honda leads Khanna by 45 percent to 26 percent in the all-party race, with Republican Vanila Singh leading Khanna with 29 percent support, according to the automated survey by Public Policy Polling. The poll was conducted for the liberal group Democracy for America, an organization founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) that is backing Honda in the race. The poll’s numbers, combined with California’s unusual primary system, paint a muddy picture of a race that’s grown more complicated with Singh’s recent entrance. The top two vote-getters in California’s all-party “jungle primary” advance to the general election. The San Jose-area district is heavily Democratic — President Obama took 72 percent there in 2012 — but the quarter of the population that are Republican may hold outsized sway in determining this race’s winner.”

It’ll be interesting to see if Honda continues to use Takei as a “celebrity” endorser or also adds other prominent Asian Americans to help support his re-election campaign.

Visit Asian America. Asian America is not just an identity or an idea, it’s a place as well. It is America, and certain parts of America distinctly embody the Asian American homeland. Join us as we highlight different Asian American destinations that you can add to your next travel itinerary.

The Chinese American Museum embodies the cultural and historical story of Americans of Chinese descent. It is a learning center active in research and preservation as well as a cultural hub.


425 N. Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

(The cross street is Arcadia)


Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 3pm.
Closed on Mondays and the following holidays:
Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day


Adults – $3.00
Seniors (60 and over) – $2.00
Students (with ID) – $2.00
Museum Members – Free
All exhibits are accessible for wheelchairs.


Lantern Festival, National Art Contest, book taks, research presentations, film screenings, etc.


Museum Front Desk: (213) 485-8567


The last time I blogged about current California State Senator Leland Yee was when he was running for the mayor of San Francisco about an SF Weekly unflattering profile of Yee, SKETCHY – Leland Yee Can’t Erase His Past. I’ve met and see Yee a few times in the past attending political events in San Francisco, and he definitely seemed like a guy who was sketchy – showing up late at events, schmoozing, then leaving early. Well, on Wednesday, Senator Yee was arrested as part of multi-site FBI raid:

Leland_Yee_arrested_KPIX“State Sen. Leland Yee was arrested on public corruption charges Wednesday after authorities said he solicited money from undercover FBI agents for his current campaign to be secretary of state, promising to use his role in Sacramento to help the federal moles in return for the cash. Yee, a Democrat who represents half of San Francisco and most of San Mateo County and made gun control a signature issue, participated in multiple explicit discussions with an undercover agents about facilitating a gun-trafficking deal in exchange for campaign donations, the FBI said. Yee was one of 26 people charged after a five-year racketeering, gun running, narcotics and money-laundering investigation that also targeted Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a notorious former San Francisco gangster, officials said, and Keith Jackson, a 49-year-old former San Francisco schoolboard member. Yee was charged in U.S. District Court with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms, as well as with participating in a scheme to defraud citizens of honest services. Efforts to reach his chief of staff were unsuccessful. A 137-page criminal complaint alleges that Yee took $10,000 in exchange for lobbying a state agency for a contract; $6,800 for honoring Chow’s Chinatown association with an official Senate proclamation; and $21,000 for introducing a donor pushing legislation to influential lawmakers.”

I recall chatting with a San Francisco elected official a long time ago about my thoughts on Leland Yee being a kind of sketchy, she responded by saying, “Yee *is* sketchy.” So it was no surprise to hear the news about him and his arrest. It’ll be interesting to see if Yee is convicted.

Yee isn’t the only California State Senator to have problems. Since the beginning of the year, there have been two other Democratic State Senators that have essentially taken a leave of absence due to some legal issues, causing California Democrats to lose a super majority (i.e. making California Republicans at the state house completely irrelevant if the Democrats vote as a block).

 Image courtesy of KPIX.

The Closing of America’s Largest LandfillGrowing up in Hacienda Heights, I knew we were right next to the Puente Hills Landfill. Little did I know it was the largest landfill in America. Hacienda Heights has one of the largest concentrations of Taiwanese descent Americans, and evidence of that can be pretty clearly seen in the fact that Hsi Lai Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the Western Hemisphere, affiliated with Taiwan-based Fo Guang Shan Monastery, is situated right here in this small, unassuming community.

Servicing the majority of the greater Los Angeles area, this landfill is actually a really cool recycling center, as featured in the video above, where they not only recycle tons of materials for the market but even burn trash to generate energy. Brilliant. They also sell materials to other countries, with trash being one of America’s largest exports. Guess who’s the biggest customer of American trash? That’s right. China.

There’s a bit of a global irony that one of the largest Asian American communities (Southern CA) produces trash that gets sold and shipped to China, feeding into its growth and economy, while at the same time immigrants from China, particularly wealthy ones, are flooding over here to swoop up all of our real estate and put their kids into our schools to become homegrown Americans. How’s that for recycling?

As covered in a recent NPR article, at the end of 2013, the landfill was officially closed. Like a lot of other landfills, this landfill may just turn into a park or a another American dream neighborhood full of half-a-million to a million dollar homes built atop forgotten trash, just like nearby Walnut City. And to complete the ironic circle of global village life, those homes will probably be all bought up by newly minted Chinese Americans flocking to America from China.

(Photo credit: Sthanlee B. Mirador/PRPP/FRFW)

(Photo credit: Sthanlee B. Mirador/PRPP/FRFW)

EDITORS NOTE: A similar article was first published at Examiner.com. This version has been published at 8Asians.com with permission. –Joz

By Peter Gonzaga

It was a night that Cesar Chavez supporters have been waiting for, the biopic “Cesar Chavez” directed by Diego Luna premiered at the TCL Chinese Theatre this week. The red carpet premiere was a historic moment for the UFW as UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta attended the event held at the TCL Chinese Theatre with the film’s stars walking the carpet including Michael Pena (Cesar Chavez), Rosario Dawson (Dolores Huerta), America Ferrera (Helen Chavez), Jacob Vargas (Richard Chavez) and Wes Bentley (Jerry Cohen).

Actor/director Diego Luna takes his biopic version chronicling the birth of the farm workers labor movement led by civil rights leader and labor organizer Cesar Chavez. His drive to bring fair wages for farm workers also rocked the core of his family. The film spotlights the non-violent Chavez as he fought prejudice and greed in the farmlands of America.

While the celebrities and their guests celebrated the epic film, a group of Filipinos including Filipino-American labor leader Larry Itliong’s son Johnny Itliong joined others in showing their disappointment of the depiction of Filipino labor leaders that stood side by side with Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Al Rojas and others as the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (led by Itliong) and National Farm Workers Association would merge to become known as the UFW.

According to an interview Johnny Itliong gave to broadcast journalist Steve Angeles of ABS-CBN after watching the film premiere, Itliong stated, “It’s an injustice to my father that he is not at that table (referring to pivotal scen in the movie) and that was everything that he fought for was to get the bargaining rights on that piece of paper and in the movie it shows him in the crowd as a spectator and that’s not right in my heart and I don’t think it’s right for our Filipino community to be a spectator to something that he was a major player in.”

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