On May 9th, history was made as the Chinese Railroad Workers were inducted into the U.S. Labor Hall of Honor. You can view the entire ceremony on the Department of Labor’s YouTube channel. If you don’t happen to know:
“But too often lost in discussions of this awe-inspiring achievement is the contribution of the approximately 12,000 Chinese laborers who took on the grueling task of completing the western section of the track. It was backbreaking, dangerous work. Many of these workers died from the harsh winters and brutal conditions. They laid tracks on terrain that rose 7,000 feet in less than 100 miles, chipped away at the granite and planted explosives that were used to blast tunnels through the treacherous Sierra Nevada Mountains.”
the first transcontinental railroad was built with the help of Chinese laborers, which has often been forgotten and erased from history at Promontory Point , as I had blogged about previously.
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General Eric Shinseki has just resigned as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. (For the full Obama press conference, click here for the C-SPAN video). If you haven’t been following the news lately, there has been a lot of controversy of veterans getting the appointments they’ve needed:
“Eric Shinseki resigned as secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department Friday after meeting face-to-face with President Obama about mounting evidence of widespread misconduct and mismanagement at the agency’s vast network of medical facilities. … A preliminary report released Wednesday by the department’s inspector general corroborated many of the most disturbing accusations and offered a grim portrait of widespread mismanagement at the medical center in Phoenix. The report said investigators were finding similar problems at other veterans hospitals around the country.”
When President Obama took office, in his first term, he had a record three Asian American cabinet secretaries: Gary Locke as Secretary of Commerce, Dr. Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy, and General Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs (and Chris Lu was the cabinet secretary). Most cabinet secretaries don’t last more than one term, and Shinseki was one of the few to have lasted more than one term.
Obviously, this “scandal” is not the best way to depart an administration. However, the manage a huge bureaucracy like the Department of Veterans Affairs – with over 280,000 employees with a 2014 budget of $150+ billion dollars – is not easy. The on-going wars of Iraq and Afghanistan that Obama inherited certainly exacerbated the issue of serving the increasing number of injured veterans that needed to car for. After the jump, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart gives a nice summary of the issues veterans have faced in both the Bush and Obama administration.
General Eric Shinseki had a distinguished career, and I most admired him as when he was Army Chief of Staff speaking truth to power regarding his pre-war concerns about invading Iraq, publicly stating that the U.S. would need several hundred thousand soldiers to maintain stability for postwar a Iraq. Unfortunately, Shinseki did not do a full press court on countering the prevailing image that he and his department were not putting in 110% effort to investigate and correct any issues uncovered. And in politics as well as in life, perception is reality.
The issues with the Department of Veteran Affairs are directly being compared to Obama’s handling of the launch of the Obamacare website last fall – a lack of focus on execution once the policy has been put in place. Whatever the reality is and whoever’s fault these issues have been, the American people do want to know that their tax dollars are being put to good use and used as efficiently as possible. So it’s no surprise that Shinseki is the “fall guy.” Being a cabinet secretary for too long can be professionally dangerous, and it’s too bad that Shinseki himself didn’t decide to retire on better terms after Obama’s first term ended.
The theme of “Indian kids as spelling bee champions” seems to have a higher profile lately, especially with the recent movie Bad Words. This Toyota commercial includes an Indian kid showing off his spelling talents. The father is apparently played by a Hispanic guy (no data on the mom). The family is ambiguously ethnic and can pass for Indian or Hispanic. I wonder if we will see more of that kind of casting, where Hispanics can play Indians and vice versa.
Mayor Mark Breceda of Irwindale is stating that the city has dropped the lawsuit against Sriracha after meeting with owner David Tran and two representatives from California’s Governor Jerry Brown and touring the plant. They will be revisiting the situation once chilli grinding season starts in midsummer.
Personally, the lady complaining about the garlic smell makes me wonder–I would love to wake up to the delicious smell of garlic every morning. Then again, I know “aroma” and “stench” are relative words. I once stunk up the school teacher’s lounge by heating up my stuffed salmon lunch, and half of the teachers loved the “delicious” smell, while others pinched their noses an gagged at the “fishy” stench. Glad to see everyone’s trying their best to get along.
Almost everyone’s heard of the glass ceiling, the inability of women and minorities to get promoted to higher levels of the executive ranks due to discrimination. What most probably haven’t heard about is the new “glass cliff”. NPR discussed it this week in reference to Jill Abramson’s firing from the position of editor of the New York Times. The idea behind the glass cliff is that women and minorities are only promoted to the executive ranks of companies that are in trouble or having difficulties. The end result of being the executive of a company that’s in transition is that the executive is more likely to fail and to be seen as a failure, thereby perpetuating the myth that women and minorities can’t be a successful executive. In other words women and minorities are pushed off the glass cliff.
The theory behind the glass cliff was recently tested by Professor Christy Glass and Alison Cook from Utah State University. They looked at two specific market segments, NCAA sports franchises and Fortune 500 companies. In their study they found that minority coaches were much more likely to be promoted to losing teams, and in the Fortune 500 women and minorities more likely to be promoted to CEO of failing firms.
The reason behind the glass cliff though isn’t so obvious. It might be easy to immediately assume the worst, and blame discrimination, but there may be other factors at play here. Struggling firms and sports franchises might be need a radical change to change their fortunes and might view putting a woman or minority in charge as the radical change and a non-traditional direction. There’s also other theories that perhaps white men tend to turn down failing firms, believing they have more options with successful firms, opening up the position to women and minorities. And finally there’s a theory that women are seen as more “soothing” and better able to bring calm to an organization in turmoil.
In any case, the evidence is growing that women and minorities only get a chance at the top seat when there’s a problem with the company or franchise. The good news is that they get a chance. The bad news is that it’s also more likely for them to fail in an organization that’s already failing, adding to the myth that women and minorities aren’t suited for the executive office.
This piece was originally published at SFGate and is republished on 8Asians.com with permission.
By Emil Guillermo
Getting his university degree was the most important goal in my cousin Stephen Guillermo’s short life. But on May 3, he earned a death certificate instead.
On that day, Guillermo, 26, was shot and killed when he got off the elevator on the wrong floor of his San Francisco apartment building and entered an apartment identical to his own but two floors below.
The shooter, resident Amisi Sudi Kachepa, 68, a retired security guard, was arrested on suspicion of murder. By the following Tuesday, the San Francisco district attorney had released the suspect, pending further investigation.
In a “shoot first, ask questions later” world, gun laws favor the mistaken shooter, not the mistaken victim.
California law is based on the “castle doctrine,” the idea that one’s home is one’s castle. Florida’s “stand your ground law” is an extension of this idea. The doctrine justifies use of deadly force on an intruder if one is in imminent danger. Self-defense? More like a license to kill.
Was Guillermo a threat? If inebriated, he was no worse than any typical college student after a Friday-night frat party. Guillermo was smallish, almost childlike. Alcohol would have made him even less imposing than he was.
This was no break-in. There was no structural damage to the door. The doorknob was broken, but a dead bolt at eye level showed no sign of damage and had to be opened from the inside.
Guillermo was likely let in – to be shot. The shooter was in control of the situation. Guillermo was unarmed, and half the size of his shooter.
Now he’s dead, and his killer is free.
The castle doctrine makes the case challenging, but the district attorney has said the presumption that the shooter was in danger is rebuttable.
Guillermo was laid to rest last week in his Lincecum jersey just days after the San Francisco Giants honored him on Filipino Heritage Night. The AT&T Park scoreboard lit up like a tombstone for him. It read: “Stephen Guillermo, 1987-2014, American Filipino, Giants fan, taken too soon.”
I could add: proud San Francisco State University graduate.
Guillermo was 19 when his father died of cancer. His inheritance was the family debt. He worked two jobs to support his family, act as a father to his younger siblings, and go to school.
The degree was supposed to help lift them all out of the small apartment they had lived in for 18 years since they emigrated from the Philippines. Guillermo wanted a diplomatic career as a ticket to see the world. Now he has a better vantage point.
The university will award him his degree posthumously in a special ceremony in June. It’s a reminder that his life’s efforts were not in vain.
The family hopes justice isn’t just academic. Now it’s time for Gascón to muster the political will to prosecute the case. It’s time for a San Francisco jury to decide what the consequences should be for shooters who make a deadly mistake.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emil Guillermo, is an award-winning journalist who was the first Asian American to regularly host a national radio show (NPR’s “All Things Considered,” 1989-1991). His “Amok” column was considered the most read column on Asian America when it ran for 14 years in the now defunct, Asian Week. His column is now on the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund blog; and on his own site at http://www.amok.com. He is based in California. His book, “Amok: Essays from an Asian American Perspective,” won an American Book Award in 2000.
While I had read that misogyny and a sense of entitlement were motivations of Elliot Rodger, the man who killed six people and then himself near Santa Barbara, I didn’t realize that anti-Asian hate was another one until I saw this post from the BigWOWO. Rodger stabbed three Asians, two of whom were his roommates. His mother was Asian, but he seemed to despise full-blooded Asians, especially when he saw Asian males were talking to white females. In a way, this case seems to be one of life imitating art. The LA Times has highlighted excerpts from his manifesto that applies to his hate.
ISLA VISTA, Calif. (KGO) — Authorities have identified the three men found fatally stabbed in the apartment of Elliot Rodger, who police say fatally shot three others in a killing spree that ended with his suicide.
The Santa Barbara sheriff’s office said Sunday that the stabbing victims were 20-year-old Cheng Yuan Hong and 19-year-old George Chen – both from San Jose – and 20-year-old Weihan “David” Wang of Fremont.
The three UC Santa Barbara students were the first killed in Friday night’s rampage.
ABC7 News reporter Lilian Kim spoke with friends of Wang. They say he graduated from Fremont Christian School and was a sophomore at UCSB, majoring in engineering. [full story]
The Yeh Liu Geo Park is basically nature’s sea-erosion sculpture gallery where visitors can witness the strange and sometimes strikingly beautiful shapes that have been carved out of the rock by centuries of ocean waves. My grandparents had taken me here a couple decades ago, but back then, the park was just a parking lot next to the rock formations. Now, it is a fully developed national park tourist destination. An unexpected bonus for me was the gorgeous ocean-side hike at the park. Good thing I had my hiking boots on.
An Asian guy rarely gets the girl in a TV commercial, but two of them each getting a girl? And in the same commercial? And the girls are white too? Not your typical TV commercial, but although I should add that I am not tempted to eat this product.
As you may know, the month of May is designated as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. With that, The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders kicked off the month on May 6th, hosted by the U.S. Department of the Interior hosted the AAPI Heritage Month Opening Ceremony:
“We were honored to be joined by Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke about the importance of the growing AAPI demographic, and the pressing need for immigration reform. As Congressman Mike Honda, Chair Emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of CAPAC, remarked, the Vice President has been one of the biggest advocates for the AAPI community. We were also honored to be joined by Rhea Suh, the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Chris Lu, the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department Labor, and a former chair of the Initiative. To watch the video click here.”
— Miriam Nakamoto (@MiriamNakamoto) March 8, 2014
Last December 2013, female pro-MMA fighter and Muay Thai champion Miriam Nakamoto tore her ACL, a ligament in her knee, in her fight with Lauren Murphy for the inaugural Invicta FC Bantamweight champion belt. As a fan of hers, it’s great to see her recovering, and I do hope I have another Nakamoto fight to look forward to as soon as possible. Recovering from this type of injury typically takes about a year, so it’s going to be quite a wait, but it will indeed be a fight worth waiting for. Healing is quite the painstaking process, so all the effort she puts in to getting back into the ring is such a source of inspiration.
— Miriam Nakamoto (@MiriamNakamoto) January 13, 2014