8 Asians

MirReyesJulatonTwo time UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir had lost four matches in row, and his career clearly needed help. Inspiration for his resurgence would come from the unlikeliest of places, 125 pound boxing champion turned MMA fighter, Ana Julaton. How did a woman more than 100 pounds lighter than Mir help the heavyweight, a 262 pound man famous for breaking his opponents’ arms?

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Part 2 – Emily’s Story: Seeking Help in an Imperfect Mental Health System

By Emily Wu Truong

In honor of July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Guest Blogger Emily Wu Truong, who received a fellowship from the Entertainment Industries Council’s Mental Health Journalism Fellowship, created this three-part series on Asian American mental health. This is the second article of the three-part series about perfectionism and mental health. 

Growing up, I had no idea how to define myself or love myself. I had no concept of understanding my true worth as an individual because I was so critical of myself. I realized that I hardly ever complimented myself and always needed that external validation from others.  However, it was not until my breakdowns in July 2013, that I had breakthrough moments of epiphany, like a spiritual awakening of my true identity.

This awakening began two years ago after dealing with many frustrating circumstances.  I came to a place in my life where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I set myself on a mission to learn how to deactivate my emotional triggers. Once I made that decision, a mixture of painful repressed memories came rushing into my conscientiousness.  Emotionally, it was rather overwhelming that I would leave my brain feeling completely mentally exhausted.  These breakdowns then prompted me to seek initial help from the mental health system.

Without anyone to provide me with an orientation to the mental health system, trying to navigate the mental health system was extremely frustrating. 

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I met Aihui Ong, Founder & CEO of Love with Food (“Snack Smart. Do Good.”), a subscription box snack business at some Silicon Valley networking event probably back in 2011 when she was first starting her business. I’ve always had a fascination with Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew, so I’m always interested in meeting Singaporeans, and have kept in touch with Ong by bumping into her at various Silicon Valley events or seeing her on Facebook.

The other day, I saw Ong post on Facebook that while in New York City for a food show, she was on The Today Show being interviewed about her experience being an entrepreneur, telling her journey:

Today_Show_Love_with_Food_Aihui_Ong“In the second in a series of segments revealing the secrets of successful women, TODAY contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager spotlights entrepreneur Aihui Ong, who discovered a passion for food as she traveled the world following her divorce, and turned that love into a successful monthly subscription snack service.”

I recently saw Ong a few months ago when she had an office party and got to sample a few snacks. When you get a chance, check out https://lovewithfood.com and see if Love with Food is something for you – they offer “Home Box” subscriptions plans starting at $7.99/month and “Office Box” subscriptions starting at $249/month.

Seeing Ong start from nothing, to raising $2 million in funding and growing her business to over $5 million in revenue is great to see, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.




Part 1 – Emily’s Story: Living with Perfectionism & Depression

By Emily Wu Truong

In honor of July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Guest Blogger Emily Wu Truong, who received a fellowship from the Entertainment Industries Council’s Mental Health Journalism Fellowship, created this three-part series on Asian American mental health. This is the first article of the three-part series about perfectionism and mental health. 

I used to believe that perfectionism was real. Because straight A’s were expected of me, I thought perfection was supposed to be the norm. Growing up, my parents would talk about how they attended National Taiwan University, which was considered the Harvard of Taiwan. They were always at the top of their classes, and indirectly, that led me to believe that “I need to make them proud by doing the same.” I thought I was living in a world where adults were to be perfect, and if I couldn’t measure up, I would have nothing to contribute to society. However, it was not until much later in life that I realized that I was shooting myself in the foot by setting up unrealistic expectations for myself.

While doing some research on perfectionism and its relation to mental health, I found a UCLA research study by Jaimin Yoon and Anna S. Lau on the topic of Maladaptive Perfectionism and Depressive Symptoms Among Asian American College Students: Contributions of Interdependence and Parental Relations. Yoon & Lau stated that “Perfectionism is commonly thought of as a trait that motivates individuals to strive toward important goals and foster excellence. However, a growing literature highlights aspects of perfectionism are linked to negative psychological outcomes, including low self-esteem, depression, and suicidality.” Being able to find research that could validate my personal experiences was eye-opening.

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I’m writing this on the day of my 30th High School Reunion. No, I’m not traveling the 3000 miles it would take to go there and be at the party tonight. So let me start by saying this isn’t going to be some happy ending story where the main character (loser, gay, nerd) goes to his high school reunion and finds out he’s the successful, happy, and well-liked person he never was in high school. Hollywood happy endings like that don’t happen in real life. Well, there is a happy ending, but you’ll have to get to the end of the story to hear what it is.

First let’s go back 30 years and see who I was in high school and what being at my high school in the early 80s was like. My high school was similar to the ones in Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink, (all 80s high school films) but only even more so if you can imagine it. Stereotypes on steroids. I say that because I attended at the time, the largest suburban high school in the United States (at least according to U.S. News and World Report). When you have almost 1500 students in your graduating class all under one roof, there’s going to be hyper-segregation. The jocks really only hung out with the jocks, the populars with the populars, etc.
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Traveling Japan: Kaiseki



I’ve got no patience for food preparation. For me, when it comes to cooking, the simpler, the better. I’m not a picky eater either, and though I enjoy delicious food, I wouldn’t really call myself a foodie. So when I read about Kyoto’s kaiseki specialities, I was not really interested. That is, until I tried some.


Kaiseki is a multi-course traditional Japanese meal supposedly derived from the tea ceremony and buddhist tradition. There’s an emphasis on detail in food preparation, presentation, and overall dining experience. Elements of the ephemeral and imperfect nature of the world are incorporated, and local and seasonal ingredients set the parameters of the meal.

Not all the meals that I considered “kaiseki” are really pure kaiseki, and they weren’t all in Kyoto specifically, but although I’ve had Japanese food my entire life, it really just struck me on this trip and my culinary experiences this time that made me realize there was a certain tradition of attention to detail found in a lot of Japanese food preparation, from expensive high class cuisine to the most detailed and artistic bento creations made for kids to take to school. As I’ve read up a bit on kaiseki, I began to understand the elements of kaiseki that seem to appeal to me.

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WHIAAPI: Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling


I’ve blogged about the “bamboo ceiling” before, so it’s interesting to see that recently, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had a panel discussion for their AAPI Youth Forum with the topic of: “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling”

The panel featured:

Given the recent highlighting of the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley (which often practices “mirrortocracy” rather than meritocracy), the bamboo ceiling is especially topical. Although Asian Americans and Asians make comprises of approximately 50% of the workforce in Silicon Valley, how many are in senior management roles, either in a business or technical capacity? I’m pretty certain not representative of the population.

The panelists discussed their career paths, and the discussion seemed to be more about not following the “model minority” career path of being a doctor, lawyer, engineer or some other “traditional” career and instead going into public service. But then, the panelists did start addressing questions as well as providing advice as to how to break the bamboo ceiling, like speaking up more, etc.

hae min lee Recently a friend of mine recommended Serial Podcast to me. The first season of Serial aired last fall 2014 and ended up one of the most popular podcasts in America. The series investigates a murder of a young teenage girl back in 1999 Baltimore, Maryland, and her ex-boyfriend was charged and found guilty of her murder, sentenced to life.

I knew the premise of the story when I started listening to it, but it wasn’t until I completely finished the first episode that I realized that in this wildly popular real-life murder mystery series, the murdered teenage girl and her convicted ex-boyfriend were actually both Americans of Asian descent.

Hae Min Lee was a popular senior girl at Woodlawn High School, part of the lacrosse team, manager of the wrestling team, and a top student at the school’s magnet program. As you can probably guess from her name, she is of Korean descent, likely second generation as her mother speaks little to no English. When she didn’t show up to pick up her little cousin from school one Friday afternoon, the search was on for her as a missing person, and sadly, her body was found six weeks later at a park in a shallow grave.

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As I’ve blogged before, Asian Americans vote at a lower rate than almost any other demographic group, and this especially is the case in California – the state with the largest Asian American population (though Hawaii has the highest overall percentage). In non-presidential years and off-year elections, voter participation rates are extremely low. In 2014, there were no state-wide race or major ballot initiatives that I could think of, so this was not too surprising to learn:

“A major reason for California’s record-low voter turnout last year was the extremely low rate of voting by the state’s two fastest-growing ethnic groups, a new analysis by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change reveals. … While just 41.7 percent of the state’s registered voters cast ballots last November, the rates of voting by Latinos (27.5 percent) and Asian Americans (36.3 percent) were markedly lower than those of whites and blacks, a combined 47.3 percent. … Asian Americans, with 13.3 percent of the state’s population, cast just 7.4 percent of the votes, the study found. … Overall, 30.8 percent of eligible Californians voted, but it was just 17.3 percent of eligible Latinos and 18.4 percent of Asian-Americans, contrasted with 39.6 percent of whites and blacks combined.”


So that is sad that only 18.4 percent of eligible Californian Asian Americans voted (to be eligible, you obviously need to be a citizen, 18 or older as well as registered to vote (which takes the tiny effort of filling out form)). Model Minority my ass! (LOL …)


Californian Asian American voter registration rates compared to Californians overall as well as other demographic groups:


The party affiliation data didn’t surprise me too much:

Asian Americans tend to lean Democratic or NPP (No Party Preference), i.e. unaffiliated. California being fairly liberal relative to other states, it’s no surprise that unaffiliated Asian Americans often vote for Democratic candidates – but that is not an automatic, and the California Democratic Party definitely should not take Asian Americans for granted.

When MTV put out a casting call looking for white people to talk about things like “do you think some people treat you unfairly because you’re white,” initial scorn was replaced by interest when the maker of the documentary was revealed to be Jose Antonio VargasMTV has recently announced the premiere of  Vargas’s documentary called White People.

I have included a few other clips available before the documentary airs.  One shows the viewpoints about white people from Native American students.  I didn’t know what “wasi’chu” meant before that video.  Another is discussion on the confederate flag.

Reactions to the trailers have been mixed, some people applauding, some saying “no news here” to some calling it “white shaming.”  The trailers have reportedly generated a lot of anger, controversy, and debate which some suggest was the intent.

White people debuts at 8 PM Eastern/7 Central on July 22, both on MTV and online.  After that, it should be available on iTunes and Amazon.  Vargas’s Define American organization will continue to explore racial issues and identify.

(h/t Dino-Ray)

Traveling Japan: Kyoto Train Station



I have been waiting to get to this part of my trip for a long time because I really enjoyed visiting the city of Kyoto for a lot of different reasons. But first, let’s start with Kyoto Train Station, which is a destination by itself.

The first time I visited Kyoto was back in December 1998, and my mom was our private tour guide. We had been visiting temple upon temple in Japan for over a week. My brother and I, being young and restless, were sick of temples and decided we wanted to explore on our own. So my mom gave in and let us just go wander on our own, and we ended up around Kyoto Station exploring an arcade, and that’s when we discovered the game Dance Dance Revolution before Americans had even heard of the game. Seeing as the first release of this game was on November 21, 1998, we basically played it a month after its first release in Japan.

What caught our eye was someone who was dancing and spinning and stepping on this arcade game, something like this:

Intrigued, we found our own machine and started playing it. We spent $40 USD, failed every time we tried, and loved every moment of it.


Fast forward to 2014/2015, and Kyoto Station looks pretty different 17 years later. However, the features that I totally remembered were still there–the glass roof and ceiling and the series of escalators at the main entrance that basically took you all the way to the top and back.

Time for stairs. #kyotostation #kyoto #stairs

A photo posted by Carlomus Prime (@carlomusprime) on

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I had blogged before about PG&E before for 8Asians’ Asian American Commercial Watch – most recently in March 2014. Recently, I saw this new PG&E television commercial:

AACW_PGE_Eddie“Eddie is a gas service representative who lives and works in San Francisco. Learn how he is committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to the local community. (This communication paid for by PG&E shareholders.)”

I’m always fascinated how companies like PG&E and others try to improve their overall corporate image, despite some of their misdeeds. Most recently, PG&E was caught up in some controversy when the company wanted to have their $1.6 billion penalty for the San Brun, California gas pipeline explosion be a tax deduction expense. Although I guess technically, a penalty is an expense, but I don’t think the spirit of the settlement is reflected in the tax law, thus the California state legislature is looking to close that loophole. As a reminder, that gas pipeline explosion happened back in September 2010, killing 8 people, and destroying 35 homes and damaging many more.

But like I’ve blogged before, I am sure Eddie does want a safe PG&E since he lives in the Bay Area!