8 Asians

Scarlett Lin Gomez

Scarlett Lin Gomez

A new study from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC), with Scarlett Lin Gomez as the lead researcher of the study, is showing an increase of breast cancer in Asian American women.  This is particularly troubling because the rate among other racial groups has stabilized.

The study looked at women in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, from 1988 to 2013, and included women from different Asian American backgrounds, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, South Asian, Vietnamese, and Southeast Asian and compared it with results from non-Hispanic white women.

The rate of cancer has been growing fastest in South Asian (Indian and Pakistani), Vietnamese, and Southeast Asian (Cambodian, Laotian, Hmong and Thai) women.  The common thread among these women seems to be that they are among the more newly immigrated to the U.S. (and those that are newly introduced to American diets/environment/etc).

A recent NBC News article on this topic talks about how one doctor told his patient that Asian American women didn’t get breast cancer.  But of course, Asian American women do get breast cancer and in ever increasing rates.  The woman’s sister Mai-Nhung Le, a professor at San Francisco State University, studied the needs of Asian American women and found that Asian American women reported more “unmet daily physical needs”, such as needing help with cooking, housework, and transportation. Le also noted the significance of the CPIC findings that indicated Vietnamese and Southeast Asian women are more likely to have breast cancer before age 50.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer back when she was about 50 years old, but it almost didn’t happen.  She went in for a mammogram, which apparently the normal image would not have caught her breast cancer. Since her lump was so far off to the side, it presented as pain under her arm.  It was only because she mentioned her under arm pain to the mammography technician that he took a separate side image that caught the image of the lump in her breast tissue.

At the time she was lucky in that they diagnosed my mother as stage 1, and she received a double mastectomy along with many rounds of chemotherapy, and couple of years later was declared cancer free.  Fast forward 15 years later, and her cancer returned, metastasized and incurable.  She passed away a few years later.  I’m grateful for the many years we got to have my mom because of the early diagnosis, but I’m still mad that we don’t have a cure yet, and we had to lose her, too soon to see her own grandchildren grow up.

If you’re an Asian American woman, make sure you understand the warning signs and that you get your mammogram.  Don’t let a doctor tell you that Asian American women don’t get breast cancer.

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Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 22: “This Is Us”
Original airdate May 9, 2017.

Microsynopsis:  Michael Bolton offers to buy Louis’s restaurant.  It’s tempting because it would allow the Huangs to buy their home, but since it’s not part of the Louis-and-Jessica “life plan,” Louis rejects the proposal.  Jessica tries to get Evan admitted to St. Orlando’s, the city’s most selective private school (where Dr. Johnny Fever is headmaster).  Eddie and his friends celebrate their graduation from eighth grade but when a silly videotape they’ve made of their ceremony gets into an older step-sibling’s hands, they’re worried that they’ll begin high school as losers.

Good:  A lot really depends on how things play out in the second part of this season finale next week, but so far I kind of like some new character growth stuff, such as Evan’s possible move to a private school, Louis’s becoming a business partner with Michael Bolton (another stupid cameo, but one that doesn’t irk me for some reason), and Eddie moving into high school.  The return of Eddie’s pimp-walk.  Good soundtrack flashbacks.

Bad:  I want the MythBusters to come out of retirement and either confirm or bust the TV myth that you can throw a rock through a typical bedroom window without shattering the entire pane of glass.  While I like the idea of Evan’s applying to get into a private school, and while it makes sense for Jessica to want this for her child too, I’d like to see some of the subversion that courses through the veins of this show.  Here’s hoping Evan gets in and then the Huangs give the whole school a big middle finger and decline his acceptance.

FOB moment:  “We’re doing it, Jessica.  We’re living the American dream.  Just like — the landlord!  Hide your grandmother!”

Soundtrack flashback:  “Step Into a World (Rapture’s Delight)” by KRS-One (1997).  “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” (1990).  “Mo Money Mo Problems” by the Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Mase (1997).

Final grade, this episode:  Joz says “not enough Emery.”  I say not enough Honey, Alison, or Nicole, although I’m grateful for a double dose of Deidre.  You know what would be great?  You know how some shows have a consistent gimmick in their episode titles?  What if Fresh Off the Boat for the remainder of its run (if this isn’t the remainder of its run) named all its episodes after existing TV shows, like this one?  I’m totally going to rename every episode this season this way and offer the list in next week’s review.  Tempted to give this one a C, but it is really part one of a two-parter, even if the episode’s not designated a two-parter.  Next week’s episode, “This Is Not Us,” is the conclusion. Incomplete.

This being May, it’s not a surprise to see a lot of events and activities commemorating Asian Pacific American Heritage month, including most recently, the Rally for Inclusion: 135th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act in San Francisco.

On Monday, May 8th, Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) authored House Resolution 31, which declares May 10, 2017 as California Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Day, in honor of the nearly 12,000 Chinese railroad workers who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. From the actual text of the bill:

“The 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad will take place on May 10, 2019 … That the Assembly recognizes and honors the Chinese railroad workers who labored from 1865 to 1869 to build the Transcontinental Railroad by designating May 10, 2017, and each May 10 thereafter, as California Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Day.”

I had blogged about the 145th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, where the Chinese railroad workers were essentially Photoshopped out of history.

The original photo commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 did not include Chinese laborers.

It’s terrific to see a 4th generation Chinese American bring up a bill to recognize the work of over 12,000 Chinese railroad workers who were essentially to connecting the nation from East to West via rail.

I’ve been a member of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco since before their move to the old public library in SF.  It’s been a membership I’ve enjoyed greatly, and something that I happily share with my daughter.  She’s now 11, and getting to be a bit old for this latest book review, “Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum” by Sue DiCicco.  This book is probably best suited for kids ages 3 to 10.

The book walks through 53 exhibits that a child might see in a visit of the Asian Art Museum (which houses over 18,000 artifacts) and would make a great companion piece for a child’s first visit.  The collection of art described by the book covers a wide range of countries, including China, Japan, Korea, India, and more.

The book also includes more a little more detail on each of the featured pieces of art at the beginning and end of the book, so the more curious children (or even adults) can find out the date, size (important because many of the pieces are not drawn to scale in the book), description, location and name of the actual piece.

The inclusion of the “Ritual vessel in the shape of a rhinoceros” is a nice touch, since it ties in nicely with the Asian Art Museum’s own “Rhino Club“, an additional optional membership for members’ kids to get invited to special events and programs just for children.

Even if you’re not planning on visiting the Asian Art Museum in SF, and instead are planning a visit to say the Asian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, this book will give a first time child visitor a nice glimpse of what to expect and how to use their imagination when they see a piece of art at the museum.

This past Saturday, May 6th marked the 135th anniversary of the signing of the Chinese Exclusion Act:

“The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. The act followed the Angell Treaty of 1880, a set of revisions to the US–China Burlingame Treaty of 1868 that allowed the US to suspend Chinese immigration. The act was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed in 1892 with the Geary Act and made permanent in 1902. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law implemented to prevent a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States. It was repealed by the Magnuson Act on December 17, 1943.”

No More Exclusion! (a coalition of community organizations and individuals united to affirm our shared values for inclusion, justice, community safety and keeping our families together) organized a “Rally for Inclusion: 135th Anniversary of Chinese Exclusion” in Chinatown in San Francisco on the anniversary event – as a reminder that history can often repeat itself:

“Experts point to the parallels between the political climate of the exclusion era and today: a close and contentious presidential election that stirred anti-immigrant sentiment; the growing economic anxiety of white Americans; and policies that would drastically shape the country’s immigration laws.”

This is especially true with the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. It was heartening to see the turnout and protest signs in solidarity with other more recent immigrant groups. Chinese Americans, especially in the San Francisco area, are the oldest Asian American ethnic group to have settled in the United States – and were the first to face discrimination.

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This May, for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), WORLD Channel’s award-winning series, AMERICA REFRAMED partners with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC) to celebrate the voices of Asian Pacific Americans with a selection of original and compelling documentary films that spotlight the identity and diverse stories of this community. On the Wednesday immediately following the TV premiere, films will be available online for FREE viewing across the U.S. via www.americareframed.org for 3 months.

For 29-year-old filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi, growing up half-Japanese American in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, was a difficult experience. His inability to blend in with the predominantly White population of his surroundings translated into his own personal struggles with race, and in America ReFramed: Good Luck Soup audiences join Matthew on a journey to discover how Japanese heritage influenced the lives of his Japanese American family members; before, during and after World War II.

When he was six-years-old, Dinesh Sabu’s parents died. Raised by his siblings, he had little idea who his parents were or where he came from. Now as an adult with a burning curiosity, Dinesh sets out on a journey across the United States and India to piece together their story. Uncovering a silenced family history of mental illness, Dinesh confronts the legacy of having a schizophrenic mother who died by suicide, the reality of growing up an orphaned immigrant, and the trauma of these events in America ReFramed: Unbroken Glass.

Arrested at 16 and tried as an adult for kidnapping and robbery, Eddy Zheng served over 20 years in California prisons and jails. America ReFramed: Breathin’ – The Eddy Zheng Story paints an intimate portrait of Eddy-the prisoner, the immigrant, the son, the activist-on his journey to freedom, rehabilitation and redemption.

Audiences are invited to learn more about this community through the #MyAPALife social conversation on WORLD Channel’s Facebook and Twitter, in partnership with American Documentary, PBS, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC). WORLD and American Documentary will be hosting a live digital conversation between Asian Pacific American filmmakers from America ReFramed in May.


AMERICA REFRAMED is a co-production of the WORLD Channel and American Documentary, Inc.

AMERICA REFRAMED curates a diverse selection of films highlighting innovative and artistic approaches to storytelling from emerging and veteran filmmakers alike. Viewers will be immersed in personal stories from the streets of towns big and small to the exurbs and country roads that span the spectrum of American life. The documentaries invite audiences to reflect on topics as varied as culture, healthcare, politics, gun violence, religion and more.

An award-winning documentary series, AMERICA REFRAMED is the recipient of a Christopher, a GRACIE, and several Telly and Cine Golden Eagle Awards, as well as nominations for an EMMY, Independent Documentary Association, and Imagen Award.

Executive Producers: Justine Nagan, Chris Hastings, Chris White
Series Producer: Carmen L. Vicencio

Back in March of this year, I had blogged about Seattle’s 3rd Din Tai Fung restaurant opening in downtown Seattle. Well, the 4th one is now open at Westfield Southcenter, as described here:

“The long-awaited arrival of Din Tai Fung’s Southcenter outpost came to an end on Friday at 6 p.m., when the ribbon was cut on the fourth Seattle-area restaurant for the international dumpling chain.

Din Tai Fung originated in Taiwan and has expanded its dumpling empire to 11 other countries including the United States. The company’s third location opened at Pacific Place last month, on level four of the shopping center. There are also restaurants in Bellevue and at University Village.

Din Tai Fung consistently draws long lines for its xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. Other popular menu items include pot stickers, wontons, fried rice, soups, and fried noodles.”

Personally, I have only been to the Din Tai Fung at Bellevue in Seattle and have yet to visit the one in the Bay Area (but that one is now no longer requiring reservations!)

Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 21: “Pie vs. Cake”
Original airdate May 2, 2017.

Microsynopsis:  Evan learns that his school has a debate team, and the prospect of “extra homework” combined with impressing his mother are enough to get him excited about joining.  When he emerges as (seemingly) a better arguer than Jessica, their relationship is tested, and Jessica goes through another identity crisis.  Eddie and Emery stop talking to one another when an agreement to work together on a comic book contest turns contentious.

Good:  A couple of little moments made me smile on repeat viewings.  Louis’s physical discomfort when Jessica mentions that time he put on “all that water weight” is hilarious, and the kind of intimidating way Grandma moves her electric wheelchair around, especially when she lectures Eddie about making things right with Evan, is strangely expressive.  The debate coach isn’t portrayed as a cartoonish idiot, the way teachers always are on this program, which makes me wonder if he isn’t instead a volunteer, rather than a member of the faculty.  The silly comic book story in the tag is almost funny enough to make the so-so story worth it.  It’s strong, but it can’t make up for the blah-ness of the story.

Bad:  This is clearly one of those sorta rare sitcom episodes where the B plot will be remembered while the A plot fades away.  The Jessica-Evan story is alternately a drag and kind of lame.  The Eddie-Emery story really plays thoughtfully with their characters (Lazy Boy and Nice Man?  Funny!  And very cute).

FOB moment:  It’s a bit of a reach, but Grandma’s “You need to make thing right with your brother.  This won’t be the first or last time you need each other” speech reminds me of a lot of Asian films I can’t name specifically, and it’s a nice callback to the Louis-Gene feud from the end of last season and the beginning of this one.

Soundtrack flashback:  “The Longest Time” by Billy Joel (1983, sung by Louis).  “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston (1986, spoken by Jessica).

Final grade, this episode: That TV Guide Grandma is reading, with the Married…with Children cast on the cover, is from July 29, 1989.  Grandma’s reading it eight years past its publication.  Not unheard of, but strange.  B-minus.

8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of this film at the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). As a reader of 8Asians, please enjoy a discount to this film using the code: 8AZN17. Or the code CGVBP17 for $4 off General Admission tickets to all Buena Park screenings!

May 2, 2017 at 9:30 PM (Downtown Independent)
May 10, 2017 at 6:30 pm (CGV Buena Park)

King of Peking 京城之王
Directed by Sam Voutas

International Competition, LAAPFF Best of the Fest in OC / Australia, China, USA / 2017 / 88 mins / Mandarin with English subtitles / Color / 16:9, D-Cinema / West Coast Premiere

Sam Voutas and Producer Melanie Ansley in attendance!

“A heartwarming story about movie piracy,” just doesn’t gel well at a film festival where the theatrical experience is the enterprise’s bread and butter. Yet in the case of Sam Voutas’s sophomore directorial feature KING OF PEKING, this tagline fits the story to a tee. Set in late ‘90s China, KING OF PEKING evokes CINEMA PARADISO in its depiction of a country at the cusp of a socio-cultural explosion into a new century of economic prosperity.

Big Wong and Little Wong are a close-knit father-son duo. They travel around in a mobile cinema projecting Hollywood movies for local villagers. When Big Wong’s ex-wife demands he start paying child support, he realizes he may lose custody of his son. In order to raise enough money to stay together, Big Wong takes up a job as a janitor in an old Beijing movie theater. Happening upon an old DVD recorder at a pawnshop, he hatches a plan to raise money to pay for child support and retain custody of Little Wong. Setting up shop in the basement of the theater, Big Wong secretly records movies after hours and the result is the birth of a nascent bootleg DVD empire. At first, Little Wong has a good head for this business, which they name ‘King of Peking.’ But as business booms, Little Wong soon develops a crisis of conscience over the moral and ethical implications of this scheme. Big Wong sees his son’s torment and senses that he may be losing his trust.

Like his first film RED LIGHT REVOLUTON (Festival 2011), director Voutas’ stories capture working-class heroes trying to buck the system, infusing them with inherently Chinese nuances (thanks in part to his many years living and working in China, along with his producer and partner Melanie Ainsley). KING OF PEKING is an ode to cinema that eschews the sappy histrionics often associated with the magic and inspiration of the movies. This gritty take on a movie pirate’s desperate attempt to keep his son brims with inflections of Hollywood movie plots and characters that permeate into their everyday lives. It is an endearing love letter to cinema, but one populated by pedicab drivers, factory workers, fathers and sons.

— Anderson Le