Some People Just Don’t get Pixar’s Bao

I wrote a review about how I really liked the Pixar Short Bao that appears with The Incredibles 2, but apparently not everyone one likes as much as I did or even gets it.  A number of articles (some spoilers) like this one, this one, and this one, mention how some non-Asian Americans just don’t get it.  Some were confused or even laughed.  Leaving in the Asian American bubble where I live, I initially thought “WTF!” but on further thought, I realized I shouldn’t have been surprised.

One niece of mine said she was bawling at the end, and the Daughter said she was about to cry.  I think if you have never faced the tension of having to deal with conflicting cultures in your household tearing at you in different directions, its much easier to not understand.  I first saw Bao at Pixar, and I don’t recall any one really laughing at the points mentioned in the articles.  Then again, there were a lot of Asians Americans there and also a lot of people who knew about Bao since many of them helped make it.  When I saw it with The Wife in a commercial theatre with a mostly non-Asian audience, there definitely were some annoying laughs.

I still think Bao has some universal themes such as the tension between generations, but other parts resonate strongly with many Asian Americans.   I did find it sad that many people just didn’t get it, but again, as I mentioned, I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

(h/t:  Mike)

Filipino Kinship Terms and their Confusing Translation into English

Number One Son has a “nephew” who is also a college student in Boston. When I mentioned this to my brother, he couldn’t understand how Number One Son could be the “uncle” of someone who is the same age and who is neither his son nor the son of The Wife’s siblings.  I told him “uncle” is the English translation of a Filipino term for a male who is one less generation away from a common ancestor than the other person being referenced.  My explanation, while totally correct, totally failed to make him understand.   If you are curious how my son can be an “uncle” or are wondering why Filipinos sometimes call each other by weird names like “kuya,” “manong,” or “ading” instead of their regular names, this article by Myles Garcia can explain.

Continue reading “Filipino Kinship Terms and their Confusing Translation into English”

A Short Review: Bao

Accompanying the Pixar movie The Incredibles 2 is a short called Bao.  It starts, as you can see from the trailer above, when a woman who has just cooked some bao is shocked when one of them comes to life.  While we have talked about Russell from Up being Asian American, this short was striking in that in deals directly with issues that Asian Americans and Asian Canadians face.

Bao was created by Domee Shi, who moved from China to Canada when she was two.  She joined Pixar as an intern, and eventually pitched the Bao concept and got it made.  The mom in Bao was inspired by her own mom and other Chinese women in her life.

I really liked Bao.  While I am not of Chinese origin, it spoke to me of my own experiences with food and family.   A bao becomes more than just a bun – it becomes a metaphor for many things.   I am also around the same age as the mom, making her not just Asian American/Canadian but universal concerns very meaningful to me.  So if you go to see The Incredibles 2 (also recommended) and are thinking about getting popcorn when you see Bao come up on the screen, don’t.  It will be worth your time, whether you are Asian American, American Canadian, or not.

Asian and Asian American influences in ‘Black Panther’ (minor spoilers)

One of the many impressive aspects of the Black Panther movie is its costume design.  The look of the Dora Milaje, the elite Wakanda guard, is particularly striking. 

That said, I was surprised to found out from The Wife about this article about Anthony Francisco, a developmental illustrator for Marvel Comics, where he says that apart from the obvious influence from different African cultures, that there are Asian influences in the Dora Milaje costumes.  In this Buzzfeed article, Francisco details influences as disparate as Filipino tribesman and Japanese Samurai.

Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

Francisco grew up in the Philippines, where the Igorot people of Ifugao are well known for their UNESCO heritage rice terraces.  Some of their traditional garb influenced his design.  In addition, the table runner from Francisco’s Aunt’s house became part of General Okoye’s uniform.  Other Asian influences include Samurai style boots.

You can see these and other influences on costume design in the Buzzfeed article

For a better look at Francisco’s work (which includes Baby Groot), check out his Instagram.

Asian American Medical Hazard: Stroke

My doctor has always considered my high blood pressure to be a significant concern, and she makes sure I am managing it effectively.  After thinking about the Asian Americans that I know who have had a stroke and this recent report and video, I should really be thankful.  Preliminary results from an analysis of 1.7 million stroke cases between 2004 and 2016 reveal that Asian Americans are more likely to have more severe ischemic strokes and worse outcomes than whites.   In addition, Asian Americans studied were less likely to receive clot busting stroke treatment, although this difference seems to diminish during the studied time period. Study lead author Dr. Sarah Song, who revealed the initial results at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference, said:

“Asian Americans may have a distinctive pathophysiologic profile of ischemic stroke than whites.   Regardless, this study highlights the need for more focused research, improved stroke prevention and possibly different treatment strategies for Asian Americans.”

Continue reading “Asian American Medical Hazard: Stroke”

Asian Squat Update: Why it’s good for you and why it’s going away

“A guru once told me that the problem with the West is they don’t squat.” – Rosie Spinks

One of 8Asians’ most popular articles continues to be Koji Sakai’s article on the “Asian” Squat

We recently got a comment from one of our readers on how the Asian Squat seems to be a way to help with a particular health problem but that the reader could not readily achieve the position.  Shortly after that, I saw this piece by Rosie Spinks about how the “Asian Squat” can be good for people’s health, but sadly, is going away with certain people in Asia.

Continue reading “Asian Squat Update: Why it’s good for you and why it’s going away”

Sacramento Area Asian Americans arming themselves during Crime Wave

While the wave of robberies targeting Asian Americans in the Sacramento area has declined in some neighborhoods like Oak Park, where police have concentrated resources, crime and fear have increased in other Asian neighborhoods like Meadowview, Fruitridge, and Pocket, to the point where Asian Americans are arming themselvesPolice have arrested more than 50 in connection with the targeted robberies (up from 20 reported in October 2016), but the problems have continued.  “Part of the issue is the language barrier and not having the right tools to contact Police,” said Sgt Bryce Heinlein.   “They’re coming home and being targeted as they’re getting out of their cars, being approached from behind normally, and the suspects are armed.”   Elderly people are more likely to be targets, reports John Fan, a detective with Sacramento’s Central division.

Sacramento police have not revealed many details about the arrested suspects, but say that most are young men in their teens and their twenties and are of various racial backgrounds.   Almost all are armed during the robberies. In this article where police debriefed the community and gave pointers on avoiding and reporting crimes, police said that the arrested robbers claim that attacks weren’t racially motivated but that “Asians people have money.”

Manicurists, Casino Workers, and Medical Scientists: A Glimpse into heavily Asian American Jobs

More than half of all American “personal appearance workers” (including manicurists and pedicurist) are Asian American, while more than a fourth of all casino workers are Asian American.  A little more than a fifth of all computer and mathematical area workers are Asian American.   While some of these facts are surprising and others are not, all are revealed in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report on jobs and ethnicity for 2016, also summarized nicely in this article from Bloomberg.    Above, I show some of what I consider highlights of the data, shown against the percentage of Asian Americans in the work force (6.1%) as a way provide some context.

As I mentioned, some of the stats are not surprising.  There are a lot of Asian Americans in the manicure/pedicure salon business, as we have talked about in the past.  No one should be surprised by the large amount of Asian Americans in STEM professions.  Some of the other stats are more unusual.  Indian Americans have concentrated, for various reasons, in managing hotels and motels and driving taxicabs.  Many Asians and Asian Americans like to gamble, so casinos and many of the local card rooms in our area hire Asians Americans to provide services.  A significant number of Asians have moved to the Las Vegas area to work in the casinos and find cheaper housing – enough to support two 99 Ranch markets.

The Bloomberg article has interesting numbers on other ethnic groups.  Almost 40% of all barbers are African American.  Almost two thirds of dry wall installers are Hispanic.  One thing not highlighted in the Bloomberg article is the opposite – what jobs ethnic groups don’t do.  I looked at the BLS data, and there are practically zero Asian American loggers!  Not surprising.

One take away from this data is that along with great cultural differences, Asian Americans have also have large differences in the jobs and the income that Asian Americans families take in.  Being a nail salon worker averages $26,220 a year compared to a medical scientist averaging $80,530.  Note that there are more than twice as many nail salon type workers than medical scientists.  It would be interesting to see how different categories of Asian Americans fare in the different categories, but that data doesn’t seem to be available.

Filipino American Downward Mobility and other Asian American Data Points from Pew Research

Filipino American Data based on data compiled by the Pew Research Center

After he graduated from high school this year, Number Two Son mentioned to me that one conversation he has continually had with a close Filipino American friend regards how few of their Filipino American peers were ambitious with their college choices.  Their levels of achievement and college choices seemed much low, especially compared to other Asian American students at their Silicon Valley high school and despite that many of their parents were well educated.  While I personally could see some examples, without real data, it was hard to say whether the kids he saw were just cherry picked examples within a self-selected group in an area heavily obsessed with education.  A Pew Research Center compilation of Asian American data shows that Filipino Americans are indeed downward mobile from the initial immigrant generation (data shown above).  This compilation should be useful to people who want to make data driven conclusions about Asian Americans.

The Pew Research Center has conveniently disaggregated data nicely into specific facts sheets for specific Asian American groups.  A blog post looked at the aggregate data, and some of the findings surprised me – there are more than 20 million of us now and growing.   Other interesting facts – Asian Americans are 11.3% of illegal immigrants, with the top country of origin being India (not what I expected).  Asian Americans live in a multi-generational household more frequently than the general population (been there).

The data that shows that Filipino Americans are downward mobile doesn’t explain WHY that is the case.  I looked up some work in that area and found Susan S. Kim’s Ph.D thesis comparing Korean American and Filipino American youth.  The thesis concludes that Korean American communities have education institutions that encourage and support education much more heavily, and that the rapid acculturation that Filipino Americans experience, especially given the colonial history of the Philippines, doesn’t necessarily contribute to better performance.  This makes a lot of sense to me.  Also, I find that Filipinos, like many Americans, buy into the myth that academic performance in things like math is much more from innate abilities rather than hard work.  “Such bullshit!” is Number Two Son’s comment on that myth.

While I find disaggregated data to be very useful, others find the mandated collection of disaggregated data to be objectionable.     Other studies looking at Filipino American downward mobility are here and here (focusing on San Diego), and Susan Kim’s thesis contains many more references.

Prepared Asian American Hiker helps the stranded in Eagle Creek Fire

While we have been hearing over the years about how how Asian Americans don’t hike or visit national parks, it’s great to hear about Asian Americans who do hike.  In this story about the the Eagle Creek fire, a hiker talks about an Asian American named Emily who unlike most of the hikers in the area, was extremely well prepared and helped many of the more than 140 hikers who were cutoff from easy escape by the fire.  They had to stay overnight and embark on a 14 mile route to escape the flames.  Says stranded hiker Merribeth Midtlyng:

“She was an Asian gal named Emily, just six years in the country, and she’d read the book ‘Wild’ and knew all the things to bring on a hike,” Midtlyng said. “She had a headlamp, food, shelter and water purifier and was so helpful to a lot of people, helping them get safe water to drink.”

I saw the movie Wild, but I don’t think that I could have helped anyone if I was there.  The trail in the movie ends at the Bridge of the Gods across the Columbia river, and the fire started by some moron with fireworks is around that area.  Some of the area near Multnomah Falls burned but is considered mostly unscathed.  I visited the area a few years ago and found it strikingly beautiful.  With the current hurricane disasters, the fires choking the Pacific Northwest are going unnoticed by many.

We have written a number of articles about how Asian Americans actually do hike.  It’s good that “Emily” also likes to both read and hike, which benefited of some of those trap by the awful fire.

Top 5 Asian American TV Series: First half of 2017

Top 5 Broadcast or Cable TV Series by Ethnic Group from USA Today Analysis

So what do Asian Americans watch on TV?  USA Today analyzed Nielsen data for most of the first half of 2017 and came up with the data shown above.  I was personally was surprised that it was so divergent compared to other major American ethnic groups.  America’s Got Talent as the most popular Asian American show?  Really?  Why so different?

The article mentions possible causes for the differences, such as Asian Americans averaging less than 15 hours a TV viewing a week compared to African Americans who averaged 44 hours.  I wonder about the effects of cord cutting and online only shows on Amazon Prime or Netflix.  My kids and I hardly watch ever TV series, cable or broadcast, with TV watching usually restricted to sports and for me, Game of Thrones.   The Daughter in particular likes a few online only shows.  Since I couldn’t find the actual data from Nielsen that went into this, it’s really hard to say for sure.

That there are differences is revealing in itself, saying that ethnic groups in the US really do have differences in preferences and tastes. I would have like to seen more data, particularly on the viewing hours.  44 hours vs 15 hours is a vast difference.  It would be interesting to see it broken down by income levels – do wealthy people watch as much TV and the same shows as middle class or poor Americans?   I suspect that advertisers have already done that kind of study.

8Books Review: “Trespassers?: Asian Americans and the Battle for Suburbia”

Because I had grown up in neighboring Newark and then lived in Fremont California for many years before moving to San Jose, I was intensely curious to read what Trespassers? Asian Americans and the Battle for Suburbia by Willow S. Lung-Amam had to say about Asian Americans life in suburban Fremont.  Would it present anything that I didn’t know already? After reading the book, I was surprised at how much was new to me – primarily the amount of resistance Fremont’s Asian American community encountered when it starting asserting itself in areas ranging from education to shopping centers to housing.

Continue reading “8Books Review: “Trespassers?: Asian Americans and the Battle for Suburbia””