Unwelcomed Chinese Mothers and Their Anchor Babies

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Please see 8Asians’ previous coverage on the topic of anchor babies –Joz

I have covered quite a few stories about Chinese immigrants, and one of the biggest stories was the Chinese pregnant women going overseas to give birth so their babies can obtain a foreign citizenship, sometimes referred to as anchor babies.

America is one of the biggest markets for wealthy Chinese families who wants an America-born child. A couple of years ago, the controversy of these women and the local L.A. businesses that provided them housing and transportation had caused a big protest, following law enforcement cracking down some of the hotels. I recently talked to a Chinese mother who has two anchor children in Hong Kong and got a first personal glimpse of what life is like for them.

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Being an Asian in New England

8A-2013-12-26-MapOfNewEnglandA couple of months ago, I moved from Los Angeles to the northwestern part of Connecticut for my new job. I had never lived in a small town with about 95 percent Caucasians before. Honestly, I had more culture shock here than when I first came to Los Angeles from China.

However, I was mentally prepared to confront some racial and cultural ignorance before I came here. In L.A., a Caucasian friend of mine from Connecticut showed me how even the most educated people can be ignorant. This person has degrees from an Ivy League university and from USC, with a considerable amount of overseas experience and friends of all ethnicities. But he thought all my friends were Chinese and once he even said to my face that Chinese don’t brush teeth. When I tried to explain, he would give me a lecture on how culture dominates individuality and your character, beliefs, and values are subject to your culture. Well, whatever culture he thought I was in, not brushing teeth is definitely not part of it. The worst thing was this person didn’t even know he was so ignorant back then. (Much later on, he apologized.) So a good education doesn’t make anyone any wiser. Worse, it makes some think they know better.

Though I was prepared, it still caught me off guard when someone called me Oriental. I was filming a dancing class, the teacher, who is quite old, couldn’t pronounce my name. So she gave up and told her students, “It’s Oriental.” Then she looked at me, “Liu, right?”

Another incident was when I covered a story about when a local high school dropped out of a football game. I didn’t understand why it was important because I didn’t know football or any kind of sports. I would ask the same question if it dropped out of a basketball game, a volleyball game or a hockey game. Someone, also with an Ivy League degree, burst out laughing, saying “[She didn’t know football] because she is from China.” He was trying to help explain why I didn’t know football, but the reason he gave was just so wrong.

I don’t know football not because of where I am from, but because I am just not interested in football or any kind of sports. I don’t know anything about sports in China either. I can’t name one Chinese sports team. Instead, I can name a bunch of L.A. teams like Lakers and Kings. I don’t play any sports, watch any game or support any team. If I was into football, I would have picked it up when I was at USC. Well, it is not the first time people make assumption based on my “foreignness.”

There are good things, however, about being Asian in New England. A lot of New Englanders are quite reserved about their feelings, so they keep their curiosity and assumptions to themselves. No one here asks me what I think about One Child Policy or if I am good at ping pong, yet, I was bombarded by Midwesterners asking me those questions when I was in Chicago.

Covering in a small town finally allows me to be the journalist that I am. Nobody asks me to do China stories, talk to the Chinese community or asks about my “Asian view.” I can just dive in and report my ass off. I get to cover a lot of local stories, and showcase my multimedia abilities. I’m truly thankful for this opportunity to hone my journalism skills and be the journalist that I want to be. I’m sure it’s going to be a great adventure ahead.

Follow Shako Liu on Twitter @shako_liu.

photo credit: Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL via photopin cc

Julie Chen Says Having Surgery to Look “Less Asian” Helped Her Career

http://youtu.be/wrf7xXHdjLk

I personally applaud Julie Chen for her courage to speak out about her eye plastic surgery. The co-host of The Talk revealed her secret about her difficult decision of getting a plastic surgery on her eyes just to pursue her dream as a network news anchor. Chen was told by her boss back in the 90s that she would never become a desk anchor because of her ethnicity, and her eyes were considered looking disinterested and bored on camera.

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After Chen enlarged her eyes to look like a Caucasian, she said “And after I had it done, the ball did roll for me,” she confessed. “And I wondered, did I give in to the man?”

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Asian American Journalists Have Space to Shine In The Changing Industry

Former anchor of The Today Show Ann Curry spoke at the 2013 national convention of Asian American Journalists Association in New York City about keeping faith and passion in the changing industry. Before a flight to the edge of Syria, Curry took the stage of the AAJA gala with MSNBC anchor Richard Lui. She gave her support to the community of Asian American journalists and reminded young journalists that “the job of a journalist is to give voice to the voiceless.”

Curry said “I am always Asian American,” in response to Lui’s question, “When are you Asian American?” Recounting the days when she felt lonely as one of the few Asians in her community or in the newsroom, she said to other Asian American journalists “I applaud your success and I cheer for you.”

I was part of VOICES, the student newsroom program of the convention, and the 13 of us student journalists flew in early in the week and started reporting for the convention with our mentors.

Students had shown high level of professionalism. Student journalist Mega Sugianto had witnessed a terrible car accident on her way to report another story. She quickly pulled out her camera and started shooting the tragic scene as one woman was seriously injured. Sugianto said she was traumatized by what she saw, but the instinct of a journalist pushed her to take on the difficult task. She made her name on the New York Daily Post that day with the valuable footage that no one else had. As I had reported a crime story related to two dead victims and been in a campus shooting rampage myself, I understood by first hand how traumatizing it can be, and how difficult to be a journalist, especially a professional journalist, in situations like that. My heart goes to Sugianto and I applauded her true professionalism.

I had the opportunity to interview Laura Ling and Lisa Ling before I came to the convention for a story I did for VOICES. Both of them, including Ann Curry, said that although the journalism industry is changing, and there may be fear about the tough job market, that passion in journalistic storytelling that can pull you through.

There are many amazing Asian American journalists in the country like Ann Curry, Lisa Ling, and Laura Ling. As the newsroom become more diverse, young journalists like Sugianto will find their place to shine.

See the future stars in the journalism industry.

DISCLOSURE: Shako Liu and Jocelyn “Joz” Wang are both members of AAJA. Joz also serves on the National Advisory and Governing Boards of AAJA, but did not assign this story to Shako. Shako submitted this story to 8Asians for editorial consideration without prompt.

Chinese American Author Wakes Up Chinese Girl Power

8A-2013-02-JoyChen-DoNotMarryBeforeAge30I sat down with Joy Chen, a Los Angeles based author, weeks ago for a story I am working on, which is about Chinese “leftover women,” a Chinese social phenomenon stigmatizing educated, urban and single women over age 27.

Chen is a super star in China nowadays, she was named Women Of The Year by All-China Women Federation last year. It all started with her book Do Not Marry Before Age 30, (for an alternative viewpoint, see Johnny C’s previous review) a soul searching guide for Chinese women about the changing women’s role, women’s empowerment and gender equality in today’s Chinese society, and it has become the best seller in China.

There is a reason why this book is so popular in China.

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Video Showing Asian Women As Victims Of Sexual Violence By White Men Goes Viral

Courtesy: flickr/epSos .de
Courtesy: flickr/epSos .de

A video went viral in South Korea showing two western men harassing, insulting, and threatening a local woman. The video is only 78 seconds long, and it’s definitely one of the most disgusting, gruesome and horrified vidoes that I have seen. Due to its disgusting content, YouTube has taken it down [Editors Note: We tried to provide a link, but they keep getting taken down].

To compound the issue, comments and reactions to this video tend to focus on the victim, blaming her for getting herself into the situation for being in a club and getting involved with western men, indicating that she deserved to be treated like that because she is actively seeking white men.

According to the Washington Post, a Jagei.com commenter said “She went crazy over white guys, lived at a club, and ran into trouble.” Another wrote, “After that, I think she’s going to go clubbing to meet white guys again.”

As a woman grew up in Asia, sadly I am not surprised by how many Korean men, or Asian men, perceived issues like this. Women are often to blame for falling victims of sexual violence. It’s always her fault, either the way she dressed, the way she talked, the place she choosed to be in, the group of people she chooosed to be with. It’s all her fault. But is it really?

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Letters From Pyongyang: More Like A Home Video

To reunite with his family members in North Korea, Korean Canadian filmmaker Jason Lee and his father went to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. His documentary Letters From Pyongyang featured his family’s efforts to enter the most isolated and heavily controlled country on earth.

Lee tried to explore the issue of family torn apart by the separation of North and South Korea in the film. The 38th parallel stands like a modern Berlin Wall, cutting off the connection and blood tie of family members on both sides. Lee used his own family as an example to illustrate the issue and painted a full picture of how one family was separated and reunited due to political conflicts.
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LAAPFF 2013: Mix-cultural Asians Find Their Roots

EDITORS NOTE from Joz: 8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of various films at the 2013 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, presented by Visual Communications.

One common theme that has been echoing in some of the documentaries presented in Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is that mix-raced Asians either in the states or in an Asian country, or Asian immigrants are trying to find out who they are and what country they represent. The identity searching is a ever-green theme in the Asian American community which has 60 percent first-generation immigrants and the largest percentage of interracial marriage.

In the documentary Hafu, it explored the life of mix-raced Japanese in Japan. The film showed that about 2 million foreigners were living in Japan in 2010, constituting around 30,000 international marriages. Children from these marriages are called Hafu, a Japanese word evolved from the English word “half,” indicating half Japanese and half foreigner.

Japan strictly upholds the ideology of “one nation, one culture, one race.” It outcasts the mix-raced Japanese, who grew up there and speak the language perfectly. The film has profiled different mix-raced Japanese from all kinds of racial combination, background, age and both genders. It provides a deep and well-rounded view about the struggle they have and the questions they raise about their country and themselves. All of their stories are revolving around one question–“Who am I?”

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The Death of The Two USC Chinese Students: Whose Fault Is It?

The judge dismissed the law suit against USC brought by the parents of the two Chinese students who were shot dead last April near campus.

“The suit had been brought by the parents of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, two electrical engineering graduate students from China who were gunned down in an off-campus neighborhood last April during what police believe is was a botched robbery. The shootings shook the USC student body and generated discussion over safety in and around the South L.A. campus. The parents filed a lawsuit that claimed the USC website misled the students by touting the school’s safety and security measures, including off-campus security guards. But Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson ruled the suit was factually insufficient.”

The victims’ parents seem to blame the university’s misleading safety claim for the death of their loved ones. So the logic is to find out whether the safety claim is misleading and whether it was what killed the two students.
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‘Jake Shimbabukuro: Life On Four Strings’ Tells Story of Ukulele Player at LAAPFF 2013

EDITORS NOTE from Joz: 8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of various films at the 2013 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, presented by Visual Communications.

Compared to the confusing story line of Stateless, Jake Shimbabukuro: Life On Four Strings tells a much stronger story of a Japanese American ukulele player. It started with a beautiful ukulele melody and effective close ups on the dancing fingers on the instrument. The film provided a complete view of how Shimbabukuro started this instrument, his family influence, how he started his career as a professional ukulele player and his personal life in dating and humanity work.

“I look at it almost like sports,” Shimbabukuro said in the film when he tried to explain what playing ukulele meant for him.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1976, Shimabukuro’s mother gave him an ukulele at age four and he quickly took an interest in the instrument. Shimabukuro initially gained attention in Hawaii in 1998 as a member of Pure Heart, a trio with Lopaka Colon (percussion), and Jon Yamasato (guitar). He was working at a music store in Honolulu when the group released its eponymous first album, featuring a sound and style somewhat similar to the Kaʻau Crater Boys.

When Shimabukuro started, he tried on the electric sound on his ukulele, and often played with different effects. Later he realized his insecurity and dependence on the effects, and decided to manipulate the sound of ukulele only with his hands.

“It’s about letting the instrument breathe,” Shimabukuro said.

Many Asian Americans find a commonality when Shimabukuro said he was uncomfortable with compliments because he felt he didn’t deserve those, something that rooted in the Asian culture. The film furthered described the long distance relationship between Shimabukuro and his then-girlfriend-now-wife Kelly Yamasato. Bitterness and tears came when he was performing to children in Sendai Japan after the big earthquake and tsunami in Mar. 11, 2011.

Shimabukuro said he wants to be as sensitive as possible in his music, because that’s how “you can feel what they feel.”

Director Tadashi Nakamura said one of the challenges in filming was there wasn’t any conflict about Shimabukuro, who is essentially a nice guy. Well, the beautiful melodies of ukulele, the subtle capture of people’s smiles and tears, the fast-moving fingers on the four strings, and sweats and aura of Shimabukuro make this a powerful documentary.

‘Stateless,’ Documentary about Vietnamese Refugees Plays at LAAPFF 2013

EDITORS NOTE from Joz: 8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of various films at the 2013 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, presented by Visual Communications.

http://youtu.be/BhsoIJReVGg

Stateless is a documentary in Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival that tells stories of different Vietnamese refugees residing in the Philippine and the painful process of waiting for the resettlement interviews from the U.S. government. It showed the painful plight of these stateless refugees who banked their future on the interviews, and the risk to be repatriated to Vietnam if they failed.

After the Vietnam War, many people in Cambodia, Laos, and especially Vietnam became refugees in the late 1970s and 1980s, after the liberation of Saigon. In Vietnam, the communist government sent supporters of the foreign forces and the old government in the South to re-education camps, and others to “new economic zones.” To flee the country, many people bought places in large boats that held 400 passengers. Others organized smaller groups to go on makeshift rafts crudely made of wood, or boarded fishing boats. Many families were split up as they couldn’t afford to send all family members out. Many refugees resided in the Philippine after they left.

A chance to freedom finally came when the U.S. government sent officials to interview these refugees in the Philippine and resettle those who pass the interview in the west. The film profiled several refugees and brought us to their journey and took a first person look into their desire of freedom. Refugee Phan Duc Tham said he had to sleep with a dog just to keep warm when he was describing his heartrending life as a stateless refugee.

The story is powerful, but the film structure left a lot of confusion. Despite the interviews of different refugees, there is hardly any document, video, or actuality. It provides an effective sense of the living environment of the refugees, but there is not sufficient evidence of the kind of life they have been through beyond some old photos and words of mouth.

Bitter tears from refugees are touching, but the redundant street scenes of Manila and the moving camera creating dizzy shots only strengthens the belief that the producer didn’t have much actuality, which later confirmed by director Duc Nguyen that they didn’t have enough time to shoot. The lack of materials also left many questions about the resettlement interviews, a milestone for these refugees and a changing point of the film. What questions were asked? What documents were required? What were the challenges? What were the odds?
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Gays In Asia Hidden In A “Perfect” Marriage: ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’ at LAAPFF 2013

EDITORS NOTE from Joz: 8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of various films at the 2013 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, presented by Visual Communications.

http://youtu.be/9eMIEViDfd0

Among the many heavy topics in the films of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival from May 2 to 12, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow provides a touch of humor in a bitter story of a gay man trying to hide his sexuality in a marriage with a woman.

After marring to Ah Feng for nine years, Weichung has never really enjoyed a single day of his marriage or family life, because of his secret that he is gay. He used this marriage which looked perfect in an outsider’s eyes to hide his sexual orientation. To others, he was a loving husband, a hard working man and a caring father. He tried to stay away from his old circle of gay friends in order to maintain his marriage, or the façade he built just to shelter his secret.

“Nobody will find out, because I am already married,” Weichung told his old friend Stephen, a wedding photographer who is also gay and married to a lesbian.

Things changed when his wife Ah Feng wanted a second child. Subsequently, questions were raised in Ah Feng’s mind when she found out Weichung’s strange behaviors and his effort to avoid having sex with her. At the beginning, she thought her husband was having an affair.

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