Women’s March in Washington DC Majority White Protesters

White House

On January 21, 2017, I marched in the Women’s March at Washington D.C., and I came back from the experience rejuvenated, inspired, and hopeful for the tough years ahead.

For me, the march began when I picked up my poster and stepped out the door of my hotel room. Every door I walked by in the hallway was a potential threat; every person I walked by was a possible assailant. Being an Asian woman, I am always scanning every room I walk into for the most dangerous person and deriding myself when I let my guard down. But in the storm that has always been raging around me, I understood that my protest poster was a lightning rod.

When we arrived the night before, the hotel lobby was full of people who were celebrating that day’s inauguration festivities, swishing around in elaborate and opulant gowns or sporting a red cap with that slogan of racism veiled as patriotism. There were plenty of people who would hate Women’s March protesters there.

The day of the March, the front lobby was filled instead with knitted pink hats, and a middle aged white woman squealed “YAY!” when she saw us file out of the elevator with our signs. I gave her a muted smile, although a high-five may have been more effective for the cause. Why was I restrained? Because I was bracing for an attack.
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Why I March

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Note: The following was written as a letter to students, and they were assigned to write a response essay to agree, disagree, or qualify the positions presented in this position paper.

On Saturday, January 21st, 2017, I will be in Washington D.C., our nation’s capital, to participate in the Women’s March. Their mission is to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights”. The March follows the nonviolent principles of Dr. King. The Women’s March is inclusive and allows anyone who believes that women’s rights are human rights to participate.

As stated above, the Women’s March’s key message is that women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights. The history of our country and of human civilizations around the world has been tragically fraught with discrimination, oppression, and violent abuse of women in every imaginable way. When one person is mistreated or disrespected, that lowers the respect for all people, because if someone else can be devalued and hurt, the same can be done to you. Women make up over half of the human population on the planet, so the mistreatment of women is the mistreatment of half the human population, and since women’s rights are human rights, it opens up the doors to the mistreatment and devaluing of all people. We have to treat others the way we want to be treated, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because the way we treat others paves the way for how we can and will be treated. If we don’t stand up for equal rights and respect for everyone, then, male or female, we all lose. So the Women’s March is a march for the rights of everyone, girls and boys, women and men.
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Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson Defeats Paige VanZant

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxsh4HBvueQ

In a fight that drew about 5 million viewers, Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson dominated Paige VanZant, choking her unconscious with a rear naked choke a little over 3 minutes into a fight that was supposed to go for 5 x 5 minute rounds. Waterson’s win shifts her up from rank 11 to rank 7, effectively taking VanZant’s spot in the rankings.

Waterson was the former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion at 105 lbs, but her move to UFC took her up a weight class to 115 lbs strawweight. Despite being smaller than most in the division, she looks much healthier and stronger at the higher weight and even reported putting on 5 lbs of muscle in this past year, as can be seen at the weigh-in for the fight.

Ready to rock and roll!!! #teamhottie #ufcsacramento #12gaugeaintgotnothingontheseguns #hehe #imadeafunny

A photo posted by Michelle Waterson (@karatehottiemma) on

When asked to call someone out, Waterson declined, saying she’s just interested in fighting for the belt so is interested in anyone top five that would get her there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPN0KGTdbxM

She eventually told TMZ Sports that she felt a fight with former Invicta FC Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza or Rose Namajunas, also an Invicta alumnus, would be desirable.

Her fight gym, Jackson-Wink MMA, posted a multiple choice survey on who fans would like to see Waterson fight next. I immediately selected Rose Namajunas, who defeated VanZant last year in a similar 5 x 5 minute headline event, with Namajunas submitting VanZant at literally the very last second of a grueling and bloody 25 minute war.

Happily for me, Namajunas jumped in and called Waterson out. The strong star power of both combat athletes and their high rankings makes this a very likely match up worthy of a main event.

Being a veteran of 10 years, many are predicting that Waterson may be the new rising MMA star to break into the mainstream. For Asian American women and women in general, this is race and gender stereotype-shattering good news.

UFC Waterson vs. VanZant

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkTSVkS6uUc

Asian American mixed martial artist Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson will be headlining Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card against Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant in a 115 lbs strawweight bout. The event will be in Sacramento, VanZant’s home court.

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Since her win over Angela Magana at her UFC debut back in the summer of 2015, Waterson has had to cancel two fights due to injuries.

VanZant is coming off a win against Bec Rawlings, but spent the earlier part of this year getting into the finals of Dancing with the Stars.

I predict Waterson to win, not just because she’s more seasoned and experienced. Waterson’s game and skills are a lot more refined. Plus, the Karate Hottie is fighting out of what is consistently considered the best MMA fight gym out there, Jackson-Wink MMA.

Of course, anything can happen in the octagon, but I’m looking forward to seeing Waterson making her way up the ranks and taking that UFC strawweight belt.

I'm pumped up after watching my teammates get down👊let's go!!!! #ufcsacramento #teamhottie

A photo posted by Michelle Waterson (@karatehottiemma) on

Amanda Nguyen and the Federal Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights

Given the fact that 62,759,366 Americans just voted for a misogynist to take the highest office in our land, the work of courageous individuals such as Amanda Nguyen are more important today than ever before.

Nguyen was assaulted in college and her rape kit was removed and almost destroyed. There’s a limit to how long a rape kit can be kept in Massachusetts, where she went to college, unlike in states like California and Texas, where kits are not destroyed.

Her activism has led to an official Federal Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, the first time the term “sexual assault survivor” has been used in federal law.

President Obama signed this into law on October 7, 2016.

Ip Man 3

The latest installment of the Ip Man film was already exciting enough in and of itself. Add on top of that the fact that Mike Tyson is in it, and with a face off with Donnie Yen no less, and we’ve got a martial arts movie legend made before it hits the screens.

Often with martial arts movies, we have to put up with stupid story lines and shallow characters just to narratively string a bunch of fight scenes together. Once in a while, though, we get one that has the best of both worlds, a good story with amazing fight choreography. That’s IP Man 3.

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Now, I’m not saying the narrative was die hard revolutionary or anything, but it was solidly a martial arts plot and martial artist character driven story that also plays out as a story with characters your average viewer can care about. That’s definitely not easy to do. I especially liked the Ip Man foil character, Cheung Tin-Chi, played by Jin Zhang, who was a gray character that provided a less socioeconomically privileged version of Ip Man, who did a more traditional form of Wing Chun and provided not just a character foil but also a martial artist foil, as well as the opportunity for Wing Chun vs. Wing Chun action that was awesome.

The fight IQ of this whole film was pretty high, what with legendary choreography Yuen Wo-ping at the helm. Happily, the best fight scene in the whole thing was between Donnie Yen playing Ip Man and Tyson playing a bad guy boss. Tyson, of course, comes in as the known beast, where who he is outside of the film, a heavyweight champion knockout artist boxer, just can’t be ignored inside the story. There was weight to the exchanges, and a battle narrative to it, too, not just sock’em and rock’em but the playing out of a chess match between two styles and two fighters. I loved this interview of Yen and Tyson together, especially when Yen says that choreographing the fight with Tyson was “life threatening”, which he says like three or more times.

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“Into The Badlands” Episode Review “Hand of Five Poisons”

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Cung Le in Into The Badlands.

Into The Badlands Season 1, Episode 6: “Hand of Five Poisons”
Original airdate December 20, 2015.

Synopsis

Sunny tries to buy passage for himself, Veil, and M.K. by bringing a false head to the River King. He’s supposed to kill M.K., but kills a lookalike instead. They have to leave that evening, but Veil confronts Sunny about her parents killing, confirming that Sunny stood by and did nothing as Quinn killed them. Sunny’s disloyalty is outed and Quinn locks him up, using him as a card to convince M.K. to be loyal to him, especially because Quinn has seen M.K.’s special powers in action in the previous episode. However, the Widow, Quinn’s son Ryder, and the skilled clipper Zypher move to kill Quinn and the other Baron Jakoby so they can take over. Quinn uses M.K. to fight them, but Quinn is killed by Sunny, who had been released by his old mentor from the jail. Also, a group of mysterious monks show up and collect M.K., making a mess of Sunny to get to him. In the end, M.K. is being taken away by the monks, and Sunny is kidnapped, too, but by the River King who plans on trading him into slavery somewhere down the river.

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“Fight Mom”: The Story of UFC’s Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson

A couple years ago, a friend showed me a Ronda Rousey fight promotion video for Strikeforce and introduced me to Gina Carano‘s movie Haywire. It made me wonder if there were any Asian American women in mixed martial arts, so I started looking, and the first one I found was Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson. Just her name wasn’t enough to cue me in on the fact that she was of Thai descent. I saw a note about her Thai heritage on her wikipedia article, so I started to read and watch everything I could find about her.

Waterson’s story is really compelling, especially because she’s an Asian American woman who has to fight both gender and race stereotypes. I’m sure she’d be set for life if she got a dollar for every time someone asked her, “You’re so pretty, why would you fight?” On top of that, she’s a mom with a toddler in tow at every fight. She breaks so many molds, it’s hard to count them.

Watching this video promoting this documentary called “Fight Mom” about her life brings tears to my eyes because her story is so heartfelt. I can’t wait until it’s finished.

My family in a nutshell! Love them so much!

A photo posted by Michelle Waterson (@karatehottiemma) on

“Into The Badlands” Episode Review “Snake Creeps Down”

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Baron Quinn’s Second Wife Jade.

Into The Badlands Season 1, Episode 5: “Snake Creeps Down”
Original airdate December 13, 2015.

Synopsis

Quinn’s son Ryder tries to find out more about the mysterious city beyond the Badlands that M.K. is from and seeks out his mother’s father for information. Quinn’s brain tumor gets worse, and since he’s lost his Cog workers, he has his warrior Clippers work the field to bring in the crop. M.K. and Sunny go out on an expedition to search for more about The Widow’s whereabouts, and one of her warriors Tilda comes to warn M.K. that The Widow suspects him to be the one with the mysterious powers she’s looking for. Tilda is captured, and The Widow comes to rescue her, but it’s M.K. who cuts himself to unleash the unknown power to save Tilda.

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8Questions with Stephen Fung of “Into The Badlands”

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Stephen Fung at Comicon for Into The Badlands.

Born in Hong Kong and graduate of the University of Michigan, Stephen Fung is a successful actor, director, and producer. He’s worked with Jackie Chan, Yuen Wo-ping (Matrix/Kill Bill), and Stephen Chow on a number of major cinematic successes in Asia and abroad. Fung is on of the executive producers of AMC’s new martial arts series Into The Badlands.

1. What is your favorite martial art?

I’m not really a practicing Martial Artist so I don’t have one, but in terms of looking good on screen, I would say Chinese Wushu.

2. Who is your favorite martial artist?

Bruce Lee

3. How did the Into The Badlands project come together?

It came together because AMC wanted to do a Martial Arts series, and one of our executive producers Stacey Sher lined us up for this project.

4. What is the best martial arts film of all time?

Impossible to choose one.

5. Who is your greatest inspiration?

In terms for directing action/drama, I would say John Woo because “A Better Tomorrow” is the film that made me want to be in the film business.

6. How do you think Into The Badlands will affect the stereotypes about Asians and martial arts?

I don’t see associating Martial Arts with Asians as anything negative. It’s like associating African American to the Blues or Basketball. It’s Cool! Everyone to an extent loves watching Kung Fu (look how well Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or The Matrix did world wide), and Daniel Wu is good looking, charismatic, and all American.

7. What advice would you give to aspiring producers?

Be patient.

8. What is your favorite Asian comfort food?

There is one particular Japanese brand of Potato Chips that I love.

“Into The Badlands” Episode Review: “Two Tigers Subdue Dragons”

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Baron Jacobee battles Baron Quinn.
Into The Badlands, Season 1, Episode 4: “Two Tigers Subdue Dragons”
Original airdate December 6, 2015.

Synopsis

The Widow gathers her troops while the Baron tries to cure the tumor in his brain with Veil’s help. Sunny continues to train M.K., especially trying to explore how to control his strange power. The Widow attacks another baron Jacobee’s gold transport to set Quinn and Jacobee against each other. When the two barons meet up, however, they find that they were set up by the Widow. When Quinn returns to his fort, he finds all his servant cogs have been taken by the Widow. The Widow also reveals that Jacobee’s top clipper Zypher is working with her to take over her baron’s place. They makes a deal with Quinn’s son Ryder, who agrees to join their team to overthrow the old guard. Sunny meets with the River King to gain passage for him and Veil out of the Badlands, but the price for the passage is M.K.’s head.

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8Questions with Daniel Wu from “Into The Badlands”

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Daniel Wu as “Sunny” in Into the Badlands.

Born and raised a north Californian, Daniel Wu is an American actor of Shanghainese descent. It was Jet Li’s The Shaolin Temple that inspired him to study wushu. After college in Oregon, he traveled to Hong Kong and unexpectedly starting working in show business and has since been in many films in Asia. Currently, Wu is the star of AMC’s martial arts television series, Into the Badlands. Here are 8Questions with Daniel Wu:

1. What is your favorite martial art?

Kung Fu

2. Who is your favorite martial artist?

Bruce Lee

3. What sort of impact do you think you will have as an American man of Shanghainese heritage playing the lead part of a major TV series?

We’ll have to see!

4. Who is your greatest inspiration?

I have so many. Everyone from Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to Andy Warhol. A lot of people inspire me!

5. What advice would you give to up and coming Asian Pacific Islander American actors?

It’s going to a tough road ahead but if you have the passion for it, stick with it. Work hard on your craft because you will have to be that much better than everyone else to stand out.

6. What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by American actors of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage?

Getting the right roles and fighting against preconceived stereotypes.

7. What made you decide to become an actor?

I didn’t. I was scouted to do a TV commercial. After doing it, a movie director saw it and cast me as the lead role in his film.

8. What is your favorite Asian comfort food?

Beef Hor Fun