Recently, NPR interviewed Vincent Chin’s best friend and best nan, Gary Koivu, to remember Chin, on the 35th anniversary of his death:
“Gary Koivu met Chin when they were in the first grade and their teacher introduced Chin to the rest of the class. They were friends for more than 20 years and Chin asked Koivu to be the best man in his wedding.
There was an auto worker,” Koivu says. “He said to Vincent, ‘Because of little mother f****** like you, a lot of Americans are losing their jobs.’ Vincent wasn’t Japanese. He was Chinese [American], but that didn’t matter. … He was Asian.”
Chin died four days later on June 23, 1982.
Ebens and Nitz were sentenced to three years’ probation and fined $3,000.
After his death 35 years ago [today], the federal case against Ebens and Nitz was the first time the Civil Rights Act was used in a case involving an Asian-American victim. Chin’s death went on to become a rallying cry for stronger federal hate crime legislation.”
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I first blogged about remembering the 25th anniversary of Chin’s death.
In the age of Trump and his hateful rhetoric, it’s no surprise that violence against Muslims and Hispanics is way up. I grew up in the Eighties, so I do remember the rhetoric against the Japanese as Americans feared that Japan was overtaking the United States as an economic superpower (how did that turn out?)
A must watch for anybody interested in Asian American history.
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I’ve mentioned before that I pretty much love anything paranormal or conspiracy related. Give me a good alien abduction, or haunting, or JFK assassination story and I will be happy for hours. Not that I believe most of it—or any of it for that matter. I find the stories fascinating, especially what they say about us as humans and society itself.
The two areas of my life that rarely meet are my love for the paranormal/conspiracy and my passion for Asian American history and culture. Although, this is not to say they haven’t met before. For example, I’ve written in the past about how some idiots believe the Gray aliens are descendants of Asians and the intriguing theory that what crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in the late 1940s weren’t aliens from outer space but were really from Japan.
As I was figuring out what to write about next, I wanted to find another paranormal story that had something to do with Asian Americans or at least Asian Asians. At first, I was thinking of writing about the Devil’s Sea, aka: Asia’s Bermuda Triangle. In fact, I still may write about it in the future. But during the research, I was curious what kinds of things would come up if I Googled: “Asian American, conspiracy.” To my surprise, the first hit was about the late Senator Daniel Inouye.
Before I get into what I found, let me first say that Senator Inouye is a hero of mine. In fact, he’s such an icon, I refer to him as the “Senator.” In other words, he’s the ONLY senator that matters. Over the course of my career at the Japanese American National Museum, I was lucky enough to not only meet him on numerous occasions but I also interacted and actually got to know him a little. I say all of this only to make it clear that I mean no disrespect to him or his legacy.
I should also give a brief history about the Senator. The Senator was a war hero. He was an officer in the 442nd Regimental Infantry Unit, the all-Japanese American unit in World War II. He won the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart with Cluster. He was the first Japanese American in Congress and served as Hawaii’s Senator from 1962 until 2012. Two years before his death, he was elected the President pro tempore, or in other words, he was third in line for the President. As far as I know, that’s the closet an Asian American has gotten to the Presidency so far.
So what did I find in my Google search? The Senator is listed on countless websites as proof of a conspiracy that there is a secret government really running things. This is based on something he said during the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987.
Here is a transcript of what he said:
There exists a shadowy government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.
It’s amazing how many websites cite this quote as proof of the existence of a secret government that is really running things. I’ve even read on some message boards that claim that the Senator wasn’t just talking about a secret government within the United States but a secret world-wide government, also known as the New World Order.
The interesting thing about the people who cite the Senator’s Iran-Contra quote is that they fail to note the circumstances—the Iran-Contra hearings. The Senator was referring specifically to the facts in the case itself. There WAS a conspiracy to get arms into Iran by a secret faction of the United States government that went around proper channels. But I do not believe that he was referring to anything more than that.
I guess one could make the leap that if there is a shadow government in this one case, there could be a secret government all the time, but there is no evidence that the Senator actually believed that.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the Senator’s only brush with government conspiracies:
Inouye also chaired the 1976 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The Committee was established to set up regulations for undercover operations abroad and internal operations against American citizens by the intelligence community. The regulations were a response to revelations that U.S. intelligence organizations had engaged in assassination plots and other international conspiracies. (Source)
What do you think? Do you think the Senator’s words are proof of the existence of a shadow-government? Let me know.
I would be remiss not to mention another conspiracy associated with the Senator that surrounds his death bed letter. I don’t know nearly enough about it to comment so that’s all I’ll say.
Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1.
“Members of the Asian-American rock band The Slants have the right to call themselves by a disparaging name, the Supreme Court says, in a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases.
The Slants’ frontman, Simon Tam, filed a lawsuit after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office kept the band from registering its name and rejected its appeal, citing the Lanham Act, which prohibits any trademark that could “disparage … or bring … into contemp[t] or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead,” as the court states.
After a federal court agreed with Tam and his band, the Patent and Trademark Office sued to avoid being compelled to register its name as a trademark. On Monday, the Supreme Court sided with The Slants.”
The Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng interviews The Slants to find out why the Asian American musicians went to the Supreme Court to fight for their right to use the racially insensitive band name – basically because of the principal. Personally, I agree with the Supreme Court ruling. I don’t necessarily agree with The Slants calling themselves The Slants, but they have the right to, according to the First Amendment and now with the Supreme Court ruling. Hopefully The Slants will be known more for their music, than the court ruling, since I’ve only heard of the band because of the Supreme Court case. – unlike Far East Movement, where I didn’t even know they were an Asian American band – only that they had a hit song, Like a G6.
EDITOR’S NOTE FROM JOZ:
Simon Tam of The Slants had previously written two guest posts at 8Asians about the subject:
Slanted Process: US Trademark Office Says Anyone (Except Asians) Can Trademark “The Slants” [2/23/2013] and Simon Tam of The Slants: “I am not the floodgate of racism that some think I am.” [8/4/2015]
By Michael Aushenker
Opening June 23 and going wide July 14, Kumail Nanjiani stars in The Big Sick, his autobiographical pet project—based on his real-life courtship with future wife Emily V. Gordon and their struggle after she is diagnosed with adult-onset Stills disease—and between the film’s Sundance buzz this year and Nanjiani’s signature butt-of-all-jokes geek Dinesh on HBO’s Silicon Valley, this Lionsgate-Amazon co-release arrives on a wave of anticipation.
Nanjiani and Gordon co-wrote the screenplay with the guidance of producer and comedy zeitgeist filmmaker Judd Apatow. Michael Showalter (best known as co-writer with David Wain of the Wet Hot American Summer franchise) takes a major career step forward directing.
The movie also co-stars Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as the parents of Emily, played here by Zoe Kazan.
In THE BIG SICK, Nanjiani plays a years-ago version of himself as a struggling stand-up comic in Chicago who becomes caught in the cross-cultural crossfire of his Pakistani immigrant family and his deepening romance with Emily, a blond Caucasian he meets after she heckles him during one of his comedy club routines.
Reeling from the toggle between Kumail’s overbearingly traditional Pakistani immigrant parents (who hilariously and repeatedly try to set Kumail up in an arranged marriage) and the trappings of modern romance, Kumail and Emily’s budding relationship has its ups and downs right before Emily is plunged into darkness due to her emerging illness. After Emily lands in a medically induced coma, the tense situation creates an unlikely trio, yoking Kumail with Emily’s parents, Terry (Romano) and Beth (Hunter), in a weeks-long triangle of worry and antics.
Comedy nerds may experience some déjà vu watching The Big Stick. Medical dilemma aside, Kumail and Emily’s grand love affair and its cross-cultural obstacles had its thunder stolen by season one of Master of None, where many of these issues were already explored and entertained (more deftly and with more depth) in the grand love affair between Dev and Rachel.
But like with that couple, it is the actress who is the secret weapon here: just as Noel Wells brought much nuance and naturalistic charm to her role opposite Aziz Ansari, Kazan does so here with Emily. Which is not to say Nanjiani is merely rehashing Dinesh here. He’s not. However, he’s not as good a dramatic actor when the movie calls him to be.
The Big Sick is entertaining enough, if overlong and melodramatic; not the kind of wearing-out-its-welcome-early bloat found in Apatow-helmed features Funny People and This Is 40 (Barry Mendel, producer of those movies, also co-produces this film), but dragging in places (perhaps suffering from a touch of Apatow-style self-indulgence). Meanwhile, a few minor details, such as Kumail’s “bag of devotion,” could’ve used more set-up earlier in the film.
To be expected by anyone familiar with Nanjiani’s stand-up act and interviews (such as in last month’s New Yorker), the dramedy comes loaded with jokes riffing off of Kumail’s cultural identity issues as a Pakistani American afloat in mainstream white culture, but it’s not enough to lift the film out of the soapy suds.
On an aside, Apatow’s own films have received criticism for its conspicuous placement of ethnicity in the background of his stories, and in The Big Sick, the only Asian faces in the film—Nanjiani, his family and family friends aside—are (you guessed it!) the doctors and nurses at the hospital. But this is a minor stray observation, not a major complaint, given the movie’s A-story, which benefits from richly comedic performances of Adeel Akhtar as Kumail’s brother Naveed; and Anupam Kehr and Zenobia Shroff as Kumail’s parents. Concurrently, Romano plays Terry as a straight man to Hunter’s feisty, two-fisted Beth.
The movie has its contrivances, especially when Kumail’s and Emily’s parents are stuck together. And even the most casual of viewers schooled on enough rom-coms will see that very Hollywood-ish last scene coming a mile away.
However, it’s great to see multicultural stories being told at a time when we obviously need more human-sized stories at our year-round CG-saturated multiplexes.
I heart professional sports. I love baseball, basketball, and football. I’m mostly obsessed with my local teams (Dodgers, Lakers, USC, and now Chargers). To prove it, I spend way too much time on fantasy sports. (On a side note, I’m the commissioner of a dynasty football league and we’re looking for a new owner so if interested, hit me up). That’s why when I tried to figure out what I should write about, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t done a top five Asian American athletes article for 8Asians before.
Figuring out a top five was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. First, I’ll be honest, the list was going to be a top ten. However, I realized right away that finding ten Asian American athletes I wanted to talk about was going to be a lot harder than I originally thought. Five seemed way more manageable.
Then, I had to decide which sports to include. Because I’m most knowledge about the three major sports in the United States, I decided to limit it to those—so baseball, basketball, and football. This means that I don’t mention the Olympians (Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Anton Ohno, Michelle Kwan, Sammy Lee, and others that I’m probably missing), golfers (Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie), or a tennis star (Michael Chang). My apologies to all of them. They are all amazing athletes and some played formative roles in my life. You can’t find a Japanese American who was around in the 1990s who didn’t swell with pride watching Kristi Yamaguchi in the Olympics or an Asian American kid from the late 80s, who didn’t play tennis because of Michael Chang.
And finally, this list does not include any Asian Asians (in other words, people who were born in Asia and do not consider themselves Asian American). This means that stars such as Hideo Nomo, Chan Ho Park, Yao Ming, Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish or countless others are not eligible.
Because the list was limited to my top five, there were some names I had to leave off. Here are some of the other athletes that I considered for this list that deserve to be mentioned: Major League Baseball players Ron Darling, Don Wakamatsu, Kurt Suzuki, Travis Ishikawa, NBA and Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, and NFL football players Hines Ward, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Polamalu, Rey Maualuga, Edward Wang. Also, it should be mentioned that on principle, I cannot include any San Francisco Giant. So Tim Lincecum is not eligible. Sorry Giant fans—your team sucks this year by the way.
Without further ado, here is my list of top five Asian American athletes.
Dat was a star linebacker for Texas A&M and played five years for the Dallas Cowboys. He has the tenth most career tackles in Dallas history. He was the first Vietnamese American to play in the NFL.
Why I chose Dat? Despite being a USC Trojans fan, I remember what it meant to me to see Dat Nguyen on the field at Texas and then later Dallas. Everyone said he was too small and slow to play in the NFL, but he never listened to his critics. He took pride in being the baddest linebacker on any field he played on.
Kenichi is known as the “Father of Japanese American baseball.” Among many accomplishments, he was responsible for bringing Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on a barnstorming tour of Japan, which is credited for baseball’s popularity in the country. But most importantly, he was instrumental in creating a baseball league in the Gila Riva Interment camp.
Why did I chose Kenichi? Unlike the other athletes on this list, Kenichi’s role was more of an ambassador than a player. He was the main force behind a Japanese American baseball league in the deserts of an internment camp that made life just a little more bearable and fun for those incarcerated.
Wat was the first non-white player and first Asian American to play in the NBA.
Why did I chose Wat? Despite having only played three games in the NBA, he is a legend in my book. He broke the NBA’s color barrier the same year that Jackie Robinson did it in baseball. But the thing that people forget about Wat, he was actually a hell of a basketball player. At five feet and seven inches, he led his college basketball team to an NCAA championship in 1944.
Junior is a hall of fame linebacker who played nineteen years in the NFL for the San Diego Charger, Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots.
Why I chose Junior? Junior was a stud. First round draft pick. Defense player of the year. Multiple Pro-Bowls. Linebacker of the Year. Super Bowl Champion. Hall of famer. And of course USC alumni. But what I remember about him was the 1994 championship game where he played with a pinched nerve in his neck and somehow still managed to get 16 tackles.
Jeremy is an NBA guard who has played for the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets. He has averaged twelve points and four and a half assists in his career.
Why I chose Jeremy? This was a rather obvious choice. All I have to say is Linsanity. Most people remember him because of those few weeks in New York. But the reality is that he’s had a very successful career. And frankly, he’s the guy every young Asian American basketball player who has ever played the game wants to be.
Follow me on Twitter at @ksakai1
If you’re not aware, there is a closely watched special Congressional election coming this Tuesday, June 20th in Georgia – in a suburb of Atlanta (Georgia’s 6th Congressional District between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff), and Asian Americans could be the difference in having a Democrat win over a traditionally Republican district:
“Based on the district’s demographic makeup, Asian-American residents like Kolichala could play a major role in determining the final winner. While there are approximately 420,000 Asian Americans living in Georgia — roughly 4.2 percent of the state’s total population, according to the U.S. Census bureau — Asian Americans make up more than 10 percent of the 6th District.
Certain subsections of the district are also known for their high concentration of Asian Americans, including Johns Creek, where approximately a quarter of the city’s population identifies as Asian.
“Generally what attracts a lot of first generation Asian Americans to the area are the good school districts,” Sam Park, a Georgia state legislator and current Asian outreach director for Ossoff’s campaign, told NBC News. The son of Korean immigrants, Park grew up in the 6th District.”
This kind of reminds me of back in 2008 when Asian Americans were making a possible difference in Virginia – and they did when Obama won the state. In a special election, voter turnout tends to be much lower than presidential elections conducted in November. So it will be very interesting to see, if there is exit polling data, how Asian Americans voted. Nationally, Asian Americans are usually independent or lean Democratic, but that is because most Asian Americans live in California or New York. I imagine that in Georgia, Asian Americans tend to be more on the Independent or Republican leaning side.
I’m a big fan Korean food, especially Korean BBQ. But I also like bibimbap:
“The word literally means “mixed rice”. Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or doenjang (a fermented soybean paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The hot dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating.”
At my local Trader Joe’s in Silicon Valley, this frozen meal goes for $3.49. I brought this in the other day for lunch at work and microwaved it. Here’s what the dish looks like frozen, taken out of the packaging along with the flavor pack that it comes with (the instructions for the flavor pack is to thaw it in warm water for a few minutes and mix in after microwaving the dish):
And after a few minutes in the microwave:
This is what the dish looks like after being microwaved and with the flavor pack mixed in. Overall, I really like the dish – the combination of meat, vegetables, and sauce tastes great. My only complaint is that I wish the dish was a little larger. I definitely would pay more to get more. But overall, this tastes pretty good – of course not nearly as good as something freshly made, but still tasty to me.
Ben “Ben 10” Nguyen will most likely move up the UFC Flyweight ranks with his 49 second submission of #9 ranked Tim Elliott at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Hunt. #12 ranked flyweight Nguyen was scheduled to fight #2 ranked Joseph Benavidez, but after Benavidez pulled out of the match with an injury, Ultimate Fighter winner #8 ranked Tin Elliott became his new opponent. Nguyen stunned Elliott with a head kick and a knee, and when Elliott threw him with a head and arm throw, Nguyen took his back and submitted him. The head and arm throw is a risky move in MMA, as it exposes the thrower’s back. Michelle Waterson used it successfully in her win over Paige VanZant, but against Rose Namajunas, she ended getting her back taken in a similar fashion to Elliott. “Ben 10” received a performance bonus for his quick and vicious work.
At the end of the match, Nguyen ask the crowd if they thought that the fight was boring. He was referring to thoughts by the UFC to get rid of the flyweight division as it did not seem to be popular, despite division champion Demetrious Johnson being ranked as the best pound for pound fighter. I hope that they don’t get rid of the division, especially as Ben Nguyen is gaining prominence not just for beating up a tattooed bully but also winning 4 out 5 matches in the Octagon.
Recently, I had blogged about HBO’s Silicon Valley portrayal of Asian stereotypes, specifically about how I was not a fan of the character Jian-Yang.
One character I did forget to mention, was the venture capitalist (VC) Ed Chen, who is portrayed by actor Tim Chiou. Ed Chen comes across as any other douche bag, venture capitalist “Silicon Valley bro.” Chen could be of any race – but he’s not a stereotypical geeky Asian American, and in fact, in a recent episode, you see Chen take off his shirt to play basketball, and he’s pretty good looking if you ask me:
I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have a broad range of Asian American men to be portrayed – just like Caucasian men.
It’s the story of a Japanese American middle school girl sent to an internment camp during World War II.
As Koji put it a few weeks ago in his review:
The novel is a must read for anyone interested in what it was like in the time after Pearl Harbor for Japanese Americans to what life was like in “camp” and then in the time after they were released. It gives us a peak into the racism and the hate Japanese Americans had to endure during those years—but also the small acts of kindness that they also experienced too. These kinds of stories are important. Not only because they remember the past and tell us the facts, but also because they are able to put a face and a name to what happened—a historical tragedy.
Ok, ok… you want a chance to win? Read on!
Note: this discusses a little bit of the current season – so possible spoilers if you haven’t been watching.
When I saw this headline on Facebook, I wondered why no one had written about this yet. I’m a fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley, but not a fan of the character Jian-Yang. I find Jian-Yang’s accent a bit extreme and his behavior a bit too bizarre and weird. He kind of makes me feel the same way whenever I see Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles, just a little bit disgusted. I mean, at times, Jian-Yang does make me laugh, especially more recently with his “hot dog, not hot dog” app, and I think Jimmy O. Yang does a great job of handling the writing, but as the Wired article expresses:
“Meanwhile, Pakistani immigrant Dinesh spectacularly screwed up both a CEO position and a relationship—the entire point of his character is that he’ll never be as smart or as savvy as Gilfoyle. (For proof of this, look no further than their tiff on last night’s episode, which Gilfoyle won simply by maintaining that he did.) Chinese immigrant Jian-Yang is written as even less smart—his big pitch this season was a collection of eight octopus recipes—and the developer’s greatest achievement thus far has been cheating Erlich out of a year’s rent by taking advantage of a loophole meant to help the unfortunate. Dinesh and Jian-Yang might be just as brilliant as their counterparts, but Silicon Valley never shows it.
Not every white character on Silicon Valley is a genius, of course. And that’s the point. White characters can be dreamers like Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) or dumdums like Big Head (Josh Brener). But its Asian characters, who represent the quarter of Valley workers who are Asian or Asian American, are shuttled into the same little boxes society has kept for Asians for centuries. For a show that’s constantly questioning what keeps innovation and progress from happening, it should ask the same of itself.”
I’ve been living and working in Silicon Valley since August 1999, and I have never met someone who acted like Jian-Yang. And I’ve also worked for Chinese companies and worked with a lot of Asian and Asian Americans. I must admit, I don’t think I’ve met anyone like Erlich or Gilfoyle, but at least those characters are not, I believe, based on any racial stereotypes.
After writing this post, I did a comment regarding the Wired article from a Facebook friend of mine who said:
“My boyfriend is friends with Jimmy O. Yang and Jimmy O. Yang came up with the Jian Yang character on his own. His character reminds me of my former roommate who was straight up from China. She used to smoke in her room, make stinky Chinese dishes with dried octopus and rarely washed her dishes.. it’s a stereotype that, at least to me, hits close to home and is pretty accurate to my life experience.”
So it’s interesting to hear that Yang came up with the character. Yang came over to the U.S. from Hong Kong when he was 13. Maybe he’s not as familiar or as offended to a Long Duk Dong character (well, Jian-Yang isn’t that bad). Still, not a big fan of the character and hope Jian-Yang evolves as the show progresses.
For the most part, I think Dinesh’s character has been treated fairly, except for the fact that Gilfoyle often antagonizes Dinesh for not having a girlfriend or friends (except that he does in Season 3 for part of the season). However, I was really disappointed to see that Dinesh wasn’t CEO of Pied Piper for more than an episode – I really liked seeing the cocky, arrogant, self-assured – should I say, white-washed Dinesh being portrayed.
I don’t know how many more seasons Silicon Valley can go for (it’s been renewed for it’s fourth season already), but I really do hope that the show can develop Jian-Yang into a more realistic, but also still funny character.
I a single guy and not necessarily a great cook. I do enjoy cooking, but cooking for one person can be a challenge at times. Also, I’m acutely aware of wasting food, so oftentimes I wind up buying frozen foods. That isn’t exactly very healthy, but it is convenient. What I’ve noticed the past few years is that places like Trader Joe’s, Costco and even supermarkets like Safeway, will carry a lot of frozen Chinese, Japanese and other Asian ethnic cuisines. So I thought I’d start a new series called Asian American Frozen Foods – to highlight and possibly review these frozen food dishes.
First up, is Trader Joe’s Pork Shu Mai. First of all, Trader Joe’s tries to be clever by calling itself “Trader Ming’s” on the packaging:
At my local Trader Joe’s in Silicon Valley, this frozen dish goes for $2.99. The instructions were to either microwave the dumplings for 3 minutes or to steam for 12 minutes. I decided to steam:
After 12 minutes, I got this:
To be honest, the shu mai pork dumplings didn’t really taste all that flavorful compared to what you would get at a Chinese restaurant, or even as good as some frozen shu mai pork dumplings that I got at a local Ranch 99. So I can’t really recommend these, unless you’re desperate for some shu mai.