The first Asian American fraternity was formed in upstate New York around the time of World War I to combat the racial discrimination that Asian college students faced. Basically, because Asians were excluded from the white people’s clubs, the guys decided to form their own. In the late 40s, a group of Japanese American women in Southern California formed the first Asian American sorority to support one another in the face of anti-Japanese sentiments and racism.
After the murder of Vincent Chin in the 80s, Asian American fraternities and sororities were at the helm of college-level coalitions pushing for federal prosecution of the perpetrators. They organized vigils, raised money, passed out pamphlets to inform people of what happened, back before the days of YouTube, Facebook, and blogs, and led protests.
By the 90s, the idea of starting your own cultural interest Greek (“Asian Greek”) went viral and today there’s a gazillion of them. In the 90s, Asian Greeks led the charge on many campus political fronts. They had the clout to round up crowds of Asian Americans to rally for change. Many of those fraternity brothers and sorority sisters were activists. They challenged white-dominant student associations when minority interests were subjugated. I recall one incident during my stint in college where this happened and the Asian Greeks united in a positive and uplifting way that did bring about change.
So where are the Asian Greeks today?
Get the day's stories from 8Asians.com, delivered to your inbox every evening.
I guess in my excitement last week in discovering a new Din Tai Fung coming to Southern California, I missed the news, or it was not paying too much attention that another location in Costa Mesa was opening up as well in the future:
“Din Tai Fung, purveyor of the famed Shanghai-style xiao long bao soup dumplings that burst in your mouth upon consumption, is coming to South Coast Plaza. Arcadia’s Best reports that the 8,000 square-foot restaurant won’t be here until April 2014. … The Costa Mesa location will mark the fifth Din Tai Fung in the U.S. Two are in Arcadia, one’s in Seattle and one is being built at Americana at Brand in Glendale.”
It still boggles my mind that Southern California and Seattle (Bellevue) have a Din Tai Fung, yet there are no announced plans to open one in the San Francisco Bay Area.
So, if you haven’t read Joz’s post about the UC Irvine frat debacle, Lambda Theta Delta at UC Irvine, an Asian American Fraternity, has suspended its own status as a UC Irvine organization for one year, until fall 2014 because of the racist blackface video made to promote one of its school events.
Clearly, those kids need to take responsibility for their egregiously stupid actions. However, I’m going to stretch this one and blame it partly on the fact that we don’t have enough Asian Pacific American history taught at the K-12 level. I can’t imagine these guys didn’t share it with a bunch of their friends and other people at the frat and university before going public with it, and I can’t believe no one said “Hey, guys, you know, there’s this whole history with that blackface thing…”
Why am I talking about APIA history when this UC Irvine frat event was about blackface? Because blackface is equivalent to yellowface. If these kids and all their friends, family, and peers had a stronger sense of the APIA experience, a better understanding of all the racism, bigotry, ignorance, and cancerous hate that weakens our society, the stupidity of the *concept* of this video would not have even seen the light of day.
Continue Reading »
A new study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that Asian Americans had poverty rates significantly higher than the white population in 2011. After adjusting for cost of living differences between regions (since most Asians live in large expensive cities in the west or east coast), Asian Americans had a poverty rate of 16.1% compared with 10.4% of whites. This shouldn’t be a surprise given 8Asians has already reported on Asian Americans being more adversely affected by the housing downturn, Asian Americans being affected most by long term unemployment , and Asian American seniors being hit harder by the recession.
From the Daily Caller: Two chinese girls were killed Thursday after eating poisoned yogurt that had been planted by the owner of a rival kindergarten. The owner confessed to adding rat poison to the yogurt before leaving it on the side of the road along with school notebooks, reports the BBC.
It doesn’t really need to said or pointed out that this is horrible. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. When reputation or profit becomes more important in education I can’t help but wonder what is the point of it all in the first place.
Both Dino-Ray and I have seen and reviewed Seeking Asian Female, the documentary. For those of you living in the United States, you can catch the documentary on PBS’s Independent Lens’ series this Monday, May 6th. Be sure to check you local listings for the exact time (as well as possibly slightly different date).
Here at 8Asians, we’ve blogged about the Rise of Asian Majority Suburbs (Jeff) and the racial tensions in a super rich Southern California community transitioning from majority white to majority Asian in a single generation in The “Asianization” of Southern California’s San Marino (Koji). The First 626 Nightmarket (Mary) was an event that exploded beyond what anyone expected–I didn’t even go because on my way there, I saw the immediate tweets and facebook updates of how it was one massive traffic jam of people. Now, New York Times has apparently caught a whiff of the stinky tofu fragrances wafting over their way from Los Angeles’s dozens of Asian American dominant suburbs. Kids growing up in the SGV seriously think this is what America looks like, as in 60%+ Asian Americans, and still gawk in disbelief that the Census has recorded that Asian Pacific Heritage Americans only make up about 6% of the nation. Cultural, historical, political, and economic shifts aside, one thing is for sure–with food from almost every part of Asia within a 30 minute drive, life is pretty delicious down here in the 626. What a little taste of SGV? Make your own boba in the video above!
Jason Chu is back with a new spoken word piece for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2013. Filmed by Jason Poon and with help from Marc Liu, this piece is done “in memory of those who came before – their names, their stories, their journeys. Our history.”
From Jason Chu:
With May being Asian Pacific Heritage Month, I recently wrote a piece reflecting on culture and family. I decided to record the piece as a spoken word video, to commemorate not only a month on the calendar, but the lives and paths of the men and women who came before and gave birth to us.
Over the past few years, as I’ve written more and more about my family, my friends, and their stories of leaving, moving, transitioning – translating – and growing, I’ve come to realize that culture isn’t an abstract noun.
Culture is found on the deck of a refugee boat – the songs of a homeland – the memories of lost lives and lost loves – the loving but tense bonds between generations.
I offer this spoken word video in memory of those who came before: their names, their stories, their journeys. Our history.
The full text of this piece:
HTC’s latest Android smartphone, the HTC One, has been getting a lot of fantastic reviews and is about to launch in the United States. So it’s nice to see that one of their latest commercials features hip hop band Far East Movement, to highlight the HTC One’s superior sound quality with “Turn Up the Love” playing.
From AP: “An American detained for nearly six months in North Korea has been sentenced to 15 years of labor for crimes against the state, the North’s state media said Thursday… Analysts say Pyongyang could use Bae as a bargaining chip as it seeks dialogue with Washington.”
It seems really difficult to read into North Korea’s motives right now especially with this latest sentence.
Are they seeking leverage?
Are they trying to construct a certain image on the world stage?
Are they looking to distract us from some other plan?
Only time will tell.
Life is hard enough as an Asian. Not all of us can get perfect SAT scores, graduate from medical school, or trick out a Honda Civic. The pressure to embrace our culture remains, but sometimes, we just don’t want to. How To Be A Bad Asian is an ongoing series of personal essays by the 8Asians writers about what sets us apart from the API community, how we deal with the stereotypes that we put upon ourselves and why we all can’t be that perfect Asian. It’s time to be bad.
I have a confession to make. I don’t send my daughter to Kumon, nor did we, her parents, fight tooth and nail to get her into a good kindergarten. I guess I’m just not a very good Asian dad. My cousin had both his kids in Kumon before they started school, because he didn’t think they were progressing fast enough in math and reading. An article on Hyphen talks about getting into the right Kindergarten, partly because of how “bad” the schools in LA are, and partly to get the right racial mix (the author didn’t want her child to grow up in an all-white school like she did and be the one who was teased/ostracized), and to avoid the underperforming schools. It reminded me of my own experience with my daughter and choosing schools, and all those things concerned me, but we didn’t let them drive our decision.
If you’re a parent you already know the strain and anxiety of choosing just the right pre-school and kindergarten in today’s competitive world. As a parent I didn’t go all “tiger” in selecting the pre-school my daughter went to, instead, we picked the closest big daycare near our house. Not a lot of thought went into it. And that I guess makes me a bad Asian.
When it came time to enroll my daughter in kindergarten, I was adamant that she go to public school. I went to public school and probably the least desirable public school in the area I grew up in. So when open enrollment for kindergarten started, I went to our neighborhood school and signed her up. The ratings on the school weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great either. 36% of the school is English as a second language learners, and 40% came from low income (low enough to qualify for the free/reduced lunch program) families. The same author of the Hyphen article worried that at her neighborhood school 62% were English as a second language learners, and 88% qualified for free/reduced lunch, so I guess we were doing doing pretty well.
Not surprising, the elementary school’s API scores were also mediocre, ranking 820 out of 1000 and placing the school right in the middle of all schools in California. But none of this phased me, and I went ahead and signed up my daughter for afternoon daycare (since both of her parents work), or at least I tried to. And that’s where we ran into problems. No one ever returned any of my six calls, or responded to my application. Finally, mere weeks before school started we had to give up on the local public elementary school and put her in a private kindergarten (the same daycare company she went to for pre-school), just to ensure we had afternoon daycare. And the afternoon daycare at the public school finally called me in December, four months after school started to ask me if I was still interested in enrolling my daughter.