Alvarado Middle School in Union City California will officially change its name to Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School this September. Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz were farm worker labor leaders instrumental in the founding of the United Farm Workers. The change was not without acrimony. The school board decision was made with a close 3-2 vote. Some parents opposed the change and set up this change.org petition to have the decision reversed. Racist graffiti was later found on local Filipino businesses, some with apparent references to Alvarado Middle School.
One fifth of Union City’s population is Filipino, as are one third of its students.
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As a child growing up in America, I thought of myself as not-American. In America, I was Taiwanese, I was Chinese, I was Asian. Though I pledged my allegiance to the American flag alongside my classmates of various ethnic and heritage backgrounds, the concept that I had to be White to be American had seeped into my conciousness from popular media, from society, from Americans.
Ironically, I was most American when I was not in America. In Taiwan, my heritage country, my chopsticks would get taken away and I was always offered milk and hamburgers because that’s what American kids eat. It seems that a fish knows most that it’s a fish when it is out of water.
That was definitely also the case for Wong Kim Ark. Not only did leaving America make him an American, it forced the United States of America to define and defend what it means to be an American citizen.
The Chinese Exclusion Act
On May 6, 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which made it so that “the coming of the Chinese laborers to the United States be…hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come…to remain within the United States.” In other words, this act made it so that no new Chinese people were allowed here in the United States. This act was a product of anti-Chinese sentiment during that time period due to anger and resentment over Chinese laborers being willing to work for lower wages and taking jobs. It was also a product of just general racism towards the Chinese in America.
The Chinese Exclusion Act also included a deportation order, that “any Chinese person found unlawfully within the United States shall be caused to be removed therefrom to the country from whence he came, by direction of the President of the United States, and at the cost of the United States, after being brought before some justice, judge, or commission of a court of the United States and found to be one not lawfully entitled to be or remain in the United States.” Due to a general lack of documentation and record keeping at the time, this made it possible for people of Chinese descent to be targeted and deported.
Further, the Chinese Exclusion Act also made a clear stand on whether the Chinese could become citizens, “that hereafter no State Court or court of the United States shall admit Chinese to citzenship; and all lawas in conflict with this act are hereby repealed.” This was an unequivocal block to citizenship for anyone from China. But did it apply to those people of Chinese descent who were born here in America?
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Matthew Salesses’ debut novel The Hundred Year Flood is a lyrical adventure through the streets of Prague. Young Korean American Tee at the center of everything, as he tries to reinvent himself and separate himself from his adopted parents and the apparently destructive cycle of his adopted father. He escapes to Prague following his uncle’s suicide and 9/11 hoping to shed the past. His struggles and exploits are detailed in a beautifully transient way, as the writing pulls you closer and closer to the oncoming once-in-a-hundred-years flood. Tee befriends a revolutionary artist and his wife, among other characters, in Prague, but his actions and reactions drive the story forward, all twisted in with a bit of mysticism.
I’ve put off writing this review for a few days in part because I’m still processing, probably will still be processing for a second-go-around read. And that, I feel, is a sign of a strong novel, the kind that grabs on and is confusing and real and many other things. It is both light yet complex, stirring yet sparse in just over two hundred pages. But the chapters breeze by before you realize how caught up you are, not so much in the plot, as in the writing and the emotions.
When I saw this article on 47% of Taiwan’s poulation lacks alcohol-metabolizing gene posted on Facebook and read the details, I laughed, since it is pretty common that Asians often do get the “Asian flush”. ALDH2 is an alcohol-metabolizing gene and if you lack that gene, you don’t metabolize alcohol so easily:
“The percentage of people with ALDH2 Deficiency, also known as the “alcohol flush reaction,” in Taiwan is the highest in the world at 47%, said Che-Hong Chen, senior research scientist with Stanford University’s Mochly-Rosen Lab, during a seminar the university jointly held with Taipei Medical University on Tuesday.
The deficiency is common in ethnic Han Chinese people living in coastal areas. The percentage is 35% in China, 30% in Japan and 20% in South Korea. Taiwan’s indigenous people groups do not lack the gene.”
I always thought that Koreans had a stereotype of being the biggest drinkers in Asia, but now I can understand why – they have the highest percentage of people who can hold their liquor.
There’s a downside to lacking that gene if you drink – if you drink on a regular basis, you increase risks of mouth, throat and esophageal cancers by 50-fold over people with the gene!
While you may have already seen Joshua Dela Cruz’s surprise proposal to Amanda Phillips disguised as a dance video shoot, but I thought I’d share it for three reasons. First, it’s a lot more original than a flash mob proposal–those are so 2011! Second, it portrays an Asian-White romance where the genders are atypical. Finally, it features a guy who looks like my nephew’s son. They both wear the same kind of hat, and both are excellent dancers!
Dela Cruz and Phillips originally met while dancing. Using the pretense of filming another dance seems like a clever and fitting way to propose. Joshua Dela Cruz is currently appearing on Broadway in Aladdin and is an understudy for the title role. Amanda Phillips is a working actress, singer, and dancer.
The Okochi-Sanso Villa in Arashiyama used to be the home of a famous actor named Denjiro Okochi. As I was researching the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest destination, I saw mention of this, read a little about it, saw some beautiful pictures of the buildings and gardens, and decided I had to stop by–especially because there’s a tea included with the price of about $20 USD ticket. It did not disappoint.
To get to the Villa, you have to walk through the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. The Villa is a sort of private museum, so you have to buy a ticket to go in. The grounds were contemplative and lovely.
“The Seattle City Council approved a resolution Monday expressing regret for legislation passed in the 1800s that discriminated against Chinese immigrants. Laws passed by Washington Territory, which became Washington state in 1889, barred Chinese people from voting, owning land and giving evidence in court cases that involved Caucasian people, according to the council. The council itself adopted several anti-Chinese ordinances in 1885. The next year, an anti-Chinese riot forced 350 Chinese people to leave Seattle, according to the council.”
Councilmember Nick Licata sponsored the resolution at the request of the Greater Seattle Chapter of the OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates and the local chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.
Several members of the public also added their comments.
Gil Asakawa’s newest edition of his JA sourcebook, Being Japanese American is chock full of information and anecdotes to guide anyone through Japanese American life, questions, issues, etc. I should say, of course, that I am not Japanese American, but I nevertheless found the book enlightening and enjoyable to read.
Reading this book is like having a conversation with the author, written in a personal style and tone that’s very accessible. And I have to say that in many ways it reminds of the kind of book you want to give a teenager who’s coming of age. It’s filled with answers to question that a young teenage JA or AAPI might not feel comfortable asking peers or parents about, and with quotes and life stories that make you feel less alone in the world–make you realize that your experience, while unique, is also shared.
If you’ve been following the presidential campaign as I have, you know that when Donald Trump announced that he was running for president, in his announcement, he ignited a firestorm regarding the issue of immigration when he stated:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Now it looks like former Republican presidential frontrunner Jeb Bush has gotten into a bit of trouble regarding immigration when trying to clarify his usage of the pejorative term ‘anchor babies‘, and commenting that:
“But on Monday during a visit to Texas near the US border with Mexico, when responding to a question about whether the “anchor baby” row would hurt his ability to win the Hispanic vote, Bush said the situation has more to do with other immigrants.
“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts — and frankly it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children in that organized effort, taking advantage of a noble concept with birthright citizenship,” Bush said.”
Considering that Bush is a former governor and a the son and brother of former presidents, you would think that he would be a little bit more polished.
What Bush was referring to is what is more commonly known as ‘birth tourism,’ primarily covered in the press (and I’m guessing, most representeted by) well-to-do Chinese expectant mothers visiting the U.S. for the sole purpose of giving birth in the U.S. to guarantee U.S. citizenship for their child and shortly afterwards, return to China. In the future, the parents could have the option to send their child to the U.S. for higher education and at age 21 sponsor them for U.S. citizenship. 8Asians has covered this topic extensively, most recently with the federal raids on ‘birth tourism hotels’ in California.
Back in June, I had blogged that Olympic skater Michelle Kwan had joined the Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. At the time, I wondered if Kwan was going to be the lead go-to-person for Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) outreach for the Clinton campaign. From the few Clinton fundraiser emails I’ve received from Kwan, her title is Surrogate Outreach Coordinator. But now it looks like the Clinton campaign has hired Lisa Changadveja, an experienced and passionate Clinton supporter as AAPI Outreach Director for Hillary for America:
“In an effort to target, mobilize, and win the fast-growing Asian American-Pacific Islander (AAPI) electorate, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign will announce today that Lisa Changadveja has been named the AAPI Outreach Director for Hillary for America.
According to the campaign, Changadveja was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of Thai immigrants, and has a long history with Clinton campaigns.
She first joined Hillary Clinton’s 2007 presidential campaign team, mobilizing voters in Nevada, Ohio, and Indiana. In 2013, Changadveja served as the AAPI and LGBT Director for Ready for Hillary, an independent super PAC created to help launch Clinton’s 2016 presidential run.”
I look forward to seeing what Changadveja, and more broadly, all the presidential candidates and political parties do in terms of outreach to the AAPI community. As I have noted before, although nationally, Asian Americans make close to 6% of the U.S. population, in key swing states such as Nevada and Virginia, we could be a decisive factor as to who wins the presidency.
First of all, the Clinton campaign needs to update their website to add in AAPIs section in regards to creating an official email list for organizing, outreach and fundraising (like when Obama did back when he was running in 2008). There’s already (I believe) an independently created Facebook group for AAPI for Hillary group.
As I had blogged once, I had met the author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Jennifer 8. Lee, once while she was promoting the book when the book was just coming out and follow her on Facebook & Twitter. When the documentary The Search For General Tso came out, I had blogged about the film. I saw recently that Lee had posted that the documentary (where she’s a producer on the film), was now available on Netflix. I just recently began using Netflix a couple of months ago when my brother created a profile for myself, and I can see how addicting it can be.
Lee had also posted that she was especially proud that the documentary has a 94% “freshness” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. So if you have a Netflix account, definitely watched the documentary – it goes over the history of Chinese food in America as well as the origins of General Tso’s chicken.