Pew Research Report: Discrimination Experiences Shape Most Asian Americans’ Lives

 

By Angelina Chiang

In the recent study conducted in 2023 by PEW Research about ongoing racism towards Asians and Asian Americans, there was clear and evident data that show how discriminatory attitudes and behaviors are still ongoing, despite many efforts to promote inclusivity and increase awareness on this matter. Discrimination against many Asian Americans can take on multiple forms–they are not confined to individual incidents.

Discrimination against Asian Americans in the United States has been long-standing throughout history. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the denial of naturalized U.S. citizenship until the 1940s, to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and targeted racism towards South Asians following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Asian Americans have consistently faced prejudice and exclusion. Whether or not Asian Americans were born in America, they are often being perceived as outsiders.

The outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 has led to a concerning rise in discrimination and violence against Asian Americans. In the same research conducted by Pew Research, a survey in 2021 revealed that one-third of English-speaking Asian adults expressed fear of being threatened or physically attacked. An immigrant Korean woman in her early 50s, who claimed that, “It seems that they [white people] can’t distinguish between Korean and Chinese and think that we are from Asia and the onset of COVID-19 is our fault. This is something that can happen to all of us,” The experiences of individuals highlight the lasting presence of racism in our society and the need for education and empathy towards Asian American communities.

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Review of Netflix Japan’s “Our Secret Diary”

Directed by Kentaro Takemura, the main character of Japanese teen romance movie Our Secret Diary, high schooler Nozomi Kuroda (Hiyori Sakurada), is your classic Japanese shy girl next door who also adorably happens to be a bit of a closet metal head. Following all the cliches of Japanese teen love stories, this one starts off with Nozomi receiving a love confession note in her desk from a popular boy in school, Jun Setoyama (Fumiya Takahashi), and being both timid and prudent, she agrees to correspond with him to get to know him better as friends before considering going out with him. As they exchange messages in a notebook, she soon finds out that his confession note was actually intended for her best friend, not her, but it’s too late–she’s already started to develop feelings for him.

Fair warning before I begin my analysis of the film: I watched it entirely in Japanese with no English subtitles while still being an intermediate level language learner, but I estimate I understood at least 75% of the story. I chose a simple teen romance specifically expecting a predictable plot and not too much vocabulary out of my range of comprehension precisely because I watched this 2023 film on Netflix in Japan, where English subs weren’t even an option.

Needless to say, I had very low expectations. This bubble gum genre in any culture or language is usually rife with outlandish, eye-rolling extremes, the challenge of language learning the only thing I expected to be engaging. The first sign that this film might be a cut above the rest was, right at the start, some skillful editing to present some pieces of the story in non-chronological order, strategically building suspense and giving the plot momentum moving forward, a technique that served to effectively enhance the reveals in the end.

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Amanda Nguyen and Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights

By Angelina Chiang

Amanda Nguyen is a well-known figure in the field of sexual assault advocacy. As the CEO and founder of Rise, a non-profit organization that focuses on supporting survivors and changing laws to protect their rights, she dedicates her life to protecting millions of girls and women around the world. 

Nguyen herself is a survivor of rape and claims the most difficult part of what happened was not the rape itself, but how she was treated by the justice system after. She found that the justice system was not protecting individuals and carrying out justice but rather retraumatizing survivors and denying them basic rights. In response, she founded Rise in 2014, a nonprofit organization that provides support and resources to survivors and works to pass laws to better protect their rights.

With the help of Nguyen, volunteers, and legislators, Congress unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights in 2016. The law guarantees basic rights to survivors of sexual assault, such as the right to have their rape kit expenses (up to $2,000) paid for and preserved for the duration of the entire investigation. Rise has additionally passed 65 laws and one United Nations resolution, helping more than 100 million people. 

Nguyen’s work with Rise has gained widespread recognition. She has been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, Time’s 100 Next list, and many more. Her strong and ongoing advocacy has not only changed laws but has also changed lives, giving survivors hope and a sense of empowerment. Through her work with Rise, Nguyen has shown that you can take your trauma and turn it into something positive to help others.

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Pew Research Center: Asian Americans & Changing Partisan Coalitions in a Politically Divided Nation

The Pew Research Center recently published a report, Changing Partisan Coalitions in a Politically Divided Nation, and to no surprise to me, Asians Americans overwhelmingly skew more Democratic than Republican. As the report states:

“The balance of partisan association among Asian voters has changed little over the last few years.”

There have been more recent reports than Asian Americans are becoming more independent or even a little bit Republican, but not a major shift that one can see. In the nineties, many Asian Americans were Republicans or Independents.

What is interesting to see is in the context of the larger picture when it comes to partisanship:

As also noted in the report, college educated Asian Americans are even more Democratic leaning:

“Two-thirds of Asian voters with a college degree align with the Democratic Party; 31% associate with the Republican Party. The partisan balance among Asian voters with a college degree has remained largely the same over our last two decades of surveys. (Asian American voters without a college degree are a smaller group, and sample sizes do not allow for reporting trends among this group.)”

Given 2024 is a presidential election year, I’m sure we’ll be reading more and more about the Asian American electorate, especially as to how we might be the swing vote in certain states, like in Georgia.

 

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Leanne Wong: Student, Entrepreneur, and Possible Olympic Gymnast

1) Pre-med student 2) business owner 3) college gymnast trying to make it into the Olympics – Leanne Wong is all three! I first learned about her story from this ESPN article. She is an elite level gymnast, having achieved the “gym slam,” which is a perfect score in all four major artistic gymnastic events at least once her in career. In addition, she is a pre-med student athlete at the University of Florida who simultaneously runs a business selling Gymnastics oriented bows, leotards, and T-Shirts!

Wong has the goal of making the US Olympics Team, which will be tough this year. The level of competition for the team will be very high, with former champions Sunisa Lee, Gabby Douglas, and Simone Biles working to get on the team.  She is taking a different approach than most other college gymnastics by staying in college and competing with her college team.

It’s not just the number of things she does that is amazing but the depth and quality of her work.  Selling over 10,000 bows, Wong has made enough money from her business and sponsorships to buy a house and a Tesla. In the ESPN article, her mother says that she wants to buy another house that is close to campus to rent out to generate income. On top of that, she has even co-written a book with her mother called My Journey:  Trust the Process.

Wong is looking to compete at the US Classic Event in May, where she can qualify for the US Gymnastics championship to determine who gets to present the US for the Paris Olympics. We will be following to see how this amazing young woman’s story develops.

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Is Ube becoming Ubiquitous?

A few years ago, I asked “Has Filipino Food Arrived?” and mentioned that ube is starting to appear in many places. In the shopping areas, grocery, and restaurants that I frequent, ube is already very well established. One could argue that my sampling is biased by the fact that I live in an Asian ethnoburb, but when I heard a DJ on the radio talking about going to Ube Fest this coming Sunday, I definitely think ube has arrived – or better yet, become “ube-quitous!”

It is present in more places than just Asian venues. Sure, there is an Ube Cheesecake from Uncle Tetsu and an Ube Ice Cream at Somisomi, both Asian oriented food chains. I recently got ube croissants at a bakery in our San Jose’s Little Saigon.  But when I mentioned ube to someone who is living in Alabama, she mentioned that her nieces like Trader Joe’s Ube Mochi Pancakes.  Ube has popped up recently in Real Simple magazine and even on Martha Stewart’s website.

Of course, not everything purple that is claimed to be ube is really ube. Sometimes what is touted as ube may be made with artificial flavoring and food coloring. Ube is not the same as purple sweet potatoes or is not the same as taro.

Ube Fest promises to have items like ube salsa, ube, cookies, and ube kettle corn. You can purchase tickets here for the April 7, 12:00-5:00 PM festival.  If you can’t make that event, “Yum Yams” will also celebrate ube on May 18, 2024.

(photo credit: Remi Tournebize licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

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Traveling Japan: Sakura Season at Nagoya’s Yamasaki River Kanae Bridge

‘Tis the hanami (flower viewing) season in Japan again, and I thought I’d share one of my favorite sakura stroll experiences in Japan. While the famous spots are often in popular tourist destinations like Tokyo and Kyoto, one thing I realized the first time I experienced spring in Japan is there is quite literally sakura trees everywhere. You’ll especially see this riding trains with views of cities and countryside zipping by, sudden spots of gorgeous streams of glistening water or peacefully paved paths lined with trees exploding in pink and white, large patches of flowers on the hills flowing down into the neighborhoods below, a burst of blossom randomly here and there in someone’s yard or at the entrance of a factory or lining the outskirts of a school. They plant them all over, since there’s a lot of love for these flowering trees in Japan, a love that has spilled over into the rest of the world, with many yearning to experience strolling under the gentle pink petals falling like snow.

There are different ways to enjoy the sakura season. There’s the classic picnic under the blooms with friends or coworkers, often on blue tarp or sitting on a red cloth covered bench eating some sweets paired with tea. You can also just be walking to work, school, or the train station and happen upon a lone blooming tree or a stretch of street lined with them. Some more epic experiences include cruising under flowers on a boat down a river canal, riding through clouds of pink blossoms on a picturesque old train, swooping by them on an amusement park ride, or getting to a spot where you can view the trees in full bloom with a breathtaking backdrop view of the sparkling ocean filled with smaller islands under a cumulous cloud painted sky.


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Filipina American Basketball Player Kayla Padilla makes it to the NCAA Elite 8

(photo credit: Katie Chin/USC Athletics)

It seemed strange yet very cool to see an Asian American woman basketball player in a NCAA Division 1  game televised on national television.  It was not just any game – USC guard Kayla Padilla was playing in a NCAA tournament sweet 16 game! I found about her when my brother forwarded me an ESPN article on how an Ivy League rule gave Kayla and two other former Ivy league players a chance to play on a team in a top level conference.

If her name sounds familiar, we have written about her in this article on Gonzaga basketball players Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong.  Kaylynne Truong had written about her experiences in an article in The Sideline Post, a platform founded by then Penn Basketball player Kayla Padilla. You might be wondering how a four year player at Penn now starts at USC. The ESPN article explains that because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, NCAA athletics received an extra year of eligibility.  But because the Ivy League does not permit graduate students to play, Padilla and other Ivy league players transferred to USC to play as graduate students. She had to make an adjustment, moving from a primary scorer to more of a playmaker and also taking on key defensive roles, but she wanted to expand her game and do what it took for her new team to win:

One of the biggest things that drew me here was that I knew the expectation was that my role was going to be different. I knew I wasn’t going to be doing what I did at Penn here. But I think the expectation was to just come here and fulfill a role and just contribute in any way I can to win. … I communicated that I was ready to do anything as long as I could be a part of a winning team and make an impact and contribute in some impactful way.

USC’s Elite 8 game vs UCONN is scheduled for 6:15 PM PDT on Monday April 1 and televised on ESPN.

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Taiwanese CEOs: Morris Chang

By Travis Yen

Morris Chang, a Taiwanese-American businessman and electrical engineer, was born in Ningbo, China, on July 10, 1931. He is best known for starting the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), a key player in the semiconductor industry worldwide.

Chang’s family had to relocate frequently throughout China and to British Hong Kong due to the upheaval caused by World War II and the Chinese Civil War. Chang was convinced to follow a different career route by his father, a finance official and bank manager, despite his initial wish to become a novelist or journalist.

Chang relocated to the US in 1949 to enroll at Harvard University, but, by his sophomore year, he had transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1952 and 1953, he graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Chang persevered through difficulties during his doctoral studies at MIT, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in 1952 and his master’s degree in 1953. Chang’s employer at the time, Texas Instruments recognized his potential and sent him to Stanford University to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1964.

According to Forbes, Chang started his career in the semiconductor industry at Sylvania Semiconductor. Later, he moved up the ranks to become the senior vice president in charge of Texas Instruments‘ global semiconductor operations. He departed Texas Instruments in 1984 to take a position as president of General Instrument Corporation. He was hired by the Taiwanese government to head the Industrial Technology Research Institute a year later.

Chang envisioned a company that could manufacture chips and other electronic devices tailored to the specific design requirements of electronics firms. In order to respond to the increasing reliance on outsourcing as a strategy for cost reduction, he established TSMC in 1987 with assistance from the Taiwanese government. This would in turn it into one of the most successful chip companies in the world, according to The New York Times.

Morris Chang has continued to be involved in many ways both inside and outside of the tech industry after he retired from TSMC in. Even though he is no longer involved in the day-to-day management of TSMC, Chang is still regarded as a recognized mentor and advisor to aspiring executives and entrepreneurs. He spends time on charitable endeavors outside of his work, especially in the areas of healthcare and education. Beyond his revolutionary work at TSMC, Chang left an enduring impression on the semiconductor industry and the wider field of technical innovation.

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Review: Netflix’s “Let’s Get Divorced”

Sheltered third generation politician Taishi Shoji (Tori Matsuzaka) and wildly successful actress Yui Kurosawa (Riisa Naka) can no longer stand each other and want to get a divorce, but their high profile life makes it extremely difficult to do so on top of the usual headaches and complications of a separation.

Netflix’s “Let’s Get Divorced” is a dramatic comedy that starts off with the usual family politics over a divorce, exacerbated by their lives in the public eye and their respective career paths. I started watching this Netflix produced Japanese drama not expecting much, hoping to learn some new Japanese vocabulary about politics in a lighthearted show, but I was actually quite invested in the characters by the end and found the ways in which both the wife and husband developed rather refreshing. The couple each come to terms with who they are as people in their own way and start to learn what they really want from life and from themselves.


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Taiwanese CEOs: Terry Gou

By Travis Yen

Taiwanese business magnate Terry Gou has made a name for himself in the fields of technology, philanthropy, and business. Gou was born in Banqiao District, New Taipei City, on October 8, 1950. His life story is an inspiration in drive, creativity, and fortitude.

Growing up in Taiwan at a time of explosive economic growth, Gou saw directly the transformational potential of entrepreneurship. Following his graduation from National Chiao Tung University’s electrical engineering program, Gou set out on his career with the goal of making a positive impact on Taiwan’s rapidly growing technology industry.

According to Forbes, Gou was a co-founder of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. in 1974; this company is now referred to as Foxconn Technology Group globally. Under Gou’s direction, Foxconn which had begun as a producer of plastic components for television sets quickly grew into one of the biggest electronics manufacturing firms in the world. Foxconn rose to the top of the global technology supply chain thanks to Gou’s strategic vision and innovation-focused approach, and the business now serves as a vital supplier for significant tech companies like Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft.

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8Books Review: I Hope This Doesn’t Find You by Ann Liang

With strong reverse All the Boys vibes, Ann Liang’s latest novel I Hope This Doesn’t Find You is a classic enemies to lovers tale set within the mean, competitive hallways of high school. Sadie Wen is a perfectionist — school captain, valedictorian, always striving to be the best. But that doesn’t mean she takes everything lying down. No, she’s got an entire drafts folder full of angry emails to all the people who have wronged her. Top of the list is her co-captain Julius Gong who seems to always be trying to one-up her, in class, at social events, everything.

But one day, years of emails and pent-up frustrations are sent and Sadie’s life is turned upside down. I Hope This Doesn’t Find You nestles in at the intersections of self expectations and family expectations, the tangle of best friends, gossip, high school trips, and athletic competitions. It’s a heady mix that makes for a page-turning read, because Sadie isn’t the only one who’s got issues…

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