Reporting Coronavirus Anti-Asian Racism Incidents

With Coronavirus anti-Asian racism incidents on the rise, such is this virus-inspired robbery in New York City, a website has been launched to document such incidents.  The Stop API Hate website will be used to record incidents for pushing for stronger protections, develop education material, and provide resources for victims.

“We are currently providing support to a child who had to go to the emergency room after he was assaulted and accused by bullies of having the coronavirus, and so that tells us we may need to work with schools to address shunning and school bullying but we need to know how widespread it is,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PICON), which along with Chinese for Affirmative Action, and the Asian American studies department of San Francisco state, set up the web site.

The reporting page can be found here, and contains links to forms for reporting incidents in English and a number of different Asian languages.


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A Short Review: Wind

One of the few benefits of being forced to shelter in place is that I have the opportunity to see some films that I ordinarily would not have time to see. This situation (and The Daughter’s boyfriend’s Disney+ account) enabled me to finally see Float and also the short Wind. Wind is one of a series of shorts from Pixar’s SparkShorts program, which was designed to find new storytellers from within Pixar’s ranks. While we have reviewed and talked about Float and also other Pixar shorts like Bao, none of had a chance to write up a review of Wind.

Wind is an allegory about immigration and the sacrifices that one generation makes to enable future generations to have a better life. In the video above, story creator Edwin Chang and producer Jesus Martinez talk about the creation of Wind. Chang’s grandmother was a single mother after the Korean war, and her sacrifices inspired Chang to create this story.

I found Wind to be engaging and moving. There are some aspects of it that reminded me of The Farewell, but with a twist. I definitely think it is worth your time.

Wind debuted on November 12, 2019, on Disney+, Disney’s streaming channel. Chang’s grandmother died before she could see it.

(photo credit:  Pixar)

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California Assemblymember Evan Low Introduces Universal Basic Income Bill

Since Andrew Yang dropped out of the presidential race, Assemblymember Evan Low, who was Andrew’s former campaign co-chair has been keeping busy – on February 25th, introduced a statewide universal income for Californians:

“He just introduced AB 2712, proposing a universal basic income for Californians. … “This is basically mirrored similarly to the proposal of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, in which we would be giving individuals in the state of California $1,000 a month to provide a baseline level of trickle up economics,” Low said.
… Low says he’s open to input and changes, but the point that drove Yang’s campaign farther than imagined remains relevant. … To pass, it would need a two-thirds majority vote, which could make it an uphill climb.”

Uber-#YangGang vlogger Paget Kagy did an excellent interview (above) on his efforts for universal basic income in California – something that I should have done with Evan, since I first met him back in 2008 (I can’t believe it’s been 12 years). Evan explains the process of how a California bill gets reviewed and ammended.

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Former Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Launches ‘Humanity Forward’

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang announced on ‘The View,’ email, and elsewhere the launch of ‘Humanity Forward’:

“The entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who last month ended his long-shot presidential campaign in which he promoted a universal basic income, argued for data as a property right and called for a “humanity first” approach to capitalism, announced Thursday that he would create a nonprofit organization tasked with advancing those ideas.

The organization, called Humanity Forward, aims to bring Mr. Yang’s ideas into the mainstream through conferences and a podcast, and to build pilot programs that might put his ideas into practice.

The group, which will be based in New York, will focus first on a “data dividend” project and campaign that would fight on behalf of consumers who want the rights to their personal data, Mr. Yang said. And separately, he said Humanity Forward planned to announce a pledge Thursday to give a total of $500,000 in universal basic income to residents of one town in New York State, though he did not offer additional details.”

On the ‘Humanity First” website, he outlines the goals of the non-profit:

  • Endorse and provide resources to political candidates who embrace Universal Basic Income, human-centered capitalism and other aligned policies at every level
  • Empower Americans to retake control of their data and get compensated for its use by big tech companies
  • Activate new voters and the politically disengaged, particularly young people and the economically marginalized
  • Mainstream the ideas of the movement through podcasts, traditional media, and high-impact events
  • Launch and support projects and pilots that demonstrate the power and practicality of our ideas in real life

I’m glad Andrew is taking his political campaign & movement and carrying on.

I hope that this will be more successful than Obama’s post-2008 election effort, ‘Organizing for America’ – which never really materialized into something it could have been. I am hoping in particular that especially previously politically disengaged (e.g. Asian Americans), get engaged, either through ‘Humanity Forward’ or other ways civically.

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Perspectives on Colorism: Vietnamese American and African American Viewpoints

I was hosting a group of customers from Latin America, and one of them got separate from our group.  I asked what he looked like, and the response was that he was a dark-skinned guy.  I was surprised by the emphasis on his skin shade, and I was even more surprised when we found him and he wasn’t even very dark, definitely less dark than me.  How pervasive are attitudes about skin shades are around the world!  The very first story I wrote for 8Asians was about colorism.  That story was from a Filipino American perspective, and this video from YR Media provides two different perspectives, one from a Vietnamese American perspective and one from an African American perspective.

Skin shade definitely has mind share among Americans of color.  Number Two Son told me that the African American kids in his high school would have a “light skinned vs dark skinned” basketball game.  I can’t tell how many times I have heard “You are getting so dark” applied to me or other people.  Check out the above video for some more perspective.



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8Asians Interview: Rowena Chiu, Harvey Weinstein’s Former Assistant and Assault Victim, Speaks Out to the Asian American Community

Back in September 2019, when I had first read about a ‘Rowena Chiu’ who had come out publicly to recount for the first time Harvey Weinstein’s attempt to sexually assault her, I immediately instant messaged my friend Rowena the article I had just read – not realizing that this ‘Rowena Chiu’ was her. When she told me that it was her – I was in shock.

I had just seen Rowena at her kid’s birthday party a few days prior to her breaking the news. She mentioned she was going to be taking a mini-vacation to New York City. Little did I know, her real reason to go was to go on the Today Show to speak about her assault:

To read about her also in the New York Times and numerous other publications, I realized how truly big this story is, and it really hit me.

I had the opportunity to speak with Rowena recently (prior to Weinstein’s guilty verdict) to get some more of her  thoughts on Weinstein.  She also talked about her struggles, mental health, the intersectionality of race, class, and gender regarding the issue of sexual assault, and her experiences from an “Asian American” female’s perspective – all of which  she wanted to articulate to the Asian American community (note that Rowena is a U.S. permanent resident, originally from the U.K.).  These are all difficult issues, some of which I found very hard to ask about.

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Interview with Sophie Kim – Amara in Netflix’s ‘The Healing Powers of Dude’

Back in January, I wrote that Netflix had launched the TV show ‘The Healing Powers of Dude,” which co-starred Sophie Kim.

I recently had the opportunity to drop by her house on a Saturday afternoon to interview her.  In this interview, you can learn how Sophie was able to land the role as Amara as well, her experience on the TV series, and more about her as a person. Enjoy!


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H.E.R. is Interviewed and Cooks in a Filipino Restaurant

I asked some of my kids if they knew that recording artist H.E.R. (Gabi Wilson) was half Filipino, and they already knew that.  It seems the last person to know in our family was me!   In this interview at a Kabayan Authentic, a Filipino Restaurant in Queens, she talks about her Filipino side, cooks and helps out in the kitchen, and introduces the host to Filipino food.

I only knew about H.E.R. from her songs on the radio, like her Grammy winning song “Best Part”  included below.   In addition to not knowing that she was half Filipino, I also didn’t know that she was incredibly precocious, publishing a book of poetry at age 8 and performing an Alicia Keys song and playing piano at the same time on the Today show at age 10.  Wow.

H.E.R. is from Vallejo in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has a lot of Filipinos there, so many in fact that Rapper and Vallejo native E-40 has funded a business that sells lumpia, which he says is one of his favorite foods.  You can see H.E.R. and her mom when H.E.R. performed at a Mother’s Day tribute.  Check out the interview above, it’s both interesting and might make you hungry.

(h/t:  Angry Asian Man)


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Din Tai Fung Las Vegas – “Steaming this summer”

Back in November of last year, I had blogged about the news that Din Tai Fung was going to open a restaurant in Las Vegas. At the time, there was little clarity as to when it was going to open in 2020. Well, it looks like sometime this summer in the Aria Hotel.

I was walking the Las Vegas Strip recently and had seen near Aria that the restaurant branch will be opening up sometime this summer.   This giant sign on the Cosmopolitan reinforced the point.  Some skepticism on the date – I think every new branch has been delayed. Let’s hope not! I also wonder if the branch is going to be as pricey, or even pricier, than the San Jose branch.


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8Books Review: “Year of the Rabbit” by Tian Veasna

Year of the Rabbit by Tian Veasna is a stunning graphic novel detailing the true story of one family’s struggle to survive under the Khmer Rouge. Veasna himself was born in 1975, three days after the Khmer Rouge came to power. This is his family’s story.

We follow this middle-class family as they are forced to leave Phnom Penh and all their belongings behind. Life in the countryside is one of hard labor, scarce food, and the constant threat and presence of violence. So palpable in the pages is the sense of uncertainty: were their family members alive, would they ever be reunited, what would the future bring, would they ever be safe.

Movement is sharply curtailed by the Khmer Rouge. Children are encouraged to spy and report on “wrongdoing.” Every word could be turned against its speaker. People are sent to their death for being “class traitors.” Small details are devastating. At times it can be difficult to keep reading, the fear and dread so palpable it jumps off the page and you can feel your heart clench in anguish over what might happen next.

Veasna exposes all that is hard and terrible and tragic about this period, but there is also hope. Small kindnesses prove to be saving graces. Old friends come in contact again and offer honest help. His parents persevere and eventually make the difficult and risky choice to leave Cambodia and become refugees, reuniting with parts of their family during the process, while learning of the deaths of others.

In the epilogue, Veasna recounts his conversations with family members, including those who refuse to discuss it, irreparably and inescapably scarred. It’s a sobering and deeply personal reflection on how the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror reverberated into his family’s life through to today. And a testament to the author’s guiding conviction: “But who will remember you after you are gone?”


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‘Fresh off the Boat’ Episode Review: “Family Van” and “Commencement”

Fresh Off the Boat, Season 6, Episodes 14 and 15: “Family Van” and “Commencement”
Original airdate February 21, 2020.

Synopses:  In episode 14, the family minivan acts up, inspiring a crisis for Jessica and Louis, who are torn between their attachment to the vehicle and the necessity of replacing it.  Eddie, Emery, and Evan take the other family car back to D.C. to dig up a time capsule they buried before moving to Orlando six years ago.  Jaleel White returns as the car salesman who sold the Huangs their RV (season 5, episode 1).

In episode 15, Eddie finally confesses to his mother that he scored 1500 on his SAT.  The Huangs are visited by a Harvard alum for an interview (Andy Richter, who’s not a Harvard grad, filling in for Conan O’Brien, who is).  Evan, writing his memoirs in anticipation of his running for HOA vice-president, steals stories from Emery and from Honey and Marvin.

Dope:  There is something very sweet about seeing our main characters in the combinations they work best: the three sons and the two parents.  The entire penultimate episode is full of nostalgia, as the boys openly discuss Eddie’s numbered days with the family, and Jessica and Louis relive memories of the van they purchased on their wedding night.  The final episode is a little more of the same, with Jessica remembering how hard she worked to turn Eddie into the successful young man he’s become.

Some lines I liked:

“I can’t wait to feel Gaston’s biceps!” (Grandma)

“Map?  Possible Treasure?  It’s like The Goonies but with three Asian boys.”  “Three inoffensive Asian boys.”  (Evan and Emery)

“I think I can drive.  I just can’t sit, think, or process moving objects.”  (Eddie)

“You can’t be president if you lie!  It’s unAmerican!” (Emery)

“You got a 1500 and you can cook.  You are going to make some woman I choose a great husband!” (Jessica)

Wack:  I hate to say this, but of the principal actors, only Randall Park seems to be fully engaged.  Acting by the three young men is flat and listless, and the storytelling is lazy.  In these final moments with the Huangs, do we really need a revisit by White and Richter?  Richter’s character serves only to drive Jessica to the realization that her being a helicopter parent may have had its benefits, but it simply cannot continue.

I don’t get why the writers introduced a silly guest character to do the job when it could have been so much more special for Jessica to understand it on her own, in the context of her own family.  It’s also unnecessary for the old white-man institution to tell the Huangs that their brand of parenting is a bad fit for Harvard.  For Fresh Off the Boat‘s parting middle finger, I wanted to see the Huangs reject the white patriarchy.  Or something!

This brings me to my biggest criticism of the show during most of its run.  For these last two episodes, we have separate plots for groups of characters.  Look at ABC’s synopsis for episode 14: “When the trusty Huang family van takes a turn for the worst, Jessica and Louis each process the loss in their own way. Meanwhile, the boys take advantage of the opportunity for some bonding time…”

For these last episodes, it would have been special to see the Huangs involved in something together, and while the writers try, framing episode 14 in a family visit to Disney World and episode 15 in a future commencement ceremony, both episodes are really separate plots held together weakly by these framing conceits.

FOB moment:  In the van on their way to Disney World, the entire family sings “Hakuna Matata” for a few measures before the van breaks down.  Louis says, “It’s our fault.  We were too happy.”

Soundtrack flashbacks:  

  • “Hakuna Matata” from the soundtrack for The Lion King (1994, sung by the Huangs).
  • “The Sign” by Ace of Base (1993, sung by the Huangs).
  • “Caravan” by Van Morrison (1970).
  • “This Used to be My Playground” by Madonna (1995, quoted by Evan in the year the moment is set, which is pretty cool).
  • “Baby I Got Your Money” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis (1999).
  • “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree (1994, sung by Jessica and Eddie).
  • “Love Shack” by the B-52s (1989, sung by Honey and Marvin).

Final grade, this episode: I am not one of those people who hates a final episode of a beloved TV show because it’s not what I expected or wanted.  I liked the finales of CheersSeinfeld, and Friends.  There’s a lot here I just don’t like, but it isn’t enough to outweigh the stuff I have always liked about this show.  I’ll always remember Eddie, Jessica, Louis, Emery, Evan, Grandma, and Honey with overwhelming fondness for everything — good, bad, and really bad — they brought to a television landscape that needed them decades before they ever got the chance.  Whether or not they’ve altered the landscape in a lasting way isn’t clear, but they were so important for this country and for my heart while they were here.  A.

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Fresh Off the Boat Sails into the Sunset Tonight

After six seasons (that’s 116 episodes), Fresh Off the Boat calls it Friday evening with a two-part series finale.  The season’s fourteenth episode, “Family Van,” airs at 8:00 on ABC.

When the trusty Huang family van takes a turn for the worst, Jessica and Louis each process the loss in their own way. Meanwhile, the boys take advantage of the opportunity for some bonding time and sneak off on a road trip to find their Washington, D.C., time capsule.

…with the final installment, “Commencement,” directed by Randall Park, following immediately.

Jessica grapples with her vision of the future as the boys are each realizing what their own goals are.

It feels like I’m losing a loved one, although because I haven’t watched the show since season 5, episode 5, I guess it’s not exactly a sister or cousin I’m losing — it’s more like that spouse of a cousin I was once very close to but lost touch with when the couple moved far away.

It’s not that I lost interest.  I swear.  The move to Friday nights in season 5 was brutal on me.  There just wasn’t room in my life for appointment TV on Fridays, and getting episode reviews up by 11:00 Saturday mornings was slaughtering me — that’s 9:00 a.m. here, Saturday morning! — and despite appearances, I didn’t just toss these reviews together in fifteen minutes.

So here we are, about to lose a series whose importance really cannot be overstated.  Perhaps the novelty of an Asian American family at the center of a network sitcom wasn’t as fascinating midway through the fifth season as midway through the first, and maybe that’s a good sign.

We would love to get to a place where such a thing isn’t a big deal anymore and we don’t feel the urgency to support representation in primetime just because it’s the only representation we have.  However, we’re not there yet, and while I’d wager everyone feels it was time for the Huangs to make way for another family’s story (and I don’t mean the Connors’ story!), the realization doesn’t make losing Jessica and Eddie any less sad.

I’m sad.  There’s talk about a spinoff (Magic Motor Inn, featuring the Indian family from season 6, episode 13), but nothing’s set, and it won’t be the same anyway.

I’ll be watching, almost surely with a tear in my eye, and I hope you will too.  Meet me back here Saturday morning for my final FOtB episode review, and let me know how you feel.


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