When I saw an e-mail called titled “The Darkness Has Not Overcome It” this morning, I thought to myself, “some Players Tribune article, maybe I’ll read it later.” I was surprised when I did read it later after seeing some news about Jeremy Lin and the coronavirus and wanting to confirm where that news came from. I found The Darkness Has Not Overcome It to be a fascinating and even moving essay from someone who has seen the coronavirus story from both sides of the Pacific.
“Every Asian American I know knows someone who has been targeted during this time.”
Lin has spoken out about the hatred that Asian-Americans are experiencing and talks about it in his essay. He also mentions, somewhat embarrassingly, about how at first he didn’t take the crisis that seriously, even although he was close to the epicenter of the coronavirus shock. Most importantly, he says that we can be lights in this time of darkness. And to show that he isn’t just mouthing those words, he is donating $500,000 to two charities, Feeding America, and Direct Relief, and matching up $500,000 in other people’s donations for a month. You can use the two previous links to donate to either charity and qualify for the match.
You might think that a heavily Asian American area like the San Francisco Bay Area would be immune to coronavirus related racial harassment, but these days, the large Asian American population means a lot more targets to hate. KGO, a local Bay Area TV station, has aired a special town hall called “Race and Coronavirus: A Bay Area Conversation.” You may find some of the incidents they show and talking about disturbing, but that’s what is happening out there.
Some highlights if you are pressed for time:
Problems with naming viruses after geographic areas and how the Swine Flu and Spanish flu were not named after the US even though both originated in the US (12:13)
Guidelines on what to do if you are being harassed or if you see harassment happening (34:50)
Many people are given a chance to talk – I personally thought they could have cut the number down to make it more effective. Still, I think you may find it generally worth your time, and there are other parts of are alternatively scary, informative, and inspiring.
“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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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:
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.
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!
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 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.
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?”