...think of it as your Asian American Studies TA lounge...

Monday, December 3, 2007

institutionalized racism in public schools

Who says institutionalized racism is a thing of the past, even here in Seattle's public school system.

A recent report states that "Almost three-quarters of the students enrolled in the Accelerated Progress Program (APP) are white, compared to about 40 percent districtwide...APP is perceived to be 'elitist, exclusionary and even racist,' and that some of its African-American students are bullied and isolated."

Read it here.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ajou University Hospital and Reflections on a Trip to South Korea

I never quite imagined that my trip to South Korea would afford me the chances to experience the Korean medical system in a short month. I had, in fact spent time shadowing doctors both in the Emergency Department and the General Surgery Department of a South Korean hospital (edited for anonymity).

South Korea provides its citizens with a general sort of institutionalized healthcare. Basically, every South Korean citizen who pays their taxes is given an government sponsored insurance plan for healthcare. This entitles them for hospital stays, emergency room visits, and various other needs such as medicinal and outpatient coverage.

The benefits are all included within the plan and there are small out of pocket payments that you have to make when you visit a health care establishment. Surprisingly, the system works and it works relatively well. Of course, given South Korea's relatively homogenous population and similar prevalences of disease it is easy for a government sponsored health care plan to effectively address the needs of its population.

However, I saw a few cases that really blew my mind. I saw a lot of the run of the mill trauma that comes in due to fights, accidents, traffic accidents, and other bloody incarnations of what people can do to themselves - I did see my fair share of suicides and near suicides.

Many people who found themselves being resuscitated on the table usually drank enough pesticide or herbicide to kill a whole field of whatever. The irony of poisoning yourself or killing yourself is that you default on your government sponsored health insurance. Your family often ends up paying for a failed suicide, people who are left comatosed and unable to take care of themselves.

The government shifts the bulk of the responsibility to the family. I asked some of the chief residents and attendings how families end up paying for the bills, loans, they surmised, unsure of how that really can afford hundreds of thousands of won in debt.

Aside from suicides and trauma, doctors in this hospital really take care of their patients. Hospital stays are only around 10,000 won a day, which after the exchange rate is only around 10 bucks a day. People end up staying a while and being looked after. There certainly are cultural differences in the way people approach healthcare, but that's for another entry.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007


White or Caucasian? I've found myself so many times trying to explain why Caucasian is not a synonym for white, nor is it the polite way to say "white," as if that needed a euphemism.

If you trace back a "real" Caucasian, as defined by scientists who failed to find a biological basis for determining race and then tried to define race by origin, you would actually only get a very small handful of people in this world tied to a very specific geographical region. I think this sums it up quite well:

The dominant use of the word ‘Caucasian’ instead of ‘white’ effectively hidescolor behind a wall of pseudo-science. Despite a history of scientificfalsification, ‘Caucasian’ was adopted into American vernacular in the mid-twentieth century as a means of reconsolidating whiteness as a biologicallydistinct category of people (Jacobson 1998). (Reitman, 2006, p. 272)

In truth, the act of using ‘white’ only reveals to whites their ownprivilege, the historical politics of whiteness. (Reitman, 2006, p. 273)

In other words, using the term "white," instead of the scientifically inaccurate "Caucasian," strips away this notion that "white" is normal or default or neutral and that people of color are inherently deviants of this construction of normalcy.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

2007 Asian Excellence Awards

I recently watched an encore presentation of the 2007 Asian Excellence Awards on AZNTV. I thought it was a great venue to showcase both established as well as up and coming Asian American talents. I know that there are so many people that take part in such an awards ceremony, but one thing I wish they could have done is give a little more background on the individuals, even if only on the event's website. For example, Sharon Leal (who is half-Filipino...but who knew that?) was nominated for her role in Dreamgirls, which in my opinion is not really an Asian American film. Also, I'm really starting to think that all of these math jokes--both by whites and Asian Americans--are getting old. And Quentin Tarantino seriously just creeps me out with his constant exotification. On the other hand though, some of my favorite moments include Margaret Cho, Yul Kwon, Masi Oka, Russell Peters, and Rob Schneider. Overall, great show for our community. Check the AZNTV website to catch it in your local area. It's on five more times this weekend!!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Whiter than White...or...Changing the Rules of the Game

Asian Americans and the Shifts in Higher Education Admissions Standards

When discussing the issue of Asian Americans and higher education, inevitably the "overrepresentation" of Asian American students will arise. Of course, most of us have heard the standard arguments against such statements: differential impacts on the spectrum of Asian American ethnic groups, Asian traditions value hard work and education, etc. etc. Rather than dwell on these well established commentaries, I would like to draw attention to an often unmentioned racism within this discourse on Asian Americans and higher education admissions.

If we are to assume (as many scholars and admissions officers do) that:

  1. Asian Americans are one-dimensional students, they excel only in the academic (particularly math and science).
  2. Increase competition over admissions slots at all levels of colleges and university slots will demand a change in admissions criteria and selection processes.

I am not saying that these assumptions are true, but I am saying that they are part of the general working knowledge and discourse of lay people and admissions professionals. Right or wrong, these "facts" then function as truth and basis for shaping admissions policies.

Food for Thought:

Changes in admissions processes have attempted to create greater differentiation between an overwhelming number of academically excellent applicants. Many of these changes have taken the form of greater consideration of extracurricular activities in admissions decisions. What seems absent is consideration on how changes to admissions standards will affect the demographic make-ups of incoming freshman classes, particularly for communities of color.

While Asian Americans have long been well-rounded students at elite institutions, they are still perceived to be one-dimensional. Their extracurricular engagement, perhaps, are not catching admissions officers' eyes in the same way as those applicants of other racial backgrounds. While university and colleges are often lauded for their more comprehensive approach to determining a student’s admissions fate, few are question the socio-cultural implications of what is valued as extracurricular activities or how access to such activities may be limited to particular segments of our society due to any number of characteristics (i.e., socioeconomic status, geography, gender, sexual orientation, race).

I am not a proponent for the strict usage of standardized test scores and GPAs to allow for college admissions, certainly these are not objective measures either. But if we are going to rethink admissions strategies on a broad scale we must take a broader perspective.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Kenneth Eng

The former AsianWeek contributor famous for his racist rant on reasons to hate black people is in jail. What an interesting turn of events.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

CNN Article on Suicide Among Asian American Women

A front page CNN article on suicide among Asian American women is big news. Asian Americans! On the front page! [EDIT: Um, it's not on the front page anymore. But I swear it was last night.] According to the article, among 15-24 year old women, Asian Americans have the highest suicide rate. The article also relates scholars' speculations on reasons behind this rate--including pressures from family, community, and the nation to live up to the stereotype of the model minority. The article also discusses other possible causes, like pressures to be a good wife and mother, having a restricted social life, not being able to question parental authority, and genetics.

First off, what is up with that front page photo? [EDIT: I know it's not there anymore, but hopefully my description will suffice.] Why is it appropriate for an article on suicide to feature a young woman's bare shoulders and long hair? This leads me to think about how convenient it is that we are focusing on 15-24 year old women. I dunno... maybe these are the Asians of most concern to white America?

On one hand, I feel somewhat vindicated by this article. I've always felt these inexplicable pressures. Even my hapa husband who understands most everything about me tells me to relax. I don't think I'd classify myself as depressed and I don't know that my pressures are exactly the same as those mentioned in the article, but my friends and I have often talked about how difficult it is to stray from being the nice Japanese girls we're expected to be.

The distinction the article draws between how Asian American men and women react to similar pressures also rings true for me. I often am frustrated with men (but maybe not necessarily Asian American men) because, in my experience, they do seem to act out rather than internalize. If someone's acting stupid, I've got no patience for them, but if someone's hurting, well, I have to be sympathetic to that. Cuz at least they're not taking it out on anyone else. (Oops... maybe this is where Asian American suicide comes from...)

And the things that annoy me: It seems parental pressure is highlighted above societal pressure. Parental pressure is the first cause mentioned and CNN knows how ADD their readers are. (Hence the unnecessary but handy bullets that now front every article.) Readers might easily assume they've learned the cause of the problem and move on! At least three reasons unrelated to Asian or Asian American culture are given, but all at the end of the article.

And while the article may attempt to disrupt the stereotype of the model minority, it perpetuates the one about pushy Asian parents with their backward sexist culture, othering Asian Americans, as if white Americans never push their children to achieve or guard their daughters more closely than their sons.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

San Jose Vietnamtown

The Mercury News just published an article on the city of San Jose considering the designation of a "Vietnam Town." Personally, I think this would be a great way to officially recognize the area of the city with the largest Vietnamese American population. As a Japanese American, I take pride in the three remaining officially-recognized Japantowns in the United States (San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles), although I do think it is a bit sad that there are only three remaining. Hopefully several generations from now, Vietnamese Americans can visit a historical Vietnamtown that represents the lives and stories of their relatives who risked so much just to survive.

Unfortunately, I was just reading through the article's comments, and am shocked by all of the opposition to the idea. Our country is one built by immigrants, and I believe that it is vital that we remember our roots. And regarding the comment that calls for the creation of a "white town," the entire United States celebrates the history of white America, not the marginalized communities that have been subjected to white domination for over 500 years.


Laban for the Lolas

A letter from SFSU Professor Allyson Tintiagco-Cubales:

Dear Community,

We would like to invite you to join us to learn about the stories of Filipina "comfort women" who were abused during WWII. This is a timely issue because in the month of May, our representatives may be voting on House Resolution 121 (HR121). If passed, HR121 will ask Japan to take full responsibility for the systematic raping and enslavement of over 200,000 women and girls during WWII.

We are fortunate to have M. Evelina Galang, one of the main organizers pushing for the passage of HR121, visiting the Bay Area from May 15-17, 2007. Many of you may know her as the author of Her Wild American Self, Screaming Monkeys, and One Tribe. She will in the Bay Area reading from her new book, Lola¹s House, which focuses on her research on comfort women.

Please join us at the following events to learn about this pressing issue.


Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies
San Francisco State University

P.S. Please see attached petition for you and your organization.



Laban for the Lolas: Fighting for the Rights of "Comfort Women"
Emergency Meeting and Informational Session on House Resolution 121

The Filipino Community Center
35 San Juan Avenue/ Cross Street is Mission
San Francisco, CA

May 15, 2007 (Tuesday)

6:00-8:30 P.M.

Special Presentation and Reading Featuring M. Evelina Galang (Author of Her Wild American Self, Screaming Monkeys, One Tribe, and Lola's House-forthcoming)

Along with Barbara Reyes Bermeo, Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, Claudine delRosario, Korina Jocson, Jocyl Sacramento, and Michelle Ferrer

Special Performance by Aristel delaCruz and Aldrich Sabach


Laban for the Lolas: Fighting for the Rights of "Comfort Women"
Student Presentation in Asian American Studies 363- Fil Am Lit

Burk Hall 225
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132

May 16, 2007 (Wednesday)

4:10-5:00 P.M.

Special Presentation and Reading Featuring M. Evelina Galang (Author of Her Wild American Self, Screaming Monkeys, One Tribe, and Lola's House-forthcoming)

Laban for the Lolas: Fighting for the Rights of "Comfort Women"
Community Meeting and Informational Session on House Resolution 121

Daly City, CA

May 17, 2007 (Thursday)

6:00-8:30 P.M.

Special Presentation and Reading Featuring M. Evelina Galang (Author of Her Wild American Self, Screaming Monkeys One Tribe, and Lola's House-forthcoming)

For more information:

Website: http://labanforthelolas.blogspot.com/


World War II "Comfort Women" are the 200,000 girls and women abducted by the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII forced to experience a life of systematic rape and enslavement. They are now mostly in their 80's and they are dying.

They were taken from Korea, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan. In the Philippines, historians say there were about 1000 girls abducted.

On March 1, 2007 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisted, ³There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it (the coercion of WWII military sex slaves).² We ask Prime Minister Abe to look at the evidence, to see the coercion, to apologize and give appropriate reparations. The women are waiting.

H.RES.121: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as "comfort women", during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.

Sponsor: Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] (introduced 1/31/2007) Cosponsors


Committees: House Foreign Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/17/2007 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight.

House Resolution 121, if passed, will ask Japan to take full responsibility for the systematic raping and enslavement of over 200,000 women and girls during WWII. In the Philippines, historians estimate that over 1000 Filipina girls young as eight years old to women in their forties were abducted and held captive in garrisons ‹ churches, town halls, schools and private homes captured by Japanese soldiers and turned into comfort stations. Those girls are now lolas in their eighties.

For a moment, imagine war and your family. Imagine this. Is it acceptable?

To date, House Res. 121 has 115 co-sponsors in Congress. We want at least 120 to get House Res 121 to pass.

We need to let Congressman Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi know that the Filipino American community of Northern California, their constituents, believe in House Resolution 121. Please write them. Determine who is your representative and then cut and paste the email message below, sign it and send it to them. Even better, send them your thoughts on this issue in your own words.

If you live in the following zip code areas ‹ 94002, 94005, 94010, 94011, 94013, 94014, 94015, 94016, 94017, 94019, 94030, 94037, 94038, 94044, 94061, 94062, 94063, 94065, 94066, 94070, 94080, 94083, 94114, 94116, 94117, 94122, 94125, 94127, 94128, 94131, 94132, 94134, 94143, 94401, 94402, 94403, 94404, 94497 -- your congressman is Lantos.



COMMUNITY LETTER (Please sign on)

Dear Congressman Tom Lantos and House Speaker Pelosi,

We are the Filipino American Community of the 8th and 12th Districts in California and we are writing to you to ask you to support House Resolution 121.

During WW2 the Japanese Imperial Army wreaked havoc on the Philippines. Many Filipino Veterans fought for the United States Army and died in battle or were injured for life. But Filipino soldiers who fought side by side with American military are not our only WW2 casualties. Over 1000 women and girls, usually between the ages of eight and twenty were abducted and forced into Japanese ³Comfort Stations² where they were subjected to systematic rape and enslavement.

For example, seventeen-year-old Pilar Frias had two bouts with the Japanese soldiers before she was taken captive in the province of Bicol. After raping her five times, soldiers tied her at the waist and dragged her along with three other girls. Strung together by hemp rope, the four girls were raped every night, five times a night, a different soldier every time.

Many of those 1000 girls and women like Pilar Frias have suffered the trauma of WW2 for their entire lives ­ their bodies, their minds and their spirits have never fully recovered.

We are a community that respects our elders and takes great pride in the spirit of family. It is time to take care of a generation of Filipinos who suffered a war that was not theirs.

House Resolution 121 is a resolution about human rights, about respect and justice. It is a statement that encourages Japan to take full responsibility for these war crimes and to make a full and unequivocal formal apology to the 200,000 women and girls of Asia who suffered these atrocities. Of these women 1000 of them are our ancestors, our mothers and grandmothers of the Philippines and it is our belief that these women deserve some peace of mind.

It is our belief that taking a stand against these war crimes sends a clear message to everyone that this behavior is intolerable, inhumane and unjust.

As your constituents of the 8th and 12th Districts of California, we urge you to support House Resolution 121.




*OCTOBER 20-21, 2007*

Deadline for submissions: August 15, 2007

Call for proposal and conference website:

More info on the Asian American Studies Graduate Student Group at UC Davis:


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Robert Jensen

Yesterday I attended Robert Jensen's talk titled "The Academy and Activism: Neutralizing Neutrality and Moving Past Polemics" and this afternoon he joined the graduate students in my cohort for a class and a dinner. Jensen is well known for his article U.S. just as guilty of committing own violent acts, which was published in the Houston Chronicle three days after 9/11 and invited a number death threats and poorly articulated diatribes about being callous and unAmerican. Here is a quote from that article:

... this act was no more despicable as the massive acts of terrorism -- the
deliberate killing of civilians for political purposes -- that the U.S.
government has committed during my lifetime. For more than five decades
throughout the Third World, the United States has deliberately targeted
civilians or engaged in violence so indiscriminate that there is no other way to
understand it except as terrorism. And it has supported similar acts of
terrorism by client states. If that statement seems outrageous, ask the people
of Vietnam. Or Cambodia and Laos. Or Indonesia and East Timor. Or Chile. Or
Central America. Or Iraq, or Palestine. The list of countries and peoples who
have felt the violence of this country is long. Vietnamese civilians bombed by
the United States. Timorese civilians killed by a U.S. ally with U.S.-supplied
You can probably see why that article ruffled a few feathers.

Tonight I spoke with him one on one and I cannot describe how exciting it was to have this opportunity. I thanked him for writing that article because it voiced a very unpopular opinion, one that I held but did not dare to discuss with anyone but my closest Canadian friends. I thanked him because when "my people," and I mean this in a collective sense meaning anyone of Asian, South Asian or SE Asian descent, make claims like this we're immediately dismissed and often told to "go home" if we "don't like America and all it stands for." Opinions like this are, after all, used as "proof" of our unassimilability in this country. In Asian American studies classes we talk about the millions of lives lost in SE Asia at the hands of the United States all the time, but this sort of thing doesn't enter into the wider discourse unless someone like him -- a white male professor -- initiates that dialog and he did and I couldn't imagine if he hadn't.

I also thanked him for writing The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege. I confessed that one of my most terrifying teaching moments was introducing the idea of whiteness and white privilege to a racially diverse class that included many white students. I told him that I made a very conscious and deliberate decision to front end the lesson with articles written by white men about white privilege because I felt that being an Asian woman simply wouldn't give me the credibility to get the message across. I admitted that at the end of the class I felt guilty and disappointed that I would not feel comfortable giving that lesson in my own words in my own skin. It's not fair that I feel that I have to direct students to articles written by white men in order to teach about a topic that I can articulate myself, but I feel like I have to and I hate it. We joked about our differences: white - Asian, male - female, older - younger (looking), tall - short. "Well you're screwed," he concluded with a laugh. But in all seriousness, Bob reminded me of what's really important. It's teaching and helping people to understand these things. It's about being strategic and doing what works for you. You can try to overthrow the system and I think we (as in people of color) are taking baby steps to at least shift the so-called system, but sometimes in the here and now you need to just work within it and do little things to make a difference. I forgot to thank him for this conversation. So, Bob, thanks for this (and for being a privileged white man who gets it).

-- Vanessa Au


Saturday, May 5, 2007

APA Heritage Month

It is APA Heritage Month, or as one woman I met at the Asian Pacific American Studies Conference at MSU calls it, "yellow month." I noticed that my apartment manager's monthly newsletter listed May as National Hamburger Month, National Salsa Month, and Personal History month. No mention of APA Heritage Month. Then again, looks like the White House forgot too. They announced it last year but this year it looks like W decided to focus on May as Physical Fitness month instead. So much for recognizing our contributions to this country.


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

May Day

Anyone do anything interesting for this year's May Day? I hear the rallies in San Jose, LA, Chicago, and other big cities around the country went fairly well, although not as big as in years past. Whereas it seems that so much of the American media focuses on how May Day is only for Mexican Americans, let us not forget that it represents International Workers' Day, and is a great opportunity for all working-class communities (a large majority being communities of color, and yes this includes Asian Americans) to unite and celebrate their achievements. Any other interesting links to share?


Thursday, April 26, 2007

"For the Dignity of Girls and Women Everywhere.. .Bear Witness"

This morning, I attended the "For the Dignity of Girls and Women Everywhere.. .Bear Witness" to demand the official apology and reparation for the former "comfort women" from the Japanese government with more than 50 people in solidarity with other protests happening all over the world (L.A., D.C., N.Y.C, Manilla, London, Seoul, Tokyo, etc...).

It is especially significant to have such a protest at this very critical moment here in the U.S. where a Japanese American Rep. Mike Honda introduced the House Resolution 121 which calls for the Government of Japan to formally acknowledge, aplogize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asian and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.

As a Zainichi Korean (Korean born and rasied in Japan), whom I think of first is my fellow Zainichi Korean halmonis ("grandmother" in Korean) who were forced to become "comfort women" and continue to live in Japan. Their experience as "former comfort women" is very different from that of those who now reside in Korea or elsewhere. Zainichi Korean halmonis live the reality of on-going Racism & Colonialsim on a daily basis in the Japanese society today, where their voice is continuously ignored and their existence is comletely denied. Today, I prayed for them and all women in the world who experienced and are experiencing sexual violence.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Dog House off the radio waves

Tim from UCSD via Fremont just forwarded me this link regarding Elvis and JV of the Dog House morning radio show, currently on 92.3 WFNY in New York (formerly 94.9 KYLD in San Francisco and 97.7 KHQT in San Jose). Apparently, they went over the edge again, this time while speaking racist obscenities and sexist remarks during a prank call to a Chinese restaurant. And to make matters worse, they said they "found it ironic that a show called The Dog House would be done in by a Chinese restaurant gag gone wrong." I came across JV's blog and was perusing some of the recent comments. I found a number of comments from Asian Americans who claimed that they thought the skit was hilarious, and one suggested that if the Dog House falls victim to complaints from one race, then that could potentially lead to the end of such entertaining radio. Where do we draw the line between comedy and justice? Over-sensitivity and subordination?

So what can we do? Spread the news with all of your New York and Bay Area radio-listening friends. When one underrepresented minority suffers at the hands of ignorance, it's a setback for all of us. I'm going to remove the Dog House from my "friends" list on MySpace. It's not much, but it's a start.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Events at PANA

On April 24th, the PANA Institute (Institute for Leadership Development & Study of Pacific & North American Religion) will be hosting two events. I strongly recommend these if you are in or around the Berkeley area. For anyone studying Asian American religions/spirituality, you should definitely get in touch with the PANA folks. From my personal experience, they are extremely supportive, knowledgable, and just overall great people. Also, they host an annual conference APARRI Conference which provides prominent faculty members to serve as one-on-one mentors for undergrad/grad students (I was able to discuss all sorts of things with David Yoo!).

Community Vigil for VA Tech — PSR Chapel

Community Vigil

In remembrance of all those affected

by the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech

(Please bring a flower)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007


Steps of the Chapel at the Pacific School of Religion

1798 Scenic Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94709

Sponsored by the Institute for Leadership Development and Study of Pacific Asian North American Religion (PANA Institute) and the Office of Community Life at the Pacific School of Religion.

For more information, contact Rev. Deborah Lee at (510)849-8260 or dlee@psr.edu.


Workshop: "Interreligious Community: Camp Life and Pilgrimage”

Join us for a Community Program on

"Interreligious Community: Camp Life and Pilgrimage”

the experience of Japanese American internment during WWII

and its ongoing message for the present.

Date: Tuesday April 24th, 2007 6:30-9:30 pm

Location: Gather at the Jodo Shinshu Parking Lot (2140 Durant St., Berkeley, CA 94704) We may be meeting at the Jodo Shinshu Center or at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple. Look for posted signs



Dr. Joanne Doi, M . M . is a pilgrimage guide and teacher of the course "Manzanar: America's Internment," sponsored by the PANA Institute.

Rev. David Matsumoto, Institute of Buddhist Studies and the Berkeley Buddhist Temple, Channing Way

Carpool available, leaving Pacific School of Religion at 6:00 pm ( Meet in the PANA driveway, 2357 Le Conte Ave.)

This is one of five sessions in preparation for the 38th annual pilgrimage to the former WWII site of Japanese American internment at Manzanar.

For more information or to sign up for the pilgrimage, contact Shinya at pana2@psr.edu; 510-849-8226 or go to the PANA website: pana.psr.edu.


PANA Film Screening at Major Film Festivals:

PANA's film In God's House: Asian American Lesbian and Gay Families in the Church has been accepted to screen at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (Sunday, May 6th, 2007), Frameline International LGBT Film Festival in June and the Aomori International LGBT Film Festival in Japan. In addition, we have screenings scheduled in San Francisco, Tennessee, and Asilomar, CA. See below for schedule. For more information on the screenings, please visit www.ingodshouse.com.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

VC Call for Volunteers!!

Please click on the link below and support Visual Communications at this year's Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival!!


Asian American Mental Health, a Reflection

Minutes passed as I kept refreshing the page I was on on April 16th. Trying to gauge the brutality of what was going on at Virginia Tech and later trying to understand the expanse of what it meant for me. It's been almost 6 days and I still don't really have an answer. However, while I read about this guy, I realized that I read about him before.

The anger, the confusion, the reaction - the story was familiar. It could have been about the guys I knew growing up in high school. The same story could have been about a few kids in my alma mater. As an Asian American, I'm sure we have known of a few kids just like Seung-Hui Cho. The question of why Cho slipped through the cracks remains a mystery for me.

As a Asian American guy, I struggle with the idea of mental illness. I've known friends who discuss issues with me about feeling angry, sad, misunderstood by parents and peers. I've had friends who talked about suicide. Some folks I know read like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMMD) and some in fact, are Asian American .

We live with a difficult culture, especially in the light of immigration and a generation gap. A few of our parents grew up without the ideas of bipolar disorder, alcoholism, depression, manic-depression, and personality disorder. Many of these are not just endemic in youth culture, but found within pop culture. Yet, the discussion of mental health counseling for folks in our community is often encountered with silence and deflection.

It is unfortunate that Seung-Hui Cho became the focus of the Asian American community. He also became an argument with the increasing number of Asian American medical students that there is a need for counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists to address the issue APIA mental health. Asian American clinicians can directly address cultural and race specific issues that other people may have a hard time relating with and resolving with Asian Americans.

Just maybe, we can find kids like Seung-Hui Cho and prevent another tragedy. Here's to hoping for a change.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Music Intermission

This is already about six months old now, but I came across it again and felt like posting it up. This music video will be included at one of the programs at the upcoming Visual Communications Film Festival, so head on over there and show some support if you're in the LA area. And don't forget to share your favorite Asian American films here!!


Friday, April 20, 2007

Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

Attention Northern California! Looking for something to do this weekend? Check out the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco. This festival, which began in 1967, attracts roughly 150,000 people over its two weekends (last weekend was the first weekend) as it showcases both Japanese and Japanese American culture. The Grand Parade begins this Sunday (April 22nd) at the SF Civic Center up Polk to Post Street, finally ending in Japantown.


An Example of Biased Mainstream News Media

I really hate to have to keep bringing up these topics, but I wanted to share an observation. First off, my apologies to the family and friends of the victim at today's NASA Johnson Space Center. However, in reading about this unfortunate event through a couple different news articles online (such as this Yahoo! story), I realized that nowhere is the race/ethnicity of the murdered mentioned. Especially after the news media so clearly stressed that the VT shooter was Asian, I think this is a perfect--albeit sad--example of how easy is is for 1) the media to spread negative images, and 2) how easily overlooked race is when the subject of discussion is white. Also, here are a couple other suggested links to read:


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Favorite Asian American Films?

I just watched Robot Stories on AZN Television for the second time. Even though I'm really not a sci-fi fan, there really is something empowering about seeing Asian American actors in films. My favorite AsAm movie is probably Better Luck Tomorrow, especially since it came out right as I was developing my Asian American consciousness. Other favorites include Saving Face and old-school films like Chan Is Missing and The Dupont Guy. And can't forget Spencer Nakasako's documentaries, as well as projects by my filmmaking friends Chris Woon and Tad Nakamura. Show them some love!

Discussion starter: What are YOUR favorite Asian American films?


UIUC Asian American Studies Professors Respond to News Inquiry re: Virginia Tech

A couple Asian American Studies professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were approached and asked to comment on the V Tech tragedy. Here is their response:

Nancy Abelmann and I (Sumie Okazaki) have been approached by a reporter from a national news organization asking us to comment on the Virginia Tech tragedy, specifically regarding the relevance of the killer's ethnicity. This is the response we sent back.

Thank you for your inquiry. We feel very strongly that any attempt to situate this particular killer in the context of psychological or sociological aspects of the Korean immigration and/or South Korean culture is counter-productive. To entertain questions about the general attitude of Korean Americans toward mental health treatment, violence, or guns – for instance – is to be complicit with the notion that somehow there was something Korean or Korean American about the unspeakably cruel acts of an individual killer. This country has long witnessed the negative impact of the American tendency to explain individual pathology in cultural and racial terms.

However, the reaction to this tragedy of some Korean American individuals and groups warrants scholarly consideration. We limit our comments to the widely reported expressions of fear of retaliation against Korean Americans and to feelings of ethnic responsibility for the heinous acts of a fellow Korean American. Because there is a long history in the United States of retaliatory violence against ethnic groups in the aftermath of incidents, Korean Americans understandably fear retaliation; they have been named before in public discussion of racially motivated violence—for example during the Los Angeles Riots. Expressions of ethnic responsibility, as exemplified by formal apologies from Korean Americans, perhaps speak to both anxieties about Korean American acceptance in the United States and to this community’s continued struggles as immigrants.

It is important to note that many Korean Americans are intimately connected to South Korea through both personal ties and through South Korean news and other media. It is possible that South Korean national anxiety about the potential impact of this incident on U.S.-Korea relations or on the lives of members of the Korean diaspora, is affecting the Korean American response.

Please do not misunderstand our unwillingness to comment on sociological and psychological aspects of contemporary Korean American life. The lives of immigrants of color in the United States present many real challenges, among them psychological ones. There is a growing body of scholarship on the struggles of immigrant small entrepreneurs and their children. This, however, is not the proper time to engage these scholarly discussions.

The Asian American Psychological Association, of which Sumie Okazaki is a member, has released an official statement in response to this tragedy. You can find the statement at: www.aapaonline.org/conventions/news.htm.

Nancy Abelmann
Professor, Anthropology, East Asian Languages & Cultures, and Asian American Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sumie Okazaki
Associate Professor, Psychology and Asian American Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"U.S. officials said the issue was purely domestic and South Korea had nothing to do with it." - Joon Ang Daily

Tae Guk Ki and the Stars and Stripes. This kind of images all over mislead people to perceive the virginia tech incident as a "nation-vs-nation", and ultimately "white-vs-color" matter in an orientalized way.


Anti-Asian Backlash on Craigslist

Craiglist's rants and raves is unfortunately where racists often go to spout off. While the goal of this blog is generally to keep the language clean and the discussion scholarly, I think it is important and interesting to bring attention to the types of racist discourse, stereotypes, and historical events that individuals reference when posting racist diatribes. No one ever brings up race when a serial killer or crazed gunman is white. White equals invisible and race becomes an issue only when the situation involves a person of color.

It is also interesting how the author attempts to frame this quite literally as an "us versus them" game whereby Asians are competing against (presumably) white Americans to see who can rack up a higher body count.

crazy asian
shooter now in heaven (financial district)
Reply to: pers-313713083@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-04-17, 1:42PM PDT

you asian fuckers are so chicken shit you never even look a white man in
the eye when you talk to him. your whole manner in front of white people is
totally submissive. only a fucking yellow coward would shoot un-armed people. i
piss on you and all your generations you yellow dog. and we still own the record
for killing you little yellow bastards; over 3 million japs in WWII, 1 million
north korean garlic eaters and 3 million heathen chinese in the korean war, and
nearly 2 million vietnamese slopeheads in vietnam


Korean-Americans Brace for Backlash

Braced for Backlash

Korean-Americans fear that hatred toward the Virginia Tech killer will spill over into their community—and fuel negative typecasting.



Alleged Nepotism at Lao Nonprofit

Chip Johnson at the San Francisco Chronicle just wrote an investigative article regarding the Lao Family Community Development, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, California. Apparently, the current director of the organization has began to employ all of his relatives, and his family currently makes nearly a quarter million dollars a year. Although my gut reaction in reading this article was that it somewhat villainized Southeast Asian Americans, I think the sad reality of the matter is that not all nonprofits are as legit and well-meaning as we often hope. If we don't keep each other in check, who will?


Oprah's Townhall

Last night Oprah hosted a "townhall" about the Imus issue. It's great to see her bring attention to issues of race. I applaud Oprah. But where was she when Hot97 aired the Tsunami Song about "screaming chinks," or when Adam Corolla did his "ching chong" parody of the Asian Excellence Awards? How about when JR Gach did the piece about "slant-eyed gooks?" How about that part in the movie Dodgeball with the opium-smoking Chinese people throwing human heads? Why were all her panelists either black or white? Why is this sounding like it's never happened before? Or that it only happens to black people? Racism is not a new issue, and racism is not just black and white.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mr. Hyphen '07

On June 9th, Hyphen Magazine will be having its second annual "Mr. Hyphen" competition at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. As they say, the competition's aim revolves around "Celebrating the men of the Asian American community, who devote their tremendous time and effort to worthy Asian community organizations -- and to have a lot of fun while we do it."

The event will be hosted by comedienne Ali Wong, so don't miss it! Click on the link for more information, as well as how to enter yourself or your worthy friends!!



The 2008 election may seem like a long ways away, but it's never early to start paying attention to the current candidates for our nation's presidency. I was just shown this website that lists all of the candidates, as well as video clips featuring their opinions on socially pertinent topics. As socially conscious Asian Americans, I believe that we have a responsibility to participate in elections and make our voices heard. Please make smart, educated decisions when considering which candidates to support. Even though there are not any Asian American candidates at the moment, hopefully our next president can help foster a political environment that can promote Asian American political involvement at the highest levels of our government.


Virginia Tech Shootings

First of all, our prayers and condolences go out to all affected by the recent unfortunate events at Virginia Tech. As the media has reported, the suspected gunman, Cho Seung-Hui was a 23 year old student from South Korea (Yahoo! News link). Although he moved to the United States fourteen years ago in 1992, the mass media has already repeatedly stressed his ethnic background, immediately causing anti-Korean and anti-Asian backlash. Also, the number of apparently hate-based Facebook groups (I found one group called "Deport Cho Seung-hui's Parents and drag his corpse through the streets" and another called "Your Group may hate Cho Seung Hui...but my group calls him a GOOK!") established today is very disturbing. Please spread proper awareness that this will NOT be tolerated.


Calling all Asian Americanists!

ASAMISTS is a blog by Asian Americanists for Asian Americanists. My goal is to build a network of graduate student contributors from all corners of Asian America to create an online presence for our growing community of students, community activists, academics, working professionals, artists, etc. We will feature news articles, event announcements, and other relevant information to support the diversity of who we are and what we do. Hopefully this will become a safe space for us to have positive dialogue free of the barriers that interfere in our daily lives. Please feel free to leave comments and contribute to the discussions that will appear on this blog. Then, use what is learned here to affect positive change in your own community. Peace!