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

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!