Author Archives: jillto

Chink: an Asian American slasher movie

Here’s a great opportunity to help out some film-makers in the Asian American community.  A project called “Chink” produced by Koji Steven Sakai (of 8asians), Stanley Yung (of The People I’ve Slept With), and Quentin Lee is in need of funding assistance.  Read more about it over at Channel APA.

What’s most intriguing about this new project is not just the fact that it will star Asian Americans.  The plot is about Eddy Tsai, an Asian American who has been bullied his entire life.  Growing up without an Asian American community of support, Eddy develops some intense self-hatred that gets internalized into hate of all Asian Americans.  His solution to all this bullying?  Become a serial killer, of course.  His target?  Asian Americans.

This internalized racism is seen a lot throughout the Asian and Asian American community, but Sakai, Yung, and Lee take it to a new extreme.  Promoting this movie with phrases like, “It’s gory but it’s also sexy. It’s about identity but it doesn’t take itself too seriously,” makes this project something to talk about.  Hopefully it will facilitate discussion around serious issues of identity and the increase in bullying of Asian Americans at school, in the office, and online.  After all, the issues of self-hate among Asian Americans is one of the highest of any other group and that stands as a disability to our community.  We should be embracing one another, not fostering hate because we see reflected in our friends and family what society deems undesirable.  Surviving and moving forward from such internalized racial hate is the only way that we’ll be able to come out of those ideas.  Discussion will facilitate those actions, and this movie will hopefully be a great stepping stone for the API community to start the dialogue about these tough issues.

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Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University majoring in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies.  In her spare time, she’s an MBA candidate at Atkinson Graduate School of Management.
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Memorial of “Chinese Remembering” at Oregon’s Chinese Massacre Cove

 

Chinese Remembering

I came a cross a video and article on 8asians  today that stopped me.  A memorial will be put into “Chinese Massacre Cove” near Wallowa, Oregon in June 2012 to commemorate the 30+ Chinese victims of a heinous hate crime in 1887. These innocent Chinese miners were shot and hacked up by a group of white frontiersmen with axes.  The men stole all of the gold that the Chinese people had and threw the bodies in the Snake River, where they drifted downstream to Lewiston, Idaho.

Not only am I shocked to hear about such a horrible hate crime lurking in Oregon’s very own backyard, but appalled that I’ve never even heard of this.  If public schools can only provide us with textbooks that include a single paragraph of the contributions that Chinese and other Asian Americans and immigrants have provided our nation, couldn’t we at least have documentaries and books about such local histories?  APIs have had a great influence on history and society in the Northwest, yet I never have the opportunity to learn about my own local community because few seem to realize that impact.  I’ve even taken Asian American history courses in college and never have issues of hate crimes and experiences of Asian Americans specific to Oregon been largely touched on.

As a community, then, the task of historical preservation has been  given to us.  As stated in the “NW Profiles” video, the annual event to honor those Chinese victims of Chinese Massacre Cove draws mostly non-Chinese, non-Asian American participants.  While the gesture of creating such events by allies is appreciated, isn’t it time that we begin making our own histories and voices heard?  Perhaps it is time that Oregon understand its history is very intertwined with the API community.

 

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Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University majoring in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies.  In her spare time, she’s an MBA candidate at Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

Halloween Campaign Sheds Light on Old Isssue

Since it’s Halloween weekend, I thought this was quite relevant.  I’m sure most people has seen this by now—the Ohio University students who created this Halloween costume campaign are now everywhere.   The images from the campaign have gone viral and have even caught mainstream media attention: http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/26/living/halloween-ethnic-costumes/?hpt=us_t4

There has been a lot of debate over the legitimacy of the campaign.  Some are very enthusiastic about the campaign, saying that this message is very fitting for Halloween, but should be a take-away for all 365 days of the year.  Others say that since the movement was generated by a very small number of students (a group of only about ten passionate students) that this cannot possibly represent the perspective of all students of color.  In essence, some people think that this means it is still okay to wear racist costumes that demean, simplify, mock, and misrepresent entire peoples.  Many still believe that these caricatured representations are just simply not racist at all.

Every Halloween costumes become an issue, yet there is also always an equal amount of resistance to social justice work trying to abolish such racist outfits.  Of course, ignorance in society makes it easy for some people to claim that Halloween is just one day out of the year where people can become whoever they want to be, that it’s what the holiday actually is all about.  Yet, beyond just this one day, don’t we see continuing appropriation of cultures, misrepresentation of races?  There may be small victories here and there, which feel very good, but what about the deeper sentiment that these fights allude to?  That our society doesn’t care about how people of color are represented because society gets to define those images for us?  This is especially true for our API community that is constantly defined by everything from our eyes, skin, hair to parenting styles, languages/accents, and even food.  Bottom line: we want to represent ourselves in society, so let’s tell others when we’re being misrepresented.  This Halloween, educate some geisha/chinaman-impersonating fool about why they shouldn’t wear racist costumes or clothing.  Ever.

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Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University majoring in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies.  In her spare time, she’s an MBA candidate at Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

High School students educate and express through comics

I read a really interesting post today about how students at Oakland International High School (enrollment 300) are gaining publicity for their annual publication of graphic novels/comics depicting and describing their immigration stories.  Teacher Thi Bui has been having her ninth and tenth grade students–mostly API youth–write and illustrate their personal and family experiences in immigrating to the United States.  These get published, and Bui even sells some of her own works.  It’s a great article that can be found here.

Reading about how youth in the community are being empowered by this process of artistic expression is inspiring.  The healing that takes place throughout their personal journeys in documenting their experiences has helped many students already.  Think of what this would do if more schools adopted such methods for immigrant or multicultural youth: we would not only be giving voice to our communities but also educating others about real experiences and new perspectives.  Great stuff that truly makes the personal political.

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Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University majoring in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies.  In her spare time, she’s an MBA candidate at Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

Virtual Youth Town Hall by White House AAPI

Attention all API youth: White House AAPI is hosting a Town Hall meeting at the University of Nevada Las Vegas today, October 14th, at 4pm-5:30pm PDT/7pm-8:30pm EST.  The event is intended to cover topics relevant to AAPI youth regarding politics, identity, and more.  More information can be found here.

The Initiative cordially invites students, youth, and community advocates across the country to attend its first ever Virtual Youth Town Hall. The online event will be available for viewing at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/whitehouseaapi.

During the Virtual Town Hall, the White House Initiative will explore increasingly important issues relevant to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth. YouTube personality Ryan Higa, singer and songwriter Clara Chung, and Singer songwriter Cathy Nguyen are among the prominent AAPI role models that will serve as Town Hall panelists and address issues such as bullying, access to education, and AAPI representation in the arts and media. The Town Hall will be moderated by Sefa Aina, Vice Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs.

Apologies for the late notice, but hopefully many will be able to tune in.  I’m interested in hearing what they cover, and the best part? Viewers at home can submit questions that might be answered by the panel!  Submit questions over Twitter by adding in #WHIAAPITownHall.  You can start asking questions now, as well as during the live-stream meeting, so start tweeting!

Also, as a side note, White House AAPI is also the group that held the panel about education with singer-songwriter David Choi.  At the Ustream site, you can also find those past virtual meetings.  Enjoy!

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Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University majoring in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies.  In her spare time, she’s an MBA candidate at Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

Bao Phi and spoken resistance

Bao Phi, a Vietnamese American spoken word artist, released a great video for his piece “No Question.”  The animated video was produced by Ash Hsie, and is really powerful.

The piece deserves recognition in how it sheds light on issues of how the historical racism and oppression of Southeast Asians transfer to contemporary society and API’s.  Boa Phi’s poetry sits at the crossroads of Asian American identity, politics, cultural education and expression.  To read more about this inspirational artist and activist, visit his website, http://www.baophi.com/, and think about picking up your pre-ordered copy of his first published book of poems, Song I Sing.

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Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University earning a B.A. in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies, while also working toward an M.B.A. at Atkinson Graduate School of Management in Salem, OR.   New to blogging, Jillian’s personal blog can be found at http://reality-plus-me.blogspot.com/

Hapa Diversity Workshop (10/20)

Cultural Anthropologist, Dr. Linda Isako Angst, will be facilitating a workshop on diversity as part of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center’s exhibit on Kip Fulbeck’s Hapa art (“part Asian, 100% Hapa).

Who are you? How do you get to know someone you perceive as different? How do we understand who we are in relation to others? What assumptions do we make about “us” and “them” in the course of everyday life? Taking its cue from the perspective of cultural anthropology, this workshop will ask participants to think—and then unthink—assumptions we hold about ourselves and thereby examine the stereotypes we create about cultural others. While we celebrate the diversity each of us holds as culturally situated individuals, we must also learn how to honor and support the proliferation of ethnicities within our midst. Thursday, October 20, 5pm, at the Legacy Center. Free, but pregistration is required.

Preregister at info@oregonnikkei.org or call (503) 224-1458. For more information on the Nikkei Legacy Center’s other activities, go here.

Exploring identity is increasingly important in today’s age of multiracialism and multiculturalism.  If for nothing else, perhaps more conversation around identity will help us get closer to answering that familiar question, “What are you?”.

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Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University earning a B.A. in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies, while also working toward an M.B.A. at Atkinson Graduate School of Management in Salem, OR.   New to blogging, Jillian’s personal blog can be found at http://reality-plus-me.blogspot.com/