Category Archives: Action

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.

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.

What is being APIA?

A post in Angry Asian Man yesterday touched on issues previously and currently affecting the APIA community.  While Phil Yu is on vacation, he enlisted California Assemblymember, Warren Furutani, to write a guest post.

Furutani’s article nicely synthesizes and summarizes the emergence of the APIA identity, and how we should move toward the future having had those past experiences.  He also proposes that APIA’s should look for ways to include other/all groups in our solidarity.  The piece is empowering and can be summed up by its great last lines:

How do we define Asian and Pacific Islander America? It is dynamic and ever changing based upon our collective changing American experience. We can define it any way we want.

Read the whole entry here.

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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/

Should We Vote on Someone Based on Their Ethnicity?

An interesting story was released in today’s issue of SF Gate about the Democratic leadership refusing to endorse any Asian Americans for mayor, even though over half of the candidates from Asian. Many local Chinese Americans protested the decision and questioned the decision. To me, the issue brings up a bigger issue of how/why we back candidates of color and why it is important that we do.

To me, it seems that people generally support candidates who they believe can relate to their own personal experiences, values, and experiences. You’d like to see a person of color a part of the decision making process when it comes to issues affecting communities of color. It lends to the idea of authenticity and credibility. Perhaps was not too great of a surprise when President Obama won 96% of the black vote, even though historically Republicans have a greater foundational history in supporting civil rights than Democrats do. For example, in the 26 major civil rights votes after 1933, Republican majority supported civil rights in over 96% of the votes. By contrast, Democratic majority opposed civil rights votes over 80% of the time (and also here). However, with broad brushing by the media and both parties, we’re often left with stereotypes of each side: Republicans being redneck, racists, and greedy; Democrats are elitists, corrupt, and support terrorism. History doesn’t louder than the characterizations we receive of those who we disagree with. We as voters want to trust our gut feelings and we hope that the person we’re supporting understands the plight of our communities because they have gone through the very same experience themselves. Even if sometimes the solution might not be what we expect.

There are countless examples of politicians misleading their base: immorality despite a platform of religious righteousness, economic scandal in the face of campaign of corruption, betraying their wedding vows or oath of office. To be fair, these exceptions should not be the standard in which we judge future candidates. We should continue to have faith in individuals that we support and relate to in hopes that they can bring progress to our communities. We should support the positive exchange of ideas not the demonizing by overzealous naysayers. Furthermore, I personally believe that we should support individuals irregardless of their party affiliation: if their ideas, their values, their experiences, and their history show them to be the best fit then may the best candidate win.

I would like to see more Asian American candidates enter the field and winning seats because despite several decade of “talk” from candidates, progress in the way of addressing the major disparities in health, education, income, access, and rights still remain rather bleak. The only group that has ever address the “Model Minority Myth” with precision, accuracy, and delicacy has been Asian Americans, the very group referred to by the Model Minority. Shouldn’t it make sense that we are included in the conversation when it comes to issues pertaining to our community because we know that very community the best?

So in answer to the question that I posed earlier: should we vote on someone based on their ethnicity? Maybe. I believe it should be one of several factors: do they have a history of addressing the needs of the community at large? Do you share similar values and a philosophy on how to solve issues?

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Simon Tam is a Chinese/Taiwanese American, an activist, and musician. He is the founder and bassist for The Slants, the first and only all Asian American dance rock band in the world. Presenting a bold, unapologetic view of the API experience through their music, Simon delivers workshops and talks on Asian American culture throughout the continent. He is an enthusiastic supporter of API advocacy organizations, adopting dogs, and fighting cancer.
An avid fan of music, reading, and diversity, Simon is a regular contributor to API Crossroads and You Offend Me You Offend My Family. His writing can be found at http://aslantedview.tumblr.com 

Office of Equity Public hearing

There is a public Hearing on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 6 p.m. in City Council chambers, 1221 SW 4th Avenue, to discuss the creation of a new City bureau — the Office of Equity. The new office will coordinate work within the City and in the community on the Equity Initiative in the Portland Plan, aimed at eliminating disparities and achieving equity in Portland.

More information on the proposal is here: . http://www.portlandonline.com/fritz/index.cfm?a=361064&c=49233

Please review the draft ordinance and work plan and send any comments to sara.hussein@portlandoregon.gov by noon on Monday, August 29.