Category Archives: Expression

Reaction to Ashton Kutcher’s brown face Pop Chips ads

 

The Truth with Hasan Minhaj – Ashton Kutcher and PopChips

(Warning: Explicit Language)

Simon Tam is a Chinese/Taiwanese American, an activist, and musician. He is the founder and bassist for The Slants, the first all Asian American dance rock band in the world. His writing can be found at http://aslantedview.tumblr.com

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.

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/

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 

New Media: how will it affect API’s?

A news segment had included coverage about Indiana public schools getting rid of cursive writing education, instead opting for keyboard proficiency.  Read more here.

While the increasing move from penmanship to keyboard words-per-minute affects all of the US, I  wanted to jump in with some food for thought on how it will specifically affect API’s.   After all,  in a study by the School of Communication at Northwestern University, research showed that Asian Americans–on average–had the most computer use out of other American youth of different races (although the study only used white, black, and Hispanic).  So, my question is whether this increased use of new media and technology among API’s will result in a shift of culture.

Already, we live in an age in which children as young as six begin computer proficiency education in school.  We can type, and it’s great, but what are the implications for those of us who live in multicultural homes.  While I’m a boring monolinguist, I’ve talked to a couple friends about how difficult it is to keep up with writing in Chinese or other Asian languages that have characters.  My Auntie is Korean, but she never writes it since her computer keyboard allows her to type in Korean or English.

Language is extremely important to us, and living in an era of texting, typing, and Tweet talk may be robbing some of us of fundamental ties to our cultures.  Perhaps we’re not quite there yet (phew!), but the way society is going–like how I can electronically sign important documents for school loans, but my cursive writing looks horrible–we may need to think more deeply about new areas of cultural preservation in the future.

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Jillian Toda is a native 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.  She is 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/

Taipei to host largest same-sex marriage ceremony

Taipei is going to be hosting the largest same-sex marriage ceremony in the country. Even though same-sex marriage is not legal in the country yet, attitudes about homosexuality are shifting and interference from the government is not expected. Taiwan is in process of being the first Asian country to allow same-sex couples to legally adopt children. They also held the largest pride parade in Asia: over 30,000. Read the full article here.

It seems that many attitudes about sexuality and gender are shifting in Asia, how much of that do you think is led or influenced by Asian Americans? The marriage ceremony was in response to New York state’s newly passed law regarding same-sex marriages. There have been multiple attempts for same-sex marriage in Oregon as well, none of which have been successful.

If we are to truly advocate for Asian American rights, then by necessity we should also be advocating for basic human rights that affect Asian Americans as well: education, access to resources, personal/artistic expression, and freedom.

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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 

Poetry and stories for education

Week-end Book Review: A Clear Blue Sky: Stories and Poems on Conflict and Hope.

This collection of short stories and poems by Indian and Pakistani authors is published by Puffin Books India and seems like a really touching and insightful read for young  adults.  Even for the younger kids, stories of these political, economic, and social struggles by our Asian brothers and sisters may help establish a connection between all of our lives.

Educate others in your life–and yourself! (For more information about the book and how to order it, visit http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/puffin/category/Anthology/A_Clear_Blue_Sky_9780143331414.aspx)