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.
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Hapa Diversity Workshop – Free but Space is Limited, RSVP now!

Hapa Diversity Workshop, facilitated by Dr. Linda Isako Angst, Cultural Anthropologist of Japan.

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.

Free, but RSVP is required.

Time
Thursday, October 20 · 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Location
Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center

121 NW 2nd Avenue
Portland, OR

For more information, visit http://www.oregonnikkei.org

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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 

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.

The Tension between Charity and Justice

 

Recently I read an article on Other Asians about an amazing and idealistic nonprofit called The Supply.  The stories these founders tell are touching and inspirational, and far be it from me to put down anyone with the drive to make dreams reality, especially for those with no access like the kids in the slums The Supply works with.  That said, I’m still going to be an asshole and bring up some points to complicate things.

One quote from John really resonates with me:

For me, going to Africa taught me what it means to live in the US. The American dream is not only given to you, it’s shoved down your throat. When I see Americans and even myself especially, I’m pissed off I don’t have the newest apple product. They constantly teach me how live.

I feel that when privileged Americans visit wherever it is in the world that teaches them how much better off they are than those living in the global south, they don’t go on to question how such enormous disparities in living conditions arose.  Yes, education can be a great equalizer, a pathway to gain access to privileges, to empower individuals and their communities to improve their conditions.  But how were these huge gaps of inequality created in the first place, making education a necessary and plausible step towards closing them?

It’s not so simple as blaming all the world’s problems on the U.S., but the U.S. is a huge influential global force.  But I think it’s really fucked up to visit a tiny village in Africa just to be reminded how materialistically wealthy and privileged we are in the U.S. and come home thinking “Damn, I’m so lucky not to be in their shoes!”.  At what costs did we gain our wealth?  If you’re curious, take a look at the native Americans, slavery, the Philippines, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guam, Puerto Rico, Micronesia, and Vietnam.  Just to scratch the surface in exploring how many of the U.S.’s actions, policies, and interference have been in the interest of our own economic, political, and military ideals.

Lately I’ve been exploring the tension between charity and justice, between what is necessary now and what will really transform the root causes of inequality.  I love the fierce passion and pursuit of idealism that shows through in these men’s words.  But without a deeper critique questioning how our own wealth and privileges were built, this is only a band aid solution, and not part of a longer journey to transformation and justice.

Yes it is my education that has enabled me to ask such critical questions of nonprofits, to draw connections between slums on another continent and the political and material reality around me in the U.S.  I’m not trying to invalidate the work of these men or any other nonprofits who work for good.  I’m saying yes do service, yes help others, AND always ask why there are so many people who need “help” in the first place.  And explore that.  I’ve been searching for the point of entry where my privileges as an American empower me to make a difference NOT in a slum across the world, but in my own community where agribusinesses exploit migrant labor to provide “fresh” produce year round, and my precious Forever 21 clothes are made by sweatshop labor… and when I see my move, I’ll make it.

Rosie Glade is an American Ethnic Studies major at Willamette University.  She is a second generation Filipina American and fully intends to spend her life organizing, challenging, and freedom dreaming.

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/

Obama to See Asian American Caucus for the First Time

This article details Obama’s first-ever meeting with the APIA caucus.

I think it’s disturbing that Obama is only meeting with the Asian Pacific Islander caucus now, several months after he began working on his re-election campaign rather than in the first few years when there could have been a stronger difference made on behalf of minorities. Frankly, the GOP has not done a very good job at reaching out to Asian Americans either. Despite the fact that APIA’s are the fastest growing minority in the United States, our voice is still relatively ignored in the immigration reform.

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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 

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/