March 31, 2008

Cung Le beats Frank Shamrock!

I admit that I missed this fight. Catty doesn't have cable, so she probably missed it too. You can read the story here.

Anyway, Cung Le beat the virtually unstoppable Frank Shamrock by TKO when he broke Shamrock's arm with strikes. Shamrock was unable to continue after the third round. I was in New York when two Russian guys named Igor Zinoviev and Victor Tatarkin started cleaning up the New York judo scene. Igor moved on to fight in the Extreme Fighting Championship and won the middleweight title by beating Mario Sperry, a Brazilian Champion with a long win record. When Frank beat Igor the UFC with a bodyslam that ended his career, I personally knew that Frank was the real deal. As I predicted at the time, Frank went on to dominate the UFC, including his famous knockout win over an exhausted Tito Ortiz.

Cung Le has had a shorter MMA career--he was mostly involved in kickboxing and Wu Shu in his younger years--but he's no less amazing. It's always amazing to see a skilled striker take out a seasoned MMA veteran, especially when it comes from strikes. I do remember seeing one of his earlier fights when he first made the MMA transition. He was a bit hesitant to fight on the ground, but he did an amazing job at ensuring that the fight was a striking match. As with most of his fights, his opponent eventually gave up trying to take him down, and the result was a knockout in Le's favor.

Anyway, outside of B.J. Penn and Denis Kang, I think he's one of the few Asian American MMA competitors, and now he joins B.J. Penn as a world champion.

Frank Shamrock also deserves props for being extremely gracious in defeat:
"Cung Le broke my right arm," Shamrock said. "I could feel the bones clicking
together. Anyone who says Cung Le doesn't know submissions ... he put one on my
(Picture from

March 26, 2008

Asian American Feminism


This is my opinion on an important topic, and it does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the owners, the admins, or any of the members of the Fighting 44's. It's the viewpoint of me, Jaehwan, and Jaehwan alone, and I leave it to the rest of you to form your own view. Read on, fellow 44's, and make your own decision.

A debate over feminism has come up on these two blogs:

The first blog is from our friend Jenn at Reappropriate, and the second is her partner James. You can see the original post here, you can see James's blog post here (and he references a quote that I made), and you can see a debate on Jenn's blog over here.

It's no secret that one of the biggest problems in Asian American activism is the rift between men and women, particularly when there are self-identified "Asian American feminists" involved. In my experiences, both on the web and on the ground in real life, whenever "Asian American feminists" get involved in any kind of Asian American activism, it creates a rift so big that it prevents the two genders from working together. They'll usually force out all the men and women who support the men, and then they'll complain that Asian Americans are apathetic. Here at the 44's, we have some women who self-identify as "feminists," but to the best of my knowledge, we have no "Asian American feminists." The reason is obvious. Women who identify as "feminists" usually fight against a system of sexism, while women who identify themselves as "Asian American feminists," people such as Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan, usually fight against Asian American men. Feminists attack a system, while Asian American feminists attack people. More specifically, they attack people based on race and gender.

Maxine Hong Kingston, for example, shamed Asian people by making the false claim that the Chinese word for "slave" and "woman" was the same. She portrayed footbinding as some kind of ritual Chinese practice, despite the fact that it only took place among the upper class--which wasn't all that large in pre-modern China. A crime? Yes. An epidemic? Not by a long shot. Amy Tan made up orientalist stories where women cut their flesh to make soup, stories that her white audience bought up and cried tears over. She depicted Asian men as rapists and spendthrifts, much in contrast to the white Jesus figures with whom her Asian female characters fall in love. It's incredibly ironic that despite their claims to stand up for us as Asian Americans, these so-called Asian American feminists seem to rehash the age-old orientalist notions of a feminine orient and a masculine occident. Indeed, it seems that the ultimate path that the Kingstonians seem to preach is that Asian women can find themselves by embracing white men and Eurocentric culture.

Now it's hard for many Asian Americans to accept these "Asian American feminist" attacks.It's hard for us, both men and women, to sit back while people slander our ancestors in order to ingratiate themselves with the majority culture. The lies are so vicious that even modern "Asian American feminists" cannot acknowledge any truth in them. Jenn has defended Kingston, but while she stops short of calling them lies, even she has called Kingston's slave/woman mischaracterization "ill-advised."

Has Asian American feminism ever accomplished anything worthwhile? I'll be honest; I don't believe it has. Asian American women still get objectified more than other women of color, and they still face stereotypes that keep people thinking of them as submissive, sexual beings. The suicide rate is through the roof. I've never seen Kingston or Tan speaking out against objectification; the only time we ever see those two is if they're accepting awards from white people, giving diversity pep talks, or thinking of new ways to make money by selling orientalism to an ignorant public.

Asian American feminists write garbage like this.

Now despite our differences in opinion, both Jenn and James are fairly sensible on most issues, and they ask quite rightly whether it's possible that Asian American feminism can evolve. Our friend James--who is not Asian American--asks:

Lastly - and this is what really bothers me - why can't some Asian American men admit that minority feminism can evolve? What is the problem? I don't expect Black feminists to parrot Sojourner Truth at a Tavis Smiley conference in 2008.

Well, James, indeed, it's a good question. Yes, Asian American feminism can evolve. Or rather, it could have evolved. Most trends have the potential to evolve. However, the more important question is this--has it evolved? And the answer is an unequivocal NO. It was broken to begin with, and it remains broken today.

For example, has there ever been any tradition in the Asian American feminist movement that Asian Americans today can view with pride? Sojourner Truth, regardless of whether her issues are still relevant today, fought and won many battles against slavery, she helped recruit black soldiers, and she led an exemplary life that has been lionized by freedom fighters in civil rights. We could also list great achievements for people like Zora Neale Hurston, Rosa Parks, and Toni Morrison.

The same is not true of Asian American feminism. With the exception of Helen Zia, have any Asian American feminists done anything of note? (And no, Yuri Kochiyama was never an "Asian American feminist" until the Kingstonians put that label on her during the later years.) Do any intelligent and compassionate Asian American women point to any of these Asian American feminists as role models? The intelligent and compassionate ones admire Asian American women, but they never admire the AA feminists. As far as I know, not even reappropriate points to great role models in the Asian American feminist movement. Effective propagandists, yes. Role models? No.

Now returning to our friend James--what if Asian American feminism were to evolve? In the future, could it evolve?

I've reached a conclusion in just the last few days: I don't believe it can. There has been so much nonsense and lies spoken in the name of Asian American feminism that the name has been tarnished. If you call yourself an "Asian American feminist," you are unlikely to get support from any Asian American men or any Asian American women who support Asian American men. The symbolism is too strong. It's much the same with white Dixiecrats and black people--no matter how good a person you are, if you're a white guy claiming to be "Dixiecrat," prepare to get the cold shoulder from those whom the Dixiecrats have historically attacked. The Confederate flag still carries historical meaning, regardless of what modern "Southern pride" people claim, and the same is no less true for the Asian American men on the receiving end of the so-called Asian American feminist movement. White guys with low self-esteem love Asian American feminism because it raises them on a pedestal, but we Asian men usually find better things to do with our time.

Obviously sexism exists, but Asian American feminism, due to the wrongful actions of the misguided leaders during the late 20th century, is not the vehicle for the fight. It's dead, and the crooked legacy of Kingstonism lives on. Asian American women who move under this banner will find that everyone runs in the other direction. Everyone wants change. We want better gender relations, better empowerment, and more equality. We need to avoid the tarnished legacy of movements that divide us, and we need to fight together. I, for one, am tired from fielding the relentless attacks from Asian American feminists that dictate what I'm supposed to feel and how I'm supposed to be more like the white men whom most of them deify, even though they constantly remind us that I will never be as good as white.

In order to get along and to work together, we need for the Asian American feminists to switch sides. It's much easier for Asian American feminists to become non-Asian American feminists than it is for Asian men to become white men.

As the ever perspicacious (female) 44 nightshade said in another blog entry (#16),

I think if real Asian American feminism were to come about, it wouldn’t be about dogging Asian American men. It couldn’t because Asian American men don’t hold the oppressive patriarchal power in the US or in Canada–well at least, they don’t for the Asian Asian women who have access to feminist and post-colonial thought. I can’t speak for the women who are living in poverty and must depend on their fathers or husbands for everything.

If a real Asian American feminism were to come about, it would be centered on dismantling the white patriarchy, and it would include Asian American men in the fight. There can be no Asian American feminism without first addressing the fight for racial equality.

Nightshade is 100% correct. Let's fight for racial equality together. We can fight for racial equality, and we can fight for gender equality at the same time. Nightshade's approach is fifty times more powerful than anything the Asian American feminists have dreamed up, and the reason is simple: in her prescription, we fight together towards a common cause, rather than against one another. Let's move away from the crimes of the past. Let's create cultural power together and create a society where we all can thrive and raise one another up.


March 25, 2008

As I Am

If anyone has a blog or website out there, link us up. Put the Fighting 44's on your blogroll, and encourage all your friends to do the same. The Asian American blogosphere needs to be linked.
We need the exposure, and activists need us.

Speaking of lack of exposure, I just found this little podcast on the web. I'm amazed that I didn't find it earlier; there were no links from any of the other major Asian American blogs or message boards. It's an Asian American radio show hosted by Helen Zia, who was the attorney in the Vincent Chin case and who is one of the more prominent Asian American civil rights activists of the 20th century. The format is simple and restrained, kind of like an NPR for Asian Americans. The link to the show is here, and the official site is here. There is a good interview with Min Jin Lee, who wrote "Free Food For Milionaires," a book that was incredibly well written but pushed the Hwangian envelope on deifying white guys and emasculating Asian guys. (See the 44's discussion of her book here. I felt so betrayed that I had to let Jook do the final review for me.) But hey, it's all about getting the word out, and Min Jin's interview isn't bad. There's also other stuff on the program, like an interview with Vijay Prashad and Martin Yan.

Helen Zia, like Frank Chin, is a renowned fighter among Asian American activists, and it's good that she's staying active. It's good that there is a tradition of Asian American activism. Check it out.

Where are the now: the "Donger"

I saw this on another NPR yesterday produced a show that covers Asian American male media stereotypes with special reference to Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles. They include an interview with Gedde Watanabe, the guy who played the "Donger," who is now 52 and still acting. Read the article here.

I've always said that the problem isn't the media itself, but rather it's a problem with Asian American culture. Colonialism plays a role in shaping culture, but if we would pressure universities to actively create Asian American Studies programs based on knowledge and history rather than on stereotypes, we'd have much better progress on the media front. It all comes from the writing, which comes from education.

Personally, I don't have a strong opinion on the "Donger" either way, positive or negative. Actors play roles, some of which are good, others of which are bad. Some actors will lead the charge for change, while others will just do whatever their employers pay them to do. If the Donger hadn't taken this degrading role, someone else would have. Yes, it's racially stereotypical, but focusing on actors doesn't address the main problems in education and cultural creation.

One really good feature on this news article is the link to one of Adrian Tomine's comics that references the Dong-meister. Now that's cool.

March 22, 2008

All the money in the world

I just saw someone post this on Reappropriate Jenn's site:

The first two paragraphs are:

After swimming in the dating pool for quite a while, I’ve come to realize what my preferences are in a guy. I’ve dated enough men to know what I want and don’t want. How hard is it to find a well-rounded, non-crazed guy in this big city? The more men I meet, the slimmer my list of preferences becomes. Then I realized another thing that I never took into much consideration until recently. When it comes down to it, I’d probably be more inclined to date any guy who isn’t Asian.

Racial preference is a funny thing. I never knew how aware I was about race when it came to dating. It shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to love but you can’t help who you’re physically attracted to. When I go out with my girlfriends to parties or during happy hour, I instantly bypass any guy who is Asian. There’s something about them that doesn’t appeal to me. I can’t exactly put my finger on it. Maybe it’s their spiky hair. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve dated Asian men before but mostly Filipino men. There have been countless times when my mother would try to set me up with a “nice Filipino man” and they would all be the same- just nice.

The guys on reappropriate are bashing it, and it's a bit strange coming from a magazine like Asiance whose tagline is "The Magazine for Asian American Women." Or maybe it's not strange since it's not "The Magazine for Asian American Men."

In any case, this was the photo on the article's front page:

I thought there was no angle to this debate that hasn't already been mentioned fifty million f$#%^g times, but one thing new did occur to me. It was this: they couldn't pay me enough money to put my picture on that article. Never never never. The Sultan of Brunei doesn't have enough money that would offer me satisfactory compensation to be on that page. Bill Gates doesn't have enough money. Warren Buffett doesn't. The Federal Reserve doesn't.

I'd rather be sitting in a ditch begging the neighborhood McDonalds for food scraps then to put my picture on an article which talks about how much better white guys are than Asian American men, no matter what kind of free market dating pool explanations people like this have to offer. And I'm not dismissing Ms. Bandong's experiences or tastes because obviously she's being genuine. I'm just saying that I wouldn't be a part of it.

March 21, 2008

Simplifying the Writer's Life

Dark Room

This is not necessarily Asian American related, but it's 44's related since we have so many aspiring and seasoned writers on this board. I know of at least five veterans here who are either working on novels or are someday hoping to do fiction. I know a few published authors on this board as well.

I saw this article yesterday in the Washington Times that talks about a word processing program that replicates the old green and black screens of WordPerfect. What a brilliant idea! You can download those WriteRoom for Mac here ($24) or Darkroom for PC here (free). God, I miss those days of WordPerfect. The thinking behind these new programs is absolutely correct; it's easier to think when you take out all the clutter and just put green letters on a black screen. I myself own a computer which I purposely leave disconnected from the web in order to reduce clutter and distractions. But the MS Word layout still hurts my eyes, so I still yearn for the days of green on black.

Anyway, I hope to check out these programs sometime soon, once I've reduced the non-computer clutter in my life. For any aspiring or current Asian American/Asian Canadian writers out there, this may be the key to helping your text flow.

March 19, 2008

44's vs. Reappropriate on Fallout Central

Check out the latest edition of the Fallout Central podcast where I debate Jenn Fang from on the issue of whether or not the promotion of the movie "Falling For Grace" hurts, helps, or does nothing for Asian American men. Our debate takes place approximately between 47:54 and 1:05:10 on the audio clip.

For those who want the link to the Tierney blog I quoted, it is here.

Another article, special for all you 44's fans, is here. (and thanks to 44's member Vahz who posted this one.) It says,

The one major exception to the finding that women wanted to meet men of
their own race was Asian women, a vast majority of whom stated that they
strongly preferred meeting non-Asian men.

The primary explanation offered by most Asian women was that they
wanted to be matched with tall men, and they insisted that practically all of
the Asian men they knew were short. But when I would ask if they would be
willing to meet an Asian man if he were tall, most would simply shake their head
and say they would rather not.

I don't want to dwell too much on it because, as I mentioned in the podcast, the IR debate gets divisive if you mention it too much, but I did want to offer at least a few pieces of evidence to counter the unexamined numbers of Dr. C.N. Le. I'm sure Dr. Le is a great guy, but his numbers are an outlier, and unless someone with a statistics background can examine those really dubious numbers that he has presented, I'm going to stick with the statistics from just about everyone else out there.

So here's the story behind the story: Samurai Jack started the situation with his post here,? and Jenn took it to the next level here (see the 236 and counting comments on Jenn's Haloscan). After seeing the hordes of angry Asian men on her blog, including me and fellow 44 Xian (the 44's family!), she and Will came up with the idea of having the debate. As Will explains in his comments after the debate, he sent us the format, and we agreed.
I don't know if we reached a resolution, and I don't know if we'll ever reach a resolution, but it was an awesome experience just getting the issues out there. The internet is great, but there is no substitute for the clashing of voices and ideas in real time. We need to hear more issues, and we need to get them out in the open. Like the great Frank Chin, we need to dare to share what is on our minds. We need to use our minds.

I'd like to thank Jenn for inviting me to Fallout Central where she is a regular. Though we disagree on many issues, her open-mindedness and ability to hear the other side make her a true leader in the Asian American community. I'm very impressed by the way she has crossed boundaries to get a diversity of opinion on all subjects, both on her blog and in her activism. Thanks to fellow 44 Kwak (it feels like family and I'm about to cry...) for introducing me to the FC guys. Thanks to William of Fallout Central for hosting what was a lively debate.
It's great that the Asian American blogosphere can work together even though our opinions differ so much. I look forward to continuing in the spirit of cooperation.

A More Perfect Union

A lot of the country is talking about Barack Obama's speech last night addressing the controversy over statements made by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who is the former pastor of Mr. Obama's church. The video is above; for those who are more textual, you can see the full text here. Obama was forced to explain his relationship with Wright after Wright said "God damn America" in a sermon and said that the U.S. had provoked 9/11.

The coverage on this speech has been mostly positive. Obama has been praised for his courage, and though some feel that the speech may not have gone far enough, there is general agreement that Obama succeeded in pushing the envelope on dialogue about race. We love risk-takers, and Obama made a risky move by addressing a subject that easily could become a liability. His manner of addressing the topic was also extremely risky: he maintained his personal support for Wright while expressing disapproval of his comments, something that members of the church community didn't want to hear; he placed his view of Wright in a historical context, something that conservatives hate to hear; he said that black Americans have to adopt more "conservative" values by focusing on "self-help," something that liberals hate to hear; and he said that whites have to acknowledge that racism is real, something that a lot of white people don't like to hear. He addressed the issues without pandering to anyone.

Now I have personally been an Obama supporter since the early days of the campaign, but I haven't been one of those die-hard supporters who thinks he's the Second Coming. I was disappointed when he signed the 80/20 questionnaire, and I thought it was an extreme misstep when Obama declared he was going negative after Ohio and Texas, especially given that he had marketed himself as the change candidate. His "Audacity of Hope" was more boring than a real estate sales contract.

But one thing that is clear from the speech yesterday is that Obama has the ability to connect with people across the racial divide. He has a strong ability to see what groups need to do, and he knows how to integrate it into a message that unifies disparate people in moving towards a common goal. He has a strong understanding of the racial issues that sets him apart from the other two candidates, and most importantly, he has the ability to communicate this understanding and translate it into change. I think this is what the country needs.

March 17, 2008

Senator Daniel Inouye in Portland

Last night, U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye from Hawaii came to Portland to stump for his friend Sho Dozono, who is running for Portland mayor. Sho Dozono owns one of the most successful travel agencies in the Portland area and is well known for his community work and philanthropy. He has the endorsement of the current mayor, Tom Potter, and since he has accepted public financing, he is running without fundraising dollars. His opponent is City Commissioner Sam Adams.
I was pretty surprised to learn that Senator Inouye was coming to town. Inouye is perhaps the most famous Asian American war hero from WWII, and possibly one of the most famous war heroes of all of WWII. Back in the days of WWII, prejudice against Japanese Americans ran rampant, and the political resistance against giving a Medal of Honor to a Japanese American was so strong that Inouye was passed over for the award, despite the fact that he had lost his right arm defending his country. Inouye has been serving in the U.S. Senate since 1962 and is currently the third most senior U.S. Senator.
You can see his story here:
He's also profiled in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation," which recounts the story of the firefight in which he lost his right arm. Basically, his arm was shattered by a German rifle-launched grenade as he was holding a grenade of his own.
He pried a third grenade from his right hand and threw it with his left. He continued to fire with his automatic weapon, covering the withdrawal of his men. Finally, he was knocked out of action by another bullet in the leg, but by then the German position was neutralized. Twenty-five Germans were dead, and Inouye took eight as prisoners of war. (The Greatest Generation; Tom Brokaw, ISBN 0-375-50202-5,pp. 353-354)
Inouye was an electrifying speaker last night, and it was a really excellent event--exciting and warm, and it only cost twenty-bucks! They had traditional Polynesian singers who brought the spirit of Hawaii to Portland, and Inouye did a great job of reaching out to everyone. He is a historical figure, and I was glad for the opportunity to hear him.
Sho Dozono, Sen. Daniel Inouye, and Jaehwan

March 14, 2008

Bear Stearns in trouble

My goodness; I had no idea it was this bad. It looks like the subprime crisis actually has one of the major banks on the ropes, fighting for survival. To make things worse, they had to borrow money from one of their competitors--which unfortunately makes sense since no one else in the world would have the money to hold them up.

March 12, 2008

Frank Chin's Blog and Curtis Choy's Website

You ALL come here for hard hitting conversation, awesome news, and an intellectual force of Asian American issues that cannot be found anywhere else on the web.
In the spirit of the 44's remaining the leader on the web for Asian American issues, I am proud to present something that NONE of the other major Asian American blogs have, something that (for the moment, anyway), is exclusive to the loyal readers of TheFighting44s. I present you the blog of the legendary Frank Chin:
photo by Nancy Wong, 1975, San Francisco
I'm not kidding; this is the blog of the man himself--I've confirmed it with a legend in his own right, the filmmaker Curtis Choy (also pictured above). See Curtis's awesome website here.
Curtis was the maverick filmmaker who solidified Frank Chin's place in history with the excellent documentary "What's Wrong with Frank Chin." I've met some of the people in their generation, and they all told me the same thing: Curtis was CRAZY to make a documentary like that. He'd be better off making a documentary that white people would love and pay for--maybe a story about how Maxine Hong Kingston exemplifies the life of a "Woman Warrior," how Amy Tan found the love of her life, or how David Henry Hwang impressed Hallmark by dressing Bai Ling in skimpy clothes, asking her to play the goddess Kwan Yin, and making her fall in love with a white guy. Curtis could've played Asian American Lit like an ATM and laughed all the way to the bank, but instead he maintained his artistic and moral integrity and gave us a gem of a documentary. And I don't care what those Kingstonians in the universities say--we need to remember our history, and we have to understand our roots. Without brave artists/documentary creators like Curtis, how would we ever learn about our roots?
Check out the excellent poetry of Frank Chin's words from the blog:
It’s been 35 years since Maxine Hong Kingston’s THE WOMAN WARRIOR spread a lie American white racists found sweet. A lie about Mulan, the heroine of the children’s BALLAD OF MULAN bearing the tattoos of Yue Fei on her back. A few Chinese complained that her Mulan was an offensive fake. But the white press using Ornamental Orientals and “feminists” as “reviewers” praised the book for revealing the misogyny at the heart of Chinese culture.
"Ornamental Orientals?" I LOVE IT! Those 35 years of lies and distortions have affected all of us Asian Americans. Self-confidence among Asian Americans is lower than a snake's belly, and a great part of that failure in confidence comes from the relentless and baseless attacks on Asian American culture from goofballs like Kingston, Tan, and Hwang. You can see some of my other ideas here (and I'm still continuing with growing the base of knowledge that we need.)
Some more:
One of Kingston’s literary axioms is myths have to change or die. Weem’s told a story of Washington’s honesty that wasn’t true to encourage white kids to tell the truth? Why hasn’t Sociology changed the text of the myth of Jesus Christ? If they can change THE BALLAD OF MULAN they can change the myth of Christ or Hitler before the myths die, right?
This is the problem with Kingstonism in a nutshell. You cannot in good conscience make up nonsense, for example, by claiming that the Chinese word for "slave" and "woman" are the same (and Kingston actually did claim this), and then dismiss all challenges by saying it's "emotionally true." Things happened, or they didn't happen. Myths existed in one form, or they didn't. The Civil War either took place in 1861, or it didn't. History is important, which is why we study it.
Anyway, if you're an activist, you absolutely NEED to see "What's Wrong With Frank Chin." I probably don't agree with everything the man said, but his general ideas are correct, and it's a crying shame that our Asian American leaders took the easy postmodern, deconstructionist approach to Asian American culture rather than an intellectually rigorous approach based on logic, history, and the ability to create.
But the time for fooling around with Kingstonian foolishness is over. We need to see the roots of Asian American activism, which was initiated by people like Frank and Curtis, and we need to use their knowledge to determine where we think Asian American culture needs to go. As fellow 44's blogger Xian once said, "We have to win."
And because we're the next generation of leaders who come from a tradition started by people like Frank and Curtis, we already have a head start. If we want to win and are willing to put in the effort, we will.

Boo Hoo!

So Ferraro said,

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a
woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very
lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

If that's not inflammatory, I don't know what is. It's ridiculous for anyone to make a statement implying that Obama is the frontrunner because of his race. Whether you like him or not, he's the most eloquent and well spoken candidate out there. I would think that takes skill.

Acknowledging her faux pas, Ferraro stepped down:
In a letter to Clinton, first reported by CNN, Ferraro says: "Dear Hillary, I am
stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can
continue to speak for yourself about what's at stake in this campaign. The Obama
campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen. Thank you for
everything you've done and continue to do to make this a better world for my
children and grandchildren. You have my deep admiration and respect, Gerry."

Translation: "I tried race-baiting, and it came back to bite me in the #%^! "

I don't think Ferraro is racist. But the fact is that she tried to pull a cheap political ploy to attack Obama makes the outcome of this stunt somewhat vindicating.

NY's first black governor

Well, I don't think this is historic in the same vein as Obama, but it looks like it's going to happen on Monday...

By the way, I think Mr. Patterson has a very interesting history.

March 11, 2008

Activism on the Web

Jenn Fang, from, launched a letter writing campaign from her blog last week with this post:

The story was that there is an "Asian Fusion" restaurant in Boston which decided to advertise its food and services by placing an advertisement with a naked Asian woman (You can see the ad by going to her blog). Calling the restaurant on their objectification of Asian women, Jenn advised her readers to contact the owners with her complaints. Her campaign was so effective that it made the Boston Herald:

It may have also brought more attention to the restaurant itself, but hey, change always starts with dialogue. I don't know about you all, but I think it's exciting that the internet has sparked so much activism and real action.

Now props to Jenn, of course, but I also think there is a disadvantage with "web activism": real activism must have much more than just action; it also requires thoughtful strategizing. With this particular incident, the angry mailing and phone calling took place because people were already angry with orientalism and the issues that Asian Americans deal with day to day. For real strategizing--and I've said this often on this site and on other sites--there is no substitute for face to face strategizing.

(Double posted on the 44's.)

March 10, 2008

TV Humiliation

I was wondering when someone was going to talk about "To Catch a Predator:"

While most (if not all) of these predators are undoubtedly bad, it does seem to cross the line by bringing the media into due process. As for the other shows, I can't really comment since most of those "victims" are voluntary.

March 6, 2008


There was an interesting article on MSG in the New York Times today here. I never knew that MSG was a key ingredient in Japanese mayonnaise or in the spicy tuna roll. Plus, the article has recipes using Kewpie (Japanese) mayonnaise and Maggi. God bless the New York Times.

March 5, 2008

Scholar Studies Ethnic Identity and Well-Being in Teens and Young Adults

I saw this on the FalloutCentral blog.

Scholar Studies Ethnic Identity and Well-Being in Teens and Young Adults

By Gina Vergel

Tiffany Yip, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, grew up in many different places—some more ethnically diverse than others.

Born in the United States to Chinese immigrants, Yip spent part of her youth in California, Texas, Illinois and Hong Kong. With the exception of Hong Kong, she was often one of very few Asians in her school.

Needless to say, Yip’s ethnic identity wasn’t always easy for her to understand.

“During that important time in my life, when I was trying to form a sense of self, I was going from a place that didn’t have a lot of Asians to a predominantly Asian place and thinking, ‘What does that mean for who I am?’” she said.

Yip’s childhood questions about race and ethnicity have led her to study ethnic identity in Chinese-American teenagers and young adults in the New York City area.

Ethnic identity is the extent to which someone’s ethnic background plays a role in his or her self definition. “It’s a complex sense of self, and yet few studies have examined whether feelings of ethnic identity fluctuate over time,” Yip said. “I wanted to know how and when ethnic identity is most salient [for these young Chinese Americans] and about the psychological implications of that identity.”

Yip recruited 100 first- and second-generation Chinese-American students from 16 New York City-area high schools to complete daily diaries for two weeks. The diaries contained checklists on feelings and behaviors, including those relevant to ethnic identity. Students also were asked to rate how they felt about their ethnic pride and psychological well-being.

She found two significant trends. Feeling “Chinese” made the adolescents feel good about themselves, but only if they considered their ethnic identity central to who they are. She also found that the adolescents’ sense of identity increased as they participated in ethnic activities. For example, the more they spoke Chinese or participated in ethnic events, the more Chinese they felt.

“A lot of it has to do with parenting,” Yip said of the results. “Some parents raise their kids in a way that is all about their national origin; they have to speak the language, read Chinese magazines, eat Chinese food and watch Chinese television. And some parents are much more about assimilating [to U.S. culture].”

Yip also pointed to the neighborhoods of Chinese-American teenagers as contributing to ethnic identity. “Are their opportunities to have a Chinese meal or read a Chinese newspaper where they are growing up?” she said.

Yip said that someone’s social environment—such as friends who encourage diversity—also play a factor. “If you’re the only minority in a context, you might not be comfortable exploring your identity or you may feel ashamed of it, or feel like an outcast,” she said.

Though Yip was able to confirm that ethnic salience and psychological well-being can change daily, she wanted to go further. “I wanted to see if it changes within a particular day,” she said. “Indeed, it does.”

Yip collected experience sampling reports several times a day for one week from first- and second-generation Chinese-American college students whom she outfitted with PDAs. The devices beeped randomly six times a day and asked the students questions about their ethnic salience, their psychological well-being and the situation they were in at the time.

“The phenomenon we were trying to tap was, ‘When do people think about their identity?’” Yip said. “If you’re with your family, for example, is your identity heightened? How about when you’re in the classroom—is it not as salient for you?”

She found that if a college student was with his or her family or with peers, or Chinese was being spoken, ethnic salience was at its highest. But that’s not surprising, she said, since the Chinese language is more likely to be spoken in settings that include more Chinese people.

“The main finding from the PDA study is that you can put two individuals in the same objective environment, but they’ll see different things depending on their ethnic identity,” Yip said.

In other words, Yip found that ethnic identity can serve as a lens for interpreting the world. “So if people have a heightened sense of ethnic identity, they are more likely to pick up on cues in their environment that are relevant to their identity. But people who are like, ‘I’m Chinese, but it doesn’t really mean that much to me; I don’t really think about it that much,’ might not pick up on those same cues in the same environment.”


I think it’s an interesting study. The main question I would have is whether the study raises any questions about being “Chinese” vs. “Chinese American.” No doubt the ability to speak Chinese improves ethnic identity and well-being since it’s something that most of America doesn’t have and since we live in a society which is racially stratified. But I wonder if there aren’t unique values for Asian Americans which might transcend simple language ability, values such as the ability to organize or the ability to speak on racial issues. It raises the same question about “Asian” vs. “Asian American” in my last blog post.