jedi

"My Wife is Korean!" and how I was solicited by Samwise Gamgee

The election to replace Jane Harman, the blue-dog Democrat House of Representatives incumbent of my District, is today. (As noted in previous blog posts, to me, Harman was a big "meh.")

No less than 16 candidates have emerged to replace her and this is the first test of California's new open-primary law.

I'm not a registered Democrat, but I pretty much think the only Republican platform position superior to the Democrat's is the Republican party's position on Taiwan. Still, reading the sample ballot I was impressed by the Libertarian candidate's statement.. Even if I didn't entirely agree with Steve Collett, I agreed with a lot of it. He is anti-war, supports teachers, immigration amnesty, decriminalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage, etc. I wish more Republicans were like him.


He is also single and owns five large dogs.


Anyhow. The election for the 36th was relatively quiet until a few days ago when former Disney Imagineer Dan Adler jumped onto the scene and this commercial popped up.


"There's not a single person I've met, honestly, who's been offended" - Dan Adler aka a guy who is not reading Asian American blogs...


Sooo awkward. So awkward. (My wife is Korean, too, buddy.) Even more awkward? Glenn Beck--yes, that Glenn Beck--calling the guy out, criticizing the ad for "featur[ing] several offensive stereotypes of Koreans and Asians...people should vote based on principles and values, not race or creed." (And then essentially endorsing Adler for the lulz.)

I mean sure, Beck did it in most offensive way possible, and really he's one to talk since it's not like he ever perpetrates offensive stereotypes of Asians or any other group like ever...but yeah. A broken clock is still right for a split second every once in a while.



As much as I hate to say it, Beck is right in that Adler's ad, featuring the heavily accented Korean American laundrymat woman (who doesn't know what a "mensch" is hurrhurr) did exploit Asian American stereotypes for a punchline. Adler is Jewish, making him an ethnic minority, but that doesn't mean he knows what it's like to be a person of color in the 36th. Dude, Asian Americans are commonly told "my wife is Asian" by people trying to justify why they're allowed to say something racist. (He might as well have said, "some of my friends are black...")

I should note that Adler's campaign manager is Sean Astin, who played the hobbit Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings movies. Yesterday I received an email from Astin asking for money for Adler in response to Beck's actions.



But yeah...no.
jedi

Title X Defunded

Earlier today the House of Representatives voted to defund Title X and strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood and other family planning and women's health services. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and preventive health services, particularly to low-income families and college students.

Really, because defunding the largest provider of free contraceptives in the entire country is going to stop the unwanted pregnancies that lead to abortion.

I'm personally invested in defending Title X funding, and yes, even Planned Parenthood, because during my time in the UCLA student government as a member of the Student Health Advisory Committee, there was a funding shortage for contraceptives on campus due to the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. Between 2007 and 2009 at UCLA, the cost of birth control on campus--the most commonly filled prescription--doubled, tripled, or quadrupled for many students, with some forms costing over $700 a year--close to the cost of a UCLA course.

As a result many students were directed to the local Planned Parenthood in Santa Monica (which does not provide surgical abortion services) to receive needed exams, screenings, medications, and referrals.

I don't even know how to begin expressing my disgust for the House of Representatives, the major governing body of my country, for making this decision. Much of my ire is directed towards John Campbell (R-Irvine) because even though I am not his constituent, I grew up in his district. And I remember one frantic weekend, long ago, where I desperately tried to find the (non-existent) Planned Parenthood in Irvine.

What I can't get around is how irrational this decision is. Just some thoughts:

Our country is facing a major deficit, and family planning programs save taxpayer dollars.

There's already the Hyde Amendment, surely there is no need to defund Title X.

This is the same political party that opposes maternity insurance coverage. Our society still looks down on single mothers.

We live in a country where 1 out of 4 teenaged girls has an STD and where many of these girls seek treatment at free clinics like PP.

America punishes our servicewomen for becoming pregnant, but doesn't protect them from rape or provide them with ways to prevent pregnancy.

In addition to Planned Parenthood, UCLA's medical center and several others also providers abortion services. Many are taxpayer funded education institutions.

Taxpayer dollars finance a host of things not everyone believes in, including wars and houses of worship for religions. Taxpayer dollars will be used to finance NASCAR and...birth control for horses.

They are really stepping up to the plate here, trying to reduce the number of Welfare Mares and Anchor Ponies.

As a point person for reproductive health at UCLA, I was able to see access to Planned Parenthood indirectly save students' grades, save their money, arguably even save lives. It was a support service for a number of young women and men at school.

The two local Planned Parenthood that my friends and the majority of UCLA students use don't provide surgical abortions. They don't have an operating room. They have a few clinical exam rooms and bathrooms to take pap smear and pee samples for STD tests and some counseling rooms for explaining how condoms, birth control pills, and the patch work. Most people who go to those Planned Parenthood are trying to prevent themselves from ever needing to have an abortion by getting a hold of birth control and other prophylactics.

I do appreciate Representative Jackie Speier (CA-San Mateo)'s speech about how she sought a necessary--yes, necessary!--abortion

“I really planned to speak about something else, but the gentleman from New Jersey just put my stomach in knots because I’m one of those women he spoke about just now. I had a procedure at 17 weeks pregnant with a child who moved from the [uterus] into the cervix. And that procedure that you just described is a procedure that I endured."




Some abortion procedures--many of them incredibly expensive and rarely if ever taxpayer financed--are necessary. As I previously blogged before, sometimes your developing fetus decides to develop without a head, and when that happens you have to travel very far away and cough up a lot of money to terminate the pregnancy. Usually, the parents--yes, both parents are in the picture--want to have a child, which is why the pregnancy is carried so far into term, only to learn that their child will be born brain dead or with other severe birth defects. Like Anencephaly.

I also appreciate Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) for calling out the Republicans on their argument that blocking funding to PP is really saving black babies,by pointing out that Republican policies have long had “utter contempt for poor women and poor children.” Given Title X programs provide much needed health services to poor communities of color, this House vote did not do them any favors.



"We talk about the need to have jobs in this tough economic time. How can women who have no family planning dollars, sustain a job and get a job when there are unplanned pregnancies?"


For the take-action inclined, there's a Petition to sign here:
Stand with Planned Parenthood Petition and a grassroots Walk for Choice protest scheduled for Saturday, February 26th.
jedi

Support Jay Chen and other members of the Hacienda Heights School Board

Last November, I spoke at a small OCA-GLA conference for youth on a panel alongside Jay Chen, a member of the school board from Hacienda Heights.

You may remember Jay Chen, one of very few second-generation Taiwanese American politicians, from this commercial he recorded for the Mandarin-speaking Californian community urging people to vote no on Proposition 8.

For non-Mandarin speakers, in the video, Chen tells Chinese American and Taiwanese American parents that he feels "it is his responsibility as an educator to inform them that contrary to lies being spread by the Yes on Prop 8 camp, marriage equality will not result in homosexuality being taught in schools." He goes onto say that Prop 8 is about discrimination, and that historically, when it came to marriage laws, Asian Americans were discriminated in California. "Californians should not enshrine discrimination in our Constitution."

This was a particularly important step in counter programming during the Prop 8 campaign, because the Yes on Prop 8 camp specifically targeted Chinese-speaking, older, church-going voters with a homophobic campaign--knowing full well that the No on Prop 8 campaign (which woefully under-targeted communities of color and suffered for it) would not be able to reach this monolingual population.

Jay Chen is more famous for appearing on the Daily Show...



...where he was interviewed about a controversy brewing in Hacienda Heights. (Los Angeles Times reports: Chinese government's funding of Southland school's language program fuels controversy.)

In January 2010, the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District board adopted a new Chinese language and culture class at Cedarlane Middle School, the pretentiously named Confucius Institute. Just like foreign language programs sponsored by France, Germany, Portugal, Colombia, Italy and Japan, the Confucius Institute (snerk)is sponsored by China.

Anyway, since this program was approved, Chen and his fellow school board members have come under attack for brainwashing their someone else's (overly impressionable) children to be fluent in a language spoken by over 1/6th of the world's population. (Many of the program's harshest critics do not have kids in the district, some do not even live in Hacienda Heights.)

Chen has repeatedly advocated about the importance of having a Mandarin language program in his district (which, by the way, has one of the biggest populations of Asian Americans in the country.) The majority of kids enrolled in this middle school program are Latino.

Chinese is already the most widely spoken first language in the world and this year China overtook Japan as the world's second largest economy. It is only a matter of time before China overtakes the United States as producer and consumer in chief.

If the United States wants to secure its foothold in the world that China is rapidly remaking, we will have to begin committing at least a fraction of the energy to studying China as she has committed to studying us; in 2009 nearly 100,000 Chinese graduate and undergraduates filled U.S. campuses, and that number is growing each year. The failure of Internet behemoths such as Google and Yahoo in the world's largest Internet market indicate that China will not be a passive consumer of U.S. product, but will be a producer, innovator, and strong competitor; we ignore the language and culture of the society at our own economic peril.


Last week, Chen was served with a recall petition by people who are trying to get him removed off of the school board.

The petition claims as partial grounds for removal that Chen "believes that the United States will be subservient to China and manipulates students to serve China's government."

(Even though Chen is not Chinese, but Taiwanese--oh, and an American!? Why would a Taiwanese American want anyone to be "subservient to China"?)

This is just so sad. These kids are getting an opportunity I never had--the chance to study Mandarin in school. (Learning Spanish in high school was great, but a lot of these kids are already fluent in English and Spanish, so Mandarin is their third language.) I wish there had been a language program like this in my middle school (and in Ken's, too!)

If you want to support Jay Chen and the rest of the school board, click here to sign the petition: Reject the Recall of Hacienda La Puente School Board and Support Foreign Language Acquisition
jedi

Hello LJ My Old Friend

I haven't posted as much as I really should. I've been trying to be productive about the things that stress me out and that has channeled into fewer blog posts!

I have started a tumblr: Quirky!Taiwan



The idea of this tumblr came from my desire to chronicle the interesting, touching, bizarre, and otherwise unique personality of my parents' home country of Taiwan, from my very removed, Taiwanese American perspective. Please follow and bookmark it if you're interested.

I'm working on a revamp of racebending.com and waiting to hear back from the last department of my joint-program graduate school application. I was waitlisted by the first program. This makes me sad since with no guarantee of financial aid, I have no idea how I will attend even if I do get in (which I won't know until late September!)
jedi

Spider-man and his Amazing Asian American Friends

So lately, I've developed this terrible, terrible "bad" habit that has affected how I consume media. In a detrimental way. I'm not sure exactly what I should call it. (Perhaps the demographically-statistically-wing-wally peeve?) I don't even know if it's rational.

So this is the pet peeve.


From "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane." Cute comic.


I know Peter Parker isn't real. But he is supposedly from the very real neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, New York--which I understand looked very differently in the 1960s. I get that. But we still tell the Spider-man story today, in 2011. And we set that story in modern day Queens.

If Peter Parker lived in Queens in 2011, statistically, 1 out of 5 people he met on the street, bought his groceries from, saved from a burning building in his neighborhood, etc. would be Asian or black. One of every four would identify as Latino or Hispanic. At Forest Hills High School in Queens, 1 out of 10 students are black, 1 out of 4 students are Asian, and 29.6% of students are Latino. This isn't reflected in the comics about Spider-man, set in modern-day Queens, that are published today.

As a science geek, perhaps he would apply to attend Brooklyn Technical High School instead of Forest Hills. 58% of students at Brooklyn Tech are Asian Pacific American.

If Brooklyn Technical High School ever took a field trip to OsCorp, the radioactive spider would be three times more likely to bite a kid named Peter Park than a kid named Peter Parker.

Peter Parker does encounter people of color. Co-worker Robbie Robertson was introduced in 1967; Spider-Girl/Araña is Latina. And having the distinction of being one of the three (!) women Peter has ever has sex with: Michele Gonzales . Does Peter Parker just not have Asian American friends?

Of course, when Spider-man actually does meet an Asian in Queens, he turns out to be Martin Li, aka Mister Negative a villainous human trafficker, illegal immigrant and --wait for it--Chinatown crime boss.


Oh, um. Huh. Mister Negative is actually white?


Okay, or take MTV's remake of the British show Skins which was initially supposed to be set in Baltimore before they went to Toronto. Yes, the cast is very diverse--but this doesn't look very Baltimore. (They changed it to a "generic eastern seaboard" city, whatever that means.)


Also, 15% of American teens are overweight.




Detroit 1-8-7 is a TV show set in Detroit, Michigan. It's nice that the cast is diverse, sure--but at what point does it start to look like table scraps? 80% of Detroit is black. 63% of Detroit cops are black. Yet, in a show about Detroit cops, the main character is again white. (Because there is a lack of procedurals with a white, male actor in top billing.)

Perhaps Seattle Grace Hospital and Princeton-Plainsborough Hospital have a hiring quota on Filipina nurses, given Filipinos are the single largest ethnic group among nurses in the United States but that doesn't seem to be reflected in their staffing patterns. (FYI in 2005, one out of five medical school students were Asian American.)

Asian Americans weren't hired for really interested in playing significant roles in President Bartlet's White House cabinet or West Wing staff, either. (Chew on this: George W. Bush's cabinet was more diverse than President Bartlet's.)

Why does this bother me so much? I guess because Asian Americans, people of color, etc. play important roles in American society. We're high school students, we're health care professionals, we're White House cabinet members and policy junkies...and yet when America, this great country, is supposedly reflected in the media we consume,suddenly Asian Americans are invisible. A conspicuous but insignificant-enough-to-be-unnoticeable absence. Because it's not like Peter Parker or Gregory House or President Bartlet is actively trying to avoid hiring or being around Asians (or whatever, cooties)--the existence of Asians is simply more marginal to central characters and their schools, workplaces, and communities.

Maybe this is an extension of my annoyance with Firefly, a space-fantasy world where everyone speaks and reads pidgen Chinese (how exotic/logical extension of modern day diversity amirite) but all of the Asians are missing deprived of the power of speech? Joss Whedon, you really did not think that through. oh hey Buffy's southern Californian town and University of California campus was conspicuously absent of Latinos and Asian Americans, too, sweet jesus.

It kind of sucks. Maybe a good example is the character Jaden Korr from the video game Jedi Knight III: Jedi Academy. The name Jaden was deliberately chosen to be gender neutral. In the game, you can choose the gender, species, and (limited) ethnicity of your character. (There are several Twi'lek skin colors, for example, and you could for example have Jaden be a black human male.)

When the first tie in book came out, the identity of Jaden Korr got narrowed down to this:


Male, and black hair, possibly dark skin tone, okay that's different....


Today they announced the book cover for the sequel.


Hang ten, generic dude!**


Really, was it too much to have hoped for, would it really have killed them, to have made Jaden Korr anything but a bargain-bin Guy Pearce look-alike?

The fandom I exist in-- and throw money at-- and thrive in is so diverse, sometimes I forget that this is a galaxy far, far away where the kingmaker heroes are classically handsome white guys. Where only white dudes make the Death Star trench run; where Chewbacca doesn't get a medal; where foreign accents make great aliens; where every lead hero of every era-- from Revan to Zayne Carrick to Anakin Skywalker to Luke Sykwalker to Corran Horn to Cade Skywalker--is a white male. Where trying to discuss this issue seriously with fanboys is like soul-killing, pulling teeth.


The New Jedi Order series of 19 books introduced a ton of new Jedi characters but all of the new human ones were white, even James Van Der Beek Miko Reglia.


I guess there's Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett, and Mace Windu for characters of color. Mara Jade and Nomi Sunrider are getting their own books (possibly the first Star Wars book to ever feature a woman hero other than Dark Journey.) Maybe one day there will be a woman of color lead character in Star Wars, although I don't know if that will happen unless fans advocate for it. Star Wars is a huge galactic playground. Settings like Queens, NY, or a hospital or White House are large enough. Content creators are dreaming small.

I can't unsee it. It bugs me.

**They could have at least used James Van Der Beek for the cover art.

jedi

More on the Taiwanese Thingy on the UCLA Application

So, I did more research on my initial complaint about how UCLA Graduate applicants who are Taiwanese are told to mark "Chinese / Chinese American (including Taiwanese)" on the Biographical Data section of the general application, and how this perturbs me.

Why does this matter?

Because Taiwanese Americans are very undercounted and the ability to write in "Other Asian: Taiwanese" is a means in which a person can can assert their ethnic identity. UCLA claims to want this information "to help us understand the diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds of our applicants," but this form (which I am not hoping is an error) does the exact opposite by putting applicants who identify as Taiwanese firmly in a box, Chinese, and rendering us invisible.

Students of Middle Eastern descent at UCLA recently rallied to be counted separately from other white students. As originally designed, students had to either check "Caucasian" or "Other" if they were of Persian, Iranian, Arab descent etc. For pretty obvious reasons, just because a form considers people of Middle Eastern descent to be "white" doesn't mean that this group benefits from white privilege; effectively, this categorization rendered them invisible. Without hard data, it also made any systemic disparities (eg: graduation retention) much harder to track.

In 2007, the Asian Pacific Coalition started a "Count Me In" Campaign to get Asian American data at the UCs disaggregated. As a direct result of their advocacy, starting in 2008, the UC system disaggregated the data for Asian and Pacific Islander applicants. There are major discrepancies in performance between different Asian ethnic groups so this was a beneficial move. We are not a monolithic model minority.

Building on that momentum, the state Legislature’s Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus pushed for the California Legislature to pass Assembly Bill 295 -SUPPORT THE DIVERSITY OF ASIAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER AMERICANS (Lieu, D-Torrance), which would have required the state of California to add 10 ethnicities to the list of 11 subgroups already being tracked for things like Health Care. This even attracted overseas attention since one of the subgroups included Taiwanese. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill.

Ignoring the Governor's veto, the UC system went ahead and started collecting disaggregate data anyway. It's the first university system to collect data for groups like Tongan and Hmong Americans.

Okay, whatever. Why do universities track ethnicity at all?

Rather than go into a spiel about disparities in access to education and how things aren't colorblind and the importance of diversity, here's the straight up answer:

According to this application, and which applies to many other schools: The University of California is required to report to federal and state agencies the ethnic/racial composition of enrolled students. Therefore, we ask that you answer the following set of questions about your ethnic and racial identity. The application form is the primary data source of demographic data for enrolled students.

"The application form is the primary data source of demographic data for enrolled students" being a main point, and UCs get money for the feds if they do it being another.

So...why does the UCLA application say that Chinese includes Taiwanese?

I don't know. Here is where it gets weird. Based on the new policy UC announced in 2007, data tracking for 2008 and beyond the check-boxes are supposed is supposed to look like this: "Chinese (except Taiwanese)" and also "Taiwanese." (At least on the Undergraduate application.)

It gets even weirder when you look at other UC grad school applications. A quick Google search netted these applications:

UC Berkeley's Law School Application doesn't have a Taiwanese check box, but does not provide guidance for what a Taiwanese person can check, leaving the choice to identify as Chinese or Other Asian: Taiwanese up to them.

UC Irvine's Law School Application and UC Davis MBA Application have distinct Chinese/Chinese American (except Taiwanese) and Taiwanese/Taiwanese American checkboxes.

An extremely stark contrast to the "Chinese / Chinese American (including Taiwanese)" part of the UCLA grad school application...

That only gets weirder when you look at other UCLA documents! So much inconsistency.

UC LEADS Application says "Chinese/Chinese American" but does not say Taiwanese people have to check it.

The CCCP Scholar's Program distinguishes Chinese/Chinese American (except Taiwanese) and Taiwanese/Taiwanese American.

UCLA's School of Dentistry application ALSO has Chinese/Chinese American (except Taiwanese) and Taiwanese/Taiwanese American as separate check boxes.

With so much inconsistency on these forms, how do students of Taiwanese descent get counted, if they even are counted, at all? (And I should note that on many of these forms, the hard-fought and won categories of Khmer, Hmong are just totally missing!)


What are you going to do?

I will follow the directions and fill out the damn form, but also feel a little sad inside while I do it.

And maybe I will get in, even if the odds are against me.

And if I get in, I will try and work with the Asian Pacific Coalition to try and make sure these categories they fought for do get counted. Taiwanese American students should be able to self identify, particularly if UCLA is seeking to to understand our unique background.

so...yeah.
jedi

I am Taiwanese American

So...for the past few months I've been kind of hung up on the idea that the UCLA Graduate School application says on the part where you mark your ethnicity, that if you are Taiwanese, you must check "Chinese." [This paper form is similar to the online form.]

For two reasons. One, while I know that the "ethnic survey" part of the Diversity Application isn't supposed to be all that important, I know that "Chinese" students are overrepresented at UCLA, so if I check Chinese I know I won't be seen as, "as diverse." Perhaps noting that I am Chinese will make it less likely for me to be admitted.

Two, while a graduate school application isn't the right place to make a political stand, guess I feel a little diminished--like my identity is being decided for me. I wonder if anyone else out there, who is applying, feels the same way.

It's funny, because as an Asian American, your identity is frequently tested:
    White people don't think you're "really American" because you're white.
    Asian people don't think you're really "American" because you're Asian.
    Asian people from Asia don't think you're "really Asian" because you act white.
    People have a hard time understanding that you can be both Asian and American.
    But most people agree that you are "Asian."
    And most Asian American people understand that you're Asian American.


When you're Taiwanese American, this identity gets tested and probed further:
    White people don't think you're "American" because you're white.
    White people don't think you're "Taiwanese"
    because they've never heard of "Taiwan" and don't think it "exists"
    because they don't know the difference between Taiwan and China
    because they think Taiwan should be a part of China
    because the concept of a Chinese person is easier to understand than Taiwanese
    because they don't know the subtle difference between a 中國人 and a 華人
    because they think you're...Thai?

    Taiwanese people don't think you're really "American" because you're Taiwanese.
    Taiwanese people don't think you're really "Taiwanese" because you're American.
    Chinese people don't think you're really "Taiwanese" because that would imply Taiwan exists separate of China.


While there are similarities between the two cultures, there are also so many fundamental differences, and one of them is that when a person of mainland Chinese descent says "I am Chinese American" the Chinese portion is never contested the same way a person of Taiwanese descent gets contested when she says, "I am Taiwanese American."

When I say "I am Taiwanese American," even people who are close friends, and know me, and respect me will try to disabuse me of that notion. Sometimes it's jokingly, and sometimes it is entirely serious. I feel that in order to identify as a Taiwanese American, I must also constantly be willing to defend how I chose to self-identify.

The identity of white Americans, who are technically immigrants to this land, is never questioned. My family has been in Taiwan likely as long as white people have been in the United States. Is the difference that the United States colonies managed to successfully overthrow Britain's claim while Taiwan has been squatted on so many times it is still reeling from colonialism?

I've always been told--and felt--that if you are Taiwanese, on official forms you should check "Other Asian" and write in "Taiwanese."

If I do that here, it doesn't look like I'm asserting myself. It looks like I'm not following directions.



EDIT: So, the part of the application looks like this:
"For University of California purposes, to help us understand the diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds of our applicants, which of the following groups best describes your background...

Asian/American Asian
Chinese / Chinese American (including Taiwanese)
Filipino / Filipino American
Japanese / Japanese American
Korean / Korean American
South Asian (ex: India / Pakistan / Sri Lanka / Bangladesh)
Vietnamese / Vietnamese American
Other South East Asian (ex: from Cambodia / Laos / Thailand)
Other Asian / Asian American Ancestry
jedi

80-20 Initiative Idiocy

The 80-20 Initiative is riding the Whambulance.

This organization built some respect from the mainstream Asian American community in 2008 and kind of spoke as a unified voice for the community. I particularly admired their efforts to encourage the appointment of more Asian American judges.

In 2010, because Jerry Brown's campaign said it was too busy to return their special survey and instead had a low level staffer email talking points, a butthurt 80-20 wants to, I quote, "elect Whitman & punish Brown."

Whitman's response to 80-20--which doesn't answer their survey either--isn't very substantial either and only asserts that "qualified API candidates will find equal opportunity" and a commitment to a meeting. Maybe that's more than Brown said, but historically Brown has acted by actually appointing Asian Americans to government positions (he claims to have appointed over 287 APAs, including the first Chinese-American woman judge to the state Superior Court.)

Other quotes from 80-20 Initiative:

"Henceforth Brown will NOT take Asian Ams for granted, whether he wins or loses. Now help Whitman win and make our victory complete!"

"PS Have you sent a fax to Brown? If not, send something like the following:

Dear Mr. Brown:

Please seize this LAST chance to reply to 80-20 California Coalition's questionnaire. Otherwise, I'll be voting for Meg Whitman and ask my friends to do. You are beginning to offend me.


Is this some sort of joke? If you intend to speak for the Asian American community, please at least use proper sentence structure and do not reinforce negative Asian stereotypes like bad grammar and obsession with honor.

Brown said he didn't care to answer. Whitman's answer was "I'll go beyond that. I'll not only appoint APIs to the positions referred to in your questionnaire, I'll give you input to who are to be appointed. The glass ceiling problem shall be solved the same way. Help me appoint the best high level officials who have the authority to shatter the glass ceiling for Asian Ams." Are these her exact words? No.


This paragraph I cannot even begin to aaArrgh arrgh. Brown didn't say he didn't care to answer, he said he didn't feel he had resources to answer it. And that is NOT, what Whitman said, it is not a quote--it is their interpretation of what Whitman said--which is why they immediately say those were not her exact words. I just don't even...and these people are supposed to be college professors?

Use your imagination to help Whitman win. When Whitman wins, WE win. [5 "W" words? Do a high-five for the 5 Ws & be a Whitman supporter. :) :)


When Whitman wins, WE win

Uhhhh no. When Whitman wins, Asian Americans will not win.

Yes, Brown has been shortsighted in not courting Asian Americans (13% of the State, 6% of voters), and it sucks. I don't like him for it. It absolutely sucks. I hate to admit it, but Whitman is doing a way better job courting Asian American voters. Her website is even available in Chinese.



I wish Brown had Mandarin Chinese commercial featuring happy, smiling model minorities like Whitman's (above.) I mean, clearly from this video we see that Meg occasionally shakes hands with Asian people and they do not immediately immolate upon contact.

The point of the election is not simply to teach Jerry Brown a Big Lesson about appreciating Asian Americans. Electing Whitman -- whose policies will lead to fewer rights for Asian Americans--is hardly the solution, you egotistical numbnuts.

Whitman's been mum on reproductive health rights even though the Asian American women population has serious reproductive health issues. She is against gay marriage even though a majority of Asian American voters voted against Prop 8. She's against Healthcare Reform even though Asian Americans face huge health care inequalities. Her position on immigration and the DREAM Act isn't exactly helpful to many Asian American families, either.

So, uh, 80-20? Bashing Brown so openly--using such immature language-- only lessens the chances of Asian American collaboration with Brown, should he win.

Perhaps it is just a coincidence that one of the signatories on their letter to Whitman, and one of the members of the 80-20 California Coalition, businessman C.C. Yin, founder of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association, just happens to be the leader of Whitman's Asian American/Pacific Islander Coalition.

If 80-20 had more compelling reasons to endorse Whitman than "she sent us a nice letter," maybe I'd get it. But as such, they are making the Asian American electorate look very bad.

To use your words, 80-20 initiative: you are beginning to offend me.
jedi

Cis'splaining

I'm really excited because I have a new book, called Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation. It's supposed to be a historical retrospective on all things period-y that was published in 2009.

Except I read the first sentence...

"Females make up more than half of the world's population. At some point, every single one of us, all 3.5 billion--pop stars, housewives, nuns, Masai tribeswomen, journalists, psycho killers, geisha girls, the queen of England, rocket scientists, cheerleaders, congresswomen, bag ladies--gets a regular period that lasts up to a week, about once a month, for forty years of our lives."


...and was immediately disappointed and am now skeptical of the book's credibility. That's no where near a factual or comfortable statement! I can think of tons of different situations where women don't menstruate, whether by choice or by circumstance.

Well, I guess I'll keep reading...
jedi

Mag Crew

Two days ago, I blew off a young Latina woman who asked me for help getting to college.

Before I come off as totally heartless, please let me spell out my rationale.

We had the front door open (we have a screen) and a fan running because of the local heat wave. Although our apartment is at the back of the complex, I suppose anyone who walked to the back of the building could have seen us in all of our glory. Me, Asian girl on the couch, with my pink laptop, reading about MoonFail. Ken, blonde guy sitting on the couch, playing Halo Reach on his 42" flat screen.

So there's this teenaged girl standing in front of our screen door. "Can I ask you for help?" she shouted over Ken's blam blam Halo-ing. I moved my parked ass off the sofa and walked over to the door.

"Sure, what's up?" I said. Strangers normally don't come up to our door, and she looked really young and flustered. I remember when I was about twelve, one day a teen girl came to our door. My mom answered. The girl said, "Please just act normal and pretend like you know me. I'm just out on a walk, but I feel like this guy is following me and it's just giving me the creeps. I wanted to walk up to a door to pretend I had a destination so he'll be forced to keep walking or really look like he's following me." My mom stood at the door and had a conversation with her for ten minutes until the guy was far away.

So maybe there was some sort of situation like that and the girl needed our help. She was small, shorter than me, and looked quite young. The girl said, "I'm trying to sell subscriptions for my school to earn a scholarship to go to college. I'm just three points away and if you help me, then I could get it!" She then began taking out a Los Angeles Times subscription form from her folder.

"I'm sorry, but I can't help you," I said. "We don't really read the newspaper..." (Well, we read it online. Okay, so maybe we are contributing to the slow decline of print journalism.)

"It's only $18 dollars..."

"...I'm sorry, but we're not interested, and having the newspaper delivered isn't something we can really afford."

This was punctuated by a short blast of Halo gunfire from Ken, and I had a sudden urge to shove my foot into my mouth, as we certainly did not look at all like we are poor from our front door. Looking into our living room from the front door, you can see a flat screen TV, a Rock Band set, and a Wii Fit.

None of it matches, all of the furniture is second hand (much of it picked up next to dumpsters or off the street) or IKEA, but our living room is...well, let's just say that it's basically the kind of living room I dreamed of having as a kid, but never thought I would actually have when I grew up. I feel like I fought tooth and nail to get here (including pursuing scholarships), but even so...I'm privileged. Pretty damn privileged. And lucky.

"You can't afford eighteen dollars?"

"No. We don't really read the newspaper."

"You could donate the newspaper to my school if you don't want to read it..."

I shook my head.

"I've been having a really hard time today. It's really hot and I've been out here since 4 (it's around 7:30pm.) No one has bought any from me, I haven't sold any. It's been really hard to get into apartment buildings, since a lot of them are locked. This security guy even told me I had to leave. I just want a scholarship. I just need three more points...pleeeeease, you can help me?"

"I'm sorry, but I can't. We really don't have the money," I said, standing in front of my five book shelves stacked deep with video games, DVDs, books, and toys. It was a lie. I had a twenty in my wallet, so I had the money. The truth was, I just didn't want to give her my money.

"You don't want to help meeee?" she attempted. "Why wouldn't you want to help meeee?"

"Not if you're going to whine at me like that," I said. I reiterated that I wasn't interested. I guess I could have just closed the door on her, but I didn't want to be rude. Eventually she stomped upstairs to ask my other neighbors if they wanted to help her. A few minutes later I heard her on her phone complaining to her friend that she hadn't been able to sell anything.


If she was telling the truth, then yes, I feel like an awful person for not helping her. Not having money for college sucks so hard. If she was telling the truth, then screw that school and screw the Los Angeles Times. Screw them. Any scholarship that is given out to kids based on their ability to go door to door shill newspapers, when they could be home studying, is screwed up. At the same time,a lot of high schools and middle schools do ask that their students sell magazines for money.

But there were so many red flags in this story; I don't think she was telling the truth. A scholarship system by points? She was "only three points away," yet sales had been hard? She complained that a security guard was mean to her, yet she had been trespassing?

It later occurred to me if someone wanted to case the neighborhood for a burglary ring, door-to-door salespersoning is a really effective way to do it.

But it is more likely that this girl was working for a "mag crew," a company like California Newspaper Sales & Marketing. Young people who work for this company go door to door selling subscriptions, claiming that if they earn enough "points," they'll be able to go to college.

For an in depth look at how these crews operate, check out this New York Times Article: For Youths, a Grim Tour on Magazine Crews, especially the video, where they talk about their experiences and you can see them in action.

"More than two decades after a Senate investigation revealed widespread problems with these itinerant sellers, and despite several highly publicized fatal accidents and violent crimes involving the sales crews in recent years, the industry remains almost entirely unregulated. And while the industry says it has changed, advocates and law enforcement officials say the abuses persist.

"In interviews over seven months, more than 50 current and former members from almost as many crews painted a similar picture of life on the road. With striking uniformity, they told of violence, drug use, indebtedness and cheating of customers during their cross-country travels, often in unsafe vehicles and with drivers who lacked proper licenses."


The Federal Trade Commission Warns:

"Beware of emotional appeals by someone selling door-to-door. For example, the student selling magazine subscriptions using the appeal that your sale will help him/her get a college scholarship or other such rewards."


The Better Business Bureau says:

"Many of these companies employ crews of high school and college-age people who are trying to earn money over the summer. These crews are sent to communities to knock on doors and sell magazines—sometimes without appropriate licensing. In the sales pitch, the representative might explain they are working to help get their lives back on track, raising money on behalf of a charity or for a school trip or even selling subscriptions to support troops in Iraq."



All I'm saying is, if she was telling the truth, her high school and the Los Angeles Times are encouraging kids to participate in an activity eerily similar to the scam they wrote about 10 days ago in their column, ScamWatch.