Sunday, November 30, 2014

Talking about race, Part 1: Ferguson, America is in the Heart

Photo by Anonymous
IN RECENT DAYS, there has been a lot written about how the events in Ferguson impact Asian Americans.

The discussion of race in America has historically been dominated by the black and white dynamics. We all know the reason this is so. However, the emergence of Latinos, Native Americans and Asians have made the conversation more complicated.

While Latinos have centered most of their civil rights efforts around immigration and education, no central issue has galvanized the Asian community into a single cohesive force even though we are subject to the same racial profiling, institutional racism and demeaning stereotypes as African Americans and Latinos.

I don't think we should be talking about Asian, Latino responses to Ferguson as if we are outsiders looking in. Ferguson should be an issue for us -- for all of us -- as Americans. For this, I look back at perhaps the most famous paragraphs from Carlos Bulosan's iconic America is in the Heart:
Fil-Am writer Carlos Bulosan 
"America is also the nameless foreigner, the homeless refugee, the hungry boy begging for a job and the black body dangling on a tree.

"America is the illiterate immigrant who is ashamed that the world of books and intellectual opportunities is closed to him.

"We are all that nameless foreigner, that homeless refugee, that hungry boy, that illiterate immigrantnt and that lynched black body. All of us, from the first Adams to the last Filipino, native born or alien, educated or illiterate -- We are America."

We are America. Ferguson is an American issue; our issue -- no matter to what ethnic or racial group you belong.

Several commentaries have been written about Ferguson and what it means to Asian Americans. Most widely read is the essay by Jack Linshi of Time Magazine, "Why Ferguson should matter to Asian-Americans."(Most discouraging has been the racist responses to his article.)

Grace Hwang Lynch has an interesting take in her blog. She has more links to other commentaries by Asian Americans so it's not like the Asian American community has been silent on the issue. But shouting from The Edge is often unheard by the white-perspective-dominated mainstream media.

The support for justice in Ferguson is more widely spread among communities of color than mainstream media has thus far reported. Some media outlets, like Faux News, would have its viewers and readers believe that Asian Americans do not support the protestors in Ferguson.

Vincent Pan, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, offered his personal thoughts and said it was important to validate people’s anger about the grand jury decision.
“I think it is imperative to validate the frustrations that millions of Americans across the country are experiencing at this moment,” Pan said.  “Sometimes anger is not only justified, it is morally required. I believe that this is one of those times.
“We have an obligation to be angry because the death of Michael Brown and the failure of the grand jury to indict his killer, Darren Wilson, must be understood in the context of racial discrimination and oppression in the United States.”

“We urgently call upon the White House, the Department of Justice and congressional leaders to review and address the ongoing pattern and practice of racial violence and systemic discriminatory treatment by law enforcement of our communities of color,” 
warned Gregory Cendana, Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) in a statement. 

In their own statement, Asian Americans Advancing Justice said the death of Michael Brown and other African Americans by police officers, "show us that the racial profiling and violence that African Americans experience run deep and happen because of systemic failures."
We need to remember that the Grand Jury decision to not recommend charges agains Darren Wilson is not the final word. The investigation by the Department of Justice continues to look into Ferguson.
"The reality is that what we see in Ferguson is not restricted to Ferguson." said Attorney General Eric Holder. "There are other communities around this country that have these same issues that have to be dealt with and we at the Justice Department are determined to do all that we can to bridge those divides. 

"We launched in September our Building Communities of Trust initiative to provide training to law enforcement and communities on bias reduction and procedural fairness and we plan to apply evidence-based strategies in the five pilot sites around the country. This is all designed to bridge those divides, bridge those gaps between law enforcement and the communities that they serve. These gaps, these divides exist in other parts of the country beyond Ferguson and our focus will be nationally in its scope to try to deal ultimately with these issues. ... This isn't just about talking. We want to ensure that concrete steps are taken to address these underlying barriers to trust," said Holder.

18 Million Rising - an Asian American progressive website - is urging its readers to join an online petition started by Colorofchange that will be sent to the White House.

The Grand Jury report and recommendation sparked violent protests throughout the country. Yes, it is unfortunate that some of the demonstrators are using the protests to hide their wanton destruction of private and public property. It is also unfortunate that the media chooses to focus on these acts of violence rather than the underlying reasons behind the anger and frustration. 
Pew graphic

There will be differences within the Asian American community and the gamut of opinions on Ferguson is wide.

The rapid rise in Asian immigration has also created a historical gap in the Asian American community. The killing of Vincent Chin, the last event that united the Asian American community, happened in 1982, occurred way before the majority of Asian and Pacific Islanders came to this country. They haven't heard the history of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the World War II Internment of the Japanese Americans, the Filipino farmworkers' struggle because they've been so immersed with trying to adjust to their new home. They don't identify themselves Asian-American, much less, with other communities of color.

They don't know the history of the civil rights movement nor how Asians, Native Americans, African Americans and Latinos united during the Third World Strike, and they don't know - yet - that we have more in common with each other and the other communities of color than we have with those who would prefer we fight among ourselves.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Asians & Affirmative Action

Asian American students in favor of affirmative action showed their support for overturning California's Prop. 209.

THE DEBATE about the role Asian Americans play in the affirmative action debate is heating up again at the University of North Carolina where some say Blacks and Latino students are unqualified to attend the school.

Asian Americans are refusing to be pitted against the Black and Latino students, according to an article Asian American Activists Are Refusing to Join the Fight Against Affirmative Action by Joseph Williams, a former correspondent for Politico. 

It appears that a questionable advocacy group is claiming that Asian American students are being refused admission because their spots are being taken by allegedly unqualified Black and Latino students. It is the same argument that was being used in California earlier this year to make it appear that Asians don't support affirmative action.

After a little digging, however, it turns out the advocacy group's parent organization Project for Fair Representation is run by Edward Blum, who is more interested in ending the affirmative action program than helping Asian American students gain admission.

Project for Fair Representation filed a lawsuit in federal court against UNC Monday (Nov. 24) and what it alleges is a "race-based" affirmative action program. The suit was filed on behalf of the actual plaintiff, Students for for Fair Admission, a recently formed group of "high-achieving" students (in other words - Asian). PFR also filed a suit versus Harvard for its policy of "legacy" admissions. In both cases, the "high achievers" claim they were denied spots  on campus because less qualified students were taking their seats in class.

Affirmative action and Asian Americans have had questionable relationship for a while. Some say we're against affirmative action, while others say we're for it.

When California's State Constitutional Amendment 5 overturning Prop. 209 was rejected last Spring by the legislature, the media said it was because of strong opposition from Asian Americans. There's now evidence that line perpetuated by mainstream media is a myth. 

I don't know who the media is talking to when they say that Asian Americans are against affirmative action but the Asian Americans I know are overwhelmingly in support of affirmative action. A recent survey taken by the Field Poll and the National Asian American Survey indicate that support for affirmative action among AA's has actually grown since 1996 when Prop. 209 was passed by California voters. It's not even close.

"These findings point to the likelihood that the opposition to SCA-5 was probably the result of selective mobilization among those Asian American voters opposed to the measure, rather than a sign of drastically shifting opinion among Asian American voters against affirmative action," wrote Karthick Ramakrishnan, author of the NAA survey in an L.A. Times oped. 

What worries me though, is the discovery of the involvement of Project for Fair Representation and how it is pitting Asian Americans against each other and using AA's and the myth of the "model minority" against other minorities in a divide-and-conquer strategy. It makes me wonder how many shadow groups are out there, what else have they been doing and what is their funding source? 

I - for one - strongly resent that Asians are being used by organizations to do their dirty work for them. Evidently, there are forces in this country who would prefer the current power structure remain unchanged.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Executive Action: Good news for 5 million

Audience members react to President Obama's speech
on his use of executive action.

WELL, President Obama did what he said he would do and used his power of executive action to provide necessary changes to America's policies towards undocumented immigrants.

And also, not surprisingly, the Republicans had a heart attack of a reaction: from impeachment threats to treason charges.

The president had to use executive action in order to  bypass the House of Representatives' inaction on  on a tough immigration bill passed by the Senate but Speaker Boehner refused to allow it to come to a vote in the GOP-controlled House even though it doubled the number of Border Patrol agents, increased their budget, extend the border fence  by 700 miles - all the things Republicans wanted.
Jose Antonio Vargas says he\'ll now be able to see his mother after 21 years apart.
Jose Antonio Vargas
One of the approximately 5 million beneficiaries of Obama's action last week is Jose Antonio Vargas, one of the most outspoken undocumented Americans. 

The Filipino American became an outspoken advocate of immigration reform when in 2011,  he revealed his undocumented status in an article in The New York Times Magazine.
Obama's 2012 deferred action plan for Dreamers didn't include the 33-year- old Vargas because he missed the age limitations by a few months. On Thursday, Obama announced he was removing the age limit. 
"It's one of those things where I've been thinking about it all day, and it hasn't really sunk in," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "I have been here since I was 12 -- 21 years. For somebody to just say, OK, now it is OK. You can get a work permit. You can get a driver's license. You can travel outside the country. ... It's a great night."

He said he'll finally be able to leave the U.S. to visit his mother in the Philippines, whom he hasn't seen for 21 years.

Although often perceived as a Latino issue, immigration reform will impact the Asian-American community. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 1.3 million Asians are undocumented and over 60 percent of the Asian American community first-generation immigrants.

Unfortunately, the television networks didn't think Obama's speech was important enough to interrupt their regular prime-time programming so most of us missed it. (Heaven forbid we miss some of our favorite TV shows.) If you missed it, here it is.

Despite what Fox News insists on saying - and repeating over and over - Obama's plan is NOT amnesty. It also doesn't do anything for the remaining 6 million undocumented.

President Obama was late in delivering his campaign promise, but he's now made the leap despite the huge political risks. Now, get set for the fireworks as opponents prepare an all-out attack on anything -- I mean anything -- supported by the President. 

But wait, aren't they doing that already?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Message to President Obama

IN JUST a few hours, President Obama is going to take executive action on immigration.

Although most of the focus has been on immigrants from South of the Border, and a lot of the fear has been generated against Latino Americans, Asian immigrants - which has surpassed Latinos in the number of immigrants coming here - will be greatly impacted by the immigration reform measures that will be proposed by the President.

One of the most outspoken undocumented immigrants is Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who came out of the shadows in 2011. The video is from Balita, a Philippine/American broadcast agency.

"I think the president is saying inaction is not acceptable anymore and he's saying the status quo can't remain," said Vargas. "The House Republicans can supersede the president, what the president does, by actually passing immigration rearm, but if all they want to do is point fingers and say, 'Mr. President, you can't do it.' I think the American public. poll after poll, has shown the Amerian people want a solution."

"I think our job is to get it out of both of these parties and make it a civil right, human rights issue,"said Vargas, "that people what's happening and people know we must act on."

The President is taking this action because:
"Give me your tired, ..."
One - he is on perfectly legal grounds and there's lots of precedence. Every American president since 1957 - Republican and Democrat - have used executive action on immigration reform.

Two - The U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform measure last year and the ROP-dominated House of Representatives have been sitting on it all this time, preferring no action than to grant any legislative victory to President Obama. This measure included elements to double our border patrol, the construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexico-U.S. border, increased use of drones and other measures to assuage the ultra-conservative House members. No dice, was their response, thus necessitating the President's use of executive action.

What he proposes won't be a cave-in to most immigrant reform advocates. In fact, it may downright piss off the more liberal forces. Nevertheless, something is better than nothing. Nothing is what the country will get in the next two years when the GOP take over both Houses.

In his last two year's in office, here's hoping that the President stops catering to the conservatives and return to values and strategies he cultivated as a community activist on the streets of Chicago. To hell with compromise.

Of course, as President, Obama won't do that ... but, here's wising ...


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tinikling on The Middle

REMEMBER high school physical education class and all its stupid requirements? The rope climb? The Trampoline? The snapping towels?

It was the one class where your intelligence didn't matter. The one class where all the jocks shone and made life miserable for everybody else?

Imagine taking a P.E. class and learning how to dance the tinkling, otherwise known as the Filipino bamboo dance that tests your nimbleness and sense of rhythm. Why not?

The Tinikling had its debut on an American sitcom recently, The Middle. Here's a video of that sequence. The video is trending. Who would have thought?

Could the Tinikling be the next yo-yo, that cultural phenomenon that came from the Philippines that is so "American," that most don't know of its Filipino origins.

Oh yeah - I can see fitness gyms giving aerobic classes ... clap, clap CLAP! Clap, clap, CLAP! OUCH!

American school kids (above and below) learn the "tinikling" during their exercise period.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Undiscovered paradise: 7,000 islands of the Philippines

THE PHILIPPINES is made up of 7,000 islands. Most of them undiscovered by the hordes of tourists.  Some tourist experts believe the Philippines is on the verge of a big boom in tourism. They liken the archipelago to Thailand of 30 years ago.

There are few well-know resorts but most of the country is waiting to be developed. Right now the islands are popular with Australian and Japanese tourists seeking the laid-back island lifestyle. Most of the visiting Americans are dominated by expatriates coming back to visit family and to live the high life that they couldn't afford until they started earning American salaries.

Backpackers are just starting to trickle in bypassing Manila for the outer islands, feasting on the food, cheap accommodations, unspoiled beaches and enjoying the company of the Filipinos and their famous hospitality. And English is widely, widely spoken, even in the far reaches of the country.

A "mystery" American just bought Fuga, a picturesque island in the northern Philippines.

The Philippine Department of Tourism just won an international award for their promotional campaign "Its More Fun In the Philippines!."

Oh, there's one little thing: the State Department travel warning. The central Philippines is still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan and there are still secessionists/bandits making it miserable for the Philippine armed forces in the Sulu archipelago in the southern Philippines.

However, there is still plenty of the rest of the country for you to explore. 
7000 islands, is there one waiting for you?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Typhoon Haiyan anniversary: Prayers & Protests

No words are necessary.

TYPHOON HAIYAN, or Typhoon Yolanda, was the strongest recorded storm in history. One year ago, it swept over the central Philippines from the Pacific bringing with it torrential, hurricane level winds and sea surges that flooded cities and towns displacing 16 million and killing at least 6,300.

The Nov. 8 anniversary was marked with prayers, pledges and protests.

No longer in the world's front pages, the typhoon stricken region is still recovering. Scenes of the devastation are still evident, displaced people are still living in tents and critics say government action is slow in coming. Protests were launched at what they perceive as a lack of urgency from the President Aquino administration.

Protestors covered themselves in mud to protest the lack of government action.

A year ago, the strongest storm ever recorded swept a path of destruction across the Philippines.

Asian-American chefs mixing it up

Corey Lee of Benu
FOOD is part of one's culture. It helps define us as we were, who we are and what we will become.

Asian cuisine in America has grown leaps and bounds beyond the ever-present and much abused and much beloved family-owned Chinese restaurants all of America has grown up with - with varying degrees of quality.

Everyone is familiar with the TV personality chefs like Martin Yan, David Chang, Masaharu Morimoto and Ming Tsai, but there is a whole phalanx of excellent Asian chefs better known in their regions than on the tube.

Among these is Corey Lee, chef/owner of Benu, one of San Francisco's top restaurants. He recently was awarded three Michelin stars. That's equivalent to being named the Madison Bumgarner of the kitchen. Read about Corey Lee here. His menu is influenced by Lee's Korean roots.

Asian-American chefs are not just sticking to their own cuisines like Nicole Fonseca of New York's Maharlika or Charles Phan of San Francisco's Slanted Door, they are also combining their family recipes with western cooking techniques, fusing with other cuisines and taking advantage of local ingredients, creating whole new dishes. Who would have thought of wrapping Filipino favorite sigsig in a tortilla, like the wildly popular San Francisco Bay Area food truck Captain Sigsig? 

Lee got the coveted Michelin stars, but he's just the crest of a wave of young Asian-American chefs  eager to introduce the food they grew up with - and their culture - to American palates.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Spoken Word: Dear Young Man of Color

Fong Tran
I'VE BEEN followed by a store clerk. I've seen women clutch their purses as I approach them. I simmer when a hostess seats me at the worst table in the restaurant and I shrug my shoulders when empty cabs pass me by. 

Every time I go through airport security, I am always singled out for a pat down.
The security guard apologizes and explains that I was randomly chosen. But I know that's a lie. Always. Singled. Out!

I know I'm not alone in these experiences that accumulate like a thousand cuts that shape our world views, mold our self-image, our dreams and expectations.

In a sense, I'm lucky. I'm not Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown. I can't even compare my life to theirs. And though my experiences can't match theirs, I can understand their anger and frustration by magnifying my feelings 100-fold. What we share, though, is that we're men of color.

Meet Fong Tran. A graduate of UC Berkeley, he's found a home in nearby Davis where he's a program advisor at the Cross Cultural Center at UC Davis.

He stumbled on poetry, or spoken word, accidentally. Looking for an easy grade, he enrolled in a poetry class at Cal. What he discovered was that he had things to say and say them in a powerful way. He was able to move people to tears.

Tran is now sought as a performer across California and his reputation is spreading nationally. "Dear Young Man of Color" is dedicated to the Sacramento Boys and Men of Color Coalition.

By Fong Tran
Dear Young Man of Color,
I want to begin this letter by saying that I’m sorry
I’m sorry because statistically speaking….
you will become a statistic
that numbers about you and your kind
will run off
like the dates, names, numbers and descriptions
of newspaper Obituaries
Latino males ages Ten to Twenty Four
Nineteen times more likely to be murdered than White counterparts
Two point one million inmates in the prison
Forty point one percent% of them are made up of African Americans
Thirty Nine point six percent% of Southeast Asian Males drop out of high school
You will be America’s most wanted
because you will be America’s most hated stereotype
Thug, Thief, Delinquent, terrorist
murderer, criminal, felon, hoodlum, Gangbanger, Ex-con, Etc.
you will be every policemen’s profile description
They use everything about you, against you
first it was eugenics and they said it was in your genes
then they blamed your hip-hop culture and not the crack dope fiends
but the music was to liberate us
then told control of it
now all it does is break our trust
man, we used to believe in it
then Miley Cyrus appropriated everything
and starting twerking on it
And you’re probably thinking
how’s this Asian kid hood enough
you’re confused
why this model minority
is telling you about oppression
but trust me when I say
there is nothing model about my life
section 8 housing, welfare checks and food stamps
becomes my families helicopter dropped foreign aid
and trust me when I say
that there nothing more gangsta
than have parents that hustle loaves of bread
in destitute Pilipino refugee camps for 8 months
But you see they try to pit us against each other
They force us to play oppression Olympics
but this shit is more like the hunger games
and people are looking to assassinate you
that even though you bear historical scars of slavery
and fucked up immigrant policy
you will be hunted down
they will be coming in packs
and you struggle with minimum wage rags
to hold back the bleeding
they will be coming like the angry villagers
and you will be their needle in their haystacks
and prison industrial complex is the testament
how they will burn the whole house just to get to you

But you will be resilient
you will overcome
that even though everything
will be against you
you are exactly what this world needs
they put you behind bars
just so you wouldn’t raise it
let me make it clear
that even though you start from the bottom
you change society beyond here
you must be the unexpected
the underdog
the unforeseen
the unruly
you will break the molds
Shake status quo,
deconstruct the powers that be
that even though we’ve had innocent fallen
soldiers like Trayon Martin, Fong Le, Jose Montoya
you follow the blood lines and legacy of
Che Cavara, Malcolm X and Richard Aoki
you are destined beyond the statistics that binds you down
it is all a facade, a mirage in the distance
made to hide your greatness
but you will be a champion
you will not let this world change you
you will change this world
Brother from another Mother

Farhan Zaidi: Asian American named Dodgers' GM

Farhan Zaidi, the Dodger's new GM
IT'S OFFICIAL. The Dodgers announced this morning (Nov. 7) that Farhan Zaidi, one of the A's two assistant managers, will be the new general manager of the Los Angeles baseball  team, making him the first Asian American GM of any of U.S. professional sports team.

Zaidi is a Canadian with Pakistani parentage but get this - he was raised in the Philippines. So, not only is the the first Asian American GM, he is the first Muslim GM in the United States.

The Dodgers, who won the National League West two years in a row, were ousted two years in a row despite having one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball. 

What may irk the Dodgers ownership even more, despite all the money they put out and which - on paper - is the most talented team in the National League, they had to watch from the sidelines as their arch rivals, the San Francisco Giants, went on to win the World Series.

With almost an entirely new front office, the Dodgers are showing that they are serious about shoring up the administrative side of the organization to match what they put on the field. But they may also be saying, playing talent is not enough to win the whole shebam.

They started by hiring Andrew Friedman, former GM of the Tampa Bay Rays. Friedman's first action was to hire to young baseball administrators who will probably bring a whole new way of operating to the organization, owned by the Guggenheim Baseball Management, that's Guggenheim - as in bankrolls of money. 

Besides Zaidi, Friedman brought in Josh Byrnes, former GM of the San Diego Padres, as senior vice president of baseball operations. The two hires will bring a new outlook and operations the Dodgers.

Zaidi's primary focus will be on the major league team and player acquisitions, while Byrnes will overs scouting and player development, said Friedman.

Zaidi, has been with the A's for 10 years, most recently as assistant general manager/director of baseball operations, after five years as director of baseball operations.

Zaidi, 37, earned his bachelor of science degree in economics from Massachusetts Instittue of Technology and a Ph.D in economics from UC, Berkeley. Although totally versed  in sabremetrics, that the A's used to combine winning teams with the lowest payrolls, Zaidi is reported to advocate blending old-school scouting methods with the the advanced analytics to combine the best of both diametrically opposed worlds.

"He's absolutely brilliant," A's GM Billy Beane told a Chronicle reporter. "He has a great qualitative mind, but also a creative mind. The ability to look at things both micro and macro is unique and Farhan could do whatever he wants to do, not just in this game, but in any sport or business. I'm more worried about losing him to Apple or Google than I am to another team."

Dodger fans, to get an idea what you're getting and what direction your team might head, here's a link to an interview.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Filipino American playing for the Los Angeles Lakers

Jordan Clarkson was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers.

CAN YOU name the NBA team that could possibly make history by featuring an All-American Asian-American guard tandem? 

Can you name the first Filipino American to be drafted by an team in the National Basketball Association?

That's a trick pair of questions. The answer to question one is: The 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers.

The answer to question two is Raymond Townsend, who was drafted by the Golden State Warior in 1978.

One of the Los Angeles Lakers picks in the 2014 draft was Filipino American Jordan Clarkson, a 6'5" guard who played at University of Missouri. He was initially drafted 46th by the Washington Wizards but was subsequently acquired by the Lakers.

While Clarkson is not the first Filipino American in the NBA, he is the first in 35 years. Bay Area product Townsend played for the Warriors and ended up his career with the Indiana Pacers in 1982. For a few more years, he played for a couple of European professional teams. 

Ricky Brown was drafted in 1979 by the Houston Rockets. After a short NBA career, he went on to have an illustrious career in the PBA and played for the Philippines in international competition. 

Ever since Brown and Townsend, there has been a dearth of Filipino American basketball players until last Spring. (CORRECTION: My fault, but in an earlier version of this, spellcheck changed the spelling of "dirth" to something disparaging of Filipino American players. My apologies)  

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak describes Clarkson as "a ball-handling guard that we're excited about drafting." "He's got great size," Kupchak continued. "Good athlete. Really good size. Good defender. Excels probably at attacking the rim. Maybe not as good of a shooter, probably, as he will be when he works on it. He left school a year early. He transferred. So, I'm sure he was thinking that maybe he would get drafted higher and maybe he has a chip on his shoulder -- an expression you've heard today -- to come out and prove something. But we liked his size and we liked his skill at that position." 

During the off-season, the Lakers also acquired Jeremy Lin, a San Francisco Bay Area-raised Lin played for Warriors, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks before coming to the Lakers. It was during his New York stint when he generated so much excitement with his scoring and playing style that the New York media dubbed it "Linsanity."

If the Lakers put both Lin and Clarkson on the floor at the same time, they could make history by becoming the first Asian-American backcourt in the NBA.

While playing for Mizzou, he was being scouted by some Philippine Basketball Association teams. He could have played for the PBA if no NBA teams showed any interest. Filipinos are basketball-maniacs and love ball handling skills over height. No doubt, he'll be embraced by Filipino American communities, despite playing for the Lakers. 

The sound you hear is another blow to the Asian American male stereotype, reinforced by the performances of Asian American baseball players in the post-season that belie the traits of weakness, unaggressiveness and nerdiness attributed to Asian men.

Clarkson's mother is Annette Davis, who was born in Angeles City in the Philippines.

Clarkson joins a Lakers team that has fallen on hard times. Even then, he may have a hard time finding some playing time playing behind the baseball legends Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash and backed by Lin, who has years of experience on the 22-year-old Clarkson.

"I'm a rookie coming in here," Clarkson admits. "I;m just trying to prove myself. I'm going to do what I do best and try my hardest."

Here's an assessment of Clarkson's abilities by

Quick guard with good size who has displayed point guard ability … Ran point the majority of the time during his lone season at Missouri ... Has a strong handle and displays solid vision … Has the ability to post up smaller players and still has quickness to create off of the dribble … Athleticism also allows him to take advantage of bigger defenders, can shoot over them off of the bounce or take them to the basket … Can score from all three levels and is able to create his own offense … Gets low on both ends of the court, moves quite fluidly … His lateral quickness and size gives him potential as a defender, could be versatile guarding the perimeter … Excels at pulling up off of the dribble, giving him the potential to develop a floater as well as spot up ability … Got to the foul line fairly often, shooting 83.1% from the stripe, which would lead many to believe he has a lot of potential from midrange … Has displayed some outside shooting ability. He can be streaky in a good way at times … Used to playing big minutes, and is in excellent condition … Really good body control, use it to create space for opportunities and finishes well around the basket… Decent rebounder given his position, aggressive around the ball … Provides versatility at the guard spot, size and length to defend multiple positions ...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Midterm Elections: Why you should care, why you should vote on Nov. 4

THE PEW RESEARCH CENTER predicts the voter turnout this Nov. 4 will be be below 20 percent. That means the future of your community is being determined by only one out of five voters. The other four-fifths have surrendered their voice - if nothing else, they have surrendered their right to complain. 

The pessimism among voters has grown since 2012, thanks to the GOP tactic of trying to stop every initiative of President Obama. From Obama care to his judicial appointments, the Republican-dominated House has done everything it could to stall, bury bills in committees, rejected qualified appointments and outright lied about almost every issue brought forth by the President. 

The negative views most people have of government - any government, from city hall to the White House - has found fertile ground in the fear voters have of the economy and the fear that believe the status quo is on shaky ground.

The mid-terms are not as sexy as the presidential elections and it is always difficult to get voters to the polls. But this year will be even more difficult. That's too  bad because in many ways, the election of local officials is more impactful on the lives of Main Street Americans than the election of Washington politicians. (See video above.)

You want potholes fixed? Flu shots administered? Better quality water? Garbage picked up on time? Better schools? Ordinary people can talk directly to the local officials and have a greater influence on their own quality of life. 

The Asian American vote is growing and getting more critical in key states. In California and Hawaii, it is no surprise that the AA vote is influential. A whole generation of Asian American political leaders are learning what it takes in California's city councils, school boards and county boards of supervisors. A small but spirited number are in the state legislature awaiting their Asian brothers and sisters to join them.

What may be surprising to most of us is the growing influence of AA voters in the South, even outpacing the Latino vote.

Regular readers here know one of my favorite phrases is: "Democracy is not a spectator sport." In order for it to work, it needs the participation of the people. Voting is your voice. It is a privilege AND it your right. Use it.

If my word doesn't have any sway in your universe, listen to George Takei as he makes a surprise appearance on the Colbert show and talks about the midterms.