Thursday, March 31, 2016

TGIF FEATURE: Hailee Steinfeld covers 'Love Yourself'

HERE'S your weekend treat!

Filipina/American Oscar-nominated actress-turned-pop star Hailee Steinfeld performed a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” on the Hamish & Andy radio show earlier this week.

Hailee was better known as an actress after being nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in True Grit opposite Jeff Bridges.

She's grown up a bit since that role and  hangs out with BFF Taylor Swift, appearing in Swift's award-winning music video Bad Blood.

When Hailee got a role in Pitch Perfect 2, she surprised most of her fans with her singing ability. After signing with Republic Records, she cut a single, Love Myself, that might be considered controversial in some circles.
RELATED: An ode to masturbation?
She is reprising her role in Pitch Perfect 3 where her singing will be on display again along with castmate Anna Kendrick and helmed once again by Elizabeth Banks. The film will be released in 2017.
RELATED: Hailee signs record deal
For more news about Asian/Americans & Pacific Islanders, read AsAm News. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Education Secretary to co-chair the White House Initiative on AAPI

Education Secretary John B. King Jr.
ACKNOWLEDGING the importance of education to the Asian/American and Pacific Islander community, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. was picked to join U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to co-chair the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).
"It's critically important that we both recognize and address the needs of all communities, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," said King in a press release. "In my role as co-chair of the Initiative, I want to be sure that we continue to work to close persistent opportunity gaps for portions of the AAPI community that have been consistently underserved. 
"As Secretary of Education, I will continue to work to ensure all students have equitable access to resources, high achieving schools and well-prepared teachers. Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, there is a continued role for the U.S. Education Department to advance educational equity for all children."
The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is extremely diverse and is now the fastest growing racial group in the country, according to recent findings. This community continues to face the model minority myth that most are well-educated, affluent, and self-sufficient. This myth has prevented AAPI communities from fully benefiting from federal programs and resources targeting vulnerable and underserved communities. 
In reality, the AAPI community is not a monolithic group, and each group faces unique challenges—from education and immigration to health and economic opportunity. For example:
  • One in seven Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders has a college degree.
  • One in three AAPIs is limited English proficient.
  • One in 10 undocumented individuals in the United States is of Asian descent.
  • Half of AAPI college students attend community college, and nearly 40 percent of AAPI college students are enrolled in Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions.
  • Two million uninsured AAPIs gained access to health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Dr. King's life story is an extraordinary testament to the power of education. Both of Dr. King's parents were career New York City public school educators, whose example serves as an enduring inspiration. 

King's parents both died from illness by the time he was 12, and he struggled to cope with their loss as he moved between family members and schools. He credits New York City public school teachers — particularly his teachers at P.S. 276 in Canarsie and Mark Twain J.H.S. in Coney Island — for saving his life by providing transformative educational experiences and giving him hope about the future. He went on to graduate from Harvard, Yale and Columbia and become a teacher and education leader.

Re-established by President Obama in October 2009, the Initiative is a broad-based government-wide initiative working to improve the quality of life and opportunities for AAPIs by facilitating increased access to and participation in federal programs, where AAPIs remain underserved. 
The video below was made before King was formally appointed as Secretary of Education.

For more news about Asian/Americans & Pacific Islanders, read AsAm News.

The Peter Liang case demonstrates that justice is not simply a black-and-white issue

The banner pretty much sums up the situation.
Editor's Note: When a New York police officer Peter Liang shot at Akai Gurley resulting in Gurley's death, activists in the African/American community, led by Black Lives Matter, rose up demanding justice. When the NYC District Attorney brought charges against Liang resulting in a conviction, Asian/Americans across the country rose up in protest because they believe Liang, because he is Asian, is being made a scapegoat. They argue other police officers (who are white) in similar circumstances have not been charged. 

Other Asian/American groups sided with Black Lives Matter, in solidarity with the African American community, sought justice for what they see as unjustified police violence against African/Americans.

What has happened is an apparent schism between the African/American and Asian/American communities, both with sound arguments for their positions; two minority groups seeking justice in a judicial system that sometimes seem stacked against both of them.

Since Liang's conviction, the D.A. said his office would not seek a jail sentence for him.

Following is a commentary from one Asian/American who decided to take the stance on behalf of Liang.

By J.L. Chan
Reprinted from AsAm News

I WAS AMONGthe tens of thousands rallying in support of Officer Peter Liang at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn on Feb 20 2016. While I had mixed emotions about attending the protest which I found out about on Facebook, I felt compelled to do my part to speak out against the persecution of a man whose mistakes do not rise to the level of criminality, but must bear the wrongs of a nation and the anger of many.

As an Asian American, I am not supporting Peter Liang on the basis of our shared ethnicity or that I too, grew up in New York City’s Chinatown as an immigrant to this country over four decades ago. I am supporting him because the facts of the case do not add up to that of the manslaughter charge levied against him. Even prior precedents have yielded no conviction for accidental deaths under less clear cut circumstances. His conviction was unfair and unjust, selective prosecution, as many protest signs read.

There was clearly a different and harsher standard applied to Liang. Even setting aside standard and precedents, the specific set of circumstances in Liang’s case on its own merit is more akin to accidental death than manslaughter. There was no conscious intentional recklessness involved. In fact, it should have been settled as a civil case and not that of a criminal case. There should not have been an indictment in the first place. It was a tragic accident, not a crime.

Peter Liang was found guilty.
I was at the protest with some college friends. None of us have participated in prior demonstrations before but felt the Liang case was so egregious that we simply could not turn the other cheek. I met a couple from New Jersey there with their two young sons, and another couple where the Caucasian husband had insisted that his Asian wife attend. We all shared the same sentiment that Liang’s conviction was a blatant miscarriage of justice. It was inspiring and a powerful experience seeing so many Asian Americans in a show of solidarity in support of justice for Liang. It was about standing up for what is right.
When I first heard about the accidental discharge from Liang’s gun and the subsequent death of Akai Gurley, I knew then that Liang’s fate was sealed and written. The incident took place within a politically and racially charged climate of anti-police brutality and no indictments for Black lives lost at the hands of police officers. Never mind that Liang was an odd choice as the poster boy for police brutality, there was a hunger to convict a cop at all costs and Liang was Asian American, an easy target. It would be the perfect storm.

This is where I say that the overzealous prosecution got it wrong. And the jury got it wrong. The unique circumstances of this case are different from the others where Black lives were lost. There was no direct shooting at a victim, no conscious intention to kill, only that of an accidental discharge and the blind ricocheting of the bullet. It was an accident. Peter Liang is not a criminal and should not have been prosecuted as one.

As many were quick to offer their condemnations, some facts of the case became muddled with people passing judgment based on misinformation maliciously leaked to bolster the case to hang Liang.

On Nov 20 2014, Liang and his partner Shaun Landau, both rookie NYPD police officers, were conducting vertical patrols in the city’s housing projects of the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York, Brooklyn, known to be a dangerous place, where the lights have been in disrepair for months and the stairwell was pitch black. Liang and his partner were on the 8th floor when he was startled by a loud noise and his gun went off. Incredulously, the discharged bullet hit the wall and then ricocheted in a downward trajectory piercing Akai Gurley’s heart, who was entering into the darkened stairwell one floor below on the 7th floor. While the mathematical probability of this fluke accident happening is probably close to an infinitesimal zero, it happened, and Gurley died from the ricocheted bullet. It was plain and obvious that Liang had never intended to fire at Gurley. Liang did not even know that Gurley was at the lower level of the stairwell when his gun went off.

Immediately after the shot went off, Liang and his partner returned to the hallway, where they debated who would call their supervisor. It was in the hallway that Liang worried about his job due to the accidental discharge, all the while not knowing that the bullet had hit someone. It was only after Liang then went back into the stairwell to look for the bullet did he hear Gurley’s girlfriend. It wasn’t until Liang went down the stairs did he realized a man had been hit.

Fliedner, the lead prosecutor in the case, said in court that a report by the Daily News — which claimed Liang texted his union representative right after the shooting — was FALSE.

“We don’t believe [Liang] intended to kill Mr. Gurley,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson told reporters, “but he had his finger on the trigger.

While it is easy for the prosecutor to say that Liang should not have had his finger on the trigger, it is not unreasonable to expect when an officer is on high alert, he or she may have the discretion to be ready to fire at an imminent or unexpected threat in a dangerous environment. As a painful reminder of the constant dangers police officers face day-in, day-out, and especially so while patrolling in the city’s most dangerous, gun-ridden housing projects, two NYPD police officers were gunned down at point-blank range at a Bronx housing project on Feb 4 while on vertical patrol. The officers were doing the same type of vertical patrol at the Melrose Houses on E. 156th Street as Liang was doing at the Pink Houses. One of the officers was seriously wounded. The perpetrator, who was recently released from prison for armed robbery, ran to a friend’s apartment and then killed himself. The incident took place in a well-lit stairwell; Liang was facing a dark stairwell which was even more dangerous.

Studies have shown that 20% of law enforcement officers habitually put their finger on the trigger of their weapons when under stress without even realizing it. It is in recognition of police officers often being in the line of fire, and may make unintended mistakes in a dangerous situation, that our legal system has mostly not pursued criminal prosecution for similar to or worse offenses than Liang’s.

The prosecution had each juror handle a firearm similar to Liang’s in the courtroom to gauge the pressure needed to pull the trigger. That was nothing but a dog and pony show. There is no comparison between someone calmly pulling a trigger in a secure controlled environment versus having to react instantly on high alert in a dangerous environment.

The prosecution also accused Liang of being reckless in not providing immediate medical help to Gurley right after the incident causing his death. That is not exactly true. Liang and his partner did not know that Gurley was hit by the ricocheted bullet until quite a while later. And when they finally did, Gurley’s girlfriend was already applying CPR under the instruction of a 911 operator. And the real help did arrive within a few minutes after Liang and his partner found that Gurley was shot. Another point the prosecutor neglected to tell the jury is that the ricocheted bullet had pierced through Gurley’s heart, a fatal shot that no amount of CPR could have saved Gurley, not even if a surgeon was there at the scene.

As to Liang and his partner not offering to take over administering CPR, they both felt that they were not qualified to do a better job than that already being done due to inadequate training. A 6-year-old-girl died a few years earlier when a police officer refused to administer CPR because he was not properly trained and the officer was not charged. You can blame the system for that failure, as evidenced by the recent disciplinary action taken against the CPR instructor who taught Liang’s class for lapses in CPR instruction.

Peter Liang has been nothing but remorseful and apologetic. He was in shock after the accidental shooting. He broke down and cried by Gurley’s body and as a senior Officer at the scene confirmed, Liang wished the bullet had ricocheted and hit him instead. The first words spoken by Liang’s mother at the protest were apologies and condolences to the Gurley family before she was unable to utter another word through her sobs. It was one tragedy, two victims, as the protest signs read.

Peter Liang is not a callous individual. He decided to become a police officer to protect people because his mom was robbed. He was sent to the Pink Houses to protect the residents, including Akai Gurley, while innocent at the time he was accidentally shot, was a known drug dealer to the police with 24 prior arrests. I bring this up not to blame the victim but to point out the dangerous elements associated with patrolling of the Pink Houses.

While Liang the rookie police officer is made to shoulder all the blame, one must ask where are his superiors? The same people who put him into this unforgiving situation. The NYPD should take accountability as should the NYCHA for broken lights and unsafe housing and stairwell.

If Liang was a bad person, thousands would not be out there protesting and continuing to support him. He is not a criminal or a threat to society. He is entitled to fair treatment and equal justice under the law. In fact, true justice would be the rightful setting aside of his wrongful conviction, as his lawyers are currently appealing. Liang does not deserve to be incarcerated. Any jail time sentenced would be an atrocity.

In the latest turn of events, and in a small gesture of fairness, Brooklyn DA Thompson has recommended no jail time for Liang. It is now incumbent upon Judge Danny Chun to also rule fairly with no jail time so as not to further compound the injustice befallen upon Peter Liang.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The American story: Immigrants, innovation and entrepreneurship

Space X, a U.S. company founded by immigrant Elon Musk, seeks to  find ways to make space travel accessible to the general public. Above, one of their rockets underwent a test launch.
ASIAN IMMIGRANTS led the list of billion-dollar American companies started by immigrants, according to a policy brief by the National Foundation for American Policy.

Titled "Immigrants and Billion Dollar Startups," the research shows the benefits of making it easier for foreign students to study in American colleges and universities. A quarter of the companies in the study were launched by students who attended U.S. institutions and decided to pursue their dreams in this country.

Entering the U.S. as an international student has shown to be a good avenue for starting successful U.S. companies. Nearly one-quarter (20) of the 87 billion dollar U.S. startup companies – and almost half of the companies with an immigrant founder – had a founder who first came to America as an international student. 

Immigrants have started more than half (44 of 87) of America’s startup companies valued at $1 billion dollars or more and are key members of management or product development teams in over 70 percent (62 of 87) of these companies. 

The research finds that among the billion dollar startup companies, immigrant founders have created an average of approximately 760 jobs per company in the United States. The collective value of the 44 immigrant-founded companies is $168 billion, which is close to half the value of the stock markets of Russia or Mexico.

With 14 startups, India led all countries. Other Asian immigrant entrepreneurs came from China, Singapore, South Korea, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. 

Other key findings of the research:
  • Fifty-one percent, or 44 out of 87, of the country’s $1 billion startup companies had at least one immigrant founder. This illustrates the increasing importance and contributions of immigrants to the U.S. economy. A 2006 study conducted with the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) identified an immigrant founder in 25 percent of venture-backed companies that became publicly traded between 1990 and 2005, while a 2013 NVCA study found immigrants started 33 percent of U.S. venture-backed companies that became publicly traded between 2006 and 2012. 
  • This study is one of the first to examine the role immigrants play on the management or product development teams in leading private companies in information technology, health, energy, financial services, and other sectors. The research found 62 of the 87 companies, or 71 percent, had at least one immigrant helping the company grow and innovate by filling a key management or product development position. 
  • The billion-dollar startup companies with an immigrant founder excel at job creation. The leading companies for employment are SpaceX (4,000 employees), Mu Sigma (3,500 employees) and Palantir Technologies (2,000 employees). Uber has only 900 direct employees but has 162,000 active drivers.
  • California was the headquarters of 32 of the 44 immigrant-founded companies, followed by New York (6), Massachusetts (4) and Illinois (2).
  • Contrary to popular belief, holders of H-1B visas are not taking jobs away from Americans. As a matter of face, for every H-1B visa position requested, U.S. technology companies increase their employment by five workers.
The study concludes that the U.S. should be making immigration rules that encourage foreign students to flourish in America and warns against the restrictive policies encouraged by some of the presidential candidates. For example, if S. 2394, a bill by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), had been in effect over the past decade, few if any of the billion-dollar startup companies with an immigrant founder would have been started in the United States. 

Immigrant entrepreneurs make important contributions to America, bringing new ideas and starting companies themselves or joining forces with native-born co-founders. Instead of making it more difficult for them to stay in this country, we should be finding ways to encourage them to stay. As the study shows, many of them come to this country to take advantage of the education and facilities offered by our best universities, founding a company and creating jobs is the best payback.
For more news about Asian/Americans and Pacific Islanders, read AsAm News.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Study: Discrimination can cause stress

EVER BEEN passed up for a promotion because your boss didn't think Asian/Americans could be a good leader? Or, being ignored in a restaurant by the servers who didn't think Asians tipped well? Or, asked to speak English-only on your job even though you're on a break? Or, feel the pressure to outperform your peers in order to stay even? Or, any number of micro and mega aggressions that occur almost daily?

A new study by the American Psychological Association confirms what people of color have known for some time: discrimination is damn stressful. 

 “Stress in America: The Impact of Discrimination” analyzed data from an August 2015 Harris Poll of 3,361 American adults; 2,290 of them were people of color. 

The study found that 69 percent of respondents have experienced discrimination at some point, with 61 percent saying they deal with it daily. Nearly half (47 percent) report what the study defines as major discrimination, which includes unfair treatment from police; neighbors making their life difficult; teachers who discourage their development; and health care disparities.

The researchers connect experiencing discrimination—and even the heightened vigilance that comes with the anticipation of being mistreated—with increased stress. Across the board, those who reported being discriminated against also had elevated stress levels, which is associated with poorer overall health.

In worst case situations, where people suffer a constant drip, drip, drip of bias in their daily lives, people can develop PTSD (Post Traumatic Sress Disorder) much like military veterans who experience the stress in combat.

“It’s clear that discrimination is widespread and impacts many people,” Jaime Diaz-Granados, the APA's executive director for education said in a press release. “When people frequently experience unfair treatment, it can contribute to increased stress and poorer health.”

Some of key findings include:

  • 39 percent of African/American men report being unfairly stopped, searched, questioned, threatened or assaulted by police
  • 35 percent of Asian/American men say they have been unfairly denied a promotion
  • 81 percent of Native Americans, 76 percent of African/Ameircan, 74 percent of Asians and 72 percent of Latino/Americans report every day discrimination
  • Among those who have experienced discrimination, just 28 percent of African/Americans report being in excellent/very good health; that percentage is 29 percent for Latino/Americans, and 32 for Euro/Americans
  • Overall, women report higher stress levels than men

For more news about Asian/Americans and Pacific Islanders, read AsAm News.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hawaii's voters join Washington & Alaska in feeling the 'Bern'

Sanders Campaign photo
Hawaii's Rep. Tulsi Gabbard campaigned for Bernie Sanders in her home state.
HAWAIIAN VOTERS went for Bernie Sanders in a big way last Saturday (March 26) as he won 70% of the vote in the Democratic Caucus, 

In a statement issued after the preliminary results showed a lopsided victory, Sanders said, “I want to thank the people of Hawaii for their strong support and for turning out in huge numbers for Saturday’s caucuses. Nobody should have any doubt that this campaign has extraordinary momentum and that we have a path toward victory. In state after state, our grassroots effort has taken on the entire political establishment.”

Although neither candidate campaigned in the island state, Sanders outspent Hillary Clinton almost 5 to 1 and it paid off, offsetting the endorsements Clinton received from establishment Democrats, including Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Rep. K. Mark Takai, and a number of state legislators and former governors.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, however, endorsed Sanders after she left her post with the Democratic National Committee last month.
RELATED: Gabbard resigns from top Democratic post
“We need a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment and who understands the need for a robust foreign policy which defends the safety and security of the American people,” said Gabbard, a veteran. “And who will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change.”
That message went over well in a state that has a heavy military presence.

Hawaii, the bluest of blue states and the only state that has an AAPI majority of registered voters, followed pollsters predictions saying Asian/Americans tended to favor the Vermont senator. African/American and Latino/American voters tended to favor Clinton but in Hawaii, they represented a smaller portion of the Democratic electorate.
RELATED: AAPI voters lean towards Democrats, Sanders
Ernie Hong, 62, a retired clerical worker, said he thinks Clinton would do a better job negotiating and making peace with different factions in politics.

"I know she's not my perfect candidate that will represent everything that I would like, but she represents quite a few things that I do vote for in a candidate, which is experience, know-how, how to work with Congress, how to work with the system, and especially the ability to find common ground with our parties," Hong told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Aaron Toyama, 28,  showed up at Highlands Intermediate School in Pearl City to vote for Sanders because he supported Sanders' social policies. Toyama, a machinist and Pearl City resident, added that Sanders fights for the middle class.“He’s been for the people since he started in office.”

The win in Hawaii made it a perfect trifecta for Sanders, who also won handily in Washington and Alaska caucuses last Saturday. Generally speaking, Sanders has performed better than Clinton in the states having caucuses and Clinton doing better in primary states.

The trio of victories did little to dent Clinton's advantage in the delegate math as the former secretary of State now has 1,243 delegates compared to 975 for Sanders. Once superdelegates are taken into account, Clinton's lead grows to 1,712 to 1,004, according to the Associated Press.
For more news about Asian/Americans & Pacific Islanders, read AsAm News.

Invisible again: Add 'Asian American Voices' to Huffington Post

A PETITION has been started by Daniel Lee of Seattle to add "Asian American Voices" to the Huffington Post. The petition is on 

It always irked me that Huffington, a well-respected news/commentary website, had forgotten to include Asian/Americans among the communities or readers and topics. Huffington has  sites for  for Black Voices (their word). Queer Voices, Latino Voices and Women but once, again, AAPI get overlooked.

That's unfortunate because Huffington Post usually has interesting articles written by AAPI writers on topics of concern for our communities but not in one place. I used to be able to find them by typing in "Asian American Voices" in the site's search function but since they have eliminated that feature, I have had to resort to typing in "Asian American Voices, Huffington" in my search engine.

Considering AAPI netizens' proclivity to use the Internet more than other ethnic or racial groups, it seems that Huffington's oversight is a bad business decision.
The worst part about it is that non-AAPI people who don't go to the trouble of all that typing can't find the stories and issues that affect AAPI communities by stumbling upon them, rendering us - once again -  invisible.

Part of the problem is that in the six months the petition has been up, it has only collected 52 signees. Come on people! We can do better than that! Sign up and be counted!

Here's the letter:
Letter to the Huffington Post
Decades of Asian American underrepresentation, misrepresentation, and outright invisibility continues to this day. A toxic combination of complicity, exclusion, and ghettoization has perpetuated the marginalization of Asian Americans from various mainstream media from traditional to new media outlets. This fact represents the hushing of Asian American voices and even more problematically, characterizes an incomplete diversity in the media landscape in the U.S.
Unfortunately, The Huffington Post, an otherwise notably diverse publication, has failed to recognize the importance of Asian Americans in the public discourse of our nation. As a corrective, we demand the creation of an “Asian American Voices” section at The Huffington Post. 
The importance of mainstream spaces for Asian Americans to articulate, challenge, testify, redress, and stand together in the public cannot be understated. These spaces are essential if we are to finally crush the “model minority” mantle, to enhance the intersectional analysis that connects Asian American struggles with other social movements—including the Black Lives Matters movement, Transgender Rights, economic and environmental justice movements—and to profoundly contentious issues such as affirmative action and immigration reform, among others. Asian Americans must be rendered not just as tech drones, overachieving students, convenience store owners, Tiger Mothers, and music virtuosos, but to the full extent of our diversity as well. 
It is time for The Huffington Post to show leadership and commitment to acceptance, diversity, and inclusion by making “Asian American Voices” a long overdue reality.

To sign the petition, click here.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

'Rafu Shimpo' in danger of closing

Rafu Shimpo photo
In this 1920 photo, the Rafu Shimpo staff put the finishing touches on the newspaper before deliver.

By Louis Chan
Reprinted from AsAmNews

A NEWSPAPER that has served the Japanese/American community for more than 100 years is in danger of closing.

In an urgent letter to its readers, Rafu Shimpo publisher announced the newspaper has lost $750,000 over three years. This year the deficit is projected to be $350,000.

“If the situation does not improve this year, The Rafu will be forced to close in December of this year,” states the letter to its readers.

“This would mean the end of a tradition that started in 1903, and would mark the extinction of Japanese/American daily vernaculars in the United States.

“The staff and management of The Rafu are passionate about their work. We feel that the Japanese/American community is stronger with an independent news publication. Every story is written with the belief that we make the community stronger by keeping it connected and informed.”

The newspaper has kicked off a subscription drive to pick up 10,000 new subscribers which would bring in approximately $500,000 in new revenue.

The possible closure of the paper is not an idle threat. In 2009, two Japanese/American publications shut down in the same year. Hokubei Mainichi, a bilingual newspaper out of San Francisco closed shop as did the Nichi Bei Times. The daily would reemerge a short time later as the Nichi Bei Weekly. It would no longer publish in Japanese, but continued publishing in English.

In December, the monthly magazine KoreAm Journal printed its final edition. It joined a long line of Asian/American publications that have shuttered including Asian Week, San Francisco Journal, East West, Yolk and A. Magazine.

Rafu Shimpo
has been able to survive with help from the Komai family trust which has covered its losses, but the paper's management realizes that is not sustainable for the long run.

Ethnic newspapers report on issues and people that the mainstream media often overlook. It’s important for the community to rally around the Rafu if it would like to see it continue. Subscriptions are just $15 per month or $149 per year. Senior and student discounts are available.


CELEBRITY SHORT TAKES: Cho, Takei, Rodriguez, Lin and Wong

Cho: SNL needs an Asian/American host

IF DONALD TRUMP can host Saturday Night Live, why not an Asian/American? Margaret Cho wondered out loud in an interview in The Guardian. "Politics here is so undignified. It’s gotten scary and messed up. Remember Pink Floyd’s movie The Wall, when Bob Geldof becomes this totalitarian leader cum rock star? That’s happening with Trump. A reality TV star becoming president. 

"SNL has never had a single Asian-American cast member or musical act. They had one Asian-American host 16 years ago, which was Lucy Liu. Yet they want Trump, a known racist? 

"I said they should swap Trump for Ken Jeong, who’s a big star here, and I offered to be his musical guest. But no dice. If Trump becomes president, the whole world’s in big trouble. He’s using Isis to make points about mosques, immigration, torture, oil… In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that Donald Trump is Isis."

Takei: Beyond black and white

IN A lengthy interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the entertainment industry newspaper, actor George Takei expounded on the anger he felt when Asians were a butt of a couple of jokes during the Oscar telecast. 

"I mean, diversity means much more than black and white," said Takei. "It means Asian-Americans, it means Latinos, it means LGBT people, it means Native-Americans, it means — particularly in today's context — Arab-Americans. And yet it was a show in black and white — black-and-white pictures, like going back a half-century. I was astounded at the obliviousness and the ignorance of the Academy people with regard to the notion of stereotypes." 

It prompted him to get together with other AAPI Academy members well known and respected in the entertainment industry to issue a letter asking for an explanation and an apology. The apology issued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts was not satisfactory to the signees and the Academy said that they would meet with the letter writers this week. However, that meeting has not occurred as far as Views From The Edge can tell.

Rodriguez: Bringing Broadway training to Bay Area schools

VINCENT RODRIGUEZ III, one of the stars of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend romantic-comedy musical and who grew up in Daly City, California, came home to the San Francisco Bay Area recently and met with students of a several high schools. “Whenever I meet these kids, I tell them, ‘These are the techniques you will need in order to be successful in the rehearsal room, at auditions, or in performance,’” says Rodriguez in an article at SFGate. “When I was growing up, I didn’t have that kind of mentoring.”

Lin: Public has got to support AAPI movies and plays

DIRECTOR Justin Lin also says if we want to see more diversity in film, “the general public has to demand it,” in an article in Salon, that also outlines what some individual artists are doing to diversify the motion picture industry. “It’s about supporting the many talented artists and filmmakers out there trying to create work from that marginalized point of view,” said Lin, who is directing the next Star Trek movie. “Go out and buy tickets to their movies and plays, support their crowd sourcing campaigns, show the industry that there is a viable audience for this work.”

Wong: Feminism and Asian/American women

COMEDIAN Kristina Wong was interviewed by NBC News about her take on feminism in the AAPI community. "For years, I used to crash public events as a cigar smoking, dry humping, fast talking faux beauty queen named 'Fannie Wong Former Miss Chinatown 2nd Runner Up.' She was the queer, outspoken, messy and hilarious alternative to the perfect Chinese American beauty standards put on the women who compete in the Miss Chinatown pageant. I feel like feminism is about women making and living in a space that wasn't there before. It's about having the choice to choose options that didn't exist before because patriarchy dictated standards that didn't allow women and non-gender binary folks to feel they could exist safely in these new undefined spaces that were previously predominantly centered or occupied by cisgender men."

Friday, March 25, 2016

Sonika Vaid's 'American Idol' journey comes to an end

Sonika Vaid's bid to become the American Idol ended March 24.
By Louis Chan
Reprinted from AsAm News

SONIKA VAID made a brave attempt to go where no Asian/American has gone on American Idol -- to win the championship.

Her journey ended Thursday night (March 24) when Ryan Seacrest announced she had been eliminated from the Top 5 of the show’s final season.

The 20-year-old Indian/American from Martha’s Vineyard wowed both fans and the judges with her smooth ballads.

RELATED: Sonia Vaid saves herself by letting herself go
She received some of the strongest praise for her this season when judges lauded her for cutting loose last week with her performance of Idina Menzel’s "Let It Go" from Disney’s Frozen.

It wasn’t enough as fans voted her out of the Top 5 leaving just LaPorsha Renae, MacKenzie Bourg, Trent Harmo, and Dalton Rapattoni.

Sonika’s Top 5 finish was the best performance by an Asian/American contestant since Jessica Sanchez in Season 11. Sanchez finished first runner-up that season.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

TGIF FEATURE: A Good Friday message

LAST PALM SUNDAY, I took this picture at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. It's a good message to ponder today, Good Friday. I thought it was relevant to the issue about immigration and refugees that is part of the heated rhetoric coming from the presidential candidates and their supporters. 

Perhaps the people who call themselves Christians who are in favor of closing our borders, deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, rejecting Syrian refugees, and returning the Central American children fleeing the violence in their home countries can understand this message. 

This plaque is on the right wall (as you enter the main entrance) next to the sculpture of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt.

Clinton campaign names new AAPI outreach director

(March 24, 2016)
THE CAMPAIGN for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced today  that it is appointing Jason Tengco to serve as its new Asian American Pacific Islander outreach director, the campaign said in a press release.

Jason Tengco
Tengco, who served as deputy director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, replaces Lisa Changadveja, who left the role last week to take on a position with the Democratic Party in Colorado. Changadveja became Clinton's AAPI outreach director in August.
 RELATED: Clinton's AAPI outreach director resigns
"Jason is passionate about engaging AAPIs in the political process, building a pipeline for youth empowerment, and ensuring that the AAPI community's diverse issues are heard and addressed," a said a statement from the Clinton campaign.

Tengco, whose parents are from the Philippines, served as the initiative's liaison in the White House Office of Public Engagement and managed the first-ever White House Summit on AAPIs. 

He has also worked for the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and was an Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies fellow for U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA).
RELATED: GOP makes a push for AAPI voters 
News of Tengco's appointment comes a little more than two months after Clinton's campaign announced the formation of an AAPI leadership council, comprised of more than 150 elected officials and community leaders who will help Clinton organize support for her campaign in AAPI communities ahead of caucuses and primaries.

Members of the council include Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Gregorio Sablan from the Northern Mariana Islands.
RELATED: AAPI voters help Clinton in Nevada
Both Democrats and Republicans have made great efforts in this year's presidential race to court AAPI voters, an electorate that by 2040 is expected to double, rising to 12.2 million, according to a 2015 report from the UCLA Center for the Study of Inequality and Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.

AAPI voters could play a key role in upcoming primaries and caucuses in states with sizeable AAPI communities, including Washington, New York and California. Asian Americans make up 5.4 percent of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

UFC: Anderson Silva training with Dan Inosanto

Anderson 'The Spider' Silva with 79-year old Master Dan Inosanto.
AT almost 41-years of age, Anderson Silva is still a force to be reckoned with in the mixed martial arts cage. But lately, despite a record of 33-7, the wins haven't come as frequently.

Following his controversial defeat to Michael Bisping, UFC's Silva, hoping to hone up on his fighting skills, has returned to the ring for a training session with Dan Inosanto - the legendary kung fu Master who was one of the top students of Bruce Lee.

Silva thought he had beaten Bisping in London on Feb. 27 with a flying knee in the third round only to have the fight continue leading to an eventual loss.

That is when the Brazilian MMA fighter sought out Inosanto who is a master of several martial arts styles, including the style developed by Bruce Lee, Jeet Kune Do. Silva is a fan of Lee and Inosanto, a Stockton-born Filipino/American.

Once almost unbeatable in the middleweight division, superstar Silva has gone 0-3 in his last four fights with one no-contest after he tested positive for banned substances.

Silva is preparing to fight fellow middleweight Uriah Hall at UFC 198 on May 14 in his homeland Brazil where he hasn't fought in three years.

Asian/American women wrestling with body image issues


Just as we're starting to promote healthier attitudes towards body images and self-acceptance, along comes a new phenomenon that could derail that path. A new Internet challenge that started in China and is trending fast across the rest of the globe is the goal of having a waist the size of a piece of paper.

Women are taking pictures of themselves and posting on social media to show how slim they are compared to the width of sheet of paper. They're calling an "#AA4WaistChallenge," a reference to the A4 paper size, a little over 8 inches wide.

It is unrealistic and kind of disturbing. But some of the women are claiming that this is how they are naturally. The key word is "naturally." Love how you are naturally, and don't use a piece of paper to judge yourself.

The trend points out the type of social pressure Asian women are under to fit the stereotype of petiteness attributed to Asian women. (See the BuzzFeed video, above.) Some credit the "skinny gene" or "Asian metablolism" but it's more like the "crazy gene." 

The #A4WaistChallenge gained steam on Weibo, the Chinese micro-blogging site, and has since picked up traction on Instagram and Twitter.

This is clearly not a healthy obsession and women should ignore it. It can lead to eating disorders along with self-image problems. About the only good thing coming out of this trend is the reactions mocking the challenge.

Social networkers on Instagram and Twitter mocked it with poses behind multiple papers taped together, holding A4 sheets with body-positive messages written on them, or using university diplomas and asking: “Does this degree make me look fat?”

This unhealthy obsession with skeletal dimensions is the modern-day equivalent to the bound feet Chinese women were painfully forced to conform to back in the 19th century because the so-called standard of beauty was tiny feet..

Anybody who spends any amount of time with Asian women know they come in all shapes and sizes and the petite look is really the exception, not the rule. Beauty, comes in all shapes, sizes, pigments and heights. 

This is a social media trend that we have to - stop - right - now! The challenge is a total waste.