Wednesday, June 20, 2018

UPDATED: Today is World Refugee Day ... does the U.S. care?

WKYT graphic
BREAKING NEWS: June 20, 5:30 p.m. EDT -- Donald Trump signed an executive order this afternoon ending the policy of separating children from their parents. Come back to read a new post for updates and anallysis of what this 180-degree turn-around means.

TODAY (June 20) is World Refugee Day but does the current U.S. administration even care? People who came to this country and accepted as refugees in years past are now being deported, including those from Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed in a statement that “We will continue to help the world's most vulnerable refugees, reflecting the deeply held values of the American people.”
Pompeo also said, “commitment to the world’s most vulnerable individuals remains a critical component of America’s national security policy.” 
The statement does not mention Central American refugees, focusing on Syria—though Trump banned Syrians from entering the United States—as well as the Rohingya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Asylum seekers from Central America and Mexico are being detained in jail-like environments, their attempts to enter the U.S. legally to ask for asylum is being blocked and thwarted physically and their children are being ripped away from them and kept in cages where workers are not allowed to comfort them.
Yesterday, the U.S. also formally quit the United Nations Human Rights Council. The explanation was supposedly because of the council's continued criticism of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians but it also occurred the day after the human rights body criticized Donald Trump's zero-tolerance policy towards asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border crossings that includes the separation of children from their parents.

The number of refugees entering the United States each month has declined sharply so far in fiscal 2017, falling from 9,945 in October 2016 to 3,316 in April 2017, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. State Department data.
By executive order of Donald Trump, the number of refugees being accepted annually by the U.S. has been cut in more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000.
Despite Trump's zero-tolerance policy, asylum-seekers are still forming unusually long lines at the Mexican border, with parents and children sleeping on cardboard in the sweltering heat and waiting for days or even weeks to present themselves to U.S. inspectors, according to the Associated Press.
“You must come every day to see if it’s your turn. If you don’t come, you’ll lose your place in line,” said Teresa Ramirez from El Salvador. After waiting 20 days, Ramirez got her turn at the border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico.
Lawyers said asylum-seekers at the Nogales, Arizona, crossing are camping out for up for five days to make a claim.
At the Hidalgo, Texas, border crossing, parents and children sleep on cardboard on a bridge separating the two countries, waiting for U.S. authorities to signal their time has come, according to volunteers bringing them food and water.
So, is Pompeo's proclamation about America's "commitment to the world's most vulnerable," a cruel joke?

Infants and toddlers taken from their parents found; senators call for Nielsen's resignatoin

YESTERDAY, the question was asked: where are the babies and toddlers who have been separated from their parents as their families entered the United States.

They have been found. The Associated Press reported today (June 19) that those babies and other young children are being sent to three "tender age" shelters in South Texas. 

Medical personnel and attorneys who have visited these sites described rooms full of crying preschool-age children.

Children who have been separated from their parents or guardians can suffer irrevocable, long-term trauma even from a short-term separation from their parents, says Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

She recalls one girl crying hysterically on the mats in the middle of the room.

“The staff were by her, but they weren't allowed to hold her, comfort her,” Kraft says. “So she was just crying and wailing. Her little arms and legs were just pounding, and she was inconsolable. And we all knew why. We knew that she had been taken from her mother, and she wanted her mother.”

"What happens is that overall, this toxic stress really robs these children of the ability to love and to learn and to do well in school and to graduate from high school and to go on to college and to be successful," Kraft says. "And later on in life, it robs them of their capacity to be healthy grown adults."

Since the Trump admnistration launched its zero-tolerance policy against immigrant families coming over the U.S.-Mexico border in May, about 2,300 youngsters have been separated from their parents, most of whom have come to the U.S. to ask for asylum, a legal and internationally recognized process -- not to enter the country illegally.

Senators Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris have asked for the resignation of  Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for carrying out the policy.

"I called on Kirstjen Nielsen to resign as Secretary of Homeland Security for a lack of transparency and for implementing a policy of separating thousands of children from parents along our southern border," said Harris to the senator's supporters.

"Her numerous misleading statements, including denying yesterday that the government had a policy of separating children from their families at the border, are disqualifying.

"She has lost the trust of the American people and must resign -- and I am asking you to add your voice alongside mine in this fight." she said.

"These are not normal times, because we have a president who lies every single day and he expects the people around him -- he thrusts them forward as he did with Kirstjen Nielsen yesterday to lie for him," Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-HI, told reporters. 

"So, I have said that everything around him who have basically sold their souls to keep their jobs and lie for the President, I would welcome their resignations. She lied yesterday for the President."

The AP story reported that the doctors and lawyers who have visited the shelters said the facilities were fine, clean and safe, but the kids — who have no idea where their parents are — were hysterical, crying and acting out.

“The shelters aren’t the problem, it’s taking kids from their parents that’s the problem,” said South Texas pediatrician Marsha Griffin who has visited the shelters.

"Let me be clear: our government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart," said Harris.

"And despite what this Administration is saying, there is no law forcing them to cruelly separate children from their families."


Asian Americans' overwhelming support of affirmative action contradicts headlines


DESPITE ANTI-AFFIRMATIVE ACTION rallies which have attracted bold headlines and mainstream media coverage, Asian Americans overwhelmingly support affirmative action, concluded an analysis of survey results from AAPI Data.
The survey found that 73 percent of Asian Americans support affirmative action.
So where do the headlines proclaiming Asian Americans oppose affirmative action come from? They are headlines written by editors who lump all Asian Americans together.
The survey found that support among members of the Chinese community for affirmative action is at just 41%. Those headlines would be more accurate if they proclaimed that Chinese Americans oppose affirmative action.
The survey results are based on data acquired in multi-lingual telephone surveys taken in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
Support of affirmative action in the Chinese American community plummeted from 73% in 2012 to 41% in 2016.  According to the analysis by Karthick Ramakrishnan and Janelle Wong, Chinese Americans almost are entirely responsible for the decline in support among Asian Americans overall for affirmative action. Chinese Americans make up the largest Asian subgroup in the United States.

This is clearly a case of the mainstream media looking for story being suckered in by the anti-affirmative action groups egged on and funded by organizations who have had a history of fighting affirmative action. 
After failing to completely do away with affirmative action in various court cases (Bakke v. University of California, Grutter v. Bollinger, Fisher v. University of Texas, et al), all with white plaintiffs, Students for Fair Admissions, looked for and found plaintiffs who were not white - Asian Americans.
The latest case against Harvard University revives a three-year old complaint by Asian Americans groups that claims Asian Americans denied admissions in favor of less qualified applicants, who happened to be African American and Latino, completely ignoring the legacy admittances who got in because of family history or family contributions to the university.
Students for Fair Admissions is led by Edward Blum, who has helped organize and fund several cases against affirmative action. Blum's efforts are financially supported by anonymous conservative donors and foundations. He was also involved in the Supreme Court's ruling two years ago that narrowed the Voting Rights Act.
Unfortunately, most stories by mainstream media about the Harvard case give the impression that all Asian Americans feel aggrieved at the allegedly biased admission process used by Harvard when in actuality -- as the AAPI data clearly shows -- the anti-affirmative action sentiment is in the minority within the Asian American community.
The Harvard case will likely end up in the Supreme Court with the U.S. Department of Justice in the unprecedented position of being on the side of the plaintiffs who want to dismantle affirmative action. The difference this time around is that Neil Gorsuch has been named to the U.S. Supreme Court giving conservatives - and presumably anti-affirmative action views -- a decided edge.
"Asian Americans should not allow our community to be used as a pawn in efforts to dismantle the hallmark achievements of the civil rights movement," said John Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice in an opinion piece published in HuffPost. "This is a classic divide-and-conquer strategy with echoes of colonial paternalism."
Views From the Edge contributed to this report.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fathers' Day Outcry:. Where are the infants and toddlers taken from their parents?

I WAS LUCKY. I had a great Fathers' Day, but there were so many others who didn't.

While I was enjoying playing with my grandson, who's about the same age as this little girl shown in the above photo, the Trump administration was taking her away from her mother. The above photo, by Pulitzer Prize-winning Getty Images photographer John Moore, shows a 2-year-old child crying helplessly as her mother is searched by a government agent.

My daughter (the teacher) brought her son to her classroom as she cleaned up on her last day before summer vacation. My little grandson, in unfamiliar surroundings, grew anxious when he couldn't see his mother across the room. When he saw her, he ran to her, asking, "Hug! Hug!"

When I think, how would my grandson react to having his mother taken away, the anger wells up inside of me. Feeling those real emotions, the separations taking place hundreds of miles away on the U.S. border with Mexico -- become personal. 

I can only imagine the immense fear in the little girl as her mother after the traumatic experience of having her mother frisked that way. The photographer doesn't know the fate of the child and mother in the photo. They were put on a bus and whisked away.

We also can't imagine what will happen to the two-year old girl when ICE separates her from her mother -- the current policy of the Trump administration.The administration's zero-tolerance policy has separated about 2000 children --infants to teens -- from their parents, most of whom have applied for asylum, a legal request. By separating the children from their parents, the Trump administration deems the parents guilty before any hearings or judicial action.

 Most of the news footage and photos have been of boys in their early teens. That begs the question: Where are the infants and toddlers? What happened to that little girl?

We got a partial answer Monday when Pro Publica  released a gut-wrenching recording of a pair of young children being interviewed by their caretakers. Listen, if you dare. Warning: Highly emotional:

After listening to that recording and you aren't outraged, you have no heart.

* * *
Former First Lady Laura Bush called the Trump policy "immoral" and likened the actions to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II in a searing op-ed in the Washington Post.

"Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso," she wrote. "These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. We also know that this treatment inflicts trauma; interned Japanese have been two times as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease or die prematurely than those who were not interned."

Since her oped was published, all of the other former First Ladies, inclcuding Michelle Obama, Rosalynn Carter and Hillary Clinton and current First Lady Melania Trump, issued statements with similar sentiments.

* * *
"As many of us spend the day celebrating our fathers and father-figures, we know there are potentially thousands of fathers who won’t be celebrating Father’s Day this weekend because of the human rights abuses that are happening at our southern border," said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

"This is a crisis we cannot ignore -- and that’s why I recorded a short video to talk with you about it. Harris, a daughter of immigrants from India and the Caribbean, sent out this tweet on Father's Day. Watch it here. 

"Our government is tearing children away from their parents who are coming to our shores fleeing violence in search of refuge and asylum. It’s immoral and I believe our country is better than this," said Harris.

An angry Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, was interviewed Monday on MSNBC. She called out Republican senators who have not taken a stand on this issue as "gutless wonders."
"They need to step up and act like decent Americans who understand the history of our country and the role that immigrants have played," Hirono said. "The word 'hypocrisy' doesn't even begin to describe the fact that more of them have not come forward."

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a Thai American, sent out these tweets Monday.

* * *

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., ssued the following statement after demanding and being given access to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington to look at conditions and speak with 174 immigrant women detained inside:

“What I heard from the women today being held at the detention center was heartbreaking. They are there only because of the Trump administration’s cruel new ‘zero tolerance’ policies of family separation. They spoke of fleeing threats of rape, gang violence and political persecution. ...
“Of the 206 immigrants being held there, 174 are women. I spent almost three hours meeting with the women, almost all of whom are asylum seekers. ... Over a third of the women were mothers who had been forcibly separated from their children, who range in age from 1-year-old to teenagers. The vast majority of the mothers have not spoken with their children in weeks and they have no idea where they are. Most have been held in detention for more than two weeks and many for over a month.
“They should not be held in federal prison, but the women I spoke to said SeaTac is the first place they feel they’ve been treated as human beings – thanks to the standards in place at government-owned and operated facilities, rather than the privately contracted facilities of DHS.
“The women talked of being held in Border Patrol facilities that they termed the ‘dog pound,’ because of inhumane fenced cages, and the ‘ice box,’ because temperatures are frigid and detainees are given no blankets or mats. They also spoke of lack of access to food and water, and said they suffered humiliation and verbal abuse from border agents who called them ‘filthy’ and ‘stinky,’ and told them that their ‘families would not exist anymore’ and that they would “never see their children again.’
“What I saw today is simply not who, we, as a country should be. This is cruel and inhumane treatment and we cannot allow it to continue on our watch.”
* * *
Comedian Aasif Mandvi, a former Daily Show correspondent, wasn't kidding around when he took to Twitter today to share a Father’s Day message through a series of tweets #FathersDay:
From a doctor friend- “He was small and seated on an oversized recliner in the ER. Surrounded by three male facility appointed guardians and a police officer. I asked him in Spanish “how do you feel?” He replied “Triste”. Sad.

The sad part is he is being held in our country separated from his parents for over a month. Now the “clinician” from his holding facility has decided he needs psychiatric care because he’s acting out.

This “clinician” says he “won’t be reunited with his parents until he learns to behave”. So I hugged the child while he cried and while I cried.

We are torturing refugee families in our country. These poor children are so traumatized. This has to stop. Where is our humanity and compassion?”

We must do something, take to the streets, something. Children are being held hostage while @realDonaldTrump plays politics attempting to pressure the Democrats to approve his wall. Lies are spread. Our Gov't is spineless and children are being tortured.
* * * 
The emotional image, used on the front page of many newspapers besides the Daily News, drew a reaction from model Chrissy Teigen:


Chinese immigrant arrested as he applies for green card, facing deportation

Xiu Qing Yu, right, with his family.

THIS FATHERS' DAY, the children of Xiu Qing Yu,cried for their father facing deportation.

Supporters of the Chinese immigrant rallied Monday for the release of the Queens resident arrested by immigration authorities and facing deportation to China even though his wife and two kids are U.S. citizens.

Yu, 39, has been behind bars since he was arrested by ICE last month when he showed up for an interview to get a green card, a step towards full citizenship.

His wife, Yu Mei Chen, a U.S. citizen, and  4-year-old son, Aiden, and a 6-year-old daughter, Mia, who were both born in the United States, joined the rally at Foley Square Monday (July 18).

“Yesterday was Father’s Day. A lot of us [were] able to celebrate with fathers, with our husbands, with our sons. But Mr. Yu was somewhere in New Jersey where he could not be with his family. He was alone in a detention center,” City Councilwoman Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan) told the demonstrators.

“That is not right — that is not the America that we love,” she said. “Is that the kind of country we want to be?”

Yu was slapped with a final deportation order more than 15 years ago after his claim for asylum in the United States was denied, according to news reports.

In 2015, he applied for permanent residency because he is married to an American citizen. When he and his wife showed up for an interview on May 23, they answered questions to make sure their marriage was legit and thought everything was on track.

Instead, Yu was arrested and sent to a New Jersey facility where he awaits deportation.

Yu's lawyer is fighting the deportation and appealing the denial of his permanent residency.

In a statement, Immigration Customs and Enforcement said, "An immigration judge ordered Yu to be removed from the country. He subsequently filed an appeal, which the Board of Immigration Appeal dismissed in December 2000. In May 2008, he filed a motion to reopen, which was also dismissed."

“Xian Chin Yu is an illegally present citizen and national of China. Yu entered the United States in January 2000 without a valid entry document. In March 2000, he was placed in removal proceedings, and in December 2000, an immigration judge ordered Yu to be removed from the country,” said spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow.

“Mr. You is part of a sad and frankly un-American trend that has seen many people who are just trying to make a life in the U.S. end up behind bars. We must fight these un-American incarcerations,”Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement. “He has lived and worked here for 18 years. His wife and children are U.S. citizens. This is his home.”

Vietnamese man dies in ICE custody

ICE agents arrest an unidentified suspected undocumented immigrant.


A VIETNAMESE MAN has become the seventh person to die in U.S. immigration custody since October, reports VN Express.

Huy Chi Tran, 47, entered the U.S. has a permanent legal resident. He was being held for deportation for being convicted for aggravated assault as part of a crackdown by the Trump Administration to deport criminals.

Thousands of other Vietnamese are also awaiting deportation.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Hanoi, Ted Osius, says the U.S. is in violation of a 2008 bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam. Osius says that agreement states “Vietnamese citizens are not subject to return to Vietnam” if they arrived before July 12, 1995.

According to Arizona Central, Tran was released from prison and transferred to Eloy Detention Center in Arizona on May 28 to await deportation.

He was found unresponsive on June 5 and transferred to Banner Casa Grande Medical Center where he was found dead last Tuesday.

The cause of death has not yet been determined.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Club Mickey Mouse has a Filipino American flair

Club Mickey Mouse is much more diverse. than past versions.
M-I-C, (See you next week!) K-E-Y (Why? Because we love you!) M-O-U-S-E. Growing up in the 50s, every kid under 10 used to sing that. 

It was the closing number of the iconic all-American Mickey Mouse Club -- the original Mickey Mouse Club. The one with Annette, Bobby, Sharon, Lonnie and the rest. Yup, I'm dating myself.

Since then, revivals of the MMC proved to be the incubator for a whole generation of stars: Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell, among others.

It's been 20 years since the Timberlake era of the MMC went off the air. Disney brought back in the club September 2017 and updated the name to Club Mickey Mouse to appeal to today's socially conscious and media-connected Millennial and Gen Z generation of young people. It is also a lot more diverse, more reflective of today's America. Of the eight new members of the new club are Filipino Americans. 

The Filipino American Mousketeers are: 

    Jenna Alvarez (@jennazalvarez) – Jenna Alvarez, 15, has been dancing for most of her life and is an expert in ballet and hip hop. A promising young vocalist, Jenna is ready to share her talent with the world through “Club Mickey Mouse

Gabe De Guzman (@gabedofficial) – Gabe De Guzman, 16, is a professional dancer who has shared the stage with some of the biggest stars in music. After being bullied for his love of dance, Gabe hopes to inspire kids to always be true to themselves and do what they love.

Leanne Tessa Langston (@leannetessa_) – Leanne Tessa Langston, 17, is an aspiring singer, songwriter, and dancer. Leanne lends her unique lyrics and melodies to original tracks for “Club Mickey Mouse.”
Rounding out this year's Club Mickey Mouse are rapper Regan Aliyah, 18; Ky Baldwin, 16; performer Brianna Mazzola, 17; Rockabilly singer Sean Oliu, 15; and choreographer and dancer Will Simmons, 17.

While “The Mickey Mouse Club” aired on TV as a variety show, this updated version will be featured only on social media. Each of the new Mouseketeers are "social influencers" with thousands of followers on social media platforms.

Club Mickey Mouse is always-on; the digital- and social-first variety program lives on Facebook and Instagram, and comes from the Disney Digital Network.

“The creation of Disney Digital Network is the result of our ever-evolving approach to our digital media and content creation, audience development and distribution across digital platforms,” explains Andrew Sugerman, executive vice president, Publishing and Digital Media, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. 

“As Millennial and Gen Z audiences continue to consume ever-increasing content across mobile and social platforms, we feel it’s critical for Disney to have a network where audiences can experience quality content where they reside and with the influencers they trust.”

Club Mickey Mouse is spending the summer preparing for their back-to-school special. Check them out on their individual sites or at the Club Mickey Mouse Facebook page.

Here's the 2018 version (rap and hip-hop) of the Club Mickey Mouse March:


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Read: David Hwang's new play 'Soft Power' tells story from an Asian perspective

 Craig Schwartz Photography
Conrad Ricamora and Alyse Alan Louis in David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tosori's 'Soft Power.'
By Jim Gladstone
Reprinted with Permission from the Bay Area Reporter 
Originally published June 7, 2018

"When I first went in to audition for How To Get Away with Murder, it wasn't a part written for an Asian actor," says Conrad Ricamora, the gay actor who plays Oliver Hampton, a gay HIV+ lawyer on the hit CBS series. Ricamora will be in San Francisco through July 8 as part of the cast of the new musical Soft Power at the Curran Theatre.

"The guy who auditioned right before me was white, and the guy after me was black. To me, casting like that is an important breakthrough in American pop culture," says the 39-year-old. "The character's story has nothing to do with his Asian-ness. It's felt good to be a part of this kind of representation. When I was a kid, I saw all of these demeaning stereotypes, like Long Duk Dong in 16 Candles."

Along with the progress indicated by an increase in colorblind casting, Ricamora is also pleased to be part of a major production like Soft Power, by playwright David Henry Hwang and fellow Tony winner, composer Jean Tesori, that is addressing Asian and Asian American perspectives in a far more nuanced manner than past works of musical theater.

"This is very different than being in 'Miss Saigon' or 'The King and I,'" both of which Ricamora has done. "Soft Power is written from the perspective of an Asian person. When you watch The King & I, you're looking at the Asian characters through the eyes of white people. They represent 'the other' to the white characters. Soft Power actually gets the audience to look through Asian eyes and see the otherness of the white world of the U.S."

Craig Schwartz Photography
Francis Jue is featured in 'Soft Power.'
Among the show's almost indescribable interwoven plotlines, set in the present and 100 years in the future, is the story of China becoming the world's dominant power in the wake of the 2016 election. An actress playing Hilary Clinton sings and dances. The majority of the cast is Asian American, but many of the characters they play are citizens of China. Ricamora recognizes some deeply embedded ironies in that fact.

"I was called 'chink' all the time growing up," says Ricamora, whose father, an adoptee, is assumed to be of Filipino descent. His mother has Irish and German bloodlines. "The cast of this play includes actors with Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean and Hawaiian backgrounds," he says. "White America tends to lump all Asians together.

"In Soft Power, I play a Chinese character," Ricamora explains. "But the play doesn't try to explore the Chinese psyche; it focuses on what it's like to encounter the racism and stereotypes that are traditionally placed on all Asians and Asian Americans."

Ricamora was raised by his father, who worked for the U.S. Air Force, after being abandoned by his mother when he was seven months old. Growing up in the macho environment of military bases, he never imagined he would be an actor.

"If you were artistic, you were ridiculed and shamed," Ricamora recalls. He channeled his restless energy playing competitive tennis. "I grew up idolizing tennis players. Being an athlete was a way to avoid having my ass kicked all the time."

It was not until his junior year of college, where he was a psychology major, that Ricamora took an elective theater class and had an epiphany.

"We had to do monologues, and I chose a piece from Lanford Wilson's 'Lemon Sky.' The character is talking about being estranged from his biological father, and I connected with that, thinking about first meeting my mother when I was 8 years old.

"I stood on that stage with a sense of authority and just ripped into it. There was this huge electricity. The whole room went dead silent. And I was like 'Holy shit! This is for me.'"

It was also not until his junior year that Ricamora began to open up to his own sexuality.

"Allowing myself to do theater and to come out were related," he says. "I was paying my own tuition. I wasn't dependent on my family. And I thought, if I'm paying for myself I really should be myself. Ultimately, I don't really think it's possible to make genuine connections with other people unless we're true to ourselves."

Today, while Ricamora sees progress being made in portrayals of gay men and Asian Americans in theater and film, he is painfully aware that the two are rarely seen in a single character.

"The experience of gay Asian men just hasn't been shown in mainstream media," he says. "It's incredibly important to me. There were years of online dating where I'd get messages and blocks from white guys who wanted to totally rule me out of their world just because I was Asian."

Ricamora and two friends from the theater world are currently working to assure that the gay Asian American experience doesn't remain hidden. They're four episodes into the writing of a serial called "No Rice."

Soft Power plays the Curran Theatre in San Francisco June 20-July 8.


10 Asian Americans to know for LGBT+ Month

By Sophia Whittemore

June is LGBT+ Pride Month! To celebrate, we've featured 10 LGBT+ Asians and their amazing accomplishments in a variety of fields -- from politics to television. Check them out!

George Takei 

Best known as Hikaru Sulu from the TV series “Star Trek”, George Takei has played actor, director, author and activist over the years. The Japanese interment camp survivor has been happily married to Brad Altman since 2008.

Margaret Cho 

Openly bisexual, the Korean comedian often addresses intersectionality with her acts and has received acclaim for women, Asian Americans and the LGBT+ community

Sutan Amrull

Sutan Amrull, who won season three of RuPaul's Drag Race, is also an accomplished makeup artist with big name clients such as Dita Von Teese and Pamela Anderson. His interest in drag began while he was growing up in Indonesia, seeing trans sex workers in awe as they wooed potential clients on the street. "There was something in it that made people uncomfortable, but it was also very beautiful," he told Vice. "I like to make people feel uncomfortable and to do it with beauty, and so that’s where my fascination began."

Kim Coco Iwamoto 

Born in Hawaii, the Japanese American bureaucrat is the highest-ranked U.S. transgender official. She once held a seat on Hawaii’s Board of Education and is now running to be the Democratic candidate for Hawaii's Lieutenant Governor.

Jenny Shimizu

Japanese American model and actress Jenny Shimizu won the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival 2006 Lesbian Icon Award. She’s been on the cover of Vogue and is also famous for her relationship with Angelina Jolie, whom she met on the set of “Foxfire” in 1996, according to Heavy.

Alexander Wang

The Taiwanese American designer was supported by legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour, after his launch in 2007 New York Fashion Week. Today, he's most well-known for his urban designs.

Bai Ling

Best known for her work on Lost and Entourage, Chinese American actress Bai Ling iopenly bisexual.

Holland, KPOP

Holland is considered K-pop’s first openly gay idol. He spoke in SBS Pop Asia about severe childhood bullying for being gay. He also performed in music video “Neverland” to showcase his relationship with his boyfriend -- an open effort to make other LGBT+ youthfeel accepted.

Maulik Pancholy

The actor best known for his roles on 30 Rock, Weeds and Phineas and Ferb came out as gay by introducing his partner, Ryan Corvaia, in 2013. They were married one year later.

Irshad Manji

Of Indian and Egyptian background, Manji is a lesbian human rights activist and reformist Muslim. According to the Huffington Post, she is a scholar at NYU and writer of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith and Allah, Liberty & Love 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

U.S. school named after undocumented immigrants Jose Antonio Vargas


AN AMERICAN SCHOOL will be named after Jose Antonio Vargas, one of the United States' best known undocumented immigrants.

The Mountain View Whisman School District voted Thursday (June 14) to name a new elementary school after Jose Antonio Vargas. The school board's historic decision is also the first time an American public school is named after a living Filipino American.

“As a proud product of the Bay Area’s public school system, I am overwhelmed by this totally unexpected and deeply meaningful honor," said Vargas. 

The new school will open in the summer of 2019.

Born in the Philippines, Vargas came to the United States at age 12 and attended Crittenden Middle School and Mountain View High School in Mountain View, Calif. He has gone on to become a Pulitzer Prize award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker, and renowned human rights advocate.

“Education is the most sacred gift we give to our country’s future. I am who I am because of teachers and school administrators who nurtured and encouraged me. Their care went beyond papers and beyond grades," Vargas said.

"This school will be a living testament to the powerful influence that an educator can have in a child’s life. It is my hope this school will be a welcoming institution of learning for all students and their families.”

After building a successful career in journalism, Vargas publicly declared his undocumented status in June 2011 and, with a small group of friends, created Define American. Education has been a core part of the nonprofit organization’s DNA since, from educating the news media and Hollywood culture-makers about immigration to leading education initiatives that broaden and deepen people’s understanding of our country’s 43 million immigrants.

In 2014, after the release of “Documented,” Vargas’ autobiographical documentary that aired on CNN, Define American released a curriculum, covered by Education Week, which provided guidance for teachers on how to discuss the complicated issues around immigration that emerged from the film.

Later, in July 2015, MTV aired an hour-long documentary called “White People” directed and hosted by Vargas, in which he travels around the country engagingyoung people around the topics of race, privilege and identity.

Additionally, Define American’s campaigns (#WordsMatter, #FactsMatter), original video content, and Vargas’s writings have been used as resources by educators in countless classrooms across the country from 5th grade to higher education.

“What’s in a name? For the generations to follow: extraordinary possibilities,” said Patricia Hyland, who chairs Define American’s board of trustees. Hyland, an educator for 36 years, is the director of equity and employee relations at Foothill De Anza Community College District, and was Vargas’s former principal at Mountain View High School. 

“We are living through an ugly and hateful time in our country when immigrant families are under constant attack, even at schools. The district’s decision is an affirmation of American values and our belief in opening our doors of opportunities to all kinds of dreamers.”

In addition to Hyland, the current members of Define American’s board of trustees, Elise Haas and Maria Gabriela Pacheco, are as passionate about the role of education in the lives of immigrants and all Americans. 

Haas helped establish the Undocumented Student Program at University of California-Berkeley, one of the first of its kind in the country. Pacheco is the program director at, the largest scholarship fund for undocumented students.

“As families pull up to the Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School every morning, they will do so in the knowledge that they are part of a community that models respect, inclusivity and love of learning. I hope it inspires them to be curious about other people and cultures, to see themselves in one another," Haas said. 

"At a time when kids are being unjustly separated from their parents and sent to detention camps, I’m proud of the Mountain View Whisman School District for being a welcoming light of hope.” he said.

Pacheco said: “All children, no matter where they are born, deserve to feel loved, and that they can be who they aspire to be no matter the obstacles or barriers put in front of them. Going to a school named after Jose Antonio Vargas will be a daily reminder to them and all children of the world that their lives matter more than a piece of paper. 

"The naming of this school comes at a time when American values are being put to the test––who do we want to be, what kind of country do we want our children to grow up in, and how do we define American?”