Monday, October 31, 2016

President Obama becomes first President to light diya for Diwali

President Obama lights the die in the Oval Office with some White House staff.

By Louis Chan

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA on Sunday (Oct. 30) became the first president ever to light a diya in the Oval Office.

The President joined Indian/American staff members in the White House for a small celebration.

“I wish you and your loved ones peace and happiness on this Diwali,” said the President in a message sent out on social media.

The post and picture generated 4,400 comments, 209,000 likes and 48,000 shares on Facebook.

Sreejith Vignesh wrote “Not sure the other U.S. presidents will honor us like this. On behalf of each and every Indian, I record here my sincere thanks.”

Nisha Graves said, “As an Indian-born American, I am truly honored! Thank you for acknowledging Diwali - you are a class act! Thank you for acknowledging diversity! Happy Diwali to you!”

Nana Thompson said “This is who we are, Americans! Respect and honor diversity, embrace the good in all faiths, all cultures, and shine the light!”

Obama became the first President ever to celebrate Diwali in 2009, but did not light a diya.

“We recognize that this holiday rejoices in the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance,” wrote the President in his Facebook post. 

“It also speaks to a broader truth about our shared American experience. It’s a reminder of what’s possible when we see beyond the differences that too often divide us. It’s a reflection of the hopes and dreams that bind us together. And it’s a time to renew our collective obligation to deepen those bonds, to stand in each other’s shoes and see the world through each other’s eyes, and to embrace each other as brothers and sisters – and as fellow Americans.”


What's with the Philippines' pivot towards China?


WESTERN MEDIA like to call Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte the "Trump of the Philippines," but it would be a mistake to oversimplify at first glance of a complicated man who through his actions and proclamations, could turn the balance of power in Asia upside down.

Duterte recently announced in front of the Chinese leadership in  Beijing, a 180-degree pivot on the long Philippines-U.S. relationship. “In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States.”

What's troubling is that his pivot towards China and away from America seemed to catch the U.S. intelligence community by surprise. Part of the problem is that the U.S. apparently didn't take the new Philippine leader seriously, a slight that fed into Duterte's festering anti-U.S. sentiments.

Like Trump, he has a temper and he tends to speak without thinking. He also takes slights personally and has a long memory on perceived insults. That's where the comparison ends. Unlike Trump, Duterte is not the poster child of selfish, me-first capitalism. If anything, the Philippine president, a self-proclaimed socialist, is on the opposite end of the political spectrum to the point where his detractors call him a communist.
There has always been a segment of Filipino society that believes the colonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines is still in effect; it is so deeply ingrained in every aspect of Filipino life -- culturally, economically and politically.

What makes Duterte different from his predecessors is that while he was born into a political dynasty, he is from Mindanao, a part of the Philippines that has been at the center of resistance since Ferdinand Magellan had the gall to claim the occupied islands for Spain, through the American occupation, the Japanese invasion and the southern island is the home base of the Muslim separatist movement led by the terrorist group Abu Sayyef.

Duterte doesn’t consider himself part of the Philippine ruling class or the feudal system that keeps the powerful, elite families in power and in influential positions in government and business; all of which is kept in place by corruption, paternalism, private armies and decades of the rich getting richer and the poor masses, getting poorer.

He chose to attend Lyceum of the Philippines University specifically to study undert Jose Maria Sison, the long-exiled founder of the country's communist movement. Sison, living out his exile in the Netherlands, says he nurtured the seed of anti-Americanism within Duterte. 

There is a good article in the Wall Street Journal article that goes deeper into Duterte's leftist views. Unlike Trump, he is well aware of the rest of the world and how tricky it is to guide the Philippines through this power struggle between the U.S. and China.

What's not clear is if he knows how dangerous his high-stakes game of roulette is. The long-term danger may be hidden by his short-term successes.

Already, his setting out the welcome mat to China has apparently given Duterte some victories. Filipino fishermen who had been banned by the Chinese military from the Filipinos' traditional fishing grounds in the disputed Spratly islands are now being allowed to return.

The Philippines and China signed 13 major agreements adding up to a whopping $24 billion in infrastructure, tourism, industry and agriculture. Around 400 of the country’s leading business people, many of them with Chinese lineage, joined Détente in his trade mission. 

One of the infrastructure projects the Chinese will take on is the proposed "bullet train" between Subic and Clark, the site of America's biggest overseas military bases during the Cold War, and a huge train project in Mindanao, Duterte's home island.

American diplomats' first reactions did not bode well for repairing the deepening gap between the U.S. and the Philippines.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel, who was in Manila when Duterte was in Beijing, met with Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay and it did not go well. In short, Russell seemed to lecture Yasay on Duterte's dangerous language and brought up the killings of thousands of drug dealers that seem to have Duterte's blessing. 

When Yasay relayed the message to Duterte, the president responded in Tagalog: “You tell them, you sons of b——-s, don’t treat us like a dog. Don’t put us on a leash then throw scraps that we can’t reach. Do not … with our dignity.”

What the U.S. fails to realize is how deeply felt is resentment of the America's cultural and economic imperialism.

Duterte is the manifestation of what many Filipinos feel despite their embrace of American movies,  music and fashions; despite being touted as democracy's showcase; and despite the 20 year wait list for U.S. visas.

Yasay said it more eloquently, “the United States held on to invisible chains that reined us in toward dependence and submission as little brown brothers not capable of true independence and freedom.” 

The danger for the U.S. is to simplify and underestimate Duterte, who has the power to overturn the balance of power in Asia and fracture the fragile alliances that took decades to build to counter China's emergence as a world power.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

RIP Glenn Rhee, long live Steven Yeun

Steve Yeun seems to console Lauren Cohen, who plays his onscreen wife Maggie during Talking Dead's special 90 minute show after The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere that saw the end of Glenn Rhee.
IT HAS BEEN a week since Glenn Rhee was killed in The Walking Dead's Season 7 premiere and the fan furor refuses to die.

The character of Glenn Rhee, played by Steven Yeun, was among the last of the original group of survivors in the zombie apocalypse setting in The Walking Dead and was much beloved by the show's fans.

Killing off the fan favorite was more than just a turning point in the storyline, it was doing away with one of the few fully developed and complicated AAPI characters that has ever been on American television. Glenn exposed millions of viewers to an AAPI character that they could identify with, someone they could cheer for and care about.

Since Glenn's death last week, fans have been grieving the loss of one of the character they invested a ton of emotional capital, not to mention their Sunday evenings. A columnist in Arkansas wrote an obituary that was widely circulated.

Written by Andrea Bruner, it starts out, "Glenn Rhee, husband, father-to-be, warrior and friend departed from this world October 23rd. He was 32."

The fan meltdown and subsequent uproar was so great that series creator, Robert Kirkman felt compelled to explain the plot-turn to Entertainment Weekly.

"It’s just that there’s a lot of material that comes from Glenn’s death in the comics,’ Kirkman said. "And while we do try to change things up to keep things interesting for the audience, and for me, this is one that there’s so much that comes from Rick.

"There’s so much with Negan, because that character is someone that he killed, and definitely Maggie is someone that kind of gets put on the trajectory that affects a great number of stories and a great number of characters moving forward.

"So it was kind of essential that that part of the scene at least remained intact, unfortunately," he added. 

The Walking Dead cast says goodbye.
I don't buy that. Kirkman's explanation might carry more weight if he hadn't already substantially diverted from the comic storyline by allowing two (white) characters to continue to live, long after their comic counterparts died: fan favorites Carol, played by Melissa McBride and Daryl played by Norman Reedus. 
So, like so many before them, the producers thought the Asian guy was dispensible so we have to live with the results. It is what it is.

Steven Yeun has been trying to make sure that he is very much alive. He has a movie thriller, Mayhem, coming out in which he plays the hero, a guy who has to fight his way out of a dangerous situation. Hmm, sound familiar?
He is also signed up for another sci-fi project  Okja, directed by Boon Joon-Ho (Snowpiercer). which has an absolutely crazy pollen. It stars Seohyun An as a girl who befriends Okja, a genetically manufactured pig, the plot follows her mission to retrieve her now giant pig after he is kidnapped by the corporation that created him. It sounds like dystopian Clifford: The Big Red Dog.

Yen also scored a cover of Entertainment Weekly. Writes Fusion:
As far as as our research has turned up, Steven Yeun is one of three male Asian actors(and one of two living ones) to have an Entertainment Weekly cover all to himself since the magazine’s launch in 1990. As far as Asian actresses go, Mindy Kaling graced the cover back in 2013, as did Lost‘s Yunjin Kim in 2010. (We’ve reached out to EW for confirmation and will update with their response.)
Yeun has definitely appeared on EW covers before—and technically, he’s been featured on a cover by himself, as one of six different “collectible covers” of the same Walking Dead special issue, released in February of this year. The other five covers were of his Walking Dead costars....
Steve Yeun’s EW cover isn’t just a big deal because it pays homage to one of the most beloved characters in modern television—it’s a disruption, a declaration that your heroes can be Asian, too.
In the meantime, Yeun may have found a new job as late-night host Conan O'Brien. Yeun is a funny guy. He's a frequent guest on Conan, traveling with him to Korea for a couple of shows last year. Watch Yeun's guest stint from last week.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Trump, Clinton commercials target Asian/Amerian voters

NOT LIVING in a so-called battleground state like Ohio or Nevada is a two-edged sword.

The good thing is were are spared the countless campaign literature, television commercials and ads about who to vote for president.

The bad part of living in a state that is overwhelmingly Democratic is that we don't see some of those commercials.

For those who don't live in one of those battleground states, here are two commercials from the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns targeting Asian/American voters.

Republican nominee Donald Trump’s campaign for US presidential elections has reportedly come up with a unique ad to woo Indians in America. In a video that has gone viral, Trump is seen copying Narendra Modi’s campaign slogan ‘Abki Baar Modi Sarkar’ in order to woo the Indian community to vote for him in the upcoming elections.

The video, the authenticity of which cannot be verified, begins by wishing Hindus ‘Happy Diwali and then ‘shows Trump saying “Ab Ki Baar, Trump Sarkaar”. However, the audio of the portion in the video showing Trump pronouncing the tagline appears out of sync. Late night host Jimmy Kimmel did a segment asking Hindu Americans what Trump was saying and they couldn't understand him.

The Clinton ad features Khizr Khan in a powerful commercial talking about his late son, U.S. Marine Captain Human Khan, who gave his life for his country while serving duty in Afghanistan.


Philippine president: 'Filipino/Americans are no longer genuine Filipinos'

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte appears to be taking the Philippines in a new direction.

PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte drove another wedge between the Philippines and the United States when he pointed out that in his view Filipinos residing in the United States are no longer real Filipinos. 
Duterte made his remarks In a speech in-front of the Filipino community in Beijing, He said that Filipino/Americans are no longer genuine Filipinos but pure-bred Americans.
E sabihin niya (Obama), well there are many Filipinos there (living in the US). Eh wala na yun. Puro Amerikano na yun. Ugali noon,” Duterte said, speaking in the popular idiom of Taglish, a combination of Tagalog and English.
PART 2: What's with Duterte's pivot towards China
He went on to say that Filipinos in China are treated better than Filipinos in the U.S.
Oh bakit dito sa China, walang Pilipino? Sa mainland China about 300,000 Filipinos and yet China is very kind to us,” Duterte added.
There are 4 to 6 million Filipino/Americans, many of whom are first-generation immigrants so ties with their home country are still strong. The money they send to their families in the Philippines is a critical part of that country's economy.
During the Philippine elections last spring, thousands of Filipinos who hold dual citizenships for the U.S. and the Philippines were allowed to take part. According to reports by Filipino/American publications, the majority of the voters favored Duterte.
RELATED: Story of betrayal after the original Philippines Independence Day
In a speech in front of China's leaders in Beijing's Great Hall, Duterte announced, “In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States.”
“This is not a positive trend,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said after Duterte's comments in Beijing. After meeting Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Russel added that the uncertainty was “bad for business.”

Clearly, the U.S. State Department's Philippine Desk was caught off-guard by Duterte's remarks leaving American businesses and politicians - not to mention, Filipino/Americans - wondering what was the future of the generations-old relationship between the Philippines and the U.S.

It is ironic that Duterte made his remarks in the middle of October, which was declared Filipino American History Month on Oct. 1 by President Barack Obama.

In the declaration, Obama, who grew up among Filipino Americans in Hawaii, also thanked Filipino/Americans who "have lent their unique voices and talents to changing our country for the better."

"Their immeasurable contributions to our Nation reaffirm that as Americans we will always be bound to each other in common purpose and by our shared hopes for the future," he said.

Obama himself was the target of one of Duterte's tirades, calling him a "son of a b---h," for daring to question the killings of thousands of Filipinos without due process. During his presidential campaign, Duterte promised to kill all drug dealers. The spate of deaths - some by the Philippine police forces and some by self-anointed vigilantes - apparently have the blessings of the Philippine president.

Shortly after Duterte's verbal attack, Obama cancelled a scheduled visit to the Philippines during his recent Asian trip.

After visiting China, Duterte went to Japan where he added more fuel to fire when he questioned the military agreements between the U.S. and his country. The Philippine president told Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he wanted foreign troops out of the Philippines in two years.

Russel has tried to play down the idea that the U.S. and the Philippines is experiencing a rift, saying:

“It is a mistake to think that improved relations between Manila and Beijing somehow comes at the expense of the United States. That’s not the way to think of it.”

“This should be additional not subtraction. We don’t want countries to choose between the U.S. and China.” he added.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Racist remark mars Illinois Senate debate

THE TIGHT RACE for Illinois Senator is getting a bit nasty as the incumbent, Republican Senator Mark Kirk, apparently inspired by the candidate at the top of his party, made a clearly racist and stupid remark during a debate against Democrat Tammy Duckworth, 

Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, was talking about why she wants to make the move to the upper house.

“My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution." said Duckworth. "I’m a daughter of the American Revolution. I’ve bled for this nation. But I still want to be there in the Senate when the drums of war sound, because people are quick to sound the drums of war and I want to be there to say this is what it costs and this is what you’re asking us to do.”

Sen. Kirk, hoping to sound witty, responded, "I forgot that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

That remark was met with resounding silence as the debate continued. One of the panelists asked Duckworth if she wanted to respond.

“There’s been members of my family serving in uniform on my father’s side going back to the Revolution,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud of both my father’s side and my mother, who’s an immigrant. She became a citizen in her 50s. And I’m just as proud of that.”

It is her father's family that dates back to the Revolutionary War.

Following the debate, the Kirk campaign issued a statement, but not an apology. "Senator Kirk has consistently called Rep. Duckworth a war hero and honors her family's service to this country," it read.

It was the second of three debates between Duckworth and Kirk. The next debate will be Nov. 4.

The Illinois Senate campaign is one the Democrats think they can unseat the incumbent, who is part of the Paul Ryan wing of the GOP.

TGIF FEATURE: The Rock sings "You're Welcome" in "Moana"

Auliʻi Cravalho is the voice for the animated Moana.
DWAYNE, "THE ROCK" JOHNSON, a former professional wrestler and football player, is more than a muscle-bound, action movie star.

In the upcoming animated movie, Moana, he displays his singing talent. He sings "You're Welcome," a brand new song written for the movie by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame.
RELATED: First trailer for Moana
For centuries, the greatest sailors in the world masterfully navigated the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, 3,000 years ago, their voyages stopped for a millennium – and no one knows exactly why. 

Moana is a sweeping, animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who is inspired to leave the safety and security of her island on a daring journey to save her people. Inexplicably drawn to the ocean, Moana (voice of Auliʻi Cravalho) convinces the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Johnson) to join her mission, and he reluctantly helps her become a way finder like her ancestors who sailed before her. 

Together, they voyage across the open ocean on an action-packed adventure, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills her quest and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. 

In casting of the voices, Disney sought Pacific Islanders to play the main roles. The selection of Johnson, who is Samoan/American, was a no-brainer. He is the highest-paid movie star in Hollywood.

In open auditions, Disney found Cavalho, who is Hawaiian/American.

Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

White House celebrates Filipino American History Month

A dance troupe from California performed indigenous dances from the Philippines at the White House celebration.
WHAT? You didn't get invited to the White House celebration of Filipino American History Month?

You're not alone. Apparently, my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail so I missed the five-hour event.

However, through the courtesy of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders and Youtube, you get to watch the whole thing below:

The emcee is Billy Dec, a Filipino/American restaurant owner and entertainer based in Chicago, and member of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders.

The event features Filipino/American artists as well as discussions with prominent celebrities and Administration leaders on issues such as education, veterans, health, and immigration. If you want to see and hear's performance, click here.

The audience had to start lining up at 6:45 a.m. to gain access to the White House. I assume the Filipino/Americans arrived on time, right?

Five hours! That's a long time to sit through speeches, panels and some cultural presentations. There had to be some food in the back, right? Did they let the guests have baon (take-home food)? Did they break out the Karaoke at the end?

Fox News meets with Asian/Americans over offfensive Chinatown report

O'Reilly Factor 'reporter' Jesse Watters tried to interview a non-English speaking passerby in 
New York's Chinatown in his racially offensive segment.

By Louis Chan

TWO FOX NEWS executives met with representatives of the Asian American Journalists Association and other groups in New York yesterday (Oct. 25).

The meeting was called in response to the huge backlash after Chinese seniors were ridiculed and several stereotypes were resurrected on a Watters’ World segment aired during The O’Reilly Factor October 3.

The groups presented Fox with an open letter signed by 134 national, state and local organizations demanding a written apology to the AAPI community, diversity and sensitivity training at Fox News, a multi-part story more fairly representative of the Asian American community produced in consultation with veteran AAPI journalists, a commitment to double the number of AAPI guests on Fox to 4 percent and to increase the number of AAPI producers and reporters to 10 percent, and a commitment to meet annually with the AAPI community.


The meeting was private and there was no public comment from Fox News. The names of the Fox representatives were also not released.

The tone coming out of the meeting from the AAPI groups was overall positive.

“The meeting was an open dialogue between the community and Fox News and we felt it was productive,” said Paul Cheung, president of AAJA, to AsAmNews.

“I sincerely hope that today’s events lay the groundwork for a fruitful and lasting conversation between Fox News and the AAPI community on issues of inclusion and diversity,” added Jenn Fang of the blog Reappropriate.

“We appreciate the opportunity to meet with Fox News today,” said Karin Wang, Vice-President of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. “The segment clearly struck a nerve with Asian Americans of all ethnic backgrounds and reached far beyond New York City. We have conveyed this widespread and national anger and frustration to Fox News executives and we look forward to their response.”

Christopher Kang, National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans echoed those sentiments.

“The outpouring of support for this call to action–from across the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, including many student organizations, and beyond–is a powerful demonstration of the widespread outrage and hurt this racist segment has caused.”

New York Assemblymember Ron Kim also attended the meeting. He told The Washington Post that both sides have committed to meeting again in November. 
He said that the group presented the men with the open letter, and that they were “taken aback” by the display.

The person from the news side of the channel, said Kim, “tried to empathizse with the community’s anger and frustration and figure out ways to continue to meet in a structured way to promote some of the lack diversity and how we can alleviate that as a community.”

Among the specific points raised by the group was the diversity of voices on Fox News.

Kim said that the network is particularly deficient on this front with respect to Asian-Americans on its broadcasts. “They’re very agreeable to increase that number,” says Kim.

Kim came away thinking that the two Fox News reps “didn’t understand the gravity of the situation.”  (Views From the Edge contributed to this report.)


NY Times: When Linsanity happened

Restaurateur David Chang was interviewed in the New York Times video about Jeremy Lin.

THE NEW YORK TIMES put together yesterday (Oct. 25) a video (see below) about Linsanity that talks about the impact basketball player Jeremy Lin had on all Asian/Americans that goes way beyond the basketball court.

He's not the greatest b-ball player, not even among the elite, but his play is good enough for the NBA and there are times when he can be spectacular. But it is his mere presence in an arena where you rarely see Asian/Americans that is significant.

You talk about a bamboo ceiling, Lin's journey is circuitous but something that will be talked about for generations!

In a commentary accompanying the video, NYT writer Andrew Keh said:

"An absence of reference points for Asian identity in popular culture has helped create a perpetual stream of hackneyed encounters, for men and women, children and adults.

"'In elementary school, it was Jackie Chan,' my friend Daniel Sin, a fellow hoops addict and Korean-American, told me about playing pickup ball. 'In high school, it was Yao Ming. At the gym now, it’s Jeremy Lin. When it first happened, around Linsanity, I thought: Nice. At least I’m a guard now.'”

The remarks by the interviewees that featured some prominent Asian/Americans such as Eddie Huang, Jeff Yang and Randall Park put Lin's ascendancy in the context of where Asian/Americans fit into today's pop culture.

Lin himself has often expressed the burden of being one of the few Asian/Americans in the NBA and the racial taunts and slights that go along with that.

“You can just take the racial element alone,” Lin said on the Brooklyn Nets media day last month. “You can add on so many other factors, but really anything I do is hyper-magnified in a good way or a bad way. People are quick to discount me or say certain things because of my race. And when I do well, people are quick to say he’s so amazing, he’s the truth, whatever, because of my race, because of the way I look." 

"There's this whole thing where it's OK to make fun of certain guys more than it is other guys," Lin tells Pablo S. Torre of ESPN. "And Asians are very easy to make fun of. We're the model minority. So everyone can joke about Asians: They're nice people, respectful people; they won't do anything." He thinks about this dynamic often. "People look at me, and they've always jumped to conclusions. They don't see toughness. But how do you define that?"

Lin is back in the nation's biggest media market that drives much of what is written about across the nation's newsrooms and delivered to U.S.'s readers. You can expect the scrutiny that he receives in New York City, where Linsanity began when he was with the New York Knicks, to only intensify. 

Jeremy Lin's journey is not over but even if he doesn't make the NBA record books or into the NBA Hall of Fame, he's already made his mark in the world. Somewhere on hardwood courts or outdoor playgrounds, there are Asian/American kids dribbling basketballs or  shooting hoops dreaming of becoming a pro-basketball player - just like Jeremy Lin. 

ESPN's Pablo Torre wrote the first indepth article about Jeremy Lin that touched on his race and stereotypes.
Read it here.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

35 arrests help slow attacks on Asian/Americans in Sacramento

Sacramento's Asian/American community had several meetings with police and deputies.
THE SACRAMENTO COUNTY Sheriff's Office's 15 arrests added to the 20 arrests by Sacramento police has helped stem the attacks on Asian/Americans living in south Sacramento say both of the law enforcement agencies.

The two law enforcement agencies, along with the cooperation of the Asian/American community has resulted in a 77 percent decrease in robberies since August reported the Sheriff's Office last Friday (Oct. 22). The attacks began about six months ago.

Asian/American leaders claim the numbers are inflated and instead credited the reduction in attacks to the armed civilian patrols the community had started in response to the string of brazen robberies. The residents can call for assistance through WeChat, that reportedly has over 1000 households signed up.

Officer Matthew McPhail, police spokesperson, said police are aware of multiple rap songs that advocate targeting Chinese or Asians, including a song by the rapper YG with the lyrics, “Find a Chinese neighborhood, ’cause they don’t believe in bank accounts.”

Asian/Americans have picketed YG's concerts protesting the lyrics they feel is encouraging the rash of attacks on Asians all over the country, from Sacramento to Philadelphia, which has experienced a similar rash of attacks Asians.
According to police and witnesses, most of the crimes targeting Asians share similarities: The victims are robbed and attacked just as they exit their vehicle in a parking lot or at home, However, some of the attacks have included home invasions where the robbers kick through the front door.

The law agencies say the investigation is continuing therefore they could not release the names of the arrested suspects.

Targeting Asians has historical roots, said Gabriel Chin, a law professor from nearby University of California, Davis. He cited a California law from the 1800s that prevented Chinese from testifying against non-Chinese in a court of law. In essence, that meant “Chinese could be freely raped, robbed or murdered,” he said.


Filipina American wins prestigious award for promoting healthy food

A FILIPINA/AMERICAN healthy food advocate was named the winner of the 2016 Thomas I. Yamashita Prize.

Aileen Suzara, 31, is a Bay Area-based natural chef who focuses on sustainable foods and who works to encourage healthier eating by teaching garden and farm-based workshops, developing sustainability educational programs, and hosting community pop-up dinners. 

Aileen Suzara
The Thomas I. Yamashita Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding young social change activist in California. The award of $2,500 honors a person whose work transforms the existing social landscape - often in subtle and previously unappreciated ways - and serves as a bridge between the academy and the community. 

She is an alumnus of UC Santa Cruz’s Farm and Garden Agroecology Apprenticeship program, and recently received her Master’s in Public Health Nutrition from UC Berkeley. 

Suzara's blog, Kitchen Kwento (Tagalog for "stories"), documents and shares stories on the relationship between food, people, and the land. Aileen is a first generation Filipino/American who grew up in California and Hawai’i. 

"I had a semi-nomadic childhood — born in eastern Washington, then moved on to Texas, Florida, and the Mojave Desert. We ate more canned minestrone soup, Spam and microwave dinners than “authentic” Filipino food in those days," she told Off The Menu: Asian America.

"When I was eight, I found the old Filipino cookbook my mom had brought [to the U.S.] in the ’60s that became both a passport and talisman to Filipino food. It was when we moved to Hawai’i that we were at last surrounded by a local culture defined by its relationships to food—a place flavored by many cultures, including Filipino cuisine and agricultural history.

In 2014-15 Aileen was a graduate student researcher at the Berkeley Food Institute and took a leadership role in their community engagement program, which aims to build bridges between UC Berkeley and the broader food and agriculture community.

As a public health nutritionist, she delves into health inequities faced by Filipino/Americans, including diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Healthy Filipino food might sound like an oxymoron and some may call Suzara's recipes "inauthentic," she replies:

"Authenticity is a word that comes up often in questions about food. But it’s a slippery term, as culture is constantly changing. At the root, all traditional food cultures are largely 'healthy.' And Filipino cuisine, at its roots, reflects a complex relationship with land, sea and seasons. While this is a vastly abridged and simplified history, we are all caught in a story that the public health world identifies as the “nutrition transition”—a rise in chronic disease and a marked shift away from traditional diets and lifestyles. To cook something closer to precolonial, or using what’s available to us even in the States—how do we channel that authentically today?"

Collaborating with Filipino Advocates for Justice (FAJ), Aileen supported the launch of Bahay Kubo, a garden in Union City, California that builds upon FAJ's youth leadership model with hands-on experiences in growing and sharing healthy Filipino food. In 2015, the project placed first in the Big Ideas@Berkeley competition.

She is an advisory member to the Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity and an eco-culinary educator with Sama Sama Cooperative, which works to "reclaim language, culture, and land-based traditions." Another recent endeavor was launching a youth-run kitchen site for the Ceres Community Project.

She is hard at work on Sariwa (Fresh), a sustainable Filipino foods business that connects traditionally-inspired diets and entrepreneurship as a tool for change. Developed as a pop-up restaurant at Berkeley's Eat.Think.Design health innovations course, Sariwa is now a proud participant in the La Cocina women's food incubator. 

Suzara will be feted  by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues on Oct. 31 on the UC Berkeley campus. For details, click here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Asian women targeted in Seattle robberies

By Louis Chan

POLICE IN SEATTLE say they’ve found no connection between the robberies of nine Asian women in the last two weeks, despite happening in the same area.

The description of the suspects differ in each case, but the patterns of similarities are startling.

They all happened in homes near Seattle’s Beacon Hill and the Rainier Valley.

Jewelry and other valuables were stolen in each case.

The suspects have come up to their victims from behind, or began a conversation with their victims before snatching jewelry, purses and credit cards.

Six of the nine robberies happened between 4 and 7 p.m. and many of the victims were walking from their cars to their homes when robbed.

Authorities urge victims to call 911 immediately. Some of the victims in these cases called relatives first who then called 911. That delay costs extra minutes and stalls both police response and their ability to apprehend the suspects.

“I have to take precaution maybe have extra set of eyes,” an elderly woman who lives in the neighborhood said to to Q13 Fox .

Take Your Ethnic Food to Work Day celebrated

TODAY, Oct. 24, was the day when people brought their favorite ethnic food to work without fear of getting a letter from the Human Resources Department.

Tired of that salad and sandwich from the corner deli? No offense to PB&J fans, but your favorite sandwich isn't considered ethnic enough.

It was National Take Your Ethnic Food To Work Day.

GBC30 reporter Jenny Yang shows us how Santa Catarina, California marked the new day by visiting Long Life Insurance during lunch to see how employees marked the day.

Meals included stinky tofu, globs of kimchi, stacks of whole fish and, of course, the ubiquitous fish sauce that pairs perfectly with everything from chicken and salad to oatmeal.

One of the sponsors of the day is The National Food To Work Foundation, which was founded in 1998 by the American Fish Sauce Cooperative, the Korean Kimchi Cultural Foundation of America, and the Norwegian Council of Lutefisk Manufacturers with the mission to encourage intercultural exchange and communication.

Take Your Ethnic Food to Work Day is a day we need to celebrate our growing diversity without fear of offending sensitive aromatically challenged co-workers.

Share your photos, recipes and stories with the hashtag #foodtowork and post your photos on our Facebook page:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

We now know who dies in "The Walking Dead" and AAPIs are not happy


THE ONLY Asian/American to survive the zombie apocalypse was killed off last night (Oct. 23).

Yeah, yeah, we know it's all pretend. Nevertheless, the death of Glenn Rhee as played by Steven Yeun in The Walking Dead, hurt. It hurt bad. Studies have shown that the emotions we undergo for our favorite fictional characters are real but not as long lasting as the real thing, thank goodness.

For seven years we watched Glenn grow from slacker pizza delivery boy to bad-ass zombie killer. The character is probably the best developed and complicated Asian/American character depicted on American TV. Yeun was fabulous in the role and introduced the concept of an AAPI heroic figure that the viewing audience of all races could cheer for and identify with.

Glenn was the first Asian/American male character to get the girl. Yeah, before Vincent Rodriguez III kissed Rachel Bloom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Glenn kissed Maggie and don't think that stereotype-breaker went unnoticed in Asian America.

Together, the lovers represented the hope for the future in a world full of death and inhumanity. Glenn was the last good guy in the show in that he never killed a human being and always held out hope for some of the hopeless people that the group encountered in their journeys, willing to give second chances even if it meant putting himself at risk. In that sense, it was inevitable that Glenn meet his end since every character on the show that demonstrated an ounce of humanity was killed off.

Glenn Rhee, as played by Steven Yeun, has killed his last zombie.

In one dream sequence, the group is having a meal and at the head of the table was Glenn holding the hapa son that he never will get to know. 

The writers used the Season 7 opener to kill of another favorite, the macho militaristic Abraham. The double death was a change from the comics, the source material for the show and perhaps took the audience by surprise. The gruesome deaths of two key beloved characters prompted the producers to do an extended special Talking Dead, the show for the fans to talk about the goings-on of The Walking Dead.

During The Talking Dead, Yeun said that he didn’t want the big dramatic death that Glenn experiences in the comic to go to any other character. "Robert wrote such a messed up but at the same time incredible way to take something away, Yeun said. "To make a story as impactful as it is. When you read the comic, you kind of don’t want that moment to go to anyone else. I think I said that, ‘Don’t let that go to anyone else.‘ To do it the way we did it, I think, was brave and super effecting."

Glenn's last words as his head was being bashed in, "I will find you," was heartbreaking.

Lauren Cohan, who plays Glenn's wife Maggie, and wears her emotions on her sleeve, interpreted that dying promise as: “In this life or the next,” Cohan says. “They’re star-crossed lovers. ‘I’ll find you, I’ll be with you, I’ll watch over you. I’ll be there.’” 

“He dies in such a Glenn way," adds Yeun. "Still not thinking about himself. It’s important that he puts those final words out as a way of saying, ‘Look out for one another.’”

These days when there's so much talk about the importance of increasing diversity on television and whitewashing of roles meant for Asians, killing off a major Asian/American character on a culturally iconic show, is a blow to that movement. I hope that the producers of The Walking Dead and its spinoff Fear The Walking Dead will give more opportunities for AAPI characters to be given a strong presence in our pop culture lexicon. Glenn will be missed.