Thursday, August 31, 2017

Judge blocks Texas anti-immigrant law

Texas state Rep. Gene Wu fought back tears in opposing SB 4.

A FEDERAL district judge on Wednesday (AUG. 30) blocked temporarily a proposed Texas law that would have banned sanctuary cities in the state, just two days before implementation of the law.

Federal District Court Judge Orlando Garcia granted a preliminary injunction of the sanctuary cities ban, Senate Bill 4, saying in his ruling that the law would have eroded the relationship between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.

In a 94-page ruling, Garcia wrote that there "is overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe," adding that "localities will suffer adverse economic consequences which, in turn, will harm the state of Texas."

“Texans are still under threat from a catastrophic hurricane and the last thing they need is Trump’s deportation force." said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Democratic Party.

“Texas Democrats applaud the Court’s decision to immediately halt Gov. Greg Abbott’s dangerous bill.

“Our communities and police chiefs understand the ‘show-me-your-papers’ bill is dangerous and makes no one safer.

The new law was preempted by federal immigration law, which supersedes state law, the judge found.

"The Court cannot and does not second guess the Legislature," Garcia continued. "However, the state may not exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States Constitution."

Garcia, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton in 1994, is the Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

The would-be law, SB4, was signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in May,. If implemented it would allow Texas state officials to fine local officials who implement policies aimed at limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws. State officials can even remove those local officials from office, the bill says.

If implemented, the would have allowed law enforcement agencies to stop and question anyone who is suspected to be undocumented. About 40 percent of Texas' population are immigrants with large pockets of South Asians, Vietnamese, Chinese and Filipinos.

Abbott said the state would appeal the judge's ruling.

The suit was filed by Texas largest cities, including Houston, the ACLU and the League of United Latin American Citizens. SB4 was opposed by many of the state's police chiefs and law enforcement agencies.

Hurricane Harvey: Coast Guard member coordinates rescue in Vietnamese

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Vincent Resley translated a rescue operation 
rescuing Vietnamese on a vessel.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued four people from a 42-foot vessel taking on water in the Aransas Pass near Corpus Christi, Monday.
The Coast Guard received a call at approximately 9 a.m. from a man aboard the vessel who only spoke Vietnamese attempting to report his vessel sinking. Petty Officer 3rd Class Vincent Resley, a crew member at the Incident Command Post in Corpus Christi, was able to assist in translating for the Coast Guard in order to safely coordinate a rescue with a good Samaritan in the area.
All four people were safely recovered by the good Samaritan with no medical conditions.
“I’m very impressed with the quality of our junior members and their willingness assist in anyway possible,” said Lt. Cmdr Ariel Berrios, the search and rescue branch chief at the Incident Command Post in Corpus Christi. “Petty Officer Resley answered the call without hesitation and four people are out of harm’s way because of it. It’s very admirable.“

For imagery and video of the Hurricane Harvey response, click here.

Coast Guard members and helicopters helped rescue some Asian Americans stranded by the Texas floods.

Hurricane Harvey: Asian/Americans rush in to help neighbors

A stranded Asian/American family was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter crew.

WITH OVER 30,000 people in temporary shelters and at least 22 people dead as a result of Hurricane Harvey, residents of Houston and southwestern Texas are still coping with the disaster.

Federal aid came pouring in but with roads flooded over, getting supplies into the area have proven difficult.

Even though Harvey was downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm, rain continues to fall and the threat of further flooding is still in effect.

Following is a compilation of news reports from a variety of media sources.

Indian/American physicians raising funds


INDIAN/AMERICAN doctors have started a relief fund to help those affected by the catastrophic floods brought by Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

"Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas with severe winds and flash flooding. This serious natural disaster inflexed a grave loss of lives and property. Our hearts are with the victims of the disaster," said Gautam Samadder, president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).

He said some AAPI members and their families in Texas have also been hit by Harvey.

The amount collected through donations will be given to the governor of Texas.

AAPI physicians represent 10 percent of all physicians in America but service approximately 30 percent of the patients in the country, Dr Samadder said.

He said the AAPI is concerned about the devastation caused by Harvey and is in the forefront to support and help people affected by the historic storm.

He called upon upon his fellow physicians to offer help for the purpose.

"At this time of the need, it is our responsibility to provide all the possible assistance to the victims of this grave natural disaster in Texas. Our physicians in Texas will serve the victims at no charge for next the 2-4 weeks," Dr Samadder said. 

Filipino/Americans rush to aid fellow Houstonians


FILIPINO/AMERICAN Joseph Santarose, a champion tae kwon do competitor and owner of a dojo in Houston, opened his business as a shelter.

“I felt like I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. I was watching the news and reading everyone’s Facebook posts, and I wanted to see if you like but… hey if I have a place to provide for people, then why not I know it’s small but it’s better than nothing. I just want to help out as much as I can,” said Santarose.

Within 24 hours, the donations came pouring in. Santarose’s taekwondo studio quickly became a fully stocked facility, complete with a wide assortment of Filipino food. He has rendered aid to over 40 people…and more people in need are on their way.

He has rendered aid to over 40 people…and more people in need are on their way.

“It got full really fast. As soon as I posted on facebook within 30 minutes I had families coming in. One family had six people another timely had four, and I just kept building and building throughout the night.”

Fil-Ams who are able to help their fellow man are opening up their homes, hearts, and businesses, to give back to the community. Even braving the elements and high water to rescue those in dire need.

Paul Osario organized water rescues and a humanitarian effort to help a local dialysis clinic, braving the rain and floodwaters to transport the clinic workers by water, so they can continue to provide lifesaving dialysis treatments to desperate patients.

Gurdwaras, temples and mosques opened to hurricane victims


INDIAN/AMERICANS who are living in safer Texas neighbourhoods are helping people affected by the devastating Hurricane Harvey by offering them shelter, preparing food for thousands and distributing essential relief aid.

A massive number of Indian-Americans in the Greater Houston Area have been affected by the ongoing flooding. The Indian Americans formed numerous volunteer groups to help the victims using social media to communicate details about which family is affected in each locality, News India Times community newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Temples, gurdwaras and mosques all opened their doors in a massive effort to help people who lost their home in the catastrophic disaster. Indian restaurants were also reaching out to people with free food.

Approximately 100,000 Indian/Americans and Indians live in the Greater Houston Area, according to Kishore Rama Raju, who lives in the relatively less affected area of Eldridge in Houston.

Raju told the newspaper that he along with his group of friends through a Facebook account — HoustonDesiFriends — operationalised a rescue and relief effort with 100 volunteers.

“Volunteers are helping with rescuing those trapped by taking their large vehicles and trucks that can navigate through high waters, Raju said.

“We are sharing information across social media on what to do and what routes to take etc. for those in more affected areas,” another Indian American, Bangar Reddy said.

Temples like Shady Side and Astalakshmi in the Eldridge area were housing close to 500 mostly Indian/American families, the report said.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hurricane Harvey: Indian student drowns; Asian Americans assist their neighbors

Evacuation was hampered when roadways were flooded.

THE WORST STORM in the United States continues to pummel a wide swath of eastern Texas, from Houston down the coast to Corpus Cristi impacting the over 500,000 Asians and Asian.Americans living in the area.

The unprecedented rain and floods claimed the life of at least one Asian American who drowned. Rescue efforts and accounting of all the missing persons are still being conducted.

AAPI people were victims of the massive storm that started out as Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm, but they also were among those who evacuated their homes and pitched in when they could to help their neighbors.

Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in the Houston area, making up over 500,000 of the 2.6 million residents.

The dominant groups are Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese and Filipnos.

Following is a compilation of some of their stories from a variety of news sources:

Indian student drowns

A 24-year-old Indian student has died after he nearly drowned in a swollen lake

Nikhil Bhatia, a student at Texas A&M University, was rescued from the Lake Bryan, where he along with another Indian girl Shalini Singh had gone swimming, on Saturday (Aug. 26).

Bhatia succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday (Aug. 29) while Singh continues to be in a critical condition, according to the Consulate officials, who were in regular touch with the family members in hospital and in India.

Bhatia, originally from Jaipur, along with his friend Singh, 25, from New Delhi, was pursuing Master in Public health were both brought to the local hospital in a critical condition.

According to their friends and some witnesses, the two were swimming in the lake. A sudden current of water pushed them deeper and the students noticed that they were in distress and flagged down nearby police officers.

Bryan Police officers were able to rescue and provide CPR to the victims until medics arrived, according to Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson.

Former NFL player raising funds

Dat Nguyen, a former Dallas Cowboys linebacker who grew up in Rockport, a tiny coastal Texas town hit hard by the storm on Friday, said most of his hometown is gone. But he wants to help the folks who remain.

“The church is demolished, our house is demolished,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “All the places where I grew up — all the mom and pop stores, the school, everything is torn and damaged.”

Nguyen, who lives in Fort Worth, said he was trying to organize an effort to bring supplies to the city, but that the area had been evacuated because of gas leaks. He said he’s got “a bunch of friends ready to send trucks of food, but we can’t do anything now. It’s overwhelming. All we can do is just pray.”

Nguyen, 41, the first Vietnamese/American to be drafted and play for an NFL team, now owns and runs a Chick-fil-A franchise in Fort Worth. He said he hopes people don’t forget about his hometown. “Right now, we’re on the back burner.”

No Filipinos injured in Hurricane Harvey

According to the Philippine diplomatic sources, none of the 70,000 Filipinos in the Houston area were injured.

In an interview with Unang Balita, Neil Reyes and his family retreated indoors and prepared for an incoming huge flood in the city. He said the hurricane’s winds were not as powerful in their area compared in the northwest area but the constant rain kept their roads flooded like a sea.

The highway near Reyes’ residence is currently under 16 feet of floodwater due to Harvey’s heavy rain. Currently, the level of the floodwater is drained enough for the residents to prepare for the next onslaught of heavy rains.

Filipinos in Houston extended their help through posting helplines for police, evacuations, shelter locations, and dry and cooked food provisions by Desi teams on Facebook. Pinoy Houston TV posted the hotline of Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles Adel Cruz for Filipinos seeking help amidst the calamity.

Filipino health workers stayed on the job

A number of nurses and health providers in Houston, Filipinos included, have been stuck in various hospitals and nursing homes for three days or more.

Some have issued code gray for their employees to ensure that there is enough staffing to serve all patients, as Hurricane Harvey continues to slam Texas.

At Texas Medical Center, the halls and rooms are empty. Some roads and freeways leading to the hospital are closed due to high waters. Many residents are also stuck in their own homes.

"It’s been a challenge for them to get to hospitals if they need care," said J.V. Villar.

"For us who are stuck doing our jobs in our hospitals, we are also victims of Hurricane Harvey ourselves. We can only imagine what the state of our own homes are like.

"We fear that our own communities are already flooded.

"For now, we are faced with fulfilling our duties as nurses and health providers and we are doing our best to do our jobs, despite our own concerns," said Villar 

Indian/American community shows its heart

The 150,000-plus strong Indian community in the Houston metropolitan area has shown its big heart by opening up its establishments to provide food, shelter and other services to the thousands of people affected by the devastating floods.

Indian restaurants are distributing food, Indian businesses are throwing open their premises to provide accommodation, Indian doctors are volunteering medical services and the community at large is offering logistical and other help to coordinate rescue efforts along with the City of Houston's emergency operations center.

Indian students stranded at U. of Houston

At least 200 Indian students are stranded at the University of Houston due to “catastrophic” flooding after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas were being evacuated to safer places, authorities have said. The students were being provided food and other supplies by the Indian/American community in the area. India’s Consul-General in Houston Anupam Ray has been in touch with the students and monitoring the evacuation process. 


Meteorologists expect the hurricane to slam the Texas coast for a second time after lingering in the area since Saturday and two huge reservoirs are overspilling their dams. With more rain on the way, the flooded conditions will get worst in the coming week.

How you can help

Red Cross

The American Red Cross is working around the clock to provide safe shelter and comfort for the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Visit, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is assisting in the care of thousands of displaced Texans, and working to restore homes. Learn more about how to support their efforts here.

Save the Children

Save the Children is delivering family-friendly relief supplies, setting up child-friendly spaces in shelters, providing specially trained staff to help children, and planning for long-term recovery needs. Support their Hurricane Harvey relief efforts here.

Houston Food Bank

The Houston Food Bank is providing immediate food distribution to families most in need. Donate now or learn more about how to volunteer at

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Whitewash Wars: White actor turns down role for Asian/American character

Ed Skrein did the right thing by turning down the role to play an Asian/American character in 'Hellboy.

ACTOR Ed Skrein just won over another fan; maybe millions. He turned down a role in the upcoming Hellboy that he learned should go to an Asian/Amerian actor.

"I must do what I feel is right." said Skrein when he learned about the casting controversy for a character that should be portraiyed by an Asian or Asian/American.

Not many actors would turn down a role based on a principle. Screin's parents must have raised him right.

Skrein would have played Major, a character originally portrayed as an Asian/American in the Mike Mignola comic-book series that serves as the source material for the Hellboy franchise.

When he was cast, social media protests exploded on the Internet pointing out that it was another case of whitewashing, similar to what recently happened with Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in A Shell, Emma Stone in Aloha and Tilda Swinton in Dr. Strange, all of whom portrayed characters that were Asian or part-Asian in origin.

Representatives for Lionsgate, the studio producing the film, told the press “Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision.” The statement continues, “It was not our intent to be insensitive to issues of authenticity and ethnicity, and we will look to recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material.”

Unfortunately, Skrein's decision is still the exception. He should be commended for "getting it."

"It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity," Skrein stated. "It is my hope that one day these discussions will be less necessary and that we can help make equal representation in the arts a reality."

Skrein's decision didn't go unnoticed by Asian/American actors:

The British actor's entire statement follows:
I accepted the role unaware that the character in the comics is of mixed Asian heritage. There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement, and I must do what I feel is right.
It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue the worrying tendency to obscure ethnic and minority stories and voices in the Arts. I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.
Representation of ethic diversity is important, especially to me has I have a mixed heritage family. It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity. It is my hope that one day these discussions will be less necessary and that we can help make equal representation in the Arts a reality.
I am sad to leave Hellboy but if this decision brings us closer to that day, it is worth it. I hope it makes a difference.
Skeinn is not a household name and he could have used this role to springboard to bigger parts, but he chose not to take that selfish path. He'll get other roles and the publicity from his decision will likely open more doors. (That is an option that's not available for most AAPI actors.) Let's hope that Skrein's precedent-setting act inspires other actors with even bigger names to think twice before taking roles meant for Asian or Asian/American actors. _________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, August 28, 2017

Wonder Woman battles WWII internment of Japanese Americans

This version of Wonder Woman might be better than Gal Gadot's movie Wonder Woman.

IF COMICS are not on your list of reading material, you're missing out on a quiet, but influential, revolution shaping the world view of millions of young readers.
On Friday, (Aug. 25) the same day that Donald Trump signed a memo against recruitment of transgender Americans for the U.S. military, Texas was preparing for Hurricane Howard and on the eve of Women's Equality Day (Aug. 26), DC Comics released Bombshells United, a group of female superheroes in a reimagined alternative universe (in contrast with to the universe where Batman, Superman, and Aquaman and a whole phalanx of male superheroes dominate.)
Marguerite Bennett, one of the most influential writers in the comic books today, has a very simple mission for her stories:

"Women as people - crazy, right?"

This year, the team of super women is tackling the missing chapter in America's history books: The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. 

Indeed, the first story arc of Bombshells United is all about America’s failure to protect the rights of up to 120,000 Japanese/Americans when the federal government imprisoned them in internment camps for the duration of World War II.

In Bennett’s foray into WW II and Japanese American internment, she has cast Cassie Sandsmark and Donna Troy, as second generation Japanese/Americans whose friends and family are being held against their will.

Bennett was inspired to tell this story in Bombshells United after a trip back to her family home. She was flipping through a younger cousin’s history textbook and noticed that the chapter on World War II made no mention of Japanese American internment during the war. Perturbed, she asked to see another cousin’s high school level history textbook and found that that book made no mention of the tragedy, either.

According to Bennett, she felt that the story of the internment camps was being erased from American history. That “inspired these feelings of horror and rage and … motivation, I suppose. If this was the kind of thing that was being ignored and scrubbed out of the story (of World War II) ... if (the war) was being increasingly turned into good guys versus bad guys and one side is completely innocent and never did anything wrong … that needed to be addressed.”

She didn't want to be accused of misappropriating material that should be told by a Japanese American. She felt like she might "overstepping." However, she ultimately felt compelled to use her position as the writer of this deeply popular and historically-based series to “highlight something that should never ever be forgotten or removed from our national narrative.”
Marguerite Bennett 
Initially, Bennett expressed some reservations about whether she was the right person to tell this particular story. She said that she felt like she might be “overstepping.” However, she ultimately felt compelled to use her position as the writer of this deeply popular and historically-based series to “highlight something that should never ever be forgotten or removed from our national narrative.”
So, Bennett did a whole slew of research, talked to Asian/Americans writers and historians, read several novels about that era and visited Manzanar when she talked to some of the volunteers and survivors.
She will include a reading list of source materials so anybody who wants to learn more about this neglected chapter in American history can do so. She emphasizes that in her comic book, it is the Japanese/American community themselves who seek Wonder Woman as an ally. “I wanted to avoid a white savior thing at all costs, so I hope the power dynamics are very clear about who’s calling the shots in this story.”
Bennett said in a interview, “Japanese Internment needed to be addressed and kept current, especially in discussions of immigration policy and … you know, just watching history repeat itself.” Indeed, in the time between Bombshells‘ launch and now, it looks like America is heading towards repeating the same mistakes made in the past. When Donald Trump got elected as 45, Bennett began to see the whole Bombshells and Bombshells United in a new light.
While Bennett wants the comic book to be entertaining and fun, she also hopes the book proves to be an “inspiring” opportunity to learn about the history of the world – both the good and the bad. She wants readers to understand that while they may not necessarily ever have to fight an alien space god or some all-conquering evil entity, they still “have the chance to make a difference.”
'Bombshell United' super heroines
Besides  telling the story of Japanese/American Internment to a whole new generation, Bennett is able to portray a universe where women are in charge of their own stories. “I didn’t want it to be a story where (the premise was) ‘oh all the men are off and away, so I guess the women will have to do something,'” Bennett explained.
"From the start, this was an alternate history, so I didn’t want the characters spit upon or trodden under foot for the sake of selling a retro vibe," said Bennett. "From the very beginning I wanted to make sure that none of our heroines was in any way derivative of a male counterpart – the women come first in this world.

In the DC (and Marvel) universes, she says, "it tends to be a team of five dudes and one woman, and she then has to be everything, and no woman can ever be everything. With a large cast, a large number of women, they don’t have to be icons and idols, they can just be themselves," she explained. "It’s so refreshing to create the women as characters, and not as liabilities or ticking time bombs."

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Campaign works against 'ching-chong' racism when we speak up

SPEAKING UP matters: A New York restaurant got heavily criticized on social media after an employee referred to an Asian customer as “Ching Chong” on a takeout receipt.

The woman went to Cornerstone Cafe and ordered steak and eggs to go on Aug. 16. When she looked at the receipt, she noticed that a server, identified only as “Rubi,” used the racial slur “Ching Chong” as the customer’s name.

The woman showed her daughter the offensive receipt, and her daughter in turn shared it with a friend known on Facebook as “Ziggy Chau.” The friend then shared an image of the receipt on Facebook, where it quickly went viral.

Chau said he wanted people, especially Asians and Asian Americans, to take the matter into their own hands and contact the restaurant because he wanted to break down the stereotype that Asian customers acquiesce and do not complain when service is bad or when they are insulted. 

Local ethnic and mainstream media did stories on the incident and enough people called the restaurant that the establishment's owner got tired trying to excuse the workers. He said he had "no choice" but to fire the server, according to a post on the restaurant's Facebook account, which has since been deleted.

NBC New York reported the posting before the account was cancelled. It read:

“This situation leaves me no choice than to terminate this employee for this unjustified act. It definitely does not reflect the way the Cornerstone staff or I think because of one individuals stupidity.”

I get tired from being ignored, having empty taxis pass me by, store clerks look right pass you to the next customers, or restaurant hosts leading me to the worst table in the joint. It took me awhile, but I've learned that I don't have to put up with this BS treatment anymore.

"The perception that Asians don't speak up needs to change," Chau wrote in a follow-up posting that thanked those who contacted the restaurant. "It's also hard to speak up for others when we as a whole don't speak up for ourselves. This needs to change in order for all of us to combat racism together."

Speaking up matters.

Tip for Asian Americans: Put on the pounds to look more 'American'

IF YOU have done any traveling outside the United States, you might have noticed that your fellow Americans - on average - tend to be bigger than citizens from other countries.
Let's cut to the chase. Americans are generally overweight and more likely to be obese than other people.

So the results of a new study were not surprising. "Perceptions of nationality are malleable," writes a research team led by Stanford University psychologist Caitlin Handron. It reports that, in a series of studies, "overweight Asian individuals were perceived as significantly more American than normal-weight versions of the same people."

So if you want to overcome the stereotypical tag of appearing "foreign" or  being an "other," the answer is not to pass up the Big Mac and fries. Put on those pounds.

University of Washington researchers believe this effect relates to common stereotypes that Asians are thin and Americans are heavy — so if someone of Asian heritage is heavy, then they appear to be more “American.”

The UW study comes at an especially charged time for discussions of American identity. In today’s political climate, beliefs — and often stereotypes — about race, ethnicity and religion factor into debates about who is “American.”

“In the U.S., there is a strong bias associating American identity with whiteness, and this can have negative consequences for people of color in the U.S.,” said Handron, who conducted the study while at UW. “We wanted to see whether ideas of nationality are malleable and how body shape factors into these judgments.”

Weight, Handron added, is just one of many cues people rely on when making judgments of someone else’s nationality.

Statistically speaking, being overweight is common among Americans: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that some 70 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. 

When the data is broken down by race, Asian Americans tend to be less obese than people of other racial and ethnic groups. The prevalence of obesity among Asian/Americans is 11.7 percent, among white Americans 34.5 percent, among Latino/Americans 42.5 percent, and among African/Americans, 48 percent. More specifically, within the U.S., Asian immigrants are significantly less likely to be overweight than native-born Asian Americans.

Population trends in obesity around the world, along with common stereotypes about who is “foreign,” helped inform the experiment, researchers wrote in the study. For example, did study participants view Asian and Latino/Americans as less American than white and black Americans?

Apparently, heaviness didn’t have the same effect on perceptions of other races. The weights of white, black, and Latino photo subjects had little influence on whether they were perceived to be American or not.

Sapna Cheryan, a UW associate professor of psychology and a co-author of the study, called the finding “an unusual possible protective benefit of being heavier for Asian Americans.”

“People in the U.S. often encounter prejudice if they are overweight — they may be mistreated by a customer service person, for example, or a health care provider. Weight can be an obstacle to getting good treatment,” Cheryan said. “We found that there was a paradoxical social benefit for Asian/Americans, where extra weight allows them to be seen as more American and less likely to face prejudice directed at those assumed to be foreign.”

Handron said the study also shows how perceptions reflect broader, systemic disparities.

“The lack of representation of Asian/Americans and other people of color in the media and positions of power reinforces associations between American identity and whiteness,” she said. “This work supports the call to recognize these inaccurate assumptions in order to interrupt the resulting harm being done to these communities.”

But before you start trying to look more "American" by overeating, be aware that being overweight can have its own consequences related to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a propensity to heart disease.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Review: 'Birth of A Dragon' stillborn

Philip Ng as Bruce Lee, left, and Yu Xia as Wong Birth of the Dragon.

IF YOU'RE looking for an historical account of martial artist icon Bruce Lee's famous fight with a kung fu master, Birth of the Dragon is not for you.

The movie released Friday (Aug. 25) is a highly fictionalized story inspired by the legendary 1964 match between Lee and Wong Jack Man as told through the perspective of a white martial artist student.

The actual outcome of that fight that occurred in Oakland, Calif. and witnessed by only a handful of people is mixed depending who describes it. Only a handful of people witnessed the fight and their interpretations varies widely contributing to the event's almost mythic proportions.
RELATED: Competing biopics of Bruce Lee
After the unfinished draft of the Birth of the Dragon was first sneaked at the Toronto International Film Festival last year was universally panned for its emphasis on the white guy and his case of yellow fever (love those mysterious Asian women), the movie was heavily re-edited to put more of a focus on the two principals - Lee and Wong.

Although Philip Ng, a Hong Kong action star and a martial arts student, was able to capture the physicality and swagger of a not-yet-famous Lee, and Yu Xia brought a sense of quiet confidence to the tradition-bound Wong, Bruce Lee fans will ultimately be disappointed.

If you remove all the extraneous stuff surrounding Birth of the Dragon (not endorsed by Lee's family) and just tried to see it as just another martial arts film, you'd still be disappointed. As in many martial arts movies, the story is often secondary to the fight scenes. The plot  of Birth of the Dragon plods along and the character of the white witness, uninspiringly portrayed by Billy Magnussen, fails to generate any sympathy.

It might better to wait for the other Bruce Lee biopic, Little Dragon directed by Indian director and producer Shekhar Kapur with a script co-written by Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee. The story centers around the social and political forces in Hong Kong that shaped the martial artist's life.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth on Trump's proposed transgender ban in the military

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, left, speaks to veterans about some of the issues they face.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, D-Ill, provided major clapback against Donald Trump's memo barring the recruitment of transgender people for the U.S. military.

Duckworth, who lost both legs when her helicopter crashed in Iraq in 2004, issued a major statement in anticipation of Trump's action.

“When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown. All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind. If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve—no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation. Anything else is not just discriminatory, it is disruptive to our military and it is counterproductive to our national security. 

"If the President enacts this ban, which would harm our military readiness, the Democratic and Republican Members of Congress who oppose this discrimination must enact legislation that prevents it from taking effect,” said Duckworth, a retired U.S. Army Lt. Col.

Trump signed the memo Friday (Aug. 25) which bans any new transgender men or women from joining the military, but also leaves it to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to determine the fates of transgender military service personnel currently serving.

When Trump first floated the proposal last July through a series of tweets, Duckworth called the idea “sickening” after reports emerged how Trump had dodged the draft during the Vietnam War.

Trump issued his memo despite a 112-page report commissioned by the Department of Defense that found there weren't any financial or medical reasons to ban transgender people from the military.

Many politicians from both parties have quickly criticized the proposal in public.

"Trump’s decision to kick transgender service members out of the military reflects no understanding or appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who serve. Every American who is willing to risk their life to defend our freedom deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. And any form of discrimination against the transgender community is unacceptable," sad Rep. Mark Takno, the first openly gay Asian/American congressmember.

"President Trump is the commander-in-chief. He needs to start acting like it," he said.

“An estimated 15,000 transgender men and women serve in the U.S. Military today. Instead of honoring them, the president has demeaned their sacrifice.," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash, who is a member of the Congress's LGBTQ Caucust.

"Sixty-nine years ago on this day, President Harry Truman took the historic step of desegregating the military and advancing the cause of equality.," said Jayapal. "Today, President Trump – who hasn’t served a day in the military – is taking us back.” 

Sen. John McCain, R-Az, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had earlier called Trump’s policy pronouncement as “unclear”, reported Vox.

“We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are,” he said.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Ia, a veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, shared a similar view on the matter: “Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.”


Friday, August 25, 2017

Courts ruling against racist laws: Texas voters' ID law, Arizona ban Vs. Mexican American Studies

TWO RULINGS by federal judges threw out two proposed laws critics said were racist and supported by conservative groups. 
A voter ID law discriminated against minorities and an attempt to ban Mexican American studies in public schools were both turned down by district judges.
An attempt to impose a voter I.D. law in Texas was turned down by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the Southern District of Texas. She said changes to the law passed earlier this year by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature that were meant to be less discriminatory than an earlier one did not accomplish that.
Ramos said the state did not allow enough types of photo IDs for voters, “even though the (5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) was clearly critical of Texas having the most restrictive list in the country.”
Ramos' ruling will likely be appealed.
The Trump administration supported the ruling after he campaigned on cutting voter fraud, picking up a theme of fellow Republicans across the country. Critics have said the Texas law and similar statutes enacted in other Republican-controlled states are an effort to suppress voting, especially among African/Americans and Latinos who tend to favor Democrats.
Trump has made unsubstantiated allegations that millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton in last November’s election, in which Clinton won the popular vote but lost the decisive Electoral College count.
"Jim Crow-era tactics have kept Texas Republicans in power,” said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa. “From discriminatory gerrymandering to discriminatory voter ID laws, it has become entirely clear that Texas Republicans are rigging our election system.”
Ethnic studies ban illegal
Arizona's ban on ethnic studies courses aimed at Latino students, saying it was motivated by racial discrimination and violated pupils’ constitutional rights.
The decision by Judge A. Wallace Tashima issued on Tuesday (Aug. 22) came in response to a lawsuit by students and parents challenging the law, which ended a Mexican American Studies, or MAS, program run by the Tucson school district.
“The Court is convinced that decisions regarding the MAS program were motivated by a desire to advance a political agenda by capitalizing on race-based fears,” ruled Tashima.
About 64 percent of Arizona’s school students are Hispanic, according to state figures. The MAS program included units on Mexican American history, art and literature.
In three separate rulings earlier this year, Federal judges ruled against Trump's attempt to implement a Muslim ban on people from six predominantly Muslim countries. While the Supreme Court allowed parts of Trump's ban, the final version was severely limited in its implementation. Other controversial elements are still being challenged and the Supreme Court will hear arguments sometime after it convenes in October.

The lower court system is the one branch of government that is not yet dominated by the radical conservative ideology that has taken over the Republican party. At the federal level and certain other states like Texas, the GOP controls the legislative and executive branches.

The courts abide by the rule of law - at this time - which makes it even more important that Trump's administration is stymied as much possible to prevent him from nominating more activist judges who render judgements based on their personal and religious views rather than the Constitution. If allowed to go unchallenged, a Trump-appointed judicial system could change the perspective of the law for decades to come.

TGIF FEATURE: Asian/Americans to stage anti-hate rally before white supremacist events in S.F, Berkeley

Asian/Americans took part in the International Workers Day march in San Francisco that took on the tenor
of an anti-Trump demonstration.

By Louis Chan


Asian/Americans plan to light up the night in response to the recent incidents of hate in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A candlelight vigil will be held just hours before a pro-Trump Patriot Prayer rally is planned in San Francisco on Saturday (Aug. 26) and another demonstration of White Supremacists in Berkeley the following day.

The vigil dubbed Light up the Night- from Charlottesville to Chinatown: No Hate will be held on the pedestrian bridge leading from the Chinese Culture Center to Portsmouth Square in San Francisco’s Chinatown Friday at 8 p.m.

A civil rights symposium is scheduled right before the vigil at the Chinese Culture Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

“A number of groups and leaders who came together to advocate against recent xenophobic immigration rhetoric and policy proposals were horrified about what we saw happen in Charlottesville and wanted to make sure we were both educating our community and speaking out against white supremacy,” Vincent Pan, co-director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, said to AsAmNews.

CAA is part of a coalition of groups which organized under the banner No More Exclusion prior to the 135th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Among the speaker at the symposium will be the Rev. Norman Fong, Chinatown Community Development Center; Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Jewish Voice for Peace; Joyce Lam, Chinese Progressive Association; Annette Wong, Chinese for Affirmative Action; Clifford Yee, Organization of Chinese Americans – San Francisco Chapter; Sandra Lee Fewer, San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Phil Ting, California State Assemblymember.

Last week in Charlottesville, white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia holding torches. The image and size of the crowd stunned a nation and put it in turmoil.

It’s no coincidence that the symposium will end with a candlelight vigil of people supporting diversity and inclusion.

“Light representing hope and love is necessary to combat the hate of white supremacy,” said Pan.

He said the threat of what he called “overt white supremacy” directly affects Asian/Americans. He cited the rise in hate crimes against the AAPI community and the continued “unequal access to education, health and employment opportunities.”

Thursday, August 24, 2017

APALA CONFAB: Union movement still strong in AAPI community

Some of the delegates at the convention of the Asian Pacific American Labor Association show their solidarity.

ASIAN AMERICANS have a long affinity with organized labor, from the sugar fields of Hawaii to the vineyards of California, AAPI have fought for better working conditions and higher pay.

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) celebrated its 25th anniversary convention in Anaheim, Calif. from August 18 to 20, 2017. The convention was attended by close to 650 participants from dozens of unions and community partners who united under the theme “25 Years of Resistance: Organize & Fight.”

The “resistance” theme of the convention emphasized APALA’s rejection of Trump’s and his administration’s racism, sexism, and homophobia, and his anti-worker and anti-immigrant positions.

"This APALA convention was my first and I am so ready to kick down some doors," said Jennifer Li of IFPTE Local 21. "This is the first time in the 6 years that I've been in the labor movement that there is a place for me. I've always kept my head down and just did my work, because I knew it would be useless to acknowledge the problems within labor by myself. APALA felt like something I've never felt in labor -- like home."

Highlights included two separate solidarity actions, including a solidarity march and vigil for those who were killed and injured during the violent KKK and Neo-Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia. The convention elected Monica Thammarath from the National Education Association as the new APALA President – the youngest National President APALA has elected to date. 

"APALA has always held a special place in my heart," said Thammarath "I am honored to have been elected as the new National President, and I am excited to strengthen our chapters, our community and labor partnerships, and elevate the voices of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers and workers of color everywhere,"

The other officers elected were Tracy Lai, American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Michael Yee, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); Kim Geron, California Faculty Association; and Johanna Hester, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) who had served as APALA’s president for the past six years.

The convention also marked the passing of the torch from Greg Cendana who served for seven years as APALA’s executive director, to Alvina Yeh, the new executive director. 

Speakers included California State Treasurer John Chiang, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, and Women’s March Co-Chair Linda Sarsour. The 25th anniversary banquet honored Steven Moy from IBEW, Arlene Inouye from AFT, undocumented immigrant youth activist Yves Gomes from UFCW, and SEIU’s Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus.

The convention delegates represented the rich diversity of Asian/American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, and brought hundreds of young workers and youth activists to the forefront.

Pre-convention activities included organizing and political training for hundreds of young workers, rank-and- file union activists, and community allies. The convention passed a constitutional amendment to expand the ranks of APALA to include young workers, community allies, and other workers who are not currently union members but who embrace the fight for social and economic justice.

Maria Castaneda, Secretary-Treasurer of 1199SEIU United Health Care Workers East and President of the SEIU API Caucus, commented: "APALA's role to grow the labor movement is vital. Organizing the unorganized, especially immigrant, formerly incarcerated, and young workers, and training rank and file workers into union leadership are so needed to build the power of our community and to broaden our movement to be more inclusive of everyone, including those at the margins." 

Donald Tanaka of UA Local 250, a retiree and convention delegate from Gardena, CA, stated, "We must continue to strive to educate and inform workers on the important issues facing our country and our communities. We must work to build out partnerships in the building trades and other industries. Workers must have a voice, and it has to be heard on a national and international scale — APALA is that voice."