Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Vietnamese refugees, threatened with deportation, file suit vs. ICE

Phi Nguyen, left, litigation director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta represents Vietnamese refugees.

VIETNAMESE REFUGEES have filed a nationwide class action lawsuit challenging their detention by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  

Since March 2017, ICE began picking up dozens of Vietnamese refugees and subjecting them to prolonged and indefinite detention in violation of federal law. Many of them were young children or teenagers when they came to the United States fleeing profound hardship and political persecution. Between 8,000 and 10,000 Vietnamese Americans are at risk of being similarly detained. 

The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 22 in Santa Ana, Calif. by civil rights organizations Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Atlanta (Advancing Justice-Atlanta), Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA),  and Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Asian Law Caucus (Advancing Justice-ALC), along with law firms Reed Smith LLP and Davis Adams, LLC. 

“The Vietnamese/Americans whom the U.S. government is trying to force back to Vietnam are the same refugees who fled war and crippling re-education camps to pursue the promise of peace and freedom. Unfortunately, the current U.S. administration’s actions against these Vietnamese refugees do not uphold that promise,” said Phi Nguyen, Litigation Director at Advancing Justice-Atlanta.

“By detaining refugees without due process, ICE is acting illegally and arbitrarily, a hallmark of authoritarian regimes similar to the one in Vietnam. The courts must step in to affirm the rule of law. That’s what this lawsuit seeks to do.” 

Under the Trump administration, ICE has moved to arrest and detain Vietnamese war refugees who are U.S. residents but are living under removal orders triggered by a criminal conviction.

ICE is unable to deport them because Vietnam, under a 2008 repatriation agreement with the United States, will not take back war refugees—defined as those who came to the United States to escape persecution before July 12, 1995, when the U.S.-Vietnam relationship started to normalize.

After Donald Trump signed an executive order in January 2017 sharply expanding immigration enforcement, ICE began to make widespread arrests of immigrants from Vietnam, as well as Cambodia, Somalia, Iraq and other countries that historically do not repatriate their U.S. emigrants, according to the complaint. (Similar national class actions have been filed on behalf of those other countries’ populations.)

However, in 2017, ICE officers began picking up previously released immigrants and holding them for prolonged periods of time, despite the inability of ICE to carry out their deportation. This prolonged detention of Vietnamese refugees violates federal law and breaks apart families without serving a legitimate purpose.  

“Indefinite detention of immigrants is both unlawful and inhumane,” said Anoop Prasad, Staff Attorney at Advancing Justice-ALC. “Each day causes untold harm to the people in detention and their families." 

Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment on the potential class action.

The transition for Vietnamese refugees who resettled in the U.S. in the years following the Vietnam War was not easy. Due to ad hoc resettlement practices, they were often placed in resource-poor and economically deteriorating neighborhoods. Under the challenging conditions, some made mistakes leading to criminal convictions which made them targets for deportation. 
“This administration is recklessly disregarding our Constitution and laws as it continues its war on immigrants,” said Christopher Lapinig, Registered Legal Services Attorney at Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. “The actions taken by ICE only re-traumatize families from a community that already knows trauma all too well.”  
“Reed Smith LLP is honored to serve as pro bono counsel alongside Asian American Advancing Justice and its affiliates to protect the constitutional due process rights of the Vietnamese community residing in the United States,” said Tuan Uong, Senior Associate at Reed Smith. 

“Nearly all of those detained have U.S. citizen spouses, children, parents, or other relatives who rely on them for support. The United States is the only home they know,” said Uong.

DNC targets AAPI voters in new campaign

GEARING UP for the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats kicked off a campaign to mobilize their voters, particularly Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

The Democratic National Committee announced Wednesday (Feb. 28) the launch of IWillVote - an unprecedented new campaign with four initiatives: Commit to Vote; Voter Registration; Voter Education and Protection; and Get-Out-The-Vote. Under the IWillVote program. The DNC aims to reach 50 million voters from now until November to engage, educate, and mobilize them to vote for Democrats up and down the ticket. 

The Asian/American and Pacific Islander community will be a crucial target in reaching these voters. The AAPI community is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country and has been crucial to Democratic victories in numerous key elections over the years.

“In recent years, Asian Americans and Pacific Islander voters have been crucial to Democratic victories in swing states and districts across the country,” said AAPI Caucus Chair Bel Leong-Hong. 

“The IWillVote program is an innovative way to galvanize the extraordinary passion among AAPIs across the country. I know that this program will funnel this passion into results at the ballot box and I’m excited to be working with great leaders like DNC Chair Tom Perez and DNC Vice Chair Grace Meng to make it successful.”

“The American people have witnessed the relentless commitment of the Republican Party to discourage voting – from the creation of a sham fraud commission to systemic disenfranchisement of communities of color," said Perez.

In recent years, the U.S.Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointees rolled back elements of the landmark Voting Rights Act and in states where the GOP hold the majority, voter ID laws were enaacted, limited voting times and reduced the number of polling places. Through the Internet, parties apparently acting on behalf of GOP candidates, have sent out misinformation about voting eligibility and poll locations.

"The DNC has opposed those efforts at every step, and we are prepared to hit them where it hurts – the voting booth,” said Perez. 

Democrats have also not shown up in the voting booth in recent nonpresidential elections. In the most recent midterm elections, in 2014, 47 million fewer people voted than in 2012, when President Barack Obama was re-elected. That poor turnout allowed Republicans to win enough Congressional seats to retain control of the House and Senate.
AAPI voters lean heavily towards the Democrats in recent elections and the 2016 elections saw the AAPI vote overwhelmingly Democratic. 
Four out of five (79%) of Asian Americans polled voted for Hillary Clinton, 18% voted for Donald Trump, and 2% voted for another candidate. Of those surveyed, 59% were enrolled in the Democratic Party and 11% were enrolled in the Republican Party. More than a quarter of those polled (27%) were not enrolled in any political party, while 3% were enrolled in another party, according to a 2017 report by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

“Our first Commit to Vote program translates activism and marches into committing to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot this November and is designed to reach voters and communities across the country with new innovative tools and technologies, key partnerships, and online and on-the-ground organizing strategies. In partnership with our state parties and partners, the DNC will reach 50 million voters this year.”

In 2017, Democrat efforts to rally voters have made a difference in special elections. In Virginia, the mobilization drive saw a Democratic governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general elected and flipped 15 seats in the House of Delegates from red to blue. In Alabama, the state’s first Democratic senator in decades was elected. And since Trump's election, Democrats have flipped 39 state legislative seats, including some in districts that Trump won by double digits. 

The partners in the get-out-the-vote effort emphasizes younger voters and those independent groups that lean towards progressive issues and candidates. The following are some of the initial partners who will support the IWillVote efforts: ASPIRE PAC, Blue Future, BOLD PAC, CBC PAC, Collective PAC, College Democrats of America, Flippable, Future Forum, High School Democrats of America, Latino Victory Fund, Mobilize America, National Conference of Democratic Mayors and Democratic mayors from more than 30 cities, National Democratic Redistricting Committee, PODER PAC, Swing Left, Young Democrats of America.

“ASPIRE PAC is pleased to partner with the DNC’s IWillVote program in engaging AAPI voters and encouraging active participation in the Democratic Party,” said ASPIRE PAC Chair Meng, who represents New York City in Congress. “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest-growing populations in the country, and this program will help ensure that AAPI voices are heard at the polls in the midterm elections.”

'Ugly Delicious' is about the smelly foods many of us grew up with

Celebrity chef David Chang will host the new food and travel show, 'Ugly Delicious.'


ONE OF THE FIRST EPISODES in Fresh Off the Boat showed 12-year old Eddy being embarrassed by his school friends for bringing smelly Asian food from home to eat at lunch.

It was a scene that resonated with many Asian/Americans who have experienced something similar.

Celebrity chef David Chang’s new show Ugly Delicious now on Netflix is an affirmation of all those tasty treats -- smell be damned.

The man behind the popular Momofuku Restaurant Group told the Daily Beast “Getting made fun of for what you eat is one of the crappiest things you can endure,” he says. “Food is one of the last bastions of half-coded racism. Because it seems so harmless. Because everyone says, ‘Oh, it’s just food.’”

RELATED: Read my restaurant reviews on Yelp!
Chang’s Ugly Delcious goes beyond just Asian foods to explore a cross cultural array of cuisine, and not all of it Chang likes.

'Ugly Delicious' will have guest celebrities like Steven Yeun, above,
eating and cooking.
One scene shows him spitting out something he could just not stomach.

At first embarrassed, he’s now glad the camera crew caught that bit of reality.

“I felt so remarkably terrible, but it was positive for me to see because it was, like, this is something that happens for a lot of people — eating something they’re not comfortable with,” he said to EW. “It was humiliating and humbling. I’m glad they captured it. I come off as a f—ing idiot, it was super challenging. The last thing I want to do is come across as disrespectful.”

Ugly Delicious will also feature several Hollywood celebrities joining Chang on his foodie adventures. Among the guests are Aziz Ansari and Ali Wong. During the episode, Wong brought up clean bathrooms.

“I think what Ali was saying is you can still have a very clean bathroom and have great pho but the point is, don’t lose sight on the food itself,” said Chang to the f view, it’s going to look “weird.”

Huff Post ““Rude” service at an Asian restaurant might not mean it’s rude service. It might not just be Western service ― it’s about looking at it in a different light. If you’re looking at things from a Eurocentric point of view, it’s going to look “weird.”


Number of hate groups rise in Trump's first year

The number of U.S. hate groups expanded last year in Donald Trump's first year in office, fueled by his immigration stance and the perception that he sympathized with those espousing white supremacy, the Southern Poverty Law Center said on Wednesday (Feb. 26).

“President Trump in 2017 reflected what white supremacist groups want to see: a country where racism is sanctioned by the highest office, immigrants are given the boot and Muslims banned,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. 
The report seems to indicate that it's not cool to be Klan anymore, but white supremacy is alive and well in the growing “alt-right” movement that embraces a khaki-and-memes aesthetic.
There were 954 hate groups in the country in 2017, marking a 4 percent increase over the previous year when the number rose 2.8 percent, the civil rights watchdog said in its annual census of such groups.

Since 2014, the number has jumped 20 percent, it said.

Among the more than 600 white supremacist groups, neo-Nazi organizations rose to 121 from 99. Anti-Muslim groups increased for a third year in a row, to 114 from 101 in 2016, the report said.

Last year brought “a substantial emboldening of the radical right, and that is largely due to the actions of President Trump, who’s tweeted out hate materials and made light of the threats to our society posed by hate groups,” Beirich told reporters.

It was a year that saw the “alt-right,” the latest incarnation of white supremacy, break through the firewall that for decades kept overt racists largely out of the political and media mainstream.
List of Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim groups
Most of the increase in hate groups was driven in part by a backlash from the Nation of Islam and other fringe black nationalist groups that see Trump as the symbol of the rising white supremacist movement, a powerful reassertion of the same centuries-old racism that has always fueled their desire to break away from white America.

Typified by their anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT, anti-white rhetoric and conspiracy theories, these black nationalist groups should not be confused with activist groups such as Black Lives Matter and others that work for civil rights and to eliminate systemic racism.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan blamed Trump for encouraging a “growing sentiment” to “put the Black, the Brown, the Red back in a place they have cut out for us.”

Not surprisingly, the ranks of black nationalist hate groups – groups that have always been a reaction to white racism – expanded to 233 chapters in 2017, from 193 the previous year.

Aside from hate groups, the SPLC identified 689 active antigovernment groups that comprised the “Patriot” movement in 2017, up from 623. Of these, 273 were armed militias.

Historically, these groups rise during Democratic presidencies out of fear of gun control measures and federal law enforcement action against them. They typically decline under GOP presidencies. This has not been the case under Trump, whose radical views and bigotry may be energizing them in the same way he has invigorated hate groups.
White supremacist groups openly rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
Other highlights of the report include:
  • Trump appointed key administration advisers with ties to the radical right, including Stephen Bannon, the head of Breitbart News who boasted of turning the website into “the platform for the alt-right.” The president thrilled white supremacists with his policy initiatives, such as revving up the country’s deportation machinery and curtailing civil rights enforcement.
  • For the first time, the SPLC added two male supremacy groups to the hate group list: A Voice for Men, based in Houston, and Return of Kings, based in Washington, D.C. The vilification of women by these groups makes them no different than other groups that demean entire populations, such as the LGBT community, Muslims or Jews, based on their inherent characteristics.
  • Reinvigorated white supremacists staged their largest rally in a decade – the demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left an anti-racist counterprotester dead and Trump equivocating over condemning racism. Former Klan boss David Duke called the rally a “turning point” and vowed that white supremacists would “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back.”
  • White supremacist groups ramped up their recruiting of college students. White nationalist leader Richard Spencer – who previously had prompted Nazi salutes from a post-election audience in Washington when he shouted “Hail Trump” – held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial and appeared on college campuses. The SPLC documented some 300 incidents of racist flyers being distributed on more than 200 campuses.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971, defines hate groups as organizations with beliefs or practices that demonize a class of people.
In the past, some groups have criticized the Alabama-based organization’s findings, with skeptics saying it has mislabeled legitimate organizations as “hate groups.”

“When you consider that only days into 2018, Trump called African countries ‘shitholes,’ it’s clear he’s not changing his tune. And that’s music to the ears of white supremacists,” said the SPLC's Beirich.

Report: Hollywood diversity in film, TV slowly inches forwards

“OUR FINDINGS reveal that, regardless of race, audiences want to see diversity on the screen,” said Ana-Christina Ramón, director of research and civic engagement for the Division of Social Sciences, and one of the authors of UCLA's Hollywood Diversitiy Report.
“Our reports have continually shown that diversity sells, but the TV and film product continues to fall short. So audiences are left wanting more representation on screen that reflects the world they see in their daily lives.”

Despite the findings of the report, Hollywood decision makers still think the undeniable success of a movie like The Black Panther, is an anomaly. This type of thinking means Hollywood's trend to truly reflect its audience is moving forward at glacial speed.

The recent report suggests that the industry at large should invest in hiring that is reflective of the U.S. population, which is nearly 40 percent minority and at least 50 percent female. The fifth annual report was published today (Feb. 27).

"There is still a long way to go before women or people of color reach proportionate representation among the actors in film and television, but at least the trend lines for both groups point in the right direction," the report added.

Gains were primarily confined to digital scripted shows for female leads, broadcast television for leads, and show creators of color. The report emphasized that positive trends for women and minorities in film were much less pronounced.

The disparity extended to behind the camera also. Minorities made up 12.6 percent of film directors for the movies in the report; and minorities made up just 8.1 percent and women only 13.8 percent of writers of those movies.

The report also includes a preliminary analysis of gender and racial diversity among 2017–18 television programs. Actors of color claimed 28 percent of the lead roles for new scripted shows in broadcast, cable and digital, but women lost ground in acting roles. And there were fewer women or people of color among TV show creators compared to the 2015–16 season, the report found.
“Unfortunately, the industry has been much slower to accept the related truth that its success in providing today’s (and tomorrow’s) audiences with what they crave also hinges on the presence of diverse talent behind the camera — in the director’s chair, in the writers’ room, and in executive suites,” the report said. “The resulting missed opportunities, this report series has documented, are not good for Hollywood’s bottom line.”

Even as the report demonstrates audiences’ preference for films and TV shows with diverse casts, it paints a picture of an industry slow to correct its own gender and racial disparities and biases. The level of representation for women and minorities mostly improved from 2015 to 2016 — especially in acting roles in film and cable shows — but their numbers remained stagnant in some areas and declined in others.

Among viewers in Asian, Black and Latino households, the majority of the top 10 broadcast scripted shows featured casts that were at least 21 percent minority. In white households, half of the top rated shows boasted at least 21 percent minority casts. The same held true for scripted shows on cable.

Black actors held 12.5 percent of film roles, 17 percent of roles in broadcast scripted shows and 13.3 percent of roles in cable scripted shows analyzed by the report — figures that are generally in line with the African/American population in the U.S. overall. But all other minority groups were underrepresented.

Despite the presence of shows like Fresh Off the Boat, Master of None, Andi Mack and Into the Badlands, in the overall industry giving AAPI actors a host of opportunities, they still represent just a drop in the bucket. These shows and the sprinkling of AAPI actors in other shows indicate that some progress in casting, writing and producing is being made but it still doesn't match the the diversity of the audience.

Whether or not The Black Panther's success will be a cultural milestone that changes Hollywood's thinking or in typical Hollywood fashion, produce a bunch of copycat projects, thus produce real change, remains to be seen.
Taken as a whole, the study confirms that from a business standpoint, Hollywood executives are leaving money on the table when they don’t produce movies and television with diverse casts and creators.

Drive to change San Francisco street named after anti-Asian politician

James Phelan ran for U.S. Senator with an anti-Asian message.


FORMER SAN FRANCISCO Mayor James Phelan left a racist legacy for opposing Asian immigration and speaking about a “yellow peril.”
A street bearing the mayor’s family name runs by City College of San Francisco and into a residential neighborhood.

Supervisor Norman Yee is now pushing for a name change and is seeking input from the neighborhood as well as City College, which had independently also taken up the idea,” reports the San Francisco Examiner.

Yee says once there is consensus, he will bring the proposed new name to the Board of Supervisors.

Does a racist deserve a street named after him?
Phelan Avenue is actually named for the mayor’s father, but many feel the association is enough to strip the family of the honor of a street name.

“At a time when the country is rethinking who deserves to have statues and parks named after them, having a “street that an institution like City College is on named after someone whose family left a legacy of racism, doesn’t reflect [our] values,” City College English professor Alisa Messner told the Examiner.

According to the SF Weekly, names under consideration include Chinese/American historian and activist Him Mark Lai; African/American dancer and writer Thelma Johnson Streat; the Muwekma Ohlone tribe that first settled the region; or just “Freedom.”

Phelan ran the city from 1897 until 1902. He also ran for the Senate using the slogan “keep California White.”

He was also quoted as saying “California is a White man’s country, and the two races cannot live side by side in peace, and inasmuch as we discovered the country first and occupied it, we propose to hold it against either a peaceful or a war-like invasion.”

Monday, February 26, 2018

Supreme Court rejects Trump attempt to circumvent court process over DACA

THIS IS A GOOD MORNING! The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning (Feb. 26) that DACA will remain in effect. Donald Trump's arbitrary deadline of March 5 is thus null and void.

Time to celebrate? Yes! But then it is back to work. The fight over the legality of the Obama-era Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program isn't over.

The High Court turned down an attempt by the Trump administration to skip over the appeals process and go directly to the Justices to keep the March 5 deadline in effect.

By rejecting that effort, the case goes back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals where the legal process could take up months before a verdict is rendered. It could be year before  the Department of Justice can reappeal to the Supreme Court, where the conservative justices still hold the majority.

Massachusetts Attorney General Erick Schneiderman issued this Tweet:

In the meantime, the 700,000 to 800,000 DACA participants, young people who were brought into the U.S. by their undocumented parents, can breathe a sigh of relief. The month of March won't be the end of their world, after all.

The vast majority of DACA recipients are from Mexico. But there are also thousands of people from China, India, South Korea and the Philippines who would lose their protection and may be deported.

The SCOTUS ruling allows Dreamers to continue to renew their DACA status but new applications are still not being accepted.

Trump's administration had taken the unusual step of appealing directly to the U.S. Supreme Court a January 9 nationwide injunction by San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who ruled that the DACA program must remain in place while the litigation is resolved.

Alsup ruled that the challengers, including the states of California, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota and Obama's former homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano, were likely to succeed in arguing that the administration's decision to end DACA was arbitrary.

In issuing his temporary order, which extends the DACA protection while the lawsuit goes forward, Alsup said the "public interest" would be served by keeping the program in place. The judge pointed to Trump tweets that suggested he actually supported DACA. A September tweet read: "Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really! ... ."

Alsup wrote: "We seem to be in the unusual position wherein the ultimate authority over the agency, the chief executive, publicly favors the very program the agency has ended."

On February 13, a second US judge issued a similar injunction ordering the Trump administration to keep DACA in place. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn ruled in a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs including a group of states led by New York.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah issued the following statement after the Supreme Court’s decision:

The DACA program — which provides work permits and myriad government benefits to illegal immigrants en masse — is clearly unlawful. The district judge’s decision unilaterally to re-impose a program that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected is a usurpation of legislative authority. The fact that this occurs at a time when elected representatives in Congress are actively debating this policy only underscores that the district judge has unwisely intervened in the legislative process. We look forward to having this case expeditiously heard by the appeals court and, if necessary, the Supreme Court, where we fully expect to prevail.
The SCOTUS action leaves open the possibility that the justices could consider the San Francisco case after the 9th Circuit appeals court hears it.

Trump repealed Obama's executive order creating the DACA program last September hoping that Congress would find a legislative solution to the Dreamers situation and gave the U.S. Senate until March 5 to fix it.

Congress was unable to find a bipartisan solution and found itself mired in the broader question of immigration reform. They left the DACA question unresolved by rejecting two bipartisan proposals, a conservative counterproposal and Trump's own immigration reform plan before they recessed for a week. They return this week to renew the debate.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told reporters earlier this month that the March 5 deadline was “not as important as it was before, given the court rulings.” However, he said, “I think this place works better with deadlines, and we want to operate on deadlines.”

2018 Winter Olympics: Final thoughts on the Asian American athletes

Figure skater Karen Chen, center, poses with Alex and Maia Shibutani.

THE SIGHT of so many Asian/American athletes representing the United States at the Olympics should have an impact for years to come.

Hopefully, Americans and mainstream media learned some lessons along the way to PyongChang, South Korea where the Olympics were held this last two weeks.

The view of what an "American" looks like took a hit but not without creating a few "opps" moments by those reporting on the Olympics. 

The winter sports athletes are still overwhelmingly white but this year, there are signs that  Team USA is inching towards diversity. Nonwhite athletes (11 black Olympians and 12 Asian/American Olympians) account for just under 9 percent of the American team, There are also 108 women, about 45 percent of the team and two openly gay malle athletes, according to team data. That might not sound like much but it's a great improvement from four years ago.

That might not wound like much, but it is still an improvement over past teams and should be noted as a step forward, no matter how small.

Winter sports have been dominated by European countries where most of the sports originated. That tradition and the fact that the cost and isolated locations of the venues have further separated the sports from much of America. 

“I think it sends out a strong message when there is a team that has a good cross-section of ethnicities,” Elana Meyers Taylor, a 2014 Olympic silver medalist in bobsled, told USA TODAY. “If there is a child watching and they don’t see anyone that looks like them, it creates a little mental barrier.”

Seeing the Asian/American skaters and snowboarders during the Winter Olympics will inspire some young people to compete in those sports.

Mirai Nagasu right after she did her history-making triple axel.
When figure skater Mirai Nagasu did her historic triple axel, something no other American female skater has ever done, New York Times writer Bari Weiss couldn't help but celebrate on Twitter. Retweeting a video of Nagasu’s jump, Weiss wrote in a now-deleted tweet: “Immigrants: They get the job done.”

People were quick to point out that the 18-year old was born and raised in California, a child of immigrants. Critics said that Weiss  was falling into the trap of most Americans by "othering" Nagasu because Asian/Americans are seen as perpetual foreigners, no matter how many generations they are removed from their immigrant ancestors.

Nagasu was also central to mini-controversy when she finished her long program in figure skating, an even where she finished a disappointing 10th. She gave a press conference in which she said some comments that were interpreted as belittling her teammates when competing in skating's team competition.

“I would like to be on Dancing With the Stars because I want to be a star,” Nagasu, who stuck her triple axel in the team event, said. “I made history here by landing the first triple axel for a U.S. lady at the Olympics so I think that is a big deal. I hope I get more opportunities to let my personality just shine.

“It’s been a long three weeks, and we got here and got to walk in the opening ceremonies and then I saved the team event, with Adam (Rippon) and the Shibutanis,” Nagasu said. “We were about to lose our medals so today I put my medal in my pocket and said ‘Mirai you have done your job already and this is all just icing.’

Later, she apologized profusely in a People magazine interview.

“I feel really, really awful about the things I said,” she said though tears, according to People. “I feel bad that people think that I was throwing my teammates under the bus because I never wanted to come off that way.

Apparent free spirits Filipino/American snowboarder Hailey Langland and Korean/American gold medal winner Chloe Kim, both 17, reminded everyone what it is like to be an American teenager enjoyed good press for their back stories and accomplishments.

Although Langland failed to qualify for a medal, the experience prepared her for the upcoming World Championships and she's young enough to get ready for the 2012 Olympics in Beijing, China as she noted in her Twitter account"
haileylanglandMy 2018 #Olympics journey is officially over. So happy to have come out to Pyeongchang and competed with the best girls in the biz. Another huge thanks to all my friends, family, and sponsors who supported me. Maybe I will be lucky enough to return in 4 years for some redemption. 
Hailey's pal Chloe Kim has exploded onto the American consciousness with her gold medal run in the halfpipe snowboarding competition. She's on the cover of Sports Illustrated and was interviewed on the Jimmy KImmel show.
Except for speedskater JR Celski and ice dancer Madison Chock, both of whom are in their mid-20s, all the other Asian/American athletes are all so young including, ice dance bronze medalists Alex and Maia Shibutani, figure skater Karen Chen, 18, 17 men's figure skaters Nathan Chen, 18, and Vincent Zhou, 17 should be contending for a medal, speedskaters Aaron Tran, 17 and Thomas Hong, 20. They all could possibly return along with Kim, Langland and Nagasu four years from now in Beijing.

Tran posted on Instagram:
  • aarontran96My first Winter Olympic Games, Pyeongchang 2018, has been a life-changing experience for me in such an enormous number of ways. It has opened many doors for me and I will use this opportunity to propel myself forward and to best set myself up to become the best I can be, mentally and physically, in the next Games to come! #pyeongchang2018#TeamUSA #beijing2022
Team USA's efforts to get the best athletes to compete in the winter sports means the sports federations will have to reach out to the rest of America. America in turn, may have to change their definition of what an "American" looks like.

Representation does matter. Many of the Asian/American skaters on today's team say they were inspired by seeing Tai Babilonia, Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan and Apolo Ono compete on the ice.

"Seeing someone like you who's accomplishing things that you aspire to, means a lot," says Yaamaguchi, whose own role model was Tiffany Chin, who skated in the 1984 Olympics.

Somewhere in the U.S., there may be a young girl or boy who watched the 12 Asian/American Olympians, who said to himself, "Hey, that could be me."

CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this post confused a lutz with an axel.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cal State Fullerton establishes an Asian American Studies Department


CAL STATE FULLERTON President Fram Virjee has signed a proposal passed by the Academic Senate to make the University’s Asian American Studies program into a full fledged department.

The program this month joined the ranks of the departments of Chicana and Chicano Studies, American Indian Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies.

It has been a long road. But the journey has been impressive.

Asian American Studies Coordinator, Eliza Noh, Ph.D., told AsAmNews that the Program has always practically functioned as a department. Focusing on issues of social justice for all, the Asian American Studies Department at CSUF aimed to foster knowledge and teaching while serving the Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.

In the mid-1990s, “Ellen Junn (currently serving as President of CSU Stanislaus) wrote an initial proposal for a minor in Asian American Studies in collaboration with Dean Don Castro,” said retired Professor Emeritus Craig Ihara in an interview with AsAmNews.

“Having a full-fledged department is something like becoming a first-class citizen,” he jokes.

Ihara was one of the first faculty to support the program — along with Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies, Art Hansen, and Professor of Communications, Jeffrey Brody, among others — and served as the program’s coordinator for ten years. Thomas Fujita-Rony, Ph.D. was hired as the Program’s first full-time faculty member.

“I was eager to help establish such a program because of my own Japanese American heritage,” said Ihara. “I was sure that preserving the history of Asians in American would be something my mother and grandmother would approve of.

“Attaining departmental status was always our goal.”

Asian/American students at CSUF were right behind that objective. A group of students shared their passions and gathered in the Student Academic Services to study the history of Asian American Studies in 1994-95. Student-activist Traci Kiriyama led the students in advocating for an Asian American Studies program and became the burgeoning program’s first graduate, receiving a minor in ASAM in 1996.

Noh notes that all of the Asian American Studies Department faculty are now tenured. After the university provided a clearer policy statement on steps to establish a department, Gender and Women’s Studies became the latest program to become a department last year. This put into gear the collaborative decision-making coordination that the Asian American Studies faculty practice, says Noh.

“I feel like there is a big symbolic meaning in changing our status to a department,” Noh told AsAmNews. “It shows that the university is committed to Asian American Studies as more than just a program and demonstrates a far greater commitment to diversity.”

But Asians at CSUF, like at other campuses around the United States, also face challenges. from overcoming classic stereotypes and prejudice.

“There are continuing stereotypes of Asians being the so-called ‘model minority’ not in need of any educational need,” said Noh. “But that’s the reason why we exist: to create a more accurate picture of our diversity.”

While there is much to look forward to, the new department faces more challenges.

At the time of this writing, over 5,000 CSUF students and faculty have signed onto a petition asking CSU Chancellor to rescind the revised Executive Order 1100 which was signed in August 2017. This Executive Order took out the requisite world civilization and cultures course and eliminated many general education requirements, sparking an outcry among university’s faculty for denying CSUF students an opportunity for “education based on cultural competency and respect for diversity.” The California State University, Northridge Faculty Senate even voted not to comply with the order.

The Daily Titan, CSUF’s student newspaper, on the other hand, has praised the changes as beneficial for students wishing to graduate quicker.

Requests for comment from CSUF President Fram Virjee on the Executive Order went unanswered.

Noh is unfazed and more determined. Part of it stems from the overwhelming support the Asian American Studies program has received both from the university body and community partners in its transition from a program to a department.

“Having departmental status is not the end goal,” she says. “We are always in the process of making Asian American Studies a more integrated liberal studies discipline. So even though we are a department now just as a few CSU executive orders are paring down general education requirements and making it even more difficult, there is a continuing effort to expand Asian American Studies.

California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) is a public research university home to about 40,000 students. The university’s Institutional Research and Analytical Studies department notes that for the fall 2017 semester, about 20.5% of the student body, or 8,291 students, was Asian. In fact, Asian students were statistically tied with the school’s White population and second only to Hispanics.

Interest in the school’s 22-year-old Asian American Studies Program within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences has been steadily rising within and beyond the school’s Asian American community. The program has gradually evolved as well.

If the program’s long history has taught one lesson, it is that both Asian American Studies faculty and students will be up for the challenges.

Sunday Read: Schools see rise in racial harassment in Trump's first year as president

EXPERTS AND OFFICIALS will hesitate to say this outright, but I'll say it: Donald Trump is the reason for the rise in racial harassment in our nation's schools.

Data released to Huffington Post by the U.S. Department of Education's civil rights division saw a significant increase in the number of complaints it received regarding racial harassment in schools in 2017, the first year of Trump's administration.

The increase represents the biggest rise of racial harassment since at least 2009, the earliest consecutive year for which we could find publicly reported numbers in this category, according to the data.

The OCR data basically reflects several other reports -- all showing a increase in hate crimes and racial incidents, especially acts directed at Muslim and Asian/American students.

Similar studies from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the South Asian American Leading Together (SAALT), Congress of American and Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the ACLU attribute the spike in hate crimes and incidents to emboldened white supremacists who believe Trumps apparent attacks against Mexicans, Muslims and other people of color and other marginal groups makes it OK to openly unleash their prejudices.

In a nationawide survey of10,000 educators after the 2016 election, 90% of whom are teachers, by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, it was found that there were more than 2,500 reports of "negative incidents" of bigotry and harassment that can be directly tied to the rhetoric of the presidential campaign, according to the report, entitled "After Election Day: The Trump Effect."

These incidents include posting graffiti such as swastikas and comments by students saying something along the lines of, "Better pack your bags. You're going to be deported," said Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance.

Zoe Savitsky, deputy legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, pointed to the numbers as evidence that the Trump administration is creating a toxic national environment that is in turn affecting schools. 

Catherine Lhamon, who ran OCR during the Obama administration, said she could not speculate on the reasons for this increase, but pointed to outside data showing a surge in hate crimes nationally.

“Our schools are places that encapsulate and reflect the national climate as well,” said Lhamon, who is now chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. “It is distressingly unsurprising that there might be an uptick in racial harassment complaints coming to OCR.”

The record number of complaints come at a time when the OCR's work is being scaled back by order of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Despite the environment of hate incidents in and outside of school, the Education Department said it wants to narrow the scope of the Office for Civil Rights’ investigations, the Associated Press reported in October after obtaining a department document. 

During the Obama administration, OCR would investigate individual complaints while also considering whether there was a systemic problem at the school or school district. Under the proposed changes, the department said it would remove the word “systemic” from guidelines and instead focus on individual complaints. The AP reported that another revision of the OCR’s work would let schools negotiate with the department before parents see any of the department’s findings.

The majority of the racial incidents have been in the form of vandalism, verbal assaults and other forms of bullying. 

Although only 17 percent of Asian/American students report being bullied at school—the lowest number for any racial group—more bullied Asian Americans (11.1 percent) report being targeted for their race than Whites (2.8 percent), African Americans (7.1 percent) or Latinos (6.2 percent), according to the American Psychological Association.One study found that among middle and high school Asian American students, 17 percent experienced violence through weapons or the threat of weapons at least once in the past year.

Certain factors make particular Asian/American students more vulnerable to harassment. Some may be targeted for being immigrants. More recent generations experience higher rates of bullying than 3rd generation students. Having difficulty speaking English or speaking with an accent can also increase the risk for bullying.

Others are antagonized for their religion or dress, such as Sikh students who wear turbans to school, according to the Obama White House. One study found that over two-thirds of Sikh students in Fresno, California experience harassment.

Students who suffer harassment may feel unsafe in the classroom, which can impair their ability to learn. Bullied students suffer from more physical and mental health disorders, higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, and lower school and later career performance.

In an article for American Psychology Association, regional studies found:

  • Among Korean-American high school students in New York and New Jersey, 31.5 percent reported being bullied and 15.9 percent reported being aggressive victims (being bullied and bullying others). These students experienced higher levels of depression.

  • A survey of more than 1,300 6th graders in California schools with predominantly Latino or Asian/American students found that Asian/Americans were the most frequently victimized ethnic group regardless of a school's racial composition.

  • Asian/American, Latino & African-American students at one multiethnic public school in NYC, Asian/American students described students verbal harassment (e.g., racial slurs, being mocked, teased) and physical victimization (e.g., being randomly slapped in hallways, physically threatened, punched, having possessions stolen) more than other racial groups.

  • Chinese/American middle school students in Boston reported frequently experiencing race-based verbal and physical harassment by non-Asian peers. Harassing comments typically focused on Asian languages or accents, school performance and physical appearance. Boys more frequently reported physical harassment. Girls reported witnessing physical aggression toward Chinese-American boys.11

When asked by HuffPost for a comment, a Department of Education spokesperson did not respond.

(AsAm News contributed to this report.)