Here's some English-only b.s. coming out of the Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana:
Cousins Hue and Cindy Vo, co-valedictorians at Ellender High School, apparently gave a part of their graduation speeches in Vietnamese. Now the school district is considering whether all commencement speeches should be in English only.
Instead of being proud that their students know another language, they want to put a stop to this? Aren't there other things they should be worried about?
Here's what one school board member told the Associated Press: '''I don't like them addressing in a foreign language. They should be in English.'''
Catch a screening of "Freedom Fighters" at the Manilatown Heritage Foundation in San Francisco tonight (located on the first floor of the new I-Hotel).
The film is made by a friend of mine, Wayie Ly, and it's a work in progress. Here's a description of the film:
"'Freedom Fighters' is a documentary that focuses on the influences and inspirations of two courageous women, 87 year-old Yuri Kochiyama and 68 year-old Kiilu Nyasha, as well as the intersections of both their lives with such notables as Malcolm X and Mumia Abu Jamal. The images and audio weave together a story that tells of the issues that both Yuri and Kiilu feel are most relevant today, such as the case of Mumia Abu Jamal and the war at home and abroad. The story highlights these two courageous women who have tirelessly given of themselves to the struggle for true democracy, and human rights for all."
It also sounds like Yuri Kochiyama, who recently turned 87, will be in attendance. A great chance to check out the Manilatown Heritage Foundation and new I-Hotel if you haven't been there already, a new documentary, and to meet Yuri Kochiyama.
When I found out that mixed folks are the least likely to find a match for bone marrow donations, I was overcome with a few thoughts. First, I became instantly appreciative of having two sisters who are also British and Pakistani. Second, I thought I should go on a quest seeking out British/Pakistani folks and be extra nice to them just in case I ever needed a donor. Third, I got really angry that there were so few mixed folks and people of color on the national registry of donors -- the likelihood of finding a match is connected to your ethno-geographic background.
Then I decided to do something about it. I registered to become a donor at the 2005 Mixed Heritage Week at UC Davis. So far I'm not a match for anyone, but at the end of every year, the national registry sends me a nice letter to my parent's house, checking that my contact info is still the same.
Three years after becoming a donor, I ended up at the CBS 5 and The CW 44/Cable 12 reception for Asian Pacific History Month, honoring the Asian American Donor Program for their dedication to increasing the number of APIAs on the bone marrow donor registry. It was so exciting to be at an event honoring the same people who raised my awareness and signed me up as a donor. It was also a good reminder that there is a lot of work to be done.
When Jonathan Leong accepted the award on behalf of AADP, he walked up to the podium with an 8-year-old boy who was looking for a match. As Jonathan put it, they are trying to find matches for people who need a transplant "like yesterday." He apologized that Yul Kwon couldn’t attend the reception. Yul Kwon has become the poster boy for raising awareness since the passing of a good friend that never found a match.
Right now, folks like Michelle Maykin are waiting for a bone marrow transplant. She needs to find a match by June 21, 2008 - less than a month from now -- and her best bet is someone who is Thai and Vietnamese.
Hollywood Chinese, by award-winning documentary filmmaker Arthur Dong, opens in the Los Angeles area and New York City theaters today. Go check it out. We posted about it when it opened in the San Francisco Bay Area. I also interviewed Arthur Dong for the local paper, the Oakland Tribune.
It's great to see documentaries take over the big screen. I read in a recent edition of the Films Arts magazine that documentaries have gained more mainstream appeal since films like "Fahrenheit 9/11," "Supersize Me" and "An Inconvenient Truth" came out.
Still, they are a labor of love -- most documentary filmmakers are not out to make big Hollywood bucks. So please let's continue this trend of supporting documentaries on the big screen. An Asian American one, at that! I think you'll enjoy the film.
The film plays at the following theaters:
Yuri speaking at anti-war demonstration and rally in Central Park (circa 1968). Photo courtesy of the Kochiyama Family and "Passing It On," by Yuri Kochiyama (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 2004).
I know Harry already posted a birthday wish to Yuri, but I wanted to talk about what it was like interviewing Yuri Kochiyama, the social justice activist who knew Malcolm X and was there when he died. Interviewing Yuri was one of the highlights of my year so far.
I've known about Yuri Kochiyama -- her name is always thrown around in Asian American/progressive circles, usually in a "we look up to Yuri" sort of way -- but learned a lot of new things during my research and interview.
The more I learn about her, the more I am amazed at her life and realize just what makes her so unique.
The Tule Lake Pilgrimage 2008 is now taking applications, due May 31. This year, the pilgrimage takes place July 3-6.
Tule Lake was one of 10 internment camps during WWII that held a total of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans, the majority of whom were United States citizens (the first generation, Issei, were not allowed to become citizens at the time).
Tule Lake is in far Northern California near Oregon and held many of the "no, no" boys -- those who answered "no" to two confusing questions and then deemed potential enemies of the U.S.
The theme this year is to learn more about the largely unknown Segregation Center at Tule Lake, which held 12,000 of those deemed disloyal by the U.S. government. During the war, Japanese Americans were also asked to renounce their U.S. citizenship; the vast majority of those who did were incarcerated at Tule Lake.
I am always amazed when I meet people who say they had never heard of Japanese American internment during WWII until recently. Many of these folks are either white and/or grew up outside of California. And even if we think we've read/learned a lot about the topic, there're still more untold stories that need to be heard.
That's a pic of my baby doing the Asian squat, which he learned pretty much as soon as he gained neck control. And check it out, he can cook stir-fry in a wok too!
In all seriousness, I promised to myself that I would take the time to write something on Mother's Day.
It is funny to say now that I am officially a receiver of the greeting "Happy Mother's Day." Being a mama is a very new part of my identity. I don't remember what I did last year on Mother's Day, but I'm pretty sure I was still adjusting to taking care of a newborn (Baby T was about 2 months then). Plus, those early early days are a blur now.
Photo by Ari Simphoukham
I have been meaning to blog about last week's student actions in response to the recent agreement signed between the U.S. and Vietnam, allowing for thousands of folks currently living here to be deported.
Here's a story in the Daily Bruin about last week's student demonstrations, which included UCLA, UCSD, UC Davis, and other campuses.
According to Rhummanee Hang, a Cambodian American student at UC Davis who's a member of Southeast Asians Making Immediate Change (SEAMIC), last Wednesday's demonstration at her campus had a turnout of 200. There was a march, speakers and performers, spoken word artists, emcees, dancers, and signing of postcards to representatives.
This is how she explained, in an email, why students, particularly Southeast Asian students, are speaking up against the pact:
"Southeast Asians came to the United States as a result of the wars in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos). Many of the 1.5 generation are the ones at risk of getting deported because of these policies. They came here when they were very young, grew up in this country, and their lifestyle, their way of thinking and being is very "American". Many of these people are not fluent in their native language and know little about the country where they were born. To send them back to a country that they are unfamiliar with and are still suffering from the affects of the war is unfair.
The current policies itself are unfair, because it offers no second chance. There is no due process for nationals who sign their rights away. But there are numerous reasons for why they might do that. Because this affects my community, I feel it is important. We speak up because they can't do it themselves."
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!