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Our company throws lavish holiday parties every year. Last year there was a full-on carnival, with popcorn, booths, stuffed animals and spray-on tattoos. The buskers didn't care if you cheated and everything was free. It was a good time. But they've just announced the theme for this year's party: Exploring the Forbidden City. I got real nervous. My anxiety was only confirmed today, when a conversation started on our internal messages board about what to wear to the party. One person said they'd dress as Willie from the Temple of Doom, or perhaps Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill.
There were several articles in Bay Area papers recently about Sikh Americans. The first was a blasé piece about Sikhs continuing to be harassed after 9.11. I wasn’t sure exactly what the news hook on this story was, but it had one really gnarly quote that drove the point home for me. Sikhs from the Fremont’s gurdwara traveled to the Gulf Coast to provide Katrina relief and were met with some ignorance: “We asked if they knew who we are,” Ram Singh recalled with a sigh. “Almost everyone said, ‘You're from the Middle East and are here for the oil.’”
There was also a Sikh protest against the French ban on wearing turbans at the French consulate. The French ambassador was in town and Bay Area Sikhs took the opportunity to voice their strong opinions on the issue, which the French see as a part of their traditional upholding of secularism.
This protest made me wonder about whether there are any Asians involved in the riots in France, which are going on 10 days now. Most stories I’ve read focus on the Afro-French population, but the continuing Sikh protests allude to a South Asian population. Has anyone seen anything or know anything about this? A quick search brought me to an interesting article about the Bhangra scene in France. Also, Radikha Jha’s not-so-good novel is about South Asian refugees in France, but I am curious to see reporting regarding other marginalized peoples in France.
On Halloween night, I went to San Francisco's Castro neighborhood, which is a SF tradition. On that night thousands of people converge on the city's favorite gay neighborhood, including lots of people who don't usually step foot there (let alone in any of SF really) otherwise. I had not been to the Castro on Halloween in 4 years. I was actually there to be an extra on a friend's friend's friend's movie. (His movie takes place on Halloween.) Honestly, I'm not sure what the attraction is with the Castro on Halloween. I'm all for people watching, but walking around in a big crowd of people who are just, um, walking around, is not very exciting, even if they are in costume.
Erin May Ling Quill's explanation for why there are no Asian Americans on TV and in the movies is making the rounds on the Internet. No great bombshells, but she's someone on the inside and sheds some light on how Hollywood works.
No piece, no peace, hook a brother up.
Last Saturday I went to a very San Francisco occurence- the Exotic Erotic Ball. It's conveniently placed just before Halloween so people are already in a costume mindset and with enough time after Burningman for people to have found treatment for whatever they've picked up out there. Being that this is San Francisco, though, I imagine this event could happen anytime of year and the markers would just change to being between Folsom Street Fair/Cinco de Mayo/Pride/any other excuse to dress up and be seen. Personally, being rather vanilla (and lazy), all three of these time markers pass me by without much notice, but this time around, as is my usual excuse, I was part of the entertainment/background, playing with the SF Samba School, so I just had to stick around to check out the event I would have otherwise not attended.
Our friends at the Asian American Theater Company have got some events coming up you should check out. First, on Saturday November 5th, is Sweet, a fundraiser with wine, chocolate and theater. (Sounds like a good combination to me.) The party starts at 6 and goes on til 4 am.
Also, running November 3-20 is the world premiere of Banyan by Jeannie Barroga. AATC describes Banyan as a modern-day variation on the Wizard of Oz, incorporating Pilipino fantasy, folklore and humor.
Want to go to both? You can get a discount on entry to both events for $50 (saves you $15). We've got the secret password for you. Just enter the code "Sweet" when you purchase tickets online. (Click on the links above to find out more and buy tickets.)
Graduate students at Yale are protesting what they say is discrimination against Chinese graduate students at the University. Xuemei Han, 26, is at the center of this particular protest, saying that her "imperfect English" is the real reason behind her department asking her to leave.
It seems like debate and controversy about Asian graduate students and their English skills have been a hot topic for years. There was a great post on South Asian issues blog Sepia Mutiny back in June that I thought was a good perspective on the issue.
I would be really interested to find an Asian American student who is interacting with an international Asian graduate student. Do they have the same issues? Most of the students who complain seem to be Anglo students -- check out the all-American girl in the NY Times article who complained about her prof at Berkeley. Now, how many Asian American students were there in her same class? Did they have the same problems? Are Asian American students or immigrant-family students better at deciphering accents?