With the Nevada Caucus quickly approaching next month, numerous political groups are stepping it up in hopes of engaging voters across the state. That’s why the Asian American Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus hosted a mock caucus Monday night at the Divine Dosa and Biryani India restaurant.
It was the first time the Asian arm of the Nevada Democratic Party hosted such an event. Kris Parikh, the owner of Divine Dosa and Biryani, knows that, just as cooking is a team effort, so is making a difference at the ballot box.
“Get everyone involved, and make Nevada stronger,” Parikh said.
Parikh is one of the thousands of Asian Americans in Las Vegas, and he’s ready to make his voice heard in 2020.
“There has to be a community outreach from the right people, and then someone like me has to get involved,” Parikh said.
The Asian American Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus of Nevada held the mock caucus to teach the community about the process.
“The conversation is changing,” according to Radhika Kunnel, Asian American Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus of Nevada.
Kunnel, with the AAPIDC, says Asians usually shy away from politics, but with them making up around 10 percent of Nevada’s population, their involvement could tip the scales.
“If we want our issues to be represented, if we want our children and our grandchildren to be heard, and we want their issues to be represented, this is the time to talk,” Kunnel said.
“You want to matter as a community,” said Sonny Vinuya, the president of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce.
Asian leadership across the valley says, regardless of a political party, education is key.
“There is still a big part of Asians that do not go out to vote, and a lot of it is probably because they don’t know the process,” said Vinuya.
Parikh says the right knowledge leads to the power to participate.
Awkwafina is enjoying a hell of an 18-month run, as are film and TV projects with Asian-American leads and creators. The rapper/actor was asked Tuesday at the Television Critics Association press tour to reflect on the previously marginalized group’s recent progress, which includes projects like her new Comedy Central series “Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens.”
Now 31, Awkwafina, whose real name is Nora Lum, remembered being school-aged when Margaret Cho’s groundbreaking sitcom “All-American Girl” came out in 1994.
“I remember that being an event,” Awkwafina said. “That was the representation that I had — and it was a big moment.”
“When you look at the progress we’ve made since then, it’s been incredible, but I think that these shows still kind of stick out as very genre-specific Asian-American shows,” Awkwafina told critics and reporters in attendance. “But I think that slowly and slowly, as these shows become more ingrained as American — as we are — they’ll start to flow out of the genre and [be considered] more broadly.”
Unfortunately, Cho’s “All-American” girl only lasted one 19-episode season. No matter what, “Nora” will beat that.
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) — U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday sent a congratulatory message for Korean American Day, noting the contributions Korean Americans have made to the country, the South Korean consulate in Los Angeles said.
In 2005, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution to commemorate Jan. 13 as the day the first wave of Korean immigrants arrived in Hawaii in 1903 to work on sugarcane plantations.
“Our country is continuously enriched by the contributions of Korean Americans,” Trump wrote in the letter. “You are integral parts of our communities and our great American story, bolstering our roaring economy, strong national defense, and public service.”
The letter was apparently penned for a celebration to be held Tuesday at the Rayburn House Office Building of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington.
“Today’s event is an opportunity to acknowledge the significant impact Korean Americans have on our Nation, while also reaffirming our commitment to strengthening the bond of friendship between our two countries and continuing to foster a culture of deeper understanding and respect,” Trump wrote, adding that first lady Melania joins him in wishing a “joyous” Korean American Day.
This image, provided by the South Korean consulate in Los Angeles, shows a letter written by U.S. President Donald Trump on the occasion of Korean American Day, Jan. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)
At the end of 2018, I looked back on my favorite first-time reads for the year was struck by something interesting. Four out of seven of them were written by authors of Asian descent: Elif Batuman (The Idiot), Aja Gabel (The Ensemble), Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go), and Weike Wang (Chemistry).
Although I’m Asian American myself, I’d never deliberately set out to read more Asian American authors—I simply read what piqued my interest. So when I realized these four books—two of which had just come out earlier in the year—had risen organically to the top of my list, I couldn’t help but get excited. Look at all the Asian American authors out there and look at all the people who are reading them.
That’s when I also decided that I really should read more Asian American authors, especially in the genres that are closest to my heart: young adult and contemporary adult fiction. Right then, I resolved not only to read, but also to write about, listen to, think about, and even talk to more Asian American authors during 2019.
And what a rewarding journey it’s been. Here are a few things I’ve learned about myself, the authors, and the industry.
ELECTRIFYING MOMENTS OF RECOGNITION
I’ve always loved fiction because recognizing myself in well-drawn characters makes me feel less alone. Because so many of these Asian American authors’ stories include characters who are similar to the authors themselves, I found myself identifying with even more of their experiences. Even the most ordinary details were thrilling to read—like the distinctive experience of tasting mooi, a Chinese preserved salted plum that Stacey Lee writes about in Outrun the Moon: “The mooi sets off all the water sprinklers in my mouth, sour and salty all at once.”
Then there were the stories that addressed some of the emotional complexities that come with the feeling of cultural otherness. YA authors David Yoon (Frankly in Love) and Misa Sugiura (It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, This Time It Will Be Different) capture the sensation of being an Asian American teen and wishing for a “normal” life, then feeling guilty for feeling that way. Both authors also tackle a theme all too familiar to many Asian American teens: feeling caught between the unfair racial stereotypes held by their classmates toward them and the unfair racial stereotypes their Asian immigrant parents hold toward their classmates.
The most intriguing Asian American experience I’ve come across in these stories is something that I sense, even if it isn’t always expressed overtly in the story. Sugiura articulated it perfectly in my communications with her for a Book Riot piece I wrote in May 2019: “a lot of East Asian teens feel more closely connected to their white counterparts than their Latinx, Black, and Native classmates.” Her words made me jump out of my seat. She totally gets it.
Author Celeste Ng said something similar when I saw her at her Little Fires Everywhere book signing in Dallas. Ng told us she wanted to explore how Asian Americans fit into racial politics. She was inspired, she said, by feeling “almost White” when she was growing up. Again, I was electrified: “I’m not the only one. This is why I need to read more Asian American authors.”
EXPANDING MY UNDERSTANDING OF ASIAN AMERICAN AUTHORS
At times, I was reminded of the shared experiences between all Asian Pacific American groups. When Khorram’s character, Darius, travels to Iran, his country of origin, and feels like a tourist, everything about it resonated with me. Other times, my eyes were opened to stark differences between cultures. Naeem, the Bangledeshi American teen in Budhos’s novel, lives with a sense of being watched in a way that I never have. His story sharpened my compassion for and understanding of people who aren’t like me—yet another powerful reward that comes from reading fiction.
In my own fiction writing, I’ve found myself more aware about how my cultural heritage both should and shouldn’t inform my own characters. I’ve been asking myself questions such as: Is this the right character or story to introduce such an important theme? Does it feel forced? Does it ring true?
All of us Asian American writers have varying perspectives to bring to the table—and I’m excited to figure out what mine is in both the editorial and fiction spaces.
OPTIMISM IN THE INDUSTRY
One of the things that stayed with me after hearing Celeste Ng at her book signing was her optimism for the future of the publishing industry. Not only does she see an increasing number of readers realizing the importance of diverse stories and writers, but she also feels hopeful about Asian American authors not being held to expectations to write in a certain way. She’s been pleased, she told us, with the industry’s willingness to recognize more themes than race in her stories.
I also felt hopeful when attending Book Expo this year. I was excited to see so many authors of color promoted, and I also attended a handful of encouraging sessions that addressed diversity in the industry. In one panel discussion, Da Chen, whose most recent book is Girl Under a Red Moon: Growing Up During China’s Cultural Revolution, said he used to resent being “the Chinese writer,” but as he’s gotten older, has begun to realize the world needs just that. Mindy Gibbins-Klein from Panoma Press gave a presentation about the importance of inclusive publishing, which she says gives authors voice and readers the opportunity to broaden their horizons.
WHY I THINK YOU SHOULD READ MORE ASIAN AMERICAN AUTHORS
Whether or not you’re Asian American yourself, I invite you to keep reading the things you already love, but also to pick up a book by an Asian Pacific American author—especially if includes characters of color. Whatever your genre of choice, from memoir to comic to lit fic, you’ll find something penned by an Asian American. You may learn something surprising—or you may just be struck by how universal experiences really are across cultures.
Raina Huang films a segment for her YouTube channel, which has more than 600 videos. The former UC Riverside student, 25, is one of the few Chinese American competitive food eaters in the U.S.(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)
On a stormy Saturday, Raina Huang settled into a corner at the La Habra Crab Shack and gorged her face on a spicy 10-pound seafood boil. She wolfed down mussels, clams and Dungeness crab while looking straight into a camera that was filming for her YouTube channel.
“Oh my God, the garlic, it’s so yummy. Lots of places don’t marinate it right and they don’t give you this much sauce,” she gushed, on cue. “My mouth is definitely on fire.”
In her junior year, the 25-year-old left UC Riverside, where she was studying business, to become one of the few Chinese American competitive food eaters in the U.S. At 5-feet-7 and 135 pounds, she once polished off a 4-pound burrito in six minutes and for a recent promotion devoured 100 chicken wings.
Initially, her foreign-born father worried that his daughter was losing the chance at a well-paying, prestigious career.ADVERTISEMENT
But Huang’s risky move earned her entrance to the newly founded Asian Hustle Network, a California-basedsupport group and social hub for young Asian American professionals and serial entrepreneurs across the globe, many of whom are children of immigrants who toiled at multiple, more conventional jobs to give their kids a shot at stable lives.
Her new gig as a competitive eater and social media influencer — she’s the star of 600-plus videos — finally has won her father’s approval.
“I’m actually surprised with her character right now, once I got used to her choice,” Wil Huang, an IT engineer, said about his eldest daughter.
Huang, who hails from mainland China, described himself and his wife as “more traditional,” adding that he intends to teach Raina’s younger sister, who’s studying pharmacology, “to work 8 to 5 in a corporation or some research firm, simply to do a regular job.”
“But with Raina, we accept that she can handle it,” he said. “I told her if this is what you choose, you need to find a way to survive — and she actually did. She is strategic.”
Bryan Pham, who started the Asian Hustle Network on Facebook with Maggie Chui, the founder of Prism Apparel, said that diversity in background and profession is what makes members stand out.
He had gone to a start-up event at UC Berkeley and wondered why there was no online network just for Asian professionals. “We wanted a network where we can lift each other up, share resources, make an impact. I knew that we could be stronger together.”
Pham’s mother, Lai Vuong, reminds her son about the sacrifices that the family made in order for him to succeed.
“Like many Asian parents, we worked endless hours to prove to our children what it takes to achieve and we went without so they could have what they need,” she said. “Do you think Vietnamese elders have the luxury to just sit and relax? I know the elders can be unreasonable. We don’t explain why our children need to be doctors and lawyers. We just know that having lived in wartime, we want what is safe, what will protect them when there is crisis. The money you earn in those careers is your protection.”
When the network launched on Nov. 8 it immediately resonated with self-styled doers, investors, inventors and all manner of entrepreneurs going against the norm who flocked to the group’s Facebookpage and invited hundreds of their friends to join in. That momentum has helped the network surge to more than 13,000 members. Pham, Chui and group moderators aim to hit the 1-million mark.
The group boasts chief executives, chief financial officers, some people who were temporarily homeless before cashing in on success and other people with polished resumes listing MBAs, PhDs, Ivy League educations, expertise in such industries as real estate, import-export and multinational financing, or work for Fortune 500 companies.
One member reminisced online about living the sweet life with his cookies that were chosen by Business Insideras Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in California. Others have posted about their high-level promotions in Silicon Valley or winning on “Shark Tank” or delivering TED talks.
Linda Nguyen, president-elect of the Asian American Business Assn. of Orange County and a new AHN member, said that the difference between this group and other business associations is “the difference between old world and new world thinking.”
“This network is not just for referrals — we talk about vulnerabilities, about failures that lead to success. It’s almost confessional,” Nguyen said.
“People around the world share about the time when they totally crash and burn and how they dug themselves out,” she added, “and during this moment, when mental wellness is at the forefront of society, this process can help relieve the loneliness of doing business.”
Regina “Push” Estrada, the Filipina American behind Gold Leaf Ink, an upscale tattoo studio in San Francisco, said that group members’ “experiments, failures and success give us a lesson to learn.”
“We’re all looking for our own niche and this network has really hit on something that never was available before,” she said. “In this space, we can be ourselves and express ourselves — without judgment.”
Group co-founder Pham grew up in the San Gabriel Valley watching his Vietnamese American parents run Tony’s Appliances and never take vacations. At 30, he’s based in the Bay Area and has moved beyond a software engineering background into property investment and working as director of strategic partnerships at Startup Grind Berkeley, where he unites start-up communities and helps them get funding. He also has a podcast, “Crushing It in Real Estate.”
Some Asian Americans, he said, “believe there’s a bamboo ceiling over their heads, that they can’t achieve on their own or are stifled by what their parents expect of them.” He pays his parents’ monthly mortgage on their Temple City home.
Part of Pham’s motivation is knowing that Asian Americans “aren’t well represented at all, especially in the majority of executive seats around America.” But by combining forces within the network, he believes, that can change.
“We can build on each other’s connections, we can seed entrepreneurs, we can boost mentorship. Ultimately, we can be billionaires. We can hustle.”
Entrepreneur Lisa Song Sutton, 34, would agree. The Arizona native, daughter of a Korean mother and a white father, followed the traditional path, enrolling in law school at the University of Miami, then working in a firm focusing on business litigation.
“It wasn’t a matter of me going to college — it was, ‘Which graduate school will you enter?’” she recalled of the expectations that surrounded her. “We always talked about goals.”
Sutton kept practicing law, even after being crowned Miss Nevada in 2014, becoming the first person of Asian descent to win the title that led to more than 500 community appearances and a TEDX talk on building community.
Along the way, she and close friend Dannielle Cole teamed up to open Sin City Cupcakes. Their alcohol-laced desserts became so popular that they garnered business from vendors exhibiting at Las Vegas’ famed Consumer Electronics Show; Twitter placed an order for 2,000 treats. The women’s bakery has expanded to Dallas and they’re eyeing a third branch in Southern California.
“When I think of hustle, I think of grit, that mental toughness, that moment when you get up and do the work on the day you don’t want to do it. The strength of the people in this network symbolizes that,” Sutton said.
To Huang, the network is vital to her career because it has attracted countless members fronting food or restaurant investments, forming an ever-expanding pool of clients for her to tap.
She said that eating competitively has allowed her to better understand nutrition and propelled her travel to 15 states, along with Spain and Taiwan. Recently, she headed to Hawaii, where she had appearances at a pancake house, two burger hotspots and an eatery known for loco moco, a Hawaiian dish.
Come 2020, she’s hitting the Southern U.S. and Japan. She has plans to diversify her repertoire with travel videos.
“I ate a lot all my life, but I really didn’t know about food challenges since it’s not really visible in Chinese culture,” she said.
Her father worries for her health. But after discussing her career with his Chinese friends, he realized that internet celebrities are increasingly a thing “in our homeland. For some reason, they broadcast wherever they go and people are fascinated.”
“Raina is smart,” he said. “Asian parents have to realize it’s not just grades.”
The comedian also jokingly pitched the campaign slogan: “I’ll let your cousin in.”
As the 2020 election cycle revs up, Hasan Minhaj points out one area where politicians need more work.
In his latest episode of “Patriot Act,” the host addressed how Asian Americans, the fastest growing racial group in the country, have one of the lowest voter turnout rates. And politicians’ failure to reach out to the group is one of the key culprits, among other issues including language and cultural barriers.
“Despite our growing numbers, politicians and the media ignore us,” Minhaj said.
Presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who’s Taiwanese American, admitted himself in the episode that growing up, he didn’t recall politicians ever attempting to appeal to the Asian American electorate.
Indeed, data on the 2018 midterms shows that the voting rate of Asian Americans stood at 42 percent. In comparison, the voting rate among white eligible voters was 57 percent, AAPI Data points out.
Historically, neither Democrats nor Republicans have sufficiently reached out to the group, with a 2018 survey revealing that the majority of Asian Americans had not been contacted by either party. Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder of policy research & demographic data organization AAPI Data, told NBC News that this is in part due to campaigns lack of awareness, lack of staff capacity, or willingness to devote resources to outreach.
“Some of the lack of mobilization is also because the majority live in deeply blue states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois where presidential elections have not been very competitive,” he explained. “But even in non-presidential elections, both Democrats and Republicans have been very late to the game when it comes to investing heavily in AAPI outreach.”
The episode also touched on how fellow Democratic candidate Cory Booker has been successful in appealing to the Asian American community. AAPI Data’s analysis of the first quarter FEC filings shows that Asian American donors put the most amount of money behind the candidate compared to other Democrats. As Booker also points out in the segment, he’s focused on issues important to AAPI voters including immigration, Ramakrishnan noted.
“He has been able to reach out to AAPI communities without being seen as pandering to it. Part of that entails having good staff who can do in-language outreach and advise the candidate well,” Ramakrishnan said, adding that it’s also crucial candidates understand that issues like health care, gun control and the environment are important to the Asian American electorate as well.
With roughly a year left until the election, Minhaj brings up one humorous point. If immigration is one of the key issues in the minds of Asian American voters, then perhaps it’s time for Booker to change his slogan to secure the community’s support.
“Cory Booker 2020: I’ll let your cousin in,” the host joked
Six Chinese American World War II veterans were honored by the Seattle Seahawks in a game against the Minnesota Vikings (37-30) on Dec. 2.
The veterans, namely Gene Moy (102), Thomas Lew (96), William “JB” Chin (95), Calvin Fung (95), William “Bill” Chin (94), and Lip Mar (92), received recognition during the two-minute warning in the first half, with the Seahawks putting aside a part of its in-game promotions.
“We consider it an honor to salute these veterans,” Mike Flood, Seattle Seahawks’ vice president of community outreach and a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard himself, told iExaminer ahead of the game. “We want our fans to know what a sacrifice these Americans made for our country and what they went through to serve.”
He added, “These veterans went a long time without being recognized. They are a huge part of the fabric of this country and its time we honor them for their service.”
Great win. Great honor. Thank you @Seahawks for honoring 6 Chinese American WW2 veterans and Congressional Gold Medal recipients — ages 92 to 102— at tonight’s game. They were so touched by the recognition. @rodmarphoto@SeattleChannel#GoHawks
In December 2018, President Donald Trump signed the Chinese American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act, which sought the creation of the medals to recognize over 20,000 Chinese Americans who fought in the war while the Chinese Exclusion Act was still in place.
The veterans will receive the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in Spring 2020, which will be presided over by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Win or lose this was the best part of the game tonight for me. Honoring the Chinese American WWII veterans
Videos from the Dec. 2 game show the crowd giving a standing ovation and erupting in cheers as the six Chinese American veterans graced the north end zone of CenturyLink Field.
“[To] see all these men recognized for all their patriotism, their bravery, and their courage is just amazing,” Rod Mar, a nephew of Lip Mar, told the Seattle Channel.
Born in Guangdong, China in 1917, Gene Moy arrived in the United States with his father in 1931. He was drafted at the age of 18 and served as a mess sergeant, feeding up to 300 people a day.See also
Thomas Lew was an expert sharpshooter in the amphibious tank unit for the Army from 1943 to 1946. He completed his foreign service in the Philippines.
Like Moy, William “JB” Chin was also drafted at 18, volunteering to fight in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and the Hurtgen Forest region, where his platoon was captured by the Germans in November 1944. He received a field promotion to corporal before returning to the U.S.
Calvin Fung was also drafted at 18, working as a staff sergeant and general clerk. He served in five battles and campaigns during his service, including Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe.
Following his high school graduation in 1943, William “Bill” Chin was drafted by the Army and served with the 93rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron in the European theater. He took part in the Central European Campaign and the Battle of Rhineland and achieved the rank of radio operator, Tec 5.
Lip Mar was also drafted at 18 but was given the choice to join any military branch. He chose the Navy and was assigned as a hospital corpsman at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in California, where he treated military personnel engaged in the Pacific theater.
“As an individual, they may not have done anything, but as a group, they managed to save the world,” Terry Nicolas, commander of the Veterans of Foreign War post in which the six are members, told Northwest Asian Weekly. He said that the night was everything, “especially for these guys to be finally honored.”
Seattle Senior Deputy Mayor Mike Fong told the same outlet, “As a Chinese American, their service and sacrifice for our country fills me with pride. I am honored to have had the opportunity to meet each of them in person.”
Yang joins six other Democratic presidential candidates who have qualified: former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, businessman Tom Steyer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Yang, who met the polling threshold two days before the cut-off, has boosted his numbers enough to meet the DNC’s tougher criteria while several other opponents have not. If elected, Yang would be the first Asian American US president.
A main focus of Yang’s political platform is the idea of universal basic income. Yang wants to give all Americans 18 and older $1,000 a month, saying it will help make the economy more equitable and allow people to decide how to use the money rather than the government.
In 2011, Yang founded Venture for America, a nonprofit which connects recent college graduates with start-ups. In 2015, former President Barack Obama named Yang an ambassador for global entrepreneurship.
Next week’s event is the final Democratic National Committee-sanctioned debate of 2019. It will be held on December 19 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. PBS NewsHour is partnering with Politico to produce it, and CNN will air the debate live on multiple platforms.
In order to qualify for the debate, Democratic presidential candidates need to receive 4% in at least four national or early state polls that meet the DNC’s criteria or 6% in two early state polls. Candidates also need to receive donations from at least 200,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 800 from at least 20 different states. Candidates have until Thursday to meet the fundraising and polling thresholds.
The DNC, since it began hosting presidential primary debates this summer, has consistently raised the thresholds for the contests, slowly shrinking the field of Democrats have are on the high-profile debate stages.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard both said they hit the fundraising threshold, but do not have the required number of polls to make the stage. Gabbard is one poll away from qualifying, but the congresswoman said she will not attend the debate even if she does qualify. Booker has no qualifying polls.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has two of the necessary four qualifying polls, but has not hit the fundraising threshold. No other candidate besides Bloomberg or Gabbard has any qualifying polls.
McDonald’s has committed $500,000 to its first scholarship program dedicated to Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) students.
In collaboration with the APIA Scholarship program, 15 four-year scholarships and 40 one-year scholarships will be awarded to rising college freshman through APIA Scholars this Spring. The program will place higher emphasis on first-generation college students with significant financial need.
According to APIA Scholar’s website, the organization has distributed $150 million in scholarships to over 7,000 students. Two thirds of its recipients live at or below the poverty level.
“There are tremendous disparities within the APIA community, both economically and educationally, that are often overlooked,” said President and Executive Director of APIA Scholars Noël Harmon. “As a founding sponsor of APIA Scholars, McDonald’s has supported our efforts to address these disparities. We are grateful to McDonald’s for recognizing the need and working with us to make a difference.”
The results, released Monday, from a survey of 2,684 residents in California found that 23 percent of Asian and Pacific Islanders are working but struggling with poverty. Federal data show that the overall poverty rate among Asians was just 12 percent, marking a “narrowing of the white-Asian gap”, according to a 2016 report by the Pew Research Center.TOP
“Although statistical averages show that AAPIs as a whole exhibit relatively high levels of employment and earning power, this report reveals significant areas of concern,” the report’s executive summary states. “Like for the rest of the population, we find a state of ‘two Californias’ among AAPIs – one where some AAPI workers report a great deal of financial stability and one in which other AAPI workers report significant financial insecurity and struggle.”