Paul Lo will be the nation's first Hmong American judge. (Photo credit: UCLA Daily Bruin)

Paul Lo will be the nation’s first Hmong American judge. (Photo credit: UCLA Daily Bruin)

Earlier this year, California Governor Jerry Brown made history when he appointed UCLA Law alumnus Paul Lo to the Merced County Superior Court Bench. Lo, who will be sworn in this Friday, will be the nation’s first Hmong American judge.

Said Karin Wang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice back in Januaryto the UCLA Daily Bruin:

“It is both historic and inspirational to have the nation’s first Hmong American judge in California’s Central Valley, which is home to one of the nation’s largest Hmong populations,” Wang said.

Merced currently has the fifth highest Hmong American population in the United States, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Lo immigrated to the United States in 1979 as a non-English speaking immigrant at age 11 as refugees from the Vietnam War. Lo’s family grew up poor and on welfare, but Lo was spurred by a high school teacher to pursue a career in law to help support the Hmong American community.

Lo was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1994 and has been a solo legal practitioner since 2003, according to State Bar records. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Davis and his law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.

Lo spoke no English when he came to the United States at the age of 11, but eventually mastered the language, working hard through school, college and law school.

He said he appreciates the appointment’s historic relevance, but said it wouldn’t change “the person I am now.”

“I think a lot of people in the Hmong community are very proud of it, but I’m equally excited for the opportunity to serve this community, this town,” Lo said.

Lo’s appointment not only contributes to increasing diversity on the bench in California but also elevates a dedicated community advocate, who has devoted his life towards improving legal rights for Hmong Americans, an often over-looked and marginalized ethnic group within the Asian American community. Although Asian Americans remain underrepresented in state and federal judiciaries, Lo’s appointment is an important step forward.

“(Lo) provides needed diversity for our bench. Our bench is starting to look like the population,” said Judge Brian McCabe of the Merced County Superior Court, who worked with Lo as partners in the same firm.

“My true passion to go into law was to be an advocate for the Hmong community,” he said.

The public is invited to attend Lo’s swearing-in ceremony this Friday, which will take place at 4pm at the Art Kamanger Centre at the Merced Theatre, 301 Main St.

This historic photograph captured the ceremony celebrating the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which united east and west coasts of this country by a land route for the first time; yet, the thousands of Chinese Americans who helped build the railroad were conspicuously absent. Photo credit: Wikipedia

On May 10th of this year, the transcontinental railroad will be 145 years old. On that day in 1869, track laid by Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad companies finally connected, and insodoing created a railway that spanned 1,928 miles. For the first time in American history, it was possible to travel from coast-to-coast without sailing around the North American continent.

It is estimated that as many as 12,000 Chinese American labourers helped build the transcontinental railroad, predominantly on the West Coast. Working for a fraction of the pay of their non-Asian White counterparts, Chinese “coolie” labourers were assigned some of the most dangerous tasks, including blasting away rocks that lay in the path of the track. Unknown numbers of Chinese American men lost their lives in the course of laying the railroad. This was in part because of ongoing anti-Asian racism among the work crews; White labourers viewed their Chinese American colleagues with disdain,calling them “midgets”, “effeminate” and “monkeys”. Nonetheless, Chinese American labourers participated in the construction of virtually every railroad track on the West coast built during that era.

Yet, when the railroad was completed on May 10th, 1869, an event commemorated in a historical photograph that showed actual railroad workers crowded around the final spike as it is hammered into the ground, Chinese American labourers were left out of the photograph. They were literally erased from history.

Every year on May 10th, that historic photograph is re-created by the park officials who maintain the national park commemorating the site of the Golden Spike ceremony. And every year, park officials refuse to make any specific effort to make the Asian American community visible in the photograph recreation.

Corky Lee has been documenting the Asian American Movement's protest actions and historic moments for over the last 40 years.

Corky Lee has been documenting the Asian American Movement’s protest actions and historic moments for over the last 40 years.

This year, acclaimed Asian American photographer and historian, Corky Lee — whose iconic black-and-white photographs have documented some of the most landmark moments in the political history of Asian America — is organizing a “flashmob” style event to correct the historic wrong of that 1869 Golden Spike Ceremony photograph.

On Saturday, May 10th at 9:30am, Corky is inviting Asian Americans to join him at the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Tremonton, Utah (group transportation is being organized from Salt Lake City). He is hoping to get at least 145 Asian Americans to join him in recreating that historic photograph, but this time with the faces of Asian America front and center!

If you are 1) Asian American, and 2) able to get to Utah on May 10th, I urge you to please come out and help him in making this important project happen! Please help challenge the erasure of Asian Americans from the history of the transcontinental railroad.

Please join (and share)this Facebook Event page to help get the word out.

And, if you are able to make it to Utah on May 10th, please contact Ze Xiao (zxiao [at] slco [dot] org), who is coordinating transportation to the Golden Spike site for Corky’s photograph.

Facebook event here!

Brown University’s conference on Asian Pacific American identity and organizing is happening on April 19! I’ll be making the closing remarks, and you can register for the conference here.

Ramen and Eggs is a collection of stories by Asian American college students and alumni. We are telling our stories here and now, with the hope of serving as a guide for current and future generations…

Ramen and Eggs is a collection of stories by Asian American college students and alumni. We are telling our stories here and now, with the hope of serving as a guide for current and future generations of students.

Going to college in America is often thought of as a magical, life-changing experience. Your freshman roommate will be your best friend, you’ll go to all of the crazy frat parties, and you’ll find your academic passion. You’ll finally grow into who you were always meant to be.

But college is a tough time. You might be far from home, and maybe it’s hard to find friends who “get” you. Exams are tough, and you have to figure out how to do laundry. And as an Asian American, you might have a whole set of concerns that your new friends might not understand. Maybe it’s as small as convincing everyone to take off their shoes before they come into your room, and maybe it’s as big as explaining to your parents that you want to change your major.

As an Asian American, college can come with a very particular set of stressors, which can contribute to mental health issues. According to one recent study, second generation Asian Americans are more likely than their immigrant parents to experience mental health difficulties. And yet, Asian Americans are three times less likely than their white counterparts to seek help from mental health professionals.

In many ways, as Asian Americans college grads, this is the archive we wish we’d had as freshmen, the stories we wish we’d known.

To submit your story, please email us at theramenandeggs (at) gmail (dot) com. Submissions must be in .doc, .docx, .txt, or .rtf format.

Storytelling is one of the most moving and powerful things in the world.

How can we as a community of Greek-affiliated people and other students move forward together, united? It definitely won’t get done through stereotypes and snap judgments. During a panel on Greek life at ECAASU I was on, someone came in during the middle, asked an inflammatory question with false information (a wrong assumption of Asian interest Greek organizations being racially exclusive), then left before any panelists were able to answer and talk with him. This is unfortunately relatively common in my experiences as an activist and as a Greek. There is little room for tolerance and thus little room for mutual education and growth because we are so quick to polarize the conversation.

There are very valid and true critiques of Greek life’s infrastructure. There are also many distinctions within the larger Greek community, such as the North-American Interfraternity Conference (umbrella organization for fraternities organized in 1910), the National Panhellenic Conference (umbrella organization for sororities organized in 1902), the National Pan-Hellenic Council (9 historically African-American fraternities and sororities, organized in 1930), the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (established in 1998), and the National Asian Pan-Hellenic Association (founded 2005), and the oldest active Asian-interest fraternity is Pi Alpha Phi, founded in 1929. It’s impossible to make judgments on an institution that is so diverse and different in countless ways.

Yes the system  as it currently exists is inherently exclusive due to enforced gender-based admissions, financial requirements, etc. But there is change and there are people working their asses off to create this change. Greek life is hundreds of years old and progress doesn’t happen overnight, which isn’t an excuse of any kind but simply something to keep in mind. It also doesn’t happen when those who aren’t a part of it condemn and write off thousands of people based on their choice to affiliate. There are also vast differences between organizations, chapters, and individuals. Institutionally there needs strong reform that can pave the path for future students, and individually there needs more bridges built based on interaction and understanding, not stereotypes and assumptions.

I am not a person who enjoys burning bridges or giving up.  I’ve learned through the work I do that judging an entire community based off of stereotypes is wrong. I joined my sorority because of the values it stands for and the community it gives me. They are my chosen family and my home away from home. I can only assume that misconceptions about Greek life influence critics’ comments. I know that people work together to support one another through financial strain. I know that organizations do everything within their power to ensure that money doesn’t become the main deterrent. I know that I’ve seen more generosity, support, and flexibility within the Greek system than in many organizations for oppressed peoples and student unions.

Let me highlight a few examples out of countless large steps forward. Members of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity chapter at Emerson College have helped raise money so a rush could afford a female-to-male gender top surgery. Excess donations were donated to the Jim Collins Foundation. Title IX empowers fraternities and sororities to include trans* members. There’s a resource guidebook for fraternities and sororities to create reform that reflects inclusivity of people from all backgrounds.    Gamma Rho Lambda (GRL) National Sorority is dedicated to providing a social support system for young college students. GRL has been referred to as the first national lesbian sorority, however they strive to be inclusive of all members, whether they identify as lesbian, bisexual, ally, transgender, questioning, straight, or with no label. Pi Kappa Phi (Pi Kapp) gave a TEDx talk on undocumented student issues and has launched campaigns for more grants to provide campuses with more disability friendly resources. I could go on forever. The legal precedent is there, and I challenge all Greek organizations to take the step to be as inclusive as possible and advertise that Greek spaces can be inclusive spaces.

And maybe these circumstances aren’t in the spotlight, but they are happening. And they deserve recognition and support.

Just this year on my campus, Greek organizations (Asian-interest in particular) have done so much. Launching campaigns against sexual assault, support for cancer survivors, bringing awareness to issues like premature births, human trafficking, sexism, feminism, cross-racial coalitions…the list goes on. How often do we hear about this? How can we foster change when people with the resources and passion for justice who aren’t affiliated create hostile environments that don’t feel safe for those who are? In response to specific comments made by a person who I admire very much, at least on our campus our Greek organizations are purely on their own. There is no financial support from the existing institutions, no housing, and little encouragement or support from the administration. We have to fight to survive, and Asian-interest Greeks in particular have to fight for recognition, sustainability, and support.

Curtis Chin recently came to our campus for a screening of “Vincent Who?”. He talked about how many people read by society as Asian American may not identify as Asian American and therefore don’t feel the urge to engage with what we call the “Asian American” community. But people create their identities and communities and have the right to that autonomy. How can we as gladiators of justice (I’ve been watching a lot of Scandal lately) hold members of our campus, our peers, our friends, our family even, to this high standard without extending a hard to help build and maintain a relationship?

A term I’ve heard is “activist privilege”. I’m hesitant to use it because the word “privilege” loses its power and meaning from overuse. We have had the privilege of having resources, opportunities, and mentors to guide us in our own paths toward political consciousness. However, the idea that many student activists get so caught up in their own communities and ideologies and end up treating those who aren’t as aware with condescension is a reality. I am very guilty of this. I was an arrogant and conceited activist (and sometimes still am — I’m a work in progress) and thus not an effective or “real” activist. It took me years to learn and truly understand that everyone is at a different level of readiness and awareness. It is a chronic lack of reflection and humility in our communities when we start deciding who’s a part of our community and what standards we hold people to. Social and political consciousness isn’t something we can force on anyone, and we shouldn’t try to. But we can be patient, flexible, humble, and loving when it comes to spreading awareness and education.

Perhaps some of us have tried and met hesitation, apathy, or hostility in response. I joined Greek life late in my college career and I know how frustrating it is when it feels like no one is listening. All I’m asking as a proud activist and proud sorority member is room to grow and discuss. Remember the context of these preconceptions and be aware that we have to consciously work to create an inclusive space for everyone if that’s what we want to do. We have to deliberately create a safe space that is mindful, open, honest, and full of healing.

One complaint many Greek members have is that everything we do, no matter how impactful or progressive, seems to be swept away and glazed over simply because we are affiliated. Our milestones, our accomplishments, and our multi-faceted identities, are erased in many people’s eyes by the letters we stitch onto our hearts. And that’s wrong. That is not social justice. That is not community building. Why walk into a lion’s den knowing you’ll get torn apart for your affiliation?

As an activist who also happens to be affiliated with a Greek sorority, here’s an olive branch. Let’s be better, we all deserve that at the very least. I know we can do better because we’ve already started.

 

Like our page! 

We are currently working with folks in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado to create a regional coordinating organization specifically for the Southwest region of the United States. This organization is inspired by and based on existing organizations such as ECAASU (East Coast Asian American Student Union), MAASU (Midwest Asian American Students Union), and WCAPSU (West Coast Asian Pacific Student Union).

So for anyone who knows people in the Southwest, please point them our way! We’re looking to develop and create something with people of all backgrounds and organizations. It’ll be CAACTUS: Coalition of Asian Americans Collaborating Together to Unite the Southwest! Email us at weareCAACTUS@gmail.com


Jason Chu’s upcoming album MILLENIAL is set to drop February 7th. You may recognize him from his spoken word pieces on colorblindness or his work with Model Minority, but this album is where the real talent lies. I was lucky enough to snag a preview of his album, which I’ve reviewed here:

MILLENIAL not only touches on some difficult topics to discuss such as insecurity, self-harm, and mental health…it pulls you in head first and takes you along for the ride as Chu battles his demons.

"free", which is featured in the teaser video above, is also the album’s first song and immediatel y sets the stage for the most honest musical project of our day. Chu’s flow is smooth and fierce at once, most displayed in the second track "Oh Lord" and the sixth track "Shine With Me". 

Chu talks porn addiction and objectification of women in "no angel", the fourth track, and breakups in "3AMLookingtYourPictures". His ability to transition from slow poetic tracks to the energetic and fast-paced songs is skillful and keeps you on your toes never knowing what’s coming next.

The album centers around "Red Lines" where Chu openly talks about his history with self-harm and cutting. As a former self-harmer myself, I really appreciated hearing and seeing similar experiences being talked about instead of hidden. Mental health is so often a taboo and silenced topic, and MILLENIAL is  an incredibly brave album where Jason Chu bares his soul to us. It’s meaningful, empathetic, and truly trouching.

The album will be officially dropped on February 7th at the release show and party at LURE club in Hollywood (California). For information on booking Jason to perform, please click http://tiny.cc/bookjasonchu

Jason Chu’s upcoming album MILLENIAL is set to drop February 7th. You may recognize him from his spoken word pieces on colorblindness or his work with Model Minority, but this album is where the real talent lies. I was lucky enough to snag a preview of his album, which I’ve reviewed here:

MILLENIAL not only touches on some difficult topics to discuss such as insecurity, self-harm, and mental health…it pulls you in head first and takes you along for the ride as Chu battles his demons.

"free", which is featured in the teaser video above, is also the album’s first song and immediatel y sets the stage for the most honest musical project of our day. Chu’s flow is smooth and fierce at once, most displayed in the second track "Oh Lord" and the sixth track "Shine With Me". 

Chu talks porn addiction and objectification of women in "no angel", the fourth track, and breakups in "3AMLookingtYourPictures". His ability to transition from slow poetic tracks to the energetic and fast-paced songs is skillful and keeps you on your toes never knowing what’s coming next.

The album centers around "Red Lines" where Chu openly talks about his history with self-harm and cutting. As a former self-harmer myself, I really appreciated hearing and seeing similar experiences being talked about instead of hidden. Mental health is so often a taboo and silenced topic, and MILLENIAL is  an incredibly brave album where Jason Chu bares his soul to us. It’s meaningful, empathetic, and truly trouching.

The album will be officially dropped on February 7th at the release show and party at LURE club in Hollywood (California). For information on booking Jason to perform, please click http://tiny.cc/bookjasonchu

Jason Chu’s upcoming album MILLENIAL is set to drop February 7th. You may recognize him from his spoken word pieces on colorblindness or his work with Model Minority, but this album is where the real talent lies. I was lucky enough to snag a preview of his album, which I’ve reviewed here:

MILLENIAL not only touches on some difficult topics to discuss such as insecurity, self-harm, and mental health…it pulls you in head first and takes you along for the ride as Chu battles his demons.

"free", which is featured in the teaser video above, is also the album’s first song and immediatel y sets the stage for the most honest musical project of our day. Chu’s flow is smooth and fierce at once, most displayed in the second track "Oh Lord" and the sixth track "Shine With Me". 

Chu talks porn addiction and objectification of women in "no angel", the fourth track, and breakups in "3AMLookingtYourPictures". His ability to transition from slow poetic tracks to the energetic and fast-paced songs is skillful and keeps you on your toes never knowing what’s coming next.

The album centers around "Red Lines" where Chu openly talks about his history with self-harm and cutting. As a former self-harmer myself, I really appreciated hearing and seeing similar experiences being talked about instead of hidden. Mental health is so often a taboo and silenced topic, and MILLENIAL is  an incredibly brave album where Jason Chu bares his soul to us. It’s meaningful, empathetic, and truly trouching.

The album will be officially dropped on February 7th at the release show and party at LURE club in Hollywood (California). For information on booking Jason to perform, please click http://tiny.cc/bookjasonchu
Jason Chu’s upcoming album MILLENIAL is set to drop February 7th. You may recognize him from his spoken word pieces on colorblindness or his work with Model Minority, but this album is where the real talent lies. I was lucky enough to snag a preview of his album, which I’ve reviewed here:
MILLENIAL not only touches on some difficult topics to discuss such as insecurity, self-harm, and mental health…it pulls you in head first and takes you along for the ride as Chu battles his demons.
"free", which is featured in the teaser video above, is also the album’s first song and immediatel y sets the stage for the most honest musical project of our day. Chu’s flow is smooth and fierce at once, most displayed in the second track "Oh Lord" and the sixth track "Shine With Me"
Chu talks porn addiction and objectification of women in "no angel", the fourth track, and breakups in "3AMLookingtYourPictures". His ability to transition from slow poetic tracks to the energetic and fast-paced songs is skillful and keeps you on your toes never knowing what’s coming next.
The album centers around "Red Lines" where Chu openly talks about his history with self-harm and cutting. As a former self-harmer myself, I really appreciated hearing and seeing similar experiences being talked about instead of hidden. Mental health is so often a taboo and silenced topic, and MILLENIAL is  an incredibly brave album where Jason Chu bares his soul to us. It’s meaningful, empathetic, and truly trouching.

Back in December, you helped take Twitter by storm by participating in #NotYourAsianSidekick — the hashtag that showed up in over 95 million Twitter feeds.1

Started by activist Suey Park (with help from fellow social justice movers and shakers, Juliet Shen and 18MR’s own Cayden Mak), #NotYourAsianSidekick began as a digital exploration of Asian American feminism — but thanks to you and millions more around the world, the conversation has grown to cover issues of race, ethnicity, identity, class, and culture.

18MillionRising invites you to help channel our incredible Twitter energy into other spaces and places — starting by participating in 18MR’s first #NotYourAsianSidekick Google Hangout next week ThursdayWill you join us?

We know many of you are eager to take #NotYourAsianSidekick to the next level. Stickers are a good start. Now, we believe a series of public conversations about AAPIs, our history, and our activism can help set the stage for more local and national organizing. We hope you’ll be inspired by the panel of incredible AAPI women who will share their experiences and perspectives on the #NotYourAsianSidekick Google Hangout next week. If folks are inspired by the movement-building work of other AAPIs, everyone is more likely to stay engaged for the long haul!

Please tune into next week’s #NotYourAsianSidekick Google Hangout. In addition to listening, participants will also have the chance to submit questions to the panelists, so come ready to tell us what’s on your mind. You can RSVP for the hangout here.

Here’s to kicking things up a notch!

In solidarity,
PaKou, Samala, Cayden, and Cynthia
The 18MR Team

P.S. We’re planning to do more Google Hangouts, and want to hear your ideas. Tell us about what topics you want to discuss in future hangouts.

Early-bird registration for ECAASU 2014 in Washington DC has opened! Register now for a great price on the largest and oldest Asian American student conference in the U.S.!