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!

NYC Folks: In January, Mr. Kang Wong, an 84-year old Chinese American, was injured and hospitalized after being stopped by police for allegedly jaywalking. Mr. Kang Wong has since been charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstruction of government administration. 

We need your support to pack the courts for his hearing on Wednesday, March 12 (tomorrow). We demand all his charges be dropped and the City and NYPD be held accountable! To RSVP, e-mail Ruben at ran@caaav.org.

Justice for Kang Wong: Pack the Courts Action:
Date: Wednesday, March 12 at 9:00 AM, Press Conference Proceeding the Court Hearing (10:45 AM)
Location: Criminal Court, 100 Centre Street, Courtroom AR1, Manhattan

On January 19, 2014, 84-year old Mr. Wong was hospitalized and in need of stitches to his head after he was stopped by the police for allegedly jaywalking.  On that day, Mr. Wong was returning home from Chinatown, crossing the intersection at Broadway and 96th Street as he has always done for years.  However, this time when he crossed the street, an officer asked him for his ID.  Mr. Wong gave the officer his ID, but had no idea why the officer was holding onto his ID and he wanted it back.  Mr. Wong speaks Cantonese and he was confused because he speaks limited English and there was no officer on the scene who spoke Cantonese.  The precinct recently began to crack down on jaywalking after three pedestrian fatalities occurred in that area, but Mr. Wong was unaware of the crackdown.  The incident escalated, Mr. Wong suffered head injuries and the police officers handcuffed him.  He has since been charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstruction of government administration.

  • We demand all charges be dropped against Mr. Wong.  There was no community notice of enforcing jaywalking tickets and there was no Cantonese interpreter provided by the NYPD.  Indeed, after the incident with Mr. Wong, the precinct has now begun leafleting to educate the community on the dangers of jaywalking rather than summarily issuing tickets and arresting people.
  • We demand the City work with communities to implement a more effective NYPD Language Access Plan and officers’ language access training.  According to the current NYPD’s Language Access Plan, “it is the policy of the New York Police Department to take reasonable steps to provide timely and meaningful access for Limited English Proficient persons.” No Cantonese interpreter was provided to Mr. Wong at the time of the initial police encounter or at the time of his arrest. With more than one million people living in New York City who are limited English proficient or do not speak English at all, an effective NYPD language access plan and officer training on language access are critical in communicating with the police.
  • We demand that the NYPD adopt measures to interact with all persons in a respectful, safe, and non-discriminatory manner.  Mr. Wong is an 84 year old man.  Issuing a jaywalking ticket should not have resulted in Mr. Wong being injured on the head requiring stitches with bruises on his body and being hand carried with officers holding on to arms and legs into the police van.  Even though Mr. Wong was visibly bleeding from his head, he was taken to the precinct before being sent to the hospital. Mr. Wong’s case is an example where the NYPD mishandles encounters and puts individuals at risk. Violating individual’s civil rights, using unwarranted physical force, and mishandling persons, particularly the elderly, can have serious ramifications, including death. Officers need to be held accountable for their actions and need training in especially dealing with vulnerable members of our community whether it be age, health, or other factors.
  • We demand that the NYPD examine “Broken Windows” policies that punish people for small violations like jaywalking, loitering, graffiti, homelessness on the subways rather than working with community members to address issues of public safety. Community members should be notified and consulted on changes in policing practices rather than being summarily punished for familiar actions such as jaywalking. Criminalization for small offenses can bar people’s access to housing, jobs, and social services. To build trust between the community and police, communities must be heard.

Organizations Working On This Statement:

Asian Americans for Equality
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
Hamilton-Madison House City Hall Senior Center
JACL- New York Chapter
OCA-NY Asian Pacific American Advocates


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.



Research Grant for an undergraduate student intern to conduct population eye research in China

Dr. Shan Lin, Professor of the Department of Ophthalmology and the Asian Health Institute at the UCSF Medical Center, and Dr. Guofu Huang, chair of the Nanchang Eye Hospital Institute at the Nanchang University are jointly co-sponsoring this public health research position for eye diseases (glaucoma, cataracts, etc.) in China.
The grant recipient will station at the Nanchang University for 12 months, and will help to conduct the research under the guidance of Professor Guofu Huang, chair of the Nanchang Eye Hospital Institute at the Third Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Jiangxi Province, P.R. China.

Requirements:
1. Over 18 years old
2. Currently an undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited university
3. Speaks Mandarin fluently, speaking Cantonese as an additional language will be an asset
4. Reads simplified Chinese
5. Types Chinese characters using the keyboard
Additionally, the applicant is preferred to have some research experience.

What the position offers to the successful applicant:
1. Salary: 42,000 Yuan (approx. $7000 US) per year (provided by China’s National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.81260147))
2. Lodging: Free (provided for by the Nanchang University)
3. Airfare: An economy class round-trip air ticket will be provided to the successful grant recipient to fly from San Francisco to the nearest international airport to Nanchang in China (provided for by the Asian Health Institute)
4. Publication: Will be included as an author in publications related to the research conducted
5. Letters of recommendation for future academic /work applications

Deadline for application: Open now till January 1, 2014
Application format: Please send 3 items:
1. Application letter of interest which includes a statement about your future academic goals
2. Resume
3. Most recent grade report
/transcript

Where to send application: Please email the 3 items to Dr. Shan Lin: “Lin, Shan” <LinS@vision.ucsf.edu> and Dr. Diana Lau: “Diana Lau” <diana.lau@ucsfmedctr.org>.

Notification for the award funding: January 15, 2014

Join us for a talk on Growing Up in Transnational Worlds: A Comparative Look at Chinese and Dominican Americans, by Vivian Louie, on Friday, December 13, 2013, from 6pm to 8pm, at 25 West 43rd Street, 10th Floor, Room 1000, between 5th & 6th Avenues, Manhattan. This talk is free and open to the general public.
 Transnationalism refers to the phenomenon of immigrants maintaining connections to their country of origin, and employing a dual frame of reference to evaluate their experiences and outcomes in the country in which they have settled. How does transnationalism matter in the identities among the second generation, e.g., individuals who were born in the United States, or migrated by late childhood? In this presentation, Dr. Vivian Louie examines this question among second generation Dominicans and Chinese who have grown up in strong transnational fields and had parents who want them to participate in the homeland imaginary. The focus is on transnational orientations and/or practices among second generation individuals with particular attention to generational status, class, ethnicity, gender, and race.
 

Vivian Louie is the 2013-2014 CUNY Thomas Tam Visiting Professor at Hunter College. Dr. Louie received her Ph.D and M.A. from the Yale University Department of Sociology, M.A. from the Stanford University Department of Communication, and A.B. from Harvard University. She  has previously worked as a newspaper journalist, journalism teacher and youth magazine editor, and an associate professor in education and lecturer in sociology at Harvard. 

Dr. Louie studies immigration, education, and identities with a focus on the contrast between lived experience in urban and suburban neighborhoods. Dr.  Louie’s two books, Compelled to Excel: Immigration, Education, and Opportunity Among Chinese Americans(Stanford University Press, 2004) and Keeping the Immigrant Bargain: The Costs and Rewards of Success in America (Russell Sage Foundation, 2012), reveal how academic success is achieved in similar ways among working class Chinese, Dominicans and Colombians, even though they belong to groups typically framed at opposite ends of academic success (the Asian American high achiever and the Latino American low achiever). Dr. Louie is also an editor of and contributor to Writing Immigration: Scholars and Journalists in Dialogue (University of California Press, 2011).

 

To RSVP for this talk, please visit www.aaari.info/13-12-13Louie.htm. Please be prepared to present proper identification when entering the building lobby. Can’t attend? Watch the live webcast on our website homepage, starting at 6:15PM EST, or access the streaming video and audio podcast the following week.  

I connect with this a lot.

What was your Awakening moment?

Who are you?

Wei Chen 陈威, 1.5 generation Chinese immigrant, son of a bus driver and factory worker, community youth organizer, mentor, calligrapher, photographer, non-professional Beijing opera singer, dragon boat coach.

What are you?

Working with Chinese immigrant students, use first language, learn America society and address some of the problems we face every day. Learn to be proud our identity and heritage. Working on learning from the old generation to inspire the new generation.

Where are you?

I co-founded the Chinese Youth Organizing Project for new immigrant youth to continue my work. Many immigrant youth don’t have an opportunity to learn about new culture. They don’t get chances to learn about the struggles we have. I founded CYOP to teach young people to do something together. I spent many years learning how to be an organizer and advocate for my community. I have many things I still want to learn. I just received the Peace First Prize fellowship and I will be able continue doing this work with my community.

Where are you from?

From Changle, Fujian Province, China (福建省长乐). From learning English as a second language.

From South Philly High, where I experienced racial violence at my school. I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only target and that a culture of violence prevailed at the school with no support from administrators. So I began organizing students with the goal of getting school staff to take responsibility for the safety of all students.

What do you do?

I was organizing Asian students to stand up to bullying, racism and violence in Philadelphia schools. I organized fellow students in a boycott to hold both teachers and administrators accountable. This work led to a victorious civil rights complaint to the Department of Justice, the dismissal of the principal, staff training on bias, and a new policy on harassment.

What are you all about?

Came to United States when I was 16, started learning English from A.B.C… but had very hard time to getting knowledge at an unsafe school. After started organizing at South Philly High, I went to many places to give speeches and workshops for more people to learn about Asian students’ struggles. Also, I attended conferences to study leadership skills. Now, I’m turning my head to look at my past footsteps:

From a victim to an organizer, from an organizer to a student leader, from a student leader to community youth organizer.

What makes you angry?

In October 2008, a big crowd chased four Chinese immigrant students after school and beat them up. I was so upset. I organized Chinese students to meet with the principal. The principal said, “This is South Philadelphia High. Everyone gets beat up.” I felt angry because this shouldn’t be American life. I decided to act. I began to organize students and documented every attack.

On December 3rd, 2009, dozens of Asian students were attacked in our school all day; 13 went to the hospital. At lunch, 70 students surrounded and beat groups of Asian students. After school more than 100 students chased down 10 Asians and beat them. I am angry.

After December 3rd, I knew this was never going to stop unless students took a stand for ourselves.
"After Generation X disbands, Jubilee moves to L.A. with former teammate Skin to pursue an acting career. Unfortunately she is cast in nothing but stereotypical Asian roles, and after her agent tries to seduce her, she blasts him with a powerful plasma blast."

I’m doing research on Jubilee from X-Men as a possible Halloween costume and ran across this nifty bit of information.

AWESOME!

I’ve come to the realization that as a child of immigrants, I have experienced at least two stages of shame in regards to my cultural background.

The first stage was relatively easy to pinpoint. It was the almost crippling embarrassment you feel when you realize that your family’s cultural heritage singles you out, when you want nothing more than to blend in. It began at an early age — though not too early. Those first formative years of life are blissful in innocence, and usually a child that young is unaware of being self-conscious or embarrassed about any definitive trait of identity.

My first stage of shame began in middle school. I had just been pulled out of a private school and transferred to a public school, and was feeling particularly vulnerable. Without my bubble and the friends I had since kindergarten, I became hyperaware of my actions, my appearance, and how others saw me through these factors.

A year later, in fifth grade, I had made a few friends and was getting along somewhat happily. One day, my teacher announced that there was going to be an essay contest, and the winners would be able to ride on a float at that year’s Tournament of Roses parade. The topic of the essay was something akin to explaining what you think defines an American.

My mother encouraged me to participate in the contest, and as I sat down to think about the topic, I realized how huge the question was. At that age, the word “American” evoked images of big houses with huge families and gorgeously kept lawns, birthday parties, expensive blue jeans, and fancy cars. We did not live in a huge house with a lawn. We did not have a huge family, nor did my parents ever throw me any lavish parties or buy me brand name clothing. At the time, we drove an old Toyota Camry that had roll-up windows and manual locks.

Shannon Ho (second from right) with her family | Photo courtesy of Shannon HoShannon Ho (second from right) with her family | Photo courtesy of Shannon Ho

I didn’t feel as though I looked “American” either. I, like almost every other girl who was born in the early 90s, was a huge fan of Britney Spears and the Olsen twins. Heartbroken, I realized that I didn’t look like them, nor would I ever. Being an American-born Chinese girl wasn’t ever too big of a deal for me before this. I was born in Monterey Park and lived in Alhambra with my family, went to a Chinese church, and lived my life surrounded by Chinese people and Chinese culture. But now, I wished for blonde hair, blue eyes, and long legs because I wanted to be an “American” girl.

This was when the full force of my first stage of shame came into play. I ate my packed lunch of dumplings or rice and stir fry and wished ardently that I was opening up a Lunchables instead. I felt my face flush when my parents would make grammatical mistakes in their English. My father loved martial arts and I wished instead that he was an avid basketball or football fan like all the other dads. The list went on and on. This shame was a hot ball of fire I felt in the very pit of my stomach, something I thought could be quenched through “Americanization.”

As I entered high school, this ball of fire cooled considerably, but I still felt its heat linger. One day, I was in charge of organizing a food sale during lunch to fundraise for my club, but our first option of burgers had fallen through. At my parents’ suggestion, I decided instead to sell curry fishballs. A non-Asian student bought a skewer, brought it over to his friends who were within earshot, and they all began laughing raucously.  Shouts of “Gross!” and “Why does it smell so nasty?” seeped down into my stomach and rekindled what I thought were dormant sparks back into an all-too familiar raging flame. 

Shannon Ho reading her essay on Aug. 26, 2013 | Photo by Alfred DiciocoShannon Ho reading her essay during the Sam & Jackie Wong-Alhambra Source Schlarship Ceremony on Aug. 26, 2013 | Photo by Alfred Dicioco

I am currently going through my second stage of shame.  While this one is harder to define, harder to identify in terms of time, it became clear that this shame stems from the painfully slow realization that I had taken my Chinese identity and regarded it as a curse instead of something of which to be proud. I feel this new stage of shame when I remember that while we didn’t live in a big house with a big lawn, my parents gave up their master bedroom for me and my brother, and divided it down the middle with bookshelves so that we could each have a space to ourselves. That my parents cooked and packed me lunch because it was more nutritious and in retrospect, tasted so much better than a Lunchables ever would. That my parents driving a used, older car and refusal to buy expensive clothing was so that they could afford to send me and my brother to private school for as long as possible. That my parents’ insistence on speaking Cantonese at home has provided me with an unbreakable link to the rest of my family in Hong Kong and China, and a great new appreciation of the complexities and beauty of language. That I didn’t have the kind of super affectionate “Full House” relationship with my father because he spent so much time at work to provide for our family.  That my face and my physical features contained a rich heritage I was once so ready and eager to discard for the sake of assimilation and acceptance as an “American.”

Unlike the first stage of shame, however, this one isn’t a painfully searing ball of fire. This shame squeezes me momentarily, and then releases me to feelings of pride and clarity. But I am not cleared of the fire —occasionally, to my frustration, I feel it flare. However, I know now as a child of immigrants that this journey is necessary. Every burn of the flame and every squeeze of the heart only lead me further to fully loving who I am.

Essay was edited and condensed.