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.

Register today for this year’s conference through our website!http://www.nycaasc.com/attend.html

The New York City Asian American Student Conference (NYCAASC) is a free, all-day, student-run conference on Saturday, April 26th, bringing together youth in the metropolitan area and providing a space to discuss racial and sociopolitical matters pertaining Asian/Pacific/America through a series of inspiring and empowering workshops. 

Our theme this year for our 8th annual conference is Roots. We want to remind everyone of our roots by examining our past and current struggles in order to prepare ourselves as students, organizers, and budding activists to educate and promote further community action in ways that are meaningful to both ourselves and to others. 

NYCAASC is a great chance for exciting networking opportunities with conference speakers and student attendees. Complimentary breakfast and lunch will also be provided. 

This year’s conference will be held at New York University’s Kimmel Center for University Life (60 Washington Square) on Saturday, April 26th, 2014 from 9AM to 6PM. 

Do you want to take part in helping make NYCAASC successful? Sign up to volunteer for the day of the conference! You get a free t-shirt, free food, and a chance to know what it’s like to be part of one of the largest east coast Asian American conferences! 

Register to attend/volunteer RIGHT NOW at http://nycaasc.com/attend.html!

Be sure to like NYCAASC’s Facebook page to get all the updates as we approach conference day: http://www.facebook.com/NYCAASCpage

“Do some Kung Fu moves, like Jackie Chan! “

It happened when I went to elementary school; I must have been about seven or eight years old. While I was standing on the playground in recess, some kids from my class started to gather around me. “Can you do some cool moves, like Jackie Chan?” I was intimidated by their request – I notoriously sucked in PE, and I had never tried any martial arts. But I knew why the other kids asked: because I was Asian. I was the only Asian kid in my year. I felt all kinds of awkward and alone.

Growing up with Vietnamese parents in a German town with a population of 17,000 was not always easy. The feeling I recall from those times was loneliness. Given that I was a weird child who was not too good at socializing (I still am not) but being one of the few Asians in the whole town made things even worse. Of course, there were a handful of other Asian families: Chinese, Korean, Philippino, some even Vietnamese. But the difference between them and us couldn’t have been greater. “Don’t play with those children”, my mom used to say, “They’re not refugees like us – they came as communist contract workers.” To my parents the Cold War had never ended, and there was a strong divide between the “good” Vietnamese and the “bad” ones. So I only had white middle-class friends.

“You speak such a fine German!”

The feeling of alienation stayed consistent during my whole school career: I was frequently questioned by teachers and other students how I could speak such good German. How I could ace in German because I was, you know, not German. The nationalistic view that you can only be German if your ancestors were German is still alive and kicking. Hence I was not German. In order to prepare me for the hardships of being a foreigner, my mom taught me: “We are outlanders, the Germans look down on us. So you have to prove them wrong, you need to do everything perfectly.”

I resented being different: Why couldn’t I just be like all the others? My skin and my hair color felt like a constant source of embarrassment. The fact that my parents don’t speak German very well was even more painful. “I have a hard time getting everything your parents say,” one of my best friends once confessed. So as a way of compensating I did everything to perfect my German. I read canonical German literature, from Goethe to Heine to Jelinek. My sentences were filled with the rarest German words imaginable – words that the average German would have to look up in a dictionary.

You can read part two here.

"Whose World Is This" -Jody Loud and Son Child

lead single from Jody Loud’s 2013 mixtape ‘The Last Summer’ soundcloud.com/jodyloud Directed by Marlo A. Custodio

My name is  Juliet Shen and I am the Professional Development Coordinator for the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) National Board. As a national, student-leader run organization, ECAASU’s mission is to inspire, educate, and empower those interested in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues. 

I wanted to let you know about two of ECAASU’s initiatives to connect with students, the Campus Ambassador Program (for individuals) and the Affiliate Organization Program (for organizations). These programs would be a great start to working with others and other organizations that work on AAPI work across the East Coast. 

The Campus Ambassador Program allows students across the East Coast to network and organize on national and local scale initiatives actively contributing to projects, campaigns, coalition building and grassroots activism through ECAASU National. 

 The deadline to apply is OCTOBER 27, 2013 at 11:59 PM EST. Feel free to visit ECAASU online or email Lindsey.lue@ecaasu.org for more information! 

The Affiliate Organization Program aims to connect organizations directly with ECAASU and other student organizations on the East Coast. Additionally, this program will work as a resource on how to successfully organize Asian American and Pacific Islander focused events and programs on both a national and local scale. The deadline for this application is October 27, 2013 11:59 PM EST. Feel free to contact diana.lee@ecaasu.org with any questions or concerns.

Please visit our website at www.ecaasu.org to learn more about our organization and programs and share this opportunity with other student organizations that have an interest in being more involved with the AAPI community.

We are currently accepting applications for these programs, and I didn’t want you to miss the chance to apply! 

Please share this opportunity with other students who may be interested. We hope to see your application.

Sincerely,

Juliet Shen

"We the undersigned, are distressed about the continuing divide that persists in the North American evangelical church in the area of racial harmony."

That’s the first line of a four-page open letter to American Evangelicals (“On cultural Insensitivity and Reconciliation in the Church”) from a coalition called Asian American Christians United. The letter was released earlier this week.

The roughly 700 signatories are a who’s who in Asian-American Christian circles: a seminary head, several professors of religion, dozens of pastors, even a few popular bloggers. It was drafted after a few weeks of painful missteps by one of the evangelical community’s most prominent members.

Rick Warren is the author of The Purpose-Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For?, which stayed on the best-seller list for years. He’s also a pastor of the Orange County-based Saddleback Church. Saddleback is considered a crown jewel in the American evangelical diadem and Warren is one of the country’s most visible evangelical pastors.

(The first McCain-Obama debate in 2008 was held at Saddleback — a prestigious precedent-breaker, since no modern presidential forum had ever been held in a church.)

Warren has spearheaded outreach to multiple ethnic groups and invited them to join him in the cause of Christ. And he’s opening myriad Saddlebacks abroad, to spread the Gospel to what he calls a dozen “Gateway Cities” on several continents.

A Problematic Facebook Post

Pastor Warren returned from opening the church’s Hong Kong campus last month. Soon after, he posted a photo of a Red Guard, the young Communist cadres that policed their communities during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. The poster showed a smiling, rosy-cheeked young woman in the drab gray uniform the Red Guard typically wore.

His post (since taken down) said “The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day.” (there are still several screen captures of it, though, like this one:)

Although the Saddleback pastor said he intended the photo to be a joke, many Asian-American evangelicals were not amused. Many come from Chinese immigrant families, some of which suffered greatly during Mao’s Great Leap Forward. (Some 15 million people are estimated to have died during that time, from “discipline” administered by the youngsters in the Red Guard, by the Red Army and from outright starvation, the product of nonsensical agricultural practices that, literally, bore no fruit.)

The Joke That Launched A Letter

Warren’s initial response on his Facebook page was to tell readers that sometimes people on the Internet didn’t get irony: “It’s a joke people! If you take this seriously, you really shouldn’t be following me!” That, in turn, was followed by what many consider to be a pro forma apology.

But a few weeks later, Warren spoke at a conference that featured a video in which a white pastor talked in a fake Asian accent, and engaged in goofy Karate with another character, replete with bows, and tinny “Asian” music.

That was too much for many Asian-American Christians. Hence, the letter.

"Over the past decade," it pointed out, "Christian evangelicalism has been the source of repeated and offensive racial stereotyping, and Asian Americans have been inordinately affected… Asians have been caricatured, mocked or otherwise treated as foreigners outside the typical accepted realm of white [evangelicals]. And the situation has not improved over time."

In fact, the letter cites about a half-dozen offenses in recent years. And it points out these are only the incidents that have been highlighted by the media. For every one of those, the writers believe, there may be myriad others that never capture the public’s attention.

Some of the letter’s signatories were as (or perhaps more) disturbed by the reactions they encountered when they expressed offense.

"Get A Sense Of Humor"

Kathy Khang, a minister and the author of More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith, wrote to Warren, saying his apology was about as offensive as the initial mistake. Kang asked Warren to “please reconsider your comments that essentially told many of your brothers and sisters in Christ to get over it, to get a sense of humor, to lighten up, etc….because you don’t get to tell me to laugh about the Communist Red Guard, because it isn’t funny.”

Comments like that struck home. Warren ultimately pulled the offending Maoist illustration and posted a longer apology:

"If you were hurt, upset, offended or distressed by my insensitivity I am truly sorry," he wrote. "May God richly bless you."

The point of the letter, according to many of the people who signed it, is to begin a much-needed, long-delayed dialogue within the evangelical church. And to acknowledge that although they are all one Christian family, Asian-American evangelicals are feeling a lot like unloved step-children at the moment.

I connect with this a lot.

What was your Awakening moment?

The mention of “Chinatown” evokes many images. But for decades, Chinatown has meant home for immigrant families. Chinatown residents rely on networks of friends and relatives in the community and on affordable food and goods in nearby stores. Workers depend on jobs they find in the neighborhood and from employment agencies centered in these communities. Yet as land use struggles change downtown areas across the United States, Chinatowns are becoming increasingly destabilized as their future as sustainable low-income immigrant communities is threatened. 

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) embarked on a three-city study of Chinatowns in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia to determine the current state of Chinatowns. Whereas Chinatowns used to be disfavored places to live and dumping grounds for undesirable uses, luxury and institutional developers began targeting these previously shunned areas in the 1980s and 1990s for more luxury uses including high-end condominiums and stadiums. For decades, residents, workers, small business owners, and community organizations have fought against development that threatens to weaken immigrant networks and resources in these neighborhoods. In collaboration with these community partners, academic institutions, and hundreds of volunteers, AALDEF spent a year recording block by block and lot by lot the existing land uses in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia’s Chinatown and surrounding immigrant areas. The data was mapped by the University of Pennsylvania’s City Planning and Urban Studies Department. 

 This preview provides a snapshot of the land uses in New York’s Chinatown in 2011 and highlights the forthcoming three-city report using Census and land use data to describe the startling transformation of Chinatowns along the East Coast in the past three decades.

Without the fights against unfettered development led by members from groups like the Chinese Progressive Association in Boston, Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association in New York, and Asian Americans United in Philadelphia, these Chinatowns would likely contain even more high-end and institutional expansion. City governments removed and replaced working-class immigrant residential and commercial land uses in each of these Chinatowns. This land use study documents what currently exists to support the organizing and planning efforts to retain resources and networks in these Chinatowns for current and future generations of immigrants. 

"This article studies the intersectionality of race and gender, examining it through the lens of Western imperialism. Even though both critical race and feminist scholarship have addressed this intersectionality, few if any offer a precise theory for understanding the imperialized experience. This article seeks to fill that void. The social inequality minority women face, in particular those of Asian descent, can be best articulated by a theory this article calls white sexual imperialism. 

The history of Western imperialism in Asia and its lingering effects present the greatest source of inequality for Diasporic Asian women today. White sexual imperialism, through rape and war, created the hyper-sexualized stereotype of the Asian woman. This stereotype in turn fostered the over-prevalence of Asian women in pornography, the mail-order bride phenomenon, the Asian fetish syndrome, and worst of all, sexual violence against Asian women. These issues are each duly explored in the article, drawing on Professor Catherine MacKinnon’s dominance theory to support the white sexual imperialism principle. 

The ultimate purpose of this article is to gain greater recognition from both critical race and feminist theorists of imperialism’s role in race and gender inequality.”