Monday, December 18, 2006

Management Consultant Yul Kwon Wins on Survivor

Korean-American business consultant Yul Kwon of San Mateo prevailed in Sunday’s season finale of Survivor: Cook Islands, winning 5 out of 9 jury votes to take the $1 million top prize.
His main competition was Oscar (Ozzie) Lusth, a Mexican American who excelled in the season's physical challenges.

However, in a twist for the show, Becky Lee was named as a third finalist. Also a Korean American, Lee had maintained a solid alliance with Kwon since the show's beginning, but by the end had not fared well enough in the individual survival challenges to be a serious comeptitor for the top spot.

Although initially controversial for the way in which starting teams were segregated by race, the reality show ended up being a dramatic and highly engaging "showcase" for diversity, asserted Kwon, who said in the finale that that the under-representation of strong, positive Asian American figures in mainstream media was a major motivator for him to participate in the show.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

I was fortunate to be able to attend a sneak preview of Kristina Wong’s upcoming performance, “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at the University of Michigan in November, the day after election day. The evening started quietly as everyone in the audience was depressed about the passage of Proposal 2 and the banning of affirmative action in Michigan. Kristina Wong (whom readers first met as Big Bad Chinese Mama) quickly confirmed that the problem is not us, but rather the world. She is hysterical! You must go see this! But be ready to dance in the aisles.

"Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" premiered to a packed house December 9 at La Pena Cultural Center, in Berkeley, California, and the excitement flowed over December 15-16, at MACLA, Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, Inc., in San Jose, California.

The East Coast Premiere is scheduled for March 23-24, 8pm, at Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street Philadelphia, PA.

From Kristina Wong’s website: "Initially an exploration of the sky high incidence of mental illness among Asian American women, incisive writer and performer Kristina Wong mixes sharp humor and shaky psychology in Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a semi-autobiographical, serio-comic quest for a cheap fix to eradicate depression, anxiety and all-out neuroses. What came first? The chicken or the egg? Asian American women offing themselves en masse or the maddening world? Wong's irreverent and provocative work has given her a national cult following for 'politically charged art with unapologetic humor.' -Bitch Magazine."

Read more about Kristina Wong and in our archives: Pervs, Politicos and Prey: Ethnic Media and the Problem of “Hack Marketing” by Stewart David Ikeda

Hai Vo Hate Crime, Michigan

On November 11, 2006, five days after Michigan passed Proposal 2 to ban affirmative action (presumably because it wasn't needed anymore because there was no more racism in Michigan anymore), Hai Vo, a 34-year old Vietnamese American man, was severely beaten outside a downtown night spot in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and remains in a coma. A fight reportedly started inside The B.O.B. (Big Old Building) when some white men suggested that Asian women could be bought with as little as $5. Vo’s sister described to WZZM13 News how the white men were waving fistfuls of dollar bills at the women in their group. The fight then moved outside. Mr. Vo was not involved in the fight, but was waiting in front of the building for his sister to bring the car when he was struck from behind and severely beaten.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, The Advisory Council of Asian Pacific Affairs, the Organization of Asian Professionals, The Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association, American Citizens for Justice, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, and others are all working to help the Vo family and to find out what happened. An Asian Victim's Relief Fund has been set up and two big fundraisers have been planned to help the family pay Mr. Vo’s medical bills (he had no medical insurance).

Harold Core, department spokeman for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, noted in the Grand Rapids Press that the alleged hate crime occurred five days after the election. "After Proposal 2 passes on the idea that people aren't targeted or mistreated because of their race, it's kinda sad that after the state believed there was no need for Proposal 2 (sic—affirmative action), we have this," Core said.

The Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association, American Citizens for Justice, and Michigan's Council of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA) are also watching the investigations of other possible anti-Asian hate crimes. Linda V. Parker, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR), noted in a statement, “I am personally alarmed at the recent spike in particularly egregious alleged hate crimes in Michigan.” Asian Americans, African Americans, Arab Americans have all been targeted for violent hate crimes after passage of Proposal 2.

Next year, 2007, marks the 25th anniversary of Vincent Chin's death.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New PBS series pilot, MY LIFE DISORIENTED, airs Dec. 26

Pilot for APA series with Karin Anna Cheung, Tamlyn Tomita airing as part of “Independent Lens”

LOS ANGELES, CA – December 13, 2006 – A new Asian/Pacific American television show called “My Life Disoriented” will premiere on PBS with national broadcasts starting Dec. 26th. The future of the show could well depend on audience response to the original “pilot” episode airing as part of the acclaimed series, Independent Lens.The show’s impressive cast includes Karin Anna Cheung (Better Luck Tomorrow), Tamlyn Tomita (The Joy Luck Club), Dennis Dun (Big Trouble In Little China), Autumn Reeser (The O.C.), and Di Quon (Maid In Manhattan).

Cheung, a familiar face from the 2003 film Better Luck Tomorrow, recently remarked in a recent AsianWeek article, “I remember being so excited when Margaret Cho's All American Girl was going to be the first Asian American sit com -- actually, it didn't even occur to me until then that we didn't HAVE a show. It's cool to be able to possibly do the same thing for a new generation.”

The show’s producers, including Eric Byler (charlotte sometimes, AMERICANese), are asking people across the country to E-Mail PBS to request more air dates (with better air times -- some PBS affiliates are showing it at 3 AM) and to express interest in seeing the show become a series.

Find Out When "My Life Disoriented" Airs in Your Area


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Awards Ceremony of Iris Chang Memorial Essay Contest 2006

The 2006 Iris Chang Memorial Essay Contest award ceremony will take place at the Nanjing Ji: Commemoration of the 69th Anniversary Of Nanjing Massacre on December 9, 2006, at Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, 1840 Sutter Street, in San Francisco, 10 am to 12 pm. The top three winners of the Essay Contest will be honored at the event.

Nanjing Ji is an annual commemoration held in San Francisco, California. It honors and pays tribute to the many innocent individuals who suffered and died during the Rape of Nanking. It is also a remembrance of other victims who perished in the brutalities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. Genocide survivors, human rights activists, community leaders and the general public will gather at this event to pay tribute to the victims, demand reconciliation and reparation from the Japanese government, and renounce violence and advocate for peace throughout the world. This year, the Nanjing Ji is co-sponsored by The Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition, The Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WW II in Asia, and The Association for Preserving the Truth of the Sino-Japanese War.

Read this year’s winning essay, “The Rape of Nanking: A Quest for Peace,” by Hann-Shuin Yew, a Harvard University freshman from Sunnyvale, California.

Read more about the Iris Chang Memorial Fund from Iris’ mom.

Read more about Iris Chang from our archives:
Remembering Iris Chang by Nancy Beardsley, Voice of America
Iris Chang's 'The Chinese in America' by George Koo, PNS