Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ronald Takaki, pioneering scholar of race relations, dies at 70

Report issued today by "UC Berkeley News," reported by Yasmin Anwar of the Public Affairs office. A complete obituary was expected later today:

May 27, 2009 Ronald Takaki, a professor emeritus of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and prolific scholar of U.S. race relations who taught UC's first black history course, died at his home in Berkeley on Tuesday (May 26). He was 70.

During his more than four decades at UC Berkeley, Takaki joined the Free Speech Movement, established the nation's first ethnic studies Ph.D. program as well as Berkeley's American Cultures requirement for graduation, and advised President Clinton in 1997 on his major speech on race.

A descendent of Japanese plantation workers in Hawaii, Takaki left the islands in the late 1950s to study at Ohio's College of Wooster, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in American history from UC Berkeley in 1967 and was hired at UCLA, where he taught the campus's first black history course. He joined Berkeley's Ethnic Studies department in 1971 and served as chair from 1975-77.

Among his numerous accolades for scholarship and activism, Takaki received a Pulitzer nomination for his book, "A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America" (Little Brown and Company, 1993); a Distinguished Teaching Award from UC Berkeley and the 2003 Fred Cody Award for lifetime achievement from the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association.

"When I think of Ron, the words that come to mind are: solidarity, justice, easy-going, self-effacing, generous, creative," said Beatriz Manz, chair of UC Berkeley's Department of Ethnic Studies. "He poked fun at himself and had a contagious laughter. He embodied kindness. He was agreeable, conciliatory and non-confrontational."

He is survived by his wife, Carol, his three children and his grandchildren. Plans for a campus memorial service are pending. A complete obituary will be posted on Thursday.

Call for Artist Submission: APAture Festival 2009

Kearny Street Workshop , the oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary organization in the United States, is now accepting submissions for the 11th annual APAture festival of emerging Asian American artists. Each September, APAture showcases about 100 artists at venues throughout San Francisco, making it the Bay Area's biggest platform for Asian American art.

We are accepting submissions in five disciplines: visual arts, film & video, music, literary arts and performing arts. The deadline to submit is July 11, 2009.

Go to for more info and to apply online!

Questions? Contact

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Online APAs Memorializing Scholar Ron Takaki

Reports of the passing of noted historian Ronald Takaki have been circulating widely among Asian Americans in the blogosphere and via networking vehicles such as Twitter, Facebook and individual email exchanges.

While any official reporting confirming the rumors has yet to be released in Bay Area media or by the news bureau at UC Berkeley, where Takaki has been a respected emeritus professor in the Ethnic Studies Department, already scores if not hundreds of individuals and bloggers have been publishing appreciations of Dr. Takaki's work as a "people's historian" whose long career was dedicated to championing "a more inclusive and accurate history of all the peoples of America."

His works such as Strangers from a Different Shore and A Different Mirror have been noted as pioneering examples of historical scholarship that approaches research of U.S. peoples from a multicultural perspectives.

As blogger Keith Kamisugi recounts on,
Over 34 years, Ron taught 20,000 students, and has written twelve books which
have influenced thousands more. One of them, “A Different Mirror,” won the
American Book Award, and has sold over a half million copies; it is
the text for
anyone interested in the history — and the future — of multicultural America

[Emphasis mine]

His influence was was limited not only to his publishing activity, but also to shaping the curriculum on and beyond his campus, and inspiring a generation of students and younger scholars. He was instrumental in bringing to life to the PhD in Ethnic Studies, as well as an undergraduate major and ultimately a multicultural credit requirement for graduation. Many of those memorializing Dr. Takaki in the past day are former students who also spoke of his impact in the classroom and calling his lessons "life changing".

Other Readings

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's the aspect of your heritage you most want to hold onto?

Going through our annual APA Heritage Month edition, we were delighted to find an older piece in the archives that still seems as basic and worthy of mulling over as when we first piosted in years ago.

In Holding Onto Heritage, our old friend and feature contributor Gil Asakawa of Nikkei View, posed the question, mostly rhetorically, "What's the aspect of your heritage you most want to hold onto?"

For our conclusion to APA Month this year, we want to put the question out there, and invite thoughts that we may compile at the end for annual section. Even if it's just a sentence or two, please drop us a comment here, or through our feedback on for on the main site. We think it would a meaningful commemoration of Heritage Month to hear what other people really value in their Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.

Hope to hear from you.

Webcast Tonight: Asia Society president Vishakha N. Desai

7:00 to 8:30 PM Eastern -

In the program "Collectors and Curators: A Unique Partnership Between Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd and Sherman E. Lee" Vishakha N. Desai, president of Asia Society will be giving a lecture on the complex relationships between curators and collectors, in addition to focusing on the decades of collaboration between Lee and the Rockefellers as the family built their Asian art collection. The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art became one of the most notable collections of Asian art in the United States and was fundamental to the creation of the Asia Society.

The video webcast will be available live on from 7:00-8:30 PM.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Judy Chu wins in heavily Hispanic district; advances to runoff

Reported by Jean Merl at

By Jean Merl 1:35 AM PDT, May 20, 2009

State Board of Equalization Vice Chairwoman Judy Chu won the most votes
Tuesday for the open 32nd Congressional District seat, running well ahead of
fellow Democrat state Sen. Gil Cedillo, but she fell short of the majority
needed to avoid a runoff.

Political newcomer Emanuel Pleitez, who surprised politics watchers with
his significant fundraising and campaign of personal contacts and energetic
volunteers, was running a strong third.
If Chu prevails in the July runoff, it would make her the only Asian American in Congress representing Southern California, according to the Associated Press.

In an honorable mention, Monterey Park Councilwoman Betty Tom Chu came in the top spot among the handful of doomed Republicans vying for a shot in the strongly Democratic district.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How National APAs Give a Boost to Boston's Sam Yoon

While we're waiting for the day's poll results to come in from other corners, here's a profile from the Boston Globe showing how national identity politics may give a boost to local candidates like Sam Yoon, who wants to be Mayor of Beantown.

WASHINGTON - The California congressman looked out on a crowd of 100
Asian-American political activists dining in a drab conference room at the
headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Mike Honda urged them to
donate to a rising star on the political scene: Sam Yoon, candidate for mayor of

"Boston has been waiting for a long time because the Irish have had it," said Honda,
addressing the annual dinner of the Asian American Action Fund. "I believe Sam
is ready to take over and lead one of the major cities in the country."

Yoon beamed. Such dinners have become crucial to his aspirations to
become mayor of Boston, fueling him with applause, cheers, and financial support
that are harder to come by at home, where Mayor Thomas M. Menino dominates the
political establishment and where Yoon remains a relatively low-profile figure,
unknown to 38 percent of residents, according to a recent Globe poll.

By Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / May 18, 2009

Read the full story at the Globe:

NPR: Judy Chu Has Edge In CA 32 Special Election On Tuesday

From Ken Rudin Political Junkie Blog:

California's 32nd Congressional District, just east of Los Angeles, is
about 63 percent Latino, 22 percent Asian. It is the seat held since 2001 by
Hilda Solis (D), now the secretary of labor. Prior to that, it was held for 18
years by Matthew Martinez, a Democrat, who lost to Solis in the 2000 primary at
the age of 71 amid charges that he was ineffective and invisible.

But if anecdotal evidence is to be believed, this overwhelmingly
Hispanic district may send an Asian woman, Judy Chu, on her way to Congress in
Tuesday's special primary.

All eyes are on two Democrats who are considered the

Chu, a former member of the Assembly who is currently the chair of the
California Board of Equalization, is one 12 candidates who will appear on the
all-party primary ballot. Under state law, if no one receives a majority of the
vote -- as seems likely -- then the top candidates of each party advance to the
July 14 runoff. (If a candidate breaks 50 percent, then he or she is declared
the winner, with no runoff required.)

But for all intents and purposes, whichever leading Democrat comes out
ahead tomorrow -- Chu or state Sen. Gil Cedillo, a fellow liberal -- will be the
next member of Congress for the 32nd. Barack Obama carried the district last
year with 68 percent of the vote, and Republicans failed to run a candidate
against Solis in the past three elections.

Chu and Cedillo have received the lion's share of endorsements. Chu is
backed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a gubernatorial hopeful and
perhaps the state's most visible Hispanic politician. She has also been endorsed
by members of Solis' family, though the former House member has stayed neutral.
Cedillo has the support of several Hispanic congressmen, including Joe baca,
Xavier Becerra, Grace Napolitano and Linda Sanchez.

Baca is quoted as saying, "It's a Hispanic seat. We should not lose
that seat."

Organized labor is working mostly on Chu's behalf.

Read the full blog entry

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sign up for SAALT "Be the Change" by May 30

From SAALT: South Asian Americans Leading Together

What is Be the Change?

Be the Change is a national day of service, coordinated by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), that is held on campuses and in cities across the country. The event is based on Mahatma Gandhi's inspirational quote, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world," and provides opportunities for South Asians to give back to their communities.
In 2008, over 2000 people contributed 4000 service hours in 40 cities and campuses across the country.

How Can I get Involved?

Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 3rd and join us as a volunteer, campus coordinator, or city coordinator.

1) Host a Be the Change event on your campus - If your campus traditionally hosts a Be the Change event or if you would like to start one on your campus, please fill out this form by May 30th and we will send you a planning guide and connect you to the national event.

2) Host a Be the Change event in your city- Join or start a planning team in your city. As a member of the planning team, you will be coordinating service events, recruiting volunteers, and connecting with other planning teams around the country. Please fill out this form by May 30th and we will connect you with others in your city who are interested in planning a Be the Change event. Our core cities this year are: Washington DC, New York City, South Bay, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Boston. We also welcome other cities to hold Be the Change events.

3) Join SAALT as a National Partner for Be the Change - If your organization, professional association, or youth group would like to partner with SAALT, locally or nationally, please email us at by May 30th.

Event: Early registration for 2009 OCA National Convention

Event: 2009 OCA National Convention
"A Call to Action: Empowering Asian Pacific American Voices"
What: Convention
Host: OCA National
Start Time: Thursday, August 6 at 9:00am
End Time: Sunday, August 9 at 12:00pm
Where: The Westin St. Francis Hotel

Early Bird Registration for the 2009 Organization of Chinese Americans National Conference Ends June 30

For details, see

Notice: JACL Youth Conference -- the last one...?

We've got in an announcement for what is being billed (somewhat cryptically) as "the final" official Youth Conference by the Japanese American Citizens League National Youth Council. We're not sure why this is the case, but it only seems to add to the interest of this year's event in St. Paul for student leaders.

Release: The 2009 JACL National Youth Conference will take place from June 26 to June 28 at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

This Conference is for youth ages 14-25. This Youth Conference is also the LAST official Youth Conference put forth by the National Youth/Student Council. Be sure to take part in this legacy.

The theme of this Conference, IMPACT!: Your Community, Your Generation, Your JACL, is centered on empowering today's youth to move this earth through learning about how we can impact our community as Asian Americans, engage our generation by marrying old school and new school techniques, and create a JACL image that is unique to youth.

Unlike Youth Conferences before, this year's events will focus on developing professional skills that often become useful further down the road. Participants will get the chance to engage in team building activities, learn how to network professionally and socially, and have fun while doing so.

Learn more at:

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Film on Patsy Mink Airs this Month on PBS

From the website for a new film by Making Waves, which is airing on PBS stations across the country during May:

PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY explores the remarkable political story of Patsy Mink, an Asian American woman who, battling racism and sexism, redefined American politics.

Small in stature but a giant in vision, she began her life on a Maui sugar plantation and rose to become the first Asian American woman and woman of color in the United States Congress. A firecracker and a fighter, she continually pushed the limits of what was acceptable, speaking out against the Vietnam War and entering the 1972 presidential primary, making her one of the first women to seek the nation’s highest office. She transformed America’s schools as the co-author of Title IX, the landmark legislation that opened up higher education and athletics to women.

The film goes beyond Mink’s accomplishments, however, to reveal a woman whose political journey was lonely and tumultuous. Dispelling stereotypes of the compliant Japanese female, she battled sexism within her own party, whose leaders disliked her independent style and openly maneuvered against her. Her liberal politics, particularly her vocal opposition to the Vietnam War, engendered intense criticism.

As Franklin Odo, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, states: “Patsy Mink offers a phenomenal political story, because she was so outside what you would expect of a woman, of a Japanese American and of a member of Congress.” Simultaneously a woman of the people and a pioneer, a patriot and an outcast, her story proves endlessly intriguing, and one that embodies the history, ideals and spirit of America.

To learn more about the film and filmmaker, see

To find out when it's airing on your local PBS station, enter your Zip at

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Obama proclaims APA Heritage Month

Newly added to our annual Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month section is this year's official presidential proclamation designating May to commemorate the history and heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

While at first glance it appears to be the usual sort of official release that is probably ghostwritten then quickly rubberstamped in the West Wing, a closer look definitely reveals more than a subtle shift in the tone and address of this statement.

For one thing, the nation's first president to hail from Hawai'i has renamed and recast the month as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, pointedly putting the "P.I." back in "AAPI".

An even closer look at the description of what is being commemorated reveals, less superficially, a real and frankly exciting change in tone from the kind of boilerplate annual proclamation we've grown accustomed to in recent years. Where there had been abstraction and generality there is specificity and recognition of our community's diversity. Where there had been reference to vague and monolithic contributions as entrepreneurs and (even more vaguely) " servants of the cause of freedom and peace," this year's proclamation recalls the earliest immigration, the labor of the railroads and farms and mines, as well as current contributions in academia, the arts and literature, government, technology and other sectors.

In short, it is happily the kind of proclamation we would have expected from Barack Obama -- our first Hawai'i President, our first nonwhite President, our first "hapa" President. For those who enjoy government speeches and rhetoric, it's pleasant reading and an interesting departure from the past years when our community has felt so left out in the political cold.

Check it out for yourself at the Village's Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month section.

Friday, May 01, 2009

APAP announces "Nationwide Conversation on the State of AAPIs"

Release by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress

A Nationwide Conversation on the State of AAPIs
Sunday, May 31, 2009
4 pm EST/1 pm PST

Please join us for a nationwide conference call with leading Asian American voices, including President Obama's brother-in-law, a rep from the Obama administration, as well as AAPI elected officials. After the 20-minute call, we encourage you to engage in conversation with your guests about the issues important to you. Send in your reports and we’ll post them on our website (along with your pictures) and submit our results to the Obama Administration.

For more information, please go to