8.29.2016

Randall Park Interviews Ali Wong

Guest Post by Randall Park



Ali Wong is an amazing stand up comedian, actress and a writer on our beloved sitcom Fresh Off The Boat.

She is also one of my dearest friends. I’ve known Ali since her days as a cast member of Lapu The Coyote That Cares Theater, the UCLA Asian American theater company that I co-founded many years ago. Ali and I performed sketch and improv together in seedy restaurants to audiences that can be counted on one hand. I’ve seen her go from a fellow budding (and incredibly hard working) stand-up comedian to a brilliant (and still incredibly hard working) comedy superstar with her recent Netflix special Baby Cobra.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Baby Cobra, I suggest you turn off your computer right now, turn it back on, go to Netflix and watch it IMMEDIATELY. It is, in my opinion, a comedy classic. Right up there with all the greats.

Having known Ali for all these years, I have unique access to the mind of a master at her craft. Unlike the average journalist, I can ask her the deep, personal questions that reveal the true darkness behind the laughter, the tears of a clown, if you will. So with that, here is my in depth, at times uncomfortable, interview with my friend, the great comedian Ali Wong.

8.28.2016

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Ghosts of White People Past: Witnessing White Flight From an Asian Ethnoburb: If diversity is so important to liberal whites, why do they keep fleeing ethnically diverse suburbia?

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A fatal crash and the thoughts a father lives with: Calvin Li was killed in a car crash last year shortly after graduating from high school. In March, his father committed to donating $1.2 million to endow a fellowship at the University of Maryland that will focus on issues facing children of Asian American immigrants.

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Why Asian-Pacific Islanders Care About Incarceration: For one, the U.S. Department of Justice statistics don't register enough Asian Pacific Islander prisoners to be included in reports. They are lumped in a category simply called "other."

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23andMe has a problem when it comes to ancestry reports for people of color: Lazy ethnographic data leaves many people of color wanting more from this genetic testing site.

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Too much boba is bad for you. A proposed change to California's data law could show who's most at risk. Why disaggregating data is important for the health of Asian American communities.

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When an Adoptee Adopts: Joy Osmanski on open adoption and her experience as an adoptee herself.

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Glare of Disdain In this autobiographical comic, Gene Luen Yang remembers the inexplicably uneasy race relations with his Indian American classmate -- and how the power of story helped bridge that gap.

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The Story Behind The Get Down's Kung Fu Connection: The legacy of Bruce Lee and classic kung fu cinema are all over The Get Down, the new Netflix series set in the earliest days of hip hop.



Watch Now: Films and Shows By, About or Starring Asian Americans

Guest Post by Momo Chang



Hey! Tired of #whitewashedout films? Don't fret, there are films that are made by, star or are about Asian Americans. And many of them are in theaters now or available via streaming.

The reality is, there are thousands of independent films out there that don't receive big reviews, a large marketing budget, or big-times stars behind them. While the cost of making an independent film has gone down, filmmakers have to push to let folks know that these titles even exist.

One advantage in today's media world is that even though many films can't compete in the immediate marketplace of Hollywood blockbusters, they may have a longer life span via streaming, Netflix, VOD and independent distribution.

Entities like the Center for Asian American Media, where I work as the Content Manager, and Angry Asian Man, draw attention to Asian American films and filmmakers. CAAM hosts the nation's largest showcase of Asian and Asian American films at our annual CAAMFest. There are also about a dozen more Asian American film festivals across the country. Many of the films listed below either debuted at our festival or were partially funded by CAAM.

Keep up with Asian American films, filmmakers and mediamakers by attending one of many Asian American film festivals is one way to keep tabs on what's new. Come out to CAAMFest in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news about Asian Americans in media.

As for TV shows, we're watching those too. Fall TV season is about to begin, including these shows with significant Asian American casts: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Dr. Ken, Fresh Off the Boat, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Quantico and Elementary. Also, the Justin Lin-directed show Scorpion is back for another season. Two shows currently on HBO are The Night Of and Ballers, starring Riz Ahmed and The Rock, respectively. There's also mixed-race Blasian star Merle Dandridge on OWN's Greenleaf.

Here's to sharing more of our voices and stories. And, please let us know if we missed any.

— Momo Chang

8.27.2016

A Conversation with a "Jungle" Asian American

Guest Post by Naomi Ko



Minnesota. It's cold, it's white. There aren't a lot of Asian Americans like me (first and second generation Korean Americans.) However, my home state hosts the largest population of Hmong Americans in the United States.

May Lee-Yang, a good friend and collaborator, is one of these Hmong Americans from Minnesota. She is an incredibly talented playwright, actor, performance artist, writer, producer, etc. She's a real Jane-of-all-trades.

We often joke about how she's a "jungle" Asian and I'm a "fancy" Asian. Yes, I know, it doesn't sound right. Some readers may be offended. But, as May is one of the pioneers in the Hmong American Theater movement, she believes this title better explains who the Hmong are to a public that don't know much about them at all.

Recently we talked about May's experience as a "jungle" Asian.

8.26.2016

Angry Reader of the Week: Constance Wu

"I highly recommend letter writing."


Photo Credit: Constance's Dad

Greetings, good people of the internet. It is time, once again, to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Constance Wu.

Fartherhood

Guest Post by Ed Lin



My wife Cindy and I hadn't planned to have kids, not before we were married, not in the years after.

We weren't hardcore against it, just not as pumped to procreate as you should be if that's what you want. We had a great punchline whenever we were on a plane or in line somewhere and a baby somewhere began to scream: Let's have kids!

We already had full lives. We were both working dayjobs. I was also writing books while she was also acting on stage, television and film. Our free time outside of these activities was spent supporting our artist friends, seeing their readings, plays and (at times questionable) performance art.

Things began to change, though, as we found ourselves on the deep end of our 30s. Our friends were having kids, staying home and being squares. That shrank our social circle but we were still as busy as a childless couple could be. Cindy landed a major film role and ended up quitting her dayjob -- no more sneaking out to auditions for her. After that, her acting gigs only ramped up. I landed a contract with a major publisher to write what turned out to be a mystery series set in New York's Chinatown in the 70s.

Our schedules conflicted and she would miss my readings and I would miss hers. You know you're making it when you miss each other's events, we remarked with wonder. We tried to carve out time for friends when possible, though.

One overdue appointment was to go out to New Jersey to see friends who had undertaken the Herculean task of having two kids. Two! It seemed like they had had the first one five seconds ago. Time, for us, wasn't going by quickly, necessarily. It's just that as adults we weren't subject to the same calendar events that people with kids are. We didn't notice back-to-school sales, snow days or summer-camp enrollments. Disregarding the months, New York City has two seasons, really. For us, the weather got cold and then it got warmer, and the subway sucked on the weekends, year in and year out.

Jersey is not even an hour away but it is a different world. I remember that we were thoroughly charmed by the house that our Jersey friends lived in. They had a dog that would freak out if it heard a photo click so you had to mute the phone to take its picture. But their kids! They were two little girls, I guess aged five and seven. They put on a magic show that was the funniest thing I'd seen in years. I laughed at the younger daughter for not being able to palm a card correctly and she burst into tears. I felt horrible about it and still do. I'd pay for her college if I could.

On the train ride back into the city I began to wonder what it would be like to live with children that were inexhaustible and happy.

8.25.2016

Letter to My Younger Self

Guest Post by Kristina Wong.



As part of TEAM (Together Empowering Asian Minds), a new campaign to address mental health among Asian American women, APIA women are publishing letters to their younger selves.

Dear 12-year-old Kristina Wong,

It's me -- your older OLD ASS self writing from the future -- 2016!

If I remember you correctly, you are wearing two pairs of scrunchy socks over tacky bright leggings, your peers shun you as a "weirdo pervert," and you stay awake at night wondering if you'll ever engage in sexual activity.

Surprise Young Kristina! Nothing changes in the future! The difference is... you will actually forge a CAREER out of your awkwardness! That's right! You are going to grow up to be a PERFORMANCE ARTIST!

I know what you're thinking:

What the hell kind of doctor is a "performance artist"?
How will we break the news to Mommy and Daddy?
You mean I really won't have sex in the future... ever?

On Community Engagement: A Conversation with RadAzns TC

Guest Post by Bao Phi



RadAZNs TC (TC standing for Twin Cities) is a Minnesota Asian American activist group that conducted a series of door knocking campaigns in low income communities with Asian residents to talk about police brutality, anti-Blackness, and discrimination. Though many members of RadAZNs TC had been activists in myriad groups and causes for quite some time, many of them came together through movements and actions related to the shooting of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old African American man who was shot and killed by Minneapolis police on November 15, 2015, in North Side Minneapolis.

Below is an interview I conducted with several members who were involved in the door knocking campaign -- Eunha Jeong Wood, Txoov Vaaj (Chong Vang), MK Nguyen, and contributions by Linda Her.

8.24.2016

Another Great Wall

Guest Post by Oliver Wang



Readers of this site are already well aware of the recent kerfuffle over Zhang Yimou's upcoming action fantasy epic, The Great Wall, aka "that film where Matt Damon fights dragons in China." Unlike other Hollywood films with a Great White Savior Complex, The Great Wall is more complicated because it's both Chinese-directed and co-produced (Zhang himself has vigorously defended the film's cultural politics). Regardless, all the news about The Great Wall instantly reminded me of a very different Great Wall, one that also happened to be a Chinese/American co-production and though it was certainly less controversial, it was no less historical: Peter Wang's A Great Wall (1986).

8.23.2016

Need Fashion Inspiration? Look No Further Than "Chinatown Pretty"

Guest Post by Jean Ho



When Phil asked me to write a guest post, I knew I wanted to highlight the creators of Chinatown Pretty, a street-style blog celebrating fashionable Asian American seniors and their stories in San Francisco Chinatown.

Photographer Andria Lo and writer Valerie Luu met through food -- Andria shot the photos for Valerie's Vietnamese pop-up restaurant and catering business, Rice Paper Scissors. Their inspiration for Chinatown Pretty? Man Ta, "the woman with the jade shoes," who Valerie first spotted getting off a bus somewhere between Chinatown and North Beach. She just knew she had to find out the story behind the chic octogenarian and her bright green kicks.

As it turns out, the sneakers are from a store on Stockton Street, and she owns ten pairs: "I wear them until they break," Man Ta told Valerie and Andria. A longtime Chinatown resident, she has since seen that store on Stockton shutter.

Work In Progress: Emotional Abuse and Violence in Our Communities

Guest Post by Juliet Shen.



I have always been a vocal person.

For four (almost five) years, I ran a blog called Fascinasians where I shared content about race, gender, feminism, and current events. Those who know me know that I am never one to shy away from conversation, and will probably be the first to openly discuss something I feel is unjust or wrong.

It has now been six months since my last relationship ended. After joining a sorority whose chapter philanthropy is fighting sexual violence, my passion for fighting domestic abuse grew and grew. Every friend who came to me and every person who shared their story with me stoked my fire. I did workshops on Asian American feminism and talked about toxic masculinity and warned people what to look out for to identify a dangerous situation or relationship. I never once thought that I would have to do it myself.

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