Angry Reader of the Week: Elmer Jan

"I'm a runner: can't claim being fast, but can claim being steady."

Hey, there. You know what time it is. It's time 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 Elmer Jan.

Who are you?

Hi. I'm Elmer Jan, coming to you from Marin County, California.

What are you?

I'm a librarian. I'm a runner: can't claim being fast, but can claim being steady. Before embarking on librarianship, I taught English As A Second Language with the San Francisco Community College District for over 10 years. I've been a librarian in both academic and public libraries for 25 years in San Francisco and Marin County.

I've been a runner for almost 40 years. I run the Chinese New Year 10K, a benefit for the Chinatown YMCA every year, and miss the Cherry Blossom Run, a benefit for Kimochi Inc., a non-profit agency in San Francisco's Japanese American community supporting and caring for seniors. The run went on for several years but was discontinued in the late ‘80s. This past Sunday I completed my 40th marathon in Napa Valley. Again, not fast, just steady.

Where are you?

At home in San Rafael, CA.

Where are you from?

I was born in Mojave, CA. My family moved from Mojave to Paso Robles, then to San Luis Obispo, and finally to San Francisco where I grew up. I've spent most of my adult life in San Francisco and Marin County.

What do you do?

Work. Run. Rinse. Repeat.

What are you all about?

In the mid-70s I did my undergraduate work at UC Berkeley, majoring in Oriental Languages (they don't call it "Oriental Languages" anymore; they now go by "East Asian Languages & Cultures) and minoring in Asian American Studies. My involvement with Asian American Studies led me to the Asian Community Center (later, Wei Min She) in the basement of the International Hotel on Kearny Street in San Francisco, including volunteering to staff the organization's bookstore on weekends. (Was this a precursor to my library career several decades later?) I also volunteered on the newspaper, The San Francisco Journal: A Perspective on the News: Local, National, the Third World, Asian America.

As you can tell from my answer to "What do you do?" I'm no longer directly active in Asian American affairs. But Angry Asian Man is my go-to source for keeping current with Asian American politics and culture not only from the native posts but also from blog posts from all over the web so conveniently aggregated under Read These Blogs.

Back in the day, as we began to find our voice and sought to define ourselves, coast to coast it was all on paper, to name just a few: Yellow Pearl and Bridge: The Asian American Magazine/Basement Workshop, New York; Roots: An Asian American Reader/UCLA; Echoes from Gold Mountain: An Asian American Journal/Cal State Long Beach; Asian Women/UC Berkeley; Aion/San Francisco; Bamboo Ridge: The Hawaii Writers Quarterly/Honolulu.

Not to discount how the printed and published works by and about Asian Americans have grown tremendously in the last four-plus decades from just a few volumes to become significant collections on library shelves, but the web, social media, and related technologies have made possible as never before an explosion of discussion of Asian American politics and social issues; and of creativity in and discourse on art, music, film, and literature.

What makes you angry?

When I was very young, I was on the bus with my mom and a white lady sidled up to my mom and straight out asked, "Are you Chinese or Japanese?" Even as a child, as I witnessed this insensitive intrusion, I was asking myself, "What's wrong with this picture?"

Fast forward to 2007: I was in an elevator in a county building with a couple of white women and a white sheriff's deputy who were cheerfully chatting with each other. The two women got off on the third floor. The deputy and I got off on the fourth floor when he suddenly turned to me and requested to search my bag. This was a week after the Virginia Tech shootings. Racial profiling much?

The continued stereotyping of Asian Americans, whether intentionally maliciously or played for a laugh, making us the butt of insensitive jokes.

The chink eye.

Lead-poisoned water.

Police shooting unarmed citizens.

Mass shootings.

Dishonest politicians. Is "dishonest politicians" redundant?
The plethora of politicians; the dearth of statesmen.

Lying corporations.

There is a t-shirt that reads, "I run to burn off the crazy." Maybe the crazy, not so much the angry.


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