Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 1:57AM / Standard Entry
The following is text from an email sent by Kenji Taguma, President of the Nichi Bei Foundation, and Editor-in-Chief of the Nichi Bei Weekly.
I hope you are well. I’m writing to let you know about two events related to the launch of the Wayne Maeda Asian American Studies Archives at California State University, Sacramento, put together by Prof. Greg Mark and others. Although I’m not directly involved with these events, I’m happy to help Greg spread the word of anything related to my mentor, longtime Nichi Bei Times/Weekly contributing writer, and founding Nichi Bei Foundation board member.
The first is a panel today (Friday, April 18) at the Association for Asian American Studies conference at the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco, 1-2:30 p.m., in the Larkspur room: “Preserving Our History: The Wayne Maeda Asian American Studies Archive.” This features Dr. Gregory Mark, Dr. James Sobredo, Chao Vang, Marietess Masulit, Caitlyn Imura and John De Guzman. (Sorry for the short notice).
The next event is the official launch of the Wayne Maeda Asian American Studies Archives at CSUS: Friday, May 2, 2014, 3-5 p.m., Forest Suite, University Union, 6000 J St., CSU Sacramento. With four decades of college instruction, Professor Wayne Maeda was one of California’s foremost scholars on Japanese American history and was a founding member of the Ethnic Studies Center and Asian American Studies. As part of his legacy, the Wayne Maeda Asian American Studies Archive was established for future generations of scholars and researchers, in an effort to serve higher education and preserve the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Flyers for the two previously mentioned events are attached.
On the one-year anniversary of Wayne’s passing, I posted my eulogy of him here:
A video tribute I produced for Wayne’s Memorial Service last March, which I modified for the Florin JACL event that honored him, could be found here:
Also of note, in honor of Wayne, the Nichi Bei Foundation has started a Wayne Maeda Educational Fund, essentially a vehicle to fund our educational programming such as our ever-expanding annual Films of Remembrance event, which had close to 500 attendees this year.
Hope to see you at any of these events.
Kenji G. Taguma
President / Nichi Bei Foundation / http://www.nichibeifoundation.org
Editor-in-Chief / Nichi Bei Weekly / http://www.nichibei.org
Co-Chair / Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival / http://www.soyandtofufest.org
Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 5:05AM / Standard Entry
Data-inspired journalism is seemingly everywhere these days, from recently-launched ventures like Vox, more established ventures like FiveThirtyEight, and even rapidly evolving sites linked with traditional media enterprises, such as The Atlantic Monthly’s TheAtlantic.com, TheAtlanticCities.com and Quartz (QZ.com) and The New York Times’s forthcoming section The Upshot.
These enterprises attempt to use quantitative data as a tool to explore society, policy-making and electoral politics. But even with data, context is everything. And as frequently seen, one of the most critical areas in which a lack of representative diversity can produce distorted or misleading results — or an absence of content at all — is in the coverage of race, culture and ethnicity.
A particularly glaring omission across the data-inspired journalism landscape is contextually rich content that relates to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).
With Asian Pacific American Heritage Month approaching, political scientist Karthick Ramakrishnan’s AAPI Data and 18 Million Rising have launched AAPI Voices, a new platform that hopes to develop and feature data-inspired feature writing and provocative short pieces relating to AAPI communities and AAPI experiences.
The goal is to harness both the power of compelling data and the storytelling talent of the vibrant AAPI journalist, blogger and academic communities, to inspire more news coverage and public understanding of key aspects and features of our rapidly growing and changing AAPI populations.
AAPI Voices is soliciting pitches for contributions on the following themes for APA Heritage Month in 2014. While the contributions we’re seeking should be anchored in data and explore trends, patterns, nuances or exceptions to conventional wisdom that these data reveal, the style in which the pieces are written can range from analytic to creative, and from sober to humorous, and can range from short pieces (300-500 words) to longer-form, feature-length articles (1000 words+). Whatever the style or format, storytelling counts: contributions should be compelling, inviting — and provocative.
Contributors will be paid at competitive online rates (see details below); stories will be published on AAPI Voices, a new and experimental platform developed jointly by AAPIdata.com and 18MR.org, and potentially via other partners and distribution channels as needed to maximize their exposure to both media and audiences at large. AAPI Voices will provide data analysis and visualization support as necessary for accepted pitches.
Thursday, Apr 3, 2014 2:18AM / Standard Entry
The following is text from a statement issued by the Japanese American Citizens League on April 2, 2014.
In a recent episode of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert aired a segment that addressed the controversy surrounding Washington’s NFL franchise owner, Dan Snyder. Snyder, who has already been under fire for refusing to change his team’s name despite protests from the Native American community to stop his use of a racial slur, exacerbated his offense by creating a new foundation for Native Americans that continues to use the derogatory term. Colbert, like many others, chose to poke fun at the tone-deaf nature of Snyder’s gesture.
In his segment, Colbert reprised a stereotypical Asian character he has used in past shows to announce the creation of the “Ching-Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” Colbert’s depiction of this “mascot” of his show was an amalgam of various offensive Asian American stereotypes.
On Monday, Colbert responded to the backlash generated by his segment from the Asian American community. Colbert touted his sensitivity towards the Asian American community, citing the knowledge he gained from Michelle Malkin’s In Defense of Internment, a work that has been widely discredited for its historical distortions and specious conclusions that justified the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans.
Much of The Colbert Report’s humor is based on the premise of the outrageous character played by Stephen Colbert, a caricature of a racist, sexist, over-the-top right-wing conservative media personality. Yet too often, the guise of humor and satire are used to absolve individuals of all responsibility when their humor misses its mark and becomes offensive.
The JACL objects to Colbert’s use of racist jokes to make a larger point about bigotry and ignorance. There is much to criticize around Dan Snyder’s racial insensitivity and the enormous amount of privilege he wields in actively perpetuating the use of a racial slur. However, there is nothing clever or humorous about resorting to tired, racist stereotypes that target another marginalized group in order to make this point.
Founded in 1929, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization concerned with issues of education, public policy and leadership development. As a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, the JACL promotes public awareness about the history and achievements of Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPI), identifies and trains youth for leadership and service, and pursues public policy issues that affect the AAPI community. The JACL headquarters is located in San Francisco with additional offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C. http://jacl.org
Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 6:20AM / Standard Entry
Note: The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) today issued a media release critiquing the new film, Cesar Chavez, saying that the film leaves out Filipino American contributions and misses an opportunity to provide an accurate account of the farmworker struggle. I have not yet seen the film, but am sharing this because the Filipino American farmworker story deserves attention. My posting this is in no way intended to diminish the labor and civil rights legacy of Cesar Chavez or others who led or were involved in that movement. I am thrilled that this movie was made, even while lamenting that the story omits the roles that Larry Itliong and other Filipino Americans served in advancing the cause of labor. I will see this movie and encourage others to see it as well. Thank you to Ron Muriera for sharing this. – Keith
The National Board of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) celebrates the appearance of United Farm Workers (UFW) co-founder Larry Itliong in the Hollywood biopic Cesar Chavez. However, FANHS argues that the film misses an opportunity to offer a nuanced and accurate history of the farmworkers movement that was born of the Filipinos’ 1965 Grape Strike because it does not emphasize the importance of the historic multi-ethnic alliance between Mexicans and Filipinos in the UFW.
FANHS hopes that moviegoers inspired by the film continue to learn about the movement and are spurred towards dialogue and action towards today’s movements for worker justice and such issues as immigration reform.
“We respect Diego Luna’s vision of a film about the heroic rise of Cesar Chavez, but as a history of the farmworkers struggle, the film falls short by downplaying, erasing and silencing the significant role that Filipinos and others played in the heroic struggle for farmworkers justice in California,” says Dr. Dawn B. Mabalon, National Scholar and board member of FANHS, and associate professor of history at San Francisco State University. “We understand that this is Hollywood and not a documentary, but the filmmakers still have a responsibility to ensure that the history they present is accurate.”
“We hoped that the film would show how Filipino strike leaders such as Itliong, Pete Velasco, Philip Vera Cruz, Ben Gines and Andy Imutan, and Mexican leaders such Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Gil Padilla did the challenging work of organizing workers and creating and sustaining a coalition, and how their strategies, cooperation and solidarity resulted in the nation’s first successful farm labor union, the United Farm Workers,” said Mabalon. “It does not.”
Mabalon’s 2013 book, Little Manila is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipino American Community in Stockton, California (Duke University Press), tells the story of the Filipinos’ farm labor struggles from the 1920s onward and the rise of Stockton’s Larry Itliong, a veteran labor organizer in California agriculture and Alaska salmon canneries. In 1960, Itliong was an organizer for the predominantly Filipino union, the AFL-CIO’s Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). When Delano grape growers refused a wage of $1.40/hr, more than 1,500 AWOC members went on strike and walked out of the fields on Sept. 8, 1965.
When Mexican scabs took their jobs, Itliong convinced Chavez and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) to join the strike. On September 16, 1965, the NFWA voted to join the AWOC. In 1966, the AWOC and the NFWA merged to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee. Cesar Chavez was named director, and Itliong served as the UFW’s assistant director from 1966-1971. Philip Vera Cruz and Pete Velasco continued to serve on the UFW executive board.
· The film implied that the Chavez organization, the NFWA, was the only union ever in farm labor. Itliong and the Filipinos had been organizing since the 1920s, and they were feared for their militance. Their AFL-CIO’s AWOC had been in Delano since the early 1960s. The Filipino strike that begins on September 8, 1965, is shown for a few seconds on screen and without any context.
- The film does not show the historic 1966 merger between the two unions, the AWOC and the NFWA, which birthed the UFW With the new union, Filipinos and Mexicans rejected the “divide and conquer” tactics used by growers (Mexican scabs during Filipino strikes, and vice versa) that had kept the groups from joining to demand better wages, working conditions and basic human dignity. The Grape Strike and the 1966 alliance was unprecedented and changed the course of American labor and social movement history.
- The Filipino voice and presence in the UFW is largely absent. Though there were several Filipinos in leadership and several thousand Filipino strikers, only a small group is shown briefly during the Grape Strike. Larry Itliong speaks one line to Chavez. Itliong appears in a few quick shots, always in the background, and is absent through most of the film.
- The filmmakers erased Filipinos from key moments in which archival and photographic evidence show the opposite. In the climactic contract scene with major grape growers, Larry Itliong is a spectator in the crowd, though he was actually sitting next to Chavez at the signing and played a key role in the negotiations. When Chavez breaks his fast with Senator Kennedy, the row of Filipino leaders (Itliong, Vera Cruz, Imutan) who were lined up behind him are all missing in the film. When Chavez announces his fast, Itliong is shown briefly, silently frowning in the back, when he actually vocally opposed the move and then facilitated the meeting when Chavez leaves. Itliong and Chavez together led several marches. Itliong is not in any march scenes.
- Also missing is Itliong’s long friendship with Dolores Huerta that dates back to the 1950s in Stockton, California, his role as a negotiator, and as a coordinator of the international grape boycott.
- The warm camaraderie that developed between Filipino and Mexican workers at Delano’s Filipino Hall, used as the strike headquarters and mess hall for many years (now a national landmark) is absent in the film. The hall is shown twice briefly and without Filipinos, with occasional shot of Larry Itliong in the back.
- FANHS hopes that the film inspires a new generation towards deeper knowledge of the farmworkers’ struggle, Filipino American history, Mexican American and Latina/o history and ethnic studies, and inspires more coalition-building, dialogue and action towards the issues of global and domestic worker justice and immigration reform.
- FANHS encourages the public to watch Marissa Aroy’s documentary on Filipinos in the farm labor movement, DELANO MANONGS: FORGOTTEN HEROES OF THE UNITED FARM WORKERS, in film festivals in 2014 and on PBS stations next year and to read further about the farm labor movement.
- FANHS hopes the popularity of the CESAR CHAVEZ film leads Hollywood to make and support more films that reflect our diverse American stories.
Filipino Americans are the largest Asian American group in California, California’s third largest minority group, and the second largest Asian American group in the United States. Latinas/os and Filipinas/os are the two of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the nation.
“Delano Manongs, new books, more ethnic studies, and the work of FANHS has brought the experiences of Filipinos in California’s labor movement to light,” states Mabalon. “We need to make sure that our significant place in our nation’s history is not obscured or forgotten.”
The California State Legislature recently passed AB123, which calls for students to learn about Filipino American farm labor organizing as part of history curriculum. Dolores Huerta testified in support of the bill, which was sponsored by Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American California State Assemblyman. Recently, community members in Union City, California renamed a middle school the Itliong/Vera Cruz Middle School to honor the UFW vice-presidents.
With Cesar Chavez Day on March 31st and the film release this weekend, FANHS celebrates the leadership and courage of all of those in the farmworkers struggle, and all those workers and labor organizers who struggle today for justice and fair wages and working conditions.
FANHS (www.fanhs-national.org), headquartered in Seattle, Washington, was established in 1982 and consists of 30 chapters nationwide. Members are scholars, educators and community members who preserve, document and share the rich history of Filipinos in the United States.
Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 3:54AM / Standard Entry
A groundbreaking report released on March 25, 2014, reveals that Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) are one of the fastest-growing racial groups but face high rates of poverty and barriers to quality health care and educational opportunities for their youth. A Community of Contrasts: Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, 2014, released by Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) compiles data that reveal a host of social and economic disparities facing this growing, but often invisible, community.
The NHPI community grew 40 percent over the decade, and now there are more than 1.2 million NHPIs living in the U.S. According to Census Bureau projections, there will be nearly 2 million NHPIs by 2030.
Despite the growth, NHPI communities remain invisible. Although the Office of Management and Budget’s Statistical Directive 15 (OMB 15) requires federal agencies to collect and publish data on NHPIs separate from Asian Americans, few comply with this guidance. As a result, the unique needs of NHPI communities are masked under a broader “Asian Pacific Islander” umbrella.
“Data is a vital tool in helping to raise the visibility of our community,” said Tana Lepule, EPIC executive director. “When you see the figures, you can see that we’re veterans, small business owners and voters. But you can also see that many of our families live in poverty and many of our youth face educational challenges. This report can help paint a fuller picture of our community.”
In addition to general demographics, the report includes social and economic data pulled from the Census Bureau and other sources. For example, education data in the report reveal that NHPIs face low admissions and enrollment rates to 4-year colleges. National education statistics show that only about 38 percent of NHPI college-aged youth were in college in 2011, a rate lower than average. Once in college, NHPIs have low rates of graduating college in four years.
“Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders share many similarities with other communities of color when it comes to under representation in higher education,” says Sefa Aina, EPIC board chairman and associate dean and director of Asian American Resources Center at Pomona College. “Programs that provide a pipeline from high school to college and integrate our community’s culture and values are critical in ensuring that our youth are on a pathway to success.”
In addition to education data, the report also notes the economic challenges faced by NHPIs. During the recession, the number of NHPIs who were unemployed increased 123 percent and the number living in poverty increased 56 percent, rates higher than any racial group. One-third of NHPIs are low-income and the majority are renters.
“Like many other communities, NHPI were impacted by the recession and are still trying to recover,” said Fahina Tavake-Pasi, National Tongan American Society executive director. “Economic issues are tied to the educational and health disparities we see in our communities.”
Health care is another critical issue. NHPIs face high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Cancer is the fastest-growing cause of death among Native Hawaiians, Samoan Americans, and Guamanian or Chamorro Americans. At the same time, many NHPIs lack access to quality, culturally appropriate care. One in seven does not have health insurance; a rate higher than it is for whites.
“Culturally appropriate health programs are vital in addressing the health disparities facing NHPIs,” said JoAnn Tsark, Papa Ola Lokahi research director. “Addressing the challenges facing our community requires advocates who respect our self-determination and are willing to support community capacity building to create effective programs that are based on our cultural values.”
A Community of Contrasts: Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, 2014 was made possible by the generous support of the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Cyrus Chung Ying Tang Foundation and Bank of America.
- Keith Kamisugi is a public relations, social media and communications professional based in San Francisco.
- Occupation: Web/Multimedia Designer
- Gender: Male
- Total visits: 53,478