We’re #1: 2012 Election Was An Election Of Firsts For AAPIs

November 8th, 2012 | 2 comments | Posted by Jen

This year’s election was an election of firsts. Not least of all for our people, who are often left out of election and post-election talk altogether. A brief recap:

MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI) becomes the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate, and the first woman senator representing Hawaii. She’s also the first Senator born in Japan, and she’s Buddhist. Plus her name is Mazie–from the Japanese “Meiji,” pronounced “May-zee”–which officially gives her the coolest name in Congress.

TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL), who will represent the 8th Congressional District of Illinois, becomes the first Thai American and the first disabled woman veteran elected to Congress. She’s fluent in Thai, Indonesian, and before she was deployed to Iraq in 2004, she was pursuing her Ph.D. She was a US Army combat helicopter pilot in Iraq when the Black Hawk she was co-piloting was hit by an RPG, causing damage to her right arm and the loss of both her legs. Now, thanks to prosthetics, she is fully mobile. So yes, she is more badass than anyone you know.

GRACE MENG (D-NY), from New Yorks’s 6th Congressional District, becomes the Continue reading We’re #1: 2012 Election Was An Election Of Firsts For AAPIs

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Meet The First Asian American Gold Medalist, 91 Year-Old Sammy Lee

July 20th, 2012 | 8 comments | Posted by Jen

The last time the Olympics were in London in 1948 was also the first time an Asian American won a gold medal in the Games. That distinction belongs to 91 year-old Dr. Samuel “Sammy” Lee, who was born in Fresno, CA and is of Korean descent.

From Time Lightbox via Wired:

Dr. Samuel “Sammy” Lee, 91, was the first Asian-American to win an Olympic gold Continue reading Meet The First Asian American Gold Medalist, 91 Year-Old Sammy Lee

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Marshall Zhang, The Kid That May Have Cured Cystic Fibrosis

May 17th, 2011 | 2 comments | Posted by Diana

Name: Marshall Zhang

Age: 16

Hails from: Toronto, Canada

Occupation: Student, as in, um, HIGH SCHOOL student

Known for: Possibly discovering a cure for Cystic Fibrosis–or at least laying the groundwork for a breakthrough.

Lemme ‘splain how this went down. Okay, so like me, Marshall Zhang took AP Bio his sophomore year and thought it totally badass.

Alas, this is where our paths diverge: My junior year (it was awhile ago but I still remember quite clearly) I enrolled in Physics and AP Chem, quickly realized I have no place in the elegant world of natural sciences, dropped AP Chem, doodled my way to a B+ in Physics, decided to begin compiling a bitchin’ record collection, declared that “music is my science,” you can figure out the rest.

Zhang decided he needed more than school could offer and asked every professor listed as biochemistry faculty at the University of Toronto if he could work in their labs. Every one said no, except for Dr. Christine Bear, a researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children’s Research Institute in Toronto. Under the tutelage of his mentor, Zhang was able to do advanced research regarding treatment for the incurable Cystic Fibrosis.

From LiveScience: Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Marshall Zhang, The Kid That May Have Cured Cystic Fibrosis

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! @ReallyVirtual, The Man Who Unwittingly Live-Tweeted The Raid On Osama bin Laden

May 2nd, 2011 | 2 comments | Posted by Jen

Meet Sohaib Athar–@ReallyVirtual on Twitter–a Pakistani IT consultant from Lahore who, up until a day ago, was “taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops.” And the name of the mountain town where Mr. Athar had taken refuge?

Abbottabad.

Turns out Athar wasn’t the only man who found the Sarban hills surrounding the city to be the perfect hideaway. But Athar is, however, the only man who live-blogged the raid on that other guy’s mountain retreat. And unwittingly, at that!

Though now “the rat race” Athar had been trying to escape in Lahore has come to him–with journalists the world over scrambling to land an interview with Athar–the Pakistani man just trying to get away from it all hasn’t lost sight of his core values–or, for that matter, his appealingly wry sense of humor:

[WSJ: From Abbottabad, Live-Tweeting the Bin Laden Attack]
[@ReallyVirtual on Twitter]

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Alvin Wong, Happiest Person In America

March 7th, 2011 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Alvin Wong with his wife, Trudy Schandler-Wong

Name: Alvin Wong

Age: 69

Ethnicity: Chinese American

Religion: Judaism

Occupation: Business owner and Happiest Person in America

According to data collected by Gallup over the last three years that was then plugged into a formula called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the statistical composite for the happiest person in the U.S. is:

…tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, gets lei-ed lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year.

Alvin Wong, a 5’10″, 69 year-old health care management business owner, fits that bill. But is he the only one? I mean, how many tall, Asian American, observant Jews 65-and-over do you know?

(In light of the fact that the median income for Jews and Asian Americans is not only similar but exceeds the national average, the $120 thou a year part is a given. Jews are reputed to have slightly higher divorce rates than non-Jews, while Asian Americans have slightly lower divorce rates, so when combined the marriage thing is a non-factor. And remember, this is all junk science, so no emails about this being junk science and stereotype-dredging. I mean, duh.)

Since Diana and I both suck at math, I had a Physics professor friend of mine–not my Hardass Asian Dad, incidentally–crunch the numbers for me. Here are his findings based on the data I provided for him:

Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Alvin Wong, Happiest Person In America

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Lisa Lee And Lynn Chen’s “Thick Dumpling Skin”

February 21st, 2011 | 4 comments | Posted by Diana

In all of my three decades of life, I have never once been skinny.

Now–before you get all up in my grill with the, “Ohmygawd Diana, you’re NOT fat” words of soothing or the “You bitch, don’t talk to me about not being skinny” words of annoyance, please know that I’m not fishing for compliments, nor complaining about my size, nor stating I’ve never been a healthy, normal weight. I’m just saying, I’ve never been skinny.

But Asian girls are supposed to be skinny, right?

That’s like, the Asian girl thing: “Oh gosh, I just eat and eat and eat but I can’t gain any weight.” And “Urggg–they ran out of size zeros.” And “I was the skinniest person on my softball team in high school and I always hated it.” And “I can’t believe it, Yennie and I both hit three-digit weights over the holidays and we almost died!” Slight frames and narrow shoulders and bony hips and knobby knees and protruding ribs and flat asses and tiny breasts and slender thighs and stick arms. It’s our answer to the world’s Amazon legs and blonde waves and sexy curves. We’re skinny, betches.

Well, some of us.

Are we all meant to look like this?

Then there are the rest of us. We are sized 4, 6, 8, 14, 20. Medium and XXL. We do not eat whatever we want. Our clothes don’t “hang” on us. We cannot fathom wearing thigh-high boots. We have learned to like Diet Coke. We see photos of ourselves at weddings and realize that our arms are the same size as our cousins’ legs. We do not get lifted whimsically in the air by men. We have never liked our knees. We walk into an Asian supermall and watch them shake their heads–Your size we do not carry. We have Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Lisa Lee And Lynn Chen’s “Thick Dumpling Skin”

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! The Late Fred T. Korematsu

January 31st, 2011 | 3 comments | Posted by Diana

Lately, I keep only one business card in my wallet all the time (pictured, right). It was given to me at last year’s AAJA Conference by Ling Woo Liu, Director of the Korematsu Instutute for Civil Rights and Education. When a day is hitting me especially hard, an effort feeling overwhelmingly like an up-mountain climb, or I’m struggling to rustle up the conviction to fight against something that’s effed-up in this effed-up world (like we sometimes do on this blog), I pull out the wrinkled card and look at Korematsu’s warm, happy face, the Medal of Freedom on his neck, and the pride in his eyes.

I am reminded of a man who never hesitated to fight for what he knew in his heart was right–who didn’t back down even when his efforts were fruitless.

For those who aren’t familiar with his story…

A young Korematsu with family, third from left

An American-born citizen and Oakland resident, Korematsu resisted internment as a young man of 22, just four months after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. He fled to Nevada, but within months was caught on a street corner and arrested, then sent to an internment camp in Utah (a facility originally designed to board horses). Still, Korematsu Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! The Late Fred T. Korematsu

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK: Dr. Peter Rhee, Surgeon Overseeing The Care Of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

January 10th, 2011 | 5 comments | Posted by Jen

Name: Dr. Peter Rhee

Hails from: Pennsylvania, originally

Occupation: 24 year Navy Veteran and Military Surgeon, Chief of Trauma at the University Medical Center in Tucson

Let’s step away for a moment from the finger-pointing that’s ensued from all sides since the shooting in Tucson and appreciate this: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head, and the others injured at Giffords’ political event who were also admitted to Tucson’s University Medical Center’s trauma unit have, at the very least, been in excellent hands since Saturday’s tragedy. Today, the LA Times profiled Dr. Peter Rhee, chief of trauma at UMC, who is overseeing the care of those injured in the shooting and has become an instantly recognizable face after giving updates on the Congresswoman’s condition to the media over the weekend and describing his medical team as “optimistic” about her recovery.

The LA Times reveals that Rhee, a 24 year Navy veteran, spent five years as the director of the Navy Trauma Training Center at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he “typically would treat 30 gunshot wounds a day.” The profile also notes that he served two deployments–one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq–as a military surgeon, treating “hundreds and hundreds” of battlefield injuries. In typical Hardass Asian-style, Rhee describes his time in Arizona, by comparison, thusly:

“Tucson is actually, for a trauma surgeon, very embarrassing and pathetic because violence is almost nonexistent. I know everyone in the country thinks World War III is going on in Arizona, but it’s probably still the nicest place I can think of to live.”

We don’t know about “nicest place,” but today you could call Arizona a fortunate one–for being able to count Dr. Rhee as one of its own.

[LA Times: Giffords' surgeon trained on the battlefield]

[photo by Chris Carlson/The Associated Press via LA Times]

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Liu Xiaobo’s Empty Chair

December 13th, 2010 | 3 comments | Posted by Diana

Nobel Peace laureate and Chinese national Liu Xiaobo, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power,” was not present at the December 10 ceremony honoring his prize. Nor was his wife, who has been under house arrest since the Nobel announcement and is apparently now missing.

Instead, an empty chair sat on the Oslo stage between the Nobel Committee members, marking the first time a recipient was not physically present to accept the award. And as panel chief Thorbjoern Jagland placed the Nobel diploma on the chair, it was clear Liu’s presence was felt by the 1,000-person audience, who delivered a standing ovation.

The honoree’s final public statement, issued days before his imprisonment and read aloud at the Nobel ceremony by actress Liv Ullmann, included a message (translated here) for his beloved:

If I may be permitted to say so, the most fortunate experience of these past twenty years has been the selfless love I have received from my wife, Liu Xia. She could not be present as an observer in court today, but I still want to say to you, my dear, that I firmly believe your love for me will remain the same as it has always been. Throughout all these years that I have lived without freedom, our love was full of bitterness imposed by outside circumstances, but as I savor its aftertaste, it remains boundless. I am serving my sentence in a tangible prison, while you wait in the intangible prison of the heart. Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin, warming every cell of my body, allowing me to always keep peace, openness, and brightness in my heart, and filling every minute of my time in prison with meaning. My love for you, on the other hand, is so full of remorse and regret that it Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Liu Xiaobo’s Empty Chair

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! The People In The Panda Suits

December 6th, 2010 | 5 comments | Posted by Jen

Pandas are sickeningly cute. But they’re also dumb as fuck. They survive almost entirely on bamboo, which poses all kinds of problems; they frequently kill their young by accident or neglect; and they seem to have something against sex and reproducing more sickeningly-cute-but-dumb-as-fuck panda spawn.

Researchers at the famed Hetaoping Research and Conservation Centre in Sichuan Province, China, have been working their asses off to keep these adorable dummies from disappearing off the face of the planet, and one of their innovations is dressing themselves up in panda suits when it comes time to introduce the real pandas into the wild. To, presumably, get those pandas raised in captivity used to being around other pandas, or something like that?

No idea if it’ll work–the last panda the Hetaoping researchers introduced into the wild, Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! The People In The Panda Suits

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AMAZIANS OF THE WEEK! The Tran Family USA

November 29th, 2010 | 2 comments | Posted by Diana

The story could’ve seemed a little sketchy. An Aussie named James West was cc’d on an American Tran family’s emails for three years (there is, in fact, an American “Jimmy” West related to the family). And though he generally trashed the emails as SPAM, this year, he got interested. He read through a thread as it built up to the Thanksgiving holiday–intrigued by talk of famous deviled eggs, “hoppy” beer and cheese broccoli casserole–and realized something: he wanted to attend the Tran family Thanksgiving. More importantly, he had to track down the Trans, and fast.

But he couldn’t just creepily stalk the family, he had to come clean first. If you’re going to pursue a strange family, you have to do it out in the open. So he took to YouTube:

In one of the most interesting social experiments of recent times, West documented his search for the family as he raced against the clock in order to hop on a plane to Florida in time for Turkey Day, if only to figure out what “Stove Top” was–all while building a supportive groundswell among the YouTube community.

Not only did he find them, but they welcomed him into their home for what seemed like a truly lovely Thanksgiving dinner. A happy ending indeed!

Continue reading AMAZIANS OF THE WEEK! The Tran Family USA

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Dianne Feinstein

November 22nd, 2010 | 1 comment | Posted by Diana

Name: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Hails from: The Golden State

Occupation: Senior U.S. Senator

Known for: Being effective. After forty-one years in elected public office, Feinstein can be recognized for countless benchmark events in her career. But this week in particular, Feinstein should be lauded for her role in preventing student Steve Li’s deportation to Peru with a private bill introduced on Friday.

A quick refresher on Steve Li: The 20-year-old nursing student’s parents, Chinese nationals, fled their home country to Peru in the 1980s to avoid the country’s 1-child policy.  Steve was born in Peru, but at age 12, brought to live on a visa with his parents in the United States. Li’s parents sought political asylum, which was denied in 2003. The family continued to live in the United States illegally, although Steve was unaware of his illegal status. As a result, Steve and his parents were all arrested earlier this year, held for two months in detention facilities, and set up to be deported–his mother and father to China, and him to Peru where he no longer has any family. Steve’s parents were not allowed to accompany him to Peru. Notably, Li, a model citizen and scholar, would qualify for a green card to stay in the U.S. if the DREAM Act were to pass–and with this in mind, Feinstein intervened.

From the Senator’s private bill:

Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Dianne Feinstein

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