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All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

June 25, 2009

Written by C.N.

Miscellaneous Links #12

Here are some more announcements and links out that have come my way relating to Asians or Asian Americans. As always, links to other sites are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of their contents:

  • UCLA Releases First High School Textbook on Asian Americans: Untold Civil Rights Stories

    Online Bookstore: www.aasc.ucla.edu/aascpress/comersus/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=81
    Price: $20 with educational discounts of 25-100 copies

    Representing more than 15 million Asian Americans in the United States, “Untold Civil Rights Stories” is the first book created for high school and freshmen college students to learn and discuss the social struggles Asian Americans have faced both before and after Sept. 11, 2001. “Untold Civil Rights Stories” is co-edited by UCLA Asian American Studies adjunct professor Russell C. Leong, and Asian Pacific American Legal Center President & Executive Director Stewart Kwoh.

    According to editors Leong and Kwoh: “Asian Americans are part of the untold story of America’s continuing civil rights, labor and human rights struggles. For decades, Asian Americans, together with African Americans and others, have fought discriminatory laws around segregation, citizenship and marriage; have helped organize farm workers with Cesar Chavez; and spoken out for the rights of American veterans and other groups.

    Ten fully illustrated chapters of “Untold Civil Rights Stories” each come with an extensive lesson plan and historical timeline, together with rare newspaper and personal photos. Long-time multicultural curriculum consultant for Los Angeles Unified Schools Esther R. Taira provided lesson plans and a timeline for the book.

    The chapters include:

    * Oral history accounts by Thai and Latino sweatshop garment workers
    * Philip Vera Cruz and the United Farm Workers Movement
    * American families (Joseph Ileto family, and Lily Chin) organizing against hate crimes
    * Breaking the color line in the movies and in the media (actor BeUlah Ong Kwoh, and journalist K.W. Lee);
    * Fighting for constitutional rights (Fred Korematsu, and Faustino Peping Baclig)
    * Americans after 9/11: unpopular immigrants; citizen rights and Amric Singh Rathour
    * Student viewpoints, lesson plans, and timeline

    Among the surprising stories and photos you’ll find within the book are: Korean American journalist K.W. Lee living and reporting on poor whites in Appalachia, Filipino American Philip Vera Cruz working hand-in-hand with Cesar Chavez to organize farmworkers, a born-in-New York Sikh policeman organizing for his rights, and the late veteran actress Beulah Kwoh organizing actors across racial lines.

  • Call for Support: Japanese American Veterans

    The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) has received this request from the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) for assistance in contacting your senators. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

    Subject: Congressional Gold Medal

    Folks, we surely can use your help to contact senators from your state and also other states, except Hawaii, to request them to cosponsor a Senate Bill known as S. 1055. This Bill will authorize the conferring of the Congressional Gold Medal to honor Japanese American WW II veterans. To obtain their names and contact information please go to website: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state.

    It would be appreciated if you can put this request on your PRIORITY list of things to do. Please send this message to your friends to request their assistance.

    When you call or send emails to their offices, say something along the following lines: “I am contacting you to ask Senator ___ to cosponsor S. 1055, a bill that would grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the Japanese-American 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II. We feel that it is important to recognize and honor these brave soldiers with a Congressional Gold Medal for their heroic contributions in defense of the United States and we hope we can count on the Senator’s support.”

    Senator Boxer has issued the following press release concerning the Congressional Gold Medal to honor Japanese American WW II veterans.

    Thursday, May 14, 2009: Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today introduced legislation to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the Japanese-American 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II. Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have signed on as original cosponsors of the measure. Companion legislation introduced by Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) passed today by a vote of 411 to 0 in the House of Representatives.

    Senator Boxer said, “I am so pleased to introduce this long overdue legislation to honor the brave members of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team with a Congressional Gold Medal. These noble Japanese-Americans enlisted in the army and bravely fought for their country while many of their family and friends were being sent to internment camps. These soldiers made a bold and honorable sacrifice and should be recognized for their patriotism.”

    These military units, which are also known as the “Go For Broke” regiment, earned several awards for their distinctive service in combat, including: 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldier’s Medals, 4,000 Bronze Stars and over 4,000 Purple Hearts, among numerous additional distinctions.

    Thank you for your help. If you have any questions, please contact Terry Shima (301-987-6746)

  • Teaching in China Fellowships

    The Overseas Young Chinese Forum (“OYCF”), a non-profit organization based in the United States, is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for its Teaching Fellowships, which sponsor short term teaching trips by overseas scholars or professionals (Chinese or non-Chinese) to universities or other comparable advanced educational institutions in China. The subjects of teaching include all fields of humanities and social sciences, such as anthropology, art, communication, economics, education, geography, international studies, law, literature, philosophy, political science, sociology,
    etc.

    Despite the economic downturn, the Ford Foundation just confirmed its financial support for this program for four more years. Combining this with another generous source of funding, the Gregory C. and Paula K. Chow OYCF Endowment Fund, the OYCF will grant 13 fellowship awards to support short term teaching trips during the Academic Year of 2009-10, including five (5) OYCF-Ford fellowships in the amount of $2,500 each and eight (8) OYCF-Gregory C. and Paula K. Chow fellowships in the amount of $2,000 each. The application deadline is August 15, 2009. Awards will be announced on September 15, 2009.

    If you have a Ph.D., J.D., J.S.D. or a comparable graduate degree from, or is currently an advanced doctoral candidate (having passed the Ph.D. qualification examination and finished at least three years of graduate studies) in a university in North America or other areas outside China, and are interested in teaching a covered subject in a college or graduate school in Mainland China, please find the Information and Application Procedures for the OYCF Teaching
    Fellowships on line at http://www.oycf.org/Teach/application.DOC. As noted therein, preference will be given to teaching proposals that include comparative or interdisciplinary perspectives; are about subjects that China is in relative shortage of teachers; or will be conducted at universities in
    inland provinces and regions.

    We encourage teaching fellows to go to China’s central and western regions. This year, we dedicate at least 1-2 fellowships as the Central or Western Region Teaching Fellowships to teaching fellows who plan to teach in an inland province or autonomous region. Accordingly, teaching proposals specifically designed for teaching in these regions are especially welcome. We also give preference to advanced Ph.D. student applicants who would combine this teaching opportunity with their dissertation research in China.

    To submit your application, you will need an application form, a brief letter of interest, curriculum vitae or resume, a detailed course syllabus, an invitation letter from your host institution in China. Detailed instruction and application form can be found at the above web link. For more information about OYCF or its teaching program, please visit http://www.oycf.org. For questions concerning OYCF Teaching Fellowships or their application process, please contact Hui Zheng at huizhenghome@gmail.com.


September 5, 2006

Written by C.N.

Asian American Students Still Deal with Violence

No matter how much we as Asian Americans show that we want to be part of the American mainstream, it seems almost inevitable that we encounter resistance, hostility, and at times, violence in that process. One group of Asian Americans for whom that is a sad part of their daily lives is high school students. As the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, the demographics of a town or high school can change, but violence against perceived “foreigners” still lingers:

Student leaders stopped in St. Paul, Minneapolis and White Bear Lake asking school administrators to address problems facing Hmong students. Racism, hostile school climates, college readiness and language barriers were some of the challenges discussed. . . . Students said violence also is often an unavoidable part of their school lives.

Kabee Chang, who is not related to Mysee Chang, has only lived in the United States for two years since emigrating from Thailand. At Minneapolis’ North High School, Kabee Chang said it’s difficult to avoid a fight. His friends have been hit in the head and punched while going from one class to another.

“One time I could see my friend had been hit, so I was afraid to go in the bathroom because the same thing would happen to me,” Kabee Chang said. Out of fear, he said now he won’t go into the bathroom or hallways by himself.

It is nothing less than an outrage and tragedy when students of any racial/ethnic/cultural background encounter violence and harassment in their attempts to get an education, so that they can improve their lives, their family’s lives, and be a productive citizen of the U.S. We cannot expect students to excel academically when even their most basic need to feel physically safe can’t be guaranteed.

In that context, school districts and officials bear the responsibility to ensure that students can get an education in a safe environment. Yes it would be nice if teachers and counselors are culturally-competent and nurture students as much as possible, but at the very least — the bare minimum, schools need to provide their students with an environment that is free from ongoing threats of violence and physical harassment.


November 29, 2005

Written by C.N.

Continuing Violence Against Asian Students

In an earlier post, I wrote about a persistent pattern of discrimination and physical violence perpetrated against Asian American students at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn — so bad that the Justice Department had to step in to force the school to take corrective action to protect the Asian students. Following up on this trend, the Associated Press reports that despite recent efforts to highlight this growing problem around the country, physical attacks still continue to occur:

Nationwide, Asian students say they’re often beaten, threatened and called ethnic slurs by other young people, and school safety data suggest that the problem may be worsening. Youth advocates say these Asian teens, stereotyped as high-achieving students who rarely fight back, have for years borne the brunt of ethnic tension as Asian communities expand and neighborhoods become more racially diverse. . . .

Stories of Asian youth being bullied and worse are common. In recent years: a Chinese middle schooler in San Francisco was mercilessly taunted until his teacher hid him in her classroom at lunchtime; three Korean-American students were beaten so badly near their Queens high school that they skipped school for weeks and begged to be transferred; a 16-year-old from Vietnam was killed last year in a massive brawl in Boston. . . .

Increasingly, some victims are fighting back. A 2003 California survey . . . found that 14 percent of Asian youth said they join gangs for protection. Department of Justice school crime data found the number of Asian youth carrying weapons nearly tripled from 1999 to 2001. “There are more Asian kids being brought to juvenile court for assault and battery,” Arifuku said.

“The thing we’re finding in their history is that they had been picked on — called names and teased — and in some cases they lashed out and retaliated.” Advocates and students say that, typically, large fights erupt after weeks or months of verbal taunting.

It is truly sad and infuriating to see Asian American students — or any students for that matter — first, being targeted for physical violence on an everyday basis, and second, being subjected to utter indifference and even contempt by school officials who deny that there are any problems. It should tell you something that even the Bush administration’s Justice Department felt that things were getting out of hand at Lafayette High and had to finally step in.

For every article or news story that describes how Asian culture is increasingly being accepted, embraced, and integrated into the American mainstream, there are stories like this one that remind us that in many ways, Asian Americans still have to fight an uphill battle not just to be considered “real Americans,” but for many, just to stay alive.


September 8, 2005

Written by C.N.

Education Gone Wrong

You’ve probably heard of the reality TV show “What Not to Wear.” Well, maybe someone should profile Lafayette High School in Brooklyn as “What Not to Do” in terms of supporting the equal education of Asian Americans. As Newsday reports, the Bush administration has just brought federal civil rights charges against Lafayette High, alleging that it failed to address racially-motivated violence against Asian American students and therefore, has violated their rights to a public education:

An Asian student who was a freshman at the Brooklyn school was punched on his way home in April, but administrators refused to investigate or to let anyone look at a student photo book to identify attackers, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in Manhattan.

Among other cases involving Asian students this past school year, one boy was choked by a classmate in the boys’ locker room, and another boy complained that administrators told him they had lost the paperwork on his report.

“An atmosphere has been bred at the school where students feel free to harass Asian students without much retribution,” the group’s attorney, Khin Mai Aung, said Friday. “It’s been going on for years and nothing has been done to effectively fix things.”

At first glance, my reaction is that I can’t believe Asian American students are still subjected to this kind of treatment. It’s one thing to be the target of a racially-motived physical attack. What conpounds the misery even more is when the people who are entrusted to protect your rights and well-being ignore your complaints and instead, actually make it easier for you to be repeatedly victimized.

The irony is that this high school is not located in some isolated rural community where 98% of the students are White — it’s located in Brooklyn, NY — perhaps the most racially/ethnically diverse city in the entire U.S. and where one-quarter of the students are of Asian descent. Absolutely amazing . . .