The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.
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.
This past Friday, June 3 2016, Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74. More than being regarded as the greatest boxers ever, Muhammad Ali is remembered as one of the most significant, famous, and celebrated athletes of all time. His legacy transcends his accomplishments inside the boxing ring and also encompasses his tradition of political activism, outspoken support of disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, and his inspiring life history as a role model, social critic, and social conscience of U.S. society.
As with almost all public figures, Muhammad Ali was also a controversial and polarizing figure in U.S. history. Perhaps the most controversial episode for which he was known was his resistance to being drafted to fight in the Viet Nam War. His immense impact on the Asian American community is perhaps best represented by his famous quote at the time, “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
After refusing to be inducted into the U.S. military on April 28, 1967, he was convicted of a felony and all of the major boxing associations stripped him of his title and prevented him from competing professionally for over three years. During this period, he was widely denounced and vilified by much of the U.S. as a traitor to the country, with the hostility magnified even more because he was a Black man.
However, in 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his felony conviction. Despite the public criticism of his refusal to be drafted, Muhammad Ali never wavered in his refusal to participate in the Viet Nam War and continued to work in support of the Civil Rights Movement and efforts toward social justice around the world. He stood his moral ground and in his own words, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
Time eventually heals all wounds and in recent decades, Muhammad Ali rightfully became known as of the most towering and revered Americans of the late twentieth century. In addition to the multitude of statements and tweets commemorating his life from athletes, public figures, and others around the world, I would like to share some excerpts from a fellow sociologist, the well-renowned Professor Harry Edwards of U.C. Berkeley (edited for length):
It is only when a GIANT passes from among us and we stand blinking and rubbing our eyes in the glaring reality of our loss that we come truly to appreciate how much we all have really been just living in his shadow. So it is with Muhammad Ali: he was an athlete of unparalleled brilliance, beauty, and bravado at a time when black athletes . . . were expected to be silent, self-effacing “producers,” not loquacious, verbose entertaining performers in the arena. . . .
He influenced people from the most powerful (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, for example) to the most naive students and “draft vulnerable” youths to rethink their positions on the issue of “war and peace.”
He was the model for a generation of “activist athletes” relative to the questions of athlete political relevance and involvement. He taught us all by word and example that there can be no “for sale” sign, no “price tag” on principles, human dignity, and freedom, among so many of his other contributions. . . . “The Greatest” doesn’t begin to truly capture the magnitude and measure of his broad scope, contributions and legacy.
Along with millions of Americans and billions of people around the world, I will remember Muhammad Ali as a truly inspiring, transformative, and monumental person who was a tremendously courageous trailblazer for professional athletes, African Americans, Asian Americans, and the entire human race. Rest in peace, champ.
Here are some more announcements, links, and job postings about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues, with a particular focus on Asian Americans. As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.
Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) and the American Community Survey (ACS) Public Service Announcement Video Contest
ABOUT THE ACS: The Census Bureau administers the ACS, which provides detailed information for many Asian American population groups that can’t be obtained anywhere else. The government needs information about you that will affect resource distribution for many services Asian American families need, including schools and roads. Your PSA video submission will help spread the word on the importance of the ACS in building better communities for Asian Americans and encourage others to participate if they receive the survey.
Your video must address why the ACS is important for the Asian American community and/or the individual’s Asian American family (see attached for more information)
Your video must note in some fashion that the information provided by respondents to the ACS is confidential and protected by law (i.e. the Census Bureau cannot share your information with anyone else, not even other federal agencies.)
Your video must incorporate an image of the American Community Survey somehow
Your video must be 90 seconds in length
Please submit the following information in an e-mail body accompanying your entry attachment: name, phone number, e-mail, brief explanation of your submission
Please submit original work only
Entries must be submitted in any of the following formats: AVI, MPG, WMV, and MPEG
Signed release forms are required for copyrighted images or materials. Release forms are also needed for “subjects,” whether private or public citizens
Multiple entries may be submitted
Must be 18 years of age to participate
Grand Prize of $1,000
Two Runner-Up Prizes of $500
Deadline for Submissions: April 16, 2012. Submit all entries to: email@example.com. By submitting a PSA entry to: firstname.lastname@example.org I consent to the following terms & conditions:
In consideration for submitting my video submission to the contest, I hereby grant, consent and authorize the Asian American Justice Center, its affiliates, licensees, successors, assigns, legal representatives, agents, employees and contractors (“AAJC”) the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use, reuse, publish and republish such video/PSA for any purpose and in any manner or medium (e.g. print or electronic medium such as publications, marketing materials and Web content), and to alter the same without any restriction, as AAJC may determine in its sole discretion. AAJC reserves the right to not publish or otherwise use your video in the event AAJC determines, in its sole discretion, that your video contains inappropriate language, content, etc. I hereby release AAJC from any and all claims and liability relating to such video/PSA.
For more contest rules and information click here.
Asian|Boston Media Group (ABMG) is proud to announce the 5th Asian|Boston Networking Event, the ABNE-V. At this event, we will also be unveiling the first annual ‘ABMG Awards.’ This program was established to recognize Asian Americans, who reside and contribute to New England and New York, via excellence in their respective fields of media, high-technology, medicine, education, etc.
ABMG’s inaugural award will be in the media division, and will be presented during the event. It’s an honor to announce that the recipient of the first annual ABMG’s ‘Distinguished Asian-American in Media’ award is . . . WHDH-TV’s 7News Reporter, Susan Tran.
The ABNE-V and ABMG Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 26th, at Hei La Moon Restaurant in Chinatown. Time: 6:30pm-9:30pm. Interested in being a Presenter at the ABNE-V? ‘Presenters’ are individuals or businesses that do short 3-minute promotions for their particular cause, ideas, new business ventures, etc. (Please see below for guest ticket info and how to become a ‘Presenter’). We will be honored to see you at the ABNE-V.
Hei La Moon Restaurant
88 Beach St
Chinatown, Boston (617) 338-8813
There is a parking garage adjacent to the restaurant.
Please RSVP by Monday, April 23rd, to email@example.com
$20 per person at door. Includes buffet dinner
For group or student discounts, please contact Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Become a Presenter:
Please send a Presenter request with your business topic to Ted at email@example.com.
About Asian|Boston Media Group Asian|Boston Media Group (AB|MG) is the first media company for the entire Asian community of the northeastern United States, with an ever-growing national/international interest. It is our goal to utilize the most reputable resources in order to deliver products of unparalleled quality. Our market is the most rapidly growing demographic in the United States, and we are expanding accordingly.
We’re excited to announce the call for applications for Hai Ba Trung School for Organizing, 2012! This is a progressive training program for young Vietnamese Americans. Please forward widely.
Hai Bà Trưng School for Organizing, 2012
The Hai Bà Trưng School for Organizing is a training program for young organizers, ages 18-25. As a participant, you’ll have the opportunity to explore what it means to be a progressive Vietnamese American, learn the basics of organizing theory and skills, and connect to local Vietnamese American organizers doing social justice work. The training will focus on best practices and challenges unique to organizing in the Vietnamese community.
The training will be held from June 22 to June 24, 2012 (Friday-Sunday) in Los Angeles and Orange County. In alignment with election season, this year’s training may explore electoral organizing and its challenges and opportunities for the Viet community. Click here to download the application. The deadline to submit applications is no later than: Friday April 27, 2012 by 5pm to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The School’s planning committee is made up of Vietnamese American progressives with experience in organizing youth, low-wage workers, immigrants, and women from diverse communities. We have worked in non-profit organizations as well as volunteer groups, and believe in building the capacity of the Vietnamese American community to work for social justice. For questions, email us at email@example.com.
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil and human rights organization, is now accepting applications for the 2012-2013 JACL Mike M. Masaoka Congressional Fellowship.
The Mike M. Masaoka Fellowship Fund was established in 1988 to honor Mike M. Masaoka for a lifetime of public service to the JACL and the nation. Masaoka was the JACL’s national secretary, field executive, national legislative director of the JACL’s Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the JACL Washington, D.C. Representative. He worked tirelessly to advance the cause of Japanese Americans during difficult times in our history. He was instrumental in the formation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and for the abolition of many discriminatory laws against Asian Americans. He passed away in 1991.
The Fund was set up by good friends of Mike Masaoka. Dr. H. Tom Tamaki of Philadelphia administered the program for the JACL for twenty years since its inception in 1988. The JACL Washington, D.C. office now administers the Masaoka Fellowship.
The JACL Masaoka Fellows are placed in the Washington D.C. Congressional offices of members of the U.S.House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate for a period of six to eight months. The major purpose of the Masaoka Fellowship is to develop leaders for public service. The current Masaoka Fellow is Mackenzie Walker, who is working in the office of Congresswoman Judy Chu of California.
Floyd Mori, National Executive Director of the JACL, stated: “The Mike M. Masaoka Fellowship is a wonderful program which gives young people the opportunity to work in the office of a member of Congress and to learn the workings of government firsthand. The friends of Mike Masaoka had great foresight in establishing the Fund for the Fellowship to develop leadership.”
National JACL President, David Kawamoto, said: “We encourage young members of the JACL who are college graduates to apply for this Fellowship which offers a unique experience for service in the nation’s capital. We anticipate that these young people will be our future leaders in the JACL.”
Interested college graduates may find further details and application materials at our website. Applicants must be current members of the JACL. Applications should be submitted to the JACL Washington, D.C. office as per instructions on the website. The deadline for applications is May 20, 2012. The announcement of the selected Fellow is expected to be made by July 1, 2012.
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: 2012 Summer Academy Fellowship
Application Deadline: Monday April 30, 2012. Decisions will be made and communicated by June 29. Placement dates are July 30–November 9, 2012.
What is the Academy for Leadership and Action?
The Task Force’s Academy for Leadership and Action (the Academy) prepares leaders to fill the staff, board, and volunteer roles critical to the success of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement. Through direct action we strive to win immediate policy gains, develop leadership and long-term organizational capacity and build stronger alliances between secular and religious communities.
The Task Force is committed to building a social justice movement where everyone can be their full selves. We work with individuals and communities that reflect the full spectrum of LGBT people and their allies. We bring a racial and economic justice analysis to all of our movement building work and makes explicit the connections to struggles against systematic oppression. The Academy for Leadership and Action’s ultimate goal is to build movements, leaders and organizations that transform society.
What is the Summer Academy Fellowship?
This isn’t your average fellowship — this is your chance to create change! The Academy Fellowship is a paid social justice fellowship that’s furiously intense. The program provides the first-hand real-world experience working for social justice that is necessary for becoming a professional organizer. You’ll learn to disseminate a progressive worldview that connects LGBT issues to struggles against racism, classism, ableism, and spiritual oppression; to build relationships with a broad-cross section of other LGBT movement leaders, especially in communities of faith and communities of color; and to mobilize mass numbers of people for direct action targeted at achieving immediate political gains for the LGBT community.
Stipend and Placement
Fellows are paid a net stipend of $500 per week. The 2012 term runs for 15 weeks, from July 30–November 9, 2012. Position placement varies and fellows will need to be able to travel for long periods of time. This year potential placements and travel locations are New York City, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Maine, and Washington. Fellows are responsible for their own housing and living expenses.
Applications must be received by Monday, April 30. Decisions will be made and communicated by June 29. Questions can be sent to: Causten Wollerman, firstname.lastname@example.org. Selection of fellows is based on the demonstrated critical thinking and values as observed in the application and interviews.
Comparative and Multi-sited Approaches to International Migration
12-14 December 2012, Paris, Ined
Deadline for submission: 1st June 2012
The objective of the conference is to promote a multi-sited and comparative approach to international migration, explicitly bringing together researchers and research evidence from different parts of the world. The conference will focus on quantitative approaches to international migration that deal simultaneously with processes in places of origin and destination. Papers are welcomed across a number of areas and regions, with those that address significant policy concerns especially welcome.
Cris Beauchemin (Ined, France)
Eleonora Castagnone (Forum Internazionale ed Europeo di Ricerchesull’Immigrazione, Italy)
Katherine Donato (Vanderbilt University, USA)
Amparo González-Ferrer (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain)
Georges Groenewold (Nidi, the Netherlands)
Douglas Massey (Princeton University, USA)
Valentina Mazzucato (Maastricht University, The Netherlands)
Emilio Parrado (University of Pennsylvania, USA)
Bruno Schoumaker (Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)
Hania Zlotnik (Population Division-DESA, United Nations)
Time magazine has released its annual Top 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2011. This year’s list includes a number of Asians and Asian Americans, some well-known while others not as well-known (until now I suppose):
Feisal Abdul Rauf, 63, has moderate, colloquial eloquence, still relatively rare among American Muslim religious leaders. That didn’t stop the attacks on him and his wife Daisy Khan when they teamed with a developer to propose a community center near Ground Zero. They still hope to realize that vision, knowing it won’t come without further attacks. — Rev. William M. Tully
Ambani, 54, took the firm his father founded — Reliance Industries — and turned it into India’s largest private-sector company, a $45 billion petrochemicals giant. It’s a new kind of Indian company, built through adroit manipulation of governments and the stock market but also enriching millions of shareholders. “We have taken money from ordinary Indians, and we are their trustees,” he says. As long as the money keeps coming, they may forgive his excesses. — Suketu Mehta
In 2009 the chinese government, concerned about how information could spread rapidly among millions of people over microblogs, blocked Twitter and shuttered domestic equivalents. Amid those obstacles, Charles Chao saw an opportunity. A journalist turned accountant who rose through the executive ranks to head Sina, China’s largest Internet portal, he backed the company’s own microblog service [Sina Weibo] . . . [and] Beijing approved it. . . . It reached 100 million users in March, vs. 200 million for Twitter. . . . It is censored, Chao acknowledges, but it is also one of the freest online platforms in China. — Austin Ramzy
Amy’s book is a nuanced story of how her parenting had to evolve to take into account the differences between her children. Parenting is hard and humbling for all of us. If there were a right way to raise your kids, everyone would do it. Clearly that’s not the case. In China, this book is being marketed as a tale about the importance of giving children more Western freedom. Few have the guts to parent in public. Amy’s memoir is brutally honest, and her willingness to share her struggles is a gift. Whether or not you agree with her priorities and approach, she should be applauded for raising these issues with a thoughtful, humorous and authentic voice. — Sheryl Sandberg
As a spiritual guru, Cheng Yen, 73, has an ethereal quality. Yet the Buddhist nun is also the well-grounded, no-nonsense head of a non-profit humanitarian machine with divisions in 50 countries and nearly 10 million supporters and volunteers. The Tzu Chi Foundation (tzu chi means compassionate relief) is known for the astonishing speed and efficiency with which it brings aid to victims of natural disasters. Wherever calamities occur, Tzu Chi volunteers and experts arrive promptly, dispensing food, medicine, blankets and warm clothing (as they did recently in Japan) and, in the long term, rebuilding homes, clinics and schools. — Zoher Abdoolcarim
Hu founded Caijing [and] shook up China’s media landscape with courageous investigative pieces on corruption and fraud. After a dispute with her publisher, Hu left the magazine in 2009 and set up Caixin Century, now a paragon of reporting brilliance in China. In February it ran a commentary on Egypt that any savvy reader would link to China. “Autocracy creates turbulence,” it read, “democracy breeds peace.” — Adi Ignatius
Hung spent her teenage years going to school in New York City and college at Vassar. These days Hung, 49, is hugely influential in Chinese culture, tweeting with humor and intelligence to 2.5 million people. She runs a fashion magazine called iLook, owns a store featuring Chinese designers and recently became the director of the first design museum in China. What makes Hung unique is that she understands America, its pragmatism and practices, yet she remains a true Chinese patriot. She works hard to bring her country’s culture into the 21st century. — Diane Von Furstenberg
The 31-year-old doctor was on duty at the Shizugawa public hospital in the Japanese town of Minami Sanriku when he heard the tsunami alert. He immediately began moving patients to the highest floor. . . When the wall of water arrived, Kanno watched it swallow the street in three minutes, taking the patients he couldn’t move with it. . . . Over the next two days, Kanno refused to leave those he’d helped survive. When evacuation helicopters arrived, he waited until the last of his patients had gone before he too left. Three days after the quake, he at last made it back to his wife, just hours before the birth of their second child, a boy they named Rei. The name evokes two meanings: in English, a beam of light; in Chinese and Japanese, the wisdom to overcome hardship. — Krista Mahr
Nobody’s sure if Kim Jong Un is 28 or 29. There are only a handful of photos of him in circulation. Until a couple of years ago, few North Koreans knew anything about him. But he’s been picked to succeed his dad and granddad as absolute ruler of his impoverished, nuclear-tipped nation, which means that though he may not be known, he will be feared.
Few Americans have heard of Liang Guanglie, but his name comes up a great deal in discussions within the U.S. national-security establishment. Liang, 70, is a career military officer and since 2008 has been China’s Defense Minister . . . He is presiding over the rapid rise in Beijing’s defense spending, a subject of increasing concern in Washington. — Bill Powell
A pioneer of India’s IT-outsourcing industry, Premji [is] inspired by his belief that a strong educational system is essential to sustaining the economic growth needed to pull millions of Indian citizens out of poverty, Premji, 65, is deeply involved in efforts to provide universal primary education in India. The Azim Premji Foundation supports programs that reach more than 2.5 million children. But it may be his pioneering leadership in India’s nascent field of philanthropy that will be Premji’s lasting legacy. His recent $2 billion donation to his foundation was the largest charitable contribution in the history of modern India. — Bill Gates
The South Korean pop star turned actor Rain, 28, took the top spot in the TIME 100 reader poll for the third year, trouncing competitors from Barack Obama to Lady Gaga. That’s pretty impressive online power for a guy whose main claim to Western fame is a role in the 2009 film Ninja Assassin.
Ramachandran, 59, is best known for developing a therapy for phantom-limb pain in which a mirror is used to reflect the intact limb, creating the illusion that the missing one is still there. That persuades the brain that all is well, and the pain subsides. With his simple, creative and innovative ideas, V.S. Ramachandran is changing how our brains think about our minds. — Thomas Insel
The former chancellor of the Washington, D.C., school system and the founder of the Students First advocacy group, Rhee . . . . set a goal to improve the lot of the nation’s students, and she has stuck to that. And she paid dearly for it, stepping down from her D.C. post in 2010 after Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his bid for re-election, a public rejection that some saw as a repudiation of the tough steps Rhee took to raise the standards of the city’s public schools. Subsequently, she shunned any high-salary job offers that resulted from her high-profile tenure and instead founded her organization. — Davis Guggenheim
Starting from a tiny village in the deserts of Rajasthan in the 1980s, Aruna Roy began a long campaign to bring transparency to India’s notoriously corrupt bureaucracy. Its signal achievement is the 2005 Right to Information (RTI) Act, a law that has given the nation’s poor a powerful tool to fight for their rights and has influenced similar measures in other countries. It has also inspired thousands of RTI activists, who have exposed everything from land scams to bank embezzlement to the misuse of public funds meant for the poor. . . . Roy doesn’t just condemn a broken system; she changes it. — Jyoti Thottam
Within weeks of Lieut. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s becoming head of Pakistan’s top intelligence agency, ISI, in 2008, terrorist attacks in Mumbai seriously roiled already stressed U.S.-Pakistani relations. Pasha, 59, has grown progressively more suspicious of U.S. motives and staying power. . . . Pasha, a Pakistani patriot and American partner, now must find these two roles even more difficult to reconcile. — Michael Hayden
[A]s radiation wafted from the earthquake- and tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant toward the city of Minami Soma, some 15 miles (25 km) away, Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai . . . posted an 11-min. video on YouTube two weeks after the March 11 natural disaster [and] lashed out at Japan’s political and economic establishment, which had ignored his frantic calls and, as a result, left thousands of local residents stuck in a nuclear no-go zone. “With the paltry information given by the government and [plant operator] TEPCO, we are left isolated … and are being forced into starvation,” Sakurai charged. “I beg you from my heart to help us.” His plea resonated across the world, leading many to ask how a country so celebrated for efficiency had failed its most vulnerable citizens. — Hannah Beech
As the leader of Burma’s democracy movement and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, 65, is an Asian hero and global inspiration. . . Last November she was released from her latest stint of more than seven years under house arrest. In March her banned party, the National League for Democracy, called again for talks with Burma’s rulers. Even after spending most of the past two decades in detention, Suu Kyi is determined to return to the front lines of the battle for democracy. — Wang Dan
Dhoni is now universally acknowledged as India’s best [cricket] captain ever. He’s also its most likable, exuding both cool confidence and down-to-earth humility. As astonishing as Dhoni’s talent is his background. Indian success stories are usually associated with pedigree, connections and power. Dhoni, from a small-town family of modest means, had none of these, but he’s shown India that you can make it with only one thing: excellence. Dhoni doesn’t just lead a cricket team; he’s also India’s captain of hope. — Chatan Bhagat
Ai Weiwei is the kind of visionary any nation should be proud to count among its creative class. He has drawn the world’s attention to the vibrancy of contemporary Chinese culture. More important, Ai, 53, has shown compassion for his fellow citizens and spoken out for victims of government abuses, calling for political reforms to better serve the people. It is very sad that the Chinese government has seen a need to silence one of its most innovative and illustrious citizens. For the world, Ai continues to represent the promise of China. — John Huntsman
You can make the case that Xi has reformist impulses. His father, once a comrade of Mao Zedong’s, was purged three times. Xi is an engineer, like most of China’s leaders, but he also has a law degree and a breadth of knowledge that many of his colleagues lack. His wife is one of China’s most famous singers. His daughter is at Harvard. Who knows? Maybe he even likes jazz and scotch. — Fareed Zakaria
As I previously promoted on this blog, this past weekend, the annual conference of the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) was held on my home campus, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. ECAASU bills itself as the largest Asian American student conference in the nation and from most accounts, it was a big success with almost 1,500 attendees from schools all around the country. Kudos are in order for the organizers, attendees, presenters, and entertainers who all contributed to a dynamic and enriching event.
Inevitably, the conference was not without some controversy. Specifically, many attendees and presenters this year questioned the appropriateness of U.S. military branches such as the Navy and Coast Guard and government agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as sponsors of the event. In fact, there were several contentious instances in which speakers vocally criticized various historical and contemporary aspects of the U.S. military and security agencies along with their presence at the conference, with about 30 or so representatives of such military and security agencies sitting directly in front of them in the audience.
Apparently, these and other military branches and government agencies have prominently sponsored ECAASU conferences in the past, so their presence was not new. Since I have not attended many ECAASU conferences recently, I do not know whether there were similar objections raised in a very public way before. Nonetheless, this year the tensions were clearly out in the open.
In trying to not minimize the positive aspects of the conference, I would also like to reflect a little bit on this particular issue and source of tension. Also at the risk of contradicting one my favorite quotes — “I don’t know what’s the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody” (Bill Cosby) — my personal and sociological thoughts on this matter includes praise and criticism for both sides.
Speaking the Truth
On the one hand, the speakers who criticized the military and government agencies clearly had a right to do so and also had plenty of “ammunition” to back up their criticisms. There can be little denial that through the years, the U.S. military and security agencies and a number of individuals working for them have perpetrated or been directly complicit in innumerable instances of injustice and outright crimes against innocent civilians domestically and abroad and in the process, destroyed lives and livelihoods left and right.
To make a long story short, it is because of these actions that many people around the world have a very intense hatred of the U.S. and in extreme cases, feel compelled to resort to desperate actions to fight back against such historical and contemporary oppression. As such, the opposition to the presence of these U.S. military branches and government agencies at a conference focused on, among other things, counteracting institutional domination and cultural colonialism is perfectly understandable and justified.
Taking a Step Back
On the other hand, we cannot dismiss the fact that many members of the military put their very lives at risk to protect our right to criticize their employers — our government. More specifically, in criticizing the presence of the U.S. military and government agencies, I feel that the speakers missed an important distinction — the actions of individuals versus institutional policies. In other words, as a sociologist, one of the first things that I teach my students is that in order to properly understand a social issue or problem, we first need to recognize its dynamics and dimensions across different levels of analysis — the individual level, the group/community level, and the institutional level.
The issue of racism is an excellent example of the need to recognize how sociological understanding takes place at each of these levels of analysis. For instance, when a person of color points out how racism still exists in U.S. society these days, a White person may interpret that as a personal attack and direct implication against them and that they are being accused of being a racist when in fact, the person of color is referring to racism on the institutional level.
Similarly, many Whites may feel that racism will be eliminated once individuals are taught to be colorblind or that it’s wrong to have racial prejudices, when in fact the most enduring mechanisms that reinforce and perpetuate racism exist not among individuals, but within institutional policies and practices that privilege one racial group over another. Ultimately, it is when people discuss an issue like racism from different levels of analysis that misunderstandings, tensions, and hostility inevitably result.
As applied to the ECAASU conference and the speakers’ criticisms against the U.S. military and government agencies, I feel that they missed the opportunity to engage the military and agency personnel in a constructive sociological discussion because they largely conflated these levels of analysis. This happened in instances in which speakers implied that the military and government personnel in attendance at the conference, by virtue of their employment and position within such agencies, were directly complicit in committing crimes or acts of injustice.
More subtly, the conflating of these levels of analysis prevented speakers from conceptualizing the possibility that the military and government personnel in attendance might actually be agents of social change. In other words, on the one hand, there is the strong possibility that people of color, Asian Americans, or anyone else who has a commitment to racial equality and justice may end up just becoming another cog in the machine or another brick in the wall if they enter these military and government institutions and get swallowed into the perpetual system of bureaucracy.
But on the other hand, it is also possible that such individuals can bring their sense of racial equality and justice into an organization, build a coalition, consensus, or critical mass with like-minded others within the organization through time, and after achieving positions of power and authority, begin to apply their beliefs and little by little, change the culture and policies of that organization toward greater social/racial equality and justice. Organizations, institutions, and as we’re seeing in the Middle East, entire nations do change through individual actions — either toward more oppression, or toward more equality and democracy.
The Times They Are A’ Changing
Here in the U.S., we have three recent examples, including one involving the U.S. military — Gary Locke (Secretary of Commerce), Professor Steven Chu (Secretary of Energy), and General Eric Shinseki (Secretary of Veterans Affairs). Within each of their respective careers, all three of these Asian Americans have personified a sense of working toward greater social equality and while there is still plenty of work to be done, I feel are positive examples and role models of how social change can occur within institutions.
I also recall a conversation I had with a student in which she mentioned that, as an advertising major, she also has a strong commitment to use her experiences and training to work toward greater racial equality and justice for Asian Americans and people of color. But she also expressed reservations about entering the advertising industry with its history of portraying people of color in very narrow and even stereotypical ways. One of the things that I told her was that if students like her self-select out of these kinds of industries, everything will just be perpetual status quo and nothing will change. Instead, I encouraged her to bring her determination with her into the advertising industry and as I described earlier, build a critical mass with others who share similar goals and fight for the change that she wants to see happen.
I cannot guarantee that the 30 or so military or government personnel in attendance at the ECAASU conference have the same kind of drive toward achieving racial equality and justice, but based on the brief speeches that a few of them gave, I am confident that many of them do. As such, while we can and should continue to criticize their institutions for the injustices that they’ve perpetrated through the years, that should not preclude us from encouraging individual members of such institutions from doing what they can to change their institutions from within.
Here are some more announcements, links, and job postings about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other related opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues. As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.
Call for Participants: Study on Chinese, Korean, & Vietnamese Women
The Asian-American Women’s Health Initiative Project (AWSHIP) invites you to participate in a confidential, federally-funded research study of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese women. Participants will be asked to complete a 45 minute user-friendly computer survey about family life, relationships, culture, and values. You will be compensated $20 for your time, and will be given the opportunity to participant in a follow-up in-depth interview for another $30. All interviews will take place at a location convenient and comfortable for you. You are eligible to participate if you:
Are an unmarried woman
Are between 18 to 35 years old
Identify as Chinese, Korean, or Vietnamese
Are a child of an immigrant family (1.5 and 2nd generation)
For more information, please email the project coordinator, Yut Yang, at email@example.com or visit: http://www.bu.edu/awship.
Call for Participants: Study on Relationship Satisfaction Among LGBT
Looking for lesbian, gay, or bisexual individuals of ethnic diversity who would like to participate in a research study on Relationship Satisfaction with a focus on Personal, Relational Resources and Support Systems. The purpose is to add to the limited literature on the subject, and to be of assistance to psychologists, case workers, counselors, and social workers.
This research study is done as part of my final graduate project under the Social Work Master program at the California State University of Northridge. Those interested in participating can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org; Subject: “MyCSUN Survey”, so I can send them a link to the survey. All information will remain confidential. Thank you for your interest and your participation!
American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program
The American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) provides a pre-doctoral training program that delivers national coordination for minority students in institutions of higher education throughout the U.S. From recruitment and placement to training, mentoring, and monitoring, MFP offers graduate students support that complements and extends the education and professional development provided by their home departments. MFP takes seriously the need to train and mentor minority graduate students in their area of interest and to mobilize sociologists in graduate departments and research settings to make this ambition a reality. Deadline: January 31, 2011.
Job Announcement: Race & Science, Emory University
Emory University seeks nominations and applications for an open-rank faculty position — tenured or tenure-track — with research interests in Race and Science. We recognize the importance of complex and critical examinations of the social, political and ethical challenges raised by the use and misuse of concepts of race in the sciences. We are interested in scholars whose work bridges the sciences and the humanities and investigates socio-political concepts of race as they historically and currently have intersected with, and been constituted by, the biological sciences, medicine, and health more generally.
This new position will be located in the department(s) appropriate to the successful candidate’s research interests and background. While preference will be given to senior scholars, we will consider applicants at all ranks. In addition to playing a leadership role in his or her home department(s), the successful candidate is expected to work closely with Emory University’s university-wide strategic initiative on Race and Difference. This Initiative seeks to promote understanding of and generate new knowledge about race and other intersecting forms of human difference.
This new position will work closely with the leadership of the Race and Difference Initiative (RDI) to support the development of new research, campus programs, and undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on all aspects of race and difference. Candidates should have a distinguished academic reputation, demonstrated teaching and mentoring skills and an interest in or record of external funding (PhD or other terminal degree required). Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience.
Please mail applications or nominations to: Co-Director, Race and Difference Initiative, Professor Dorothy A. Brown, Emory University, Gambrell Hall, 1301 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322-2770. Interested applicants should submit a letter of application, curriculum vitae, and names of three recommenders. Review of applications will begin on February 1, 2011. Preliminary inquiries may be directed to RDI co-director Amanda Lewis (email@example.com).
The Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize is a new annual awards program to honor individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment, and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change.
The Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize directly reflects Grinnell’s historic mission to educate men and women “who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good.” The Social Justice Action Group works towards peace, justice, and positive social change with efforts that fight hunger, promote volunteerism, and build understanding. The Wall Alumni Service Awards provide financial support for Grinnell alumni to engage in service projects, programs, and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of others.
Under Grinnell’s Expanding Knowledge Initiative, the College has introduced curricular innovations in the areas of environmental challenges, human rights, and human dignity. Now with the creation of the Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize, the College is extending its educational mission beyond the campus and alumni community to individuals anywhere who believe innovative social justice programs create a better world.
Up to three individuals will be honored annually. Each prize carries an award of $100,000, half to the winning individual and half to an organization committed to the winner’s area of social justice, for a total of up to $300,000 in prize awards each year.
The deadline for 2011 nominations is Feb. 1. The first prize recipients will be announced in May 2011. For additional information about the program, please visit the program website at Grinnell College.
Boren Fellowship for Graduate Language Study
Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study, or increased language proficiency. Boren Fellowships support study and research in†areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Deadline: February 1, 2011.
Minority Graduate Scholarships, Society for the Study of Social Problems
The Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), in keeping with its philosophy of active engagement with social problems, participation in social problem solutions, and advancement of knowledge through study, service and critical analysis, established the Racial/Ethnic Minority Graduate Scholarship at its annual meeting in August 1993. The purpose of the scholarship is:
To identify and support developing minority scholars who exemplify and give fresh voice to the SSSP history and commitment to scholar activism
To give renewed energy and wider lenses to diversity in scholarship
To increase the pool of minority social and behavioral scientists
To establish a formal commitment to diversity through support of a minority doctoral student in the social and/or behavioral sciences inclusive of course work or dissertation research support who demonstrates a commitment, through his or her scholarly examination, of any aspect of inequality, injustice and oppression
A $12,000 scholarship will be funded to one student with an additional $500 awarded for attendance at the annual meeting. Payments will be made in equal installments in September 2011 and January 2012. SSSP believes that the support of students will foster the commitment required to enable the student to fund living arrangements as well as academic or research costs. Deadline: February 1, 2011.
Call for Submissions: 4th Annual Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival
Now is your chance to submit your film, writing, workshop proposal, or performance act. There is NO submission fee if you submit your work by Feb. 14, 2011! So don’t wait — send us your stories of the Mixed experience NOW! For complete submission information visit the Festival website. You’ll find the submission forms on the left navigation bar.
The Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival is a non-competitive, annual arts festival dedicated to sharing and nurturing storytelling of the Mixed experience. The Mixed experience refers to interracial and intercultural relationships, transracial and transcultural adoptions, and anyone who identifies as having biracial, multiracial, Hapa or Mixed identity.
Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars Program
The program is designed to increase the pool of university faculty by supporting the doctoral aspirations of individuals who are: current upper division or graduate students in the California State University system, economically and educationally disadvantaged, interested in a university faculty career, U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and leaders of tomorrow.
Students who are chosen for this prestigious award are designated Sally Casanova Scholars as a tribute to Dr. Sally Casanova, for whom the Pre-Doctoral scholarship is named. These scholars are exposed to unique opportunities to explore and prepare to succeed in doctoral programs. CSU and UC faculty members are an integral component of this program as they work closely with scholars to prepare them for graduate studies. Deadline: no later than March 25, 2011.
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.
The Social Justice Fund currently makes 8 to 10 grants annually of up to $2,000 for grassroots activist projects in the US and around the world, giving priority to those with small budgets and little access to more mainstream funding sources. Please read these guidelines carefully and review our rosters of past grants on our website before applying to the Muste Institute for funding.
Next deadline: April 19, 2010 (for grants decided in mid-June). Subsequent deadlines to be posted after May 1, 2010. The Muste Institute’s Social Justice Fund considers proposals:
For new projects or campaigns, or efforts to expand existing work
For projects with expense budgets under $50,000
For projects which are local, regional, national or global in scope
From groups located anywhere in the world
From grassroots organizations with annual expenses of less than $500,000
From groups with limited or no access to more mainstream funding sources
From groups that may be unincorporated or incorporated*
From groups with or without 501(c)3 status or a fiscal sponsor*
From groups which have not received Social Justice Grants from us in at least two years
The Social Justice Fund’s priority is to support:
Direct grassroots activism and organizing
Groups with diverse, representative and democratic internal leadership structures
Groups which have or can obtain sufficient economic and in-kind support from a diversity of sources to carry out their regular work, but need additional support for a particular project
You can visit the A.J. Muste Institute website for more information on eligibility and how to apply.
Vietnamese Oral History Project
I’m emailing today because we all have one common interest — preserving Vietnamese history and culture. My friend Linh Tran and I are starting a new project and hope that with your help, we can turn our ambitions into a reality.
Our mission is to record, document and preserve the stories of every single Vietnamese refugee who fled the country after the Fall of Saigon. We as Vietnamese people have a very unique, important story and unless we make efforts to preserve those histories in some way, it’ll be lost in text books, in our children and our children’s children. Although there have been some attempts to document our story, not one project has done it on the global scale that we want to reach.
This is why Linh and I want to start to collect individual stories of this journey — modeled after the nationally recognized StoryCorps and Steven Spielberg’s Jewish Film Archive. We are compiling a video documentary, archive and multimedia-driven project that will serve the Vietnamese people, let them tell their stories and also be a platform to educate others from different origins and backgrounds about our story. It’ll temporarily be called “From Vietnam to Freedom” and will be housed online.
We’re emailing you because we’d like for you to either contribute your story, someone else’s story or help us connect more with the Vietnamese community to spread the word. We know with your help, we can truly make a difference in our global community. We hope that you’ll contribute in some way.
Thanks very much.
Kim Thai, firstname.lastname@example.org
Linh Tran, email@example.com
Mavericks of Asian Pacific Islander Descent announces the 1st Asian Pacific Islander TV Pilot Shootout sponsored by Fox Diversity. The winner will receive the opportunity to pitch a TV executive at Fox.
Writers will submit a synopsis, logline, and sample pages from a completed original television pilot script as well as submit a video of a two minute television pilot pitch. The top five pitch ideas chosen by judges will be matched with directors who will also be selected by submission process. The directors will be given seed money partially derived from the entry fees and work with the writer to develop a 1 minute teaser of the pilot. Actors and production crew are also encouraged to apply to be considered for the chosen projects. Submission deadline for writers is June 9.
The five completed teasers will premiere at the Japanese American National Museum’s ID Film Fest October 10, 2010. The ID Film Fest will include screenings and workshops. The co-presenters of the ID Film Fest will include JANM, director Justin Lin and You Offend Me, You Offend My Family, director Quentin Lee, producer and writer Koji Steven Sakai, director Jessica Sanders, and Phil Yu of AngryAsianMan.com.
MAPID’s focus is to assist, develop, and promote Asian Pacific Islanders in entertainment. Producer of Breaking the Bow which involved over 70 API artists, MAPID conducts an API writing group, presents Battle of the Pitches, and co-presents the successful short screenplay competition with the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Complete instructions can be found at mapid.us/tvpilotshootout. For more information, contact Ken Choy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2010 Census deadline is approaching, and as you know, it is critical to have the entire Asian American community participate. An accurate count can help us receive our share of over $400 billion in annual federal funds for services our community needs. Unfortunately, past decades have shown that Asian Americans are among the groups most likely to discard their Census forms.
Fill In Our Future is a campaign created by AAPI Action to promote and encourage the participation of the Asian American community in the 2010 Census. Our website, fillinourfuture.org, features frequently asked Census questions, in-language resources (in over 24 Asian languages), informational brochures, sample Census forms, in-language assistance guides, celebrity and community leader PSA’s (Public Service Announcements) and monthly contests and giveaways. The larger campaign also includes media and community outreach, workshops, a speaker’s bureau and training seminars.
As the Asian American and Pacific Islander population continues to grow and change, the data from the Census will help leaders obtain the best services, resources, and programs to meet our community needs. Please utilize and share the following resource links with your readers: Website, Facebook Fan Page, and Twitter.
One of the knocks against academics and professors, especially those who study social inequality issues, is that we don’t do anything with our knowledge. That is, we conduct research and learn about the different ways people are treated unfairly and unjustly in American society, but beyond passing on this knowledge to students in the courses we teach, we don’t use our knowledge to try to change the situation.
Thankfully, there are exceptions to these criticisms. As the Los Angeles Times reports, many professors at Santa Ana College in California are literally putting their money where their mouths are by donating some of their salary to a scholarship fund that assists low-income students attend their classes:
Chemistry professor Jeff McMillan is sick of seeing otherwise capable students drop his courses because it costs too much to go to school. So much so that he is opening his wallet.
McMillan and about a dozen other faculty and staff members at Santa Ana College have started a scholarship fund that they hope will make it easier for low-income students to afford their classes.Starting this fall, each will fund a student’s course fees for a year — about $600 for a full-time schedule.
Professors say the donation comes with the satisfaction of knowing the student their money is helping. . . . The Opportunity Scholarship will be awarded to students with extreme financial need. Instructors will recommend students who have great potential but are struggling to pay for school.
Each student will be paired with one of the faculty sponsors, who will serve as an informal mentor. . . . Most likely to benefit will be students who are not citizens and thus are not eligible for federal student aid or a state program that waives fees for low-income community college students.
I hope that they serve as an inspiration for other professors at colleges around the country, but at the same time, assistance programs like this are ultimately the responsibility of colleges and universities themselves, especially elite private colleges that have the endowment and resources to give low-income students the chance at a better life through a college degree.
Although there’s still a long way to go, thankfully there seems to be a trend among such elite colleges out there that they need to use their vast wealth and resources to help all members of society get a college education, not just the wealthy and privileged.
At any rate, kudos to the faculty at Santa Ana College who not only talk the talk, but they aren’t afraid to walk the walk. Or as another cliche goes, “Well done is better than well said.”