Author Archives: kltw

ed lee to become the first azn-american mayor of san francisco

posted by kltw

As of 4:30 PST this afternoon, the Board of Supervisor for the city and county of San Francisco tabbed Azn-American Edwin Lee to be the interim mayor in the wake of the departure of the current mayor, Gavin Newsom, for the seat of Lieutenant Governor.  Ed Lee will be the first Azn-American mayor of San Francisco, who, along with the newly minted mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, signify the remarkable gains for Azn-Americans in Bay Area politics.  Both these mayors come from activist backgrounds, with Lee working with the Asian Law Caucus to fight for tenant rights in the 80’s and Quan fighting as a part of the Third World Liberation movement for the creation of Ethnic Studies.

Though Lee has a history of fighting for grassroots communities, his work as the city administrator has often put him in line with business interests and pitted him against organized labour, all factors which made him a key ally for the moderate, pro-business Newsom.  Only time will tell if his mayoral legacy will match his long term track record of protecting marginalized communities, or his more recent work as the city administrator.  In any case, it is exciting to see people of colour in major positions of power.

That is, enjoy it until we dismantle this hedgemonic hierarchical system.

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dispatches from san fran: why does mike chang get no love?

posted by kltw
Update: just realized that the topic of Mike Chang was covered 3 days ago?  I guess he is getting some love, just not on the show.
I hope you haven’t been holding your breath since the last “dispatch from san fran” (all the way back inJune, about why Azns should care about what’s happening in Arizona.  As we all should).  This time around, I want to take a look at one of the new developments in the latest season of Glee.  If you haven’t caught up, you should; if you have, then surely you’ve witnessed the drama between Arty and Azn #1 (aka Tina).

Spoiler Alert

So the story goes that during the summer, Tina and Azn #2 (aka Mike Chang, or “The Situa-azn” for you Jersey Shore fans) got together as tutors at “Asian Camp”; which apparently means a bunch of Azn kids sitting around in a bamboo hut, decked out in stereotypical Azn decor, playing with tech gadgets (because obviously we are all nerds); but I digress.  Anyway, with the emergence of Mike Chang as someone who actually gets some lines in the show, I was hopeful that an Azn man will, for once, be portrayed as a desirable partner in a romantic context in pop culture.  Despite the fact that this relationship has already been written off by some as Azn-fusion (because the only reason why the two are together is because they’re both Azn, right?), I remained optimistic to see the development of a new side Mike Chang

However, through the first two episodes, all we’ve seen are efforts on Arty’s end to try and win back Tina’s affection, despite the fact that Tina told him the reasons why he’s a bad boyfriend.  Drama ensues as Arty tries to join the football team to get Mike Chang-esque abs…etc etc…  What the show has failed to illustrate so far, has been the agency of both Tina and Mike as the masters of their own relationship.  All we’ve been shown so far is how Tina’s feelings for Arty can be swayed if only he could do something that is impressive enough, rather than the fact that the two Azn characters could actually be in a meaningful relationship.  Although I’m relatively hopeful that we’ll get Tina’s perspective in the near future, I’m a bit more hesitant to believe that Mike Chang will have anything to say about the future of Azn².  Maybe it’s just me, but I’d hate to see Mike Chang’s foray into romance be as brief as other Azn men in popular culture.

I’m not saying I’d rather see Tina with Mike, or Tina with Arty or Tina with whoever else, I’m simply wondering that, given the way the story has unfolded, why don’t they give Mike Chang some love?

What do you think?

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dispatches from san fran: why azns should care about what’s happening in arizona

posted by kltw

So I’ve been sitting here for the past two hours thinking of a clever way to introduce myself to readers, as this is the first time I’ve ever written for a blog.  Instead of something dramatic or witty or anything extraordinary, I’m just going to give the basics to save myself another late night.  I’m a Chinese-Canadian hanging out in California this summer, doing work with working class, low-income Chinese immigrants in the San Francisco Chinatown.

When missmsian approached me to write for the invazn, I thought about the plethora of topics that I had accumulated over the years, including pop culture, politics, race/racism, sexuality…etc.  However two recent events helped me narrow down my topic to one of great importance right now; the topic being the bullshit that’s happening in Arizona.

For those of you who aren’t yet aware, Arizona has had a long history of being one of the most bigoted, hateful, and racist states in the union.  With an impressive history highlighted by notable events such as the 1912 enactment of legislation that denied the vote to any persons unable to “read the Constitution of the U.S. in the English language”** , or the opposition to the recognition of Martin Luther King Day, or HB2281, passed just few weeks ago, that bans ethnic studies in schools.  These are just a sample of Arizona efforts to single-handedly deny rights to people of colour.

The one piece of legislation that I will focus on is SB1070, which gives Arizona police the authority to question anyone they feel to be “reasonably suspicious” of entering the country illegally.  Furthermore, if said person is unable to produce the proper documentation proving their status, they will be detained or deported.  Needless to say, this is a terrible time to be in Arizona as a person of colour.  This law is designed specifically to fight the so-called blight of “illegal immigration”; what it actually does is criminalize people for being brown.

So why should Chinese people care about this? After all, all of us exist in the racial hierarchy as the “model minority”, where we don’t make trouble and assimilate perfectly into mainstream society. Right?

WRONG…The fact that a model minority exists hurts both our own community as well as other communities of colour (perhaps the topic for a future post?).  A lot of the opinions coming out of the Chinese community here have mostly painted a bleak picture about our understanding of the plight of undocumented peoples, and in this case, people in the Latino community.

Not only has the reaction to SB1070 been indifferent at best, supportive at worst, Chinese folks have actually talked about going to Arizona to take over the jobs that are being vacated by deported workers!  This type of mentality has demonstrated the utter inability (and sometimes refusal) to connect the dots between the treatment of different communities of colour by the state throughout history.  Chinese people need to look no further than this past century to see the denial of our right to opportunity and existence through the Chinese Exclusion Acts.

I had the opportunity to see the result of this kind of legislation first hand on my visit to Angel Island; at the time, it was the immigration centre (read: immigration detention facility) on the West coast and the “Guardian of the Western Gate”. Carvings of Chinese poems can be seen on every wall, decrying the conditions of imprisonment and expressing the pain of isolation and emotional suffering.

The spirit of the Chinese Exclusion Act lives on to this day, in the form of SB1070.

The same rhetoric could heard then and now: talking about immigrants taking American (read: white people) jobs, about corrupting American values, about taking over.

The same kind of work was done by immigrants then and now: working in the underground economy, for less than minimum wage, in sweatshop conditions.

The same kind of consequences borne by the immigrant communities then are the same ones that are experienced today: broken families, living in fear, continually oppressed.

This is why we need to stand up against this bullshit, because in this cycle, who knows when our own communities will become the targets once again.  I hope everyone takes some time to get to know the history of injustice done to each of our own communities in order to better appreciate the experiences of immigrants in Arizona right now.  For more information about SB1070 and the struggles in Arizona, you can check out Alto Arizona.

They first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Pastor Martin Niemoller

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