Thursday, June 28, 2007

APA Activist Training and Midwest Summit!!

Saturday, August 4. Chicago, IL

Join your fellow progressive Asian Pacific Americans from throughout the Midwest as we engage in a Saturday training led by Parag Mehta, Director of Training at the Democratic National Committee. Sponsored by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress.

To register, go to:

Who: Activists, student leaders, community leaders, volunteers
What: Learn the basic tools of political organizing including volunteer recruitment, networking, planning events, targeting, phonebanking and other useful campaign skills.

When: Saturday, August 4th, 2007
11:00-12:00 PM - Networking and Registration
12:00 - 6:00 PM - Training
6:00 - 8:00 PM - Reception/Social with special guests

Where: The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605-2496

Fee(s) - Includes training and reception/social, as well as admission to the Field Museum. Students please inquire about additional scholarships.
Student...$25 before July 15 / $30 after July 15
Regular...$35 before July 15 / $40 after July 15
Group rate (for 5 regular registrations)... $175
Group rate (for 10 regular registrations)... $300

Co-sponsors - To be listed in our program book or to place an ad, please contact Theresa Mah at

Parag V. Mehta - Parag is the Director of Training for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the DNC, Parag served as Deputy Political Director for America Votes, a coalition of 32 of the largest progressive groups in the country who joined forces to register, educate, recruit, and mobilize voters for the 2004 elections. In 2003, Parag was a Deputy Political Director for Governor Howard Dean's presidential campaign, based in Burlington, Vermont. In 2002 he served as Deputy Field Director for former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk's U.S. Senate campaign in Texas. From 2000-2002, Parag worked as a speechwriter and policy analyst for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Parag holds a B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master's degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (APAP) - APAP is national network of progressive Asian Pacific Americans and allies. For more information, click here: To reach us, please email:

Bollywood: Gaining Momentum

Hollywood, America's thriving film industry, may have to take the backseat to Bollywood, a film industry based in India, that is reaching out to a global audience far greater than any other. Originally meant to entertain only those fans in South Asia, the number of individuals who are becoming more interested in such films is rapidly growing throughout the world: from Asia and Europe to even the Western world. With the utilization of subtitles, Bollywood's outreach is far greater than anyone has ever imagined.

"Bollywood films are fairy tales for adults. That's their appeal." The beauty of such films is that they do not incorporate far-fetched, unrealistic adventures and plots, but rather, aim to appeal to what a grand majority of individuals seek in life: happiness in love, family and life in general. There are a strong number of dance scenes within each movie that help the progress the storyline. By touching base with the emotional aspect of life, individuals are able to develop a connection with themselves and others with these films: In a world that is revolved around economic prosperity and materialistic goods, it seems as though there may be times when we as individuals may lose sight of what is truly important in life: the personal things that actually enable us to wake up in the morning and feel alive. This personal fulfillment can be in the form of family, good friends, charity, and so forth. We cannot lose sight of that, even though it is very easy to do so.

Society is far from perfect. Every individual experiences hardship in some shape or form, but it is not the hardship that matters: it is how we as individuals react to these hardships that enable us to define ourselves. That is what these Bollywood films have successfully been doing for so many years: to show that there really is hope in life. It is not always easy to see or grasp this idea, but if we seek what is the most important in life (as defined by ourselves), then life becomes more fulfilling since it is not filled with the materialistic or some distinction that fades with time, but rather, bonds and relationships that will always be there. I have seen a good number of Bollywood movies in my time and I have to say, I am a fan and probably always will be because these films do not strive only to entertain, but rather, to mainly reach out and connect with their audience regarding the human condition.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

OCA: Protect Immigrant Families

.....This is right from the OCA (Organization of Chinese Americans) newsletter talking about the amendments that are to be voted on Thursday regarding protecting immigrant families. Please read and make a difference! Every voice counts...

The immigration bill which had been stalled in the U.S. Senate is once again going through, unfortunately without three key amendments which would have placed provisions in the bill to protect family-based immigration.

There are two more chances in this session to protect families, the Dodd/Menendez/Reid and the Menendez/Obama/Feingold amendments (more info below). Opponents to reform have flooded Congressional offices with calls. We need your help in calling your Senators and urging them to support fair immigration policies!

The Senate will vote on Thursday, so please contact your Senator and support families TODAY!

The bill will also go through further debate in the House so the APA community must speak up there as well!

For more information:

Protect Immigrant Families: Urge Your Senators to Vote for the Dodd/Menendez/ Reid and Menendez/Obama/ Feingold Amendments!
As the Senate attempts to resume debate on America’s broken immigration system and reconsider the Senate immigration proposal, your voices need to be heard in support of family reunification. Please call (202) 224-3121 to ask for your Senators’ support on the following amendments:
Dodd/Menendez/ Reid Amendment #1199 - The current immigration bill being considered by the Senate contains provisions that will severely limit the ability of U.S. citizens to bring their parents to the United States by limiting the number of visas for parents to only 40,000 per year; creating a new visitor’s visa category for parents that unrealistically allows them to stay for only 30 days out of every year; and harshly penalizing the sponsor, parent and the entire country of origin if parents overstay.
Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Harry Reid (D-NV) have introduced an amendment to the current Senate bill that would provide some relief for U.S. citizen families and their parents by:
v Keeping 90,000 visas (the annual average) available for parents of U.S. citizens;
v Extending the parent visitor’s visa to 180 days and making it valid and renewable for 3 years; and
v Applying penalties only to individuals who overstay instead of punishing all parents from that country.

Menendez/Obama/ Feingold Amendment #1317 - The proposed Senate immigration bill also limits the ability of adult children and siblings to reunite with their families in the United States by creating a point system that would not give any points for family relationships unless a 55-point threshold is met in the categories of employment, education, English ability, and civics; awarding only 2 points to over 800,000 green card applicants who will have their lawfully submitted applications thrown in the trash by this bill; and making it significantly harder for adult children and siblings to be reunited with their families in the U.S.
Amendment #1317 co-sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barack Obama (D-IL), and Russ Feingold (I-WI) would modify the point system and make it more beneficial to immigrant families by:
v Removing the 55-point threshold;
v Giving 10 points to each family relationship; and
v Awarding 5 points for green card applications lawfully submitted after the arbitrary cut-off date.
Please contact your Senators and urge them to preserve the ability of United States citizens to reunite with their families.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be directly connected to your Senators’ offices.
Demand that both your Senators support the Dodd Amendment today!
For questions or additional information please contact Pang Houa Moua at
pmoua@advancingequa or (202) 296-2300 x122.
Founded in 1973 as the Organization of Chinese Americans, OCA, a national organization with over 80 chapters and affiliates across the country, is dedicated to advancing the social, economic, and political well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Obama: South Asian Outrage

Before I throw my two cents in on this article, I want to first of all point out that MAASU as an organization does not align itself with any particular politcal party (say that three times fast) and does not have a stance on any of the candidates running for the upcoming Presidential election. I could very easily just sit here and jot down my thoughts on Obama or even moreso on who I am personally supporting in the Presidential election, but I will refrain from doing so to tackle the bigger issue at hand...outsourcing.

I commend Obama in apologizing on behalf of his campaign for giving the impression that the predicament of outsourcing is mainly due to US-India relations. The South Asians For Obama (SAFO) were outraged at the apparent anti-Indian sentiment that came across in the memo that was intended to lash out at the Hillary Clinton campaign for supposedly encouraging outsourcing by being strongly supportive of the Indian American community. Obama immediately apologized for the indirect finger pointing that came across as the true intent of the memo was to characterize the problematic issue of outsourcing.

Even though many nations (such as India) that are targeted by the US for outsourcing greatly benefits those particular nations and their economy, the problem stems back to the fact that outsourcing deprives the US of potential employment opportunities, as well as a stronger, competitive edge in the global economy. Assisting the poorer nations of the world should ideally be an objective of a nation is considered a leader in the global affairs; however, any nation that is not strong economically should aim to strengthen itself so that it can truly help those of the outside world.

The apparent discrepancy between the wealthy and those in poverty is growing ever increasingly with time: outsourcing (though not the only factor) does play a role and thus, moderating it may be necessary. The US needs to strengthen its economy so that its citizens are able to find proper employment and raise an income that will enable them to support themselves and their families. That is the problem with outsourcing: it deprives the US of essential tools to excel due to the fact that many corporate leaders are more interested in paying less for labor that they can get from international economies, so that their own corporations attain a greater net worth: unfortunately, it is the middle-and lower-class citizens who get the short end of the stick and lose out in the long run. So the fact that outsourcing to nations all around the world (including those in Asia) is a legitimate concern in regards to the affairs of the American people; however, the tone of the memo should evidently have been handled better.

India and any other nation that benefits from the US outsourcing are not to blame for they are taking strides to better enhance their own economy and nation's standard of living. Striving to excel in an ever demanding society is not an easy task for a majority of the world, but regardless, making the most of any opportunity is what puts nations on the map (not geographically speaking). In regards to the Presidential elections, the political atmosphere is tense as it is with various candidates seemingly putting more effort into tarnishing the reputation or stances of their opponents, rather than further exemplifying the importance of their positions, as well as the direction they seek to take if given the opportunity to lead. The only advice I can give is know what these candidates are about: know their history, their stances on various issues, and if he/she is the kind of person you would like leading the US starting in 2008. Do not jump the bandwagon; know your stuff. Topics such as outsourcing, immigration reform, the War on Iraq, etc. are all issues that greatly affect individuals of every community, including that of the Asian American community. Regardless of one's objective: know the facts. Hopefully the future of politics will take a turn for the better by being respectful of minority cultures, rather than just aiming to push one' s own agenda.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hmong: Generation Gap

The article characterizes how the arrest of a famous Hmong general has outraged many individuals of the Hmong community. Vang Pao has a strong history of assisting American forces against communism during the Vietnam War. It is the dream of many Hmongs to return to a more democratic Laos, as characterized by Pao before his arrest. However, there does not seem to be a strong consensus within the Hmong community in regards to returning to "back home" to Laos.

What stands out the most (to me at least) is the apparent discrepancy between the older and younger generations. Many Asian American youths can probably relate to the fact that many individuals of the older generation (parents, grandparents, etc.) have at one time talked about returning to their motherland to live out the rest of their lives. It is truly understandable to feel such a strong attachment to one's motherland, a true home for many. However, those of the younger generations are more than likely to consider America their true home or motherland. As proud as I am to be an Indian American, I see myself spending the rest of my life in America (the country I consider my homeland) rather than India (the nation of my family's ancestral lines).

Individuals who are born and raised in America can proudly identify themselves as Asian Americans without feeling pressured that such pride must go hand-in-hand with one day returning to one's roots. It is possible to be proud of being both Asian and American but in varying degrees. It is evident that there are some individuals of the younger generation who would love to live in Asia due to their strong cultural attachment (possibly due to their being born there or frequent visiting), but as the article characterizes, it is evident that a strong number of younger individuals are becoming more attached to the American lifestyle and consider America more of a home for them than where their bloodline would lead them otherwise.

How individuals characterize themselves in regards to cultural identity is up to them: There is no right or wrong way to identify oneself but as long as Asians and Asian Americans realize that common cutural bond that unites them and in turn, embraces it, then what is important to this cultural community cannot be lost: it still exists in a constantly changing form as it is passed from one generation to the next. It is our duty as Asian Americans to ensure that the younger generations are aware of the rich history and honor that comes with being Asian American in today's ever changing society. In other words, pass the torch so that this legacy continues to remain strong no matter what the environment or situation is.

LGBT: A Step Towards Acceptance

Running for office in Japan (a nation with conservative values), Kanako Otsuji is the first openly gay woman to run for political office with the goal of creating a more diverse atmosphere that is welcoming to individuals of various minorities (including those of sexual orientation). This is truly a remarkable moment both in the history of Japan and the LGBT struggle for equal rights. If she wins, Kanako may be opening doors for individuals within the LGBT community that were once closed to those who did not fit the mainstream, heterosexual classification.

The atmosphere in Japan in regards to the view placed upon those of the LGBT community is not unique in that it is unfortunately common throughout the world. The topic of gay rights is a controversial one as it pits individuals who believe in equality for all mankind versus those who align with a strong moral code that does not condone this lifestyle. Every one is entitled to their own opinion but the reality is, whether or not one supports gay rights is a personal stance, but regardless, those of the LGBT community deserve to be respected as any human being does.

The conservative mentality against advancement of those who are proud members of the LGBT community is unfortunately dominant in most of the world today. In many nations (including a great deal of those in Asia) align with a strong conservative stance in regards to how it views those of the LGBT community. This dominant stance has made it very difficult for those of this community to be open about this aspect of their identity and those who are open risk being bombarded with an onslaught of criticism and derogatory remarks. To judge an individual on any characteristic (including sexual orientation) is deplorable and demeaning, but sadly, most people just don't get it.

The fact that there are individuals of the LGBT community, such as Kanako, who are stepping up to the spotlight as proud, vocal members of this community is truly remarkable in that they are paving the road for others in this community as well. To be openly gay and running for political office in a conservative country (such as Japan in the article) cannot be the easiest of tasks. But regardless, just the very fact that she is running for office and setting the tone is hands down, an admirable task.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Japan: Changing "Sulfur Island"

The nation of Japan has made the decision to change the name of the island of Iwo Jima (trans: "Sulfur Island") to what it was originally called before World War II: Iwo To. A clash of perspectives have resulted due to mixed feelings of the establishment of Iwo To: surviving islanders praise the name change as it gives honor to the island's true name, but many war veterans (including those of Japanese ancestry) believe that Iwo Jima should remain due to its historical significance during World War II and that the change would demean its history.

Regardless of what is said, the Japanese government have taken the initiative in declaring that Iwo To will now be the official name of this island once again and that, though its history is of great importance, the respecting of the wishes of the surviving islanders (a minority voice) is truly commendable.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

25th Anniversary of the Death of Vincent Chin

OCA Commemorates 25th Anniversary of Vincent Chin’s Death

Washington, DC – OCA, a national organization with 80 chapters and affiliates dedicated to ensuring social justice for Asian Pacific Americans, today renewed its commitment to hate crimes prevention and education.

On June 19th, 1982 Vincent Chin, a 27 year old Chinese American man, was brutally beaten to death on in Detroit, Michigan. Although the crime was racially motivated, it was not recognized as a hate crime and Chin’s assailants were sentenced to only three years’ probation and a $3,000 fine

“Vincent Chin’s murder and the soft treatment his attackers received galvanized the Asian Pacific American community to unprecedented action and awareness about hate crimes against APAs,” said Ginny Gong, National President, “OCA, a leading civil rights organization in that movement, continues to fight against violence and hate, whether it is motivated by the victim’s race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or ability. Today, on the 25th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s assault, we renew our commitment to hate crimes prevention and to spreading awareness about hate crimes.

OCA’s Hate Crimes Initiative Conference Series, in partnership with Allstate Foundation, works with OCA chapters around the country to sponsor conferences targeting community leaders, organizations, and law enforcement officials. The conferences educate participants about hate crimes in the APA community and encourage participants to be proactive and take preventative measures. OCA and Allstate have also partnered to publish Responding to Hate Crime: A Community Action Guide, a guidebook to responding to and preventing hate crimes

OCA-Detroit chapter will commemorate the anniversary with an OCA/Allstate Hate Crimes Initiative workshop and memorial activities this weekend (See release below for details)

Founded in 1973 as the Organization of Chinese Americans, OCA is a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans.