August 13, 2021

Volume 1, Issue 14

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One out of every 7 Asian immigrants is undocumented |

How do the stories of the Olympics help create community for Asian Americans?

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

When Filipina American Lee Kiefer won Olympic gold in fencing, becoming the first American woman and the first Asian American woman to win gold in individual women’s fencing — while also going to medical school — some Asian Americans jokingly groaned in anticipation of our mothers now demanding that we also win Olympic gold while going to med school. 

Sigh. Another impossibly perfect cousin to compete against in the Asian American Parenting Olympics. Time for us to start studying and working and training even harder to try to impress our impossible-to-impress Asian moms.

The Olympics offer an opportunity to celebrate Asian excellence without worrying about accidentally reinforcing the model minority myth. We see ourselves and find connection in the stories of the Asian American athletes, but also the athletes who are Asian, immigrants, refugees, children of immigrants and refugees, multiracial, adopted, undocumented, and more. National and racial boundaries do not limit us here.

We see our own complex origin stories in Japanese American silver medalist surfer Kanoa Igarashi representing Japan in men’s shortboard who was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California, to Japanese surfer parents who moved there before he was born so that he could become a world championship surfer. We follow diver Jordan Windle’s and gymnast Yul Moldauer’s adoption stories. We cheer for weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who won the Philippines' first gold medal ever and for Native Hawaiian surfer Carissa Moore (representing U.S.) who won gold in women’s shortboard this first time that the Native Hawaiian sport of surfing was in the Olympics. Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua caused a stir (again) when he walked in the opening ceremonies barechested in heritage dress and glistening in coconut oil. And we are charmed by the very youngest Olympians winning gold in skateboarding (Japan, Great Britain) and diving (China).

Still, the most Asian American moment of the Olympics was seeing a packed room full of Hmong American family and friends in St. Paul, Minnesota, gathered together to watch and cheer gymnast Suni Lee win gold, silver, and bronze. Despite our jokes about our parents’ and communities’ impossibly high standards for us, we know they are with us and cheering for us.

Creating such community is the hope of every Olympics. In 1956, a 17-year-old Asian Australian named John Ian Wing wrote a letter to the organizers of the tumultuous 1956 Melbourne Olympics suggesting that instead of another country-by-country procession of athletes mirroring the opening ceremony, for the closing ceremony, all the countries’ athletes should march in together, no more than two teammates together, so that "there will be only one nation. War, politics and nationality will be all forgotten."


Curated News

ESSAY: Emil Guillermo: Being mindful of Simone Biles and Suni Lee | AALDEF  “So I felt like I was just doing this for myself,” she said. “And I just wanted to prove that I could be up there.”

A crowd came to the airport to welcome Sunisa Lee home. There’ll be a parade. But her success is particularly important to Minnesota’s Asian American women. | Sahan Journal  The Olympic champion's accomplishments represent a community that knows how to 'survive, support, and succeed.'

OPINION: Ka Vang: Suni Lee's win shines a bright light on the Hmong legacy | Minnesota Public Radio  Her gold medal win has also sparked the imagination of Hmong people everywhere, particularly girls, that they can walk (or flip) on their own paths, even ones that seem frivolous at first.

Team Hawaiian Kingdom? Activists want some U.S. Olympians to surf for a different homeland | NBC News  After decades of whitewashing, sovereignty activists say, the effort is part of an attempt to reclaim the sport’s cultural and spiritual importance in its place of birth.

Olympics carry a question: What does it mean to be Japanese? | The Rafu Shimpo  Japan’s 580-plus-person Olympic team has at least 30 mixed-race athletes, including Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, a sprinter born in Tokyo who is the son of a Japanese mother and a Ghanaian father, and Olympic judo gold medalist Aaron Wolf, an American Japanese born and raised in Tokyo.

Delta variant challenges China's costly lockdown strategy | Associated Press  The delta variant is challenging China’s costly strategy of isolating cities, prompting warnings that Chinese leaders who were confident they could keep the coronavirus out of the country need a less disruptive approach.

China's Ban on Taiwan Pineapples Backfires as New Buyers Step In | Bloomberg  China’s surprise ban on pineapple imports from Taiwan five months ago was widely viewed as an attempt to undermine President Tsai Ing-wen, however shipments to Japan surged more than eightfold and Japan has now replaced China as the major overseas destination for Taiwan’s pineapples. 

“Breaking Our Silence” – A Poem in Remembrance of Janice Mirikitani by Genny Lim | Eastwind  Remembering Janice Mirikitani, San Francisco Poet Laureate (2000-2002) and co-founder of the Glide Foundation, who joined the ancestors on July 29, 2021.



  • The Asian American Education Project ( is now offering a series of free, virtual workshops for educators interested in learning how to include AAPI history in their classrooms. Learn about how Asian immigrants have contributed and shaped the way the country is today. From labor activism to fighting for school integration and citizenship rights in the courts, and against model minority and perpetual foreigner stereotypes, Asian Americans have faced adversity and fought for opportunities. The curriculum is divided into themes to make it easier for educators to adapt the whole or part of the curriculum into their own practice. The lesson plans were developed in partnership with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and the thematic units were created by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). Learn more and register for the workshops at

Dim Sum - A Little Bit of Heart


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