August 27, 2021

Volume 1, Issue 15

Dear Friends,

Here we are at the end of summer and beginning of the school year. Thanks for your continued support of the 1990 Institute and newsletter. Thanks also for forwarding this newsletter to your friends and family, and please encourage your friends to subscribe so they can get this great content straight to their inboxes too.


Hmong, Indian, and Native Hawaiians are the most likely to have concerns about immigration status |

How can our end of summer journeys help us better understand our families’ stories and the world?

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Every August, our high school music program takes the children away to the woods for Band Camp. They spend a week intensively learning music, learning to march, and getting to know each other in order to get a jump on the year’s music program. A week later, parents make the long drive up north (four hours) to hear an amazing summer concert in an outdoor pavilion on the shores of a beautiful lake.

It both winds up the summer and jumpstarts the new school year. 

I always feel out of my element as I venture into the woods. The long drive. The trees. The middle of nowhereness. The complete lack of Asian Americans. So for me, it is a personal challenge to make the long drive by myself. I load up my devices with Ella Fitzgerald music, I fill my cooler with drinks and snacks, I pack a little work that I can do without wifi or a computer (always optimistic), and I drive. By myself. To remind myself how to be brave. I both dread and look forward to it every year.

This year, nobody up north is wearing a mask at any of the gas stations or fast food places I stop at along the way, and I worry that my mask and black hair might make me even more of a target than usual.

Still, once I finally make it, with only five minutes to spare no matter how early I set out, plus the relief of seeing all my neighbors and Chinese school friends I have not seen all summer, time stands still for a few hours as we are all reunited with our children in the open air, feeling safe, and enveloped in music.

Then I see the horrifying images of Afghan parents who are so desperate that they are passing their babies with U.S. passports taped to their bodies up over the razor wire into the arms of soldiers inside embassy compounds. I listen to the stories of Southeast Asian American friends about their perilous journeys to America at the end of the war in Vietnam and the Secret War. I realize that all the stories I have been told about my own family’s journey on the “last boat out of Beijing” and those who stayed behind are the sanitized children’s versions which left out all the chaos, danger, dust, and fear. 

Our Asian American families know too well about war, the end of war, and starting over again.

And being brave.


Curated News

OPINION: Viet Thanh Nguyen: I Can't Forget the Lessons of Vietnam. Neither Should You | New York Times  “My family tried to flee by air but could not make it to Saigon’s airport. We tried the U.S. Embassy and could not get past the enormous crowd. Finally, we found a barge at the dock, left Saigon and eventually made it to the United States, where we restarted our lives. We were civilians, but this was a war story.”

Vietnamese American refugees who witnessed fall of Saigon urge U.S. to accept more Afghans | NBC News  Witnessing the strife of Afghans is “heart-wrenching for families who escaped Saigon,” one community advocate said. “We know the desperation, the loss of homeland and fear and panic they must be feeling.”

‘Hedging their bets’: Political experts weigh in on China’s growing relations with the Taliban | CNBC  “Beijing hopes that offering economic assistance and possibly diplomatic recognition to the Taliban will persuade them to protect China’s security interests in Afghanistan.” 

The danger of anti-China rhetoric | Vox  “We [Asian Americans] become collateral damage every time there’s U.S.-Asia conflict.”

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), Stop AAPI Hate, and 21 Organizations Urge President Biden to Protect AAPI Communities Ahead of Administration’s Release of Findings on the Origins of COVID-19 | StopAAPIHate  Community leaders share concern that the Biden Administration’s release of a report on the origins of COVID-19 will lead to increases in hate incidents against the AAPI community.

Northern California water restrictions prompt accusations of racial profiling of Hmong farmers | NBC News  Activists say the policies have escalated tension between the Hmong community and officials, pointing to an incident in June, when authorities shot and killed farmer Soobleej Kaub Hawj.

ESSAY: Nancy Wang Yuen: I’m an Asian American woman in academia. Here’s what ‘The Chair’ gets right | LA Times  This is the magic of Oh’s performance — to portray an ivory tower English professor as an everywoman. At the same time, “The Chair” is a window into the specific challenges faced by female faculty of color. In 2018, women of color made up less than 7% of the professoriate.



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Dim Sum - A Little Bit of Heart


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