October 22, 2021

Volume 1, Issue 19

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your continued support of the 1990 Institute and newsletter. Thanks also for forwarding this newsletter to your friends and family, and for encouraging your friends to subscribe so they can get this content straight to their inboxes too. 


The 1990 Institute is co-sponsoring a theater buyout for the release of “Snakehead” on Friday, October 29! Join us!


How will ethnic studies and Asian American studies affect my child?

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang


When my son, who we all call Little Brother, was in fifth or sixth grade, he was having trouble getting his homework done. So in order to get him to sit at a desk where I could keep an eye on him, I started taking him with me to the evening class that I was team teaching at the University of Michigan. I thought that I could just park him at the back of the classroom with his math book and papers, and he could quietly work on his homework without disturbing anybody. It never occurred to me that he would find an upper division university course on Asian American and Pacific Islander civil rights interesting.

But he was fascinated. 

He was raising his hand and asking questions. 

Good questions. 

He did not get a lot of math done that semester, but we always had the best conversations on the drive home.

Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill that makes California the first state in the nation to require ethnic studies as a high school graduation requirement. After years of debate and curriculum development, California students will be able to learn about African Americans, Chicanos and other Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, Jews, Arab Americans, Sikh Americans, and Armenian Americans in high school.

“It’s been a long wait,” said Assemblyman Jose Medina who authored the legislation. “I think schools are ready now to make curriculum that is more equitable and more reflective of social justice.”

With so many COVID-19 inspired anti-Asian American hate crimes, Illinois passed the TEAACH Act this summer to require the teaching of Asian American history throughout K-12 curriculum. Michigan and Ohio are now working on similar legislation.

These moves are in stark contrast to what some other parents around the country are doing to disrupt this more inclusive approach to American history, afraid of what they mistake for critical race theory, which is not actually taught in K-12 schools anywhere. Critical race theory is the study of how race systemically impacts the execution of the law, and is generally only taught in law school. 

Instead, some people try to ban books about social justice, uninvite authors of books with protagonists of color, and insist teachers teach “both sides” of the Holocaust.

Children are naturally drawn to issues of fairness and justice. Perhaps that is why some parents are so afraid.


Curated News

University offers to rehire prof acquitted of ties to China | ABC News  The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has offered to reinstate Professor Anming Hu who was acquitted of federal charges that accused him of hiding his relationship with a Chinese university while receiving NASA research grants.

California becomes first state to require ethnic studies in high school | EdSource  Now the hard part: reaching agreement locally on what should be taught.

How the Philippines’ colonial legacy weighs on Filipino American mental health | LA Times  The first of four articles about mental health challenges in the Filipino American community and the factors that influence them by Agnes Constante.

Sikh Americans push for greater visibility, awareness against years of hate crimes, misunderstanding | PBS NewsHour  “It is a mandate for Sikhs to stand with the oppressed. Not in word, but in action. We will be in our community feeding our people, and we will stand with them against racism, brutality, and violence.”

John Oliver tackles WhatsApp misinformation among immigrants | NBC News  The host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight" drew attention to the falsehoods that often spread through family message groups in diaspora communities.

Chinese President Xi Jinping says peaceful reunification with Taiwan is in country’s best interests | South China Morning Post  In speech marking 110th anniversary of the revolution that established the first Chinese republic, Xi urges Taiwan to ‘stand on the right side of history.’ Taipei condemns speech as a ‘distortion of history’ and calls on Beijing to stop threatening the island.

US-China challenge: Easing tensions despite differences | Associated Press  Senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met in Zurich this month without the public acrimony on display at earlier meetings, after which the U.S. disclosed an agreement in principle for a virtual summit between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping by the end of the year. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the Chinese government to 'act responsibly' when handling the Evergrande crisis | Business Insider  "China has to make sovereign economic decisions for itself, but we also know that what China does economically is going to have profound ramifications, profound effects, on literally the entire world because all of our economies are so intertwined."

China has sent a female astronaut for a 6-month stay on its new space station | NPR  "Dreams are like stars in the universe. They look far and unreachable, but as long as we try, we are destined to reach them."



  • The 1990 Institute is co-sponsoring a movie theater buyout for the San Francisco Bay Area premiere of “Snakehead next Friday, October 29 at 7:30 pm PT. This film is based on the true story of Cheng Chui Ping, a snakehead (human smuggler) who escorted Chinese immigrants into the United States. “Snakehead” was shown at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last month and is written and directed by Evan Jackson Leong (director of “Linsanity,” the documentary about basketball star Jeremy Lin). Get tickets here for this screening and Q&A with director Evan Jackson Leong and producer Brian Yang at the Vogue Theater at 3290 Sacramento Street, one of San Francisco’s oldest theaters. Net proceeds from ticket purchases will go toward a free movie screening for underprivileged AAPI youth. Find more details here.


  • Two New Videos Launching Next Friday! – Our video series, “CHINA IN PERSPECTIVE,” is designed to expose you to interesting and insightful information about contemporary China to better understand this complex and intriguing country of 1.4 billion people. “If China Were a Country of 100 People” is a primer for the series, providing a general overview of the demographic breakdown of the Chinese population from income to gaming. “A Tale of Two Countries: China and U.S. Demographics” juxtaposes U.S. data with China data to gain a better understanding of China today in relation to the U.S. Visit our YouTube channel to see the videos on October 29!


  • "Reframing Perceptions: Asian American Women Journalist Trailblazers," our webinar co-presented with U.S.-China Education Trust (USCET), will be held in January. Our panel will feature Asian American women journalists who have brought the AAPI community front and center in the American discourse on race, ethnicity, and identity. More details will be shared soon.

Dim Sum - A Little Bit of Heart


1990 Institute
P.O. Box 383  | San Francisco, California 94104



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