Volume 1, Issue 3
March 12, 2021
Happy Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day, and Hinamatsuri (Girls Day in Japan and Hawaii)! We are excited to share our third 1990 Institute Newsletter, which we will be sending you twice a month as a way for us to reflect on the issues and share the news about the U.S. and China, Asian Americans, and to let you know the latest from the 1990 Institute. Our previous newsletter featured an article, “Communities of Color Stand Together,” in case you missed it.
Thanks also for your continued support of the 1990 Institute. You can make a secure tax-deductible online donation HERE, and you can subscribe to this newsletter HERE.
Wishing you safety and good health,
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, Editor and Curator
Learning to Speak a Language of
Family, Home, and Community
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
Women’s History Month started with a bang as Chloe Zhao won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director of a Motion Picture and Best Picture Drama for Nomadland. She is the first Asian woman to win the award, and only the second woman (following Barbara Streisand for Yentl in 1984). Chinese in China and Asian Americans celebrated, although some Chinese pushed back because although Zhao was born in Beijing, she left China at 15 to go to school in the UK and the US, asking if she was Chinese enough.
Adding to this year’s Golden Globe excitement was Minari’s win for Best Foreign Language film, although this categorization was controversial. Asian Americans felt the sting of not being considered American enough because the characters spoke Korean, even though the film was set in America, made by American production companies, directed by an American, starred American actors, and told the classic story of the American Dream.
“Minari is about a family,” said director Lee Isaac Chung while holding his seven-year-old daughter during the award ceremony. “It's a family trying to learn how to speak a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It's a language of the heart, and I'm trying to learn it myself and to pass it on, and I hope we'll all learn how to speak this language of love to each other, especially this year.”
Learning how to speak a language of family, home, and community is powerful, especially as Asian Americans seek community solutions to recent violence against Asian Americans.
After Haijun Si and his family moved into a new neighborhood in Orange County last fall, teenagers and children repeatedly rang the doorbell, pounded on the door, threw rocks, yelled racial slurs, and told them to “go back to your country.” Then neighbors volunteered to help stand watch outside the Sis’ home every night so that the Sis can finally eat dinner in peace and their children can sleep through the night. For Lunar New Year, the entire neighborhood came together as a community to celebrate with lanterns and lion dancing.
“Communities can take care of one other,” said Lateefah Simon, President of Akonadi Foundation, at the 1990 Institute webinar, Beyond Headlines: Protecting Asian Americans during Violent Times, last week. “I am so inspired by our folks reclaiming the narrative. That our folks are not pitted against each other. Yes there is deep violence, there is deep hurt, there is deep pain. But that must not be the end. When communities come together, as they have in Oakland and across the country, we continue our lineage of a human and civil rights movement in this country.”
“What has really encouraged me is to see the Asian American community flock together, said Russell M. Jeung, San Francisco State University Professor of Asian American Studies, Stop AAPI hate Co-Founder, and the 1990 Institute Advisory Council member at the 1990 Institute webinar. “They are standing up at whatever organization they belong to – whether it’s a church or a school place, they are taking leadership in saying, ‘This is wrong,’ and they are getting their local institutions to pass resolutions to say anti-Asian racism is not condoned.
As schools reopen, Asian American students are missing from classrooms | Washington Post
As school buildings reopen, Asian American families are choosing to keep their children learning from home at disproportionately high rates. Some are worried about elderly parents in multigenerational households, distrustful of promised safety measures, or afraid their children will face racist harassment at school. Others are pleased with online learning and see no reason to risk the health of their family. The academic consequences could be devastating, because despite the model minority myth, Asian American families do struggle with poverty, language barriers, and under-resourced schools.
3rd-generation Chinatown restaurateurs share struggle of doing business amid Covid | NBC News
Just as Liz and Brian Yee were celebrating the expansion of their family business, the pandemic hit — causing them to face new challenges they had never before considered. "We want to just preserve the culture," said Brian Yee. "Storefronts that are in Chinatown 20 years ago aren't here now. And once you don't keep those things going, you kind of lose it forever." As businesses in Chinatown struggle with revenue losses of 60-80%, grassroots initiatives like Send Chinatown Love have stepped in to help merchants create an online presence to boost revenue. With video from Today.
It's a Myth That Asian-Americans Are Doing Well in the Pandemic | Scientific American
Statistics suggest that Asian Americans are doing well in the pandemic, but numbers can be misleading because surveys often do not include those who struggle with poverty, unemployment, evictions. Those can be masked by limited English and immigration status (and things like inability to apply for unemployment or to fight eviction because of limited English skills). A national poll from Harvard School of Public Health, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that 37 percent of Asian Americans were having financial trouble in the pandemic, however, many Asian Americans were certainly missed because surveys were only conducted in English and Spanish.
China poses 'biggest geopolitical test' for the U.S., Secretary of State Blinken says | NBC News
"Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be. And we will engage China from a position of strength," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a speech laying out the Biden administration's foreign policy vision. China was described as the only country with enough power to jeopardize the current global order. The Biden Administration signaled a commitment to working together with allies and a willingness to call out human rights abuses, including a crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and against Uighurs in Xinjiang. Video: See the entire speech on PBS.
- This past Monday, March 8, was International Women’s Day 2021. We're proud to pay tribute to the many women leaders who have contributed to our nonprofit, including co-founder Rosalyn Koo, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 92. Roz helped lead and fund the construction of several Self-Help for the Elderly senior housing and senior centers in the Bay Area, the expansion of the San Francisco Public Library Chinatown branch, the 1990 Institute Spring Bud Program which educated 1,000 girls and built a seismically-safe green school in central China’s rural Shaanxi Province, and much more, all in a spirit of helping the community. “The community is as strong as your own participation in it,” Roz told the San Francisco Examiner in 1995. “Some things you have to have a passion for, a cause to sustain you. Otherwise, you might as well go home and read a good book.” Please read more about our beloved co-founder in this March 5 article in the New York Times and on our website.
- Approximately 450 people attended the 1990 Institute’s virtual panel discussion entitled Beyond Headlines: Protecting Asian American During Violent Times. This conversation on Asian American advocacy, held on Thursday, March 4, discussed the surge in violence and how we can protect the Asian American community and build allyship with others. We are grateful for everyone who took the time to attend. The video of the webinar is now available. Please visit the 1990 Institute's Reference Library to see additional materials, such as the speakers’ presentations and a summary of key points from this webinar. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments and to let us know which topics you are interested in for a future program.
- Cynthia Choi, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate, was originally scheduled to participate in our webinar. She was called away to a meeting with Asian American leaders at the White House regarding anti-Asian hate. Members from 16 Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations met with directors and advisors in the White House to discuss ways the current administration can address the rise of anti-Asian discrimination in a meaningful way. We fully support and appreciate the efforts of our partners in the AAPI community who are taking an active role in raising awareness and stopping the hate.
- The panelists for our virtual discussion are all racial justice advocates and community leaders. They are uplifting AAPI voices to stem the tide of anti-Asian sentiment and bias incidents and are working to bring all our communities together toward shared goals. If you’d like to learn more about their work, please visit their websites.
- We have several videos regarding contemporary China and Asian Americans in the pipeline for our new video series. This 2021 video program will launch at the end of March and will address interesting topics related to Asian Americans and contemporary China in a fun, fast, snappy, educational, and engaging way! Join our mailing list and make sure you don’t miss the latest news.
Dim Sum - A Little Bit of Heart
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