It has been a long two weeks for Asian America, and like you, we are angry, aggravated, weary, and worried, even as we continue to share the latest news, analysis, and reflections in our fourth 1990 Institute Newsletter. We hope you have been enjoying these newsletters and are encouraging your friends to subscribe. Thanks also for your continued financial support of the 1990 Institute.
In solidarity and safety,
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, Editor and Curator
Finding Our Way Through
with Books and Stories of Strength
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
“After covering recent mass killings, terrorist attacks, daily hate crimes, and anger from elected officials, it's clear we are living through a selfish pandemic,” Emmy and Peabody winning journalist and MSNBC news anchor Richard Lui told the 1990 Institute. “Even violence has become too cheap.”
Lui’s new book, “Enough about Me—The Unexpected Power of Selflessness” (Harper Collins/ Zondervan), was released this week. It explores how the path to a more successful, healthy, and satisfying life may lie in putting others ahead of oneself, and how small choices toward selflessness can lead us to do something bigger than ourselves. Especially in these pandemic days.
“The book is an instruction manual of sorts on how to do everyday things to be more selfless,” said Lui. “My parents lived this way but never preached—the book shares their stories and their tone on an important topic of the day.”
As we worry and grieve over the continued violence against Asian American elders and last week’s shootings in Atlanta in which a 21-year-old white man killed eight people, including six Asian American women, we search for ways to protect our community and our loved ones. As of this writing, details are still coming in, but according to The Chosun Ilbo, an eyewitness reported that the suspect shouted, "I am going to kill all Asians" as he opened fire. A sheriff’s captain said that the suspect had “a really bad day.” And the previous President continued to refer to COVID-19 as “the China Virus.”
“That the Asian women murdered yesterday were working highly vulnerable and low-wage jobs during an ongoing pandemic speaks directly to the compounding impacts of misogyny, structural violence, and white supremacy,” said Phi Nguyen, Litigation Director at Asian American Advancing Justice–Atlanta.
Asian American activists continue to call for justice and solidarity with other communities of color. In a public address after meeting with AAPI leaders in Georgia, President Biden said of the recent attacks on Asian Americans, “They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed; they’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed.” He called on all Americans to stand up to bigotry when they see it, adding: “Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit.”
As March is both Women’s History Month and National Reading Month, we want to elevate some new 2020 books by Asian American women that wrestle with these issues.
“Everything Naomi Loved” by Katie Yamasaki (Author, Illustrator) with Ian Lendler, Norton Young Readers. A girl notices changes in her neighborhood as gentrification bears down upon it, so she paints a mural of everything that she loves in her neighborhood so there will be a record.
“Beauty” by Christina Chiu, Santa Fe Writer's Project, Grand Prize Winner of the James Alan McPherson Award and 2040 Books Award. A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2020—“It’s a coming-of-age story that never stops, revealing how the decisions of youth reverberate and reoccur throughout the decades of a life. A sexy, unflinching portrait of a woman revolting against the life she makes for herself.”
“Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong, One World, finalist for National Book Critics Award. Blending memoir, cultural criticism, and history, Hong explores racial consciousness in America today and the dissonance that occurs when American optimism contradicts reality and one begins to believe the lies told about one’s own racial identity.
“Finding my Voice” by Marie Myung-Ok Lee, originally published in 1992, republished in 2001, and republished again in 2020, Soho Teen. One of the first young adult novels to feature an Asian American protagonist, a Korean American high school senior in rural Minnesota navigates the worlds of her strict immigrant parents and her mostly white classmates. Excerpt. Although Lee’s book is more relevant than ever, she feels ambivalent, “As an Asian American in the midst of a surge of racism against Asian Americans, it’s a bit of a post-traumatic stress disorder moment.”
Take care of yourself and each other.
Asian Americans are both grieving and angry over Atlanta-area killings | NBC News “We need to look at the political context, the years of history of oversexualizing Asian women, the racialized sexual harassment we would get on the street that's directed at us because of our looks,” one advocate said. With reactions from many Asian American leaders, activists, writers, and actors.
Atlanta residents respond to spa shootings with calls to end racial violence | NBC News “This is incredibly upsetting, the Asian community is a cornerstone of Atlanta, and this just blows my mind that we’re seeing the amount of violence toward Asian people,” said Bagger, 23, who is Black and hoisted a “Black & Asian Solidarity #Stop Asian Hate” sign Wednesday in front of Gold Spa, one of the shooting sites. “Atlanta is a civil rights city. This is what we do, we protect the people.”
Op-Ed: May-lee Chai: How Asian women are relentlessly objectified in American culture | LA Times May-lee Chai, associate professor of creative writing, San Francisco State University, and author of “Useful Phrases for Immigrants” writes, “The fact that Asian women are punished for the ways white supremacy hypersexualizes our bodies is not unfamiliar to me. I was 13 or 14 years old when white veterans first started coming up to me to tell me stories of the sex workers in Asia.”
Opinion: Nancy Wang Yuen: Atlanta spa shooting suspect's 'bad day' defense, and America's sexualized racism problem | NBC News Nancy Wang Yuen, professor of sociology at Biola University and author of “Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism" writes, “Contrary to the insinuations and assumptions made by Georgia law enforcement officials, I can't remember ever experiencing racism separate from sexism.”
VIDEO: California Adopts Statewide Ethnic Studies Curriculum | NBC7 San Diego California’s Department of Education approved guidelines for the nation’s first statewide ethnic studies curriculum for high school students, despite controversy over how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is covered. The course will initially be an elective focusing on African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, with supplemental lessons on Jews, Armenians, and Sikhs. It could eventually become a high school graduation requirement.
AUDIO: Talks Turn Testy As Top U.S. And China Officials Meet In Alaska For 2nd Day | NPR Top officials from China and the U.S. exchanged heated words in the first face-to-face meeting under the Biden administration. NPR’s Emily Feng reports from Beijing. Politico reports Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that China's actions could result in a "far more violent" world, while Beijing's top diplomat Yang Jiechi accused the U.S. of slaughtering Black Americans.
- The 1990 Institute has partnered with StandWithAsians, volunteers who are frustrated with the racially motivated hate incidents against the AAPI community. StandWithAsians is mobilizing our community and allies to take the day off work today, March 26, and use that time to support the AAPI community. Everyone can participate in discussions or rallies, lobby lawmakers or employers, support local AAPI businesses, and tune into virtual programming. Why March 26? The Naturalization Act of 1790 that granted United States citizenship by naturalization was signed into law on March 26, 1790. It limited naturalization to “free white person[s] … of good character,” excluding people such as Native Americans, indentured servants, slaves, free blacks, and later Asians. This racial restriction against Asians was not eliminated until 1952. This day was chosen to promote public awareness that every minority group has been discriminated against since the founding days of this country. We realize that not everyone can take off work on March 26, but we can support the AAPI community every day by promoting awareness. Scroll down HERE to see an infographic with more information and statistics on anti-Asian hate incidents that you can share. If you’d like to show support through a donation, please go HERE.
- We’re pleased to introduce the launch of an insightful and innovative new video series for 2021. The 1990 Institute will take you on a journey into understanding U.S.-China and Asian American issues – the need to understand the complex relationship between these two countries is as critical as ever. What happens in China affects the quality of life of all Americans, especially Asian Americans. We must eliminate xenophobia because hate and suffering affect everyone. Americans need a better understanding of China and Asian Americans for ourselves, our communities, our country, and our planet. A one-and-a-half-minute trailer for our new video program is launching today in support of the StandWithAsians event. Please join us on this journey of education and knowledge presented in a snappy, fun, and engaging way.
- The shootings in Atlanta are a horrific tragedy for all the victims, regardless of race. Just as we were finishing an email to notify all our supporters that the recording of our March 4 webinar called Beyond Headlines: Protecting Asian Americans in Violent Times is now available, the tragic event struck in Atlanta, Georgia. The ripple effects of pain, fear, and loss are profound and extend to the immediate family and friends, the businesses and people in the neighborhoods, the wider Asian American community, and to all Americans who stand up against senseless violence and believe in the rights and dignity of all people. At the 1990 Institute, our hearts go out to all the families of the victims of such devastating crimes, from George Floyd's in Minneapolis to those affected by the Capitol riots as well as the recent tragedies in Atlanta and Boulder. If you are looking for more information on the increase in hate incidents against Asian Americans, you can find the recording of Beyond Headlines: Protecting Asian Americans in Violent Times on our website and on our YouTube channel. The speakers’ presentations, key points of this webinar, and how you can support the AAPI community may be found in our Reference Library. If you have suggestions for more resources and ways to help that may be of interest to our readers and supporters, please share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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