May 7, 2021 

Volume 1, Issue 7

Dear Friends,

Happy Asian American and Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month! What do you have planned? Here is the latest news, analysis, and reflections in our seventh 1990 Institute Newsletter. You can find all our previous newletters here. Please share and encourage your friends to subscribe so they can get this great content straight to their inboxes. Thanks for your continued financial support.


Check out The 1990 Institute’s new video, Call It What It Is: Racism Against Asian Americans.”


What are you doing for Asian American and Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

I just taught a prose poetry class at New York Public Library in Mandarin Chinese to a group of lively Chinese grandmas. I was worried whether my Mandarin would hold out, but we wrote about first days in America, favorite foods missed, and hopes and dreams for beloved grandchildren. We had so much fun sharing stories. It was a great warm up for Asian American and Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This May, there are so many celebrations of our Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, including film festivals like CAAMfest (drive-in!), film collections on PBS and HBO Max; dance performances, poetry, music concerts, art exhibitions, history talks, book lists, theatre, storytelling, FOOD, quizzes, Lei Day, and more. With so much violence targeting our communities for over a year, this may be an opportunity to catch our breaths and replenish our spirits with the good and beautiful (and delicious) among us, learn (and teach) more about our communities, and see what else we can do to help

Take care of yourself.

Especially as May is also Mental Health Awareness Month.

However, for one family, the Biden Administration’s pledge to combat anti-Asian American violence is not enough. After Temple University physics professor Xiaoxing Xi was racially profiled and accused of espionage in 2015 only to have those charges dropped without explanation, he filed a civil rights lawsuit. Last month, a judge quietly dismissed most of the claims in Xi’s 2017 civil rights lawsuit, leaving him with no answers and no legal recourse. Xi is appealing, and his daughter believes that this kind of unfair targeting by the federal government is another kind of anti-Asian American violence.

“While there are legitimate concerns regarding the Chinese government, there is a major human cost to casting suspicion on entire communities based on national origin. The FBI’s record of racial, ethnic and religious profiling has left a devastating trail, including in Muslim, Black and Indigenous communities. As anti-Asian — particularly anti-China — sentiment and bias continue to grow, I fear the U.S. government will cause many more people to experience what my family did, especially if there is no opportunity to challenge the government’s wrongdoing in court,” wrote Joyce Xi. “I take no comfort in the federal government saying it will protect Asian Americans by increasing the power of the very agencies that helped create conditions for violence.”

It is fun to cheer the Academy Awards and the latest Marvel hero, because stories bring us together, but when challenges are systemic, especially with the spiraling COVID surge hitting India now, we need to continue to build solidarity and create change for all. Our thoughts are with our Indian and Indian American sisters and brothers struggling to take care of family and to get more resources to India.


Curated News

After Indianapolis shooting, a Sikh activist on why we need to accept realities of racism in America | PBS  Professor Simran Jeet Singh tells PBS senior national correspondent Amna Nawaz, “As much as we want to tell ourselves that racism isn’t true, it doesn’t live in our local communities — and I don’t want to admit that either, I wish it wasn’t that way — but I think we’re all better off when we acknowledge and accept our realities because that’s the only way we’re ever going to be able to move forward.”

Opinion: Nothing Has Made Me Feel More American Than Going to Jail | The Marshall Project  Poet Ravi Shankar writes “I was born in D.C. to South Indian parents. But it wasn’t until I had to negotiate the criminal justice system that I fully realized what many Americans of color have to deal with.”

India Is Counting Thousands Of Daily COVID Deaths. How Many Is It Missing? | NPR  "My gut instinct says that right now, because you've got an overwhelmed health system, you're probably seeing an even greater undercount [of COVID-19 deaths] than you would have seen in 2020," London’s Middlesex University Mathematician Murad Banaji told NPR. "My optimistic estimate then was that for every death [from COVID-19] that was recorded during the year [2020], two more were missed."

Indian Americans Don’t Know What to Feel Right Now | The Atlantic  “We relived 2020 in one week, all over again,” said Ghazal Gulati. “On the flip side, to see everybody else around you be so normal—it feels so unreal.” Many Indian Americans have also been searching for ways to help and have used their clout to urge the US government to action.

The great power race between the US and China is on. And Beijing is confident of winning | CNN  China and the US posture and trash talk while jockeying to be the country which sets the agenda for the world. 

The latest area of competition between the US and China: Saving the world | CNN  China and the US are the world's two biggest carbon polluters, so climate change is the issue which allows most room for US and ChinaChinese agreement, cooperation, and potentially joint leadership on the world stage.

China launches main part of its first permanent space station | NBC News  Space! This launch begins the first of 11 missions necessary to complete, supply and crew the space station by the end of next year.




  • We’re launching three videos in support of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month! 
    • Call It What It Is: Racism Against Asian Americans was released last week. This compelling video captures the past and present events affecting bias and racism towards Asians in America and the ways we can move forward together. Have you seen it yet? Take a look and let us know what you think. Supporting educational materials are available in our Reference Library and a version for educators will be available soon, too.
    • “What’s in Mrs. Wong’s Purse?” is coming soon. Do you know what life is like in China today? This video explores the tremendous economic changes that have occurred in China since the 1970s through the changes in one person’s possessions. 
    • And look out for our video on the Model Minority Myth later this month. Asian Americans as the “model minority” may sound like a compliment, but it’s actually a harmful racial stereotype. Disparities within specific populations are hidden, leading to misperceptions, a lack of resources among disadvantaged groups, and the perpetuation of poor data collection and analyses. This video breaks down the facts to show the full spectrum of the Asian American population and highlights the gaps within this group in different aspects of society. 
    • Each video will have accompanying resources in our Reference Library to provide more opportunities for learning. 
  • We’ll be hosting a virtual discussion on the impact of China on Asian Americans. Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 27 at 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT. Stanford University Professor Gordon H. Chang, a renowned historian and a member of our Advisory Council, will be one of the panelists. Professor Chang was featured in a podcast last week where he discussed his groundbreaking book, “Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad.”
  • The 1990 Institute produced a podcast on behalf of Asian American Unity Coalition (AAUC) featuring Asian Health Services with an informative conversation between CEO Sherry Hirota and Dr. Winston Wong, a preeminent authority on health equity. AAPI Healthcare: A Building Block of our Collective American Dream started streaming on April 25.
  • We joined the Coalition, a national group of organizations and public officials committed to enacting a broad range of meaningful government actions (from resolutions, to immediate actions, to long-term education) to address continuing anti-Asian sentiments, stereotypes, scapegoating, harassment, vandalism, and violence.

Dim Sum - A Little Bit of Heart


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