What do we remember as we watch the crisis in Ukraine unfold?
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
As the crisis in Ukraine unfolds before our eyes in real time and on social media, it is hard not to think that this must have been what it was like for many of our elders (and some of us too), fleeing conflicts and wars in years past. So many of us have colonization, displacement, and war in our personal and family histories. At the same time, many of us do not know a lot about those histories because we were never taught it in school and/or because our elders did not want to burden us with these stories.
I learned a lot more about intergenerational trauma from the Disney film “Encanto.”
These are things my elders never talk about, except as jokes.
“And we thought the bomb fell on your Auntie, but then we found out it fell on the cow!” Ha!
“Because of the war, there was no milk, only rice gruel. That’s why I’m so short!” Ha!
“I had a picture of my daughter on my desk at work, and this white man said, ‘Reminds me of a girl I knew in ’Nam.’” Ha!
Still, it is heartening to see how the world is opening up its arms to the people of Ukraine and how loudly sings the international and national condemnation of war.
But it is also hard to ignore the stark contrast to how differently people escaping other wars and refugees of a darker hue have been treated. Even today, there are so many stories of Black and Brown international students from African, Asian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern countries trying to flee Ukraine being pushed off trains and denied exit at the border and stranded without food or water.
Through it all, I have seen images and heard stories of Sikhs feeding other Indian students; a Pakistani bus driver transporting Indian students to the border; the Israeli embassy helping Lebanese, Syrian, and Egyptian students; the Nigerian embassy helping students from all African countries — amazing stories of reaching across political differences to help each other and find solidarity.
I think about my aunties and great aunties as I write this on International Women’s Day.
Next week will be the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings, where eight Korean American women were killed. On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, BREAK THE SILENCE: Justice for Asian Women rallies are being planned nationally for cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, New York City, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Hope to see you there.
Are you a college or graduate student or a recent grad? Enter our 2022 Essay Contest now through March 23 for a chance to win one of four $1,000 prizes.
‘It came too late’: Chinese students who fled Ukraine criticise embassy response | Guardian While Chinese state media praises efficiency of diplomatic mission, stranded citizens tell a very different story.
‘No longer completely invisible’: New book explores Asian American pop history from '90s till today | NBC Asian America The almost 500-page collage of comics, essays and interviews pays homage to the moments in sports, politics and entertainment that came to define Asian American culture.
Wajahat Ali on humor, identity and finding the ‘Amreekan’ dream | NBC Asian America The writer and commentator’s new memoir, “Go Back to Where You Came From,” details love, loss and the duality of being Pakistani American.
How anti-Asian hate crimes are connected to state-sanctioned violence | Prism Reports The solution to the rise in anti-Asian hate incidents involves addressing systemic violence against Asian Americans.
New York grandmother hit in head in rock attack dies three months later, family says | NBC Asian America GuiYing Ma, 62, of Queens suffered brain damage and entered a coma after the November 26 attack, and ultimately died on February 22.
The Medieval Influencer Who Convinced the World to Drink Tea—Not Eat It | Atlas Obscura Caffeinated soups and chewing the leaves were once the norm.
China's Xi calls for 'maximum restraint' in Ukraine | Reuters Chinese President Xi Jinping called for "maximum restraint" in Ukraine and said China is "pained to see the flames of war reignited in Europe."
Taiwan watches China as China and the world watch Ukraine | CNN "When we watch the events in Ukraine evolving ... we are also watching very carefully what China may do to Taiwan."
Sandra Oh in 'Umma' spotlights generational trauma in Asian families | NBC Asian America It’s the first studio horror film written and directed by a Korean American woman starring a Korean American actress.
After Yang's Justin H. Min On Figuring Out How To Play An Android, The Scene That Destroyed Him & More [Interview] | Slashfilm “What does it mean to be Asian American? Why am I Asian American, and how does that manifest itself out daily?"
- JOB OPENING: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – We’re growing and seeking a passionate, strategic, and entrepreneurial Executive Director to grow our impact through building fundraising, marketing, and key collaborative partnerships. The new leader will lead and concentrate on the execution and implementation of both the vision and strategy for the organization. Those interested should submit their resume and a cover letter to Azzani Search Consultants. Please email Tarek Azzani at firstname.lastname@example.org. Eunice Azzani is available for questions at (415) 987-3300.
- NEW VIDEO – “The Rise of China as Seen Through Mrs. Wong’s Purse,” is a storytelling video about the life of “Mrs. Wong” for the past 50 years. The economic rise in China is illustrated by the tremendous changes in its citizens’ daily lives and by the contents of Mrs. Wong's purse. From the end of the Cultural Revolution to the opening of China to the lives of its people today, virtually every aspect of life in China has evolved. Although Mrs. Wong is a fictitious character, her experience reflects that of many Chinese people living through the five decades of policy and economic change since Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit. This insightful video is available on our YouTube channel. For more in-depth information and a discussion guide, please visit our Reference Library, which provides educational materials on this topic, including lesson plans and additional resources for teachers.
- ESSAY CONTEST – Our 2022 Essay Contest is taking entries through March 23. This contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students as well as recent university grads. We have two topics on U.S.-China relations and will award four prizes of $1,000 each. English language or Chinese language entries may be submitted. This year’s contest is jointly hosted by the 1990 Institute, the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy’s 21st Century China Center, and the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China at UCSD. The essay contest is organized by China Focus, an online student publication at UCSD. Find full details, essay topics, and how to enter here. We look forward to reading your essays!
- NEW PODCAST EPISODE – We’re happy to welcome Caiwei Chen as a China Correspondent at Bund To Brooklyn. On Episode 10, Hip Hop History and Culture in China with Wes Chen, we're joined by the most connected man in China's underground hip hop scene: RADII’s Wes Chen. Wes is a radio/podcast host, producer, and creator who had a hand in the rise and growth of hip hop in China. He shares how he started the Park, the first Chinese hip hop radio station/podcast, changes he’s seen in music and culture, his recommendations on who and where to listen to Chinese hip hop, and more.
- UPCOMING VIDEO – Did you know that “plogging” is a portmanteau that combines jogging with picking up litter? We have a new video coming out on March 18 called “Plogging: Trash Runners in Shanghai” which explores this activity in China. See a teaser trailer here.
- BOOK DISCUSSION – Our own 1990 Institute newsletter writer, Frances Kai-Hwa Wang (whose writing has also appeared online at PBS NewsHour and NBC Asian America), will participate in a virtual conversation with her good friend, fellow writer Tamiko Wong, on Sunday, March 20 at 3 pm ET / 12 pm PT. Register for “Spilling the Tea” and join in as they hold a poetry reading and book discussion to celebrate the launch of Frances' just published book, “You Cannot Resist Me When My Hair Is In Braids.” Within the book’s lyric essays, some of which are accompanied by artwork, Frances deftly navigates the space between cultures and finds the courage and hope to speak out for herself and for an entire generation of Asian American women.
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