May 19, 2023

Volume 3, Issue 10 

Dear Friends,

Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month offers us the opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and what we still wish for young people, today and in the future. Our communities are stronger than ever, but the work is never done and supporting AAPI-focused nonprofits is as important as ever.

This AANHPI Heritage Month, we’ve joined Asian Pacific Fund and AAPI Data’s #GiveInMay campaign to raise awareness and funds for us and other AAPI-serving nonprofits. Please learn more, visit, share, and donate to our Give In May page this month. Thank you for supporting education for a brighter, more inclusive future for the next generation!

We’re continuing with our full slate of programs for May. Scroll down to Spotlight to see all that’s new, including free registration for a fireside chat with our own Vice Chair, Brian A. Wong, titled “The Past is Always Present: Preserving Family Roots with Technology,” new short videos dispelling the model minority myth, and news on upcoming events. Don’t miss an interview by United Nations News (translated into Chinese) with our Board Chair Grace Yu and Executive Director Susana Liu-Hedberg on the power of education to combat racism. And please share this newsletter with your friends and family and encourage them to subscribe.


What does your gift to the 1990 Institute mean? It’s an investment in education, teachers, and students. Please consider supporting our work today for #GiveInMay.


Will you fold a tsuru for community solidarity?

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

In 2019, the call went out for 10,000 tsuru or paper origami cranes. 

Diagonal fold, unfold, turn, diagonal fold, unfold, flip.

One thousand cranes grants one wish. Senbazuru.

We had folded a thousand cranes for an uncle’s 60th birthday to wish him a long life. We had folded a thousand golden cranes for a friend’s wedding to wish the couple a long happy marriage. Sadako Sasaki of Hiroshima had folded a thousand cranes hoping to be cured of leukemia, caused by the atomic bomb dropped on her city, and when she was not cured, she folded 400 more. 

Horizontal fold, unfold, turn, horizontal fold, unfold, fold into a diamond shape.

In 2019, families were being detained at America’s southern border and children were being separated from their parents. The Japanese American community stood up and said “Never Again is Now.” 

Japanese American organizations across the country organized tsuru or origami crane folding parties. Some brides donated the thousand golden cranes they received as wedding gifts. Art Centers and libraries folded tsuru too. A box of tsuru was hand carried from Hiroshima. 

Squash fold, squash fold, flip, repeat.

Activists with the Tsuru for Solidarity organization sought to “be the allies that we needed” during the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. They called for 10,000 tsuru and received 25,000 from around the world. They carried these cranes to the Crystal City Family Internment Camp in Texas, where as many as 4,000 people of Japanese, German, and Italian descent were incarcerated during WWII. Then they carried these cranes to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley. Activists hung chains of origami cranes on the fence and taiko drums pounded so that the people inside could hear that people outside were standing up for them, speaking out and fighting for them.

According to Mike Ishii, a Crystal City Pilgrimage Committee member and New York Day of Remembrance Committee member, the global aspect of the cranes will connect the Japanese children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — who were hit by atomic bombs during WWII — with the Japanese American families incarcerated in concentration camps and with the asylum-seekers today who are being separated from their families. 

“There is a deep sense of outrage that mass incarcerations are happening again in the United States and we intend to be the allies that we needed during WWII,” he told NBC News in 2019. “The story of the crane as symbol of nonviolence and human love is a uniquely Japanese cultural story and we want to bring it to this struggle.”

Now with the end of Title 42 and the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions at the border, many desperate families are once again heading for the safety and opportunity of America. Tsuru for Solidarity is standing up once again. Calling on us to remember and be energized by our history. 

Fold the neck, fold the tail, fold the head, open the wings. 

A recent Pew study finds that although Asian Americans’ identities reflect their diverse cultures and origins, they also feel a connection to other Asian Americans. About 60 percent say that what happens to Asian Americans affects their own lives and about 68 percent say it is extremely or very important to have a national leader advocating for the concerns and needs of the Asian population in the U.S.

Another study by The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) found that 44 percent of Americans can’t name a famous living Asian American. The most popular choices for famous Asian Americans were Jackie Chan (who is not American), Bruce Lee (who died 50 years ago), and Vice President Kamala Harris. (Learn more about Asian Americans and their stories at 1990 Institute’s New Asian American Voices).

This Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let us reach out to one another in solidarity as we reflect upon our histories and celebrate our differences. I am headed to my local library to hear an elder talk about her experiences in the Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas and to be a part of an Asian American dance and poetry performance celebrating the power of community.



Join us for a discussion on the history and stories of Chinese immigrants and how genealogy can be traced and preserved using technologies. Registration is open.


Curated News

Northern California farm draws on Philippine and Hmong ancestries | NBC News  “There are lots of ways in which we’ve been severed from our relationship to the land through these histories,” founder Robyn Rodriguez said.

Half of Asian American adults say most of their friends share their Asian identity, according to survey | NBC News  A new study by the Pew Research Center revealed divides over who is considered Asian and the meaning of the American dream.

Man indicted on 98 charges including hate crimes for 2022 shooting at Taiwanese church | PBS NewsHour  A man accused of fatally shooting one person and wounding five others at a Southern California church luncheon last year has been charged with dozens of federal hate crimes in connection with the attack, which investigators said was motivated by political hatred of Taiwan.

Man killed in Texas shooting alongside his wife and one of his sons ‘loved being a dad’ | NBC News  The killing of Kyu Cho, his wife, Cindy, and their youngest son has caused overwhelming grief across the country. Grandfather of child orphaned in Texas shooting asks for prayers in emotional funeral.  

South Asians grapple with generational impacts of colonialism as King Charles ascends the throne | NBC News  Reflecting on how British colonialism has touched their lives, South Asians say King Charles III’s coronation puts imperialism on display.

As U.S.-China rivalry heats up, soft power competition need not be a zero-sum game | South China Morning Post  Wang Huiyao writes that both powers should restore cultural exchanges, academic ties, and governmental dialogue and boost travel. Collaboration on shared challenges will increase influence. 

Tracking the impact of U.S.-China tensions on global financial institutions | NPR  How have the rising geopolitical tensions between the United States and China impacted the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)? Its president, Jin Liqun, says they are having no impact.

Top Biden aide tells China that U.S. wants to ‘move beyond’ spy balloon tensions | PBS NewsHour  White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Wang Yi during talks in Vienna that the Biden administration is “looking to move beyond” tensions spurred by the U.S. shooting down a Chinese spy balloon that traversed the continental U.S.

‘Sesame Street’ welcomes its first Filipino muppet | CNN  “Sesame Street” recently introduced TJ, its first Filipino muppet, on a segment with Kal Penn. TJ and his friend Ji-Young, a Korean American muppet who debuted in 2021, talk to the actor about the word of the day: confidence.

Florida schools soon will be required to teach AAPI history | WPTV  The bill garnered near-unanimous bipartisan support and was signed by Gov. DeSantis as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders call for greater visibility.

Barbie introduces Anna May Wong doll | NBC News  “A lot of Asian actors today are where they are because of the things she fought so hard for in Hollywood,” said the actor’s niece, Anna Wong. “Her legacy is part of history.”


What is the “model minority”? Is it a myth or reality? Are all Asian Americans the same? Follow along in our video as we break down the facts to show the reality behind the model minority myth.



  • UNITED NATIONS NEWS INTERVIEW WITH EQUAL RIGHTS ADVOCATES AT THE 1990 INSTITUTE – For AANHPI Heritage Month, we’d like to uplift an interview conducted by UN News with 1990 Institute’s leadership called “In The Face Of Racism, Asian Americans Continue To Move Forward On The Road Of Resistance.” In it, Board Chair Grace Yu and Executive Director Susana Liu-Hedberg share their Asian American experiences after immigrating to the U.S. as children and their shared belief in education as one of the most effective ways to make an impact. Read more about the progress being made in eradicating racism today, especially with the active participation of many young people and collaboration among organizations. (Note that the article is written in Chinese and an approximate written English translation is available through Google Translate using the Chrome browser. On the same page, you can find an audio version in Mandarin.)
  • FIRESIDE CHAT: “THE PAST IS ALWAYS PRESENT: PRESERVING FAMILY ROOTS WITH TECHNOLOGY” – You’re invited to a fireside chat that provides historical context and raises awareness of one of the largest Asian diasporas – Chinese immigrants – and the stories and circumstances of their arrival to the U.S. Join us for “The Past is Always Present: Preserving Family Roots with Technology” with Huihan Lie, My China Roots Founder and CEO, and Brian A. Wong, Founder and Chair of RADII, former Alibaba executive, and 1990 Institute’s Vice Chair. Learn how genealogy is traced and preserved in Chinese culture and how technology is being used in these efforts. Register for free: Tuesday, May 30 at 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET. Outside the U.S.: Wednesday, May 31 at 2 am CET / 8 am China.
  • LEARN THE FACTS BEHIND THE MODEL MINORITY MYTH IN OUR VIDEOS – 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 for disadvantaged groups, and the perpetuation of poor data collection and analyses. Check out these four short reels that break down the facts to show the full spectrum of the Asian American population. Then head to YouTube to watch the full video: “Numbers Don't Lie: Model Minority Myth Explained in 3 Minutes.“
  • COMING SOON! “CHAT AAPI” – A BRAND-NEW AAPI COMEDY SHOW – By combining comedy and education, 1990 Institute’s new YouTube comedy show called “Chat AAPI” enriches our understanding of the AAPI experience and allows us to find laughter in shared experiences. “Chat AAPI” is a half-hour comedy talk show that pokes fun at recent news and events that are relevant to AAPI communities. The show is hosted by Joe Wong, a Chinese American comedian who roasted then VP Joe Biden to acclaim at the 2010 Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner and has appeared multiple times on national late night TV shows. The inaugural episode of “Chat AAPI" can be seen exclusively on 1990 Institute's YouTube channel in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more info!
  • JUNE 28 TEACHERS WORKSHOP ON U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS – Mark your calendars! We’ve scheduled our next Teachers Workshop for June 28. We’ll examine how tensions past and present and the history of U.S.-China relations have influenced how we’ve arrived at where we are today. We’re pleased to announce our esteemed speakers for this event: Robert Daly, Director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States; David Firestein, President and CEO of the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations; and Mary Kay Magistad, Deputy Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society. Registration is free for this virtual event on Thursday, June 28 at 3 pm PT / 6 pm ET. 

Dim Sum - A Little Bit of Heart


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


Copyright 2023 The 1990 Institute. All rights reserved. 

Follow Us


Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

Unsubscribe or Manage Your Preferences