February 24, 2023

Volume 3, Issue 4

Dear Friends,

Birthright citizenship for all was guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898). The 125th anniversary of this landmark decision is coming up next month. We are proud to announce that we will have a special in-person Teachers Workshop in San Francisco for middle and high school teachers about the Asian Americans who blazed a path for civil rights for all Americans. Please scroll down to our Spotlight section to learn more about Asian American Trailblazers in Civil Rights on March 22 and other upcoming events.

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The 125th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteeing U.S. citizenship for people born in the U.S. will be in March (U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 1898). We invite middle and high school teachers to learn more about Asian American civil rights trailblazers. Click here to register for our Teachers Workshop in San Francisco on March 22.


How do we navigate competition, conflict, and the American dream?

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

“Why is everyone freaking out because I’m a Chinese balloon. Because where I’m from, I’m just a balloon,” said comedian Bowen Yang on Saturday Night Live, dressed as a white balloon, wearing glamorous long white gloves, bobbing in the ocean waves. 

As the rhetoric, anxiety, and fear of Chinese spy balloons and other unidentified objects in our country’s airspace swirl around us, I keep going back to the humor of Bowen Yang to keep myself grounded. 

He jokes that although people say they are concerned about being surveilled, they won’t unplug their Alexa, they keep their bank passwords in their Notes app, and they mail their DNA to a company just to find out if they are 10 percent French. “But je suis just a balloon.”

When PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff asked President Joe Biden if U.S.-China relations have taken a big hit lately with recent fears and anti-Chinese rhetoric, Biden said, “No. ... I know, I talked to him.” 

“I made it real clear to Xi Jinping that we're going to compete fully with China, but we're not looking for conflict,” Biden said. “I called him this summer to say this is not a threat, just an observation: look what's happened to Russia. Six hundred American corporations have pulled out of Russia. From McDonald's to Exxon. And I said, you've told me all along that the reason why you need a relationship with the United States and Europe is so they invest in China. So who's going to invest in China if you engage in the same kind of deal? You notice there's not been much going on there.”

In contrast, there are at least 11 state legislatures who are considering measures to limit land ownership by foreign nationals and foreign entities, including Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Missouri, Utah, and Texas. One particularly restrictive bill being considered in Texas would prohibit land and property ownership by foreign nationals and foreign entities from the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. 

“What alarms us is the impact of anti-China fearmongering on Chinese immigrant communities and the erection of unfair barriers to their pursuit of the American Dream solely because of their country of origin,” said the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus’ (CAPAC) leadership team in a joint statement. “We urge our colleagues to be mindful of using rhetoric or writing legislation that would further discriminate against our community members. As our nation’s leaders navigate the increasingly complex U.S.-China relationship globally, we encourage nuance and clarity to ensure the rights of our communities domestically are not collateral damage.”

For Asian Americans, such legislation is a stark reminder of alien land laws from the 1800s that prevented Asian immigrants — who were also not allowed to become citizens at the time — from owning land.

On this Day of Remembrance, the 81st anniversary of FDR’s Executive Order 9066 that incarcerated 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, Asian Americans across the country not only remembered, but also educated, forged alliances, created art, and protested — asserting our place in this country and leading the way for others. 

And to make sure, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) recently re-introduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act to protect all Americans against arbitrary imprisonment or detention without due process solely on the basis of race, religion, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability. Named in honor of Fred Korematsu and late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, this bill would make sure what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II never happens to anyone again.



What do you know about U.S. alien land laws? This webinar on March 1 will provide some context for SB 147 in Texas.


Curated News

A Brief But Spectacular take on the power of poetry | PBS NewsHour  Professor Kimiko Hahn of Queens College, City University of New York, is the author of 10 books of poetry and the winner of numerous awards. 

Nikki Haley’s campaign opened with an appeal to race. Some Indian Americans say it won’t work. | NBC News  Some South Asian Americans say Haley’s on-and-off acknowledgment of her ethnic background is a routine with which they’re familiar. 

Chinese citizens in Texas are incensed over a proposal to ban them from buying property in the state | NBC News  “I have never seen the Chinese community this active and this motivated in my entire adult life. The community is inflamed right now. They are enraged,” said Texas state Rep. Gene Wu.

How to Power a Plane With Leftover Chinese Hot Pot | Bloomberg  This company collects used fat from Chengdu restaurants and exports it to makers of sustainable jet fuel.

Blinken warns China that balloon incursion ‘must never happen again’ | PBS NewsHour  Secretary of State Blinken underscored the importance of maintaining diplomatic dialogue and open lines of communication. Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s most senior foreign policy official, hoped for a pragmatic and positive approach towards China that allows both to work together.

Pressure on China’s factories grows as U.S. demand falls | CNBC  For China’s domestic economy, the drop in overseas demand reveals a lack of high-skilled factory workers.

Senate confirms first Asian American judge on 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals | NBC News  Cindy Chung’s long public service as a prosecutor fighting hate crimes makes her “precisely the kind of person we want on the federal bench,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Half Moon Bay massacre: Immigrants’ ‘humble dreams’ collide with ‘America’s gun violence’ | The Mercury News  A distinctly American crime – an embittered man with a gun – shattered their once-upon-a-time illusion of the American immigrant story. Community groups are uniting to help.

Opinion: A ‘slam dunk’ bill to prevent a repeat of an ugly chapter of American history | CNN  “The Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act would establish clear legal prohibition against incarcerating Americans based not only on race, religion, and nationality but also sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability – a way to speak truth to power when we say, ‘Never again.’” 

This comedian just won a $550,000 prize. Up next: A boundary-pushing Culver City show | Los Angeles Times  Performance artist Kristina Wong is recognized while reliving the worst of the pandemic as part of her solo show, “Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord,” at Kirk Douglas Theatre through March 12. 

Sandra Oh’s Sense of Purpose | New Yorker  The actor discusses Hollywood survival skills, winning the lottery, and her interest in telling “messy” Asian American stories.



  • IN-PERSON EVENT: ASIAN AMERICAN TRAILBLAZERS IN CIVIL RIGHTS – On Wednesday, March 22, the 1990 Institute and the Alice Fong Yu Alternative School invite middle and high school teachers to learn more about the Asian Americans who fought for civil rights that benefit all who call America home. This multifaceted in-person event will highlight Asian American pioneers and the pivotal court cases that have changed the landscape of U.S. civil rights, including the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) that established the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship. This event will feature prominent Asian American Studies luminaries who fought to include Ethnic Studies and AAPI studies in our schools. We will also present multimedia resources and highlight ways to incorporate them into classroom learning and provide an opportunity for teachers to share the experiences and challenges of teaching AAPI history in the classrooms. Click here to register for this free event, March 22, 5:00-6:30 pm PT, at the Alice Fong Yu Alternative School, San Francisco, CA. We are proud to announce the following speakers:
    • Laureen Chew, Professor Emerita of Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University
    • Russell Jeung, Professor of Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University; Co-founder, Stop AAPI Hate
    • David Lei, Community Advocate and Historian
    • Liana Szeto, Principal, Alice Fong Yu Alternative School
    • Susana Liu-Hedberg, Executive Director, 1990 Institute
  • WEBINAR: HISTORICAL RE-HASH: ALIEN LAND LAWS AND SB147 – Our friends at APA Justice and United Chinese Americans (UCA) are two of the nonprofits co-presenting a webinar reviewing the history of alien land laws in the wake of the filing of Texas Senate Bill 147. SB147 names China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia as countries prohibited from future purchases of Texas lands. If SB 147 were to pass, entities affiliated with these countries or their citizens would be prohibited from future purchases of real property in Texas. Register here for the webinar on Wednesday, March 1, at 3:30 pm PT.
  • IN-PERSON EVENT: WONG KIM ARK DAY – The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) and the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) are jointly hosting a celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, which established the constitutional guarantee that all persons born in the United States are citizens and that this applied equally to Chinese Americans. On Saturday, March 25, at 10:30 am PT, the event in San Francisco starts at CCBA headquarters, 843 Stockton Street, and is followed by a reception and panel discussion at CHSA’s main gallery, 965 Clay Street, at noon. Register here.

Dim Sum - A Little Bit of Heart


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



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