Tag Archives: asian american

june 4 in pictures (and in my heart)

Pro-democracy protesters link arms to hold back angry crowds, preventing them from chasing a retreating group of soldiers near the Great Hall of the People, on June 3, 1989 in Beijing. Protesters were angered by an earlier attack upon students and citizens using tear gas and truncheons. People in the background stand atop buses used as a roadblock. (AP Photo/Mark Avary) #

You can see more images from The Atlantic of Tiananmen Square in 1989 and today in 2012.

This news event shaped my childhood and my ethnic identity.  It continues to shape me and my ministry.  I wrote this a few years ago:

And I’ve spent the last 8 years working full-time with college students.  When I think about Tiananmen Square, I look at my students and imagine men and women their age captivating the world with their hopes and dreams.  Now more than ever,  I believe that college students can change the world.

Read the rest.

I’m pretty interested to hear Chai Ling (one of the main leaders of the movement) speak at Urbana12 in December!



As a kid, my job was to make sure that the new-fangled gadget, the VCR, would record the local and national news for my parents.  We recorded WWBT Channel 12 – the local NBC affiliate and grew up with Tom Brokaw so it was great to see him again at my brother’s college graduation (he gave a great speech). We kept up with the weather report, and what was going on in the world.

I remember the day of the Challenger explosion  and talking about it on the bus ride home.  But I vividly remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

It was Saturday morning Eastern time, and I had come down to watch cartoons, but there were no cartoons.  Just the news.  And it was bad news. Even before I looked at the TV,  I knew it was bad news because my parents were visibly upset.  For weeks, the Chinese college students had been protesting in the square, and now there were pictures of tanks on TV and the voices of journalists in Beijing talking about gunfire.

I was only in 6th grade, so I only really understood the basics.  I remember going to a vigil/protest/memorial in Richmond soon after, and seeing some of the other Chinese American families we knew in town there.  Some people had created a copy of the “Goddess of Democracy” like the students had in the square.

I know now that there were a lot of factors at work.  The students weren’t as pure as the media made them out to be.  There was a  power struggle going on in the Communist Party, and the hard-liners won.  Even with those nuances, reading eyewitness accounts and seeing video footage still brings tears to my eyes and makes me angry.

But only more recently have I realized what an impact it had on my sense of self.  Richmond back then had so many less Asian Americans… we all stood out, and we were often teased for being different.  The news kept talking about how the Chinese government crackdown was so horrible.  (And it was!)  But whether someone actually said it to me or not, the questions and comments I got after Tiananmen Square  communicated, “You’re from that place where they shoot college students.  That’s bad.  You must be like that.”

I’m not sure why anyone didn’t say (or I didn’t hear), “You’re from that place  where college students are brave and where pedicab drivers risked their lives to rescue the wounded.”  or “You’re from that place (Hong Kong) where millions turned out in protest and solidarity with students.”  But I guess years of racist comments had taken their toll.  Reflecting back, I’m thankful that God has brought me healing in so many of these places.

I still admire the courage of the students and really the workers of Beijing (historians believe that actually more workers may have died trying to keep the Army from reaching the students in the Square).  I have a photo of the Tank Man in my living room – it reminds me of the message it sends when even just one person stands up to something.  

And I’ve spent the last 8 years working full-time with college students.  When I think about Tiananmen Square, I look at my students and imagine men and women their age captivating the world with their hopes and dreams.  Now more than ever,  I believe that college students can change the world.

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new family stories (or actually really really old ones)

None of my extended family lived in the states when we were growing up.  (well, there are some half-cousins in California and New Jersey, but I’ve only seen 4 of them once)  Later on, one of my older cousins moved to NYC to go to grad school and lives there now, but that’s about it.  We came back to HK a lot when I was young – 78, 83, 84, 87, 91 – but then had a big gap til 2005.  Last time, it was great to get to know my aunts and uncles as an adult, and get to meet cousins that were just babies when I was last here.  That’s the main reason I wanted to come to Hong Kong this year – to continue to get to know family.

Last week Dad and I traveled with my uncle and aunt (dad’s older sister) for 3 days in Guangzhou – a city of 10+ million about 3 hours away from Hong Kong.  It’s where my dad lived until he was 6, but he hadn’t been back for a visit since oh… 1960?  Anyway, we heard lots of stories those several days all about the family and Dad and I both learned lots that we didn’t know before (I obviously learned a lot more than he did, but there were still some big things he didn’t know).
Last Friday night we went to dinner with that aunt – she just turned 70!  We had already heard so many stories, I just wanted clarification on one or two things, especially about my grandmother.  Somehow though, we got to talking, and she was talking about how dad’s grandfather’s family was actually pretty wealthy before.  And we were like, “oh, how?”  And she said, “Oh, because my great grandfather went to Gum San to work!”  Gum San is the old Cantonese name for San Francisco.  And all this time we’ve thought Dad was the first of his family to come to the States.
I’ve been interested in Asian American history for awhile now, but this definitley puts a personal spin on it.  My great great grandfather and then my great grandfather’s brothers went to San Francisco to work in orchards and fruit picking.  Much of the village had gone – he probably went in his late teens and probably came back every once in awhile to bring back money, for a total of about 30 years.  My great grandfather didn’t go with his older brothers because his mother wanted to keep one son at home.  Later on, my grandfather decided to follow his older brothers to the Philippines to work instead, it was closer and they had seen others come back with money.
Somehow, knowing that my great great grandfather went to the States to work makes a difference in the way I think about my family history and myself.  I’ll let you know when I figure out how exactly it changes things, and how to explain it. 🙂

all that talk

After all that talk, I finally did it. Took the plunge. Got clipless pedals and shoes to go with. I got them installed yesterday, and promptly took a nice fall in my backyard. Bummer. But took ’em out for a quick ride today, and had a blast! I can really notice the difference on hills, and it’s sorta nice to feel ‘one with the bike’ – except when you’re falling… I think Speedy likes it too (that’s my bike’s name).

It was a very short ride because I just haven’t been feeling well. I’ve been off and on sick for over a month now (more sick than well), so I took it very easy, but still tired out super-quick. Hopefully I’ll feel totally well, soon.

So the last few weeks have been crazy busy, thought I’d pull some pictures that give you an idea…

Here’s my awesome small group from Breakthrough’s What’s Next track…

daniel project crazies
At the Asian American Staff Conference… Daniel Project crazies. 🙂  Are they sure they want us to lead?

daniel project and mentors
looking more civilized, for a picture with the mentors and teachers. 🙂

my friend Morgan and I, high above San Francisco…

Exit Clov at Lovejoy’s during SXSW. The picture’s super-blurry, and you can’t really see Aaron or Brett, but I like how Emily and Susan are right in front of the angels on the backdrop.

Clov at Ruta Maya, this is the only one where you can really see John, the drummer

at the Rio for the official showcase. Awesome, just awesome. (fyi – the Rio used to be the Real World Austin house… confirmed by the crazy loud colors on the walls in the back area)

Unfortunately, my camera isn’t that good, and I also don’t have any pictures of my friend Ellen (cousin of the twins) who was in town too… but check the website, because they have better pictures there. 🙂 Despite the lack of pictures, I did get to see some other bands – most notably, the Polyphonic Spree. Amazing!

Whew, I’m tired. I’ll have to put up post-Spring Break pictures later…

good spoken word makes my soul happy

Just a quick note – in case you haven’t heard yet, Rosie O’Donnell apologized for her ‘ching-chong’ joke, and for her lame earlier attempt at apology.  Sounds like it’s due to Beau Sia’s beautiful spoken word video ‘an open letter to all the rosie o’donnells.’  You can read more about the whole thing (and see her real apology) at angry asian man.  I’m just amazed that she did apologize… if only it hadn’t taken so long… but then again, most of us are still waiting for apologies from other people who’ve used the very un-original ching-chong jokes. 

but I like the way beau ends –

‘now’s the time rosie
we all make mistakes
there’s always room
for forgiveness’

so true.

november rain

Last Sunday after Mosaic, we went to Waterloo Ice House and in the midst of the Cowboy’s game and talking with friends, I thought I heard Steven Tyler’s voice and said, “Is this Aerosmith?”  Luckily, Todd corrected me.  Strange how I could misidentify a song that I loved so much in 9th grade. Ha!  G’nR all the way…

Everybody needs some time… on their own
Don’t you know you need some time… on your own
So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
Even cold November rain…   [angry guitar solo]

And then, you know, brilliant truths about how ‘Everybody needs someone.’ 

Can’t believe it’s already November… 2006 is quickly coming to a close.  I think I’m kinda glad – it’s been a doozie.  Not much else to say about that right now… 

And now, for a SHAMELESS PLUG.  More than Serving Tea – Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership, and Faith is now in print!  It’s by 5 staff friends… and I’m so excited about it that I bought a whole case – 52 copies – for students and staff ’round here.  Lemme know if you, happy reader, might want one. 

immigration stuff is a big deal

With all the news on immigration, I had to post this up – I definitely feel for Latinos who are affected, but this reminded me that it’s also an Asian thing..

Making it Ashore, but Still Chasing US Dream

They came to America on a rusty freighter from China in 1993, but many survivors still find citizenship elusive…

They all journeyed to America on the Golden Venture, a rusty freighter crammed with 286 Chinese immigrants when it ran aground off Queens on the night of June 6, 1993.

But a father of three who was seeking asylum from China’s one-child policy was deported back and forcibly sterilized. A teenager seeking adventure became a United States citizen, proud owner of a New Jersey restaurant praised for its translucent dumplings. And a man who swam the last 300 yards through cold, rough surf was suddenly ordered a decade later to report for deportation, with a warning to bring no more than 44 pounds of luggage, though by then he had his own business and two children born in New York.

Almost 13 years after the Golden Venture shuddered to a stop and set off a national argument about illegal immigration, the last of its smugglers has just been sent to prison, as the debate rages anew. Ten passengers died that night in a frantic swim for freedom; six of those who made it to shore escaped without a trace. But for the rest, their journeys are still unfolding in widely disparate ways, buffeted by the shifting rules and often arbitrary results of America’s immigration wars. (read the rest of the article)

I was a junior in high school when this happened.  I was sad then, reading the article made me sad all over again.