Something is rotten at Whole Foods: Racial “ching-chong” slurs prompt cry for public apology to Asian American community

AsAm News (by Shirley N. Lew):

It is with great sadness that the work I’ve done with the assistance of Chris Kwok of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) on behalf of my friend, Kwok Ming Cheng, has come to an end.

Ever since an employee of Whole Foods Market in Lower Manhattan called Cheng a “ching-chong” last July, we have been collaborating with the guidance of Kwok to get the market on Bowery and Houston Streets to make a public apology to the Asian American community.

Cheng has decided to no longer pursue an apology from the market due to a very busy work schedule from a new job. I admit I am highly disappointed, not at him, but of the circumstances that is preventing him from continuing our battle with Whole Foods. However, I must respect his decision.

Our quest for an apology from Whole Foods was met with a lot of Asian American support last year. Some of you boycotted the market on your own and some wrote angry letters to them. All we wanted to do was first and foremost to have them apologize to the Asian American community, but their public relations manager felt it only involved an individual and not an entire community. They apologized to Cheng only. In addition to our first goal, we also wanted  to have Whole Foods employees receive some form of sensitivity training to prevent another incident with the help of Margaret Fung, the executive director of the Asian American Legal and Defense Education Fund (AALDEF). Whole Food refused that.

Cheng wanted Whole Foods to have a dialogue with us. It never occurred. Michael Sinatra, their public relations manager reached out to me one day to offer to meet, yet he would not agree to a single date we suggested.  After repeated failed attempts to agree on a meeting date, I sent him an email conveying my annoyance at such difficulty. He emailed back and suggested we were the ones being difficult. And with that, that was the last we heard from him. I still have emails showing him shooting down every date we suggested to him.

Kwok, Cheng and I continued to collaborate over months on developing a strategy. At times I admit it looked like an apology would happen if we made enough noise. Then came months of silence between Whole Foods and the three of us as things moved slowly for a variety of reasons; the holidays, Cheng getting married.  Another lawyer who was pulled in to consult added more hands into the mix.

Kwok told me we couldn’t continue with this without the victim involved. I wish we could somehow. I still desire to see a positive end result that we and the Asian American community have fought for. Since we can no longer continue, my only desire now is that hopefully our many attempts to resolve this issue with Whole Foods will inspire someone or group of people to not remain silent nor walk away from any social injustice they face.

During the height of the incident, I was hoping that we’d win, or even if we did not, I wanted to convey to society that Asian Americans are fighters and that we will always face our challenger. I wanted us to look strong, to prove to everyone we fight for our justice like any other ethnic group, but not being able to go on is a blow to me.

I felt the three of us somehow represented the Asian American community, especially for Lower Manhattan. I was contemplating on organizing a community event in Lower Manhattan after a resolution with Whole Foods. I thought of inviting community leaders, local business owners and other panelists to discuss why racial slurs are simply bad for merchants, the local economy and the community.

During those many months of collaboration, I was fueled to pursue some form of justice or at least ruffle Whole Foods feathers, which I strongly believed we did.  Now our battle has come to an abrupt end without an apology. I still do not want to walk away and let this go so easily. I don’t want to give up.

Racial slurs affect an entire ethnic group, hence the word “racial slur” not “individual slur.” “Chink,” and “ching-chong” mimic the sound of the Chinese language to unfamiliar ears, which also mocks our Chinese identity. These racial slurs are also used against the Japanese and Koreans too. The employee that called Cheng “ching-chong” is probably still employed. She should have known better than to repeat it from another employee, but she didn’t and that makes the incident so very sad.

People that poke fun at the sound of our language or slant their eyes at us give a hatred vibe and are not accepting of who we are.  I have bad news for them. Asian Americans are not going anywhere anytime soon, so they need to get to know us and get used to seeing us everywhere they go as we are the fastest growing minority group.

Recently I read a 2009 article, that is strangely circulating again on the internet, about a Texas lawmaker who suggested that those with Asian names should consider changing them so that it could be easily read at the election polls. Old story, but hot damn, reading that got me fired up. The article said the lawmaker didn’t think that the request was offensive, but merely trying to make the voting process easier.  She lost re-election later on.

It’s this ignorance, not innocence that touches a nerve in me and that’s why I feel so strongly to educate those poor ignorant souls. We can all just sit back and let racial slurs go on and brush it off because we don’t want to bother or have the time. We shouldn’t pretend it didn’t happen either.

Wouldn’t Asians be hypocrites to fight for diversity in the workplace, the entertainment industry and everywhere else, but not stop racial slurs? We all know the “n” word is bad, so why isn’t the “c” word just as sensitive when rolled out of someone’s lips? Why should Asians let the “c” word go? Racial slurs will never end if we don’t put in the effort to stop it.

I hope our experience and my still fired up attitude will inspire some of you to go further in your quest for justice than where we left off with ours. Although, we end here, that doesn’t mean we should stop discussing the Whole Foods incident. We have to take what happened there as reminder to not ever let this happen again. The next person to use a racial slur will get an earful from me. I promise you.

Thank you for the support you gave us and especially to Kwok of AABANY. I also want to wish my friend all the best at his new job and marriage, and may he never be called the “c” word again.

Now go out there and stomp out racial slurs.

shirley-aajany

Shirly N. Lew

Who’s the Angriest Asian? Trademark feud leaves community torn

NBC:

A legal dispute has emerged between two of Asian America‘s leading blogging figures, one that has confused and saddened portions of the Asian-American community, and has highlighted the growing clout and economic interests such properties wield in the digital age.

Lela Lee created the “Angry Little Asian Girlcomic strip in the early days of the Asian-American blogging scene, tapping into a nascent emotional tone that resonated amongst Asian-American activists and artists across the internet. Lee claims that Phil Yu, the man behind the popular Angry Asian Man blog, has encroached on her intellectual property with his expanding media efforts and the monetization of his blog.

While the legal wrangling continues, the impact on the Asian-American media scene has been immediate. On her blog, writer Jenn Fang crafted a lengthy analysis of the case Lee has against Yu, ending with a somber note. “What saddens me,” she wrote, “is that two titans of Asian America have come to blows over who has exclusive rights to call themselves an ‘Angry Asian.‘”

Culture critic Jeff Yang (and father of Hudson Yang, star of the ABC hit show “Fresh off the Boat“) took to Medium to express his concern about how the dispute might affect strides made by Asian Americans in media, calling the disagreement, “deeply damaging…to the larger, deeply interconnected community to which we belong.

The dispute is ongoing, and blog posts previously posted by both sides have been deleted as negotiations continue.

Asian-American UC Berkeley law student moonlighting as porn star

 

CBS/Amped Asia: 

A UC Berkeley law student says he is passionate about representing his Asian roots in his career, but until he graduates that career is pornography.

Identified only by his stage name, Jeremy Long is living a double life of sorts as he puts himself through school working as a porn star to achieve his dreams of becoming a public defender. But Long is only in his second year of law school, and to support himself he has been working in the adult industry, a line of work in which he says Asians are underrepresented.

I’m very passionate about representing Asian males in media, and I think adult films is one of the most important areas for us to work on,” Long said.

Long says he has made 18 movies so far, and has fans all around the world.

As for Long’s family finding out about his current line of work, Long says he doesn’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

Luckily they’re outside any circles of exposure that would lead to that.”

Jeremy Long has always had an interest in the Asian American community and didn’t want to idly stay back and let Asian guys take a bad rep for having small penises. So when he was offered the opportunity to become a performer in the adult film industry he didn’t hesitate and decided to show once and for all that Asian men can be pornstars as well.

Jeremy shoots for AsianSchlong.com (NSFW), one of the first of its kind, offering rare, premium content featuring Asian males and non-Asian females. We were able to get an exclusive 1-on-1 interview with Mr. Jeremy Long, and we discussed increasing your penis size, having a lot of sex, and being an Asian guy in the porn industry.

What made you guys start shooting porn with Asian males?

Asian males are probably more underrepresented in straight porn than in any other industry in the country. And Japan has one of the largest porn industries in the world, so there are tons of Asian guys doing porn—just not over here, and not in a way that has any real visibility to the US/Western public.

I think there is something very profound in being part of a group (Asian American males) that is almost entirely absent from porn—especially when our women are very much active in the industry. For years “Asian American porn” has always meant Asian women with White (or other non-Asian) men. So what we’re doing is basically flipping the script on that and producing the exact opposite type of content. In many ways this genre, whatever you want to call it (some call it AMXF) is still in its early stages of formation. We hope that it will grow to become an established mainstream genre in porn.

Your stage name is Jeremy Long. How did you come up with that?

Well it’s pretty common in porn to parody a mainstream celebrity with a porn twist. I’m a huge Jeremy Lin fan, so at some point I came up with that. I was also considering Mike Chang, the guy from Six Pack Shortcuts because I watch his videos all the time. We’re actually going to do a parody shoot of one those workout videos where he brings a chick on his show. We’re going to do that soon as I can get into good enough shape, so I’m looking forward to that.

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But you look like you work out a lot and youre in pretty good shape now right?

Haha thanks, but I haven’t quite reached Mike Chang status yet though.

What do you think about the “small penis stereotype” Asian men have to face?

Haha, well I think there’s only one way to deal with that — women out there need to sleep with as many Asian men as possible and investigate for themselves.

What was the primary motivation for you to become a pornstar?

Lots of things in this industry operate very opportunistically. I just happened to know some people who knew some people which led to this. As far as my motivation though, I would say it really began in an Asian American studies class at UC Berkeley where we learned about the work of professor Darrell Hamamoto who had produced porn sort of as a research project. In those types of classes we would learn all kinds of theories about the emasculation of Asian males in the media and things like that. But this guy–instead of just writing some paper about it, he was actually doing something in the real world. As an academic, he had a lot to risk and lose, and I thought it was ballsy as hell, and I very much admired it and appreciated it as fellow Asian male. And when I was confronted with this opportunity, I just saw this as a chance to represent. And also, I mean I’ve always been a pretty ballsy guy myself and doing porn is definitely the ultimate YOLO.

I also can’t give enough thanks to my predecessors, the pioneers of Asian American porn: Keni Styles, Hung Lo, and Rick Lee. If it wasn’t for these guys there wouldn’t be a place for Asian American males in porn. They had to go into this with absolutely no precedent or security, which I have the benefit of now. It’s the greatest honor for me to even be considered an addition to that list.

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As an Asian guy, how have people in the porn industry treated you?

Well you might think that because we’re so underrepresented that the porn industry is racist and it would be difficult for an Asian guy, but I haven’t experienced anything even close to that. Everyone has been very enthusiastic about working with an Asian guy, and most people think as a genre there is incredible untapped market potential.

The industry is pretty insular, and the lack of Asian males reflects the general absence of us from those inner circles more than anything else. I think it’s also mainstream society imposing a stigma and a barrier between porn and the outside world, that makes it difficult to recruit Asian guys.

Do you take any supplements for your penis? Is your penis size a result of any artificial enhancements?

Haha, well I’ve never had any surgery or anything like that. I do take some natural supplements though, and for your male readers, I think I can give some advice based on what I’ve learned doing porn. I don’t know if it’s possible to actually increase the size of your penis, but I have learned ways to help you achieve your maximum potential, which we don’t normally reach when we’re having regular sex (or masturbating or whatever).

You know, not all erections are equal. You can just watch some of my videos to see that. Sometimes it’s looking kinda flimsy and other times it’s looking pretty banging. Some of that is just the angling and camera or whatever, but a lot of it is the difference between an erection at 70-80% vs something close to 100%. Just think back to the biggest, hardest boner you’ve ever popped—you don’t pop one of those everyday, but I do think there are ways to help you control that, and get there more often. After I started doing porn, especially in the beginning when I was still getting comfortable and under a lot of pressure (mainly self-imposed), I would explore ways to improve my on-screen performance. I’d say for most guys the difference between an average erection and reaching their full potential could be about a .5 inch to an inch, and some significant girth. So nothing extreme, but definitely worth the effort.

I’ve found that taking L-Arginine, Zinc, and Magnesium in standard doses on a regular basis helps. You also need to eliminate any vasoconstrictors like stimulants (cocaine, Adderall, preworkout supplements, etc.) before activity. You want wide blood vessels and strong, healthy blood flow. If you also take an ED drug like Viagra or Cialis coupled with using a penis pump which engorges your dick with blood—you’ll be rocking a schlong I’m sure you’ll be happy with.

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How much sex have you shot on camera so far?

I’ve done about 15 shoots so far and have a few more coming up this month. The craziest I’ve ever done was three in a row on a three-day weekend. That was nuts! (literally haha)

And over the years I’ve been developing a pretty large personal collection on my phone, and I’ll probably be continuing that long after I quit doing porn.

So youre an educated guy and now go to UC Berkeley School of Law?

Yep, I’m a double Bear. Went there for undergrad, went to grad school for a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge and now I’m back at Cal for law school.

Thats obviously a prodigious school. Do your classmates know about what you do and what do they think about it?

Well I’m a very open person so I’ve never made an attempt to hide it (which nowadays would be futile anyways given that so many people watch porn). But Boalt Hall (what UC Berkeley’s Law School is called) is a uniquely awesome place with amazing people. It’s what really sets us apart from other schools. All of my friends there have been extremely supportive. There is a large Asian student body, and a general culture of openness and progression, so most people at my school think what I’m doing is great.

 

Randall Park on what it means to star on TV’s first Asian American family sitcom in 20 Years

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Audrey Magazine: (story by Randall Park)

 

It happened! A pilot that I worked on got picked up to be a series!

Now, I’ve done several of these during the course of my career, and none have made it past the pilot stage. But after over a decade of hard work in this business, it’s finally happened. I will be a regular character on a nationally televised show. But this is not just any show. When it makes its debut next year, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat will be the first Asian American family sitcom to air on network television in 20 years, since Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl. For me, coming from an Asian American studies background, this is like a wet dream. But it’s also a lot of pressure.

People are hungry to see themselves represented on television, and people rightfully want to be represented properly. But the Asian American community is not monolithic, and proper representation means different things to different people. For example, there has been a great deal of online debate about whether or not the title Fresh Off the Boat is offensive. The answer isn’t so clear-cut: it’s yes for some, no for others. Again, members of our community do not all think alike. But with that said, this particular show is based on an amazing book bearing the same title by Eddie Huang. It is his memoir, it is his title, and I, for one, am all for it.

I do, however, have my own issues with the show: first of all, the fact that I’m on it. To have a Korean American actor play the father of a Taiwanese-Chinese American family is an issue that is not lost on me. I’ve even expressed my concerns repeatedly about this to Eddie himself. And every time, he has shown me nothing but love and support, assuring me that I’m the only one for this job. Whether true or not, I take that to heart because, again, it is his story.

Then, there’s the issue of having to speak with an accent. In an ideal world, I would never have to play a character with an accent. But this is a character based on a real person. So it’s something that I have to honor and try to perfect as the series moves forward.

Playing an immigrant character on a television comedy also has its own inherent risks: Is the audience laughing because the joke is funny or because I’m speaking with an accent? Are they laughing because I’m a human being in a funny situation or because they think I’m a funny-talking immigrant? I am constantly analyzing through this lens, almost to the point of paranoia.

Geesh, white actors never have to go through this sh-t.

But issues aside, I am proud to be a part of this amazing show. Getting a television series on the air is an incredible feat. Getting one with no bankable name stars in today’s television climate is damn near impossible. Getting one about an Asian American family on the air is a frickin’ miracle. Just know that. And regardless of how Fresh Off the Boat does ratings-wise, I believe it’s a step toward more varied representation on the small and big screens. Hopefully, it inspires others to tell their own stories and translate them to a TV show, as Eddie did. It is possible. And we shouldn’t have to wait another 20 years for it to happen again.

 

This column was originally printed in KoreAm Journal. It was later published in Audrey Magazine’s Winter 2014-15 issue– Get your copy here

Fresh Off the Boat premieres Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 8:30 pm. and a second episode will air at 9:30. Fresh Off the Boat will move to its regular 8:00 pm Tuesday timeslot on Feb. 10.  

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LA Times op-ed: An Asian American turn to the right?

 

Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed: by Lanhee J. Chen)

The recent defeat of an effort to reinstitute affirmative action in admissions to California’s public colleges and universities demonstrates the political power of Asian American voters and challenges the conventional wisdom about their partisan loyalties.

The defeat is a reminder that Asian Americans can have a decisive impact on political and policymaking processes. Perhaps more important, it suggests that if education is a key issue that drives Asian American voters, the Democratic Party may not be able to reliably count on their support in the future.

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, which banned the consideration of race, ethnicity or gender in state public employment and higher education. Last month, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) tabled a proposed constitutional amendment, known as SCA 5, which would have restored the use of affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public institutions of higher learning. Pérez went against the vast majority of Democratic legislators, as well as many ethnic identity groups traditionally supportive of Democrats, effectively killing the effort.

This happened because of strong, organized opposition to SCA 5 from the Asian American community — or at least its most vocal leaders and others active in the political process.

This ability to force such action supports the notion that the Asian American community is at a “tipping point” in California politics. Its numbers are high enough (about 15% of the state’s population) to be a decisive constituency, particularly in statewide races and in close, contested elections. And community members’ interest in education issues suggests that the affirmative action debate may have political repercussions for Democrats.

A majority of Asian Americans has consistently affiliated with Democrats since the early 1990s. But before that, they regularly supported Republicans. In fact, George H.W. Bushwon 54% of the Asian American vote in 1988.

Survey data suggest that the two parties’ positions on education may have something to do with this turn toward the Democratic Party. In a 2012 post-election survey of Asian American/Pacific Islander voters, 81% of those responding said that education issues were “very important” to their vote, second only to the economy and jobs at 86%. PresidentObama had a 42-point advantage among those citing education issues as being very important to their vote.

This debate over affirmative action highlights an area within education policy where the interests of Asian Americans are at odds with the Democratic Party. It also creates opportunities for the GOP to gain support.

Democrats have made it clear that they want to reinstate racial preferences in admissions, while Asian Americans do not, as illustrated in their efforts to defeat SCA 5. Given that the percentage of freshmen admitted to all University of California campuses who were Asian American increased between 1996 and 2013, Democrats do not appear to be accounting for the Asian American community’s interests.

Notably, the percentage of freshmen admitted to all UC campuses who self-identified as Latino or Chicano nearly doubled during that time, while the African American percentage stayed the same. This suggests that affirmative action need not be an issue that divides racial and ethnic minorities.

Whether the Republican Party is able to capitalize on the debate depends in large part on whether its leaders are able to articulate principled arguments both about why the restoration of racial preferences in admissions is wrong and why the GOP’s perspectives on access to higher education and the importance of choice, accountability and high standards in K-12 education are right.

Although SCA 5 is dead for now, Pérez and his Democratic colleagues plan to form a task force to examine whether the state’s public institutions should change the way they admit students. Continuing efforts by California Democrats to reinstitute affirmative action have the potential, therefore, to alienate segments of the very electoral coalition they rely on for success in the state and beyond.

Lanhee J. Chen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, was the policy director on the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign.

UCLA

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LA Times op-ed: An Asian American turn to the right?

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Two Asian American pioneers named to Martial Arts Hall of Fame

AsAm News:

Two Asian Americans have been named to the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

The Martial Arts History Museum’s Hall of Fame today selected silent film star Anna May Wong and pioneer actor Mako as its next inductees.

Wong was the first Asian American film star and played lead roles in Daughter of the DragonShanghai Expresand many more.

It was a time when people like Warner Oland was cast to play the starring role of Charlie Chan, Peter Lorre playing Japanese detective Mr. Moto and all of the leading roles in the Chinese film The Good Earth were played by non-Asians. Anna May Wong had to combat the way Hollywood looked at the Asian-American community and force her way into being considered a major player on the silver screen,” notes museum president Michael Matsuda. “Without Wong, it would have taken a lot longer for Asians to be recognized as principal actors.”

Mako Iwamatsu starred in both tv and movies. Before there was Madonna, there was Mako.

He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the movie Sand Pebbles.

He was also founding member of the Asian American theater group in Los Angeles, the East West Players.

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Two Asian American pioneers named to Martial Arts Hall of Fame

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New Report Shows Asian American Community Remains Los Angeles’ Fastest Growing

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According to a new report by Asian Americans Advancing JusticeLos Angeles, Los Angeles County’s large Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities continued to grow dramatically over the past decade, fueling even greater diversity in a county whose overall population growth has slowed to a near standstill.

Already the largest in the country, L.A. County’s Asian American population remained its fastest growing, increasing at a rate (20 percent), nearly twice that of its Latino population (11 percent), between 2000 and 2010; its NHPI population, the largest in the continental United States, grew at a rate (9 percent) approaching that of Latinos over the same period. By comparison, the county’s total population grew only 3 percent over the decade. These trends have important implications for public policy.

Our communities are growing and making real contributions to Los Angeles’ economy, but many also need help,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “This growth deepens the urgency of our public policy concerns.

According to data included in the report from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), there are nearly 930,000 Asian American and 7,700 NHPI immigrants in Los Angeles County; data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security show more than 310,000 Asian American and 1,300 NHPI immigrants countywide obtained legal permanent resident status between 2000 and 2010. The report estimates that roughly 130,000 Asian Americans in Los Angeles County are undocumented.

Promoting access to services is critical, particularly among those who are limited-English proficient or struggling in this tough economy,” said Betty Hung, policy director at Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “Many in our communities are undocumented, so these services need to be accessible to everyone regardless of immigration status.

The number of NHPI and Asian Americans in Los Angeles County who are unemployed and living below the poverty line also continues to grow. ACS data show that the number of unemployed NHPI and Asian Americans grew 111 percent and 89 percent, respectively, between 2007 and 2011; they also reveal corresponding increases in the number of NHPI and Asian Americans who are poor. Among ethnic groups, over half of Tongan Americans and a quarter of Cambodian Americans countywide live below the poverty line.

Contrary to this myth of Asian Americans and NHPI as the model minority, the data we compiled in this report show tremendous social and economic diversity in our communities here in Los Angeles,” said Kristin Sakaguchi, a research analyst at Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and the primary author of the report. “Some have achieved success, but others are facing considerable challenges.

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New Report Shows Asian American Community Remains Los Angeles’ Fastest Growing