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Away It Happened: AT&T Web Series Commercial Gives Asian American Actors A Chance!

Away We Happened, AT&T web seriesWeb TV Series is Clever Commercial Starring Asian American Actors

This is rest of the clever AT&T web series, Away It Happened. On the one hand, it’s a really innovative idea to use a web series to showcase the features of the new AT&T smart phone which bears uncanny resemblance to the iPhone. It’s clearly targeting the twenty-something Asian American market; I suppose our disposable incomes and attitudes towards technology make us the perfect market segment.

Frankly, this web series give Asian American directors and actors a chance to show their stuff. Since there are such limited opportunities in Hollywood, I applaud AT&T for giving them this chance. And you know what? That phone really does have cool features!

What do you think of this web-series-as-commercial?


K-Town: Jersey Shore Reality Show Features Korean Americans UPDATED

K-Town, Asian Jersey Shore, Korean Jersey Shore, KTownAsian American Reality Show Doesn’t Make TV

I have to admit that these reality TV shows are my guilty pleasure though I have weaned myself off The Real Housewives of New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, after battling an addition to The Hills but only for the seasons with Lauren Conrad. Now, reality TV show free, I am afraid that K-Town has the same mesmerizing attraction. It could be that I worked in K-Town for 3 years and then lived in Los Angeles, venturing back for the Korean food and clubbing a couple of time. But I never really knew K-Town.

There’s an highbrow analysis of this show as well. On the one hand, a show that portrays Asian Americans as individuals instead of stereotypes is a good thing even if this version shows the good, the bad and the ugly. Actually, there is very little ugly involved. The cast is well toned and attractive. Finally, Asian American males, in particular, are shown as sexy.

Others in the Asian Community might object to the fact that the cast is not of a Tiger Mom ilk, but there is no doubt that this is pure entertainment. And I hope everyone tunes in, if only to criticize. If this show can get a following, it will bode well for future shows with Asian American characters outside of the narrow bandwidth we see now: bad guys, kung fu masters, nerds and FOB waiters.

The first two episodes are below. Believe me, I searched for the episode three but it’s not out yet. I’m hooked. If you want notification of new episodes, go here. The Facebook page is here. Let me know what you think! Please leave a comment!

K-Town Reality Show, Episode 1

K-Town Reality Show, Episode 2

K-Town Reality Show, Episode 3

K-Town Reality Show, Episode 4

K-Town Reality Show, Episode 5

K-Town Reality Show, Episode 6

K-Town Reality Show, Episode 7

K-Town Reality Show, Episode 8

K-Town Reality Show, Episode 9


Why It’s Harder for Asian Americans to Find Jobs

Unemployment rate by race

from NPR, Asians out of work longer than any other minority.

If Asian Americans had the same unemployment rates by education level as whites,

however, the Asian American unemployment rate would have been 6.3%, almost a percentage point lower.

This is from Economic Policy Institute. If we are stereotypically well educated, hard working, and downright geeky, why is it that Asian Americans have to be more educated in order to get hired? What do you think? The numbers don’t lie.

Here’s Theory 1 for this from NPR: Asian-Americans lack the networks or language skills to find jobs outside their community or industry. And whereas Latinos of different nationalities are bound by a common language, there are about a dozen languages spoken in the Asian-American community.


Hidden disadvantage: Asian American unemployment and the Great Recession

By Algernon Austin | June 2, 2010

Asian Americans experience a complex mix of advantages and disadvantages in finding employment. Asian Americans in the labor force are advantaged in that a large share of them have bachelor’s and advanced degrees. In contrast, they also have a larger share of workers than whites without high school diplomas.

Asian Americans with bachelor’s degrees only have a higher unemployment rate than whites with bachelor’s degrees. Asian American high school dropouts, however, are more successful than white dropouts at finding work.

These advantages and disadvantages sum to a net disadvantage for Asian American workers. The overall unemployment rate for Asian Americans, 25-years-old and over in the fourth quarter of 2009 was 7.1%. The comparable rate for whites was 7.0%. If Asian Americans had the same unemployment rates by education level as whites, however, the Asian American unemployment rate would have been 6.3%, almost a percentage point lower. Thus, overall, Asian American workers are disadvantaged relative to white workers.

Further research is necessary to deepen our understanding of Asian Americans in the labor force. This analysis raises numerous questions about whether there are significant differences in the occupations and industries of Asian American workers in comparison with white workers that might explain the differences in unemployment rates. Also, it would be informative to examine the labor force participation rates and the relative wages of Asian American and white workers.

While there is still much to understand about Asian Americans in the labor force, the overall disadvantage in employment for Asian Americans is a disturbing finding. It points, once again, to the conclusion that as a society we still have a way to go in guaranteeing equal opportunity for all workers.


Some Asians’ college strategy: Don’t check ‘Asian’

Asian Americans don't check Asian, college applications, race questionTao Tao Holmes, daughter of a Chinese mother and white father, chose not to check “Asian” on her Yale application. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
December 4, 2011Lanya Olmstead was born in Florida to a mother who immigrated from Taiwan and an American father of Norwegian ancestry. Ethnically, she considers herself half Taiwanese and half Norwegian. But when applying to Harvard, Olmstead checked only one box for her race: white.”I didn’t want to put ‘Asian’ down,” Olmstead says, “because my mom told me there’s discrimination against Asians in the application process.”For years, many Asian-Americans have been convinced that it’s harder for them to gain admission to the nation’s top colleges.

Studies show that Asian-Americans meet these colleges’ admissions standards far out of proportion to their 6 percent representation in the U.S. population, and that they often need test scores hundreds of points higher than applicants from other ethnic groups to have an equal chance of admission. Critics say these numbers, along with the fact that some top colleges with race-blind admissions have double the Asian percentage of Ivy League schools, prove the existence of discrimination.

The way it works, the critics believe, is that Asian-Americans are evaluated not as individuals, but against the thousands of other ultra-achieving Asians who are stereotyped as boring academic robots.

Now, an unknown number of students are responding to this concern by declining to identify themselves as Asian on their applications.

For those with only one Asian parent, whose names don’t give away their heritage, that decision can be relatively easy. Harder are the questions that it raises: What’s behind the admissions difficulties? What, exactly, is an Asian-American — and is being one a choice?

Olmstead is a freshman at Harvard and a member of HAPA, the Half-Asian People’s Association. In high school she had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and scored 2150 out of a possible 2400 on the SAT, which she calls “pretty low.”

College applications ask for parent information, so Olmstead knows that admissions officers could figure out a student’s background that way. She did write in the word “multiracial” on her own application.

Still, she would advise students with one Asian parent to “check whatever race is not Asian.”

“Not to really generalize, but a lot of Asians, they have perfect SATs, perfect GPAs, … so it’s hard to let them all in,” Olmstead says.

Amalia Halikias is a Yale freshman whose mother was born in America to Chinese immigrants; her father is a Greek immigrant. She also checked only the “white” box on her application.

“As someone who was applying with relatively strong scores, I didn’t want to be grouped into that stereotype,” Halikias says. “I didn’t want to be written off as one of the 1.4 billion Asians that were applying.”

Her mother was “extremely encouraging” of that decision, Halikias says, even though she places a high value on preserving their Chinese heritage.

“Asian-American is more a scale or a gradient than a discrete combination . I think it’s a choice,” Halikias says.

But leaving the Asian box blank felt wrong to Jodi Balfe, a Harvard freshman who was born in Korea and came here at age 3 with her Korean mother and white American father. She checked the box against the advice of her high school guidance counselor, teachers and friends.

“I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of trying to hide half of my ethnic background,” Balfe says. “It’s been a major influence on how I developed as a person. It felt like selling out, like selling too much of my soul.”

“I thought admission wouldn’t be worth it. It would be like only half of me was accepted.”

Other students, however, feel no conflict between a strong Asian identity and their response to what they believe is injustice.

“If you know you’re going to be discriminated against, it’s absolutely justifiable to not check the Asian box,” says Halikias.

Immigration from Asian countries was heavily restricted until laws were changed in 1965. When the gates finally opened, many Asian arrivals were well-educated, endured hardships to secure more opportunities for their families, and were determined to seize the American dream through effort and education.

These immigrants, and their descendants, often demanded that children work as hard as humanly possible to achieve. Parental respect is paramount in Asian culture, so many children have obeyed — and excelled.

“Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best,” wrote Amy Chua, only half tongue-in-cheek, in her recent best-selling book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”

Read More…


The Slants: Their Trademark Saga Continues

The Slants, The Slants trademark

It was nice to get an update from Simon of The Slants on their trademark filing. He’s the one in front.

This is Simon with The Slants. I just wanted to take a moment to give you an update on what’s been happening with our trademark filing.

First, I wanted to thank you again for your willingness to help in this matter. I can’t tell you enough how much this means to me as an Asian American who is fighting for equal rights. It’s been nearly two years but we are still continuing the fight. As I go through the Trademark Office’s records once more, it’s interesting to see that of the 50 trademark applications containing the term “slant,” ours is still the only one that they’ve raised the issue of it being a racial slur (every other applicant who was not of Asian descent experienced no questions or doubt at all).

In our most recent appeal, we sent over 700 pages of evidence. From expert testimony showing the history/use of the word to a national survey of Asian Americans, letters of support from respected API activists, support from API media, and much more, it was an unbelievable collection that reflected thousands of hours of work. However, the Trademark Office expressed no interest in seriously considering anything from the Asian American community but instead dismissed all of the evidence presented because they believed it would be more politically correct to do so. Because our band is associated with a proud form of Asian American activism, we were struck down.

Since then, we’ve teamed up with a new attorney to assist us. We have reapplied using a different tactic and are working our way through the system again. I believe that we have a long road ahead of us but it’s an important one for the community. Some day, all of us will be able to look back and see how this case contributed to changing history for all minorities who have suffered the inequities of outdated laws.

Thank you again, I hope to send you some good news soon.


Simon Tam


The Slants are the only all-Asian American dance rock band in the world.

Kicking off the band’s career at a tiny dive bar in Portland, OR, The Slants soon found themselves on tour and in demand worldwide performing at music halls, colleges, and anime conventions. Within months, they released their debut album “Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts” winning multiple awards from the likes of Willamette Week, Rockwired, AsiaXpress, and the Portland Music Awards. Since that first iconic show in 2007, The Slants have been cited as the “Hardest Working Asian American Band” (, toured North America ten times, rejected a million dollar recording contract, were the first and only Asian band to be a Fender Music artist, and according to U.S Congress, the first rock band to play inside a state library.

The Willamette Week, summarizes The Slants’ history perfectly: “It’s a great story: All-Asian synthcore troupe lands anime festival, achieves instantaneous notoriety from overpacked fireball-laden maelstrom, inspires John Woo and Dragon Ball Z fans toward aggro electro and—just months after its first practice—books gigs across the globe. As shadow-warriory as the Slants’ rise has been, it’s still all about the tunes, and the band’s debut—floor-filling synth pop bristling with all the menace and grandeur of its oft name-checked cultural icons—is propulsive, cinematic and impossible to ignore.”


The unintended consequences of racial preferences

image from American Civil Rights Institute

… what if many of the minorities used in this process[Affirmative Action] are injured by it? 

In six devastating words, the Heriot-Kirsanow-Gaziano brief distills the case against the “diversity” rationale for racial preferences: “Minority students are not public utilities.”

Now, it seems, that Affirmative Action action hurts the very minorities that it was created to assist. And not just Asian Americans, who have been hurt by racial quotas at top colleges and universities that served as an invisible “upper quota” keeping qualified applicants OUT based on race alone. So it seemed the beef with Affirmative Action was limited to Asian Americans and only with regard to college admissions. And we were unwilling to fight the good fight. But not anymore. Will the rules change if African-Americans are affected negatively by Affirmative Action? There’s change in the air … and it’s just a matter of time until this outdated policy gets rewritten for the new millennium.

And for the record, the policy should be based on socio-economics and not on race. Race is outdated, people. Let’s get with the program.

Here are some quotes from the article:

  • The Supreme Court faces a discomfiting decision. If it chooses, as it should, to hear a case concerning racial preferences in admissions at the University of Texas, the court will confront evidence of its complicity in harming the supposed beneficiaries of preferences the court has enabled and encouraged.
  • … institutions of higher education have a First Amendment right — academic freedom — to use race as one “plus” factor when shaping student bodies to achieve viewpoint diversity. Thus began the “educational benefits” exception to the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
  • Liberals would never stoop to stereotyping, but they say minorities necessarily make distinctive — stereotypical? — contributions to viewpoint diversity, conferring benefits on campus culture forever.
  • In 2003, when the court ruled on two cases arising from University of Michigan undergraduate and law school racial-preference policies, the court contributed more confusion than clarity. It struck down the undergraduate policies as too mechanistic in emphasizing race but upheld the law school’s pursuit of educational benefits from a “critical mass” of certain approved minorities.
  • Sander and Taylor report: “Research suggests a similar pattern nationally; scholars have found that the use of large racial preferences by elite colleges has the effect of reducing diversity at second-tier schools.”
  • Another study showed that even if eliminating racial preferences in law schools would mean 21 percent fewer black matriculants, there would still be no reduction in the number of blacks who graduate and pass the bar exam.
  • There are fewer minorities entering high-prestige careers than there would be if preferences were not placing many talented minority students in inappropriate, and discouraging, academic situations: “Many would be honor students elsewhere. But they are subtly being made to feel as if they are less talented than they really are.”
  •  … diversity bureaucracies on campuses will continue to use minority students as mere means to other people’s ends, injuring minorities by treating them as ingredients that supposedly enrich the academic experience of others.

The full article bu By George F. Will, published November 30, 2011, is here.



B-Boy Instant Noodles’ Chuck Maa in Monster Energy Drink Commercial

Monster Energy Drink starring Chuck Maa from Instant Noodles crew. Directed by Steven Butler. Choreography also by Steven Butler. I am happy to see Chuck Maa depicted as the guy who can compete in a street tough club scene and get the girl! How about you? Is this commercial breaking new ground? Please leave a comment!

 In hopes of impressing a girl, an unlikely b-boy breaks the only rule at an underground hip-hop dance club.

Asian Americans for Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action, Asian, Asians, Asian Americans,There are two sides to every point of view and this is the side of Asian Americans who are in favor of Affirmative Action. Which side are you on? This article is from The Nation. The full article is here. Bullet points below.

Asian Americans for Affirmative Action

The Nation on January 8, 2007 – 5:09 PM ET
  • Sunday’s NYT Education supplement ran a cover story by Timothy Egan about Asian Americans and affirmative action. Focusing on UC Berkeley — where Asians have grown to 41% of the student body since Proposition 209 banned racial preferences in 1997 — Egan observes that the end of affirmative action and the implementation of a “pure meritocracy” in admissions spells hugely disproportionate numbers of Asians at elite colleges and drastic shortages of Hispanics and African Americans. Berkeley, he concludes somewhat ominously, is the future of higher education.
  • Asian Americans comprise roughly 5% of the US population but represent anywhere from 13-40% of undergraduates at many top schools: 27% at MIT, 24% at Stanford, 17% at UT Austin, 13% at Columbia, 37% in the UC system as a whole and so forth. In contrast, only 3.6% of Berkeley’s freshman class are African American and only 11% are Hispanic — way below state population levels.
  • Egan’s right about the numbers, but he misses the mark on many other measures. First, he underplays the differences between “brain drain” Asian Americans and more recent, less affluent, less educated Asian immigrants.
  • Egan cites a 2005 study by Thomas J. Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung that finds that, without affirmative action, Asians (and not whites) would fill the vast majority (80%) of spots reserved for African Americans and Hispanics at elite universities.
  • …despite the possibility that Asian Americans may be the group most “disadvantaged” by affirmative action, they consistently, vigorously and overwhelmingly support it at the polls.
  •  Why do we continue to support a policy that apparently “harms” us? One answer is that it doesn’t, at least not always and not equally. Connerly and his minions — who have anti-affirmative action initiatives brewing in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska — have focused their message almost exclusively on admissions, and not on public employment and state contracts, even though affirmative action applies to those arenas as well, arenas in which Asian Americans are often underrepresented.
  • But racial group interest aside, I have a hunch that Asian Americans support affirmative action because the legacy of discrimination against Asians — from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to Japanese internment to the crucifixion of Wen Ho Lee to post-9/11 roundups of brown folk — is seared into our collective memory.
  • The last question I’ll raise is: What’s up with white people? If abolishing affirmative action would gain whites little in the admissions game (and then mostly to the ruling class of whites) and if Asian Americans reap most of the benefits of what Egan calls a “pure meritocracy,” then why is it that only white people as a group vote to end affirmative action?
  • If Berkeley is indeed the future of America, then neither maintaining nor abolishing affirmative action will preserve this American future as a white refuge. But keeping (and restoring) affirmative action will provide, however imperfectly, space for not just the yellow, but also for the brown, the red and the black.

Dartmouth President, Jim Yong Kim, Obama’s Pick to Lead World Bank

Jim Yong KimJim Yong Kim is a great example of a very successful but not-planned-since-birth career that still has not reached its pinnacle. What is interesting is that his success stems from taking the road less taken. While his career choice, a doctor, is a career path encouraged by Asian American parents, the path of least resistance would have been to, well, practice medicine as a specialist. Instead, five years after graduating from Brown University, he co-founded a non profit, Partners in Health, to help provide medical care to the poor in developing countries:

At its root, our mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone.

When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services.

Whatever it takes. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill.

I would imagine that he did this from his heart, to do something meaningful with his life, not as a Machiavellian plan to rule the world. Indeed, at Partners in Health, his partner, Paul Farmer, basked in the PR limelight while he seemed to be working quietly in the background for more than fifteen years. From Partners in Health, he went on to World Health Organization focusing on HIV/AIDS while teaching at Harvard Medical School. From here, he became President of Dartmouth College becoming the first Asian-American to assume the post of president at an Ivy League institution. And while this is prestigious position, there is a good possibility that he will become the next president of The World Bank.

Jim Kim, President Obama, The World Bank, Jim Yong Kim

Nice guys DO come in first, it would seem!

“Highly respected among global health experts, Dr. Kim is an anthropologist and a physician who co-founded the nonprofit Partners in Health and a former director of the department of H.I.V./AIDS at the World Health Organization.

“The leader of the World Bank should have a deep understanding of both the role that development plays in the world and the importance of creating conditions where assistance is no longer needed,” President Obama said Friday. “It’s time for a development professional to lead the world’s largest development agency.”

In a statement, Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary and an alumnus of Dartmouth, praised Dr. Kim, with whom he is friendly: “Development is his lifetime commitment and it is his passion. And in a world with so much potential to improve living standards, we have a unique opportunity to harness that passion and experience at the helm of the World Bank.”

The White House had scrutinized Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts; Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Obama economic adviser; and Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador for the United Nations, for the World Bank job.

But all three might make good candidates for high-ranking administration positions in the event that President Obama won a second term. Moreover, President Obama wanted to name a development expert, particularly one with experience aiding the world’s poorest. That led the White House to select Dr. Kim.” New York Times


I suppose that it’s fair to say that perhaps these opportunities, while hard won and deserved, perhaps were not available to Asian Americans even a decade or two ago. Maybe the world has changed significantly when Obama, as the  first African American president was elected. What do you think? Or perhaps is the path less traveled a road that Asian Americans should be exploring more than ever? Do your parents agree? What do they attribute Jim Yong Kim’s success to?



Linsanity: Give ESPN Writer His Job Back for Chink in the Armor Fervor

Chink in the Armor, Anthony Federico, ex ESPN writer, image from Obsessed With Sports

Thank you to Taylor Zhou for giving me this link about Jeremy Lin graciously lunching with ex-ESPN writer Anthony Federico, 28, who was terminated after writing the incendiary headline, “Chink in the Armor.” It speaks volumes.

  • Federico was amazed and touched that Lin would make time in his insanely busy schedule to have lunch with him as his request. I just love Jeremy Lin more and more!
  • It was an honest mistake. Chink in the Armor IS a common term, after all, and he did not realize Chink had a racial slur connotation.
  • They bonded. They talked about their shared Christian faith and Lin’s knee injury.
  • Lin forgave.

I suspected the ESPN writer’s derogatory headline was not intentional. Because, seriously, when was the last time you were called a Chink? I’m half Chinese and half Japanese and I got called a Jap once in Junior High School 35 years ago when we studied WWII history.

And in college 30 years ago while visiting Copley Plaza to research a paper on the architecture of McMead, Kim and White and H. H. Richardson, two black kids yelled out some remark to me and my then boyfriend that included Chink. He’s from Queens, NY, so it didn’t phase him at all. The boys were junior high school age, and I was, like, “WHAT did you call me?!!!”  Chink is like “Oriental”; it’s just not commonly used anymore. There is prejudice still, to be sure, but it’s more insidious and subtle.

In the case of young writer, Anthony Federico, though, Chink was an honest mistake. He had no idea. He’s too young to have Chink in his vernacular. Can’t we just forgive and forget? Please give him his job back. If you agree, please fill out this poll.

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