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Ultimate Cage Fight: Panda Dad Alan Paul Faces off Against Tiger Mom Amy Chua

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It’s sheer narcissism to believe that your child’s every success and failure is a reflection of your worth. Get over yourself.

Panda Dad

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What is the alternate to the Tiger Mom? Panda Dad offers his perspective. Amen to Panda Dad; you are preaching to the choir!!

“During our first weeks in Beijing, we attended a talent show at our children’s British school and watched Chinese students ascend the stage and play Chopin etudes and Beethoven symphonies, while their Western counterparts ambled up and proudly played the ABCs under their flapping arms. It was enough to make anyone pause and ponder the way we are raising our kids.

But time in China also taught me that while some here view a Chinese education as the gold standard, many there are questioning the system, noting that it stifles creativity and innovation, two things the nation sorely needs. Further, having seen it in action, I have a strong aversion to hard-driving “Tiger” parenting, certain that is not a superior method if your goals are my goals: to raise independent, competent, confident adults.

Living in a Beijing housing compound, I watched Western and African kids running through the streets in roving packs of fun-seekers while their Chinese friends looked dolefully out the window in the midst of long hours spent practicing violin, piano or character-writing. When they were done, they unwound by picking up video game consoles. It looked like a sad, lonesome way to grow up and nothing I would ever prescribe to my children. And of course it’s not the only style of Chinese parenting.  I saw plenty of kids smashing these same stereotypes.

It also seems insane to cast an eye around the upper-middle-class American milieu Ms. Chua is discussing and conclude that the problem is that our child-rearing is too laid back.  The shallowness of this concept will be obvious to anyone who has ever stalked a suburban soccer sideline or listened to New York parents prep their 18-month-old for nursery school interviews. God help us all if Ms. Chua’s books convinces these same people that they simply have not been trying hard enough.”

Alan Paul is the author of “Big in China, My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues and Becoming a Star in Beijing” (Harper). It is based on his award-winning column The Expat Life. Read an excerpt, here.

Smart Parenting, Smarter Children, the parenting book Alan Paul recommends.

p.s. He gets a strong reaction to his perspective and rebuts here.

p.p.s. Here’s my post on Tiger Mom.

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.


Tiger Mom Amy Chua: Is She in a Race to Nowhere? (or I.Q. without Emotional Intelligence = Tweaky)

Amy Chua Tiger Mom parenting failure emotional intelligence IQ I.Q. JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club Pragmatic Mom PragmaticMom Celebrating Asian American Creativity Education MattersI had posted on my parenting blog, PragmaticMom: Education Matters, about A Race to Nowhere and on my reaction to Amy Chua/TigerMom/Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, when I realized that these two hot buttons are actually very similar. Amy Chua’s extreme parenting style, a.k.a. Tiger Mom, is a result of her own lack of emotional intelligence and self actualization; deficiencies that are products of a parenting style that stresses obedience, perfection and hard work without being able to make choices, learn from mistakes, or figure out who you are vis á vis relationships with friends. But what is perplexing and disturbing to me is that she would want to replicate this parenting style for her own children. I mean, really, is there not an iota of rebellion in her?! That is strange, right?!

When I discussed Tiger Mom parenting with my mom friends including Capability:Mom, we all were shocked that Amy Chua would NOT realize she’d get a strong and negative reaction to her book (i.e. death threats). It seems as if she didn’t get any feedback from her mom friends to soften the harsh edges of her messages. That is also strange to me and would indicate that maybe she doesn’t have a Mom Friend network to bounce her ideas off of. Her inability to communicate the nuances of her message (i.e. I am NOT a psycho mom) is very telling about her own emotional intelligence. There is book smart and people smart. She’s just book smart.

In the excerpt below, I was also surprised to find that, in fact, a law career does not fill her heart with joy and that she seems to have gone on this career path for reasons that do not include passion, interest and self-fulfillment. And yet, she would dictate to her own children the pursuits they were to devote their childhood to, at least until one of her children had the backbone to rebel against her. The gene for rebellion appears to be recessive in her family DNA.

I guess my takeaway is to encourage self actualization. Yes, it’s true that Asian parents all want their children to be “resumé” impressive, but the path to career fulfillment is through self actualization, a process that requires trial and error, with emphasis on the error. But it is well worth it.

They say, after all, “if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life.” Amy Chua has been unhappily slogging since she was born. And that is a Race to Nowhere.


From New York Magazine

“If something seems unfair at school, just prove yourself by working twice as hard and being twice as good.”

In the book, Chua portrays her distaste for corporate law, which she practiced before going into academe. “My entire three years at the firm, I always felt like I was playacting, ridiculous in my suit,” she writes. This malaise extended even earlier, to her time as a student. “I didn’t care about the rights of criminals the way others did, and I froze whenever a professor called on me. I also wasn’t naturally skeptical and questioning; I just wanted to write down everything the professor said and memorize it.”

At the AASA gathering at Yale, Chua made the connection between her upbringing and her adult dissatisfaction. “My parents didn’t sit around talking about politics and philosophy at the dinner table,” she told the students. Even after she had escaped from corporate law and made it onto a law faculty, “I was kind of lost. I just didn’t feel the passion.” Eventually, she made a name for herself as the author of popular books about foreign policy and became an award-winning teacher. But it’s plain that she was no better prepared for legal scholarship than she had been for corporate law. “It took me a long, long time,” she said. “And I went through lots and lots of rejection.” She recalled her extended search for an academic post, in which she was “just not able to do a good interview, just not able to present myself well.”

In other words, Battle Hymn provides all the material needed to refute the very cultural polemic for which it was made to stand. Chua’s Chinese education had gotten her through an elite schooling, but it left her unprepared for the real world. She does not hide any of this. She had set out, she explained, to write a memoir that was “defiantly self-incriminating”—and the result was a messy jumble of conflicting impulses, part provocation, part self-critique. Western readers rode roughshod over this paradox and made of Chua a kind of Asian minstrel figure. But more than anything else, Battle Hymn is a very American project—one no traditional Chinese person would think to undertake. “Even if you hate the book,” Chua pointed out, “the one thing it is not is meek.”

“The loudest duck gets shot” is a Chinese proverb. “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is a Japanese one. Its Western correlative: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Chua had told her story and been hammered down. Yet here she was, fresh from her hammering, completely unbowed.

There is something salutary in that proud defiance. And though the debate she sparked about Asian-American life has been of questionable value, we will need more people with the same kind of defiance, willing to push themselves into the spotlight and to make some noise, to beat people up, to seduce women, to make mistakes, to become entrepreneurs, to stop doggedly pursuing official paper emblems attesting to their worthiness, to stop thinking those scraps of paper will secure anyone’s happiness, and to dare to be interesting.

To view any book at Amazon, please click on image of book.


Eyes, Eyes, Eyes Plastic Surgery… Racial Self Hatred or Globalization Image of Beauty? And Asian Trophy Wives. Two Sides of the Coin?

du juan asian image of beauty and plastic surgery jadeluckclub jade luck clubWhy is a pretty face a Western one for this 12-year-old Korean girl? Is this the result of globalization for Asians in China and Korea? Apparently plastic surgery for girls to look more Caucasian is quite common and accepted. Eyes, nose, teeth and even  snipping a muscle under the tongue for toddlers so clearer enunciation is normal. Have the Tiger Moms in Asia gone amok?

What about Asian Americans? Is this racial self hatred? Are Asians the only ones who have defined beauty by a Caucasian standard? It seems not… Satoshi Kanazawa of Psychology Today wrote a post called, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” It was roundly condemned, his research methodology faulted,  and has since been removed from the site, but you can read it here. There is an interesting side note on his post: “Mr. Kanazawa has made a career out of explaining why Asians are biologically smarter, African-Americans are biologically inferior, and why nuking the middle east is a good idea. Rather than being confined to Stormfront, however, he’s given an article in Psychology Today.”

Black Women Ugly? Says Who? on  is a reaction to this article and the author took offense, naturally, but he sheds some light onto this whole idea of race self hatred/brain washing of a certain ideal of beauty:

“I question a methodology that asks random people to judge the attractiveness of other random people without taking into account the influence of background and culture. Without taking into account a Westernized standard of beauty that has not only haunted some black women into buying cream to bleach their skin but prompted some Asian-Americans to undergo surgery to make their eyes more European looking.

That’s not to say white skin or round eyes are necessarily unattractive. Rather, a system that declares one set of physical attributes as the standard to which a multiethnic society must adhere is destructive.”

There it is again … white skin  & round eyes = attractive.

The little girl below is on the CNN video here but the funny thing is that I didn’t even notice a difference in her appearance until I studied it very carefully.

asian girls plastic surgery for eyes to look western not asian jadeluckclub jade luck club racial self hatred

On the flip side, my husband sent me this article on Asian trophy wives. Nicknamed the Woody Allen effect, it seems that media barons are now getting in on the act of acquiring highly accomplished and beautiful Asian “Trophy Wives”:  “Rupert Murdoch walked down the aisle with fresh-faced Wendi Deng — 17 days after finalizing his divorce from his second wife. Then, CBS head Leslie Moonves wed TV news anchor Julie Chen; Oscar winner Nicolas Cage married half-his-age third wife Alice Kim; billionaire George Soros coupled up with violinist Jennifer Chun; and producer Brian Grazer courted concert pianist Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen. Add the nuptials of investment magnate Bruce Wasserstein to fourth wife Angela Chao and the pending vows between venture capitalist Vivi Nevo and Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang, and we’ve got a curious cultural ripple.”

What do you think of this whole notion of Asian beauty? And how do we change the definition of beauty into a multi cultural view? Is that even possible?

p.s. Here is a slow motion video of Wendi Deng protecting her husband from a shaving pie throwing assailant. Her fast reflexes as an ex-volleyball star came into play as she knocks it away. Some think she smacked the assailant, but even in slow mo, it’s hard to tell. Go Wendi! The video link is to the Wall Street Journal.

p.p.s. Asian super models at New York Fashion Week. The many faces (and eye shapes) of Asian beauty.

du juan asian image of beauty and plastic surgery jadeluckclub jade luck clubDu Juan, Chinese Super Model

Hye Park Korean Supermodel Asian definition of beauty plastic surgery eyes jadeluckclubHye Park, Korean Super Model

Ai Tominaga Japanese super model jadeluckclubAi Tomenaga, Japanese Super Model

Tao Okamoto Japanese super model asian definition of beauty jadeluckclub jade luck club celebrating asian american creativity empowering asian americansTao Okamoto, Japanese Super Model

Mey Bun Cambodian super model jade luck club jadeluckclubMey Bun, Cambodian Super Model

Ujiwala raut indian super model defining asian beauty plastic surgery for asian eyes jadeluckclubUjjwala Raut, Indian Super Model

Juliana Imai portuguese eurasian super model supermodel jadeluckclubJuliana Imai, Portuguese/Japanese Super Model

Anne Watanabe japanese super model jadeluckclubAnne Watanabe, Japanese Super Model


Tiger Children: Getting into College Even Harder Because Asian Kids are So Damn Qualified

asians and difficulty of getting into harvard ivy league top colleges jade luck club jadeluckclub Celebrating Asian American Creativity

Read up on the plethora of programs available from University of Phoenix online at

When I went to Harvard a million years ago, or in the late 1980’s, my incoming class was about 9% Asian. At the time, I believe the U.S. population was about 4% Asian. I vaguely remember thinking that Harvard, while stating that they wanted to duplicate ethnicity percentages along the lines of the general population, actually doubled the Asian population in my incoming class. But what I didn’t know was the percentage of Asians that applied. I still don’t know, but I suspect that the rejection rate as a race is higher than for other groups.

I did a little research and found this article in The Washington Post

“Chin said ‘Chinese and ALL Asian Americans are PENALIZED for their values on academic excellence by being required to have a HIGHER level of achievement, academic and non-academic, than any other demographic group, especially Whites, in order to be admitted to Harvard, the Ivies and the other Elites in this zero-sum game called admissions based on racial preferences.’

This may not be intended as a quota system, but Chin says it sure looks like one. He notes that in the 1980s some colleges, particularly Stanford and Brown, looked hard at their admissions decisions and discovered they were turning down many Asian American applicants while accepting white applicants with virtually the same characteristics.”

So what happens when admissions are color blind? The University of California system is a good example. Numbers from 2008:

  • U.C. Berkeley 43% Asian.
  • U.C.L.A. 40% Asian.
  • U.C. San Diego 50% Asian.
  • U.C. Irvine 54% Asian.

This provokes an argument for Affirmative Action for Caucasians in the U.C. system but what would happen if private colleges remove race as an admission criteria (which they would never do in a million years!)? Can you imagine the Ivy Leagues 50% Asian? But if you look at what happened at the U.C. system, arguably some of the best schools in the U.S. and maybe THE best schools judged by quality AND price, then it’s not a big leap to say that this could happen if elite private colleges ever decided to admit color blind.

This is the article that my friend sent me that started me down this train of thought … that while competitive public schools in N.Y. are color blind — the article is about Stuyvesant with its 72% Asian population — and how colleges (specifically elite private ones) have a way of correcting this imbalance. Reactions?!

p.s. Here are stats from the U.S. Census bureau on Asian Americans.


From New York Magazine, Paper Tigers

Entrance to Stuyvesant, one of the most competitive public high schools in the country, is determined solely by performance on a test: The top 3.7 percent of all New York City students who take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test hoping to go to Stuyvesant are accepted. There are no set-asides for the underprivileged or, conversely, for alumni or other privileged groups. There is no formula to encourage “diversity” or any nebulous concept of “well-­roundedness” or “character.” Here we have something like pure meritocracy. This is what it looks like: Asian-­Americans, who make up 12.6 percent of New York City, make up 72 percent of the high school.

This year, 569 Asian-Americans scored high enough to earn a slot at Stuyvesant, along with 179 whites, 13 Hispanics, and 12 blacks. Such dramatic overrepresentation, and what it may be read to imply about the intelligence of different groups of New Yorkers, has a way of making people uneasy. But intrinsic intelligence, of course, is precisely what Asians don’t believe in. They believe—and have ­proved—that the constant practice of test-taking will improve the scores of whoever commits to it. All throughout Flushing, as well as in Bayside, one can find “cram schools,” or storefront academies, that drill students in test preparation after school, on weekends, and during summer break. “Learning math is not about learning math,” an instructor at one called Ivy Prep was quoted in the New York Times as saying. “It’s about weightlifting. You are pumping the iron of math.” Mao puts it more specifically: “You learn quite simply to nail any standardized test you take.”

And so there is an additional concern accompanying the rise of the Tiger Children, one focused more on the narrowness of the educational experience a non-Asian child might receive in the company of fanatically preprofessional Asian students. Jenny Tsai, a student who was elected president of her class at the equally competitive New York public school Hunter College High School, remembers frequently hearing that “the school was becoming too Asian, that they would be the downfall of our school.” A couple of years ago, she revisited this issue in her senior thesis at Harvard, where she interviewed graduates of elite public schools and found that the white students regarded the Asians students with wariness. (She quotes a music teacher at Stuyvesant describing the dominance of Asians: “They were mediocre kids, but they got in because they were coached.”) In 2005, The Wall Street Journal reported on “white flight” from a high school in Cupertino, California, that began soon after the children of Asian software engineers had made the place so brutally competitive that a B average could place you in the bottom third of the class.

Colleges have a way of correcting for this imbalance: The Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade has calculated that an Asian applicant must, in practice, score 140 points higher on the SAT than a comparable white applicant to have the same chance of admission. This is obviously unfair to the many qualified Asian individuals who are punished for the success of others with similar faces. Upper-middle-class white kids, after all, have their own elite private schools, and their own private tutors, far more expensive than the cram schools, to help them game the education system.


So readers, here’s my question. When applying to private colleges when Asian, what happens if you DON’T check the box for race identification? Does it improve your chances? Do they check your box anyway when you appear for an interview? What if you are only partially Asian? Hmmm… things to research more deeply!! What do YOU think? Please share!!!


Asian Americans: By the Numbers According to U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau provided all of the information used in this report. Are Asians the “Model Minority?” And if so, why? Here are stats on income, sheer numbers and education. What is the takeaway? Education= Success + Power. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice. I don’t have stat for average income for Asian American but I do have this tidbit from Wikipedia: As of 2008, Asian Americans had the highest educational attainment level and median household income of any racial demographic in the country, and the highest median personal income overall. Here’s a few more stats I dug up:

  • 44.1 percent of Asians in the U.S. have a Bachelor’s degree or higher– almost twice the U.S. national rate of 24.4 percent. And Asian Indians in the U.S. have a rate nearly three times the national average: 63.9 percent have graduated from college. 16.
  • 45 percent of Asians in the U.S. work in management, professional, or related occupations – above the U.S. national rate of 34 percent. Once again, Asian Indians are even further ahead: 59.9 percent are in management, professional, or related occupations. 17.
  • $57,518 –Median household income for Asians in the U.S. – which was 117 percent of the median for non-Hispanic White households ($48,977).
  • $40,700 Median income for Asian men in the U.S. in 2000 – higher than the national median of $37,100. For Asian Indian men, the median income is even higher still: $51,900.
  • $31,000 Median income for Asian women in the U.S. in 2000 – higher than the national median of $27,200. For Asian Indian women, the median income is even higher still: $35,200. 20.


17.3 million

The estimated number of U.S. residents of Asian descent, according to the 2010 Census. This group comprised 5.6 percent of the total population. This count includes those who said they were both Asian alone (14.7 million) and Asian in combination with one or more additional races (2.6 million).

5.6 million

The Asian alone or in combination population in California; the state had the largest Asian population in the 2010 Census, followed by New York (1.6 million). In Hawaii, Asians made up the highest proportion of the total population (57 percent).*

46 percent

Percentage growth of the Asian alone or in combination population between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, which was more than any other major race group.**

3.8 million

Number of Asians of Chinese descent in the U.S. in 2009. Chinese-Americans were the largest Asian group, followed by Filipinos (3.2 million), Asian Indians (2.8 million), Vietnamese (1.7 million), Koreans (1.6 million) and Japanese (1.3 million). These estimates represent the number of people who reported a specific Asian group alone, and people who reported that Asian group in combination with one or more other Asian groups or races.



50 percent

The percentage of single-race Asians 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education. This compared with 28 percent for all Americans 25 and older.***

85 percent

The percentage of single-race Asians 25 and older who had at least a high school diploma. This is not statistically different from the percentage for the total population or the percentage of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander alone, 85 and 86 percent respectively.




How many more single-race Asians voted in the 2008 presidential election than in the 2004 election. All in all, 48 percent of Asians turned out to vote in 2008 — up 4 percentage points from 2004. A total of 3.4 million Asians voted.****


Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders

1.2 million

The number of U.S. residents who said they were Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, either alone or in combination with one or more additional races, according to the 2010 Census. This group comprised 0.4 percent of the total population. Over half of all people who identified as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander reported multiple races (56%).

Hawaii had the largest population of Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders among the alone or in combination population with 356,000, followed by California (286,000). In Hawaii, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders comprised the largest proportion (26 percent) of the total population.

40 percent

Percentage growth of the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination population between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.


Income, Poverty and Health Insurance


The median income of households headed by single-race Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.*****

15.1 percent

The poverty rate for those who classified themselves as single-race Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. This is not significantly different from the 2008 poverty rate.

17.3 percent

The percentage without health insurance for single-race Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.


* Did you notice this weird coincidence too? 5.6% of U.S. population is Asian and 5.6 million of Asian Americans live in California!

** Are Asians really out pacing the Latino population?! I wouldn’t have guessed that.

*** None of us are shocked, right? Can you say, “Tiger Mom?!”

****Voting is power people! Let’s get out there to vote!

*****I wonder what the median income is for households headed by Asian. And households headed by Asian with post graduate degree. Does anyone know that? Education is also power but we all know that from our Tiger parents.


The House of Suh: An Award Winning Movie of the True Story of an Asian American Dream Gone Terribly Awry…

House of Suh JadeLuckClubThe House of Suh: A Good Son is Committed for Life

Yoon Myung and Tai Sook Suh immigrated to America for a better life for their children, Andrew and Catherine. But their pursuit of happiness quickly became riddled with misfortune, culminating on September 25, 1993, when Andrew shot and killed his older sister’s fiancé of eight years, Robert O’Dubaine, at Catherine’s bidding.

Those closest to Andrew expressed shock and disbelief: how could a young man with a promising future allow himself to be convinced into committing murder? As the Suh’s complex history unfolds, issues of cultural assimilation, traditional values and justice are examined, raising questions of guilt, innocence and the illusive gray area in between.

Eric Hung from the 2010 San Diego Asian Film Festival says,” “The House of Suh” is by no means a one-sided film; Andrew is a complex person, and deserves to be portrayed as one.  I also do not doubt Andrew’s lawyer’s contentions that the prosecution misunderstood Andrew’s motives and that his 100-year sentence is substantially beyond the norm for this type of crime.  That said, I do wonder whether the film’s portrayal is a little too sympathetic.  One problem is that we never hear from Catherine Suh, who is portrayed as such a monster in the film.  This is unavoidable, as she did not cooperate or meet with the filmmakers.  Another problem is that Andrew, who even while admitting the heinous nature of his crime, seems to blame his actions almost exclusively on his heritage, specifically the idea of filial piety.  Is this really a convincing explanation for a murder in modern Korean or American society?”


Best Documentary/Audience Award at the Philadelphia Asian Film Festival.

Grand Jury Prize at the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

Directed by Iris K. Shim.

Originally from Chicago, IL, Iris K. Shim graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2004 with a B.A. in Psychology. After a year long stint in Los Angeles working on several films, including a documentary directed by Academy Award winner Jessica Yu, Iris returned to Chicago to produce and direct her first documentary short, OF KIN AND KIND, which tells the story of Andrew Suh, a man who, at the age of 19, was sentenced to a 100 year prison term for the shooting death of his older sister’s fiancé at her bidding. The film screened at the 2007 DisOrient Film Festival in Eugene, OR and the 2007 Chicago Underground Film Festival. THE HOUSE OF SUH is the full-length version of Of Kin and Kind and is Iris’ debut feature documentary.

Produced by Iris K. Shim, Gerry Kim and Joseph Lee.



Up Close and Personal with Asian American Artist, Arnold Chang


Arnold Chang Artist Fresh Ink Ten 10 Takes on Chinese Tradition JadeLuckClub Celebrating Asian American Creativity http://JadeLuckClubArnold Chang is the only American born and raised artist in the groundbreaking Museum of Fine Arts exhibit,  Fresh Ink: 10 Takes on Chinese Tradition. I posted on the exhibit here, asked him for an interview and he graciously agreed. But first, to put his achievements in perspective …

This is what Evan Garza of Time Out Boston had to say about the exhibit:

“The most exciting pairing in the show is Arnold Chang’s response to Jackson Pollock’s “Number 10” (1949). Laid flat, it’s seen the way a Chinese handscroll is traditionally viewed, and also the way Pollock famously worked on his canvases. Chinese ink painting is highly gestural, and Chang’s brushwork mirrors the abstract forms in Pollock’s work. The only Chinese-American in the exhibition, the New York-bred Chang felt it was more appropriate to respond to an American in the MFA collection. It’s a smart move on the artist’s part and a timely one for the museum.”

These side by side images are from Ellen Katz and you can view more at her blog File Under Fiber.
Left, a detail from Secluded Valley in the Cold Mountains, Arnold Chang, 2008.

Right, detail from Number 10, Jackson Pollock, 1949.

This take is from File under Fiber:

“Arnold Chang, a New York native, chose a work by another American, Jackson Pollock, but this juxtaposition is not as strange as it might initially appear. In traditional Chinese ink painting, each brush stroke records every incremental decision made by the artist. Similarly, Pollock created a paint diary, every drip a scribbled record of his choices in color and sequence, and of his every movement over the canvas.

The link between the two artists is further emphasized as Mr. Chang exhibits Mr. Pollock’s painting flat, in another one of those long horizontal cases, rather than hanging it vertically on the wall. The viewer sees it in the same orientation in which the painting was created, and this simple displacement was more affecting than the almost grandiose scale of some of the other works in the show.”


And now time to get up close and personal with Arnold Chang…

1) Tell me about your family and what it was like growing up? Where did you live? Siblings? What were your parents like?

I grew up in New York city, the youngest of three brothers. My father was Chinese and my mother Eurasian–her father was Chinese and her mother was Scottish. My maternal grandfather had studied in Scotland, which is where he met my grandmother, but after they got married he took her back to China. My father came to the US to study engineering at Cornell University. My mother and maternal grandmother left China just before the communist revolution in 1949. My Scottish grandmother never saw her husband again and spent the rest of her days with us in New York. My father worked as an engineer but didn’t enjoy it, so my parents opened an upscale Chinese restaurant that was quite successful. My father also opened a showroom that sold beautifully crafted Chinese furniture. The quality was very good but the price was too high for the market at the time. We grew up speaking English at home. My mom is completely bilingual but my grandmother didn’t speak Chinese (despite having lived in China for decades). I learned Chinese in college.

2) Have you always been artistic as a child? How did your parents feel about that? What profession did they want you to pursue?

I have always liked to draw. I remember sitting on the floor as a child, scribbling and doodling with crayons. In fact, when I think of my “true self” I remember what it felt like to be that child totally immersed in the process of drawing.

3) How did you find your way as an artist?

It took awhile. In New York there are specialized High Schools that you have to take a test to get into. I was accepted to both Music and Art and Bronx Science. I chose to go to Bronx Science because it had a better academic reputation. I went to college at the University of Colorado, originally as a studio art major, but I switched to East Asian Studies and Chinese language. I went to graduate school at UC Berkeley, specializing in Chinese art history. There was always a tension between wanting to do creative work, but also wanting to be practical. I have managed to find a good balance. I went into the business of Chinese art, establishing the Chinese painting department at Sotheby’s and later working in an Asian Art gallery. At the same time I was studying Chinese painting with the great master C. C. Wang (Wang Jiqian).

4) What advice would you give to children? (Are you married? Do you have children?) or to any child who wants to be an artist?

I have one son who is in the luxury car business. My advice is simple: find a career that you enjoy and it won’t feel like work. Also, surround yourself with good people and you will benefit from their vibes.

5) I noticed you received your MA at UC Berkeley in Fine Art. Where did you study as an undergrad and what did you study?

Actually, my MA is in Asian Studies, with a concentration in Art History. I have a BA in East Asian Studies and Chinese from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

6) Tell me about being selected for the MFA Fresh Ink Exhibit. What was that like?

It was a great honor to be selected as the only foreign-born Chinese artist. The irony is that although I was born and raised in the US, I received a more classical education in Chinese art than almost anyone of my generation in China. As you pointed out in your blog entry, my work is among the most “traditional” of all the featured works in the show. There is a beautiful catalogue for anyone who missed the show.

Fresh Ink: Ten Takes on Chinese Tradition. Currently around $30 at Amazon. Click on image to examine more closely.

7) What are goals and aspirations at this point in your career?

I have worked very hard to establish myself as an authentic, classically-trained, traditional painter of Chinese ink landscapes. There is nothing in my work to this point that has not evolved directly from the great works of the Chinese old masters. On the other hand, I am a thoroughly modern American who grew up during the tumultuous 60s and 70s. As I continue to create, I am encouraging myself to find a way to allow more and more of my American psyche to come through my work in a way that continues to honor the classical Chinese tradition I have spent so many decades mastering.

8) What is the significance of the “Fresh Ink” show for us art neophytes?

“Fresh Ink” was a particularly important show because it was the first time that a major museum organized an exhibition that specifically focussed on ink painting by contemporary artists, as well as exploring several ways in which contemporary Chinese artists are informed by the art of past masters. By exhibiting the old works alongside the new ones viewers were given an opportunity to see these connections in a very direct way. My choice of Jackson Pollock as a model was an attempt to coax modern audiences into recognizing the abstract qualities inherent to classical Chinese painting. It was also a way for me to integrate the American and Chinese sides of my identity.

To learn more about Arnold Chang, please click here.

p.s. I have another post on Arnold Chang here.


“The landscape imagery of Arnold Chang  is not to be found on this earth, but the subtle beauty of his brushwork leaves one longing to visit such a place.”

Julia F. Andrews and Kuiyi Shen, A Century in Crisis


Should We Have the Freedom to Disparage Ourselves as a Race? I think so! But no one else can!

The Slants should they be allowed to trademark their name jadeluckclub celebrating Asian American Creativity and perserverance legal rights of Asian Americans and protecting freedom of speech

Today I launched my blog. It wasn’t really ready but I just sort of did it anyway. You know, living on the edge. Anyway, I opened my new gmail account and this is the first email I’ve received for my blog:


This is Simon Tam from Asian dance rock band, The Slants. I’m contacting you today because I am seeking help for our case with the U.S Trademark Office. I noticed you began following the band on Twitter, visited your website, and I think you could help make a difference in our fight.

One year ago, we filed to receive trademark protection for “The Slants.” As you might or might not know, we originally used this outdated racial slur as a point to inject pride into a common stereotype about the Asian American population. The band has had unbelievable unilateral support from the Asian Pacific American community, from major media sources to community organizations.

However, the Trademark Office rejected our claim. For the past year, we have been exhausting a significant portion of our resources in a fight with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office to earn the trademark. They claim that our name is disparaging to persons of Asian descent, citing wiki-sources such as and claiming that our efforts in citing dozens of the largest Asian American media figures and press, API festivals, written testimony from API community leaders, and showing other examples of API positively using the term was “laudable” but “not persuasive.”

Not only is the US Trademark Office wrong on the law, but they’re striping away rights from minority groups to have the ability to make their own decisions as to what is appropriate to our communities. By denying The Slants the rights associated with federal trademark registration, the U.S. Government is, in effect, making decisions about how members of a cultural group can define themselves. This is our chance to make history.

I would like to ask if you would be gracious enough to help with us with this case by writing a letter of support (I can send you the form, it only takes a few minutes to complete)? We’re currently enlisting individuals and organizations who are willing to support this fight. We have one final appeal with the Trademark Office and I’d like to use every possible resource for this filing. If you would be able to find the time to do this, we would be forever in your debt.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

Simon Tam

What do you think? Should we be allowed to disparage ourselves? I say vehemently YES! I was going to name my blog “Yellow” or, what was my other idea again?… oh yes, “Banana Split.” The url for Banana Split was taken.

Seriously, should The Slants be allowed to trademark their name?  Is this a case of racial discrimination? Who is the trademark office protecting anyway? The Slants from Asians? The Slants from name that brands poorly? If you think the trademark office is WRONG, please email Simon to help out. I think it’s our civic duty to rise up and defend our rights. During WWII, we were unable to get our voice heard and guess what happened? Yep, my mom and her family was forcibly removed from her home to be relocated as a perceived “threat.” This is no different folks. It’s a slippery slope to giving up our collective voice.

And check out The Slants. They are not half bad. In middle-age speak, it means my kids will love them!

p.s. And I am so impressed by how well Simon writes. It’s a clear, succinct, and well written letter. It would make his parents proud! It would be churlish to say no!



Vera Wang: Raised by a Tiger Mom but Doing It Her Way…

Vera Wang raised by Tiger Mom Harpers Bazaar interview JadeLuckClub Celebrating Asian American Creativity

Vera Wang was interviewed in Harper’s Bazaar recently and she revealed her Asian American childhood as never before. I had read about her in the past and knew that her mom hung out with Yves Saint Laurant and that she was a champion figure skater. I sorta knew that her father was a manufacturing mogul. And that An Wang, MIT entrepreneur of Wang Computers, is also a relative. But I didn’t realize that her mother was one of the original Tiger Moms.

One day I’d love to interview her for this blog (one can dream!) but for now, I have pulled some interesting quotes from the article about her childhood and how she became a designer. In a sense, is she not the definition of Asian creative success including being raised by a Tiger Mom? Still she managed to find her own way while not losing sight of who she is: down-to-earth, hardworking, disciplined and above all, a creative genius. I think she’s a great role model. How about you?

‘She is no stranger to impressive surroundings. She grew up the privileged daughter of a Chinese-born business tycoon and an elegant, worldly mother who regularly shopped the couture shows in Paris. “My mother was extremely controlled, sort of flawless. And I always tend to be a bit more hippie,” she says. “She was a Tiger Mother. … But she really tried to encourage me to be who I was.” Wang tries to be more hands-off with her own daughters, Josephine, 17, and Cecilia, 20. “I don’t live through my kids. But I do know what will happen in life, and I just want them well prepared.” Neither shows signs of wanting to follow in their mother’s footsteps, which is fine with her. “I’m sure they remember me as always exhausted.”

Wang has been rising at dawn and working around the clock since age eight, when she famously took up figure skating. While at college at Sarah Lawrence, her parents thought she would be a champion skater. “I was trying to manage school and training for the Olympics and ended up not doing well at either. That was a big lesson in my life,” she sighs. “My mother expected both.”

After graduating, Wang dedicated herself entirely to working her way up the fashion food chain. “It’s a calling. Like being a musician. I mean, the hours of practice, the loneliness, the dedication. It was a very obsessive job for me,” she explains. “My father didn’t get it,” she continues, remembering a time she had to turn down dinner with him even though he had flown into Paris just to see her while she was shooting with Arthur Elgort. “I’m in the middle of the Place de la Concorde, and I had a military jacket on with pins, tape, and clamps. I looked like a terrorist or something, and my father said, ‘Can’t you just comb your hair and put a dress on and come to dinner with me?’ I said no. And he said, ‘I don’t know why you want to do this,’ and I said, ‘I do.'”

In fact, it was her own wedding that launched her bridal brand. In 1989, Wang was working as a design director at Ralph Lauren. Frustrated with racks of the requisite meringues and sugary confections at shops everywhere, she wanted a modern antidote. So she hired a dressmaker to achieve her own design–a simple gown of white sequins. The next year, with funding from her father, she launched her eponymous label to fill the niche for brides seeking similarly chic looks. “I saw it as a foundation for a business I could make a difference in and as something that could lead to other businesses,” she says.

Wang never got a “vote of approval or a ‘hurrah for you’ or any of that” from her beloved father, who died in 2006 on the morning of her Spring 2007 show. It might be why she never allows herself to rest on her laurels. “If I were to say at any point that I feel really con?dent or really in control, that would be a mistake. Because I don’t,” she says. “I always see where I didn’t do things the right way. I only see the heavy lifting. That’s a bit of my wisdom, if you want to call it that. … I think what it really is, is that I have an artistic soul. And I didn’t know how to live without indulging that.”‘


Best Asian American Children’s Authors & Illustrators

Asian American Children's Young Adult Book Award JadeLuckClub PragmaticMom Pragmatic Mom Asian American Tiger MomThere is the Pura Belpre Award, established in 1996, and presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

And the Coretta Scott King Book Awards which honor new African American authors and illustrators with less than three published works.

Don’t forget the Africana Awards which honors outstanding authors and illustrators of children’s books about Africa published in the United States.

One more:  the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award which honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience.


There are plenty of children’s book awards for multicultural children’s books, but where is the one for Asian American’s Children’s Literature honoring best Asian American children’s books? That’s right, there isn’t one. YET …


I’m partial to [Put Your Name Here] Asian American Children’s and Young Adult Book Award which honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Asian American experience. Do you want to name this award? Let’s talk! It really isn’t so hard to do, right? First you need the $ sponsor. Some legal stuff to set up a non-profit and put the money into a trust. Then define the award and categories– I’d let the name sponsor have a big say. Next would be creating a committee to set up rules, regs and procedures, and pick the first judging committee.  A fancy logo would be nice.  Get the publishers on board to send the books to the judges. Fire it up, pick some winners, have a fancy award dinner, and communicate it. It could even be for a specific nationality, like best Chinese children’s books!


And who should win it? I’d put my money on one of these authors (assuming that we can go back in time to make our awards if the award must be given during year the book was first published). I think these are some of the best authors that are either Asian American OR depict Asian American themes or characters in Children’s and Young Adult Literature.

And I know I am missing a lot of good books out there. I’m new to Young Adult lit.

Please help me add more candidates. What are your favorite authors or books in this new-you-and-I-are-creating Asian American Children’s or YA Literature genre? Please share in comments section. And pick your winner!

Mitsumasa Anno

 To examine or purchase any book, please click on image of book.

Sook Nyul Choi

Yansook Choi

Cynthia Kadohata

Rose Kent

Marie G. Lee

Grace Lin

Lenore Look

Bette Bao Lord

Jon Muth

Soyung Pak

Linda Sue Park

Mitali Perkins

Allen Say

Wendy Shang

Jordan Sonnenblick

Yoshiko Uchida

Rosemary Wells

Janet S. Wong

Gene Luen Yang

Taro Yashima

Lisa Yee


To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

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