Tag Archives: Japanese

Tacit Asian American Quotas at Tufts and Other Colleges Revealed

Tufts University, Anti Asian American discrimination, Affirmative Action
A reader who teaches at Tufts University sent me this chain of emails that demonstrate the tacit exclusion of Asian Americans at their college. What do you think? Does this kind of subtle exclusion happen around you?
p.s. For more posts on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian American When Applying to College, please go here.
I just want to bring your attention to this event and am deeply disturbed by the fact that in their brochure for this event, the organizer mentioned this forum is (particularly for African-American, Hispanic/Latino and American/Indian/Alaska Native individuals), and not Asian Americans.  I remembered there is CABA and I think someone from that group should attend the event and alert the organizer regarding the situation – I just can’t believe they omit Asian Americans!!
The Event:
New England Science Symposium on Sunday 4/1 at the Josph B. Martin Conference/Harvard Medical School on 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
And the point of view from a professor at Tufts:
To share 2 cents of mine with you: Asian students consist of 12% of Tufts University population where I have been teaching since 1987 even though we have only 4.43% of population in the US and 5.3% in Massachusetts. So it is not surprising that Asian is not counted as minority in terms of academic activities. That does not mean we should give up. The Asian percentage dropped from 16% several years ago to about 12% now. We were concerned but can do little.

“A visit to the University of California’s most selective campuses shows how very well Asian-American kids do academically: While Asian Americans constituted 14 percent of the state population in 2008, this fall they made up about 40 percent of the freshman class at UCLA and 37 percent of the entering class at University of California, Berkeley.

But it’s not just in California, and it’s not just in college. The 2000 Census found that 44 percent of Asian Americans had a bachelor’s degree, compared with 26 percent of the white population. Their outsize presence in higher education — critics charge some universities with enforcing tacit Asian-American quotas — has made their success legend.

In the latest report of scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, standardized tests administered to U.S. elementary and secondary students, finds Asian-American students have overtaken white students’ scores in reading at the high school senior level. Asian Americans had already topped white scores at the fourth-grade level in 2007 and the eighth-grade level in 2009.

Of course, there are many ethnic subgroups of Asian Americans. So a word of statistical caution: Research on parenting practices has mostly focused on East Asians — Chinese, Japanese and Koreans. University of California and U.S. Census statistics, on the other hand, include many other smaller subgroups, such as Filipinos, South and Southeast Asians, Indonesians and Pacific Islanders.” By Kathy Seal

And the response back:


Hi Chien-Chi,

Thanks for forwarding us this info.  We should definitely contact the organizers and find out what their thinking is.  I won’t be surprised if they say that Asian Americans are not under-represented in this profession/area, hence justifying their particular solicitation of the rest of the minority groups.  It’s an opportunity for us to think about whether that’s still okay.  It’s a good time to have our own thoughts cleared and voice them – I’m referencing the public attention brought out from a few incidences related to Jeremy Lin.  It’s about time.




Best Asian Dolls for Asian American and Pacific Islander Little Girls

best asian doll for adopted asian chinese korean baby toddler jadeluckclub jade luck club asian doll familyI know I am too late for the December holidays … oops, that month was a blur! My girls were never that into dolls though we had our share of the American girls including the Asian American San Franciscan Julie. Still, it’s nice to know that there are a range of great Asian and Eurasian dolls at price points much below that of the American Girl Dolls. I’ve researched the best Asian dolls for children including doll families for doll houses.

In browsing all the doll choices at Amazon labeled Asian, I was struck by the multitude of Asian baby dolls for children. These did not exist when I was little. I wonder if this market niche will continue to grow as the Asian market overseas has more purchasing power? I was also surprised by the specificity of the dolls: Asian baby dolls with Down’s Syndrome (?!) and also Tipi from Laos. Interesting, huh? What do you think of all these choices? And, do your kids have a favorite Asian baby doll? Please share!


 To examine more closely or purchase, please click on ANY image of doll.


$42 (Asian doll with Down’s Syndrome)

$14 for the Asian Family, great for doll houses


$17 for entire extended family

$22 for a plastic Marvel family





$36 but she also teaches you to dress yourself

$25 Tipi is from Laos, interesting…

 $43 Barbie goes Geisha

$30 Barbie also goes to China

To examine more closely at Amazon or to purchase, please click on image of doll.



Top 10: Best Japanese American Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

best japanese american children's books kidlit pragmaticmom jadeluckclub jade luck club japanese american picture books best summer reading lists The story of Japanese immigration is also true for my own family history.  Changes in Japan during the Meiji Restoration from 1868 to 1912 wrought great changes in Japan as the country tried to modernize.  The old feudal system of titled landowners was abruptly stripped away, and the daimyo domains of titled landowners were turned into prefectures.   For those families including my own, they were forced to buy back their own lands as some of their lost lands included sacred family burial grounds.  To earn the money, large numbers of Japanese men found work in Hawaii in the pineapple and sugar cane plantations and from there, migrated to the mainland.

Following in the wake of the Chinese immigrants marked the Japanese immigrants as a part of that group, and resulted in a negative attitude towards the Japanese immigrants almost immediately and this negative attitude lasted for more than 50 years.  At war with Japan during WWII brought prejudice and fear of Japanese Americans to new heights and resulted in forced internment camps, a low point for American history.

Throughout it all, Japanese Americans perserved, pushing their children into lucrative careers in the sciences and trying to assimilate post WWII so that they would encounter less prejudice.  I think this is the reason for a relative dearth of well known Japanese-American children’s authors, which the  one exception being Cynthia Kadohata.  It was strange to me that many important Japanese stories were not told by Japanese Americans.  I tried, therefore, to focus my list on lesser known authors telling important stories.  I hope this list will inspire more authors in this genre!

For a brief history of Japanese immigration, please see this link:  http://library.thinkquest.org/20619/Japanese.html

Honorable Mentions

Umbrella by Taro Yashima

With Japanese words throughout, this is a sweet and gentle story of a little girl, Momo (peach in Japanese),  who is excited to use her new present of an umbrella and new rain boots. [picture book, ages 4-8]

The Inn-Keepers Apprentice by Allen Say

I tire a little of all the WWII internment story lines.  I do think it’s important, but there is more to the Japanese American experience that just that period of time. When I found this book at the library, I was surprised that Allen Say wrote middle grade fiction. I always thought of him as a picture book illustrator and author. I read the book, expecting not to like it and was pleasantly surprised to find that it kept my interest. First of all, though the book is set in post WWII Japan, the book focuses on a coming-of-age story of a middle grade boy who is unusual for many reasons.  His mother comes from a Samurai aristocratic background but married a Korean.  Then got divorced! That is very unusual for this time. And the boy is determined to apprentice with a famous cartoonist. I wondered if the story rang so true because it was Say’s own story. I finished the book, satisfied by a good read and then researched it.  Yes, it is his own story and what a fascinating person he is! [chapter book, ages 9-14]

The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida

I read this story a long time ago and remembered that it was a particularly sad story of internment that I couldn’t bring myself to read to my girls. The little Japanese girl is given a bracelet by her American friend that she brings to internment camp that gets lost.   [picture book, ages 8-12]

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

A story about post bombing Hiroshima where Sadako, who loves to run, becomes ill due to the radiation from the bomb.  It is believed in Japan that folding a thousand paper cranes brings girls good luckand good health.  [chapter book, ages 8-12]

[chapter book, ages 10-14]

An Illustrated History of Japan by Shigeo Nishimura

A gorgeously illustrated history of Japan.  It would be a great reference book, particularly to look through for the artwork.  Each period of history is briefly detailed.   [picture book, ages 8-12]

10. Suki’s Kimonoby Chieri Uegaki

Even though Suki’s sisters teaser her, she wears her beloved kimono (yukata) to the first day of school.  It was a gift from her obachan, grandmother, and she has especially fond memories of spending time at a (obon) street festival dancing with her.  But is it a good idea to look so different?  [picture book, ages 4-7]


9. Yoko’s Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells

Rosemary Well’s has incorporated traditional Japanese art themes into her luscious illustrations about Yoko communicating with her grandparents back in Japan.  A sweet and endearing story.  [picture book, ages 2-6]

8. A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai

A bi-lingual (Japanese/English) story about the author’s grandmother who was interned at Topaz and really did grow 8 foot sunflowers in the desert.  A stoic story about coping with internment.  This is the author’s first book.  [picture book, ages 7-11]


7. A Jar of Dreams by Yoshiko Uchida

11-year-old Rinko lives in Berkeley, California during the Great Depression and life isn’t easy, especially when you are Japanese American because she encounters prejudice almost daily. When her family opens a small laundry, their local competitor, a well known bigot and bully, threatens them.  Things change when her Aunt Waka comes to visit from Japan,  and she helps to convince them to chase their dreams, even if it seems improbable that they will be given the same opportunities as non-Asians.  Despite the prejudice that her family faces, Rinko learns to take pride in her Japanese self.

A Jar of Dreams is an accurate protrait of what life was like for Japanese immigrants pre- WWII, but it also details the determination, hard-work, and strong familial bonds that propelled them to succeed.  [chapter book, ages 10-14]


6. Tokyo Friends by Betty Reynolds

Katie is a young American girl living in modern-day Tokyo.  Spend time with Katie and her Japanese friends learning about Japanese culture, holidays and the Japanese language. And the story rhymes! [picture book, ages 2-12]

5. Tea With Milk by Alan Say

May’s parents return to Japan and it’s a tough adjustment for her to make.  She prefers her tea with milk and sugar but in Japan, she must drink green tea, go to high school all over again to learn to be a proper Japanese lady, and assume her Japanese name, Masako.  Finally, she rebels and  moves to Osaka where she gets a job and meets a man that prefers his tea with milk and sugar.  This is the love story of Alan Say’s parents. [picture book, ages 6-9]

4. Kira-Kiraby Cynthia Kadohata

This Newbery Award winning novel is a Japanese Grapes of Wrath story about the Takashima family as they move  from Iowa to Georgia in the 1950’s and work menial, grueling jobs at a non-unionized poultry farm.  The three kids, Lynn, Katie and Sammy,  manage to have fun and dream of better times ahead despite their difficult conditions until Lynn comes down with a fatal illness.  The book manages to portray life for post-WWII Japanese Americans  in an insightful and realistic way.  [chapter book, ages 10-14]

3. Weedflowerby Cynthia Kadohata

From Starred Review, School Library Journal. Grade 5-8–When Pearl Harbor is attacked, the lives of a Japanese-American girl and her family are thrown into chaos. Sumiko, 12, and her younger brother, Tak-Tak, live with their aunt and uncle, grandfather Jiichan, and adult cousins on a flower farm in Southern California. Though often busy with chores, Sumiko enjoys working with the blossoms, particularly stock, or weedflowers (fragrant plants grown in a field). In the difficult days that follow the bombing, the family members fear for their safety and destroy many of their belongings. Then Uncle and Jiichan are taken to a prison camp, and the others are eventually sent to an assembly center at a racetrack, where they live in a horse stable. When they’re moved to the Arizona desert, Sumiko misses the routine of her old life and struggles with despair. New friends help; she grows a garden with her neighbor and develops a tender relationship with a Mohave boy. She learns from him that the camp is on land taken from the Mohave reservation and finds that the tribe’s plight parallels that of the incarcerated Japanese Americans. Kadohata brings into play some complex issues, but they realistically dovetail with Sumiko’s growth from child to young woman. She is a sympathetic heroine, surrounded by well-crafted, fascinating people. The concise yet lyrical prose conveys her story in a compelling narrative that will resonate with a wide audience.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA .  [chapter book, ages 12-16]

2. So Far From the Sea by Eve Bunting

Laura Iwaski and her family visit her grandfather’s grave at the Manzanar War Relocation center where he died during internment.  Both her parents were relocated though at different camps.  Her father was a little boy when this happened and this marks the last time they will visit before moving to Boston.  Their final visit sums up the attitude of most Japanese-Americans who were forced to relocate:  a terrible thing that happened to them.   But , as the Dad says, “Sometimes in the end thre is no right or wrong.  It is just a thing that happened long years ago.  A thing that cannot be changed.”  [picture book, ages 8-12]

1. Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki

Ken Mochizuki’s were interned at Minidoka Internment camp in Idaho, and this is the story based on true events, of how they used baseball to cope.  The little boy in the story is small for his age, but perserves to become an excellent player.  The story continues post-internment and things are not better.  Luckily, the boy’s skill in baseball helps to bring everyone together.  This is the author’s first picture book. [picture book, ages 8-12]

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



Secret Asian Man Comic Strip & New Book by Tak Toyoshima

From Tak Toyoshima via Amazon: “After ten years of writing and illustrating Secret Asian Man, I’ve put together my first book of strips. Secret Asian Man: The Daily Days collects every single daily comic strip I produced for over two years of syndication with United Features. To say that I’m excited about this book is an understatement.

Secret Asian Man is a comic strip that focuses on what makes us the same as well as different, through the lens of Asian American protagonist Osamu “SAM” Takahashi. Between the covers of this 232 page collection, no one is safe from SAM’s keen observations on race, religion, politics, sexual orientation and everything else that gets people’s undies in a bunch.”


I have only just discovered Secret Asian Man (though it’s because I live under a rock and don’t get the newspaper). It seems that Secret Asian Man has been syndicated for years. I found this in Wikipedia:

Secret Asian Man is a syndicated comic strip written and drawn by Tak Toyoshima and published in Boston’s Weekly DigMetro Silicon ValleySan Jose Mercury NewsRedEyeNichi Bei TimesAsianWeekGeorgia Asian TimesThe Everett Herald, and on the internet.

The strip has appeared weekly since 1999 and covers the author’s biography and Asian American issuesSecret Asian Man often centers its discussion on what it means to be “Asian American,” as well as other race and ethnic-related issues. Toyoshima’s work is often hailed for its stereotype-breaking content[citation needed], although others have criticized it as doing the exact opposite. Its title is a pun/mondegreen referring to the song “Secret Agent Man” or the TV series Secret Agent Man. “Secret Asian Man” was picked up for syndication by United Feature Syndicate for its daily run, which ran from July 16, 2007 to September 19, 2009.

Have you been reading this comic strip and what do you think of it?

p.s. For those new to it, here is the cast of characters:

“All issues of Secret Asian Man feature Osamu “SAM (Secret Asian Man)” Takahashi, who is a Japanese American artist modeled after the author. SAM has three major friends: Richie, a white man; Charlie, a black man; and Grace Patterson, an East Asian American who was adopted by white parents. Along with them, SAM also has a cynical and sarcastic spiky-haired cousin named Simon. SAM’s wife Marie is Italian, and they have a son named Shintaro, and a newborn son, Bob.” from Wikipedia


Osamu “SAM” Takahashi is a father, an art director and a dreamer. Always a level-headed optimist, SAM always tries to see both sides of a story and is more interested in learning more about issues than proving that he’s right. Between work, family and hanging out with his friends, SAM is also an aspiring comic strip artist and hopes to someday share his work with the world.




Marie Campana is an editor for an educational publishing house.

She brings home plenty for her boys to read. Marie is also an avid comic book fan and suffers from acute zombiephobia. But if there’s a zombie movie on you can bet Marie is going to stop and watch the whole thing until the bitter, bloody end. Marie is SAM’s anchor and without her he would end up leaving for work without his pants on.



Shin Takahashi is SAM and Marie’s older son who is extremely bright, observant and isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions. Like the time he asked SAM if the black guy next to him tasted like chocolate. Shin excels at building spaceships with Legos and taking apart electronics and reassembling them to suit his own needs. He also has a knack for belting out Broadway show tunes.




Robert “Bobby” Takahashi is the new addition to the family. Bobby enjoys…well…shiny things. He’s still a baby, give him time. One thing is for sure, though, he loves his older brother Shin.




Charlie has been SAM’s best friend since grade school. Charlie is a consummate tinker of technology and someday hopes to finish his own personal Iron Man suit. Charlie also loves to invent infomercial-bound products and even had quite an adventure with his most successful product to date: Lunchkins – the lunch bag that’s a napkin.




Richie is the one white guy at the Million Man March. He is well-meaning and constantly trying to understand oppressed peoples and their struggles. Richie’s quest for political correctness often ends up offending those he’s trying to appease. He’ll order a burrito with his horrible Spanish and likes to wear a dashiki. Richie was also Shin’s pre-school teacher.




Simon is SAM’s hot-headed, college aged cousin. Simon is constantly scowling at the injustices perpetrated against his Asian American brothers and sisters. He’s quick to point out racist actions and will not hesitate to jump down your throat for questioning his causes. Not many people like Simon but, hey, he’s family so whaddya gonna do?



p.p.s. For those of you who like Asian American comic strips, check out Lillian Chan’s Empty Bamboo Girl here and here.


Secret Asian Man comic Strip Asian Americans JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club Joy Luck Club http://JadeLuckClub.com Celebrating Asian American Creativity best Asian comic strips

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


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.