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Quest Crew Compilation

My 9-year-old son insisted that I watch these amazing dancers that he admires and wants to eumulate. They won America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC)!

Quest Crew won Season Three. Memorable moments include: Air Flague,Tutting,The Backflip Push and much more!


What is it like to be Asian in America? Ask Alex Dang

Poet Alex Dang Answers What Kind of Asian Are You?

alex dang, asian american poet

Alex Dang is an aspiring poet from Portland, Oregon. He has four things in common with Hamlet: words, words, word, and an affinity for stabbing curtains.


Asian American Hip Hop Dancers on America’s Best Dance Crew: Jabbawockeez

Jabbawokeez America's Best Dance Crew Asian American best dancers Jade Luck Club JadeLuckClubJabbawockeez is Bay Area based Urban dance group formed initially by members Kevin ” KB” Brewer, Phil “Swagger Boy” Tayag, & Joe “Punkee” Larot under the name “3 Muskee”. They were the winners of season 1 of the showAmerica’s Best Dance Crew. Other members include Ben “B-Tek” Chung, Chris Gatdula & Phi Nugyen. Wikipedia

How do you think they compare to Kaba Modern and Instant Noodles, two other Asian Hip Hop groups who competed on America’s Best Dance Crew? Who are you voting for?

best Asian American dancers Jabbawokeez JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Jeff  Nguyen
Twenty-six-year-old Jeff “Phi” Nguyen was born in Phoenix, Arizona but moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue his dance profession.  He started dancing when he was 15-years-old.  He makes a living by being a dancer and a hip-hop instructor.  He also coaches in two dance conventions which travel around US cities during weekend.  Aside from dancing, he is also talented in playing the guitar.  His dancing idols are people from his personal life like his best friend Ryan and his own crew members .  God, family and friends are his sources of inspiration.  This guy is fun to be with.  He often goes around joking: “I like Vietnamese Pho! I’m a Virgo and like long walks on the beach! I’m single and ready to mingle! If you’d like, you can call me at 1-800-Vietnamese tease!”

Jeff Phi Nguyen Jabbawockeez America's Best Dance Crew JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Rynan Shawn Paguio
Rynan Shawn Paguio is a twenty-six-year-old from San Diego, California.  This professional dancer started break-dancing with his brothers and friends at the age of 11.  He was living in Murrieta then.  Aside from dancing, he also takes pleasure in singing and playing the guitar.  He names a number of dancing idols including Ken Swift, Crazy Legs, Stormy Mauritzo, Swif Rock, Flo-Master, Poe-One, Poppin Pete, Mr. Wiggles, Poppin Taco, Sugar Pop, Skeeter Rabbit and Gee-One.  But his sources of inspiration are down to 4: God, his family, Gary Kendell and his crew, Jabbawockeez.  Paguio is of Filipino descent and was married November 24, 2007.

Rynan Shawn Paguio Jabbawockeez JadeLuckClub best Asian American Dancers America's Best Dance Crew Jade Luck Club

Ben Chung
Twenty-six-year-old Ben “B-Tek” Chung hails from Mission Hills, California.  He started dancing when he was about to graduate from high school.  Chung is also an aficionado of Fight Night Round 3 on Xbox.  He pays his bills by teaching dance classes and by working as a performer in the industry.  For him, his dancing idols are his very own crew.  His source of inspiration is music.  The mixture of beats, lyrics and rhymes create special feelings and stir him to move.  This born-again Christian is proud to announce that in everything he does, the reason and motivation behind them is to glorify the One up above.

Ben Chung BTek Jabbawockeez JadeLuckClub

Kevin Brewer
Kevin Brewer is a thirty-one-year-old dancer from Sacramento, California.  He earns a living as an expert on MAC computers as he is an Apple Certified Technician.  Aside from being on the dance floor, he also enjoys producing music and being an emcee.  Brewer’s sources of inspiration are God, his family, Bruce Lee and his crew.  He also has a thing for Mexican food.  Brewer likes to inspire and be inspired.  Considering that life is fleeting, he takes pleasure in connecting with people and enjoying moments with individuals in his life.  He says he entered Dance Crew with an open mind and is excited to see how God will move him through the experience.

Kevin Brewer Keibee Jabbawockeez JadeLuckClub

Phil Tayag
Phil Tayag grew up as a garage dancer in Sacramento, California.  Aside from dancing, this twenty-three-year-old father of two is also talented in creating music.  He looks up to Gary Kendall, Michael Jackson and his crew as his dancing idols.  On the other hand, God, his family and life itself are the sources of encouragement and motivation for him.  In joining Dance Crew, he hopes that his crew Jabbawockeez would get an honest exposure that they deserve.  Asked on whom his favorite fellow crew member is, Tayag answers that he prefers no one because he sees everyone equally and treats them all as favorites.

Phil Tayag Jabbawokeez JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club best asian american dancers

Chris Gatdula
Chris Gatdula hails from Las Vegas, San Diego.  This 26-year-old Taurus graduated with a degree in New Media Emphasis, majoring in film and video production.  He regularly works as a dance instructor to pay for his daily financial needs.  Aside from dancing, he is also gifted in video editing and graphic designing.  His favorite sport is snowboarding.  To get inspired, he constantly reminds himself not to fall behind his crew and he always strives to keep up with them.  It is also important for him to stay on top of his game.  His dancing idols are his crew and Full Force.  He also admires the dancing skills of Gary Kendall.

Chris Gatdula Christyles Jabbawockeez JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Jabbawockeez is a finalist for MTV’s 2008 reality talent search Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew; where hip-hop dance groups from all over US compete for the prize money and for the opportunity to be given a touring contract.


How Asian Americans Are Portrayed in U.S. Media. Who Should Be the Next Asian Old Spice Guy?

Asian Americans Portrayal in Media TV Commercials JadeLuckClub Calgon Ancient Chinese Secret Laundry Service Dry CleanersThank you to children’s author of the excellent The Great Wall of Lucy Wu Wendy Shang for sending me this link. And yes, we both grew up “Asian Spotting” on TV because … there just weren’t many Asians on the small screen. We were never in ads of any kind and I remember what a big deal it was when Margaret Cho got a TV sitcom that lasted about two episodes.

“Growing up in the 1970s and ’80s, Jeff Yang, a New York-area marketing consultant, used to engage in “Asian-spotting” while watching TV and movies or looking at advertising. “If you saw an Asian in any role, it was remarkable,” he says. “Even if it was trivial or offensive, you felt that it was somehow better than being invisible.'” The Washington Post

And, I TOTALLY remember this ad:

“The few depictions of the 1960s and ’70s trafficked in gross stereotypes. In a famous early 1970s commercial for Calgon water softener, a laundry proprietor named Mr. Lee confided an “ancient Chinese secret” for cleaning shirts to a Caucasian customer. ” It actually didn’t bother me because there was FINALLY an Asian in a commercial without an thick accent.

Paul Farhi’s article asks a good question, “[Why] There’s no Asian American equivalent of the Old Spice guy, the hunky leading-man type played by an African American actor, Isaiah Mustafa. In fact, Asian American men rarely play romantic roles on TV or in American-made movies.” The article points out that there are basically two roles  for Asian Americans: techy and smart which is, I have to say, better than nerdy but still a small slice of who we really are.

“Even into the 1990s, marketers still depicted Asians as either martial arts experts or nerdy submissive types too shy to speak in public, Yang says.”

“‘When Asian Americans appear in advertising, they typically are presented as the technological experts — knowledgeable, savvy, perhaps mathematically adept or intellectually gifted. They’re most often shown in ads for business-oriented or technical products — smartphones, computers, pharmaceuticals, electronic gear of all kinds.”

And here’s the kicker:

Scholarly research shows that Asian American consumers accept the “model minority” advertising stereotype about themselves. In a study conducted last year, Yoo, the University of Texas researcher, showed panels of Asian Americans two sets of mock ads for mobile phones, the first featuring Caucasian models and the second with Asian models. Then, she repeated the experiment with ads for a “non-tech” product, cologne, alternating ads with Caucasian and Asian models.

Result: Asian American consumers were more favorably disposed toward the tech products when they were endorsed by the Asian models. They also liked the non-tech products more when they were endorsed by Caucasian models.

Yoo theorizes that this is a reflection of the “match up” theory: Asian American panelists have bought into the same cues and stereotypes as other Americans thanks to years of cultural exposure.”

In all fairness, the Best Buy Geek Squad ad below only depicts one Geek as Asian … among other ethnicities. I don’t think it’s offensive at all! What do you think of this ad and how Asian Americans are portrayed in general?

If there was an Asian American equivalent of the Old Spice Guy, who would you pick? My vote would be for Russel Wong.

Russel Wong Cute Hunky Asian American Actors JadeLuckClubRussel Wong

Philip Moon Hunky Asian American Actor JadeLuckclubPhilip Moon

John Cho Hunky Asian American Actors JadeLuckClubJohn Cho

Kal Penn Cute Asian American Actors JadeLuckClubKal Penn

Daniel Dae Kim Image cute hunky Asian American actors JadeLuckClubDaniel Dae Kim

Ken Leung actor cute asian actors JadeLuckClubKen Leung

B D Wong cute hunky handsome Asian American Actors JadeLuckClubB D Wong

James Kyson Lee hunky asian american actor JadeLuckClubJames Kyson Lee

Daniel Wu hunky handsome hot Asian American Actors JadeLuckclub next Asian Old Spice guyDaniel Wu


Best Fashion Bloggers Who Happen to be Asian UPDATED (and Kate Lanphear)

Nini Style Nini Nyugyn Nguyen best asian american fashion bloggers JadeLuckClub Jade Luck ClubI’ve been up way too late on many nights surfing the web and my indulgence lately has been fashion street style photo blogs. It started off innocently enough with being the last person on the planet to discover The Sartorialist. Then, I met his chic French girlfriend, another amazing fashion blogger, Garance Doré, and then it spiraled into checking out her blogroll. And then from those blogs, their blog rolls too. Along the way, I found that many of my favorite blogs were created by Asian Americans and my poster child for most amazing fashion blogger is Citizen Couture.

This is why he epitomizes, for me, the reason why I created this blog: to celebrate Asian American creativity and the path less taken! Here’s his story (and he tells it best himself):

Citizen Couture JadeLuckClub best fashion blogs Asian American best bloggers Jade Luck Club“My name is Jason Jean and I’m a former tax professional turned freelance photographer.* After several years in the public accounting industry while diagnosed with juvenile glaucoma and becoming partially blind, I decided to explore my creative side that was suppressed since childhood. I started shooting mid-2008 and fell in love with capturing style/fashion while connecting with various inspirational people throughout the world.”

*I can’t find him on LinkedIn but he worked at a Big 6 Accounting Firm and probably has a C.P.A or was well on his way towards one (I think you need to log something like 2000 hours of accounting at a Big Six firm).  There is also mention of him working at a Wall Street Investment Bank.


He came to this creative place by way of accounting while dealing with partial blindness and he takes the most gorgeous photo portraits. Amazing given that he gets about ten seconds to set up his shot!

So, to showcase these fashion bloggers, I am showing you shots that each of these bloggers took of another fashion discovery that I made while reading their blogs:  Style Star Kate Lanphear. She’s the Style Director at Elle Magazine and has legions of followers who love her elegant punk chic style. And, from what the bloggers say, she’s the nicest person ever. It’s interesting too, to see how each blogger captures Kate. You can get a real sense of their blogs from seeing their shots of the same person.

What is your favorite fashion blog?


Citizen Couture

Jason has insider fashion knowledge and has a “less is more” approach. His talent lies in creating portraits of the Fashionista Insiders and he is able to capture their personalities as well as their outfits.

Kate Lanphear on Citizen Couture Blog best Asian American bloggers fashion JadeLuckClubKate Lanphear Elle Magazine Citizen Couture JadeLuckClub Best of Fashion Blogs BloggersKate Lanphear Citizen Couture JadeLuckClub

Jac and Jil

Tommy Ton is the ultimate fashion insider. Not only does he have an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion (he can ID any item on the person he shoots) but he knows the editors, designers, models, and stylists. He has a distinct photo style and often captures a detail like the heel of an amazing shoe. I spotted some cool photos in Harper’s Bazaar the other day, and, of course, they were his.

Kate Lanphear Jac and Jil blog Tommy Ton JadeLuckClub best fashion blogs Asian American http://jakandjil.com Jak and Jil Kate Lanphear best asian american fashion bloggers JadeLuckClubKate Lanphear Jac and Jil best asian american bloggers JadeLuckClub Tommy TonKate Lanphear Punk Chic Elegant fashion Jac and Jill blog JadeLuckClub


I love this blog but it pretty much just features blogger Rumi Neely who looks like a model but is also a stylist and über blogger. Her boyfriend Colin takes the shots. This is my favorite one. I like the way she writes. Her posts come off as wryly self deprecating and intelligent. She also always looks great and is credited with creating the term, “shoe porn.” Yep, she loves shoes. The higher the better it seems!

Rumi is the “shoppiest” out of these outfits with an eye of a serious fashion curator shopping and mixing up both high and low. The combination stylist, model, and blogger is a powerful trifecta. Expect to see more of her in the media. She’s gonna be BIG! TV show? Her own line? The sky’s the limit for her.

FashionToast JadeLuckClub best asian american bloggers best fashion blogs“I feel like it’s so stupidly me to be posting about a sweater in the middle of summer but this is one of my absolute favorite purchases I’ve made lately. Isabel Marant’s knits this past season were so basic and perfect and I’m already zeroing in on a few pieces from her fall collection that look promising. I’m so inspired lately by almost normal to a fault but clothes that can be worn every day. Also making me happy: that someone with a brain (at a photo shoot for Japanese brand OZOC) finally got ahold of my bangs and cut them in a way that makes sense. THANK YOU.” Her post on 7/3/11


BryanBoy is a friend of Rumi Neely. It does seem to be a very, VERY small world in the land of fashion blogging. Their blogs are part of the same consortium NowManifest and his blog is the most versatile of these blogs. He has videos, lengthy interesting text as well as stunning photos. Alas, he didn’t post on Kate Lanphear either so I used this shot of him instead.

Bryan Boy fashion blogger JadeLuckClub Asian American best fashion blogs


StyleBubble by Suzy “Bubble” was nicknamed this moniker because she lived in her own fantasy fashion-y world as a child. She reminds of Anna Sui-meets-Cyndi Lauper if you gave this mash up a camera, a witty and intelligent voice that comes across in every post, and a bubbly personality. Her intelligence comes across as strongly as her love of fashion. She really, really, REALLY has fun dressing up every day; sometimes up to five outfits a day! She is less about shopping and spending as dressing-as-self-expression.

Suzy Bubble Style Bubble best fashion blogs JadeLuckClub Asian American bloggers best “It’s hard NOT to have a positive relationship with Acne.  They annoyingly don’t get many things wrong.  Lovely collections with lovely pieces that get worn until they start to shrivel up.  Lovely stores.  Lovely magazine.  Lovely shows.  Lovely events.  Lovely people.  You get the idea. ” StyleBubble, July 21, 2011.

You hear voice? Then add a Brit accent because she’s a Brit.

 Fashion is Poison

I found Lucrecia Chen by combing through Citizen Couture. Her blog is Fashion is Poison and she combines love of clothes with her battle with cancer. It’s a powerful and sobering combination.

Fashion is Poison Lucrecia Chen Best Fashion Bloggers Asian American JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Street Peepers

I’m not sure how Phil Oh does it, but he posts stylish people from all over the world. Philip Oh is now shooting for Vogue Magazine.

Street Peepes Phil Oh Phillip Oh Philip Oh Vogue Magazine Best Fashion Bloggers Asian Americans JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Nini Style

I’ve been following this blog for a while and I am always impressed with how meticulously turned out Nini Nguyen is. She’s gorgeous too! The only drawback to her blog is that she tends to wear couture designer labels so it’s not exactly what I would wear or need in real life. Still, it’s always fun to see what look she’s created. Fashion Porn!

Nini Style Nini Nyugyn Nguyen best asian american fashion bloggers JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Asian Models

Female Asian models have recently made strides in the high fashion world. Once just relegated to “check-off-the-diversity-box” category, Asian models have come into their own and now are gaining super model status. This is chronicled in Asian Models blog which tracks both male and female models and their work both in print and down the runway.

Asian Models best fashion bloggers Asian American rise of Asian models JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

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Embracing Failure: It’s the New Success

failure is the new success JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club Celebrating Asian American Creativity

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”

I’ve been thinking about failure since reading this excellent post on Embrace Failure on my favorite children’s literature blog, From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. As an entrepreneur, I embrace failure. It is the surest and quickest path to success. Why? It’s life’s best teacher. You never forget a failure. You learn from it, deeply and profoundly as in:  it keeps you up late a night, pondering, questioning, wondering. It provides options in the form of a nicely forking road. Do you get back in the saddle and try again, all the wiser? Or do you veer left, shimmy right, or duck down below? Failure makes you creative. If you are going to ram your head against the wall, the next time you will choose a nicely padded one.

“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”

Not everyone agrees of course. Most pointedly, failure is not an option in Tiger Parenting. “The Chinese parenting approach is weakest when it comes to failure; it just doesn’t tolerate that possibility. The Chinese model turns on achieving success. That’s how the virtuous circle of confidence, hard work, and more success is generated.” Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Suffice it to say that I don’t buy the Tiger Parenting Model and I don’t buy the idea of failure not being an option. If you eliminate options that can lead to failure, you have very few options left. Worse, your few choices become the path of least resistance.

“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”

Don’t believe me? Look at Amy Chua’s career. “I went to law school, mainly because I didn’t want to go to medical school.” “After graduating [from law school], I went to a Wall Street law firm because it was the path of least resistance.” “…I decided to write an epic novel. Unfortunately, I had no talent for writing…What’s more, Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, and Jung Chang all best me to it….At first, I was bitter and resentful, but then I got over it.” In fact, by (sort of) admitting her failings, her book became an international best seller. But in the form of her book, this is the most risk she’s taken in her life.

“The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.”

I think what is daunting about failure is the publicity around it. Knowing that people will know that you’ve failed. That they’ll whisper behind your back about what an epic failure you are. Even laugh. But here’s the trick. If you own your failure, nothing anyone can say will bother you. That’s the secret. It’s simple really.

“The only real failure in life is the failure to try.”

Of course, you will own the knowledge that comes from failure. This knowledge is hard fought and very valuable. Use each failure to build, brick by brick, your success in whatever form that may be. Because success is never one big idea, or one very talented person, or someone who is “lucky, at the right time and right place.” No. Emphatically no!  It’s like most things: lots of little things added up together such that the sum is greater than the parts. Only the brave can try this. Are you that courageous?

“Most successful men have not achieved their distinction by having some new talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand.”

Know a family with kids? Give them a FamZoo gift subscription and help the parents teach their kids good money habits.


CalTech Admissions: This is What a Meritocracy Looks Like (But It Ain’t Pretty for Everyone)

Caltech Meritocracy JadeLuckClub Asian American College Admissions Discrimination against Asians

Students of Asian descent often receive no boost in admissions, unlike blacks and Hispanics, although they are racial minorities.

In fact, admissions officers set the bar higher for these students. 

“Applicants to Caltech are clearly seen as representing only themselves and their own individual merit and achievement, not their race or their ethnic group.”

from American Civil Rights Blog, Caltech’s Meritocracy by La Shawn Barber

This was published on the American Civil Rights blog. For those who believe in Affirmative Action, take a look at Caltech who firmly rejects the idea of admissions as a vague and nebulous “catch up” game for some minority groups, while ignoring a negative impact on other minority groups. Affirmative Action is a party that Asian Americans don’t want to attend anymore. No thank you! There are very few colleges that buck the notion of Affirmative Action but Caltech is the gold standard for an admissions policy built around merit, judging each candidate as an individual. Using test scores. In fact, if you scored a 775 out of 800 on the math portion of the SAT, 75% percent of your Caltech classmates will have outscored you. This is what doesn’t matter: legacy, athletic ability, and ethnicity. Here’s what does matter: a passion and ability  for math and science.

How does this play out from an Affirmative Action perspective? The result is:  Asians 40%, Caucasians 39% , Hispanics 6%, Non-Hispanic Black, less than 1%. (Class of 2008 data listed below). See my other post on Affirmative Action Hurts Caucasians and Asians.

This is not to say that I think that this is the correct distribution of minorities NOR that this is the right system for all colleges and universities. In fact, I do NOT think that less than 1% Non-Hispanic Black is good for society or for diversity within a college. Nor is 6% Hispanic high enough.  CalTech is unique because it is a specialized math and science focused college that also can get funding from outside of its alumni base BECAUSE it is a prestigious math and science powerhouse. My point of this article is just to illustrate what a meritocracy looks like in its pure state and to show that the percentage of Asians is quite high.

For all the posts on Don’t Identify as Asian When You Apply to College, click here.

Caltech’s Meritocracy

by LA SHAWN BARBER on 12/23/2010

Princeton University’s Russell K. Nieli, author of the forthcoming book, Wounds that Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial Divide, revealed that students of Asian descent often receive no boost in admissions, unlike blacks and Hispanics, although they are racial minorities. In fact, admissions officers set the bar higher for these students. In a pure meritocratic sense, the practice is ill-conceived.

Wounds that Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial Divide by Russell K. Nieli

In a recent essay at Minding the Campus, Nieli writes that America’s elite colleges and universities capitulated to ridiculous demands during the 1960s and, among other things, lowered their standards. The California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, stands alone among the elite. By admitting students based on grades and scores and not on race, the school blows the rest out of the water. An excerpt (emphases added):

“What this means is that at Caltech, there are no dumb jocks, dumb legacies, or dumb affirmative action students. It is clear from its published statistics that the non-academic criteria that preoccupy admissions committees at all other elite universities count for little at this beacon of pure meritocracy. Perhaps the most striking difference from all other elite universities — including institutions like MIT and the University of Chicago which forgo athletic recruitment — is Caltech’s complete indifference to racial balancing. In a state and a region of the country with the largest Hispanic population, Caltech’s entering freshmen class in 2008 was less than 6 percent Hispanic (13 out of 236). The unwillingness to lower standards for a larger black representation is even more striking — less than 1 percent (2/236) of Caltech’s 2008 entering freshmen were listed as ‘non-Hispanic black.’ This ‘underrepresentation’ of blacks and Hispanics, of course, was more than made up for by the huge ‘overrepresentation’ of Asians. Only 4 percent of the U.S. population, Asians made up a whopping 40 percent of the incoming freshmen class in 2008, a slightly larger proportion than the 39 percent figure for whites. Applicants to Caltech are clearly seen as representing only themselves and their own individual merit and achievement, not their race or their ethnic group. As a professor at Caltech who has taught there for many years explained to me in an email, ‘We try, like our competitors, very, very hard to find, recruit, and nurture underrepresented minorities but we won’t bend our standards.’”

Let’s read these words again: “Applicants to Caltech are clearly seen as representing only themselves and their own individual merit and achievement, not their race or their ethnic group.”

“Applicants to Caltech are clearly seen as representing only themselves and their own individual merit and achievement, not their race or their ethnic group.”

Such should be the aspiration of every individual, regardless of race, ethnic background, or class. We should aspire to be assessed and judged based on our merit and achievement, with race playing absolutely no part in an admissions or hiring or contracting decision. In Caltech’s case, it matters little if only two blacks are admitted for a particular year. Those students know, without a doubt, their grades and scores got them in.

According to Nieli, Caltech doesn’t do legacy admissions, either.

“If you can’t meet the stellar performance requirements and show an intense love for science and mathematics, Caltech isn’t interested in you and will not lower its standards. When you apply to Caltech the admissions committee is interested only in your intellectual merit and passion for learning. It has little or no interest in your family heritage, your race, or your skill in slapping around a hockey puck.”

I don’t know about you, but those words sound like music to my ears. Oppressed people longed to be treated like this! Only when race plays no part in an admissions or hiring or contracting decision can individuals truly strive to excel, knowing their race or ethnicity will provide neither benefit nor detriment to their prospects.

This kind of “rugged individualism” scares some people. For others, it’s part of life’s joy. There are no guarantees of success, but the game is yours to lose. It’s very frustrating to me that people don’t see this and instead choose to believe the world is against them because of their race and rely on race-based government policy to prop them up.

To view Nieli’s book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.


Bangladesh: KidLit and Culture (Alpanas, Chholey recipe and more)

White Alpana Bangladesh JadeLuckClub Exploring Asia for Families kids children

We are exploring the country of Bangladesh, a country I knew so little about that I didn’t actually know how to spell it. Thank you spell checker!  I do have a friend from Japan who was born and raised in Bangladesh.  He speaks perfect English, Japanese, and Bengali, so clearly he’s among the elite of his countrymen.  My other Bengali experience is when I had the great pleasure of meeting author Mitali Perkins when she visited my 3rd grade girls’ book club (she does school visits also).  During the book club meeting, Mitali captivated the girls and boys (3rd Grade Boys Book club also attended) with stories about growing up in Bangladesh as well as the power of micro lending that is transforming the country today so I included a picture book on that as well.  The main character in her book, The Rickshaw Girl, is the best painter of alpanas in her village and this proves to be a transformative skill.

Personally, I find the alpanas stunning.  I hope they inspire the inner artist in you or your child.  Our book club activity was creating our own Alpanas by painting white designs on brown tag board and the results were incredible.  I wish I had saved my daughter’s!  In Bangladesh, women also create alpanas using colored spices and powdered rice and I’ve included some gorgeous examples below. Today, you will notice how the designs  in the alpanas are applied to things like jewelry. I’ve included the talented contemporary jewelry designer, aptly named Alpana Gujral, should you need holiday gift ideas.

Finally, my Coop Preschool Mom Friend gave me the recipe for my favorite Spicy Indian Chickpeas called Chholey.  And yes, I’ve made then and they are delicious but mine are never as good as my Mom Friend’s.  Some things just don’t translate!

map of bangladesh, http://pragmaticMOm.com, Teach Me Tuesday

The Books

micro lending, a basket of bangles, ginger howard, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

A Basket of Bangles by Ginger Howard and Cheryl Kirk Noll.  This picture book demonstrates the power of micro-lending and the huge impact it can have improving impoverished lives in Bangladesh.  The book is out of print but might be at your local public library.  This book would be great for grades 3-5 though, as a picture book, the writing and pictures would connect with a younger audience though the idea of poverty and micro financing might be to advanced for them. [picture book for ages 6-12]

Rickshaw Girl, Mitali Perkins, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom, Bengladesh,

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins. Naima is a ten-year-old girl, too young and the wrong sex to help her impoverished family with their family business of  pedaling a rickshaw.  Her father is ill and there isn’t much money for the medicine he needs so Naima tries to pedal the heavy rickshaw.  Disaster happens and the rickshaw, their family livelihood, is damaged.  Naima ultimately finds that she can use her talent as an artist, honed by creating the best alpanas in her village, to help create a better life for her family.  [chapter book, ages 8-12]

Brief History of Bangladesh

I knew so little of Bangladesh history that I searched online for information and found a useful but brief summary from Bengla2000.  I’ve further condensed it to four paragraphs but please go to the site if you want more information.  Who knew that Bengal was a wealthy and prosperous country during the 16th century but was decimated by a series of invaders including Turkistan, Great Britain, and Pakistan??!!

“Bangladesh came to today’s shape through a long history of political evolution. Bengal was probably the wealthiest part of the subcontinent up till the 16th century. The area’s early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. All of this was just a prelude to the unstoppable tide of Islam which washed over northern India at the end of the 12th century. Mohammed Bakhtiar Khalzhi from Turkistan captured Bengal in 1199 with only 20 men.

The decline of Mughal power led to greater provincial autonomy, heralding the rise of the independent dynasty of the nawabsof Bengal. Humble East India Company clerk Robert Clive ended up effectively ruling Bengal when one of the impetuousnawabs attacked the thriving British enclave in Calcutta and stuffed those unlucky enough not to escape in an underground cellar. Clive retook Calcutta a year later and the British Government replaced the East India Company following the Indian Mutiny in 1857.

Inequalities between the two regions i.e. East and West Pakistan soon stirred up a sense of Bengali nationalism that had not been reckoned with during the push for Muslim independence. When the Pakistan government declared that `Urdu and only Urdu’ would be the national language, the Bangla-speaking Bengalis decided it was time to assert their cultural identity. The drive to reinstate the Bangla language metamorphosed into a push for self-government and when the Awami League, a nationalistic party, won a majority in the 1971 national elections, the president of Pakistan, faced with this unacceptable result, postponed opening the National Assembly. Riots and strikes broke out in East Pakistan, the independent state of Bangladesh was unilaterally announced, and Pakistan sent troops to quell the rebellion.

The ruined and decimated new country experienced famine in 1973-74, followed by martial law, successive military coups and political assassinations. In 1979, Bangladesh began a short-lived experiment with democracy led by the overwhelmingly popular President Zia, who established good relationships with the West and the oil-rich Islamic countries. His assassination in 1981 ultimately returned the country to a military government that periodically made vague announcements that elections would be held `soon’. While these announcements were rapturously greeted by the local press as proof that Bangladesh was indeed a democracy, nothing came of them until 1991. That year the military dictator General Ershad was forced to resign by an unprecedented popular movement led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League.”


These stunning creations are made from ground rice and spices and are created by women or girls in celebration of the Hindu holiday, Diwali, the festival of lights (a.k.a. Dawali or Deepavli). We made alpanas for our book club meeting on the Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins.  Here’s what you need:

  • Some examples of alpanas for inspiration
  • Brown poster board or cardboard from a box
  • White poster paint
  • Paint brushes (thin ones are best)

We did not attempt the colored spice version.  You could try that if you are a brave soul, but that sounded awfully messy to me!  If I were to do that, I’d probably use stick glue or white glue with paint brushes and purchase ground spices at a discount store.  To create the designs, I would have the children create the first shape with the glue, sprinkle the the spice over the glue, and shake off the excess. Yes, it probably would create an epic mess!  Another idea is to let them draw them on paper using crayons, paint, oil, or chalk pastels.

Here are some gorgeous examples.  Isn’t is amazing how creativity is like a beacon that can brighten any environment, no matter how poor? And from such humble materials, something so visually stunning can be created?

Rangoli designs, alpanas, bengali, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic momrangoli designs, alpanas, rickshaw girl, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

Rangoli, Diwali, home decorations in India Bangladesh, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic MomRangoli, alpana, http://PragmaticMom.com Pragmatic Momalpana white, diwali, rickshaw girl activity for book club, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

Alpana Jewelry

Holidays are approaching so jewelry ideas might be appropriate here?!  I found a jewelry designer aptly named Alpana Gujral who has gorgeous stuff evocative of alpana patterns.  Here’s the link to her site and blog. I wish I had more images of her jewelry but they were impossible to hijack from her website.  If you go to her website, be sure to see her Necklace Sets and Bracelets.  They are going to be on my Christmas wish list!

Alpana Gujral jewelry, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic MomAlpana Jewelry, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

The Recipe

Spicy Indian Chickpeas (Chholey)

I love Indian food but my husband does not so I usually eat the kind out of pouches when I need a fix.  I am sorry that I don’t have a recipe that is specific to Bangladesh, but I learned from the history that culturally, that the cuisine is SPICY and resembles East Indian food.  Vegetarian curries such as Chholey are a staple.  For more information on Bangladeshi cuisine, click here.

2 cans chickpeas (or 2 cups dried chickpeas)

3 medium sized tomatoes

2 medium sized onions

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, sliced

3 cloves garlic

1 small stick of cinnamon

3-4 whole cloves

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric (powdered)

1 teaspoon coriander (powdered)

red chili powder to taste

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

Canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon Punjabi Chholey powder (online source: Shop Organic or make your own)

1) Soak the dried chickpeas overnight and boil them until tender OR used canned ones.  (I use canned).

2) Cut onions and tomatoes into big pieces (quartered).

3) Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok and heat it using medium high heat.  Add cloves, cinnamon, and cumin seeds.  As they sputter, add the onions. Cook onions until lightly brown in color, about 10 minutes.

4) Add ginger and garlic and saute for two minutes then add tomatoes and stir them until the juices are released.  Turn off heat and let the mixture cool down.

5) Use food processor or blender and pour in mixture from wok.  Process or blend until the mixture forms a paste.

6) Using the same wok at low heat and add another tablespoon of oil and heat it.  Add the paste to the oil.  Keep stirring until the sides of the paste is leaving oil.

7) Add powdered turmeric powder, powdered coriander, salt to taste, red chile powder, and Punjabi Chholey powder to the pan.  Stir for a minute then add the chickpeas.

8) Add a little water if the mixture is dry.

9) Add yogurt.

10) Simmer for 10 minutes.

11) Garnish with fresh cilantro if you wish.

12) Serve hot with rice or any kind of bread (Naan is nice!).

This freezes nicely.  From Kashmira, my Coop Preschool Mom Friend.

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Korean BBQ Family Recipe for Kalbi plus Momofuku’s Recipe

Celebrity Chef Bad Boy David Chang Momofuku Korean American Famous JadeLuckClub David Chang, America’s Favorite Bad Boy Celebrity Asian American Chef

Give this man his own cooking show! I love this guy even though he’s arrogant and bad ass! Actually, that is what I love about him. My husband bought me his cookbook and I read it like a novel but didn’t actually cook out of it. His story about how pig headed he is and was is part of his charm. You have to give the man credit for getting up again and again to make his restaurants succeed. Now, he’s the toast of the New York restaurant scene. Not bad!

My husband (just giving credit where it is due) suggested that I post on Asian restaurants. I love home cooking and my favorite magazine for that is Saveur which also has a great website if you don’t want to subscribe. I actually have years of this magazine carefully saved just because I love reading it and even, on occasion, cook from it. So this is my first recipe post. It’s my Korean mother-in-law’s recipe for Kalbi/Bulgogi marinade (and she’s an excellent cook) coupled with Momofuku’s version. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this and it’s perfect for a summer BBQ.

Momofuku Kalbi Marinated Hanger Steak

David Chang Momofuku Kalbi Marinated Hanger Steak JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club Bad Boy Chefs Celebrating Asian American Creativity
Hanger Steak:
2 c apple juice
1/2 c light soy sauce
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
5-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fresly ground black pepper
Four 8 oz hanger steaks1. Make the marinade: combine all of the ingredients in al arge freezer back and mix to combine. Add the steaks and marinate for 24 hours.
2. Grill for 6-10 minutes total for medium rare, let them rest for at least 5 minutes.
3. Cut against the grain.

For ssam: serve with rice on bibb lettuce with Maldon and sauces

Ginger Scallion Sauce:
2.5 c thinly sliced scallions (1-2 large bunches)
1/2 c finely mined peeled fresh ginger
1/4 c neutral oil
1.5 tsp light soy sauce
3/4 tsp sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp kosher salt or more to taste.

Momofuku David Chang best Korean Kalbi BBQ recipe for marinade JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club Celebrating Asian American Creativity

My  Korean Mother-in-Law’s Kalbi Marinade

1/2 cup soy sauce (we use Kikoman’s and the brand of soy sauce does make a difference!)

2 tablespoons of finely minced garlic (use fresh and not from a jar please! Mash garlic with flat of a knife and then mince finely)

1/4 cup finely minced green onions (also called scallions). My mother-in-law julienne’s each green onion (after washing carefully to remove dirt) into about 4 long lengths, then minces this finely.

1-2 tablespoons sesame seed oil (the Asian variety. It should be nut brown and smell fragrant)

2 tablespoons sugar (white granulated is fine)

3 pounds of beef

Kalbi BBQ recipe Momofuku JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

1) Wash beef strips, trim fat and dry.

2) Sprinkle sugar on beef — an additional 6 tablespoons and mix thoroughly.

3) Combine rest of marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the liquid from the beef in sugar.

4) Dip beef into marinade one at a time and lay in a pan.

5) Leave to marinade for an hour or more refrigerated.

6) Cook on a grill until done. Serve with rice.

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The Best Asian American Athletes Ever … Where Are They Now? (#4-6 of 26)

Vicki Manolo Draves Olympic Diver Best Asian American Athletes JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

I’ve never heard of Gold Medal Olympian Diver Vicki Manolo Draves, so it’s been an education for me to post on the Best Asian American Athletes Ever and to see what happens to them when they retire. I find their stories unique and fascinating starting from whence they came, to the barriers they broke down to achieve in their sport. Eugene Chung was the first Asian American to be drafted first round into the NFL, and Ron Darling uses his fame for both acting and doing good with his non-profit, Pitchin for A Good Cause. I hope you find these stories as inspiring as I do. Here are the next three; I am going alphabetically by last name.

p.s. The first 3 Asian American Athletes are here (Benny Agbayani/baseball, Michael Chang/tennis, and Amy Chow/gymnastics).

  • Eugene Chung, football

Eugene Yon Chung (born June 14, 1969 in Prince George’s County, Maryland) was a former American football offensive lineman in the National Football League from 1992 to 1997. He is currently the Assistant to the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

When the New England Patriots drafted him 13th overall out of Virginia Tech in the 1992 NFL Draft, Chung became the first Korean American player to be drafted in the first round of an NFL draft. He went on to play three seasons with New England. Chung was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1995 NFL Expansion Draft. He played one season with the Jaguars and one with the Indianapolis Colts before retiring. Wikipedia


Eugene had a strong work ethic early in his career.  “That was a big thing that Bob Herb instilled in all of us,” said Brent Newell, a 1988 Oakton graduate and fellow lineman alongside of Chung. “[Herb] was probably one of the first guys that stressed weight-training and offseason conditioning. [Eugene] was one of the disciples of that and that made him a Div. 1A player.”

Chung was selected for the Football Writers Association All-America team after his senior season at Virginia Tech. He was the first offensive lineman to win first-team All-America honors. He started every game at tackle for the Hokies in 1991 allowing just one sack in 730 plays. He was honored as the National Lineman of the Year by the Washington Gridiron Club. He played with the New England Patriots in the NFL from 1992-1994 before playing brief stints with Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Kansas City.

“Chung, whose mother died when he was young and whose father passed away days before the New England Patriots made him the 13th overall pick in the 1992 NFL draft (first Asian player to be selected in the first round), championed a defense that helped Oakton fight back from a winless streak that spanned over both the 1985 and in 1986 seasons.” Great Falls Connection

Eugene Chung Best Asian American Athlete JadeLuckClub

  • Ron Darling, baseball

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a Hawaiian-Chinese mother and French-Canadian father, Darling speaks fluent Chinese and French. After growing up in Millbury, Massachusetts, he attended St John’s High School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and later Yale University, managing a dual major in French and Southeast Asian history. He was set to graduate in December 1982, but was drafted in June 1981. He  was a  former right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the New York MetsOakland Athletics and Montreal Expos.

Since 2000, Darling has been active in television. He worked as a broadcaster for the A’s, had a FOX show called Baseball Today, and appeared on The Best Damn Sports Show Period. He also provided baseball analysis for the YES NetworkFox Sports Net and, in 2004, CSTV. (WikipediaDarling had small roles in the films Shallow Hal and The Day After Tomorrow. He also played himself in Mr. 3000. In 2007, Darling was a color analyst for TBS‘ coverage of the 2007 MLB playoffs. He was paired with play-by-play man Dick Stockton. As of 2008, he provides commentary for the network’s regular-season coverage, paired with Chip Caray. During the playoffs, he joined Caray’s other regular partner, Buck Martinez.

Because of their popularity as professional athletes, Darling along with Cohen and Hernandez created a website (www.pitchinforagoodcause.org), where the net profit from the merchandise sold by the website goes to charity; specifically, the Cobble Hill Health Center, Juvenile Diabetes Research Center, and The Danbury Women’s Center. His versatility as athlete, actor, sports newscaster, and philanthropist make Ron Darling a “Renaissance Man” role model.

Ron Darling Baseball Best Asian American Athlete JadeLuckClub Where are they now?

  • Vicki Manolo Draves, diving

Vicki Manolo Draves was an Olympic diver who won gold medals for the United States in both platform and springboard diving during the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. Victoria Manalo was born to a Filipino father and an English mother. Her parents met and married in San Francisco.

She couldn’t afford to take swimming lessons until she was 10 years old where it cost five cents admission to a pool in the Mission district. It was there that Manalo met diving coach Phil Patterson, who convinced Draves to try her luck as a diver and discovered that she was a natural. She graduated from high school in 1942 and took a temporary civil service job in the port surgeon’s office to add to her family’s meager income. With Patterson in the military during World War II, Victoria looked for a diving coach and met her future husband, Lyle Draves, whom she married in 1946.

Prior to competing in the 1948 Olympics, Draves won five United States diving championships. Draves turned professional after the Olympics, joining Larry Crosby’s “Rhapsody in Swimtime” aquatic show at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1948. She went on to appear in other shows and toured the U.S. and Europe with Buster Crabbe’s “Aqua Parade.” She was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1969.

In October 2006, a two-acre park in San Francisco was named Victoria Manalo Draves Park in her honor. Draves and her husband lived in Palm Springs, California until her death on April 11, 2010, aged 85, from pancreatic cancer aggravated by pneumonia.  Wikipedia

Vicki Manolo Draves Olympic Diver Best Asian American Athletes JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

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