In Memoriam: James Shigeta, 81, an Asian American pioneer in Hollywood

July 29, 2014


Yesterday, Hollywood Reporter broke the news that James Shigeta, one of Hollywood’s most prominent Asian American actors of the 1960′s, passed away at the age of 81.

Shigeta broke into Hollywood at a time when Asian Americans still represented less than 1% of America. This was a time in Hollywood when racial minorities were still virtually unseen in front of (or behind) the camera. The use of overt blackface and yellowface — although in its waning years — remained an acceptable aspect of film and television entertainment, in conjunction with damning stereotypes. Hollywood’s attitudes towards racial minorities reflected popular America’s general intolerance: Jim Crow segregation was still alive and well in the Deep South. The Civil Rights Movement was still building steam. Less than two decades prior, the US government had forcibly incarcerated Japanese Americans in American concentration camps.

This was the Hollywood — and the American cultural landscape — that James Shigeta courageously broke his way into.

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NEW EP: Reappropriate: The Podcast – Ep. 2 | “Thinking Man” Superhero Movies

July 29, 2014

I’m happy to announce Episode #2 of Reappropriate: The Podcast!

In this episode, guest Snoopy Jenkins (@SnoopyJenkins) and I explore the “Thinking Man” superhero movies, and delve into the kinds of themes that appeal to us as adult fans of geek culture. We touch on a number of movies including Man of SteelRobocopThe Matrix Trilogy and (of course) the Nolanverse Batman trilogy. I mention that the topic of this episode was inspired by my recent appearance on Flights, Tights and Movie Nights, a fandom podcast which you can find at the link provided and which is hosted by Bubbawheat (@bubbawheat).

You can view the podcast through YouTube, stream or download just the audio through the player below, or subscribe to Reappropriate: The Podcast through the iTunes Store.

NEXT EPISODE: On episode #3, I invite guest and fellow Asian American blogger Byron Wong (BigWOWO) on to tackle the question: “Should Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders support or oppose affirmative action in college admissions?That podcast will be recording on August 11 at 11pm at this link, so mark your calendars!

As always, we invite viewers to submit questions before or during the podcast recording. You can submit questions through Twitter (@reappropriate) or through Google Hangouts before or during the recording. This episode should be a fun and lively debate, and I strongly encourage you to tune in!

Listen to audio-only version of Episode #2 using the player below:

Maxine Hong Kingston to receive National Medal of Arts at White House today

July 28, 2014


Last week, the National Endowment of the Arts announced its 2013′s winners of the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honour for achievements in the arts. Among the list of 12 recipients are two Asian Americans — both women. In addition to Billie Tsien who is receiving an award for her contributions to architecture and arts education alongside her husband Tod Williams, an award will be given to acclaimed and pioneering Asian American author Maxine Hong Kingston.

73-year-old Kingston is renowned for her significant contributions to Asian American literature, particularly in providing an early feminist voice in the budding literary genre with her 1976 book The Woman Warrior. In that book, Kingston combined autobiographical reflections with a reinterpretation of traditional Chinese mythology to produce multiple perspectives through which she explored the identity of a first-generation  Chinese American woman. The Woman Warrior‘s unique blend of oral history with personal narrative defies genre, and has consequently become according to the Modern Language Association the most-taught text in modern university classrooms (according to Wikipedia).

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Hmong Story 40 Project is seeking your help to tell Hmong stories!

July 28, 2014


Over the weekend, Hmong Story 40 launched at a United Way in Fresno. Hmong Story 40 is a California state-wide project whose mission it is to collect and curate Hmong and Hmong American artifacts, documents, and oral histories related to Hmong migration from Asia to the United States, and to create an exhibit to showcase in a museum by 2015.

The project will be broken into four phases to document each step of the community’s migration: “Life in Laos”, “Laos & The Secret War”, “Thailand Refugee Camps” and “California”. In addition to histories, Hmong Story 40 is planning to add artistic components, including visual expressions of the Hmong experience and displays exploring Hmong and Hmong American fashion.

This project sounds both necessary and fascinating. The Hmong experience remains woefully under-explored and under-celebrated both within the AAPI community and the larger American cultural landscape. I really look forward to seeing this exhibit open next year. But, Hmong Story 40 needs your help for it to happen.

After the jump, check out a video, and the many ways you can participate:

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#AAPI groups OCA & JACL join other major civil rights orgs against net neutrality

July 26, 2014


The fight over net neutrality — which has been brewing for awhile — came to a head this year after a federal appeals court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order of 2010 in January of this year. The appeals court ruling essentially deregulated the nation’s industry of internet providers, but gave the FCC the option to write new regulations. Within weeks, the FCC had voted to open themselves up to a 4-month comment period, and then to develop new rules governing the internet.

These events have been seen by net neutrality advocates as a momentous opportunity to establish federal regulations over the distribution of the internet that ensures it is equally accessible to all users.

But, last week, the nation’s largest coalition of civil rights organizations — the National Minority Organizations collective — submitted a joint letter to the FCC in support of deregulation of major internet providers, and apparently against the option favoured by the net neutrality movement.

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