‘Designated Survivor’ Recap: Season 1, Episode 1, ‘Pilot’

September 22, 2016
Photo Credit: ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg
Kal Penn, Kiefer Sutherland, and Natascha McElhone in ‘Designated Survivor.’ (Photo Credit: ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg)

By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@lakshmigandhi)

As with any recaps, please be wary of spoilers.

What would you do if you were an earnest civil servant who suddenly became President of the United States after a devastating terrorist attack?

If you’re Tom Kirkman — the Designated Survivor of the ABC show of the same name — you throw up. Repeatedly.

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Echoes of Pvt. Danny Chen: Fresh Focus on Military Hazing after Muslim Asian American’s Death

September 17, 2016
Raheel Siddiqui, in a photo provided by the Siddiqui family. (Photo credit: Siddiqui family)
Raheel Siddiqui, in a photo provided by the Siddiqui family. (Photo credit: Siddiqui family)

Raheel Siddiqui was just 20 years old when he first arrived at Parris Island, where the young Marine recruit faced his first days of training.  The young Pakistani American Muslim had been recruited by the Marines while he was a student at the University of Michigan, where he had studied robotics and engineering and dreamed of one day working for the FBI.

On March 18, 2016, only eleven days into his training, Raheel Siddiqui was dead from injuries sustained following a 40 foot fall off of an outside stairwell balcony. Siddiqui’s death was ruled a suicide after a witness said that Siddiqui had became faint and then had thrown himself from the outdoor balcony ledge.

But, Siddiqui’s death has since sparked a major inquiry into a culture of hazing at Parris Island where ethnic and homophobic slurs are the norm and that likely contributed to Siddiqui’s death. An investigation has revealed that only one day after arriving at Parris Island, Siddiqui threatened to commit suicide. When evaluated by mental health professionals, Siddiqui reported that he felt his drill instructor was abusive. However, he withdrew his threat of suicide and was returned to training. Roughly a week later, Siddiqui complained of feeling ill and asked to be allowed to see a doctor. Instead, his drill instructor punished him with grueling on-the-spot physical training. When Siddiqui collapsed from fatigue saying that his throat hurt, his instructor slapped him several times (which is against Marine regulations) immediately before Siddiqui leapt to his death.

Siddiqui’s story is not the first to raise questions about the (mis)treatment of soldiers and cadets of colour in the US military.

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Mark Wahlberg Ends Request for Pardon in Anti-Asian Assault Conviction

September 16, 2016
mark-wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg

Last week, actor Mark Wahlberg said in an interview at the Toronto Film Festival that he “regrets” filing a request in late 2014 to be pardoned for an assault conviction after he beat an elderly Vietnamese American man in 1988. I first reported about Wahlberg’s request in 2014, and that post quickly became one of the most shared posts in the blog’s history (crashing my server and necessitating a host migration; thanks Marky Mark!).

In that post, I described the details of the assault involving a teenaged Mark Wahlberg:

In 1988, Wahlberg was arrested and charged with attempted murder for attacking Vietnamese American Thanh Lam on April 8th of that year. According to the criminal complaint, Lam was unloading his car when Wahlberg approached him with a wooden club, called him a “Vietnam fucking shit”. He then smashed the middle-aged man in the head so severely he broke the stick in two. Wahlberg then fled with two friends when police appeared. A few blocks away from where Lam was assaulted, Walberg encountered Hoah Trinh, also Vietnamese American. Wahlberg approached Trinh and, after waiting for a police cruiser to pass, punched Trinh in the eye, permanently blinding him.

Police were able to detain Wahlberg later that night, at which point Wahlberg confessed to assaulting Lam saying, “you don’t have to let him identify me, I’ll tell you now that’s the mother-fucker who’s head I split open.” When Trinh identified Wahlberg as also having punched him in the eye, Wahlberg was arrested, at which point he reportedly let loose a string of racist anti-Asian slurs, including “gook” and “slant-eyed gooks”.

Initially charged with attempted murder, Wahlberg later plead guilty to assault and served forty-five days in jail stemming from the 1988 assault.

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Priyanka Chopra Has Some Interesting Views On Diversity. We Break Them Down.

September 15, 2016
Photo credit: ABC/Bob D'Amico
Photo credit: ABC/Bob D’Amico

By Guest Contributors: Lakshmi Gandhi (@lakshmigandhi) and Asha Sundararaman (@mixedtck)

We’re less than ten days away from the season two premiere on Quantico, which means that star Priyanka Chopra is currently making the interview rounds. As soon as I logged into Facebook Thursday morning, I discovered that many of my friends were sharing Refinery29’s splashy new profile of the 34-year-old star.

Unfortunately for Chopra, people weren’t posting about her stunning photos or their excitement over the return of the show. Instead, there was plenty of side-eye towards her views on diversity in Hollywood.

After reading the piece, I immediately reached out to my friend Asha Sundararaman, so that we could have one of our epic Gchat conversations breaking the piece down. An edited version of that conversation is below.

Lakshmi: Asha, what was your first thought once I sent you the new Priyanka profile?

Asha: That I wish Quantico were a better show!

Lakshmi: Don’t we all.

Asha: No actually, it was about the headline. When you say something like “I don’t want a label” (and yes, that might just have been the headline writer), you’re usually missing something fundamental about today’s global culture and the way it operates.

Lakshmi: Yes, I’m instantly wary of any celeb who tries to play that ‘don’t put me in a box’ game.

Asha: Definitely.

Lakshmi: Also, there’s the actual structure of the piece itself. We begin right with a reference to Hindu goddesses. “For eons, women have been told how to be or think or dress,” the quote reads. “I come from a part of the world where this debate is so heated, especially because we’re a country that has goddesses. We pray to women. But at the same time, we prey on them.”

She could have taken a moment to talk about the Indian feminists who have been working to change this. Or mention the current movement to police the way Muslim women dress in Europe and the outrage about that. Instead, we don’t get much.

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To Build a Name Brand of Chinese Americans

September 15, 2016
Pedestrians walk by a mural of the American flag in San Francisco’s Chinatown in February 2007. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Pedestrians walk by a mural of the American flag in San Francisco’s Chinatown in February 2007. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Editor’s Note: This post is an English-language translation of a Chinese-language essay that was widely circulated through predominantly Chinese-language social media outlets such as WeChat earlier this month. I had a chance to meet Steven at the inaugural U-C-A convention last week to discuss ways in which discourse may be improved across the political and generational divide within the Chinese American community. This essay reflects Steven’s thoughts on how Chinese Americans might shape our political future in America.

Download (.pdf): English | Chinese

By Guest Contributor: Steven Chen

This article is dedicated to the first United Chinese Americans convention which was held at Washington, D.C. on September 8th, 2016. During the convention, Chinese Americans from all over the cou­ntry gathered to lay out a road map for the future success of Chinese Americans. I wish for the success of the convention.

More than a hundred years ago, people from China came across the Pacific Ocean to America to escape from wars, famine, and poverty. For a very long time, Chinese Americans were discriminated against and treated unfairly. Yet, through the unremitting efforts of many generations, we have achieved remarkable success here in America.

We were hard laborers working in abandoned gold mines, now we are entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley;

We were coolies building the Transcontinental Railroad, now we are the engineers building information highways;

We were illiterates, now we are university professors and Nobel laureates;

We didn’t have the right to testify in courts, now we are lawyers and judges;

We didn’t have the right to vote; now we are Congress members, Presidential Cabinet members, and Governors;

We were stereotyped as degraded, exotic, dangerous, and perpetual foreigners; now we are highly educated, high-income model citizens.

The successes we have achieved today were due to the progress of American society and, more importantly, the hard work of all Chinese Americans in building up a good Chinese brand over the years.

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