My journey as an undocumented immigrant

I’m on the right making the grumpy face. I was five, on a family road trip with my cousins around the island of Taiwan. (Photo credit: Yin Yin Chan)

By Guest Contributor: Yin Yin Chan (@yinychan)

My daughter, Mia, has another year in preschool, and her father and I are assessing our best options for her educational future. The original plan was to raise her in Taiwan before she reached kindergarten age when we would move back to America for grade school. Although I was born in British Hong Kong, Taiwan is my mother’s native country and where I had lived from ages two to seven.

We had hoped for Mia to develop an understanding of her family’s background by directly immersing her in our ancestral language and culture. But after two years in Taipei, we shortened our plans and created new roots in Los Angeles when Mia turned three. As it turned out, adapting to the Taiwanese culture, climate and language was just too challenging for us as Asian-Americans.

We chose Los Angeles for its vastly diverse spread of people and neighborhoods with access to top schools, museums, and cultural centers. The resources the city offer falls inline with our aspirations of providing Mia with the best education we can afford.

Being an American-born citizen with Asian-American parents, Mia moved back to the US with relative ease. This was in great contrast with my own experience moving from Taiwan to America; I was seven years old when my parents and I came to the US as undocumented immigrants, a status that would shape the rest of my life.

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Asian Americans poised to pick up seats in Congress after 2018 Midterm Election; but it could have been more

Republican Young Kim, who is the first Korean American woman elected to Congress. (Photo Credit: Thomas McKinless/CQ)

Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this post, it has become clear that Young Kim’s race has not yet been called due to a number of outstanding ballots still to be counted; however she leads by a 5-point margin in her race. This post will be updated if the outcome of her election changes.

The dust settled on Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 with a consequential power shift for Democrats: the House of Representatives flipped to a substantial Democratic majority after Democratic candidates were able to unseat or overcome Republican opponents in several states across the nation; and Democrats also picked up 7 governorships, rendering the new gubernatorial balance of power a near-even split with Republicans.

Tuesday night saw the election of several historic firsts, including the first Native women to be elected to Congress, the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress, and the election of the first openly-gay state governor.

The Asian American community also saw its own historic firsts. Just shy of the number of Asian Americans or Pacific Islander (AAPI) candidates who competed for a congressional or gubernatorial seat in 2016, 26 AAPI candidates were vying in a federal or gubernatorial race on Tuesday night. All AAPIs running as incumbents, including thirteen members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) were re-elected — most by sweeping margins. In particular, Hawaii’s Senator Mazie Hirono — who has dominated headlines recently for her fiery commentary during the Kavanaugh hearings — won more than 70% of the votes in her district, which serve as a clear mandate for more prominent feminist rhetoric on the Hill after more than a year of headlines dominated by the erosion of women’s rights.

In California’s 39th District which represents California’s northern Orange County — a county that is 21% Asian American — Republican Young Kim became the first Korean American woman elected to Congress. The Asian American community is also poised to potentially pick up two other seats in Congress: Democrat Andy Kim leads by a narrow margin for New Jersey’s 3rd District, and Kim has declared himself the winner over Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur. Meanwhile, in Texas, Gina Ortiz Jones trails by less than 700 votes behind Republican incumbent Will Hurd to represent the 23rd District. Texas has unofficially called the election for Hurd, but Ortiz Jones — who, if elected, would be the first Filipinx American woman to serve in Congress — is likely to demand a recount.
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Did you know what a microaggression was when you were a young Asian girl? Because these kids do

An image of the opening credits of Radical Cram School, featuring comedian and performance artist Kristina Wong.

By Guest Contributor: Hanako Narter

In an episode of the new web series Radical Cram School, an 8-year-old Asian American girl named Liberty recounts how a blonde classmate told her she shouldn’t be Tinkerbell in a school play because she looked nothing like the fictitious blonde fairy.

When I was a kid, I also made the bold Asian decision to be Tinkerbell for Halloween. I asked my parents to buy me a blonde wig and looked in the mirror in dismay at how my aggravatingly black hair kept showing under the radiant synthetic yellow. As with most cases of cultural appropriation, I looked stupid.

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Exploring Politics Within Politics With Community Organizer Tonia Bui

Tonia Bui, founder of Politics Within Politics and a community organizer in Montgomery County. (Photo credit: Tonia Bui)

By Reappropriate Intern: V. Huynh

Where are women of color in politics? Are they in the decision-making engines? In local city or county councils? On the Hill? Most importantly, are women of color represented in positions where we have actual impact? And if not, why not?

Tonia Bui, creator of Politics Within Politics, incites readers to confront these questions in approaching our own local and national politics. By recounting personal and anecdotal experiences that stem from her extensive career at the Capitol and her current work running a local campaign in Montgomery County, Maryland, as well as the stories of other local women of color, Tonia bravely defines what it means to be an Asian American woman within politics.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Tonia about the beginning of Politics Within Politics, the issues women of color experience in the political world, and Asian American feminism as a framework within politics. The following is a transcript of our conversation, edited for flow and clarity.

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Behind LA Chinatown’s Hip Food Scene: Baos, Coffee, and Gentrification

The interior of the restaurant J&K Hong Kong Cuisine. (Photo credit: F. Huynh)

By Guest Contributor: Frances Huynh

Read the first of this series: “The Gentrification of Los Angeles Chinatown: How Do We Talk About It?”

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A quietness lingers as we set up shop. Empty streets fill with the jostle of clothing racks. The multiple clicks of stoves turning on. The soft smack of noodle to plate. Doors open.

On the top floor of Far East Plaza stands 香港美食坊 (J&K Hong Kong Cuisine), a 茶餐廳 (cha chaan teng — a specific type of Hong-Kong style diner). Cantonese shows play on the television in the background, while seniors chat with friends and family at the tables all around. For many of Chinatown’s residents, it is one of a handful of go-to restaurants in the neighborhood for plates of Cantonese comfort food. Peter, a long-time resident, enjoys eating their 海鮮粥 (seafood congee) and 水餃 (dumplings). “很平 (It’s very inexpensive),” Lee Tai Tai, another resident, says. The restaurant is an important community space, providing Chinatown’s seniors an accessible place to hang out and to socialize with friends over dishes reminiscent of those found in the homelands they immigrated from. They also frequent other small shops, including New Dragon, Zen Mei Bistro, and Fortune Gourmet Kitchen, in addition to larger banquet-style restaurants such as CBS Seafood Restaurant, Regent Inn, Full House Seafood Restaurant, and Golden Dragon.

Every morning Monday to Friday, Julie, who has lived in Chinatown for over thirty years, joins about sixty other seniors to eat at Golden Dragon, a longstanding Cantonese restaurant commonly frequented by residents and visiting families. She enjoys eating the healthy meals provided by the “senior nutrition lunch” program held there.1St. Barnabas Senior Services is a non-profit organization that provides free nutritious meals to low-income adults 60 years and older at fourteen congregate meals sites including Golden Dragon. There is a suggested donation. Afterwards, she walks home to her apartment several blocks away and spends the rest of the day listening to the radio and watching Hong Kong dramas. When dinner time comes, she walks to one of several restaurants in the neighborhood to buy what she considers “fast food”: convenient Chinese takeout. By then, she notes, time just passes by.

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