Revolutionary Artist, Musician and Radical Activist Fred Ho Dies at 56

Photo Credit: Asia Pacific Forum
Photo Credit: Asia Pacific Forum

Fred Ho, born Fred Wei-Han Houn, was a revolutionary musician and composer best known for fusing African American and Asian American musical and cultural elements to create revolutionary music as social activism. A self-taught musician who played the baritone saxophone, Ho was inspired by the Black Arts Movement and the Black Power Movement of the 1960’s to create the Afro Asian Music Ensemble, a cohort of Asian American musicians exploring new hybrid forms of jazz (a term that he himself rejected as a byproduct of White appropriation of Black music). Throughout his career, Ho composed several modern operas that infused political thought into music, including his first work “A Chinaman’s Chance”, “Journey to the West”, “Journey Beyond the West: The New Adventures of Monkey”, and “Warrior Sisters: The New Adventures of African and Asian Womyn Warriors”.

As a social activist, Ho dedicated himself to activism at the age of 16, and identified as a radical Asian American activist, feminist and “revolutionary yellow nationalist”. He briefly joined the Black Panther Movement, the Nation of Islam, and I Wor Kuen, but is also well-known for his founding role in several Asian American organizations that still exist today, including the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) and the Asian American Arts Alliance.

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Nelson Mandela’s legacy is a call-to-action for social justice activists

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Nelson Mandela, former president and life-long fighter for racial equality in South Africa, has died at the age of 95.

Most of us young folks can’t fathom South African apartheid, although our parents might recall its American parallel: Jim Crow segregation. Most of us can’t imagine what it’s like to be forced — by legal and cultural practice — to live as a second-class “citizen” (South African Blacks were denied full citizenship during apartheid) in one’s own country, based entirely upon the colour of our skin. More importantly, we can’t conceptualize the courage it takes to see a social iniquity, to stand up, to fight back, to challenge that institution of oppression.

Nelson Mandela will, like a handful of other historical figures, always be remembered as a man who did just that. He stood up. He fought back. He challenged his country to be better than it was, even when it cost him personal freedom and earned him international revulsion for it.

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State-wide manhunt for ex-LAPD cop who murdered Monica Quan, daughter of first Asian American LAPD captain

Monica Quan, 28, was an assistant basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton.
Monica Quan, 28, was an assistant basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton.

This past Sunday, Monica Quan, 28, and her fiancee, Keith Lawrence, 27, were brutally gunned down while they were sitting in their car in front of their condo. Here is Quan’s biography from California State Fullerton’s website:

Monica Quan enters her second season at Cal State Fullerton as an assistant coach under Marcia Foster in 2012-13.

Last season, Quan helped guide the Titans to an 11-19 overall record, a two game improvement from a year ago. Under her leadership, Fullerton also reached the Big West Tournament for an 11th consecutive season. Before coming to CSUF Quan served as a lead assistant for Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. She helped lead the Regals to a combined 33-18 overall record over her two seasons and a 19-9 mark in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, including a 19-7 overall record and a third-place conference finish in 2009-10. The win total and finish was the highest for Cal Lutheran since 2005-06.

Quan’s playing career began at Big West Conference rival Long Beach State, where she spent two seasons with the 49ers from 2003-05 before transferring to Concordia University in Irvine, CA. There, she wrapped up her career with a strong senior season, averaging 6.1 points and 1.6 rebounds per game while finishing second on the team with 77 assists.

She was a four-year letter winner at Walnut High School, earning All-CIF, All-Baseline League, and all-region honors during her prep career. A member of the Walnut High School Hall of Fame, Quan set school records for most three-pointers during a season (59) and a game (7) while averaging 15 points, six assists, three steals, and two rebounds as a senior.

The daughter of Sylvia and Randal, Quan graduated from Concordia in 2007 with a degree in exercise and sport science and completed her master’s in 2009.

Since Sunday night, Quan’s alleged killer, U.S. Navy reservist and former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, has implicated himself in a rambling manifesto sent to news media.

Chris Dorner, alleged killer of three, has been eluding police for the last several days.
Chris Dorner, alleged killer of three, has been eluding police for the last several days.

Dorner wrote that he targeted Quan because her father, Randal Quan, represented Dorner in front of a review board to appeal his dismissal from the police force; Dorner alleges that Quan did not competently or fairly represent him.

Randal Quan was the LAPD’s first Asian American police captain and served more than 25 years in the police force after receiving a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Cal State Los Angeles and a juris doctorate from Southwest University of Law. After his subsequent retirement from the LAPD, he served as police chief at Cal Poly Pomona before focusing on law, which led him to represent Dorner in front of the LAPD review board.

Randal Quan was appointed Cal Poly Pomona's police chief in 2002.
Randal Quan is pictured above in the photo accompanying announcement of his appointment as Cal Poly Pomona’s police chief in 2002.

In Dorner’s 11-page manifesto, Dorner lists Quan as one of several police officers (and their families) that he plans to specifically target. However, Dorner (rather ironically, given his tirade against the racism he allegedly faced as an LAPD officer) also uses racial classifications to characterize all police officers into groups of “high value targets”. He writes:

I am here to change and make policy. The culture of LAPD versus the community and honest/good officers needs to and will change. I am here to correct and calibrate your morale compasses to true north.

Those Caucasian officers who join South Bureau divisions (77th,SW,SE, an Harbor) with the sole intent to victimize minorities who are uneducated, and unaware of criminal law, civil law, and civil rights. You prefer the South bureau because a use of force/deadly force is likely and the individual you use UOF on will likely not report it. You are a high value target.

Those Black officers in supervisory ranks and pay grades who stay in south bureau (even though you live in the valley or OC) for the sole intent of getting retribution toward subordinate caucasians officers for the pain and hostile work environment their elders inflicted on you as probationers (P-1?s) and novice P-2’s. You are a high value target. You perpetuated the cycle of racism in the department as well. You breed a new generation of bigoted caucasian officer when you belittle them and treat them unfairly.

Those Hispanic officers who victimize their own ethnicity because they are new immigrants to this country and are unaware of their civil rights. You call them wetbacks to their face and demean them in front of fellow officers of different ethnicities so that you will receive some sort of acceptance from your colleagues. I’m not impressed. Most likely, your parents or grandparents were immigrants at one time, but you have forgotten that. You are a high value target.

Those lesbian officers in supervising positions who go to work, day in day out, with the sole intent of attempting to prove your misandrist authority (not feminism) to degrade male officers. You are a high value target.

Those Asian officers who stand by and observe everything I previously mentioned other officers participate in on a daily basis but you say nothing, stand for nothing and protect nothing. Why? Because of your usual saying, ” I……don’t like conflict”. You are a high value target as well.

Those of you who “go along to get along” have no backbone and destroy the foundation of courage. You are the enablers of those who are guilty of misconduct. You are just as guilty as those who break the code of ethics and oath you swore.

Many in the blogosphere have condemned Dorner for his actions, while others have quietly agreed with Dorner’s accusations of ethical violations and misconduct against the LAPD. Personally, I see no way to rationalize the actions of a man who resorts to brutal killing to make a point. I don’t plan on making any conclusions about Dorner and his actions until all the facts are in, but there is nothing that justifies cold-blooded murder.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Quan family, and the family of the other victims. This post will be updated as news comes in.

Update: The burnt out wreckage of Dorner’s truck was found in a secluded mountainous region near Big Bear Lake. Search teams are now focusing on that area.

RIP Janet Liang

Just found out that Janet Liang, the brave young woman whose battle with leukemia  inspired my own registration in the national bone marrow donor registry, has died. After spending the last several years searching for a perfect bone marrow donor match, and helping to register countless new bone marrow donors, Janet received a partial match transplant last week.

Although I only knew Janet through her online persona, Janet was an inspiration. She faced her cancer with courage and optimism, and funneled her energy to register countless folks in the national bone marrow registry, Be The Match. Recently, she received the Spirit of Hope award from A3M.

Janet, we may not have known one another, but I have been indelibly touched by your incredible spirit. You were a beautiful person, inside and out, and the world seems that much greyer without you.

Thank you, Janet, for inspiring us with your courage.

For those of you who haven’t yet, please register to be a bone marrow donor at Be The Match. Bone marrow matches correlate strongly with shared racial identity between donor and recipient, and yet Asian Americans and other minorities remain profoundly underrepresented in the national donor registry. The registration process is simple, painless, convenient and free — and could one day save the life of someone with cancer.

Also, I’m going to take this moment to highlight a great Canadian non-profit organization whose name is oddly appropriate today: Fuck Cancer.