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What would you like to see on The Blaaag? Tell us at theblaaag@gmail.com.

I am currently at New York City Asian American Student Conference (NYCAASC, aka "Nice Sak"), sitting in on a panel titled "Gender Expressions: Breaking the Binary" and taking poorly shot Photobooth pictures with my Macbook.

The description of the workshop:

Gender Expressions: Breaking the Binary

The popular idea that there are two distinct groupings of gender, with everyone falling neatly into one or the other, is simply nothing but a social construction. There is a broad middle ground that goes unaccounted, as every person is perceived to fall under one of two “checkboxes”. Not only does one’s speech and mannerisms influence this perception, but mere appearance is a sure instant telltale “sign” for classification: male or female. How does this affect APi/APi Americans? What are the tools that we need to strike down stereotypes? Why is this “clear-cut” mode of classification problematic for the APi community? Panelists ranging from various gender identities will lend perspectives in navigating the gender binary into more than just a spectrum and breaking down barriers set by society.

* Valerie Francisco (FiRE)
* Venancio Cabel (APiCHA)
* Calvin Sun (ECAASU)
* Shakthi Bhaskar (Columbia University)
* William Lee (betterasianman.com)

So far, there have been many awkward moments and hesitant conversation, but I think the speakers are getting into their groove. Though I was a bit turned off by William Lee's heteronormative introduction of himself. He describes his website as an Asian American Askmen.com, and says it teaches Asian American males how to get "tail" AKA women AKA OBJECTS. He focuses on what he means to be masculine and has introduced examples of masculinity, like "Denzel Washington". He says you can teach masculinity (which I am assuming involves sleeping with a lot of women and wearing a suit), as he was formerly an "effeminate heterosexual." Cracked out on insane energy drinks right now, I want to barf. His points reinforce the "gender binary" that we are trying to break down in this discussion. Fortunately, members of the audience and some panelists are keeping him in check. Granted, he admits his shortcomings and says he does not force his opinion upon anyone but rather "provides information." Still, I find this information a bit dangerous.

And gladly, we have a wonderful moderator, our own Blaaager and former NYCAASC Co-Directer, Marilla Li. I also have a soft spot for NYCAASC as I was a Columbia co-director with Marilla last year.

David, Katie, Sahil, sadness.

Oh shit, Valerie just knocked him down. I heard snaps from the audience.

Anyway, for more information about NYCAASC, visit the website here.

F My Life Post

So I came across this FML post. I was in a really weird mood; I swear that I usually don't spend time on moany, angsty-teen-ish sites like this.

Today, I saw an old Caucasian lady drop her purse. Out of kind intention, I ran to pick it up for her. She hit me with a wooden cane she was holding in her right hand. Multiple times. I gave her the purse back. She hit me again and said "Fuck You Yellow Rat," before she walked off. I'm Asian. FML.

What?! Yellow Rat? First of all, I don't even know where this racial slur came from. Second of all, it's instances like this that remind us how real racism still is. Despite its altered form in today's overly politically correct society, the underlying sentiments clearly have not changed. Granted, this woman is old and probably grew up in a very different world, so perhaps this particular instance is not such a grave indicator of the state of society today. Still, it makes me sad and angry. WTF? Get over yourself old lady; that "yellow rat" is probably paying your social security bills!

The Columbia East Asia Review (CEAR), a Columbia undergraduate
academic publication entering its third year, is looking for an
Editor-in-Chief for the 2009-2010 year! Please see below for more

The Columbia East Asia Review (CEAR) is an annual online and print,
peer-review academic journal dedicated to furthering knowledge of East
Asia through the promotion of research and interdisciplinary dialogue.
CEAR has three primary goals: first, to publish superior undergraduate
research of East Asia; second, to educate undergraduate contributors
and CEAR members about the academic publication process; and third, to
foster interest and idea exchange in the field of East Asian Studies.

In its second year, CEAR received over 100 submissions by
undergraduate students from three continents. In addition, its
substantial fundraising accomplishments allowed it to publish articles
online as well as in print. This year, CEAR was sponsored by more than
17 on-campus institutes and organizations. The Spring 2009 edition of
the Columbia East Asia Review will be launched on Friday, April 24,
2009 both in print and on our website, www.eastasiareview.org.

Position Opening: Editor-in-Chief, '09-‘10

- Coordinate the day-to-day operations of a fast-growing undergraduate
academic journal in its second year
- Manage the call for submissions, content selection, editing, and
final printing/publishing
- Lead a team of almost editors and technical staff
- Build a sustainable financial architecture for the journal
- Expand the publication’s publicity and reach through a campaign to
expand awareness of the journal at other universities across the

- The applicant must be a student of Columbia College, SEAS, Barnard,
or General Studies
- Interest in East Asian Studies and knowledge of the East Asian
Studies community at Columbia
- The energy and know-how to run a quickly growing undergraduate publication
- at least 2 years of journalistic/publication experience (leadership
experience preferred)
- Dedication to building a dynamic academic community of
undergraduates inclusive of all disciplines as they relate to East
- Attention to detail and strong leadership abilities
- Strong interpersonal written and oral communication skills

To apply, send a cover letter and resume to editor@eastasiareview.org
by 11:59 PM, Monday, April 20,
2009. For more information about the Columbia East Asia Review, please
visit our website at www.eastasiareview.org.

Cindy Luk and the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center asks for our support!

Her email:

Hey guys!

I volunteer at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in Chinatown as part of the literacy team. We're a student-led group that promotes early childhood development in New York City's Chinatown through literacy events, book distributions, and book clubs. Our work is especially important because the parents generally are not financially well off and speak very little English so we try to alleviate the disadvantages these children face.

GOOD NEWS! We just found out that our team was selected as one of the 10 finalists from over 100 project submissions in a contest called “Power in Numbers” sponsored by Mountain Dew. The contest awards $10,000 grants to student-led projects that give back to the community.

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! The team with the most votes will be awarded $10,000 for their cause. You can vote by going to www.energizeyourcommunity.com or checking out our facebook event at http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/event.php?eid=86448250733&ref=mf.. You may vote once a day until Wednesday, April 29th at 2:59 EST. It takes less than a minute and can really make a difference.

We are seeking 10,000 votes. That’s one dollar for every vote if you do the math. Statistics have demonstrated that children from low-income, vulnerable population families can hear as many as 20 million fewer words than their more affluent peers before the age of 4. Please help us as we work to bridge this gap.

Thanks for your support and REMEMBER TO VOTE!


In lieu of Kal Penn's new job, I wanted to point out that there is an awesomely substantial number of Asian American officials in the White House this term, whose faces we'll undoubtedly see (or not? The media is fickle) for the next four years:

  • Eugene Kang - Special Assistant to the President
  • Pete Rouse - Senior Advisor
  • Chris Lu - Senior Advisor
  • Eric Shinseki - Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  • Steven Chu - Secretary of Energy
  • Kal Penn - Associate Director of White House Office of Public Liaison
Read more about them at Asian Americans for Obama.

USCC Elections!
Tuesday, April 13th @ 9:15pm
Intercultural Resource Center (IRC) 552 W. 114th

All are welcome to come, vote, and/or run!

The United Students of Color Council (USCC) aims to act as a switchboard for students of color and student of color groups on campus. We advocate and program to: build community, foster collaboration, raise consciousness, create safe spaces and mobilize and empower students of color and student of color groups on campus.

Please come prepared to speak for no longer than 2 minutes about why you want to be on the USCC board, why you are best suited for the position, your vision for the coming year, etc. Feel free to reach out to uscc@columbia.edu with any questions/comments/concerns.

Elections are drop-down, in the following order:

Executive Co-Chairs (2)
-organize/facilitate meetings
-keep track of deadlines, send out reminders, step up/delegate responsibilities
-act as the default public voice for USCC
-meet with OMA advisors on a regular basis

Political Co-Chairs (2)
-organize Making the Connection: Building a Unified Community of Color (MCBUCC), a series of events that encourages coalition building
-keep USCC up-to-date on current issues within the community of color
-respond to political events that occur on and off campus

Event Co-Chairs (2)
-hold approximately 2 events per semester (filling in the gaps by doing events other student groups are not doing)
-support political co-chairs

Campus Liasons (2)
-organize at least one general body meeting per semester
-reach out to students of color not necessarily involved in student of color organizations
-maintain communication with student of color organizations

Communications Chair (1)
-send out executive board meeting notes
-send out weekly newsletter to general body

Funding Co-Chairs (2)
-handle logistics of co-sponsorship requests
-handle all e-form requests, reimbursements, etc.
-provide executive board with monthly budget updates
-plan a co-sponsorship information session at the beginning of the year (in conjunction with the
campus liaisons)

Public Relations Co-Chairs (2)
-increase awareness of USCC
-in charge of tabling at Activities Fairs
-in charge of flyers/advertising campaigns

Webmaster (1)
-maintain USCC website (including the calendar and blog)

Update: here are the results

Join the largest and fastest growing Asian and Asian American Career expo in the nation!

Friday, May 1, 2009
10:00am - 4:00pm

Madison Square Garden
New York, NY


• Unprecedented support from the Asian American community, as well as federal, state and local government agencies.
• Heavy coverage in ethnic and mainstream media.
• Working professionals in finance, transportation, defense, retail, government, telecommunications, law, healthcare, pharmaceutical, IT, consumer products and other industries will be present. Highly qualified individuals representing a variety of majors including business, political science, engineering, computer science, communications, psychology and natural science.

Please register here prior to event. Hope to see you there!

Come learn about sexual and domestic violence in the Asian community at the following APAAM event occurring tonight from 7-9pm in the Satow Room in Lerner. Please see the blurb and Facebook event for more details.

How do the roles of violence in Asian communities differ? What can we do to help? Come join us for a free dinner and hear representatives from the New York Asian Women's Center (NYAWC), Sakhi, and the Barnard Furman Counseling Center talk about their experiences of working on sexual and domestic violence related issues. The panel is followed by a Q&A session with the panelists.

We will also be showing a video about LivingPortrait, an interactive audio-visual installation, please see http://www.2rem.net/projects/lp/ or our facebook event at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=61509462137&ref=ts for more information.

Panelists profiles:

Fronthy Nguyen, NYAWC
As the Outreach Coordinator at the New York Asian Women’s Center (NYAWC), Fronthy is responsible for managing and conducting outreach activities for NYAWC. The outreach activities include conducting workshops at social service agencies to inform them about domestic violence in the Asian communities, presentations during roll-call at police precincts to educate police officers about the prevalence of domestic violence in Asian communities and attending community forums and events to better inform the public about domestic violence issues. Fronthy received her Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management at The New School. Prior to graduate school, she worked in the area of youth development and is a former AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer.

Mohammad Levesque-Alam, Sakhi
His role is to spearhead Sakhi’s efforts to educate, raise awareness, and create dialogue to help end domestic violence. Mohammad is responsible for media advocacy, production of Sakhi’s media, community engagement and strategic relationship-building. Mohammad has a background as a reporter in the Queens weekly press and, prior to that, worked at a suburban Massachusetts daily newspaper. While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Northeastern University in Boston, he co-founded and co-edited an online political journal for progressive youth. Mohammad holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and minors in Political Science and History. He has conversational fluency in Urdu.

Yoko Takebayashi, Barnard Furman Counseling Center
Yoko Takebayashi is a staff psychologist at the Furman Counseling Center in Barnard College. She is also the Barnard/Columbia Liaison for the Rape Crisis Anti-Violence Support Center and provides training and supervision to RC/AVSC Peer Counselor/Advocates. Yoko earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Adelphi University. Her professional interest and specialties include Asian American mental health, acculturation and racial identity development, and trauma.

Hope to see you there!

Something that drew my attention this sleepless morning was a news article via Asian American blogging grandfather Angry Asian Man that discussed a scientist sentenced to 51 months in prison for giving technology to the Chinese government. Here's that article.

Here's the lowdown...

  • Scientist named Quan-Sheng Shu decides to bribe the Chinese government with technology for "cryogenic fueling system for space-launch vehicles" to be used in a facility "designed to send space stations and satellites into orbit, as well as provide support for manned space flight and future lunar missions". Sounds pretty tame to me.
  • Our federal prosecutors decide to charge him with one count of bribery (okay, that's fine), and one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act.
What first raised my eyebrows was whether technology for "manned space flight" could really be what the Arms Export Control Act refers to when describing things that "would contribute to an arms race, aid in the development of weapons of mass destruction, support international terrorism, increase the possibility of outbreak or escalation of conflict, or prejudice the development of bilateral or multilateral arms control or nonproliferation agreements or other arrangements" as it does in the actual text of the act. But I'm just a college student (who happens to be both geeky and anti-militant); I'm only vaguely confused as to why space flight is considered military technology.

What really irks me is what this case does and does not say about the criminalized racializations of Asians in America. The local news article focuses on particular details in this case: speaking through an interpreter, clandestine communication with the Chinese government. If you read the comments at the bottom, the image of an Asian enemy within American borders really begins to show. For people like me who read these news pieces through an Asian American lens, we've seen this before. He's the yellow peril, obviously.

Of course, that's not the full picture of this man. He tried to bribe the Chinese government of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which makes me think his concern for self-interest really outweighed any real desire to do "harm to the United States" or any other state. By failing, he seemingly did more damage to himself than he could have done to any state by succeeding. This is a case of extraordinary greed and stupidity, but I think those who try to paint him as a spy are probably wildly off the mark.

Still, Angry Asian Man seems to waste no time in his awfully witty "Asians Behaving Badly" segment to call out Shu for again bringing the Yellow Peril image upon fellow Asian Americans. He argues that this is not something that Asian Americans need after the "Wen Ho Lee debacle". What I want to ask AAM is: what exactly was the Wen Ho Lee debacle? If said debacle means what happened to this man, let's get some facts straight: Wen Ho Lee's indictment was actually supported by nothing (nothing!) except for an exclusionist fear of Asian espionage.

Dear Angry Asian Man, if you'd like to shift blame for the yellow peril stereotype onto its victims (a careless criminal like Shu and an innocent person like Ho) instead of the (often racist) sociopolitical atmosphere which engenders the perception, I'd also expect you to blame a desperate and mentally strained Vietnamese immigrant for perpetuating what another gunman named Cho left behind after Virginia Tech. This mistaken logic may have been why you called Jiverly Wong a coward.

This is pretty unacceptable. You have a lot of pull as an influential and well-respected Asian American blogger, and perhaps it's unfair to demand correctness all the time. Nevertheless, some mutual checking is in order here. These issues demand more insightful and critical commentary than "Asians Behaving Badly".

In related news, the tone of this post could be another example of what my friend has personally cited as "the Asian American community eating itself." My apologies; I take responsibility for this... and would be happy to read responses in the comments section.


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