Tuesday, July 31, 2007

APA Summit This Saturday in Chicago,IL !!

Saturday, August 4. Chicago, IL

Join your fellow progressive Asian Pacific Americans from throughout the Midwest as we engage in a Saturday training led by Parag Mehta, Director of Training at the Democratic National Committee. Sponsored by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress.

To register, go to:

Who: Activists, student leaders, community leaders, volunteers

What: Learn the basic tools of political organizing including volunteer recruitment, networking, planning events, targeting, phonebanking and other useful campaign skills.

When: Saturday, August 4th, 2007

11:00-12:00 PM - Networking and Registration
12:00 - 6:00 PM - Training
6:00 - 8:00 PM - Reception/Social with special guests

Where: The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605-2496

Fee(s) - Includes training and reception/social, as well as admission to the Field Museum. Students please inquire about additional scholarships.

Student...$25 before July 15 / $30 after July 15
Regular...$35 before July 15 / $40 after July 15
Group rate (for 5 regular registrations)... $175
Group rate (for 10 regular registrations)... $300

Co-sponsors - To be listed in our program book or to place an ad, please contact Theresa Mah at

Parag V. Mehta - Parag is the Director of Training for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the DNC, Parag served as Deputy Political Director for America Votes, a coalition of 32 of the largest progressive groups in the country who joined forces to register, educate, recruit, and mobilize voters for the 2004 elections. In 2003, Parag was a Deputy Political Director for Governor Howard Dean's presidential campaign, based in Burlington, Vermont. In 2002 he served as Deputy Field Director for former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk's U.S. Senate campaign in Texas. From 2000-2002, Parag worked as a speechwriter and policy analyst for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Parag holds a B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master's degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (APAP) - APAP is national network of progressive Asian Pacific Americans and allies. For more information, click here:
http://www.apaforprogress.org/ To reach us, please email: apafp@apaforprogress.org

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ignorance v. Racism

Im going to shift gears a little bit and throw the focus away from my usual reporting of what's hot in the media to a breakdown of two words that seem to jump up quite often within the context of the cultural community: ignorance and racism. The one thing that I have noticed is that individuals seem to utilize both of these concepts as if they were interchangeable, but is that really the case?

Ignorance revolves around being unaware or uninformed about a particular topic, issue, etc. Racism, on the other hand, is based off the mentality that there exists a racial hierarchy with a race(s) bearing greater importance than that of another race(s) and thus, each individual should act in accordance to this supposed hierarchy. In other words, there exists a deliberate attempt to discriminate or inflict harm (physical, emotional, psychological) upon those who are deemed to be on a lower rung than that of the "superior" race. So with that thrown out there, can we still view these words as interchangeable?

Both words have negative connotations and bear an undesirable mark upon whom it has been tagged upon, but the reality of the situation is that an individual who is ignorant is not automatically racist. Someone who is viewed as racist may or may not be ignorant, depending on the extent of the individual's expression of this mentality. Let me throw an example out there....

About two years ago, one of the most influential organizations on the UofI campus (which I won't directly name), promoted the production of "Grease" to be performed on campus at Assembly Hall. What happened during the performance was that one of the actresses said the word 'Jap' (as was depicted in the script) to characterize a Japanese American in play. This created an uproar within the Asian American community due to the fact that the word 'Jap' is derogatory against Japanese Americans. The reason for this is because this word was utilized with such hate and disrespect during the time when individuals of Japanese descent were thrown into internment camps during the WWII era.

The situation rose where many Asian Americans viewed this organization as being racist for condoning the usage of such a derogatory word. The problem was, however, that this organization had absolutely no idea that this word was derogatory, nor would they have utilized such a word if they were aware of it being so offensive. This organization is the largest one on the UofI campus and works directly with the UofI administration (based on my experience, they have a pretty good track record). Anyways, this was about the time that I started to become involved with the cultural community on my campus and it really struck me because I definitely understood why the Asian American community was offended, but at the same time, was wondering whether this organization really allowed this word to be utilized with the understanding that it really was derogatory.

I would view the organization as being ignorant: they made a mistake that offended a cultural community due to the offensive, historical background of the word. Would I go as far to say they are racist? No...they did not know that the word was offensive and thus, allowed it to go on without the realization that it would create such controversy.

The point of the entry is to try to be more aware of the world around us. What we may find offensive, may not be directly understood by another person: not everyone shares a similar understanding of the world's history. What is offensive to one person may be completely okay to another. Rather than being annoyed with those who are ignorant, try teaching them so that they are aware of why something is viewed in the manner that it is. It really is the only way people will learn and thus, force ignorance to be suppressed.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Curbing Global Warming: US Must Set Example


How many of us actually know who is the current Secretary of the United Nations? It seems nowadays people are more inclined to only read the news if headlines characterizing Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan's latest blunders are right smack on the front page, rather than being concerned with what is really happening in the world. There are more important things than what's hot in Hollywood Gossip (quite frankly, I could care less about these supposed role models and their antics).....but back to the matter at hand: for those of you still wondering, Ban Ki-Moon (South Korea's former foreign minister) is now the eighth Secretary of the United Nations by succeeding Kofi Annan.

Ki-Moon has stated that in this term, he hopes to place the spotlight on the issue of global warming and the deleterious effect it is having on the global community. The most significant point he made is that the United States must lead the way and be the role models for other nations to follow if this predicament is ever to be contained. The status of the United States these days is often one eliciting great skepticism due to the many questionable decisions that the nation has made in regards to various global issues (e.g. War on Iraq). Having faith in the United States shows that Ki-Moon supports in the credibility that the United States is assumed to have as one of the leading global powers.

Can the United States truly be the kind of leader that Ki-Moon believes it has the potential of once again becoming? The nation has definitely shown progress and with individuals like Al Gore spearheading an environmental awareness campaign, it seems as though the issue of global warming is finally taking center stage with the world wondering exactly how it can control this issue so that future generations are not grealty devastated by the mistakes of the present.

Ki-Moon has already shown great leadership in the manner in which he upholds himself and is truly being a great representative on behalf of the United Nations. Issues like global warming are what we as global citizens need to be truly aware of and how the global community is reacting to such topics. These are the kinds of things we should be concerned with, moreso than the aforementioned 'Hollywood gossip'.....now you know who the Secretary of the United Nations is....that's definitely a start: keep it going...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Taliban Kills One Hostage


One of the 23 South Korean hostages was killed by the Taliban since their demands have not been fully met. This is truly devastating news. The very fact that an innocent individual is murdered just because a group of radicals have not attained their full demands is repulsive. It is morally reprehensible to utilize innocent individuals as mere pawns in this cruel game.

Let just hope that no more innocent lives are in danger....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

HR 2669: Financial Boost for Low Income AAPIs


Sia Moua (Programming Chair for MAASU ECC) gave me the heads up about this article. This is truly a momentous occassion in regards to legislation, since this greatly benefits Asian American and Pacific Islander students who fall within the lower income bracket. It is truly comforting to know that there are actually people out there who have their priorities straight and are truly seeking to assist those in need of attaining the same opportunities that every individual is entitled to. The opportunity to pursue one's educational ambitions without financial hindrance is truly something important.

Most of us may not realize how fortunate we are to be able to attend institutions of higher education and be given the opportunity to pursue various endeavors to which we feel will enable us to make the most of our lives. The unfortunate reality, however, is that there are so many individuals who are unable to pursue such opportunities only because everything in America has a price, and if you cannot afford it, then you are forced to live without it. This legislation opens a door that was once closed out to so many and its focus upon Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is truly showing that the spotlight hasn't been cast away from this group of individuals.

These are the types of issues that we should be the most concerned with, because these issues are the ones that can truly change lives and enable those who are less fortunate to attain a fighting chance in this world. Helping one another should be something that we aim to pursue in our lives, because with the opportunities and advancements we make, we should try to help pave that road so that those who come after us are able to pursue their dreams without the kind of obstacles that could be overcome with the proper attention.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Taliban Extends Deadline for Korean Hostages


The clock is ticking as many are anxiously hoping for an immediate resolution to be reached that would bring the 23 hostages safely back home to South Korea. It must be devastating for these individuals to be under such a high stress situation as their fate is in the hands of negotiators between the two opposing forces. To abduct innocent individuals and place their lives in jeopardy in an attempt to gain a military advantage (in this case: the release of Taliban prisoners and the removal of South Korean forces from the area) is inhumane in every manner.

It is difficult to empathize with these hostages: to understand exactly what they must be feeling to be isolated from the rest of the world due to the political tensions that are taking place with extremists perpetuating the violence in the Middle East. The unfortunate reality is that constant exposure to the media's portrayal of the 'War on Terror' has almost desensitized Americans in regards to the catastrophe that is taking place there. If we just stop for a second and realize that there really is a world beyond our own: it is not the most glamorous or heart-warming one, but it's there and it's a reality that so many innocent individuals have to experience each and every single day.

These innocent hostages.....what we may not even realize is that these individuals could be any person and to someone in South Korea and even abroad, they are meaningful and loved. A parent, sibling, cousin, best friend, neighbor, etc. to someone. They may not be our close acquaintances, but the fact that they are human beings who went to the highly volatile Middle East to volunteer their time and effort to helping those less fortunate shows a lot of heart and passion: characteristics that the world is in dire need of when we take a close look at the world around. Let us just hope that these individuals are safely returned to their homes in South Korea and that everything turns out for the best.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Taliban Kidnaps Korean Volunteers


There does not seem to be an end in sight to the supposed "War on Terror" as various factions are engaging in warfare in an attempt to establish themselves as the superior religious sect. The unfortunate reality is that such tension is among elites for power, but it is the innocent civilians who are in harm's way. With the death skyrocketing, one can only pray that the US stops throwing fuel into the fire and actually takes steps to ease the tensions that currently exist.

Innocent individuals, either residents of a Middle Eastern nation or are there for their occupation, are constantly being targetted and utilized as leverage for the radical faction to attain some type of short-term goal in this never-ending struggle. Well, it seems the Taliban have taken a different turn of events as they have now abducted 18 Korean Christians who have decided to volunteer themselves to assist those who are in need. It is horrible that such a group of individuals are now in the hands of the Taliban, even though they pose absolutely no threat to them or the Taliban mission. The fact that these innocent individuals have been adbucted (even though they came with only good intentions) just goes to show how devastating the situation is over there. We cannot even send volunteers to aide those in need without fear of being attacked by someone who believes that there must be an ulterior motive to why any foreigner would come to the Middle East.

There has been controversy in that the Korean Christians were proselytizing in a predominantly Muslim region and that such actions were deemed unacceptable to those residing in the nation. Evidently, religion does play a substantial component in the war that is taking place over there, but that alone does not justify the abduction of these Korean volunteers, who only intended to be in the Middle East for a short period of time to do volunteer work. Now, their lives are at stake as the Taliban has demanded that either S.Korea withdraws its troops from Middle East combat or these innocent individuals' lives are in stake. The war has evidently gotten out of hand and it is devastating to imagine what these poor individuals must be feeling now as they are under the jurisdiction of the Taliban and their radical ways.

The conditions are horrible to imagine and each day, the demands of the war are escalating with the lives of innocent troops and civilians thrown in harm's way just to fulfill the power-hungry nature of the elites who seem to have some stake in this constant power struggle. It is comforting to know that there are people who are willing to risk their lives to help those who are in great need of aid. Let us hope for the best for those Korean citizens who have been abducted and that they are released safely.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Interracial Marriage: Al Gore's Daughter


Did you know that Al Gore's daughter married a Chinese American businessman? With an icon like Al Gore, I found it surprising that there was practically no word on it in any media outlets. Then again, I guess since Sarah Gore never really established herself in the public eye, news about her would not spread so quickly. Regardless, the very idea of interracial marriages seem to be more acceptable in the current era than it ever was before, but there is always a lot in mind when two individuals from two different backgrounds want to pursue a life together....

There is absolutely nothing wrong with interracial marriages, but it can be hard for some families who have very conservative lifestyles or prefer to have their family lines remain on a particular track, in regards to race, religion, etc. There are some families who are open to interracial marriages, some who are opposed and others who are unsure of where to actually stand on the matter at hand. It takes a lot of getting used and compromise, I'm sure. My cousin married a Caucasian English teacher and I have to say, the guy is definitely one of the coolest people out there (almost close to my caliber). It was definitely the topic of discussion once word got around my mother's side of the family because it was always assumed that my cousin would marry "a nice Indian boy". But I guess life sometimes throws a curveball into the mix of things...

My cousin and her husband have a little girl (my niece or whatever the actual terminology is) and no bias, she is definitely the cutest kid out there. They raise her with both American and Indian values and she is constantly exposed to individuals from a multitude of cultures, which I find amazing. As long as these two really love each other and are giving their daughter the best life possible, then there really shouldn't be a reason why individuals from two background should not be married.

We all have differences to some extent and who actually fall in love with and become close to is something that is technically out of our hands. There is nothing wrong with looking for someone within our own cultural background, due to ease of transferring values and such to one's future generations. Culture, as we all know, is of great importance to all individuals to some extent and at times, a certain cultural value is so important that the only way of ensuring that it is maintained and shared is if both individuals fall into that same category. Cultural values do play an impact....how much though definitely falls back upon the individuals.

The way I look at it is that families should not be the restricting component in who a child wants to marry. After awhile, my mother's side of the family began to love Aaron (my cousin's Caucasian husband) and they never would have known how great of a guy he is if they never gave him a chance and just based their judgement on the fact that he was cultural different. Like the old saying goes: "You can't judge a book by its cover", so does the concept work in everyday life. Rather than trying to judge an individual by their appearance, it is better to see who the individual really is on a personal level and go from there. As long relationships and marriages are genuine in that they seek to exemplify the identity of both individuals, then there really isn't anything to challenge. Whether individuals share the same cultural values or not is truly up to the individuals at hand, but based on what I have learned from talking to various people, it is truly possible to have a strong, healthy relationship when individuals differ in race, religion, ethnicity, or any other category. As long as the foundation is based on love and respect, then the relationship will truly go the distance. I wish Bill Lee and Sarah Gore the best as they start their lives together.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Conservative India versus Sex Ed


The highly conservative India is in a deadlock between two sides of the morality debate regarding the AIDS epidemic: one side is proposing that institutions of higher learning allow sex education to be taught in order to curb the HIV rates, while the opposing side believes that sex education will only corrupt the minds of the younger generations.

India has the world's largest number of HIV cases and many beleive that the only way to reduce the number of cases that are found each year is to educate the youth of today of the potential dangers of unsafe sex, while at the same time, educating them about human sexuality (a topic that parents all over the world dread to even discuss with their children). It seems that parents in many conservative Asian nations may not be so open to talk to their children about sexuality and thus, children go about trying to learn for themselves and at times, may experiment in ways that only places them in greater danger of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). The danger is out there whether we realize it or not; it is just a matter of us taking measures to ensure that the youth of today are better equipped with an understanding of what is really out there.

However, what many conservatives are afraid of is that with sex education, children may be more inclined to have premarital sexual relations and would greatly devastate the moral code that this nation, like many others, strives to maintain. But is this really the case? I mean, look around us. Television, magazines, advertisements, etc. have all exemplified the well known expression "sex sells" in a variety of means. With constant reinforcement of this expression in various markets, as well as the notable change in the manner in which the youth of today are acting and dressing (let's face it: more and more people are attempting to emanate the Abercrombie look because of the supposed "sex appeal"), the fact is that the times have changed from what it was even when I was in middle school (which was about 8 years ago).

The reality is that sex education should not be viewed as a tool that promotes sexual promiscuity or premarital relations, but rather, as a means of ensuring that individuals are educated about the dangers out there. The fact that younger generations are more than likely to be open to sexual relations is truly a concern but rather than focusing on the negativity of teaching children about sex, individuals need to realize that as the times are changing, so must the standards in which we hold with our youth. The dangers of contracting AIDS or any other STD is devastating, but THAT can be curbed if individuals are given the proper information on how to take care of themselves and if it is their decision to have sexual relations, how to ensure that they are doing it safely. This may not be the ideal conservative model but in reality, it may very well be the ideal life saving one.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Satendar Singh: Victim of Hate


Culture is a valuable component of the lives of many. It is a component that many of us place on a pedestal high above all else due to the significant impact that it has upon our identity. It is something that no one else has a right to demean or challenge in any way. We have a right to be proud of our culture, whether it be racial, ethnic, religious, and so forth. Unfortunately, it seems to be all too common that individuals are willing to exhibit hatred against those whose only reason for being a prime target is that they are just different. This is what happened to a man named Satendar Singh....

Satendar was a Fiji Indian who was verbally assaulted with racial and homophobic remarks before he was eventually beaten and killed. There is no justification whatsoever to the horrific actions that took place. To attack another individual in any way because they are different or because their culture has been improperly characterized as being immoral, evil and whatnot is unacceptable in every degree. An innocent man lost his life because a group of individuals felt that certain aspects of his cultural identity marked him as someone who was deserving of such an attack.....let it be clear, NO ONE deserves to be treated in such a cruel way.

Just because an individual does not agree or accept the cultural identity of another is NOT justification to attack that individual. We are all different to some extent and it is those differences that truly help to define us as individuals. The fact that Satendar was targeted because of his racial affiliation and sexual orientation goes to show how ignorant and barbaric some people can be.

Hate only promotes more hatred. What happened to Satendar is truly a travesty and unfortunately, such hate crimes seem to be all too common in today's society. We as individuals have a right to be proud of our cultural identity, no matter what anyone else says. No one has the right to make us feel that what we are is worthless or a negative tag. If only people realized the pain that comes with such hatred...

My prayers go out to the Singh family

Friday, July 13, 2007

Slow Down the Arms Race


I give a props to N. Korea for taking a step in the right direction by showing their intention of hopefully disarming their nuclear program. The threat of nuclear war escalates each day with more and more individuals seeing these weapons as the greatest means of acquiring power due to the devastation that such weapons can wreak upon civilization. With various nations already having somewhat of a nuclear arsenal already, the desire to have such weapons as "a means of defense" seems to be on the minds of many throughout the world. The unfortunate reality though is that some nations are willing to jeopardize the well-being of their people just so they can attain a level of prestige and power that almost catapults them into the higher rankings of the global leaders in the international hierarchy.

I am not a supporter of nuclear arsenal, nor nuclear programs that are tailored towards weapons development but if the most powerful nations already have an arsenal at their disposal, then the only way that weaker nations can feel protected from such a threat would be to develop their own program. The worst part about this whole arms race is that many nations are willing to place this as their main priority while their people are greatly suffering. Have we lost sight of those who live in poverty everyday and do not get the satisfaction of attaining the bare necessities that every human being is entitled to? Compared to most people in the world, Americans in general live in the lap of luxury but with priorities placed upon such things as nuclear programs, the focus upon those in dire need of attention and assistance is greatly neglected.

The US was called by N.Korea as being "belligerent" due to its constant pressurizing for N. Korea to disarm its nuclear program and if the US continues to throw its weight around, then the disarming would be in jeopardy. The US should act as a strong role model to the world and not as an entity that deems itself superior to those around and could easily just force any nation to abide by its own standards. The US does have a lot of leverage but as time has shown, the current administration has not only jeopardized the well-being of its own people, but have continuously flaunted their power as a means of pressuring the international world to see the world through one set of lenses: that of the US.

It was what Al Gore wrote in Assault on Reason that I feel fits almost perfectly into this scenario: that leaders need to actually discuss issues without automatically assuming that what believes is gospel in relation to the views of anyone, especially those who disagree. Discussion is what essentially is lacking in the government scene, since most individuals go in with the mentality of debating their own views and closing their minds to the beliefs of others....it has become a struggle for power. The fact that N. Korea wants to have direct talks and have shown progress over the past few months have shown that they are on the right track to what a nation should do: discuss a problematic situation and determine what truly is the best course of action for themselves, as well as the international community. The US, in my opinion, should take a page out of this playbook and realize that just because the nation at one point possessed such a strong reputation, does not necessarily mean that they can act and utilize pressure as a means of getting their way. Rather than "bullying" other nations, the US should learn to cooperate and work with other leaders on a one-to-one basis in hopes of hammering out the problems that plague society in general. The nuclear problem in society is one issue, but there are countless others: the time is now to take initiative for change.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Student Activist: Carrie Kagawa (Chicago, IL)

Every so often, I plan on having an entry just for strong student leaders within the Asian American community to share their insight and experiences to the future leaders of this community. What better way to kick things off right than with one of the CoChairs of the MAASU Spring Conference 2007,
Carrie Kagawa!

What is your cultural background?
I am half Chinese and half Japanese.

What is your favorite television show?
The Hills. LC is my BFF. Haa, jk. No seriously...

What is your favorite color?

What have you been previously involved with in the Asian American community?
During my four years in college, I was primarily involved with the Asian Pacific American Coalition, serving as a Community Outreach member (1 semester), Secretary (2 years), and Intercollegiate Off Campus Representative (1 year). I was also a strong supporter of the MAASU conferences during my four years. I attended 6 conferences total! Haha.

When did you first get started with Asian American activism?

I received my first taste of Asian American activism my freshmen year of college. One of my older peers reached out and suggested that I apply for the Asian Pacific American Coalition. I applied and then got heavily involved in the Asian American community. This was my first experience with Asian American activism. Coming from a small town in east central Illinois, there were limited opportunities to get involved with culturally based organizations, specifically Asian American organizations. So this first experience really made an impact on me, and I am thankful that my peer reached out to me and that I got involved right away.

As one of the Co-Chairs for the MAASU SC 07 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, how was the whole experience for you and how did that align with your vision for this conference?
The whole conference experience was fantastic. Everything from the fundraising events, to the board members, to the conference attendees, to the actual conference weekend was a pleasure. There were obviously hard times that we had to work through. But after this experience I have complete faith in the power of student mobilization. My vision for this conference was to try and incorporate all facets of Asian American life. This is everything from politics, to activism, to entertainment, to career building, to Asian American health. I feel our board did a great job of creating an all encompassing conference that was as well rounded as possible. And this display of student organization shows how much students can accomplish.

What do you consider to be the most pressing social issue affecting the Asian American community?
There are many pressing social issues facing the Asian American community, such as racism and discrimination, issues of the glass ceiling, immigration, and employment. However, one issue that I feel is of great importance is the lack of Asian American presence in the education system. In general, there is a lack of Asian American figures and events in the history textbooks. This lack of presence severely neglects a large part of America's history. Asian American history is a great part of the larger American history. And the bipolar nature of history (as a purely black and white story) needs to be adjusted to be more all inclusive.

Who would you say is your hero (besides me)?
Other than Ajay Alexander, my grandmother is my hero. She immigrated to the United States, and literally had $30 when she immigrated to Hawaii. My grandmother then worked three jobs, and eventually brought over my grandfather, my mother, and her three siblings. The struggle she went through to make life better for our family is truly remarkable.

Thank you Carrie for taking the time to share your insight and time with us all. You definitely rock!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nothing Amazing About This Racist...


Albert Lin (Finance CoChair of MAASU ECC) brought to my attention this deplorable video where an individual considers it humorous to mock and ridicule Asian Americans by trying to perpetuate racial stereotypes. This is NOT humor. All that it exemplifies is the evident ignorance of this man, who deems himself the "Amazing Racist". There is nothing amazing about him; more like downright pathetic. The worst part about is that he does a series of videos with each focusing on a different racial minority and him being completely ignorant towards those of that designated minority. These racist antics of his are unfortunately encouraging others to view this type of humor as "acceptable", as can be seen in the comments that are located right below it.

Just take some time to watch this video and then go read the user comments, so that you have a better understanding of why this video and others like it are completely unacceptable and degrading towards Asian Americans. One of the users who was commenting on the video called another user a "Gook" (for those who unaware, this is a derogatory word against Asian Americans). This individual and his blatantly racist videos have only perpetuated the ignorance and hatred even further. It is outrageous that such stupidity still exists and that individuals who see this may automatically assume that such remarks are "acceptable" since they are portrayed in many forms of comedy.

Take a step back and think about how many comedians utilize derogatory words and profanity to further accentuate the humor in their routines. There are a handful of them and the numbers seem to be rising. This ignorant individual is just one of many who needs to realize that such remarks and actions are not humorous, if they are viewed as personally attacking an aspect of an individual' s identity. Everything he says and does is degrading towards Asian Americans and those who watch these videos and belt out laughter, are only encouraging him and many others to follow the same path of racism.

Be careful and considerate of what you say to others: whether we realize it or not, there are times when we may make joking remarks without the intention of hurting anyone but if taken out of context, can really stir up animosity. Nothing that ridicules individuals of any minority or cultural background can ever considered humorous and should not be supported in any way. Voice your opinions and concerns when you hear such things: that is the first step to ensuring that such ignorance does that grow forth.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Iraq: The Tension Is Far From Over


I came across this article while reading over the Op-Eds of the New York Times. Even though the article does seem to take a distinct political stance in regards to the manner in which the current administration is leading the US, I ask you to look beyond that and actually see the facts that are utilized as support for the individual's argument. Whether you align yourself on the left or right side of the political spectrum is not of the greatest concern nor is that the focal point of this entry; rather, one cannot deny that the escalating tension in Iraq is in part the fault of the United States for assuming that it can overthrow the former dictatorship and establish a stable democracy in its place without any dire consequences. Evidently, that is not the case. As one can see, deception has led the US into a devastating predicament in which, not only has the US placed its troops and its financial stability in an unfortunate predicament, the Iraqi people are in a far worse position as the war has put the lives of many innocent civilians at a greater stake than imaginable.

In my previous entry, I touched base upon the devastation that comes with being stripped from one's comfortable, daily routine to be thrown into an environment that is completely different and unwelcome to a particular individual. This war has forced massive amounts of Iraqis to relocate themselves in hopes of finding a safer place to live and be rid of the dangers that are posed with the constant fighting. It is due to the ethnic and religious discrepancy that is present within this nation that unfortunately so many individuals cannot live in their homes without fear of being attacked by those who feel that such a discrepancy can only be solved through violent means.

The present turmoil is not something that can be overcome within a matter of months or even years; the unfortunate reality is that it will take time (a great deal of it) before any sign of stability can slowly ascend within Iraq. The US, though foolishly placing itself in a lose-lose predicament, cannot solve this predicament alone and is in dire need of assistance from those nations who are dominant forces within the global power structure. Nations such as Britain, France, China, Russia and so forth must lend a hand so that the hostile tension in Iraq does not overflow into its surrounding neighbors and quite possibly escalating the tensions in the Middle East to a state that is far more catastrophic than what is currently posed. The proper steps need to be taken now if any progress is to be made, but until then, it is devastating to even think about how chaotic it must be for those living in Iraq whose lives are in constant danger due to both the war and their own neighbors of different cultural backgrounds (being ethnic or religious).

The threat of terrorism is one that the majority of the world faces and any means of suppressing that threat must be taken in a joint manner, not solely within the hands of one nation. This issue should not rest solely within the realm of politics but actually be understood as something that greatly affects a large portion of the world's population and such tensions do have a greater impact upon individuals throughout the world as instances of such hatred and ignorance flows from one base to another as such ideologies of supremacy remain prevalent amongst those who deem themselves superior to others and utilize violent measures to exemplify this mentality. The danger is out there and unfortunatley with the media's portrayal of the tension in the Middle East, many individuals have become desensitized to the War on Iraq, which is truly unfortunate as there many men and women whose lives are stake every minute because of a clash of beliefs. As I sit here typing this entry out, I cannot help but wonder how fortunate I am that I can sit here and type this entry without fear that my life is not in great danger due to terrorism or constant war. If only we could together do something to help those far less fortunate than we are...

*As characterized, MAASU does not take a political stance on issues, nor does it align itself with any particular political party. The main reason I decided to write about this issue (as well as present an Op-Ed as the source) is to open the eyes of many of an issue that grealty affects those within the US and those abroad in the Middle East (an area of the world that I believe is a part of Asia both geographically and due to the overlap of culture among certain areas of South/Southeast Asia).

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Taking Life For Granted


How would you feel if one day government officials came into your home and took you away from your family, your friends and everything else you hold dear in this country because you were deemed unworthy of being protected from the dangers of your home country? This may seem like an unrealistic characterization; however, what we do not realize is that this scenario is common occurrence for many families throughout the US, as can be seen through the Charania family in the article posted above.

The problem in society is that we as Americans become so captivated in our own selves and the lives we lead that we may not often take the time to consider how devastating it is to be pried away from the consistency of one's day and threatened to be thrown back into a country where your own safety and well-being is in great danger. Throughout the world, there are many instances of cultural clashes in which individuals of a cultural minority are ridiculed, threatened, and attacked only on the grounds that their cultural affiliation does not align with that of the cultural majority within a designated area. Race, ethnicity, and religious affiliation are just a few of the areas in which cultural conflict stems from. To live a life where you are constantly in danger only because you are culturally different is truly a travesty and thus, many families seek asylum to escape such dangers so that they may attain a level of security and comfort that every human being is entitled to. Even after being in America for so long and having established a solid life here, the Charania family (who are of Indian descent) may lose it all just because their attorneys did not file their asylum papers within the proper period of time.

Rather than focusing on the flaws of the American legal system (this coming from a law school hopeful), the main basis of this entry is, as characterized earlier, the unfortunate reality that we take the lives that we have in America for granted compared to those who are suffering in many parts of Asia due to a cultural clash. Most of us can relate to the fact that our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so forth strived grealty so that their future descendants could have a better life free from persecution due to their cultural identity, an identity that any individual has a right to be proud of and hold dearly. To seek a better life in a new nation known for treating all individuals with equality is a dream for many (a dream that many at this moment really wish they could experience). Every human being deserves peace and equality, but the unfortunate reality is that this idea is far from realistic. It is hard to even imagine how our lives would be if we were stripped of everything we loved in the world (family, friends, etc) and thrown back to a country where our only memories of it were ones of horror and fear. I hope that the Charania family will be taken care of and be able to resume their lives in America, because the dangers that are posed for being a cultural minority in a place of great cultural tension is unbearable to even think about.

Every so often, take the time to realize how fortunate you are to have the opportunities that are given to you, as well as the joy of being with your family and friends: a life that many can only dream of and even if they catch a glimpse of it, may be in danger of one day being deprived of it if the US government feels that they are no longer protected under their jurisdiction.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Saving Lives for Low Low Prices


"A heart bypass in the United States costs $130,000, but just $10,000 in India and $11,000 in Thailand. A hip replacement in the United States would cost $43,000 but just $12,000 in Thailand or Singapore. Hysterectomy costs are about $20,000 here but $3,000 in India"....

With the high cost of the American healthcare system, it is no wonder that so many have chosen to aim elsewhere for many major surgeries. The numbers are evidently skyrocketing each year as more and more Americans realize the great financial benefits of going to Asia, Mexico and many such other places that will perform the same surgeries at a price that is more attractive to those who cannot afford the overpriced procedures performed in the US. The only question that is coming to mind: is it really worth it?

The greatest concern that comes with individuals deciding to ship out to attain a cheaper procedure may put their lives at greater risk due to the fact that these facilities may not be as well equiped or specialized in certain areas as many of the hospitals in the US. If one does the proper research and knows exactly what they are getting into by having a certain procedure performed outside the US, then most are given the go ahead to go forth with it. The cheaper price tag is definitely attrative (there is no denying it) but the reality is that many are placed into a position where they do not have much of a choice and are forced to put their personal well-being wherever their wallet/purse leads them.

Now, there is no reason to discredit any of these hospitals. There is no doubt that many of the world's greatest physicians come from all over the world (with a large population arising from Asia). Regardless, the greater issue is that individuals should not have to rely solely on one's financial state to determine where would be the best place for a life-changing surgery. Many nations in Asia are attaining a larger audience due to their comparatively lower prices and thus, greatly benefits many of those who live within the US (due to the strength of the dollar bill). If only the US can follow lead and actually establish prices that are affordable to its people in comparison to the prices in many Asian nations, then would the system in the US have shown its concern for the greater well-being of its population. Evidently, different factors must be taken into account but hands down, medical tourism is going to keep skyrocketing if the system doesn't change....until then, the US will be losing greatly in medical status to those nations in Asia who seem to place greater regard upon human life than the price tag with such procedures.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Poll: Bruce Lee v. Jet Li

Now, it is rather pointless to throw your opinion around on such a well constructred poll if one does not know who either of these two individuals are. So, to get the gears rolling, I have decided to utilize one of the world's most reliable sources to give a strong biography of each of these icons: Wikipedia....

Bruce Lee: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lee

Jet Li: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_Li

Two of the greatest martial artists in history square off to see who really is the more dominant of the two: the legendary Bruce Lee or the dynamic Jet Li. I will not throw my opinion as to prevent any bias and because only I know the true answer. Well, not really but regardless, the question definitely makes you think: who really would win?....

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Made in China? Time to Recall...


With the recent news regarding the hazardous contaminants found within many products imported from China, one can only wonder what priority quality has in regards to the health and safety of individuals all over the world. There are corporations all over the world that have placed their profit-driven mentality on a higher pedestal than the interests of the consumer (the general population). If individuals cannot buy goods without the added risk of there being a potentially dangerous (possibly lethal) contaminant, then the average consumer has a right to be concerned.

A great amount of the finger pointing has been aimed against the nation of China, mainly due in part to the fact that many of the products recently recalled have beared the distinctive "Made in China" label. Avoiding products that bear that label may seem like the most sure-fire means of ensuring that any products attained for one's own needs due not eventually prove to be greatly hazardous: however, due to the fact that a large amount of the products that can be found at any supermarket, convenience store, etc. are actually imported from China and thus, avoiding products from this nation bears far greater difficulty than one could ever imagine.

There is a risk with the purchase of any product but most consumers understandably are under the impression that only those goods that have passed regulation standards are out in the market for the greater population to lay their claim on. Unfortunately, if care with manufacturing or development is not maintained, then many individuals in the US and globally are at risk to the dangers posed by companies and corporations within China.

The only advice I can give is to be aware of what products are being recalled or under inspection by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). It is very easy to return a faulty appliance but when it comes to products that are consumable, that is where the greatest danger lies. China, as well as many other nations I'm sure, needs to be more aware of the dangers posed by faulty manufacturing and unsafe food processing. Money is not everything, because in reality, the safety and well-being of every individual should evidently be placed upon the highest pedestal above everything else. If only that mentality was realistic...