Sunday, January 31, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: The 'Asian fail' and having fun with the model-minority myth and other stereotypes - AnnArbor.com


Three summers ago, my 70-year-old father, who has been after me for years to finish my PhD, had a sudden post-retirement revelation, “It does not matter how many degrees you have; what matters is that you are a good person and live a happy life.”

He then turned to the kids and said, “You do not have to get good grades or go to a good college, you just have to learn how to be a good person and be happy.”

The children and I stared at him, mouths dropped open in disbelief, “Who are you and what have you done with my real father?” (click on link for more)

The 'Asian fail' and having fun with the model-minority myth and other stereotypes - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Can we truly be colorblind? "Skin" and "Bilal's Stand" coming to the Michigan Theater - AnnArbor.com

At Gwen Ifill’s keynote speech at the University of Michigan MLK Day Symposium, she talked about people who insist that they are colorblind and claim to see people as they really are and not even notice the color of anyone’s skin.

If there is only one African American in the room, she joked, people will say anything to avoid mentioning his race, like the tall man in the blue suit and tie, to which she responds, “Oh, you mean the black guy?” “Oh, is he black? I didn’t notice.”

She also said people have asked her if they can just talk about President Obama and simply not mention that he is African American.

I have also wrestled with how to react to such claims and loved her zinger of a response, that people would not even ask this question or make this claim unless they (or society) thought there was something problematic about the color of people’s skin. (click on link for more)

Can we truly be colorblind? "Skin" and "Bilal's Stand" coming to the Michigan Theater - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: "New Muslim Cool" film at University of Michigan International Institute - AnnArbor.com

When disparate cultures come together in surprising ways, we can sometimes learn more than when we only know about “the traditional way.”

I love seeing the creative ways that people adapt traditions and cultures, transforming them in the process. Sometimes I worry that my innocent suburban experiences here with my nice high-achieving kids and nice academic friends are hopelessly naïve.

Luckily, there are cool independent filmmakers to bring the rest of the world to us here in our small town, helping to bring together the many ethnic communities across the country, to generate a new conversation. (click on link for more)

"New Muslim Cool" film at University of Michigan International Institute - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: We gain so much from wading in the water of each other's cultural experiences - AnnArbor.com


Two years ago, my father’s choir at the University of Hawaii was invited to sing at a big international diversity concert at Lincoln Center in New York for MLK Day. Choirs from around the world had been invited to sing together, and a Hawaiian choir adds instant diversity with its multicultural population of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese, Caucasians and native Hawaiians. That summer, over a breakfast of Chinese pancakes and Portuguese sausage, my father told us about the difficulties he had had the night before at choir practice pronouncing the words in the spirituals that they were learning, “You have to say the words like a Negro,” he said.

Twelve-year-old Hao Hao gently corrected him: “African American. These days you should say African American.” (I bet Senator Reid wishes his grandchildren had told him this, too.) (click on link for more)

We gain so much from wading in the water of each other's cultural experiences - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, January 21, 2010

AML: Craving hummus far away--Arab American events at Ann Arbor District Library this week - AnnArbor.com

The children and I had been in Hawaii almost five weeks when a sudden craving for hummus hit. We had not really thought about hummus for awhile, had been enjoying our huli huli chicken and Spam musubi, foods we cannot get in Ann Arbor, when we suddenly noticed that something we normally took for granted was simply not there. We searched but could not find good hummus or tabouli anywhere. We could not find good Indian food. We could not find henna. This is just a small thing, unimportant really, but we began to appreciate that there are things gritty Michigan has that languorous Hawaii does not. With Dearborn being home to the largest Arab community outside of the Middle East, Michigan is multicultural after all, but a different mix of multi than Hawaii. While the rest of the country is freaking out about terrorist stereotypes, we have neighbors.

The Ann Arbor District Library offers us two opportunities this week to learn more about our Arab American neighbors and friends: (click on link for more)

Craving hummus far away--Arab American events at Ann Arbor District Library this week - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

AML: Examining Ubuntu Conference and other applications of South Africa's reconciliation process for us now - AnnArbor.com

In college, we protested apartheid in South Africa by attending rallies on Sproul Plaza, marching across campus, and not patronizing companies that did business in South Africa. It was so important to me to take my money out of Bank of America, where my family had always banked, and move it to Wells Fargo Bank. Everyone was so excited when Bishop Desmond Tutu spoke at the University of California Berkeley Greek Theater that Bobby McFerrin (just starting out then) announced his arrival in song - twice - before his helicopter even landed.

Then summer vacation came, I went home, I got busy with other things, and I forgot all about it. For years.

Suddenly, Bishop Desmond Tutu’s voice is on the radio. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is under way. (click on link for more)

Examining Ubuntu Conference and other applications of South Africa's reconciliation process for us now - AnnArbor.com

Monday, January 18, 2010

AML: Living in harmony in a great world house on MLK Day - NAM EthnoBlog

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture, given in 1964, he talks about the idea of a house, “We have inherited a big house, a great ‘world house’ in which we have to live together - black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Moslem and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other.” (click on link for more)
Living in harmony in a great world house on MLK Day - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Living in harmony in a great world house on MLK Day - AnnArbor.com


In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture, given in 1964, he talks about the idea of a house, “We have inherited a big house, a great ‘world house’ in which we have to live together - black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Moslem and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other.”

I love the imagery of that house, so easy to picture. A nice Victorian, neat and trim, brightly painted, purple and pink, warm lights shining through lace curtains, with all the peoples of the world living in harmony together inside - everyone happily cooking together, feasting and celebrating, sharing the bounty of the garden, raking leaves and shoveling snow with the seasons, emptying the dishwasher, doing the laundry, vacuuming the floor, fixing the car, fighting for the bathroom…

Wait. But how do you do that, exactly? (click on link for more)

Living in harmony in a great world house on MLK Day - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, January 14, 2010

AML: Novelist Sapphire (Push/Precious) to speak at U of M for MLK Day - AnnArbor.com

I want to see the movie, Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, but I am afraid. I request the book from the Ann Arbor District Library, but I am too afraid to even peel back the routing sticker that holds its pages closed. I show the trailer to my teenage children, knowing they are too young to handle the real movie, and I cry every time. Now the author, Sapphire, is coming as part of the University of Michigan’s MLK Day Symposium to talk about “Push, Literacy, Women, and African American Literature.” It seems I cannot escape the change I know awaits me there.

In addition to writing for AnnArbor.com, I also write for New America Media, which has been described as “the AP of the ethnic press.” One of New America Media’s many strengths is capturing the voices of America’s ethnic youth, who sometimes see things so much more clearly than we old people do. Here is a moving review of the movie, Precious, published last November in New America Media’s Ethnoblog: (click on link for more)

Novelist Sapphire (Push/Precious) to spejavascript:void(0)ak at U of M for MLK Day - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

AML: Carmen Van Kerckhove speaking at U of M today - AnnArbor.com

Here in Ann Arbor, we are lucky that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day spills out over the designated third Monday in January and splashes into the weeks around it. There are so many incredible speakers to hear, opportunities to explore, challenges to take on, making MLK Day more than a day off of school but an opportunity to think, learn, engage.

Today Asian American Carmen VanKerchove of New Demographic and the Racialicious blog kicks off the University of Michigan MLK Day Symposium: (click on link for more)

Carmen Van Kerckhove speaking at U of M today - AnnArbor.com

Monday, January 11, 2010

AML: Little Brother's many older brothers - NAM EthnoBlog

At 10:00 pm every Friday night, Mr. Pao, the Administrator of Students, rings the bell for everyone to go home, and…nobody moves. What kind of Chinese School is this that nobody is anxious to leave at 10:00 pm on a Friday night? Everyone, parents and teachers and students, are still talking and laughing, lingering a few more moments together, just one more person to catch. I slowly round up all my children from all their extracurricular classes—gu zheng, kung fu, yo-yo, art—find their coats, pick up their backpacks, and slowly make our way towards the front door.

But where is Little Brother? (click on link for more)

Little Brother's many older brothers - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Little Brother's many older brothers - AnnArbor.com


At 10:00 pm every Friday night, Mr. Pao, the Administrator of Students, rings the bell for everyone to go home, and…nobody moves. What kind of Chinese School is this that nobody is anxious to leave at 10:00 pm on a Friday night? Everyone, parents and teachers and students, are still talking and laughing, lingering a few more moments together, just one more person to catch. I slowly round up all my children from all their extracurricular classes—gu zheng, kung fu, yo-yo, art—find their coats, pick up their backpacks, and slowly make our way towards the front door.

But where is Little Brother?

I walk up and down all the hallways, ask the parents of all his little friends, check the upstairs and the gym and outside the back door. I finally find him in the multipurpose room, in the center of a big circle of teenagers, all twice his height (which is why I did not see him earlier), holding forth about his favorite Pokemon. Serious stuff.

Two of the teenagers, Brian and Stephanie, are fighting over him again, “Who do you like better? Me or her?” (click on link for more) Little Brother's many older brothers - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, January 7, 2010

MLK celebration set for Jan. 19 - Chelsea Standard - Heritage

By Joanne Ladio, Guest Writer

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang will be the keynote speaker at the 2010 community celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event is sponsored by Chelsea’s One World One Family Task Force and will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in the auditorium at the Washington Street Education Center, 500 Washington St.

Wang writes the Multicultural Living column for AnnArbor.com. She will address this year’s theme, “Living in Harmony.” Her column speaks to living with diversity and how to handle the everyday issues – good, bad and funny – that come with multicultural living. (click on link for more)

MLK celebration set for Jan. 19 - Chelsea Standard - Heritage

AML: Mochitsuki at U of M Center for Japanese Studies Saturday - AnnArbor.com

The wooden clack-clack of the kamishibai storyteller’s blocks calls us to brave the snow and head to campus to hear the tale of the Mighty Momotaro, each scene’s colorful pictures displayed in a wooden stagelike frame. The story is punctuated by the thump thump thump of the wooden kine in the other room, pounding rice in a giant wooden usu. This year there is taiko drumming, too, bringing us back to summer concerts and street fairs in California and Hawaii; as well as sumi writing and manga drawing and origami. Of course the ikebana flower arrangements and the elegant ladies in Miyabi playing koto are not to be missed. Finally, the food—so many different kinds of mochi, sembei, Pocky.

Mochitsuki is the traditional rice cake making that happens at the end of every year to preserve just-harvested rice for the winter and to make mochi for New Year’s Day Oshougatsu. Mochitsuki is a big deal in rural Japanese communities. It has become less so in urban communities who make their mochi in a mochi maker or the microwave or just buy it from a mochi and manju shop. However, there is a growing resurgence in Japanese American communities across the United States, who want to teach younger generations (fourth and fifth now) about their culture and heritage. It is always a lot of fun. (click on link for more...including an embedded video of super fast mochi making)

Mochitsuki at U of M Center for Japanese Studies Saturday - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

AML: Professor Margaret Noori discusses Native Americans of Michigan, the Three Fires Confederacy - AnnArbor.com

The fifty-year-old Native American dioramas and their attendant overlay exhibit, “Native American Dioramas in Transition” at the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum are coming down this week after increasing concerns about the way they portray Native American cultures as stereotyped, oversimplified, small, and extinct. However, that is hardly the end to learning about Native American cultures.

As part of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads, the Ann Arbor District Library will be hosting a talk by University of Michigan Professor Margaret Noori about Native Americans of Michigan, the Three Fires Confederacy: (click on link for more)

Professor Margaret Noori discusses Native Americans of Michigan, the Three Fires Confederacy - AnnArbor.com

Monday, January 4, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Swine Flu: How the "colorblind" H1N1 virus reveals our cultural differences - NAM EthnoBlog

I was invited to a special ethnic media briefing at Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle organized by New America Media (informally known as the AP of the Ethnic Press) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to get the word out about the H1N1 (swine flu) virus and vaccine to our ethnic communities.

At first, I was naively surprised to receive this invitation. I thought that the H1N1 virus ought to be “colorblind” and not care about race, ethnicity, or culture; that it ought to make our bodies sick the same way. Why would ethnic communities need special briefings? (click on link for more)

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Swine Flu: How the "colorblind" H1N1 virus reveals our cultural differences - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Swine Flu: How the "colorblind" H1N1 virus reveals our cultural differences - AnnArbor.com


I was invited to a special ethnic media briefing at Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle organized by New America Media (informally known as the AP of the Ethnic Press) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to get the word out about the H1N1 (swine flu) virus and vaccine to our ethnic communities.

At first, I was naively surprised to receive this invitation. I thought that the H1N1 virus ought to be “colorblind” and not care about race, ethnicity, or culture; that it ought to make our bodies sick the same way. Why would ethnic communities need special briefings? (click on link for more)

Swine Flu: How the "colorblind" H1N1 virus reveals our cultural differences - AnnArbor.com

Friday, January 1, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Oh! Oshogatsu! Missing Japanese New Year's Day - NAM EthnoBlog

The doorbell rings. The dog barks. I turn on the porch light, open the front door, and…

No one is there. Then I look down. A package!

Ooh, I was not expecting any more Christmas presents. I bend down to pick it up, and I hear the unmistakable sound of …

Rice.

A box of rice. A very big box of rice. Who would ship me a very big box of rice? (click on link for more)

Oh! Oshogatsu! Missing Japanese New Yejavascript:void(0)ar's Day - NAM EthnoBlog
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