Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Obama in Ann Arbor, rally for immigration reform Saturday - AnnArbor.com

On Saturday, May 1, tens of thousands of people are expected to attend hundreds of protest marches across the country in support of comprehensive immigration reform. These marches are being coordinated by The Campaign to Reform Immigration for America, a national coalition of individuals and grassroots organizations to build support for workable comprehensive immigration reform. According to their Web site: “Our vision of reform includes immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens working shoulder to shoulder to achieve better wages, working conditions, and labor protections. That’s our vision for a stronger America - for families, for workers, for businesses, and for security.”

Because President Barack Obama will be giving the commencement address at the University of Michigan on May 1, the Ann Arbor rally is drawing special attention. Busloads of people will be coming from Detroit, Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids, Pontiac, East Lansing, Kalamazoo. People will be gathering at Frisinger Park, located at East Stadium Boulevard and Woodbury in Ann Arbor, at 9 a.m., and marching peacefully to the University of Michigan Stadium.

The image of President Obama speaking inside the University of Michigan Stadium to thousands of students fulfilling their dreams of becoming educated professionals while thousands of immigrant students, workers, families and friends stand outside of the stadium calling out to the President to remember their dreams is a poignant one, especially following the recent passage of Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement law SB1070 and while the bipartisan DREAM Act to give undocumented students a path to citizenship continues to linger in the House. (click on link for more)

Obama in Ann Arbor, rally for immigration reform Saturday - AnnArbor.com

Monday, April 26, 2010

American Citizens for Justice showing Vincent Who? for LaborNotes Conference

I will be speaking today at a special American Citizens for Justice showing of the documentary film, "Vincent Who?" for participants of the LaborNotes Conference.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Deciphering and accessing the language and culture of American sports - AnnArbor.com

At Eastern Michigan University’s Chinese Week Gala Banquet, 6-year-old Little Brother snuck off with a group of Chinese American high school boys. I laughed when I found them in the lobby watching the Superbowl on TV. The Chinese organizers had scheduled this big gala event in the middle of the Superbowl, but that did not affect turnout because the Chinese participants did not even know about it. Sitting cozily in the middle of those older boys, Little Brother also did not know what he was watching or who was playing, but he learned it was important.

Sports are such an integral part of American culture that many take it for granted that everybody already knows how to play. When I was in eighth grade, the Physical Education teacher did not teach us how to play baseball, she just threw us out there with some bats and balls, and everyone else knew what to do and started playing. I did not even know how to hold the bat, let alone how or when to swing. I was terrified.

When my children started playing soccer in kindergarten, I always went to their practices at the park down the street, with the dog and their younger siblings. However, it was not until six years later that I suddenly realized that I was supposed to be going to their games every week, not their practices. Nobody ever told me. How was I supposed to know? (click on link for more)

Deciphering and accessing the language and culture of American sports - AnnArbor.com

Friday, April 23, 2010

AML: UM-OSU Rivalry fueling King School's Silent Auction: #325 The Karr Jersey - what colors will the principal wear? - AnnArbor.com

Sometimes those in the majority take their position for granted. Sometimes minorities have to really struggle to make their voices and perspectives heard. Occasionally, when a minority group organizes, they grow in strength, power, confidence, much to the chagrin of the majority group who has to adjust their heretofore unquestioned way of thinking. Race and culture are pretty charged topics in America, but we can see how some of these same themes play out in other, more gentle, less-charged territory. For example, in Ann Arbor, we are so used to seeing “our” colors, maize and blue, that we sometimes take it for granted that anyone else might prefer other colors, say scarlet and gray.

Oops, did I just call the U-M-OSU rivalry gentle and less-charged?

One of the auction items at this Friday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School’s Silent Auction is #325 The Karr Jersey, or the chance to make Principal Kevin Karr, who wears only maize and blue, wear another team’s colors.

Parents from Ohio State University have been organizing for months to collect enough pledges to ensure the winning bid to force Principal Karr into scarlet and gray for one day. They have reached out to each other and organized, they have grown in size and confidence, they have even contacted an elementary school in Columbus, Ohio, to help collect pledges to help their cause. Apparently the cause has gone viral. Excitement over this movement has even given young OSU fans the courage to wear their colors proudly to the school’s Friday Wear Maize and Blue Day. (click on link for more)

UM-OSU Rivalry fueling King School's Silent Auction: #325 The Karr Jersey - what colors will the principal wear? - AnnArbor.com

Speaking today at National Guard

I will be speaking today at the National Guard in Lansing as part of a big diversity training. Will present "Becoming Asian Pacific American in the Midwest--Identity, Culture, Community," plus many tools from the "Multicultural Toolbox," and of course my favorite Grace Lee Project clip.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

AML: El Dia de Los Ninos Cultural Celebration at Ann Arbor District Library Sunday - AnnArbor.com

If you Google “Children’s Day,” you find a huge list of countries that celebrate some sort of Children’s Day Festival, plus International Children’s Day and Universal Children’s Day. I always love the special dolls and kites on Japanese Children Day, originally known as Boy’s Day (kodomo no hi), and Girls’ Day or Doll Festival (hina matsuri). I am surprised to discover that the United States used to have a Children’s Day, too, before there was even Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, as far back as the 1860s, but it is no longer celebrated as such. We are lucky to be a multicultural community so we can celebrate Children’s Days in the context of many different family traditions throughout the year.

The Ann Arbor District Library, in conjunction with the Ypsilanti District Library, will be hosting an “El Dia de Los Ninos Cultural Celebration” Sunday, April 25, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., at the Downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library with Mariachi music, folkloric dancing, and traditional treats and crafts. According to the Ann Arbor District Library’s Web site, “On this traditional day of celebration, we will promote literacy for people of all cultural and language backgrounds.” (click on link for more)

El Dia de Los Ninos Cultural Celebration at Ann Arbor District Library Sunday - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AML: "American Daughters: Reflections On Being Muslim in America" Panel Discussion at Ann Arbor District Library Thursday - AnnArbor.com

Following Michigan Radio’s week-long series on being Muslim in America, the Ann Arbor District Library, in conjunction with the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and the University of Michigan Muslim Students Association, will be hosting a panel discussion about being a Muslim woman in America this Thursday, April 22, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library.

The panel of five women will discuss being Muslim in America from their own experiences and local perspectives. Discussion will center on the diversity of our community, how Muslims deal with the issues of multiculturalism, several tensions and barriers that exist in tackling this issue within the Muslim community as well as the broader community, and how these issues affect youth as well as adults. Discussion will follow. (click on link for more)

"American Daughters: Reflections On Being Muslim in America" Panel Discussion at Ann Arbor District Library Thursday - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Holi, Hetalia, Songkran, and Festifools - playing in the spring sunshine - AnnArbor.com

I was walking down Liberty Street with about thirty singing and laughing and high-spirited high school girls dressed up as World War II Axis and Allied Powers (long story, do not worry, just Hetalia cosplay) when coming towards us from the other direction was a group of happy and tired-looking university students covered head to toe in colors. Deep purple smudged on one cheek, blue and red smudged on the other, hair dusty pink and green, white T-shirts never to be white again.

Oh! Holi! I knew it was coming, but I had not yet gotten around to checking an Indian calendar and so I missed it (again) this year. Oh, the disappointment.

Holi is a boisterous Hindu and Sikh festival celebrating the beginning of spring by throwing brightly colored tikka powders at others. Songkran or the Thai water-throwing festival is a similar Thai festival offering revelry and relief from the heat in Thailand’s hottest month, April. Both mark the new year in April (different calendars), and both offer a chance to play outdoors in lightness and in fun.

I dreaded both these festivals when I first encountered them in Nepal and Thailand years ago. Maybe I was too serious then. Maybe I felt more vulnerable as an outsider. Maybe I was a bad sport.

Now I think we all could use more opportunities to play. (click on link for more)

Holi, Hetalia, Songkran, and Festifools - playing in the spring sunshine - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, April 15, 2010

AML: CAECC Chinese Spring Festival Saturday at WCC - AnnArbor.com

This Saturday, April 17, 4 p.m., at Washtenaw Community College's Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 E. Huron River Drive, the Chinese American Educational and Cultural Center (CAECC) of Michigan will be presenting its Chinese Spring Festival performance to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. Tickets are tax-deductible donations and cost $10 for adults, $5 for students and $90 for a group of 10 tickets.

One of Ann Arbor’s oldest Chinese cultural associations, CAECC is back on the scene after several years of quiet. Founded in 1976, CAECC is a 501c3 nonprofit and offers educational outreach and Chinese cultural classes like dance and martial arts to the community. Dr. Chen-Oi Chin is Executive Director.

In the same way that the Nutcracker ballet tells a story while showcasing different styles of dance, this show will weave a story about Chinese New Year’s rites, beliefs, customs and traditions through performances of dance, music and martial arts. (click on link for more)

CAECC Chinese Spring Festival Saturday at WCC - AnnArbor.com

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

AML: Muslims in Michigan Community Conversation Thursday on North Campus - AnnArbor.com

Michigan Radio, in partnership with the University of Michigan Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, and sponsored by a grant from the Social Science Research Council, has been airing a fascinating series of radio programs every day this week during Morning Edition and All Things Considered as part of their “Muslims in Michigan” project which examines the religious, cultural, political, ethnic and social lives of our state’s diverse Muslim population.

Tonight, April 15, 7 p.m., at the Arthur Miller Theater on the University of Michigan’s North Campus, 1226 Murfin Ave., there will be a special Muslims in Michigan Community Conversation to supplement this radio series. This community conversation offers a unique opportunity for listeners and members of the community to learn more about Michigan’s Muslim population. There will be a moderated panel discussion and an opportunity for audience members to submit questions. Questions can be submitted in advance. (click on link for more)

Muslims in Michigan Community Conversation Thursday on North Campus - AnnArbor.com

Friendship and Faith by the Women of WISDOM Book Launch

Friendship and Faith by the Women of WISDOM Book Launch today.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Speaking today at Purdue University's Asian Pacific American New Communities Symposium

I will be speaking today at Purdue University's Asian Pacific American New Communities Symposium as keynote speaker, thanks to super grad student, Kate Agathon. Also coming are Angry Asian Man, Blacklava T-shirts, Dawen, Kelly Tsai, Turtlist Media. So cool!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Unearthing our town's hidden cross-cultural treasures with the spring - AnnArbor.com

No school today, so I spend the day walking around town in the sunshine with my boy, Little Brother, unearthing so many hidden cross-cultural treasures with the spring.

First we go swimming at the YMCA. As we walk down Washington Street, he spots a (plastic) owl sitting on a second floor porch across the street. Leslie Science Center just visited his school, so he immediately identifies the specimen as “A Great Horned Owl” (rather than simply “an owl”) and he begins to hoot at it the way he just heard a real Great Horned Owl hoot in school. When it does not respond, his brow furrows, troubled. Then he concludes that it must be asleep “because owls are nocturnal.”

We stop in at Downtown Home and Garden to try on all the hats and visit with Louis. Like explorers on safari, we hunt through all the stacks of soil and seeds until we finally find Louis sunning himself in the front window by the porch swings. After only five minutes of Little Brother’s vigorous petting, Louis the cat escapes to an upstairs office.

Then Little Brother and I play with all the retro wooden toys. Ah, Americana...

...even though one of those simple wooden toys is a Buddhist prayer drum that my own little brother used to play with when he was a child, now mainstream. (click on link for more)

Unearthing our town's hidden cross-cultural treasures with the spring - AnnArbor.com

Saturday, April 10, 2010

AML: Grace Lee Boggs Lounge dedication at U of M Baits II Housing on North Campus Sunday - AnnArbor.com

At 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 11, a lounge at University of Michigan Baits II Housing on North Campus will be named for legendary civil rights activist and author Grace Lee Boggs.

According to an email from Emily Lawsin of the University of Michigan Program in Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies, “This will be the second lounge at U-M named after an Asian American woman activist (the first being the Yuri Kochiyama Lounge in South Quad)."

Boggs has spent the past 70 years working in labor, civil rights, the environment and African American and Asian American issues. She founded Detroit Summer, and is active at the Boggs Center in Detroit. She was the Keynote Speaker at the 2003 University of Michigan Martin Luther King Day Symposium. Last month, she was the Keynote Speaker at the University of Michigan Center for African American Studies’ 40th Anniversary celebration. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Michigan in December 2009.

Additional Note: Grace Lee Boggs will be speaking at the dedication program, which is open to the public and will be followed by a reception at the upper Coleman Lounge of Baits II Housing, 1440 Hubbard Road, North Campus, Ann Arbor. (click on link for more)

Grace Lee Boggs Lounge dedication at U of M Baits II Housing on North Campus Sunday - AnnArbor.com

Monday, April 5, 2010

AML: "They call me Muslim" documentary film at U of M's Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies Monday - AnnArbor.com

In 2004, the French government instituted a ban on all obvious religious symbols and apparel in public schools, including Muslim headscarves, Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses. However, most of the controversy and impact of the law focused on the banning of Muslim headscarves or hijab. I often wondered how French teenagers felt about not being allowed to wear hijab to school, if they really felt more free as the government asserted, or less free as their parents insisted. At issue is more than dress, but also cultural, religious and personal identity and expression.

The University of Michigan Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (CMENAS) will be presenting the documentary film, They Call Me Muslim, that answers that question and more, on Monday, April 5 from noon to 12:40 p.m. at the International Institute or School of Social Work Building, Room 1636, 1080 South University, Ann Arbor. From a CMENAS email:

In popular Western imagination, a Muslim woman in a veil - or hijab - is a symbol of Islamic oppression. But what does it mean for women’s freedom when a democratic country forbids the wearing of the veil? In this provocative documentary, filmmaker Diana Ferrero portrays the struggle of two women - one in France and one in Iran - to express themselves freely. (click on link for more)

"They call me Muslim" documentary film at U of M's Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies Monday - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Sorting through the varied hues of Easter - cultural or religious holiday? - AnnArbor.com

My father and I always sang in the church and school choirs, so every year we celebrated Easter by putting on our choir robes, singing joyously at Easter sunrise mass, and then going out for a Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny’s. After weeks of preparation, we were happy and stuffed and done with Easter by 9am.

Because I went to Catholic Schools, I always had Good Friday and the week after Easter off of school, while the public schools in California had a different week off, so I thought Easter was a straight-forward religious holiday.

I had no idea that there was more to Easter than Easter mass.

Years later, I was surprised when the mother of one of my Japanese American Buddhist friends mentioned that she always makes sure her family has a proper Easter dinner, with a big glazed ham. (I recently talked with another Japanese American friend who recalls not only always having a ham for Easter, but also corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day.) (click on link for more)

Sorting through the varied hues of Easter - cultural or religious holiday? - AnnArbor.com

Voices of Adoption RainbowKids.com: AML: Reading, sharing, curating and subverting books to expand the definition of normal

April 04, 2010/ Frances Kai-Hwa Wang/ Voices of Adoption RainbowKids.com/ Adventures in Multicultural Living

I just finished reading Lac Su’s memoir, "I Love Yous are for White People," a story about growing up poor and Vietnamese American in Los Angeles dodging gangs, alcohol and an abusive father. It was a tough read but a sobering reminder that many Asian Americans do not fit neatly into the model minority stereotype.

Now I am reading Bich Minh Nguyen’s memoir, "Stealing Buddah’s Dinner," this year’s Michigan Humanities Council’s Great Michigan Read, about growing up Vietnamese American in suburban Grand Rapids and her fixation on American food.

Both writers ache to belong to the world around them.

click on link for more: Adventures in Multicultural Living: Reading, sharing, curating and subverting books to expand the definition of normal - In celebration of both National Reading Month and National Women’s History Month _ books, reading, women, girls, asian, frances kai-hwa wang, adventures in multicultural living, multicultural, cultural, culture

Friday, April 2, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Hidden Treasures - PacificCitizen.org

No school today, so I spend the day walking around town in the sunshine with my five-year-old boy, Little Brother, uncovering so many hidden treasures in our city.

First we go swimming at the YMCA. As we walk down Washington Street, he spots a (plastic) owl sitting on a second floor porch across the street. Leslie Science Center just visited his preschool, so he immediately identifies the specimen as “A Great Horned Owl” (rather than simply “an owl”) and he begins to hoot at it the way he just heard a real great horned owl hoot in school. When it does not respond, his brow furrows, troubled. Then he concludes that it must be asleep “because owls are nocturnal.” (click on link for more)

Hidden Treasures

Thursday, April 1, 2010

AML: GenAPA Asian Pacific American Cultural Show at Power Center - AnnArbor.com

The 2010 GenAPA Cultural Show, Continuum, will be this Friday, April 2, from 7 to 10 p.m., at the Power Center. The GenAPA Cultural Show is touted as one of the largest student-run Asian Pacific American (APA) cultural shows in the nation, showcasing the incredible talents of our University of Michigan students and featuring a wide variety of Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipino, Korean, Indian, fusion, hip-hop and contemporary dance; step; hula; martial arts; music (traditional Asian, contemporary, and a cappella); Chinese Yo-Yo; and much more. Power Center offers a spectacular backdrop to this annual event and Asian Pacific American students come from all over the Midwest in order to watch.

The students quite naturally and skillfully traverse the traditional and the contemporary to create something new. Many of the performing groups are multiethnic and multiracial, brought together by an interest in the art form and the community. Recurring themes are unity, strength, cultural diversity, tradition, history, the future. (click on link for more)

GenAPA Asian Pacific American Cultural Show at Power Center - AnnArbor.com
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