Official Chinese Expulsion Day in Seattle

Left to right: King County Executive Dow Constantine, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, King County Council member Larry Gossett, and Bob Santos at the Chinese Expulsion Remembrance Rally in February.
On February 7, King County Council member Bob Ferguson announced February 10 as the official Chinese Expulsion Day in Seattle. To examine the historical racism, hostilities and expulsion against Chinese immigrants in Washington State in the 19th Century, escalating to a violent removal of Chinese in 1886, the Chinese Expulsion Remembrance Project has provided awareness and education around the history of anti-Chinese sentiments as a representation of the lawless acts of intolerance against ethnic minorities in Pacific Northwest history. The 1886 Chinese expulsion in Seattle was remembered on February 12 as more than 100 activists and supporters marched from the Seattle docks to the Chinatown International District, reversing the route made by Chinese, forced from their homes in Seattle in 1886.

40th Anniversary of the First Asian-Led Demonstration in Seattle

Photo taken during the March 2, 1971 rally at Seattle Central Community College. Photo courtesy Alan Sugiyama.
On March 2, “Seize the Time…Again” celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first civil rights demonstration led by Asian Americans in the Pacific Northwest. During February and March of 1971, the Oriental Student Union (OSU) of Seattle’s Central Community College protested against the absence of any Asian American administrators at the multi-ethnic college. Forty years later, former co-chairs of OSU Alan Sugiyama and Mike Tagawa commemorated the historical demonstration at Seattle Central Community College by showcasing photos and original documents from the protest.

Honorary Degrees to WWII Japanese American Internees

On June 12, the Seattle University Board of Trustees honored bachelor degrees to Japanese American students whose educations were disrupted by their forced removal to internment camps during World War II. Seattle University recognized the men and women for their academic achievements and the adversity faced when they were torn away from the community. Honorees and their relatives were in attendance to accept the degrees.

Architect and Philanthropist Ark Chin Passes Away

Ark Chin
Ark Chin passed away on Nov. 13.
Ark Chin, known as an architect, philanthropist, and local Asian American community leader, passed away on Nov.13 at the age of 87. Chin is remembered for his immense contributions to charity, public service and dedication to the APA community. During Chin’s college years, he served in the 100th infantry in Europe during World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Chin later became the President, CEO and Chairman of the Board for an engineering consulting firm called Carey and Kramer that became renowned for their work in pollution control and the design of the Seattle Aquarium. Chin’s other local contributions include establishing Kin On Health Care Center for APA elderly in Seattle and providing scholarships for students at Western Washington University and at the University of Washington.

Family Demands Hate Crime Charges for Danny Vega Killing

On Nov. 27, Danny Vega passed away after suffering a brutal attack by three teenagers in South Seattle in a suspected hate crime for being openly gay. Vega is remembered as being a “living legend” in the local Filipino American community. In a statement, Mayor Mike McGinn said the Seattle Police Department will fully investigate the possibility that the killing could be a hate crime. Vega’s family and friends honored Vega’s contribution to the Filipino community in a memorial service and in community gatherings. Vega had an active role in Seattle’s LGBT community, including his participation in the Miss FCS Gay and Miss Asian Gay pageants.

Non-Profit Mergers

The International District Housing Alliance and InterIm Community Development Association announced their merger on Oct. 20. The two largest housing-related nonprofit organizations in Seattle’s International District plan to leverage resources and build a stronger infrastructure to better serve Asian Pacific Islanders and refugee and immigrant populations towards finding permanent housing. Also, the Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center and Chaya announced their own organizational merger. At the end of June 2011, after several months in an exploratory pre-merger assessment phase, the boards of both organizations signed an agreement to merge.

Minority-Majority Congressional District

With one in four Washington residents a person of color and one in eight is an immigrant, these changes afford the first opportunity to create a congressional district where the majority of residents are people of color. Doing so would give a collective minority voice and community influence over impactful policies. There was also an opportunity to create up to two Central Washington legislative districts where most residents are people of color. A coalition of civic organizations submitted a unity map that drew specific districts to maximize representation for people of color and launched an education campaign to encourage citizens to attend 18 public hearings across the state.


Gary Locke Named U.S. Ambassador to China

Photo credit: Joshua Roberts, Getty Images.
On July 27, the U.S Senate confirmed Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as the U.S ambassador to China. Locke became the first Chinese American to assume the role, replacing Jon Huntsman, who left the position to enter the 2012 GOP presidential race. Locke was Washington State’s governor from 1996-2004 — becoming the first Chinese American governor in the nation. In 2009, Locke joined the Obama administration to be the chief advocate for America’s businesses as the Commerce Secretary. During the last two years, Locke oversaw the increase of American exports as well as taking the president’s lead official role for the National Export Initiative designed to make the United States more competitive globally in trade.

Formal Acknowledgement, Regret for Anti-Chinese Laws

In 2011, U.S Representatives Judy Chu, Judy Biggert and Mike Coffman along with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Sherrod Brown called on Congress for a resolution to the formal acknowledgement and regret for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. The Act denied immigration of Chinese laborers until it was revoked in 1943, when China became allies with the U.S. during World War II in the war against Japan. The 2011 resolution passed the U.S. Senate but has yet to pass in the House of Representatives.

Amy Chua’s Controversial “Tiger Mom” Book

Amy Chua with her daughters. Photo credit: Erin Patrice O’Brien, The Wall Street Journal.
Since its publication in January, Amy Chua, whose white-hot controversial book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” has been the embattled subject of derision, disgust, vitriol and death threats from coast to coast, on national TV, in major newspapers, magazines, blogs and tweets. Quick-stepping through an onslaught of verbal lynchings, the 48 year-old mother of two is quick to defend her third book as a “memoir” on how she was raised, how she has chosen to raise her children, and what she has learned in the process. Not since pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock revolutionized Western child rearing practices, going against conventional wisdom of the time, has the topic caused such furor and angst. At the time, Spock’s book “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” was considered out of the mainstream and today, is often blamed for the over-pampering and corruption of entire generations of Americans. Chua, championing extreme, harsh and abusive methods of Chinese/Eastern parenting, is the anti-Spock. Although she’s not the first to examine whether or not the Chinese have set a high bar worthy of reaching, the book feels like an Eastern finger poke in the Western eye.

San Francisco Elects its First Asian American Mayor

Ed Lee, the first Asian American mayor of San Francisco. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America.
Ed Lee, the first Asian American mayor of San Francisco. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America.
San Francisco’s first appointed Asian American mayor will also be the city’s first elected Asian American mayor. As of Nov. 10, incumbent Ed Lee, San Francisco’s city administrator at the time of his appointment, led the pack of 16 candidates with 61.2 percent of votes. Lee was appointed acting mayor after former Mayor Gavin Newsom won an election last November as California’s lieutenant governor. Lee said recently, “I worked so hard to make sure that we continue with the success this city knows so well. I’m going to work tomorrow, tired or not, because this city is worth the sacrifice.” The mayor declared victory on Nov. 9 after seeing the latest returns. Among the numerous candidates vying to be the first Asian American mayor of San Francisco were: Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, State Sen. Leland Yee, City Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting and college professor Wilma Pang.

A Record Number of APIs Running For Congress in 2012

William Tong is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut.
William Tong is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut.
A record number of Asian Americans are running for Congress in 2012, reflecting population gains and a growing sense of the need to flex political muscle, reported USA Today. Republican Ranjit “Ricky” Gill has already outraised Democratic incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney in California’s newly configured 9th District. In Illinois, two Democrats — Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tammy Duckworth —- are vying in the new 8th District. And two current Asian American officeholders — U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and State Rep. William Tong of Connecticut, both Democrats — are running for U.S. Senate seats. In all, at least 19 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) candidates have declared their bids for Congress so far in the 2012 election cycle, up from eight candidates in 2010. “You can’t call us invisible anymore,” said Gloria Chan, president and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), which compiled the data. “This spike in AAPI congressional challengers marks a definite political tipping point for our community.” There are 11 members of the U.S. House and two in the U.S. Senate who have Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander ancestry, according to the Congressional Research Service. Only one — Rep. Steve Austria of Ohio — is a Republican. Larry Shinagawa, director of the Asian American studies program at the University of Maryland, attributes the growth of Asian American candidates in part to the “Americanization” of younger generations and their realization that elected officials can have impact.

“Asian Americans are increasingly going into politics because politicians can make people’s lives different,” Shinagawa said. “They realize that civic participation is very important.” Today, an estimated 17.3 million people of Asian descent live in the United States, comprising 5.6 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The largest subgroups (in order) are Chinese Americans, followed by Filipino Americans and Asian Indians.

The Anti-Asian UCLA Rant and the Rise of Digital Asian America

Jimmy Wong’s creative and classy response to an offensive on-line video drew millions of viewers and sky-rocketed him as one of the voices of digital Asian America. In response to a racist March video rant by UCLA student Alexandra Wallace which included “ching-chong” verbiage while venting her frustrations over Asian students apparently using the phone loudly in the library, Wong produced a one-of-a-kind, witty musical response video to Wallace. The video went viral and to-date, has over 4 million views. (To view it, visit www.youtube.com/jimmy.)

Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Meltdown – Seattle Community Rallies to Send Support

Families recovering belongings in Kesennuma (Miyagi Prefecture, Tohoku Region) after the March earthquake in Japan
On March 11, a massive 9.0-magnitude undersea megathrust earthquake, now known as the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake or the Great East Japan Earthquake, struck off the coast of northeastern Japan at around 2:46 p.m., causing severe blackouts, fires, and a catastrophic tsunami. The Japanese National Police Agency confirmed 15,842 deaths, 5,890 injured, and 3,485 people missing across eighteen prefectures, as well as over 125,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.

The country faced its worst crisis since the atomic bomb during World War II. The earthquake was reported as Japan’s most powerful on record and some claim it is one of the five strongest on Earth in the last 110 years. An estimated 30,000 people were situated in temporary shelters, while vast parts of the country suffered from water and food shortages.

Nuclear power plants impacted by the earthquake and tsunami were of special concern. The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant complex endured level 7 meltdowns at three reactors, affecting hundreds of thousands of nearby residents. Around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water. Early estimates placed insured losses from the earthquake alone at $14.5 to $34.6 billion. Community groups across the globe, including many in Seattle coordinated fundrasiers to raise money for Japan’s relief.

Asian Americans Most Bullied in US Schools, Says Study

Asian Americans endure far more bulling at U.S. schools than members of any other ethnic group. When it comes to Asian Americans targeted for racial abuse and harassment, compared to other teens, the numbers aren’t even close. According to new survey data for the Bullying Prevention Summit, 54 percent of Asian American teenagers said they were bullied in the classroom, compared to 31.3 percent of whites who reported being picked on. And Asian American teens are apparently three times as likely to face bulling on the Internet. The figure was 38.4 percent for African Americans and 34.3 percent for Hispanics. The disparity was even more striking for cyber-bullying. Some 62 percent of Asian Americans reported online harassment once or twice a month, compared with 18.1 percent of whites. The researcher said more research was needed on why the problem is so severe among Asian Americans. The data comes from a 2009 survey supported by the US Justice Department and Education Department which interviewed some 6,500 students from ages 12 to 18.

Michelle Rhee Responds to D.C. Testing Scandal

Michelle Rhee. Photo credit: Gary Landsman, The Washingtonian.
Michelle Rhee, the face of an education reform movement sweeping across the nation, was called to answer for a cheating scandal that happened under her watch as the former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. schools, reported ColorLines. After initially dismissing the study, Rhee acknowledged that cheating may indeed have taken place in her district. The news gave more ammunition to critics of the education reform movement who say that an obsession with numbers-based evaluation systems of both teachers and students has consumed education.

A USA Today investigation found wildly improbable test erasure rates in some Washington, D.C. schools that led to inflated test score results. USA Today singled out Crosby Noyes Education Campus, which had posted laudable gains in its test scores and was recognized by Rhee, awarded extra money under new policies Rhee instituted, and received national accolades for what appears now to have been false academic progress. The USA Today investigation found that at Noyes, a large number of the erasures were from the wrong to the right answer.

Confession of Error for Hirabayashi-Korematsu Conviction

Fred Korematsu
In May, the U.S Department of Justice formally issued the “Confession of Error” for the wrongdoing of convicting Gordon Hirabayashi and Fred Korematsu as being national threats during World War II. It is the first such admission of wrongdoing since the 1940s, when the Supreme Court ruled against Korematsu and Hirabayashi, two young men who challenged the incarceration and related curfew orders that compromised the civil rights of Japanese Americans. After 70 years, the Justice Department has officially offered its mistake of their predecessor Charles Fahy, Solicitor General during that time who hid substantial evidence in the Korematsu and Hirabayshi cases that would have proven their innocence and little known security threat to the nation.

Yao Ming Retires

In July, after 9 seasons playing in the NBA, Houston Rocket’s Yao Ming announced his retirement after becoming an eight-time All-Star. Yao has created an impact beyond the basketball court including his philanthropic contributions such as donating $2 million to rebuild schools after the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China. Yao Ming has also become an iconic symbol — carrying China’s flag during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and expanding the NBA merchandise market and TV ratings throughout Asia.

Minority Babies the New Majority

For the first time, minorities make up a majority of babies in the U.S., part of a sweeping race change and a growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and predominantly minority youths that could reshape government policies, reported the Associated Press. Demographers say the numbers provide the clearest confirmation that racial and ethnic minorities will become the U.S. majority by mid-century. The preliminary figures are based on an analysis of the Current Population Survey as well as the 2009 American Community Survey, which sampled 3 million U.S. households to determine that whites made up 51 percent of babies younger than 2. After taking into account a larger-than-expected jump in the minority child population in the 2010 census, the share of white babies falls below 50 percent. Twelve states and the District of Columbia now have white populations below 50 percent among children under age 5 — Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey, New York and Mississippi. That’s up from six states and the District of Columbia in 2000. By contrast, whites make up the vast majority of older Americans — 80 percent of seniors 65 and older and roughly 73 percent of people ages 45-64. Many states with high percentages of white seniors also have particularly large shares of minority children, including Arizona, Nevada, California, Texas and Florida.

Award-Winning Journalist Reveals He’s an Undocumented Immigrant

Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas
A Pulitzer Prize-winning Filipino American journalist came clean with a secret he had covering up his whole life: he is an undocumented immigrant. In a New York Times Magazine essay, he went public with the truth. Jose Antonio Varga, who was sent from the Philippines to live with his grandparents in California when he was 12, said he came forward with his story to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would open a path to citizenship for people who go to college or serve in the military. Vargas shared that he’s lived the American Dream, graduating from college and enjoying a career as a successful journalist.

“But I am still an undocumented immigrant,” Vargas wrote. “And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am … And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.” Jose has launched a campaign called Define American to use stories of immigrants like him to urge Congress and the Obama administration to pursue immigration reform.

Kim Jong Il Dies

Kim Jong Il, the controversial North Korean dictator with a penchant for calling himself “Dear Leader,” passed away from an apparent heart attack on Dec. 17 at the age of 69. While Kim has been grooming one of his sons, the foreign-educated Kim Jong Un, to succeed him, his death still creates uncertainty for the isolated country’s future. For nearly twenty years, Kim’s bizarre and sometimes taunting rhetoric and actions made international leaders wary. He is blamed for recent surprise attacks on South Korea, including the suspected March 2010 sinking of a South Korean military ship and the bombing of a South Korean controlled island in November of that year, reported the Los Angeles Times. The leader reportedly suffered a stroke in 2008 but recently appeared in state media photos, touring government facilities. North Korea experts caution that the nation could be even more dangerous without the stability of Kim’s absolute rule. The leader, known for his bouffant hair and grey garb, came to power in 1994 upon the death of his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.

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