Now Playing: Asian Americans!

This story was originally published in the December 15, 2017 issue of The Slant. To get Asian American news, media and culture in your e-mail inbox every Friday morning, subscribe today.

The Golden Globes and SAG Awards announced nominations this week and hey! Asian Americans made the cut! Hong Chau, Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang are among the honorees this year, as well as songwriter Robert Lopez. Actors like Kumail Nanjiani  were also recognized by SAG as members of an ensemble.

It’s also an exciting day for Asian American sci-fi nerds (s/o to our fearless leader Andrew) (why did I watch Star Wars on a Slant writing night?? -Ed.) because Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out and features Vietnamese actresses Kelly Marie Tran and Veronica Ngo, among a whole bunch of others.

Asians have made it to the galaxy far far away before (okay mostly in Rogue One), but having women and people of color headline one of the biggest franchises of all time is no small thing and we are HERE FOR IT.

(By the way, none of those links have spoilers for TLJ. Just saying.)

So is that it? We did it fam!

Okay, not really. While we celebrate these artists, we are clearly still at the beginning. The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition released its latest report card on Asian American representation at the major television networks and while things are improving, this year saw a record high grade of a B. Which in both Asian and representation terms is a failing grade.

Representation was a major topic of conversation at last week’s Unforgettable Gala, an annual event honoring Asian American trailblazers, and I think Daniel Dae Kim said it best: “Move beyond these notions of simply being included—to lead…If you’re a leader, you never have to beg for a place at the table because you’re the one hosting the dinner.”

Jessica Yi, editor, who encourages you all to host dinners and send her an invitation

Cambodians being deported in large numbers

This story was originally published in the December 15, 2017 issue of The Slant. To get Asian American news, media and culture in your e-mail inbox every Friday morning, subscribe today.

Since 45's visit to Asia last month, we've reported on possible deportations of undocumented Vietnamese, Cambodian and other immigrants. This past week, aid groups were informed that more than 70 Cambodians are set to be deported by the end of the month.

Usually, deportees come in groups of 10, so this will overwhelm Cambodia’s capacity to provide the appropriate amount of support and resources.

Where is this coming from?  

In 2002, the U.S. and Cambodia reached a repatriation agreement, which prompted stronger regulation of deportations between the two countries. But unless deportees had criminal records, Cambodia sometimes refused to accept them, citing inhumane treatment and negative effects on its citizens. 

This past September, the U.S. imposed visa sanctions on Cambodia for its refusal. Today, 1,900 Cambodian Americans are at risk for final removal, but approximately 158,000 Cambodian refugees arrived between 1975 and 1994.

What’s the impact?

Well, keep in mind that many of the Cambodians being deported were raised in the United States as children, so they are setting foot into a country where they don't speak the language, understand the culture, or the greater society at large.

The Returnee Integration Support Center, or RISC, is headquartered in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and helps deportees re-integrate into society. But considering the volume of deportation, it'll still be "a challenge."

Interested in signing a SEARAC petition condemning the deportations? Take a look here.

Natalie Bui, editor

A short, short time ago in the U.S.A.

This story was originally published in the December 15, 2017 issue of The Slant. To get Asian American news, media and culture in your e-mail inbox every Friday morning, subscribe today.

We write a lot about Asian Americans stepping up to the political plate, and though we've made some pretty great strides when it comes to elected office, Asian Americans have a ways to go before they reach the level of civic engagement that Black women have reached.

'cos it's safe to say that Black voters, and specifically Black women, are why Doug Jones beat Roy Moore.

Never tell me the odds!

That's the kind of trailblazing, red state-smooshin' turnout espoused by former San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, who passed away this week. As the city's first Asian American mayor, Lee was outspoken in his concern for the younger generation of Asian Americans, whom he deemed dangerously apolitical.

Even if Asian Americans knew about their history, Lee worried, they often seemed more interested in preserving a status quo that bolstered the "model minority" myth, at the expense of other disenfranchised groups.

And studies like one released by NYU last week, showing that Asian American teachers have less multicultural awareness than Black and Latino teachers, don't help the picture.

All wings report in

In fact, if Ed Lee's roots as a tenants' rights and housing advocate mean anything, it's that it's not just about getting Asian Americans into elected office. It's not even just about Asian Americans: it's about creating a sea change where Asian Americans will invest in and listen to non-Asian minorities.

After all, Asian American activism is built on the backs of Black activism. And judging by the way Black communities are trotted out every election, only to be ignored the rest of the time, donating to the folks doing the groundwork might be a good idea.

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who's getting off his soapbox now

Now Playing: White Male Asian Female

This story was originally published in the December 8, 2017 issue of The Slant. To get Asian American news, media and culture in your e-mail inbox every Friday morning, subscribe today.

This week, Natalie Tran (a.k.a. communitychannel) released the documentary “White Male Asian Female,” exploring interracial dating. She speaks with couples, an Asian matchmaker, Philip Wang of Wong Fu (and “Yellow Fever” 1 and 2) and others about why these relationships can stir up strong reactions.

At just under 40 minutes, it’s well worth a watch. Share your thoughts with us at, and in the meantime, here are some of ours.

As if making choices wasn’t hard enough

Without having seen the documentary (don’t worry, it’s on my weekend watch list), the term WMAF is already triggering for me, in a way that makes me think about my own choices when dating.

Interracial dating—particularly between a white male and an Asian female—brings up a lot of loaded topics. Underneath it all is that I feel I really have to acknowledge this power dynamic. White males live at the intersection of perceived dominance, and Asian women live at the intersection of perceived passivity. What does that mean for a relationship and how others view it?

Chery Sutjahjo, editor, who escaped the island life for a different kind of island life (Manhattan is still an island, guys. 🌴 vibes.)

Starting with the man (or woman) in the mirror

Attraction, “types” and cultural barriers are a real thing, but we live in a racist society, not a vacuum. And like any racial issue, it’s not really about condemning an individual, but demolishing harmful patterns.

So if you only date within one race and you’ve never really thought about why, ask yourself. If we want a “post-racial” dating world, we first have to reckon with why Asian women are more likely to date outside their race than Asian men, why some men see dating a white woman as a sign of success, and why most of these conversations don’t even consider people of other races as potential partners.

Jessica Yi, editor, is just trying to reckon with dating apps first

 We had more to say on this topic—and our full convo, including a deep dark look into Andrew’s Reddit history and the perspective of an Asian male porn star, will be up this week for our Patreon subscribers.

Let’s do the numbers

This story was originally published in the December 8, 2017 issue of The Slant. To get Asian American news, media and culture in your e-mail inbox every Friday morning, subscribe today.

Every now and then, there are stories that can pretty much be summed up by their numbers. Really thought-provoking numbers. That’s right: it’s time for another one of The Slant‘s quick picks news roundups!

43% of Fortune 500 founded by immigrants or their kids

And immigrants and immigrants junior founded 46% of tech companies in the Fortune 500. We’re talking Google (Sergey Brin, Russia), Tesla (Elon Musk, South Africa), and Apple (Steve Wozniak, whose dad immigrated from Ukraine). In other words, 45’s plan to stop foreign startup founders from getting temporary visas? Pretty short-sighted.

27% of Asian Americans say they’ve experienced job discrimination

More discrimination abounds: 27% say they’ve experienced it while applying for jobs, while 25% say it plays into being paid equally, or trying to rent apartments. That’s from a new NPR study out this week, conducted from a sample of 500 Asian American adults. There’s even more stats in NPR’s piece: check it out.

Hate crimes against Asian Americans in Sacramento rise 87%

That’s 155 hate crimes reported in 2016 in Sacramento, CA, up from 83 in 2014. Asians account for around 19% of Sacramento’s population, and that trend’s reflected in other metropolitan areas, such as New York. It’s not clear whether it’s the crimes that are increasing, or the reports—and hate crimes aren’t always defined as such. Look out for each other out there.

What came before us

This story was originally published in the December 8, 2017 issue of The Slant. To get Asian American news, media and culture in your e-mail inbox every Friday morning, subscribe today.

In 1969, five students from UCLA pitched in $100 each to start what scholar Karen Ishizuka calls “the first voice of the Asian American movement”: Gidra, a radical Asian American newspaper.

That’s the subject of an article by Clio Chang this week for Splinter. Gidra, named after a Godzilla kaiju, covered everything from anti-Asian discrimination in the workforce to American soldiers’ racism and sexism toward Vietnamese women.

And unlike the walled gardens of Asian Americans today—calling out The Slant here to step up, too—Gidra stood in outspoken solidarity with Black Power and the Chicano movement, and ran political cartoons that boast stark, radical messages.

Actual radical

As Chang writes, Gidra evokes the simple fact that “Asian American” once was a political term, not just a demographic one.

It’s a distillation of a time when Asian Americans weren’t thought of as the “model minority” myth, but rather a group incensed by the anti-Filipino Watsonville Riots, Japanese incarceration, and the Chinese Exclusion Act.

This is a paper that railed against the American police state, and encouraged oppressed people to revolt.

Your weekend reading

Above all, Gidra‘s a reminder of solidarity, and though I know it sounds cliché, it’s a reminder that can’t be forgotten. Clio Chang’s article is remarkable and Gidra more remarkable still.

For those looking for the first footsteps of radical Asian Americans, I highly recommend his piece, and Densho Project’s own archive of Gidra.

Now Playing: Runaways

This post originally ran in the December 1, 2017 issue of the Slant. Want Asian American news delivered to your inbox every Friday morning? Subscribe today!

In 10th grade, my friend Bianca introduced me to Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways, a comic book series about a group of teenagers who discover their parents are supervillains, and, well, run away.

These aren’t cookie-cutter teens, either. From Karolina Dean, who struggled with coming out in the early 2000s, to Japanese American witch Nico Minoru, who never quite got comfortable leading her team, the Runaways stuck with you, not because of their powers, but because of their humanity.

And now they’re on teevee

That hasn’t changed in Hulu’s adaptation of Runaways. Every scene is a delight, as the Runaways try to find the truth behind their parents’ actions with the kind of detective work only teens with smartphones could do.

Still, teens are supposed to be kinda obnoxious, but writers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage make it work. Tackling bullying, popularity contests and sexual assault, Schwartz and Savage don’t shy away from the realities of modern high school. Better, they do it with deliberation, not for shock value. And yes, there are superpowers, too.

Turn on Hulu already

Japanese American actress Lyrica Okano knocks it out of the park as Nico Minoru, just as her parents, played by Brittany Ishibashi and James Yaegashi, nail supervillainy without monstrosity. The fact that these are Japanese characters played by actual actors of Japanese descent is icing on the cake.

Runaways is only four episodes in, and though they haven’t exactly run away yet, the Runaways are laying the groundwork for one helluva talk with their parents. And I can’t wait to see it.

—Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who’s calling in all his connections to get Lyrica Okano on 6 Questions

And now, in local news

This post originally ran in the December 1, 2017 issue of the Slant. Want Asian American news delivered to your inbox every Friday morning? Subscribe today!

We do a lot of national stories, but Asian American news happens everywhere, and it all matters. So here's a local news roundup!

Racist jokes in the San Gabriel cop community

Asian American cops in the San Gabriel Valley, where 3 out of 5 residents are of Asian descent, are suing the police department for racial discrimination within the department. 

The accusations include not only racism in hiring processes (with only 7 out of 50 cops being Asian), but also the mentorship, assignment, and promotion opportunities that go to non-Asian officers with less education and less enforcement experience.

Then there’s the racial slurs, the bad accent jokes, and of course, arriving to crash scenes to say “their people” are just bad drivers causing all the accidents. Jesus Christ—how unoriginal.

Speaking of Jesus Christ…

There are 45 LGBTQ-friendly Christian churches in Orange County, and only about six of those churches are led by Asian Americans. Epic Church of Fullerton is one of them.

The turning point for Epic was the nightclub shooting in Orlando that made lead pastor Kevin Doi begin preaching on stories like that of Grace Lee, a member of the congregation who was also a queer Christian. It's the short version, but if conservative Asian American churches can shift to LGBTQ acceptance, anyone can.

And lastly… Minnesotans love Hmong food!

With over 10,000 Hmong refugees in the upper Midwest, Yia Vang is cooking up the best Hmong dishes and making sure we know where it’s coming from. And for him, it’s the best way to tell the Hmong story.

Traditionally, Hmong people were nomads—and that shows up in their cooking: their food just keeps progressing and building on top of every culture they move through. The best part is that the Twin Cities are eating this all up, literally and figuratively, and getting a heaping helping of Hmong culture to go along with it.

Natalie Bui, editor, who is still eyerolling at the unoriginality of those cops

We count

This post originally ran in the December 1, 2017 issue of the Slant. Want Asian American news delivered to your inbox every Friday morning? Subscribe today!

Okay, so it’s not the sexiest topic, but it’s about time we talk data. Census data, that is.

While the census itself won’t take place until 2020, the Census Bureau is reportedly already behind in its preparations. The census has never been perfect, historically undercounting people of color, immigrants, and rural and low-income communities. That includes Asian Americans and particularly Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

And it’s not going to get any better this time around. The Census Bureau wants to implement new counting procedures, based around a major effort to move counting online to reduce costs. But the bureau’s budget, like that of many federal agencies, is being slashed and they have had to cancel or postpone important tests. It’s bad enough that the Government Accountability Office has labeled the 2020 census “high risk”.

Can you be represented if you don’t officially exist?

Census data is the basis for much of how federal resources are allocated: the number of representatives a state gets in the House, the way voting districts are drawn, and perhaps most crucially how $675 billion in federal aid gets distributed.

Data is a tremendously powerful tool. If we can’t identify areas of need, then they can’t be addressed. And if we’re not counted, then we don’t count. When populations are left out of the census it can cut off their access to crucial programs, reduce government representation, and lead to gerrymandering. Leaders are sounding the alarm already, hoping to turn this ship around before it’s too late.

Jessica Yi, editor, who is trying to salvage (aka finish) an open bottle of wine that is about to go bad

Instant success

This post was originally published in the November 24, 2017 issue of the Slant. Like what you see? Subscribe to get Asian American news, media and culture in your inbox, every Friday morning.

It’s 2008, and you’ve just gotten laid off. The bad news? You’re out a cushy software engineering job. The good news? You’ve got time to cook healthy for the kids … and help everyone else do it, too.

In other words, you’re Robert Wang, inventor of that burgeoning housewarming gift, the Instant Pot. Starting with five functions, the Instant Pot’s since grown to ten, and will probably have as many functions as there are Pokémon when all’s said and done.

Just add food

These days, everyone knows and loves the Instant Pot, including folks you’d think would poo-poo it, like James Beard award-winning authors J. Kenji López-Alt and Melissa Clark. And of course, 750,000 users in Instant Pot’s Facebook group don’t lie, either.

But like any cool product, Wang’s Instant Pot had some growing pains. Being a beginner-friendly product, the Instant Pot needed a burn detection solution, and in Wang’s words, this took months of “burning a lot of food” to work.

Sure, we’ll do that

It took 18 months of R&D to get the Instant Pot on the market, but Wang and co. haven’t stopped there. These days, they rely on their community to suggest new features, including the ability to sterilize a baby bottle in the pot.

Which is just to say when the Singularity happens, Instant Pots will probably be where it starts.