Again with the model minority stuff

This story was originally published in the January 19, 2018 issue of The Slant. Want Asian American news, media and culture in your inbox every week? Subscribe here.

When Trump made that horrifically racist comment about immigrants from Haiti and Africa, he also mentioned he would “welcome immigrants from Asia.”

Supporters defended him, saying it doesn’t make him racist—apparently because it was about economics, not race.

In other words, Trump and his supporters believe Asians (and Norwegians, apparently) are superior in skills and merit.

And once again, that upholds the outdated model minority myth.

A quick refresher

In Ellen D. Wu’s Color of Success, Wu argues that Asian Americans strategically crafted the “model minority” image of themselves as a survival strategy, assimilating when they were facing systematic discrimination.

Americans leveraged those narratives to increase diplomacy and dispel communism with Asia during the Cold War. But they also used Asian Americans as an “example” to dismiss African American protests, building a wedge between minorities.

And hell no, Trump—we’re not letting that happen again.

— Natalie Bui, editor

Is it too late now to An-sari?

This story was originally published in the January 19, 2018 issue of The Slant. Want Asian American news, media and culture in your inbox every week? Subscribe here.

Confused? Disappointed? Angry? Does it all sound a little too familiar?

Us too. The Slant‘s staff alone has been through probably 72 different emotions since the story broke Saturday.

Since it gets to the heart of heterosexual romantic interactions and sexual agency, there’s a thinkpiece to match every possible emotion.

Here are some that have given us perspective.

(CW: These pieces reference the original story, or include other accounts that may be upsetting to read.)

If you’re…

CONFUSED because it sounds like a normal interaction, or you’ve been in Ansari’s shoes and don’t understand what he should have done differently:

… read about why the normality makes it that much more important to examine, and how we need to start talking about enthusiastic consent, replacing “will she have sex with me?” with “does she want to have sex with me?”

FRUSTRATED with Grace for not asserting herself more, or confused as to why she didn’t just say “fuck you” and leave:

… read one woman’s understanding of why her initial reaction was “it’s not that bad,” an explanation of why women tend to give “soft no’s” or give in to something they don’t want, or this discussion of how we’re just starting to understand—but not fully practice—a healthier model of consent.

STRUGGLING to get past the writing and reporting of it:

… here’s an examination of the ways the reporting failed, but how the essence of the story still matters.

WORRIED this will hurt the #metoo movement:

… read this discussion of the generational divide between feminist movements, why we need to embrace nuanced conversations around consent and re-examine sexual norms, and why we shouldn’t underestimate our ability to do so.

ANGRY at the resistance for having this conversation…

… so are Lindy West and Samantha Bee. Let their anger soothe yours.

Jessica Yi, Natalie Bui, and Chery Sutjahjo, editors, who think making sure your partner is into it is the lowest bar for good sex—and don’t we all want to be good at sex? (Also thanks to Dalena Nguyen and everyone who shared articles with us and listened!)

Let’s take it one week at a time

This story was originally published in the January 19, 2018 issue of The Slant. Want Asian American news, media and culture in your inbox every week? Subscribe here.

Last week, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials raided 7-Eleven stores across the the U.S., asking employees for papers.

Those employees included several Indian American and other South Asian nationals in northern California—something inevitable when two-thirds of American convenience stores are owned by South Asians, according to the American Petroleum and Convenience Store Association.

And this week, that’s continuing, with the feds preparing to prove that sanctuary states like California won’t actually be sanctuaries … although experts like Pratheepan Gulasekaram, professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, say it won’t be sustained.

Enter … Chamillionaire?

On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 39-year-old Detroit resident Jorge Garcia was deported after living in the United States for 30 years, leaving his wife and two teenage children.

And since the Garcias have spent $125,000 in legal costs and fees, Garcia’s wife Cindy Garcia is worried about supporting the rest of their family.

Which is where Chamillionaire came in to help, offering financial support to the Garcias—the latest in a respectable history of philanthropy.

They see me readin / I donatin

It’s not the magic bullet that’s going to solve the immigration crisis, and definitely not something that may even help Garcia’s case. And maybe it’s a little too light a story for a difficult topic like this.

But when Chaillionaire cares more about American families than the White House does, it’s food for thought—and at least one bright light in this series of unfortunate events.

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who’s writin’ dirty


This story was originally published in the January 12, 2018 issue of The Slant. Want Asian American news, media and culture in your inbox every week? Subscribe here.

Let’s make like The Cure and talk about this frickin’ week.

MONDAY: Trump says H1-B visa holders don’t have to leave once their visa expires, although the visa might be reduced from 3 years to 1. (82% of H1-B visas in 2016 went to China and India.) But he’s also ending the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which shelters refugees, like 200,000 El Salvadorans and 45,000 Haitians now forced to leave. More on Haiti later.

TUESDAY: Trump meets with congressional leaders and seems to suggest he’ll sign any bipartisan plan, forgetting his own stance on undocumented immigrants. Judge Alsup orders the administration to uphold DACA in the short term.

WEDNESDAY: The high point of the emotional rollercoaster was short-lived, as ICE conducted early morning raids on nearly 100 7-Elevens across the country, the biggest Trump-era raid so far. I want to get off Mr. Bones’ Wild Ride.

THURSDAY: *cracks knuckles* At a meeting with lawmakers to continue the discussions from Tuesday, Trump surprises no one when he interrupts a conversation on protecting Haitian immigrants by asking why we would want people from “shithole countries”. Takes one to know one.


Immigration will be an issue for the rest of this administration. And while there may be some small victories (and maybe even a big one!), factions abound within the immigrant community, with too many legal channels that can kick them out.

We need to stay vigilant if we want to look out for our community. Watch this space.

Jessica Yi and Andrew Hsieh, editors, who probably shouldn’t be quoted as implying the president’s a shithole

Someone’s on thin ice

This story was originally published in the January 12, 2018 issue of The Slant. Want Asian American news, media and culture in your inbox every week? Subscribe here.

Heralded by angel trumpets and songs from on high, U.S. Olympian Ashley Wagner will once again grace the Winter Olympics with her presence, skating to La La Land songs while— * holds finger to earpiece *  

Sorry folks—it sounds like Ashley Wagner’s not going to be at Pyeongchang. It’s not like 2014 at all!

Some would say it’s the reverse

Yep, Japanese American Mirai Nagasu, who was passed over for the 2014 Olympics in favor of Ashley Wagner, despite Nagasu finishing third at the U.S. Nationals over Wagner’s fourth place, is back on the ice.

Except she never left. Since 2014, Nagasu’s become one of only three American women to complete the triple axel in international competition, which asks the skater to jump, complete 3.5 rotations in the air, and land backwards—seen performed here by Japanese skater Mao Asada.

And instead of sipping tea while gleefully reading the news, Nagasu reflected on what’s kept her going.

“I took on the full responsibility of becoming a stronger competitor and person,” she told Bleacher Report. “I wasn’t going to let a decision that wasn’t mine keep me from my dreams.”

The full roster

Mirai Nagasu joins a strong Asian American lineup on the U.S. skaters, including, as Phil Yu notes, Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, Madison Chock, and Maia and Alex Shibutani.

And so far, Asian Americans also round out Team U.S.A. in short track speedskating (J.R. Celski, Thomas Hong, and Aaron Tran) and, of course, snowboarding, with X Games champ Chloe Kim.

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who’s still bitter over Newsweek’s interesting profile of Kristi Yamaguchi

Spreading our light

This story was originally published in the January 5, 2018 issue of The Slant. Want Asian American news, media and culture in your inbox every week? Subscribe here.

There’s a new trend spreading among Parks and Recreation departments across the country. In order to drum up tourism, mid-sized cities are starting to host Chinese lantern festivals in city centers and public venues.

A quick search turns up dozens of festivals in the last few months and even cities without a large Chinese-American population, like Tulsa, Oklahoma and Columbus, Ohio are getting in on the action. And it seems to be working! (Which isn’t surprising, really; they’re super instagrammable).

But the lanterns aren’t just a pretty spectacle, and treating them like that’s how you end up with the Color Run: a 5k race where participants throw powdered dyes in a vivid example of cultural appropriation at its worst. Based on Holi traditions, the Color Run’s exactly how to whitewash all the significance out of a beloved tradition.

Let’s look on the bright side

Tourism dollars and entertainment value may be a big factor, but these festivals seem to be doing a good job highlighting their cultural roots and educating the public on the legends and myths associated with the lanterns. They also often feature performances by local Chinese cultural groups, food, crafts and more.

And it seems that Chinese production company Tianyu Arts and Culture is at least partially responsible for (or at least brilliantly capitalizing on) the trend. Tianyu hosts over a dozen of these festivals globally, and seems to use lanterns made by Chinese artists, letting them profit.

The takeaway? That cultural celebrations don’t obscure their origins, and that the culture that created something is present, participating and profiting.

Jessica Yi, editor, who thinks you’re luminous

Don’t call it a comeback

This story was originally published in the January 5, 2018 issue of The Slant. Want Asian American news, media and culture in your inbox every week? Subscribe here.

When it comes to politics, South Asian Americans are in it to win it. Indian Americans in particular are knockin’ it out of the park, winning appointment after appointment in the Trump administration.

But while California Congressman Ro Khanna, New Jersey State Senator Vin Gopal and former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal loom large, they’ve got something besides their ethnicities in common.

Three guesses. (They’re dudes.)

Hope you like surprises

Sure, there’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, California Senator Kamala Harris, and Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. But on the state and local level, South Asian women are even more marginalized.

Take Khyati Joshi, who chairs New Jersey’s South Asian American Caucus with Satish Poondi. While Joshi enjoys working with him, Poondi seems to get all the credit. “He’s often been the one recognized as the co-chair, and they just conveniently leave the other co-chair out,” Joshi said to ROI.

That ain’t right

And you don’t have to be Yuri Kochiyama to know it.

That’s why last September, thirteen South Asian women founded Inspiring South Asian American Women (ISAAW), a non-partisan organization helping South Asian American women network and engage in politics.

ISAAW’s based in New Jersey, which has the most South Asian Americans after California and New York. Already, South Asian women are stepping up to run for city council, mayor, and more.

And while the state isn’t represented by a South Asian on the federal level, ISAAW could help a South Asian American woman get there … and maybe make #ImWithHer happen again.

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who listened to “Mama Said Knock You Out” like 30 times today

Hitting pause on deportations 

This story was originally published in the December 22, 2017 issue of The Slant. To get Asian American news, media and culture in your e-mail inbox every Friday morning, subscribe today.

Last week, we reported that more than 70 Cambodians in the U.S. were set to be deported. We’re cautiously optimistic to say that, at least for now, that plan is paused.

In fact, while around 50 Cambodian citizens were set to be deported to Cambodia this week, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney in Santa Ana, CA, halted the deportations for one month, citing the need for “proper consideration to the complex issues.”

That doesn’t stop the deportations. It does give time for these detainees, all of whom arrived as child refugees, to review their cases. 9 others, however, had already been deported to Cambodia earlier.

Let’s rewind a bit

These detainees each have criminal convictions that have made them eligible for deportation, although they’re legal permanent residents. But they’ve also already served their sentences, and had even been released by ICE after.

To re-detain them, as Julianne Hing reports for The Nation, the government needed to show that they were threats to national security or flight risks. But ICE simply raided their homes and detained them.

Seems baseless

Yup. In fact, some detainees have already won temporary stays on deportation orders. Judges say a quarter of the Cambodians should have their orders reexamined.

Thing is, this is embarrassing. When some convictions are decades old, followed by productive, proud lives, deportation just sounds ridiculous. Hopefully, a month will be time enough for judges to see just how ridiculous.

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who’s NOT here for this nonsense

What that tax plan does

This story was originally published in the December 22, 2017 issue of The Slant. To get Asian American news, media and culture in your e-mail inbox every Friday morning, subscribe today.

You’ve heard about it from the “enemy of the people” (read: journalists). You’ve seen it scrawled on the labyrinth of Twitter. The GOP’s tax plan has all but been signed into law, and AAARGHHHHH.

Numbers can be confusing (I’m projecting here), so here’s our patented Slant Bulleted List™ on what this thing does. Find more details over at NPR, and use CNN’s nifty calculator to see how it’ll affect you.

The up-front stuff

This bill:

  • Lowers the tax rate on rich Americans and corporations. That’s 37% for wealthy Americans, down from 39.6%, and 21% for corporations, down from 35%.
  • Lowers taxes for most Americans until 2026. About 62% of Americans will get a tax cut until 2026, at which point they may actually start paying more than they currently do.
  • Eliminates most state and local tax deductions over $10,000. This will affect you if you live in a high-tax state like CA, NY, NJ and CT, have a larger home mortgage and/or are a high-income earner.

The even seedier stuff

This isn’t just a tax bill. It’s a “how can we make 2017 even worse” bill, because it also:

  • Repeals the individual mandate. Folks will no longer be penalized for not having health insurance coverage. 13 million more people may go without insurance, and premiums may go up 10% or more.
  • Lets oil and gas companies drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They’re not even being subtle about this.
  • Eliminates incentives for companies to subsidize commutes and snacks. Companies used to get a tax break for subsidizing $255 worth of commute aid. No longer! And they can’t deduct costs fully for free snacks, either. Hard to say whether companies will continue to feed the hands that work them.

I don’t like this

2017’s been rough, and this thing’s making even the future rougher. But 2018’s an election year. So pen—meet ballot.

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who’s joining y’all to get out the VOTE


‘tis the season for yearly roundups

This story was originally published in the December 22, 2017 issue of The Slant. To get Asian American news, media and culture in your e-mail inbox every Friday morning, subscribe today.

About this time of year, some people like to reflect on how far they’ve come—goals they’ve accomplished, challenges they’ve faced, meaningful things like that. I do the same thing, except I reflect by inhaling year-end roundups like it’s my job. Top tracks of the year, best puppy photos, most Googled phrases, I want it all.

But one list is a special gift: the 100 AZNs of 2017, inspired by The Root 100. In this inaugural issue, Leah Nichols identifies 100 Asian Americans, out of hundreds of candidates, who have contributed in the arts, leadership and entrepreneurship.

This list is literally 💯

This year, we’ve seen the 100 AZNs and more step up to tackle the turmoil and uncertainty our communities face. From fighting against “whitewashing” in Hollywood to speaking out about sexism in Silicon Valley to ruffling feathers in Congress, we’ve watched (and reported on!) Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) change the world through activism, acting, writing, policy-making, music and more.

Increasing visibility is ongoing work, and there’s no better time than now to sit back, reflect, and be inspired by the members of our communities who have pushed us forward this year: including the folks who make The Slant possible. (That’s you.)

Chery Sutjahjo, editor, who fancies herself the 101st AZN