September 2011 Archives

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and Frances' Farewell--let us keep the conversation going

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, Sep 26, 2011 11:06 AM

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 The University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As usual for an academic department, they have all sorts of lectures and films and art exhibits and concerts and performances and colloquia and conferences planned.

Summer Chiang

Asian Community Involvement Low in SF Excelsior District

By Summer Chiang, Sep 22, 2011 2:11 PM

According to the 2010 census, the Asian population in San Francisco’s Excelsior District increased by 20 percent over the past ten years, making them the majority group in the city’s southern region, KTSF reports. Despite this, the report notes, community engagement remains low.

May Wong was born and raised in the Excelsior District and now heads the Excelsior District Improvement Association, founded six decades ago to address community concerns. She said many Asian residents have little interest in getting involved in community activities, noting that despite the child-friendly atmosphere offered by the district, most Asian parents are too busy with work and prefer staying home as opposed to taking advantage of what the neighborhood has to offer.

May encouraged Asians to come out, join their neighbors, and participate in community activities.

Chinese American Voter Education Committee Executive Director David Lee told KTSF that in District 11, which includes the Excelsior, only 20 percent of registered voters are Chinese, despite a 51 percent Asian population. This compares to the Sunset District, where 40 percent of registered voters are Chinese, and the Richmond with 30 percent.

Peter Schurmann

Lessons from the Hiker Saga

By Peter Schurmann, Sep 22, 2011 10:02 AM

Ed. Note: The following is a brief Q&A conducted with Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York on the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal after two years in an Iranian prison. Bauer had worked as a correspondent for New America Media prior to his detention.

What lessons can we take from the two-year detention of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal in terms of protecting journalists in the future?

The circumstances of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal's arrest and detention are highly unusual. Neither was on assignment when they were arrested, and they were not targeted because of their journalism. It's therefore very difficult to draw any lessons other than the obvious one: The Iranian justice system is cruel and perverse. We should not forget the dozens of Iranian journalists who remain in jail and who are subject to regular abuse.

How do you think Bauer's being a freelance journalist impacted the course of events surrounding the hikers' detention?

I don’t see any impact. My understanding is that they were on a recreational hiking trip in Kurdistan when they accidentally strayed across the border into Iran. We spoke on Bauer's behalf to dispel accusations that he was a spy. Shane was -- and is -- a well-established journalist who was living and working the region.

How would you describe American attitudes toward the case of Bauer and Fatal?

No question that it was a struggle to get Americans to understand their situation. Most Americans do not go hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan. But if you live and work in the region, and Shane did, you know that Kurdistan is a scenic and safe area.

Do you agree with those who say that America's detention of journalists, most notably that of Al Jazeera reporter Sami al Haj, has set a precedent for governments or non-state actors to use members of the media as pawns in international maneuvering?

The unjust detention of Sami Al-Haj at Guantanamo represents a blot on the U.S.'s press freedom record. But I don't think it played any role in Shane and Josh's prolonged detention, which was based primarily on the political calculations of the Iranian government.

In light of Bauer and Fatal's release, what advice would you offer journalists looking to enter into conflict zones or other potentially risky areas?

Again, it's impossible to generalize from Shane and Josh's experience since as far as we know they were not on assignment and were not detained for their journalism. Obviously, journalists need to exercise caution and prudence when covering stories that involve danger. At the same time, we need to recognize that covering certain critical stories requires risk and we need to support journalists who put themselves in harm's way to bring us the news from the frontlines.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Looking Both Ways' at the 'Made in China' label and 9/11 fears

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, Sep 21, 2011 12:15 PM

 The wall of 52 faces at the Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Looking Both Ways contemporary art exhibit is striking.

The styles are all different — formal, casual, realistic, cartoonish, playful, even black and white and fake-photoshopped. There are old men and young women, hipster rock stars and craggy-faced workers. There is a high mandarin collar, a hooded sweatshirt, a tie, a baseball cap, spiky dyed hair, a cigarette.

Andrew Lam

Asian Pacific Americans of Conscience on the Impending Execution of Troy Davis.

By Andrew Lam, Sep 20, 2011 6:53 PM

 A last-ditch clemency appeal by Troy Davis, who is set to be executed in a high-profile case on Wednesday for the murder of a police officer,  has been denied by a Georgia parole board on Tuesday.

In 1991 Davis was convicted and sentenced to death row themurder of off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Georgia two years earlier. Though a number of witnesses have recanted their testimony, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday denied Davis clemency.

On facebook as well as twitter and other social media his cause is being championed by various individuals, and organizations like, NAACP and Amnesty International are waging a campaign to have as many people to use text to sign their pettitions asking for the stay in execution. 

Below is a statement by Asian Pacific Americans of Conscience on the Impending Execution of Troy Davis. 

Georgia's State Board of Pardons and Paroles has recently rejected Troy Davis' clemency petition. Davis continues to face execution on Wed., Sept. 21 at 7 pm EDT. The killing by execution of Troy Davis must be stopped. The most compelling reason for this is that there is ample evidence that points to factual innocence. Decades ago an innocent Korean immigrant teen was unjustly imprisoned and almost faced death in California. Chol Soo Lee's life was spared because of the untiring efforts of journalists, lawyers, and community members who unearthed critical information missed by trial lawyers in that case. We have seen that the system is imperfect...over a hundred times in death penalty cases. There are options that can be exercised to save an innocent life. Therefore we must voice our experience and share the wisdom of that experience today. We all share in the act that appears to be imminent due to the failure of our justice system in the Davis case.

Troy Davis may be out of options in the justice system but he is not out of options in the realm of humanity and common decency. A life can still be spared and whatever standards or criteria are required by the justice system can be made more humane by way of an executive decision. Executive action is needed now, not an execution.

We urge that the Board reconsider its decision and that Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm seek a withdrawal of the death warrant and support clemency himself. We urge everyone to do what they can to stop the execution of Troy Davis.

More information on how to take action can be found at:


Angela Oh
Helen Zia
Maxine Hong Kingston
K.W. Lee
Jessica Hagedorn
Don T. Nakanishi

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