Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Homefront: The Face of Xenophobia

Several days ago, I got an audition for an internet ad campaign called "The Journey" where they needed Korean men. At first, I was extremely excited and also because the gig paid $300 a day. But then when I looked closer, I realized that the internet ad campaign was for the upcoming video game Homefront.

Homefront, we meet again. The last time I saw you, I was a North Korean marching soldier for the 2010 e3 convention promoting you several months ago. For those of you who don't know, the story of Homefront takes place in the near future, in a world where N. Korea takes over South Korea then all of Asia, and then proceeds to invade America. It's basically the premise of the "Red Dawn" remake that's coming out next year but loftier (and written by the original Red Dawn scribe John Milius).

Even before its release, this internet ad campaign and the game itself will bring incredibly troubling depictions of East Asians, especially Koreans for the mainstream video gamer consumption. Down below is an audition slide for the Captain role I was called for. The second side after that is another side I found that gives you a good idea what kind of game "Homefront" is:

This surburbia has gone to rot with overgrown lawns, garbage
and decay. A large army truck is in the background and a
ragtag group of AMERICANS are getting on it, carrying ratty
suitcases. KOREAN SOLDIERS oversee the operation.
Its evident that the camera is hidden and recording from an
unseen vantage point.
The camera shifts and zooms in as two KOREAN SOLDIERS are
pulling a dirty HOMEOWNER out of his broken down house.

I’m staying! This is my house. I
paid for it! Get your fucking hands
off me.

The soldiers pull the man into the street and then hold him
as a KOREAN CAPTAIN runs up to the altercation.

What is the problem, soldier?

He refuses to leave his home.

American comrade, you are being
relocated to a better place where
you will have food and shelter.

Fuck you, I ain’t no comrade! This
is my home. This is America. I can
live where I want!
The homeowner spits on the Captain and struggles against the
soldiers holding him.
The Captain wipes the spit from his face, calmly pulls a
pistol from his belt and shoots the American in the head.
The soldiers walk back to the truck as the body bleeds out.

---- Here's the other side -----
The Korean hostage sits against a concrete wall between two
masked American resistance members. He wears a Korean army
uniform that is dirty and torn and has bruises on his face.
His left arm lies broken in a dirty sling. When he speaks he
is emotionless, almost as if he’s reading from a script.

My name is Lee Yang and I am a
solider of the Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea. My blood type
is A+. I was captured five days
ago by brave American freedom

What was your personal mission?

I was sent to Montana to make sure
that the Americans who lived here
did as they were told. It was also
my personal duty to help oversee
and supervise the loading of train
cars filled with minerals for
shipment to San Diego.

What do you think now?

I know what Korea is doing is
wrong. I understand that I was a
bad person, a bad soldier. I wish
nothing more now than to help the
Americans by telling them
everything I know about army
movements and what we are doing in
the area. Long live America.

America is fighting back. This
will be the fate of any Koreans who
try to stop us. We will take as
many hostages as we can. Save
yourself. Get out of our country. Long Live America!

I looked at the sides over and over again and then politely turn the audition down. Here's the thing. The Captain role pays $300 per day and in this economy, money is no joke. At this point in my life, I know I'm not a starving artist because I have a job that helps with paying the rent and food so I have the luxury of turning this role down. I know that where I am in how I see myself, I choose how I want to be seen and if it means turning down a role that makes me feel sick to my stomach, I will uphold that integrity. I am aware of that fortune that I have, a fortune that cannot be shared with many actors here in Los Angeles. There will be Korean actors, East Asian actors, who will take these roles even if they know they will be the face of xenophobia simply because they want to have a paycheck and to be able to eat and pay for their electricity bill. I cannot judge them for that because in this cut-throat business, you do what you got to do in order to stay alive and move ahead.

But in my personal opinion, to be in this internet ad campaign is like having a huge banner sign over your head saying that All Koreans and Asians are not to be trusted and that in the end, you are a dangerous foreign yellow menace. From these audition sides and intention of this game, I am reminded of WWII propaganda where the American government posted flyers of Japanese people as inscrutable dangerous beings and in turn was one of the major reasons why over 120,000 Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps.

And that's what this game reeks of. Propaganda to promote American superiority when confronted with fear and paranoia of the Asian foreign menace (whether it be North Korea or Muslims). People may brush this aside and say that I'm being too negative and pessimistic over a game. Relax, they say, it's just a video game. But in this day and age, you cannot underestimate the influence of video games and, more importantly, the power of human stupidity. Media depictions of minorities, especially violent ones, often paved way to hate crimes as people are unable to differentiate between fiction and reality. If the media says so, then it must be true.

In the end, the choice is yours. You do what you believe is right and nobody, let alone a kid blogging about protesting over an internet ad campaign for a video game, can stop you.

But ask yourself:

Is it worth it to be the face of xenophobia?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Love & Progress in the City of Angels

As soon as my fingers landed on this keyboard writing on this entry for my beloved HanSarang Movement, I forgot what it was like to write for myself and talk about anything that I want in this space right here.

Ahhh..It feels like home.

It is now June 25th, 2010, making it four months and twenty four days that I've been here in Los Angeles. It's only been about a third of a year but already it feels like I've been here for a lifetime. Since I landed, every single day has been filled with auditions, callbacks, a few landed gigs, taking a wonderful acting class at Beverly Hills Playhouse, networking with the Asian American community here in the city and meeting some truly wonderful, beautiful people along the way, getting my car window smashed in and broken into, working as an enumerator at the U.S. Census Bureau, hot mess fights with my very emotionally moody roommate who has an Asian men fetish, writing for an Asian American online publication, and so many more adventures and misadventures that I rather end this incredibly long sentence right now than drag it on any further.

All of this in my pursuit to become an actor and social justice activist.

It's been particularly rough taking my chance to be an actor and I can only say that I am extremely blessed to have supporting friends back in Virginia, South Korea, Los Angeles, and from all over who is cheering me on. But most importantly, I am blessed to have an understanding mother and father who supports me emotionally and financially. I've always had a reluctant relationship with them in the past but for them to be so supportive of what I am doing now by myself here in Los Angeles, it means the world to me.

I am not represented by any agency nor do I have a pile of gigs coming up. Then again, this is a story that can be shared with countless, hard-working actors out there right now. The journey to accomplish this has never been an easy journey in the first place and ties directly to the reason why life has never been boring here.

Yet despite the hardships and obstacles, I feel good because I know I have love and support from so many. I feel good because I know my other passion as a social justice activist keeps me strong and no matter what happens, I will do my utmost best to make the best for myself. I feel good because I have a wonderful acting class at Beverly Hills Playhouse with an astounding teacher who I am learning so much from.

So let's take the last sentence off and carry on that thought.

Beverly Hills Playhouse is this acting class that lots of known actors in the past have been taught under in the past and was created by Milton Kaselas. Okay, history lesson done.

During my two months in this class, I have met truly dedicated actors and performers who put their absolute best in their scenes, even with all the baggage and drama they got going on in their lives. I have met a fabulous acting teacher by the name of Art Cohan who told me to look beyond my Asian skin and find characters and roles that I relate to internally, because that's what matters the most. If there's anything I can boil down for this class, it's that it's filled with love and with all this love, it has inspired me to be the best goddamn actor I can be. It has also inspired me to be the best goddamn human being I can be as well. That's how great this class is.

I am most fortunate to have met such people here in the City of Angels and elsewhere, with particular shout outs to Lac Su, Kate Agathon,Emily Wu, Steve Nguyen, Sabina England, Kristina Wong, Beau Sia, and so many more.

Love. That's what it's all about. That's what keeps me going and I just know that I gotta do my best and pay it forward.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Welcome Back

It's been nearly two months since I wrote my last entry and it's been too long. After writing furiously for 8Asians, Projekt Newspeak, and now with my 3rd responsibility as an APEX blogger, I realize that I need to return back to the HanSarang Movement, the place that got me started.

It's good to be back home.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Better World?

If there is one thing I first learned about being an activist is that there is no glorious finish line to cross, there is no final war or enemy to vanquish... there is no happy ending.

There will always be cruelty, ignorance, prejudice, hatred, and violence in this world, and the purpose of the activist is to constantly be updated about such events. They must know such things so that they can speak out about it, to fight against it, and to let it be known so that action can be taken.

It is equally burdening for activists when people from their own community will attack them for their efforts and declare that they are only a problem, not the solution. While it can be noble and courageous to be outspoken, it only makes the activist a more vulnerable target for others to spit on and mock.

The life of an activist is a lonely one and it's so tempting to just forget about it all, to just fuck the people you're trying to help since they don't give a shit anyways, and enjoy a life of ignorance and bliss and eat Cinnabons all day.

I guess I'm being bit of a Debbie Downer, huh? I might as well the full story but as you read this, please keep in mind that I mean no disrespect to the individual who I am talking about and that despite whatever happened, I will always respect him, his work, and his passion to help out the APA community.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Future of Ethnic Studies

The field of ethnic studies have grown tremendously during the past 40 years, ever since it first came into existence during the 1960's. Despite the many arguments for and against ethnic studies, it has opened up the horizons of what it means to be an American, to be a person of color...to be a human being living in a world that is constantly changing around us.

A friend brought up his opinion where the name "Ethnic Studies" is a bit silly. As soon as he said that, it triggered a feeling that I had for a long time and that is that I feel the exact same way. Sure it may be an easy way to describe the many fields dedicated to various ethnicities but the name that brings their common element altogether, in my frank opinion, sounds a bit exotic and outdated.

I say this because we are in a time where we have a black President and by 2050, everybody will be a minority in the United States. When this time comes, do we still keep the name of "Ethnic Studies"? "Minority Studies" won't really work either when 2050 comes since we will all be minorities. What happens when we are living in a world where everybody is of mixed heritage and it goes beyond having ties with just one or two or three ethnicities? How about eight? There is a saying that when that time comes, we have no choice but to just call ourselves "humans".

I think I would like that future...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Freedom to Express Racial Identity & Mental Health Issues

Some parts of this post have been recycled from the entry: "YouTube/Google Restricts Racial Identity Expressions" but new material have been added as well as a new perspective to where I am right now. My personal crusade against YouTube is over because after much consideration, I realize I don't need to waste my time on it. Unlike organizations with the weight of thousands of members, I am just an individual with a little poem and with just that as my luggage, I have the freedom to tell my story to whoever will listen. So with that said, here is the revision and conclusion of "YouTube/Google Restricts Racial Identity Expressions".

The First Amendment is a right that we as Americans hold dearly with pride. But at the same time, this right comes with its own limitations and hypocrisies. You can't falsely yell "FIRE" in a public facility nor can you publicly declare that you want to assassinate the President. These things will immediately get you in serious trouble. However, the KKK can rally in a neighborhood even if nobody wants them there, and anti-abortionists can wave around bloody fetus dolls. While these voices are frowned upon, nevertheless, they have the right to express what they need to say. Yet there have been times when highly controversial opinions have been silenced because they dared to say something different, especially when it comes to matters that make people uncomfortable.

Two weeks ago, I uploaded a spoken word piece on YouTube that pertained to my former self-hatred as a Korean-American, my unfathomable connection with the VA tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, and as a result, me finding love and acceptance with my racial identity. The poem was titled: "To Seung-Hui Cho". The poem was not about condoning or glorifying Seung-Hui but rather how his life and mental health issues inexplicably found a connection with my own troubled youth. I put a warning in the description box that the poem would be very controversial and that it required the viewers to listen with an open mind and heart. This is the poem in its written form:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Asian Activism Banned By Major Corporations

On March 14th, 2010, YouTube/Google banned my spoken poetry piece "To Seung-Hui Cho" because it violated their guidelines for inciting violence and hate speech. I will not be quiet, I will stand up and fight.

But today, another major corporation shuts down another Asian American voice. I got word from a fellow activist that Facebook shut down a facebook group called: People Against Racebending: Protest of the Cast of The Last Airbender Movie. The group has been around since the early days of the protest against the whitewashed casting of M. Night Shymalan's live action adaptation of the "The Last Airbender" and as of last week had almost 6,000 members. The original cartoon show featured Asian and Inuit characters, heroes portrayed by people of color and as such, the show was celebrated for its inclusive diversity. This group was formed because in the movie version, the ethnicities of its Asian and Inuit characters are erased and put to the background while Paramount cast white actors to play lead characters of color. Racebending is calling out to all of its members to boycott the movie when it comes out. They have had an impressive following and stood firm despite many oppositions. On March 15th, 2010, Facebook sent the owners of the group this message:

The group “People Against Racebending: Protest of the Cast of The Last Airbender Movie” has been removed because it violated our Terms of Use. Among other things, groups that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down groups that attack an individual or group, or advertise a product or service. Continued misuse of Facebook’s features could result in your account being disabled.

The Racebending staff has issued a statement Facebook to ask what the facebook group exactly violated. While Facebook does respond to its users every now and then, YouTube/Google has not been kind enough to put a customer service contact and their phone number points people to useless information that they do not need. My battle with YouTube will continue but I cannot expect them to put up my original video back...only my response titled "YouTube/Google Restricts Racial Identity Expressions" will hold. The people can only wait if Facebook will ever respond and explain why the group was removed.

Action will be taken and this incident will go public if two things happen: if there is no response in seven days or if Facebook does declare that the Racebending group is indeed offensive and deserves to be taken down while groups that dedicate itself to assassinating Obama are still up.

I am already doing that for YouTube/Google because they don't care about their users at all (I can only say this because there is NO way to actually contact YouTube when it comes to customer service). I hope the same can't be said for Facebook.

"Know Your Enemy" by Rage Against the Machine is my mood right now. Fight the power, fight the system that dares to silence us.

YouTube/Google Restricts Racial Identity Expressions

Two weeks ago, I uploaded a spoken word piece on YouTube that pertained to finding love within myself and my racial identity, self-hatred as a Korean-American, and my unfathomable connection with the VA tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho. The poem was titled: "To Seung-Hui Cho". The poem was not about condoning or glorifying Seung-Hui but rather how his life and mental health issues found a connection with my own troubled young life. The poem also touched upon mental health issues within Asian Americans, issues that are often ignored by society and their own families. I even put a warning in the description box that the poem would be very controversial and that I could only hope that people would read this with an open mind and heart. This is the poem in written form:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Root of Passionate Activism

UPDATE: Someone in the YouTube community flagged my video for the spoken word piece, "To Seung-Hui Cho" and YouTube has been kind enough to remove the video. To this, I will put up another video but this time you will actually see my face when I perform it. And because people are so quick to judge, I will put a foreword so that I can explain myself to the stupid and judging people out there in the world.
Finding direction and passion about something in this world is a dilemma that troubles many people around the world and more often than not, people wander aimlessly in frustration and resignation. For me, I found my passion in activism and what it took to get me on this path has made me recently wonder if this applies to others who are passionate activists as well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Superheroes within the APA community

Ever since I totaled my car three days ago, I've been mostly confined to my local area in Los Angeles and passing my time by playing the guitar, working out, reading, calling multiple casting directors that I apologize for missing their auditions (missing a particular one broke my heart so I let the director know he could use me as a crew hand or extra), and...re-watching the entire Justice League cartoon series.

Nerd alert?? Okay yeah, I'm gulity as charged. While I'm not an avid comic book reader, I cannot lie...I am a huge fan of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, GI Joes, Transformers, Spiderman, X-Men, the Hulk, and so on and so on. I love what they represent and how they vanquish evil and I especially love how modern renditions of these characters make them complex and flawed characters, just like normal human beings.

But as much as I love these superheroes, I wish there were more superheroes who looked like me but not done in a way where they represent the insidious yellow peril but as fully fleshed out Asian/Asian-American heroes. What I did not know in my yearning for more superheroes that looked like me were that there are real-life Asian American superheroes who work behind the scenes to bring these classic heroes and villains to life as well as creating new superheroes who are of Asian descent.

Larry Hama. Bernard Chang. Greg Pak. Jerry Ma. Keith Chow. These are only few of many amazing Asian American comic book writers and illustrators who have crafted many of the heroes the American public has come to love and know. For this post though, I want to focus on Larry Hama and his legacy as a comic book writer and illustrator for the past 40 years.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hatred, Prejudice, and Freedom of Speech

Today, an old friend of mine in UCSD told me about a certain incident that occurred at his college where one of the fraternities held a frat party called "Compton Cookout" during Black History Month.
The invitation urged all participants to wear chains, rapper-style urban clothing by makers such as FUBU and speak very loudly. Female participants were encouraged to be "ghetto chicks" with gold teeth, cheap clothes and "short, nappy hair." The invitation said the party would serve watermelon, chicken, malt liquor, cheap beer and a purple sugar-water concoction called "dat Purple Drank."
In this college, black students only compose 1.8% of the entire student population and when they protested against the party, a student magazine called the Koala commented by saying that the black students are "the ungrateful n****** who were not thankful for the party that was thrown in their cause". Later, this was taken down and replaced with a less racist but still hostile message: "The Koala would like to condemn the organizers of the Compton Cookout.  If history has shown us anything, you need more black people at your party to have enough black-on-black violence to actually justify the  name "Compton."  Shame on you.  SHAME."

Looking through the website and immediately noticing one of their covers with the title of "Night of the Horny Asians" and a picture of dead Haitian children, I can immediately say that for a student magazine, this has got to be one of the most tasteless, offensive, and insensitive magazines I have seen that is distributed to students, funded by the college administration. People who actually find this funny at the expense of other people's ethnicities and gender infuriates the crap out of me and makes my blood boil. Though I'm growing older and hopefully wiser, I'm still a hothead and it takes a considerable amount of effort to calm myself down and be rational when I come across racist ish like this.

There have been several UCSD students that have mobilized to take action against the Koala magazine and many are in favor of shutting the magazine down completely, while others are requesting that the school stop funding the magazine altogether. As much as I want this magazine to go away from the face of this planet, we are in a country where the First Amendment grants us the freedom to say whatever the hell we want, as stupid/ignorant/hate-filled it may be.

But the First Amendment guidelines aren't so simple. You can't yell "FIRE" in a public facility nor can you publicly declare that you want to assassinate the President. These things will immediately get you in serious trouble. However, the KKK can rally in a neighborhood even if nobody wants them there, anti-abortionists can wave around bloody fetus dolls...and the Koala can make the former statement mentioned above.

While universities and colleges are designed for students to grow and learn in a conducive, open environment, it becomes an issue when student-run publications and organizations can do the opposite and target a specific minority and express their belligerent ignorance and hatred. Do these people have the right to do that and make students (in this case, the black students in UCSD) feel like they don't belong?

In my honest opinion, they do.

Yet when I say that, I am grinding my teeth because as a person of color and as an Asian American, ignorance and prejudice are no strangers to me. When you are a minority group that is underrepresented and have no voice, it is hard for anyone to take you seriously. More often than not, you are chastised and told to have a sense of humor and learn to take jokes. We are in a country that is broiled with systematic and personal racism and as such, the topic of race and racism still ignites strong emotions from people. More often than not, people are tired of talking about race and would like to sweep it under the rug. As easy and convenient that may be, sweeping your mess under the rug will not solve anything because you still have that mess.

If there is something great to be learned from our past, as murky and troubled as it may be, the greatest leaders who have effected change in the face of hatred did so not with anger or violence. They did it with kindness, the kind made of unyielding determination. The haters have the right to say what they want but our responsibility is not to give in to what they want and react with violence or insist that they have no right to express their opinion. Because once we do that, we are setting ourselves up on a dangerous slippery slope. We will be no better than they are.

Not too long ago at the College of William & Mary, the college that I graduated from, a student brought a Serbian nationalist speaker to present a lecture declaring that all Muslims are violent and incapable of love. The fact that the student brought such an outrageous speaker infuriated many of the W&M students. These infuriated students at W&M reacted in the same manner as the students are doing in UCSD; to shut this speaker down and prevent him from talking. Emotions were high and these students did not realize that they were only fueling the fire to what the speaker believed in. And as such, the hard truth of the matter is that this speaker had the right to say whatever he wanted, as hate-filled and ignorant as it may be.

To this day, the matter in which this speaker was dealt with makes me proud to be a W&M alumni.

After much debate, the Muslim Student Association in my college decided that the best response was not through anger but with tolerance and love. They got together and baked heart-shaped cookies and cake for the speaker. In addition, they brought Professor Tamara Sonn, a beloved professor extremely knowledgeable in Islam to be their spokesperson. As the speaker ate the cookies and cake quietly, the meeting began. The speaker made his points about how devoid of love Muslims are and Professor Sonn responded back with knowledge of Islam that exceeded his. It was clear to see that she effectively made the speaker look like a fool for every ignorant "facts" that the speaker provided. While the speaker didn't leave the room a changed man, the victor of the debate was obvious. This was quite possibly one of the most effective counters I have seen when dealing with hatred and ignorance.

If people have the right to use the First Amendment and spread their hate and ignorance, then we must use the First Amendment back to counter their hate with knowledge and love.

Fight ignorance with knowledge. Fight hatred with love.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vincent Chin and his Unintended Gift

Today, I was able to catch a screening of Curtis Chin's "Vincent Who?" at the UCLA School of Law and to make sure I would make it to the screening on time, I left two hours in advance but thanks to my terrible driving, atrocious traffic at the 405, and my unfamiliarity with the UCLA campus, what should've taken 25 minutes ended up taking two hours.

Why did I really want to make it to the screening on time? Back when I was at the College of William & Mary, my professor and mentor, Francis Tanglao-Aguas, showed his class the documentary "Who Killed Vincent Chin?" Before watching this movie, I had no idea who Vincent Chin was.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Being honest with one's own racism

Everyone's a little bit racist
Doesn't mean we go
Around committing hate crimes.
Look around and you will find
No one's really color blind.
Maybe it's a fact
We all should face
Everyone makes judgments
Based on race.

- Avenue Q

Two days ago, as I was driving through downtown L.A. with my friend, I locked my doors randomly when we were going through Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. My friend looks at me and asked, "Eddy, did you just lock your doors when you saw those two thug-looking black people walk across the street?"

"...Fuck me. You're right, I DID lock my doors right after I saw them."

"Eddy, you're so RACIST."

"Damn. This is something I need to think about."

And so for the past two days, I have been thinking about the issue of racism, one of the few topics in the world that can reduce the most rational and sensible people into furious and blubbering savages. In this day and age, it has become uncool to be racist and whenever anyone implies that another person is racist or has racist intentions, the other person will react in such violent force and defend how non-racist they are.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Being a "kyopo" in Los Angeles Koreatown

UPDATE: So apparently I'm not moving to K-town anymore as a friend of mine in LA needed a roommate in her area in Santa Monica. I gotta be honest, about a ton's worth of stress was lifted off my shoulders when I learned that I didn't have to live in a rough, overly crowded neighborhood while being oh so lonely in a boarding house.


I have taken the initiative upon myself to live in Koreatown for at least the next 3-6 months and experience the unique Korean-American lifestyle that is offered here. Today, my friends took me to the K-Town area to check out this permitted boarding house called the Prime Guest House where you get your own furnished room and includes cable tv, utilities, bathroom, shower, heating/AC, laundry services, and they even make breakfast and dinner for you. Granted, it has many disadvantages (you obviously can't host parties here and they are very iffy with having a guest stay over) but it's the perfect place to at least get acquainted with the chaotic lifestyle that is downtown Los Angeles. Being in the boarding house felt like I was in Seoul and when you step outside and smell the Korean BBQ cooking right down the street, you can't help but feel like a piece of Korea is here with you.

I like it that all I need to do is move in there with my body and my luggages. While I can easily find a roommate here in Los Angeles, there is a part of me that calls for the need to move into this boarding house by myself and be surrounded by Koreans. If I really think about it, I think my body is telling me that I need to experience the Korean immigrant lifestyle, to at least get a feel what it's like for the men and women who come to America to start a new life. I know that I want to be here because I want to badly reclaim the Korean language and the only possible place I can do that in LA is here in K-town.

I know it's gonna be lonely, though, living in this area.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The HanSarang Movement

Han Sarang.

It is a Korean word that means "One Love" and it is a word that's been a part of me for the past several months.

This blog is taking a new direction with the new name change. From "Asiamerican Pride" to "The HanSarang Movement", the change reflects a bigger idea that is more than just being proud of my Asian American heritage and writing about solely Asian American matters. But at the same time, by using a Korean word for "One Love", I am maintaining my roots as an Asian American  and the passion I have for APA activism.

As such, the blog will still be heavily focused on APA matters but will slowly expand its horizons to include all international matters that deals with the beauty of what it means to be human as well as the ignorance, prejudice, and hatred we as people face because of our differences that makes us so beautiful. It is a fight that will always be a part of me but I know that there is a much bigger picture at hand, the desire to truly understand others in their own light and terms, and to pursue social justice for all. I know I am tackling on even bigger things but it's time to step up my game.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The City of Angels

It hasn't quite hit me that I'm actually here in Los Angeles now. After what seemed to be a lifetime of waiting, 2/1/2010 arrived and I took off from my home of Williamsburg, VA. In the weeks prior to that momentous day, I got rid of the things I didn't need and packed my entire life into two suitcases, a guitar, a violin, and a backpack. I said aloha to my dear friends, as I don't believe in "goodbyes" since "goodbye" is a word that has only one singular meaning in the English language. But if there is a goodbye, it is to Williamsburg, VA.

Who would've thought that this quaint little town would be responsible for making a pivotal turning point in my life? It was here where I met the people who have become my pamilya, my aa'elah, my gahjuk...my family. It was these people that showed me how to love myself, my skin color, my ethnicity...the people who have inspired me to love others fiercely and to fight for what is right. I will forever remember that it was here that I found my salvation and my life-long passion, and that is something I will never forget.

It was unusual that I did not feel frightened or nervous about coming to Los Angeles. As soon as I arrived at the LAX airport and even during the hours before that, I had a very strange feeling that I was meant to come to this place. Heavier than the luggages I brought with me, I brought with me the passion to fight for a more just, accurate, and humane depictions of people in media representation, and to forever learn and appreciate the differences that makes us people unique yet never forget the common ties that we all share. What better place than Los Angeles, the city where people of all backgrounds come to make their dreams come true, the melting pot that led to the high boiling eruption of the '92 LA riots...the utopia and dystopia of America.

There are so many things to do here. There are so many people to meet. Already I have met like-minded individuals in this city who feel the way I feel, who fight the battles that I am fighting right now.

But right now, I'm gonna take it easy and enjoy my very first In N' Out burger.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Empathy for Haiti's sake. Empathy for Humanity's sake

As you may know, it's a hot field day for the media with the earthquake devastation that has taken place in Haiti. With over 200,000 dead, millions wounded and/or homeless, reporters and journalists are flying in from all over the world to cover the debacle that will guarantee them sensational imagery of the chaos that they see before them.  Eight such sensational images stand before you now.

Now I ask of you to look at each and every one of these pictures but forget what the media is trying to tell you. I ask you to forget any notion that may be in your head that these poor Haitian people demand your sympathy. I ask you to drop any prejudiced thoughts you may have when you look at the pictures of looting and violence and think that this is the inherent nature of black people. I am not saying that you as the reader may actually have these thoughts, but if you do, I ask you to look at this from a different perspective.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Crash drinking game

Words can't describe how much I get annoyed when I hear people praising how amazing Paul Haggis's "Crash" is. Described to be a "mind-blowing" film about racism in America, this "mind-blowing" film is really just a badly-written story where you take multiple characters, have them say the most racist/stereotypical/ignorant things possible, hash in some drama, and voilĂ . If anything, this is a literal crash (harharhar) course for people who believe racism is dead or believe that multiculturalism only applies to the black & white binary. Also, considering that the movie is set in LA, the portrayal of Asian Americans is incredibly minimal and relegated to the background. I mean, hello, did anybody remember the Los Angeles riots back in 1992?? The movie does portray a Korean couple who smuggle illegal Asian immigrants but for the life of me, I can't even comprehend how realistic that is. If the film-makers actually met Koreans who did that, well, I'll be damned.

With that said, to honor how ridiculously silly this movie is, I developed a drinking game for this movie where you take a shot every time a character says something outrageously racist/stereotypical/ignorant. My theory is, halfway through the movie, you should be absolutely trashed.

I'm gonna try this game out sometime next week and possibly film myself (and possibly other volunteers) while I watch the movie and take my tequila/vodka shots. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reflecting on MLK Day and APA activism

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to everyone!

It doesn't need to mentioned here how things are so incredibly different it is today compared to what it was like over 50 years ago. Initiated by Rosa Parks and propelled into motion by MLK, the Civil Rights movement significantly transformed the landscape of America as the courage and determination of our Freedom Fighters stood strong in the face of extreme prejudice and hatred.

As Asian Pacific Americans, we owe a huge debt to the efforts of the African American community as they led the way to create a more just life for all who live in the United States. From the Civil Rights movement came the Yellow Power movement and it was during the 1960's that we first made an effort to do away with the "Oriental" label that we have been called ever since the first Chinese immigrants came to the United States around the 1850's. From this revolution, the term "Asian American" was created as a political gesture for Asians to make their stance that they are Americans just like everybody else.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Asian Pacific American Heroes (OUTLINE)

This is only a bare outline of my upcoming entry for my APA heroes. The entry itself will be uber lengthy, filled with pictures, videos, and the most important thing, lots of love and respect.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fighting a losing battle on ignorance & Asian ethnic slurs


Newgrounds.com, a Flash animation website that was created by Tom Fulps and started ion.  July 6, 1995. It was a website that I looked forward to for finding flash animations that are beautiful works of art and highly entertaining.

But everything changed when I found "Ching Chong Beautiful" featured on their front page.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The HanSarang Game Plan

"matter of fact: breaths, steps - take them, and make them meaningful. make a choice, and stand by it. then run with it. what choices are you going to make today to be the person you want to be? when everything seems to be falling apart, the unpredictable power of one choice can remind us of our ability to control our lives. i was inspired this morning by things i couldn't imagine. and it all started with one choice."
Mo T, my spiritual twin brother, your words speak the truth.

The purpose of this entry is to firmly put down in coherent words what I plan to do for the rest of my life, or at least, what I think I know I'll be doing for the rest of my life. I will look back at this entry and never forget the path I want to take.

If anything, I know for damn sure who I am and what I am most passionate about. I know I want to never forget to love myself and to love others, and to encourage others to do the same. I want to fight for what is right and always remember to be humble, to be thankful, and to always keep an open mind and open heart.

But I need to get down to the specifics before I get distracted.