Sunday, February 27, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Taking the time to celebrate birthdays, African American History Month and other special times

from ACJ Advisory Board Member Frances Kai-Hwa Wang at

I had nearly forgotten, until I received the Facebook post from my good friend James wishing me a happy birthday. James and I share the same birthday, so I immediately wished him a happy birthday, too, and then sent birthday wishes to my childhood friend, Hsiao Ma, who also shares the same birthday with me, but not before she beat me to it. Theirs are the only birthdays I ever remember.

Growing up, birthdays were not a big deal, and usually consisted of small family gatherings with my family and Hsiao Ma’s family. The only other guest we ever invited was George and his family. A little dinner, a little cake, nothing fancy. Hsiao Ma, George, and I were a trio in those days, the only Chinese kids I knew other than my three older cousins.

I was surprised the first time I heard of someone taking the entire day off work and school because it was her birthday. It was her special day, so she was going to dedicate that day entirely to pampering herself. She felt she deserved it. I could not fathom that either birthdays or pampering could be so important.

click on link for more:Taking the time to celebrate birthdays, African American History Month and other special times

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Michigan isn't Arizona - Stand Against HB 4305

from Stephanie Lily Chang of APIA Vote:


We need your help. Can you take 30 seconds to contact Governor Snyder about anti-immigrant House Bill 4305? Asian Americans can and should have a stronger voice when it comes to policies affecting immigrant populations in Michigan.

1. Michigan isn't Arizona - Stand Against HB 4305

[VOLUNTEERS NEEDED] Can you help on Monday, February 28 to make 15 calls to encourage people to call Governor Snyder, asking him to promise to veto HB 4305? Email and we'll send you instructions.

This past Wednesday, Michigan representatives introduced Michigan's own version of Arizona's controversial racial profiling law - House Bill 4305. This would require local police to act as immigration agents, stopping, questioning and even arresting anyone who might ‘look undocumented’. This would force our state into taxpayer dollar draining lawsuits like Arizona is seeing and take further law enforcement resources away from dealing with real public safety issues in our communities.

Tell Governor Snyder to promise to veto HB 4305 by clicking here.

This is a direct assault on the immigrant community. Michigan's economy will never improve if we drive off immigrants and entrepreneurs.

2. March 19: "Gerrymandering" Movie Screening & Discussion

Saturday, March 19, 2011 / 2-5 p.m.
Multicultural Council of America
1787 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, MI 48084

FREE! Refreshments will be available for purchase.

Guest speaker: Christina Kuo, Common Cause - Michigan

Redistricting takes place this spring in Michigan. Come learn about how this affects our community and watch a great film! Redistricting is the redrawing of legislative districts. Gerrymandering is when the process is manipulated for political advantage. How has this affected Asian Americans in the past? Come find out.

Contact: Willie 586-713-8261 or / Stephanie

3. March 25-26: Out of the Margins - Asian/Pacific Islander American Movement Conference

The conference will take place on Friday March 25 at the Michigan League in Ann Arbor and Saturday March 26 at the Trotter Multicultural Center in Ann Arbor. Registration is FREE. Visit for more information and to register!

With the Asian population in the United States now surpassing 15 million, Asian Americans can no longer be viewed as silent and passive. We have become more and more visible in academia, politics, media, and popular entertainment. But how will we use our rising influence in a timing of rising crises and anti-immigrant attacks? This 2-day conference will bring together leadings scholars, community organizers, artists, and students from the Midwest and across the nation to discuss the past, present, and future of Asian American movement activism.

Thank you for your support,


Our Voice Counts!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: A pair of poems for our children at King School International Night -

from ACJ Advisory Board Member Frances Kai-Hwa Wang:

When I asked Crystal’s grandfather if he could write some Chinese calligraphy for King School’s International Night, I naively thought it was just a matter of his putting brush to paper and writing some pretty Chinese characters on red paper.

My job was to get a long roll of red paper from the art teacher and send it home on the school bus with little kindergartener Crystal. That I knew how to do. I wrapped it up tight in a clear plastic trash bag to safely school bus- and kindergartner-proof it. The paper was taller than she was.

I did not even think about what Crystal’s grandfather should write, other than a Chinese New Year’s poetry couplet or dui lian, from the Chinese New Year’s tradition of paired door hangings to protect the household and express wishes for the new year — usually something about family and fortune and long life. I explained to Crystal’s grandfather the sort of place King School was and all our hopes and dreams for King School’s International Night, “Bringing us together. Celebrating our diversity.”

Even then, I did not really understand, and I sort of imagined him looking something up from a giant book of poems, with that thin almost translucent Chinese paper.

The next thing I knew, he had composed two nine-word verses for us in a pocket-sized spiral notebook, the children described as a garden of multihued flowers.

click on link for more A pair of poems for our children at King School International Night -

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Working off different calendars. Is it Lunar New Year's or Valentine's? -

by ACJ Advisory Board member Frances Kai-Hwa Wang in

My girlfriend Nina once complained when she had to have dinner with some university bigwig…on Valentine’s Day. She was indignant, incensed. It was Valentine’s Day, for goodness sake. I barely even registered her complaint, my mind completely overwhelmed by my overload of Chinese New Year’s events. I thought it might be nice to have dinner with that particular university bigwig, and I gave her a message to relay. I could not understand why she stomped off in a huff.

We were working off different calendars, I suppose.

Last year, I attended a Chinese New Year’s event on the first Sunday in February. About halfway through the evening, Little Brother, then 6, and all the high school boys he had been following, disappeared. I found them all down the hall at the information desk, watching the Super Bowl together, Little Brother’s feet swinging back and forth. I laughed to myself at the realization that this big event was scheduled on the day of the Super Bowl because no one on the organization committee — likely all immigrants who did not grow up watching football — either knew or thought it was important (No wonder so many of the non-Asian dignitaries and special guests had to leave early for “previous engagements”).

Interesting how we learn about each other through the differences in our calendars.

click on link for more: Working off different calendars. Is it Lunar New Year's or Valentine's? -

Sunday, February 6, 2011

AML: A snow day for Lunar New Year's Eve: Auspicious dreams and Korematsu Day -

from ACJ Advisory Board member Frances Kai-Hwa Wang in

Posted: Feb 6, 2011 at 6:12 AM [Today]

Some people believe that whatever happens on the first day of the lunar new year portends what is to come in the new year, which is why some superstitious folks do not scold their children, let their children cry, or argue on the first day of the new year—or else they will be scolding, crying, or arguing all year.

My kids are hoping the snow day gets extended into the new year, “Snow Day! Snow Day! Snow Day!”

On the western new year’s day, January 1, many people make new year’s resolutions for what they are going to do better in the new year—lose ten pounds, exercise more, Facebook less, lose ten pounds.

Lunar new year’s does not have the same custom, but we do reflect on our hopes and dreams for the coming year while cooking and eating lunar new year’s eve dinner. The meanings are embedded in the names of the dishes, the wishes made manifest in the cooking and eating.

Losing weight is not one of them.

click on link for more A snow day for Lunar New Year's Eve: Auspicious dreams and Korematsu Day -