Sunday, September 25, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and Frances' Farewell--let us keep the conversation going

from ACJ Advisory Board Member Frances Kai-Hwa Wang:

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.

Kicking it all off is the New Millennium East Meets West Kite Festival this Sunday, Sept. 25, 1-5 p.m., at Nichol’s Arboretum. There will be kite-making workshops, kite flying competitions, cultural performances, and kite masters from China and Michigan. There will be special categories for students and community. It's a real town and gown and east meets west affair, much like the dragon boat races they organized at Gallup Park in 2007.

I had the good fortune of being invited to help with some kite-making workshops through Parks and Rec and to escort fourth-generation premier kite master Ha Yiqi — with whom two U-M Art and Design faculty apprenticed this summer in Beijing — to visit local elementary schools. I also enjoyed the neat kites made at the Center for Korean Studies’ Chuseok celebration.

I am excited to see what this year will bring. During the University of Michigan LSA ChinaNow Theme Year in 2007-2008, converging as it did with University Musical Society’s Asia Festival and the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Asian American book, I met so many incredible people (including my literary hero, playwright David Henry Hwang) and was given the gift of so many personal and professional opportunities. My whole life changed that year, and I did my best writing ever.

Unfortunately, will be discontinuing my column, “Adventures in Multicultural Living,” to focus more of its resources on local news.

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

Sunday, September 18, 2011

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

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.

One of the three curators, EMU art education professor Guey-Meei Yang, explains that these are the real people who work at an art factory in Dafen, China. Their job is to paint to order, whatever you want—A painting of your family or a Vincent Van Gogh. Normally prized for their technical precision, self-expression is not particularly valued, and the artists remain invisible behind factory walls.

Then John C. Gonzalez from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, made an unusual order—a self-portrait of every artist who worked in that art factory, in any style. Together, they are a powerful illustration of the real people behind the “Made in China” label.

click on link for more: 'Looking Both Ways' at the 'Made in China' label and 9/11 fears

Sunday, September 11, 2011

AML Making Mooncakes the modern traditional way for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival |

from ACJ advisory board member Frances Kai-Hwa Wang in

The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is this Monday. That means mooncakes!

A harvest festival, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a Chinese (Zhong Qiu Jie), Vietnamese (Tet Trung Thu) and Korean (Chusok) festival that celebrates the end of the harvest, family and food. It's sort of like Thanksgiving (without the turkey), Octoberfest (without the beer) and Sukkot (without the tent). It is always celebrated on the largest full moon of the year, the Harvest Moon.

Mooncakes are the centerpiece of this festival, as much for eating as for giving to other people. They are round like the full moon and symbolize family unity. To call mooncakes “cakes,” though, is a bit of a misnomer. They are not light, fluffy, frosted, candle-studded confections. Rather, imagine a giant Fig Newton, the size and shape and weight of a hockey puck, dense and heavy and rich with red bean, date, lotus seed, dried fruit or pineapple filling.

click on link for more: Making Mooncakes the modern traditional way for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vincent Chin and Simon San: two murders, same indifference | Madam Miaow Says

from UK Blogger Madam Miaow or Anna Chen comparing the murders of Vincent Chin with UK case Simon San at

Vincent Chin and Simon San were born and murdered decades apart on two different continents, but the common factor is the callousness and indifference with which their cases have been dealt with by the investigating police and prosecutors.

Justice is off the menu when it comes to these Chinese deaths. While the police finally admit that an acknowledgment of the racist dimension of Simon's murder by a white mob outside the family-run takeaway in Edinburgh in Scotland would have resulted in stiff sentences, the men have been given 24 months, 26 months and five years for the thug who landed the killer blow that smashed Simon's head against the pavement. As we all know by now, they will walk after serving only a third of that minus remand time. Only one year more than the sentence imposed on the laptop rioters who posted their encouragement of the unrest on Facebook. What is this telling us about values in Britain today?

This insulting sentence echoes the $3,000 fine and three years probation imposed on the white Detroit car-workers, Richard Ebens and Michael Nitz, who beat Vincent Chin to death with a baseball bat in front of witnesses one summer evening in 1982. Out on a bachelor party, Vincent was hunted down before finally being cornered in a McDonalds where he was held by Nitz while Ebens pulped his skull with the bat.

Both killings were preceded by racist epithets.

click on link for more: Vincent Chin and Simon San: two murders, same indifference | Madam Miaow Says

Thursday, September 8, 2011

'Vincent Who?' goes to Amnesty International UK

Date: Mon 12 September 2011

Sponsored by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress and the Islington Chinese Association.

In 1982, at the height of anti-Japanese sentiments following massive layoffs in the U.S. car industry, a Chinese-American named Vincent Chin was murdered by two white car workers. The killers were given a $3000 fine and 3 years probation. Outraged by this injustice, Asian Americans united for the first time to form a pan-Asian civil rights movement. This film looks back at the historic case, but also asks how far Asian Americans have come since then, including the rise of anti-Asian sentiments directed at South Asians post 9/11.

A post-screening Q&A with writer/producer Curtis Chin aims to highlight the similarities and differences between Asians, both East and South, on both sides of the Atlantic. Co-presenter, Paul Hyu, actor/artistic director. Introduction by Col. Brian Kay OBE TD DL, Chairman of Islington Chinese Association.

Event Type Film
Event venue The Human Rights Action Centre
Time 7pm
Price Free of charge
Online tickets Book this event
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click here for more: AIUK : 'Vincent Who?':

'via Blog this'

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ode to bento boxes and lunchboxes for back to school perfection

In the hubbub of back to school preparations—registration, green emergency cards, forms, fees, textbooks, pictures, school supplies, backpacks, lunchboxes, scheduling extracurriculars, new lunch and snack ideas, catching up with old friends, etc., I keep ending up in the bentobox or lunchbox section of every store I enter, be it the Chinese grocery store, the Japanese bookstore, Target, Walmart, CVS, or Busch’s grocery store.

Long after we have bought all the things we came for, and the children suddenly notice that I am no longer walking with them, they know where to find me. Mesmerized. Stammering. Strategizing lunches. Squealing over lunchboxes.

I confess.

I have a fetish for bento boxes. A fondness for tiffins. A weakness forTupperwares. Don’t get me started on lunchboxes.

click on link for more: to bento boxes and lunchboxes for back to school perfection