Archive for November, 2009


Most of my posts address some chunk of race-faith-education (// my research) but I’d like to note that I watched Fantastic Mr. Fox yesterday and absolutely enjoyed it. FMF and Danny, Champion of the World are two of my favorite Roald Dahl books, so I’ve been looking forward to the film for awhile. Anyway, FMF did not disappoint. [There’s a shout out to Danny in the sleeping pill-laced blueberries] Sure there are some creative liberties that aren’t in the book, but they enhance the original story and make it even more delightful for young’uns and old’uns alike.

Okay, back to our normally scheduled programming. I saw this site,, on David Park’s blog; it’s the website of a Korean American undocumented student in NorCal–pretty courageous (and smart, the Korean subtitles in the clip, so even the Obamajummas can get on board). The other day in class I said something about undocumented students and I was glad that someone stopped me to ask what they were–weird coming from UCLA where people are always talking about AB 540 and the like. In 2010 our Asian American encyclopedia project should finally see the light of day, and I’m proud that there’s a piece in the education section on Asian American undocumented students written by Tracy Buenavista and Tam Tran.

heoc represent

My cohort-mate and former Bagley Avenue neighbor Cindy Mosqueda on the UC fee increases:

an evangelical abercrombie. sort of.

Over the past few weeks Asian American Christian bloggers have been busy documenting the back and forth between Zondervan (a major Christian publishing house), the team that put out the Deadly Vipers (a book using some pretty lame Asian stereotyping, published by Zondervan), and a group of Asian American pastors/ministry leaders/academics who called out Zondervan for publishing the said Deadly Vipers. 

To their credit, after some early bumps in the road, the authors of the book came to recognize why the AA folks were so riled up, and Zondervan pulled the book. (You can read a joint statement from some AA leaders here and read backwards to follow what happened) 

The incidents brought up some memories from my time in undergrad. The first memory was when LifeWay, owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, put out a Vacation Bible School curriculum called “Rickshaw Rally.” Yeah, it’s as bad as it sounds, and even worse, it went straight to thousands of young impressionable minds. The LifeWay HQ was right down the road from Vandy, so I called and left an irate voicemail, and then sent an irate email. Although Prof Soong-Chan Rah (then still pastoring ccfc in boston) was able to mobilize some folks, there was definitely no admission from LifeWay that there was anything problematic about Rickshaw, etc. So in this deja vu, it was nice to see Zondervan, the authors, and AA folks dialogue and come to a mutual understanding of why AAs felt the way they did. This guy Andy Kim did a nice write-up on the AA evangelical community’s mobilization, the role of social networking, etc. [Kudos to David Park, fellow Vandy grad, for the link]

The other thing that the DV incident reminded me of was Abercrombie. I had to google it to refresh my memory, but back in Spring 02 this was the incident that irked, rankled, and mobilized a bunch of AA college students nationwide to protest the line of (once again, lame, stereotypical…do we see a pattern?) offensive images on a t-shirt line. I really hope that NAASCon keeps this history up here. I think a lot of us involved who have gone on to do (supposedly) cooler things are a little sheepish that we got all riled up about a bunch of shirts (talk about bougie) when there were bigger and badder battles that we didn’t fight. It’s easy to discount what happened, and a few months later people went on buying A&F.

Still, 1) Political consciousness has to start somewhere 2) In a day before Facebook and Myspace, it was the first nationwide APA student campaign mobilized by the internet [if you look at the website, there were demonstrations and whatnot mobilized in every region of the country] 3) The A&F campaign set the groundwork for a national network of campus activists who mobilized and lobbied for HR 333, eventually leading to funding for AAPI serving institutions. At $5 mill a year, the serving institutions aren’t exactly the jackpot, but they’re not insignificant either. You have to connect a few dots on this last one, and the 333 campaign is not beyond critique, but I think A&F still did open some doors.

Now whether that network has gone on to do anything worth its salt, I don’t know. It’s funny to look back and think that even though we may have taken ourselves way too seriously and some folks had trouble transferring their rage at the shirts to other causes certainly worthy of their attention, for the aforementioned reasons, A&F was a unique cultural moment, even if A&F has not exactly gone on to become the official clothing line of the Peace Corps.

So why am I thinking about Abercrombie while observing the wrap up of the DV, which in its own right is some sort of cultural moment for AA evangelicals. There are some parallels in the technology dynamic, for one, but the semi-randomness of people latching on to both events raises the questions of why Deadly Vipers and not Rickshaw Rally or the other lame stereotypical Asiany things in the media for decades past? Why A&F in Spring 02 and not A&F in Spring 99? Was it just a sweet spot where things just came together, people got other people’s attention, and everything just came together? There’s other complex stuff going on–including, as the Andy Kim post pointed out, a critical mass of APA evangelical leaders who are armed, dangerous, and connected to the interweb. In the words of Phil Yu, aka Angry Asian Man, hell hath no fury like an Asian American with an internet connection.]

I also see parallels in how both events evoked a deeply emotional response from the folks involved. Reading this response to DV reminded me of a response by a prof at Wellesley that was circulated during the A&F thing where she wrote passionately about how she had to protest because of the message it sent to her children, and how silence was complicity. Both testify to the symbolically loaded nature of both DV and A&F to their respective audiences. They are both examples of the politics of representation, a debate that tends to elicit strong responses from  middle/upper middle class folks than say people who can’t afford to buy a computer, let alone monthly internet service. I imagine that some critics of the DV movement played this card to discount the relevance of DV, perhaps saying things like, uh don’t you Christians have more important stuff to do like fighting global poverty? [and some are–talk about multitasking] There’s a legit critique in there (as there was in the A&F campaign) about privileged folks well, privileging the symbolic over the material. Symbol matters. It’s not all that matters, but it goes a long way and intersects with the material. [the personal is political, vice-versa, yadayada] That said, if it’s the only battle going on–then that’s no good either.

In the time that has passed since A&F and Rickshaw, I have picked up a treasure trove of academic-ese that gives language to what’s going on. Racial microaggressions, racial battle fatigue, and the like. But at the end of the day, not only do these things irritate us, they just plain old hurt our feelings. [cue: flight of the conchords…but seriously, they do] So one of the most encouraging things about the DV thing is that Zondervan is recognizing that. It’s disturbingly rare that people are willing to say those simple words: I’m sorry. And now, I’d like to go eat some racially reconciled bbimbap. (Just kidding. We’re having duck.)

one of our undergrads

reason 4328 why i (usually) love my job

On the invite for the end of the semester get together:

“According to Durkheim, rituals serve as social functions to build cohesion (as cited in Quantz, 1999).  Additionally, Bolman and Deal (2008) posit that ‘symbolic actions are part of every day life and are particularly perceptible at weekly, monthly, or seasonal high points.  Symbols stimulate energy in moments of triumph’ (p. 252).  Therefore…MUSAGA [our grad student org] and the SAHE Faculty invite you to a community get together to recognize the conclusion of a triumphant semester!”

koreans and latinos

As usual, my dad is on the cutting edge.  (see earlier entry on the browning of america),0,3488359.story?page=1

I liked reading about Blanca Joo and Sue Choe.

sat optional

This article on schools going SAT optional is pretty interesting.  I don’t always like Jay Mathews’ columns, but this one brings some interesting issues about the SAT optional movement to light.  It’s an odd example of interest convergence between schools maybe getting to boost their U.S. News-i-ness (by reporting test scores for only students who reported them AND getting a bump in applications, leading to a lower admit rate) and getting a broader, possibly more diverse applicant pool.  (I initially meant “interest convergence” in a literal convergence of interests/outcomes, but it actually might be a form of interest convergence ala Derrick Bell, come to think of it.)  The reference to Sarah Lawrence going hardcore and not accepting SAT scores at all (instead of going SAT optional) is pretty interesting.  Then again, Sarah Lawrence is kind of a hardcore school in general…after all, Rahm Emanuel is an alum.