Help get Anna May Wong on PBS!

If you don’t know who Anna May Wong was, she was an Asian American pioneer in Hollywood who deserves wider recognition. Filmmaker Yunah Hong has produced a one-hour documentary about Wong, “Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words” that’s been screened at the Busan International Film Festival in Korea, and at festivals across the US and Canada. The film was completed with the help of the Center for Asian American Media, an offshoot of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Now she’s hoping to air the film on PBS so she can reach more people with Wong’s story, but she needs $20,000 just to pay for the licensing rights and insurance required by the network.

The public can help Hong get the documentary on public television. Hong is raising the funds through, and she’s raised two-thirds of her goal. She still needs about $6,000 to succeed, and that’s where you come in.

Read about the film on and donate — time is of the essence, since there are only six more days until the campaign ends. If she doesn’t raise the full amount, monies donated will be returned. So it’s all or nothing.

Give thanks for artists like Anna May Wong who helped paved the way for Asian American artists today — DONATE! The minimum amount is just a buck, but give more. There’s a list of great premiums you’ll get for giving various amounts. You’ll get a DVD of the film for $50, for instance, or a screening of the film in your hometown (US only) with Hong for $5000 or more. DONATE

KABC’s David Ono honors Nisei soldiers of 100th/442nd RCT w/ terrific series of 4 short documentaries

It was great to see the Nisei heroes of the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team receive Congressional Gold Medals on Nov. 2 in Washington DC (watch the C-Span feed of the ceremony), and the media coverage of the long-overdue honor and recognition of these men’s patriotic achievements over 60 years ago.

Of all the media coverage, though, hats off to KABC in Los Angeles and to KABC anchor David Ono.

He’s produced a four-part documentary that the station should sell as a DVD, it’s that good and that powerful as an educational tool. The station sent Ono to Europe to interview people in Italy and France that remember the heroism of the diminutive Japanese American soldiers — it seems everyone was caught off-guard initially by the men’s height. He interviewed veterans and family members (the last segment is a real heartbreaker), and compiled an impressive amount of archival material for the reports.

I don’t know how long he had to produce this series, but he Ono deserves an award for this documentary. Here’s the link to the series on KABC, “witness: American Heroes.” Have some tissues handy….

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Minn. CBS affiliate WCCO airs erroneous report about Chinese shop selling dog meat; Asians ask for apology and retraction

Last week an over-eager reporter for WCCO, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, aired a “gotcha” investigative piece about a local puppy mill that had apparently shipped dogs to a meat shop in New York City’s Chinatown, where the intrepid reporter, James Schugel, got a clerk to say on the record that they do indeed sell dog as food.

The only problem was, the clerk thought Schugel was saying “duck” (and anyone who’s been in any Chinatown knows there are lots and lots of ducks hanging in the windows of every butcher shop and restaurant), and duh, of course they sell duck. To be eaten.

No matter to Schugel, who heard what he wanted, and aired the report, which triggered a visit by health department officials who checked out the shop and decided there was not a hint of dog being sold.
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Fox apologizes for racist Pac-12 sports video stereotyping Asian students at USC

Major props to University of Colorado ethnic studies professor Daryl Maeda for calling out the Fox Network for a racist video “report” that has since been pulled from the Fox website. The video shows comedian Bob Oschack, who’s identified as a “Investigative Reporter” and holds a Fox Sports microphone, interviewing Asian students on the campus of the University of Southern California, about Colorado and Utah joining the Pac-12 conference this fall.

It’s impossible to know how many people Oschack interviewed and didn’t include in the video, but the way it’s edited it looks like he only approached Asian students who are immigrants (they all have accents of varying thickness), and didn’t include any Asian Americans or non-Asian students. What’s with that?

As Maeda points out in an article in the Boulder Daily Camera: “This is demeaning to millions of Asian Americans who have put down deep roots in the United States, claim English as their language and root vigorously for their favorite sports teams.”

Instead, the report reinforces the idea that Asians are perpetual foreigners in America, especially when Oschack (whose ancestors presumably were European foreigners themselves just a few generations back) mocks these students accents and pronunciation.

The sole point of the segment appears to be to make fun of USC’s Asian students, who don’t seem to know or care about football,sports, the Pac-12, Colorado or Utah. It’s hard to deny that the video is about race, not sports.

Boo to Fox and to this lowbrow comic and his stupid, racist sense of humor. The network apologized through a spokesman and yanked the video from the Fox website, but I think they should punish Oschack — and the chain of command above him that approved this report and put it on the site.

Kudos too, to 7News and for picking up this story.

As Maeda wrote in an email to me, “It’s 2011, man. 2011!” Sigh.

UPDATE Sept. 8:

I have to give Fox News credit. The network’s apology was a sincere one that accepted responsibility for the inappropriate video, not a “non-apology apology,” where a company normally apologizes if something they ran offended you. And late yesterday, Fox simply canceled the “College Experiment” show that aired the offensive report.

Advice for mid-career journalists & students from AAJA Detroit convention

Advice for Mid-Career Journalists from Yuki Kokubo on Vimeo.

Journalist Yuki Kokubo interviewed a sampling of speakers (including me) at the recent Detroit convention of Asian American Journalists Association, and though she didn’t have a pre-planned script when she began taking to people, the consistent theme that emerged from the speakers themselves was advice for mid-career journalists.

This video is from the same interview session, edited by Patrick Lee of the New York AAJA chapter. These comments focus on giving advice to journalism students.