A night at the museum: Genghis Khan, Mongolian wrestling, and being “Mongoloid”

Members of Denver

I learned a whole lot about Genghis Khan, the Mongolian ruler who in the 13th century conquered most of the known world of the time, from Asian to the Middle East and into Europe. We also learned about Mongolian culture, and this morning, I learned why, as a child, I was classified as “Mongoloid” — and why that term had its origins in Genghis Khan’s time but now has an offensive connotation.

What sparked so much learning? The opening of an exhibit, “Genghis Khan,” at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and a gala event we were fortunate enough to attend last night. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper was there to welcome dignitaries from the Mongolian government including Ambassador Khasbazaryn Bekhbat; speeches were made, diploamtic gifts exchanged, and then attendees had a buffet catered by the museum that featured mostly Mongolian or Asian themed food (except for the salmon in pastry shells and the table of veggies and dip), such as Mongolian noodle bowls, a stiry-fried variant of Mongolian barbecue without the piles of meat, and generic Chinese chicken dumplings (the brand sold by Costco, I bet) that were boiled then pan-fried and not so bad).

While dining, we chatted, networked and schmoozed while a stream of performers entertained the crowds — most unfamiliar with any of the riches of Mongolian culture — with traditional music and dancing, as well as the esoteric art of Tsam masks (giant scary-looking masks worn by “dancers” who move slowly to ominous music) and the more modern flashiness of a contortionist. Continue reading

Colorado balloon boy Falcon Heene: I notice when Asian Americans are in the news, for good or bad

The Heene family in a publicity shot from ABC, for the network

I don’t know about other Asians, but I bet Erin and I are not the only ones who flinch whenever we hear or see coverage in the news media that involves an Asian or Asian American. If it’s good news, hooray and we cheer on the butt-kicking Asian, or applaud the award or medal or accomplishment.

But if it’s bad news, we share the tragedy, shame or embarrassment as if it’s happening to our own family.

A good example is the big story today north of Denver, where a six-year-old boy reportedly climbed into his parents’ homemade flying saucer-shaped balloon which took off and floated for several hours across northern Colorado. The media first reported that the “balloon boy” had crawled into the balloon and managed to untie a tether, which set the helium-filled craft free into the sky. Continue reading

Asian Americans have a place in the Obama administration

The Asian American blogosphere is all abuzz, and with good reason. The White House has more AAPIs in high places (the Cabinet) than ever in history. And yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order restoring the President’s Advisory Commission and White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, who is Chinese American, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will serve as co-chairs.

The the commission was originally created during the Clinton administration, but it expired during George W. Bush’s presidency and was not reauthorized. That alone says a lot about Bush’s view of AAPIs as a force in this country, I think. It also says a lot about Obama’s empathy for and understanding of AAPIs as a people who are woven throughout the fabric of American society.

As part of the ceremony, Obama also paid tribute to the South Asian celebration of Diwali, the end of the harvest season in India and Nepal.

The video of the ceremony is above; here’s the full text of President Obama’s speech: Continue reading

visualizAsian.com has three great interviews coming up: Filmmaker Lane Nishikawa, Angry Asian Man Phil Yu & author Lac Su

Lane Nishikawa, writer, star and director of "Only the Brave," which comes out on DVD nationally on VeteranWow. Wow. Wow. It’s a triple play. It’s a hat trick. It’s an Asian American trinity, sort of.

Erin and I have booked three killer guests for our visualizAsian.com series of interviews in the AAPI Empowerment Series:

Next Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 6 pm PT we’ll speak to filmmaker Lane Nishikawa of “Only the Brave,” an independent movie about the Japanese American soldiers who fought during World War II that will be released nationwide on Veteran’s Day;

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, we’ll spend an hour getting to know Phil Yu, the man behind the must-read news site about Asian Americans, AngryAsianMan.com;

And on Tuesday, Nov. 17, we’ll meet Lac Su, the author of a powerful new memoir, “I Love Yous Are for White People.” Continue reading