LPGA backs down from English-only penalties

Sometimes, even a community like ours — Asian Americans who are normally imbued with deep-rooted cultural values that keep us from speaking out against slights and injustices — can get so riled up we have to express our outrage. Such was the case over the LPGA’s decision to enact harsh penalties on golfers on the circuit who don’t speak fluent English.

The requirement to pass a language proficiency test, or else face suspensions or even getting the boot from the tour, seemed to be aimed at the emergence of a generation of Asian women golfers — specifically Koreans — who are terrific athletes but don’t speak English. That never seemed to be a problem with athletes in other sports, like baseball, where translators shadowing Japanese superstars is a common sight. But it apparently bothered the LPGA.
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LPGA says “English Only” to foreign golfers

Asian American ad man and marketing guru Bill Imada comments on Ad Age‘s lively “Big Tent” blog (he’s one of a group of contributors) about how the LPGA is requiring English language proficiency for foreign golfers on the LPGA tour.

For those of you who do not follow golf nor sporting news, LPGA leaders recently decided to require their non-English-speaking members, many of whom have been on the LPGA Tour for two years or more, to be proficient in English before they are allowed to participate in LPGA-sanctioned events. In other words, the LPGA is asking its card-holding members who participate in the golf tournament circuit to be able to pass an exam in English or face suspension from LPGA play.

Well, the last time I checked, the LPGA is an organization that has sponsors based in the U.S. and other countries. Its membership is truly international and includes 121 golfers from outside of the U.S., representing more than two dozen countries. And, while the LPGA has its roots in the Western Hemisphere, it has benefited heavily from the growing interest in golf in a number of major industrialized countries as well as developing countries around the world — including nations in Asia, Latin America and the Pacific Rim.

Requiring that its members and players be proficient in English makes no sense. And the thought of suspending members who aren’t proficient in English seems unnecessarily harsh and, even worse, discriminatory and unlawful. The LPGA should be ashamed of itself.

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Asian Americans at the Democratic National Convention


Actress Tamlyn Tomita speaks bout her support for APIAVote, a non-profit organization that promotes Asian Americans’ involvement in politics, especially getting AAPIs to vote.

Erin and I have been busy all week, running around to various Asian American Pacific Islander events during the Democratic National Convention. Denver’s all dolled up and feeling like a real city, and it all culminates with tonight’s acceptance speech by Barack Obama.

We were fortunate to be given a pair of tickets to the main event (by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, whom I happened to run into on the downtown 16th Street Mall — I’ve known him for years, from before his political career, when he opened Wynkoop Brewing Co., the first brewpub in Colorado). So I’ll post a report later tonight or tomorrow about the speech.

We’re not delegates or involved in the local Democratic party organization. but we are very involved in the local AAPI community, so we ended up participating in some cool events that are part of the DNC, like an Asian American Summit and an AAPI Caucus, during which issues affecting the AAPI community and ways to organize and get AAPIs incolved in politics were discussed. I was also honored to be one of the emcees for an APIAVote Gala, along with actress Tamlyn Tomita and former CNN and CBS anchor Joie Chen (who, I found out, is half Chinese and half Japanese). Erin went to more events than I did, volunteering at a luncheon and breakfast during the week.

Anyway, here are a handful of videos from the week that have to do with the AAPI community. Enjoy!
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DNC AAPI Caucus: Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama’s half-sister

Asian American voters were treated this morning by a surprise visit by Barack Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, during the Asian American Pacific Islander caucus at the Democratic National Convention. She gave a rousing speech that fired up the people in the room.

DNC 2008 kicks off with Asian American summit, APIAVote Gala

Here are DNC-related “tweets” from my Twitter feed, which shows up in my Facebook updates and also in a widget on my blog pages. Some videos, too: Above, emcee Tamlyn Tomita (“Joy Luck Club,” “Come See the Paradise,” “Picture Bride,” Karate Kid II”) introduces Mee Moua, the historic first-ever Hmong American lawmaker, a state senator from Minnesota, during the APIAVote Gala at the Marriott City Center.

The week began before the convention itself, with a Saturday night Media Kickoff Party that was the city’s show of excess to 15,000 journalists from around the world. I bet there were over 5,000 jrounalists, maybe 10,000, who attended the evening at Elitch Gardens amusement park. The admission was free, the rides were free, there was free food and drink everywhere, and even the arcade games were free, and the staff handed out stuffed animal prizes to anyone who played anything.

The next day, Sunday, was an Asian American Summit organized by a Denver committee, which featured speakers including Congressman Mike Honda. The session was a first step towards organizing Colorado’s AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander, which I’ll try to use as my standard acronym when I’m not spelling out Asian American) community to participate in the political process. Monday night, the first night pof the convention, was the APIAVote Gala. Continue reading