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

Richard Aoki: The Asian American Black Panther

The poster for the documentary "Aoki" about Richard Aoki, the Japanese American who was a founding member of the Black Panthers.Here’s another reason why we wish we lived on the West Coast: “Aoki,” a new documentary about Richard Aoki, the third-generation Japanese American who was one of the founding members of the revolutionary African American Black Panther Party in the late 1960s, is premiering in Oakland (where the Black Panthers were formed) on Nov. 12.

At “Here and Now,” an event for Asian American non-profit organizations in San Francisco yesterday that Erin and I participated in, someone handed out cards promoting the premiere. And this morning, Angry Asian Man had more information about it.

Like most Americans, and probably many Asian Americans, I wasn’t aware of the role Aoki played in such a turbulent period of our history. It turns out (the documentary reveals for the fist time) that Aoki, a veteran by the mid-’60s, was the man who gave the Panthers their first guns, from his personal collection, and taught them how to use firearms. Although there were AAPI members of the Panthers, Aoki was the only one in a leadership poition, given the rank of Field Marshall.

He went on to be one of the leaders of the emerging Asian American consciousness of the 1970s. He died just this year.

It humbles me to learn how little I still know about the history of Asian America.

I’m glad people like filmmakers Ben Wang and Mike Cheng are making documentaries like “Aoki.” On the “Aoki” website you can read about see clips from the film. Continue reading