Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | asian american
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Pop culture can be a mirror that reflects the issues and values of its time—for good and bad. For instance, Hollywood initially embraced Asians, and two of the early film era’s biggest stars were Los Angeles-born Chinese American Anna May Wong and Japanese-born Sessue Hayakawa. Anna May Wong is now featured on a quarter; Sessue Hayakawa is probably best remembered...

My family moved from Japan to the Washington DC area in 1966 when I was eight years old, and I fell in love with American ways and U.S. pop culture. I like to joke that I learned every American cuss word and forgot most of my Japanese in three weeks. One of the things I embraced wholeheartedly was American pop music—specifically,...

Racial stereotypes used to be part of the American consumer landscape – everywhere you turned there was a depiction, playful caricature or a ghastly exaggerated image of a person of color on commercials and ads on television or publications, or on packaging on store shelves. But if nothing else, the recent years of anti-racism protests in the wake of the...

Note: An edited version of this post will run in the Holiday Issue of the national JACL's Pacific Citizen newspaper. Japanese Americans and the wider Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities are seeing more of ourselves reflected in pop culture these days, but the high arts has a ways to go. It’s important to recognize the ongoing challenges of...

NOTE: This is a re-publication of a Nikkei View blog post I wrote back in 2009, which an article in the New York Times linked to this week. The original version was on an older site and the images had been unlinked (and the food festival that inspired the original post has evolved into the Far East Fest, which was...

In her excellent book “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food,” former New York Times journalist Jennifer 8 Lee explained that the fortune cookie isn’t a Chinese post-prandial delicacy at all, but rather a Japanese confection created first in Kyoto temples, adapted by Japanese Americans with little messages inside. Chinese restaurants happened to pass them out...

It’s been a tragic and depressing couple of months. Amidst the rising numbers of anti-Asian hate incidents, including harassment, verbal assaults and physical attacks, a March 16 mass shooting in Atlanta targeted Asian-owned spas and six of eight murdered victims were Asian women. The Atlanta gun rampage added an ugly layer of anti-woman to the anti-Asian hate, weaving together race and...