Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | media
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I'm a baby boomer, so I'm already an AARP member. If you're not familiar with AARP, people make fun of the non-profit organization as a national group for old people, like grandpas and grandmas. People who aren't members feign shock when AARP is mentioned and joke about how they're too young and dread getting the promotional mail from the organization when they approach 50, which is when you qualify to be a member. A lot of people I know who are even over 50 joke about how they're in denial and won't consider joining AARP. They should, though. It's a pretty huge, pretty amazing organization, and since as of this year, every Baby Boomer (the boom ran from 1946-1964) is 50+, it's an organization that's not just for "seniors" or "elderly."

[caption id="attachment_5636" align="aligncenter" width="520"]One of the few times I heard a reference to Ferguson was in this panel: from left, Hansi Lo Wang (NPR),  Shefali S. Kulkarni (PRI), Ernabel Demillo (CUNY-TV), Emil Guillermo (AALDEF) and moderator Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man). One of the few times I heard a reference to Ferguson was in this panel: from left, Hansi Lo Wang (NPR), Shefali S. Kulkarni (PRI), Ernabel Demillo (CUNY-TV), Emil Guillermo (AALDEF) and moderator Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man).[/caption] I just got back from a week in Washington, D.C. attending the Asian American Journalists Association’s annual convention. I sat in on a lot of interesting (and some not-so-interesting) sessions about social media and journalism, issues in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, and lots of other current topics in the news. But one topic was barely mentioned as part of the panel discussions: The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed African American man who was shot by a local police officer in the small town of Ferguson Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. He was killed on August 9, and for the next week – during the AAJA convention – the tension in Ferguson between protesters and law enforcement has been front and center in the news.

[caption id="attachment_5632" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Dr. Charlotte Yeh in her AARP office, proudly holding her colorfully decorated cane. Dr. Charlotte Yeh in her AARP office, proudly holding her colorfully decorated cane.[/caption] Note: As the Asian American Journalists Association AARP Fellow, I've been writing articles for the AARP.org website about AAPI themes but mostly work within the AARP AAPI Community's social media platforms on Facebook and Twitter. I'm starting to write profiles of AARP's AAPI volunteers and staff and post them to the AARP AAPI Community Facebook Page. This is the first profile I've posted, and because it's such a compelling story that I've decided to repurpose it here. If you find the story is valuable, please LIKE the Facebook page! When Dr. Charlotte Yeh wrote a powerful article earlier this year in the Washington Post about shortcomings in emergency care, she subtly hinted at the conflicting cultural values that affected her that night two and a half years ago when she was hit by a car as she crossed a street. She was taken to a nearby hospital’s emergency department, but wasn’t given the level of customer care she would have liked. And she’s an expert on the subject: Trained in surgery, Dr. Yeh was an emergency department physician and experienced healthcare administrator. But she didn’t complain or raise questions with the doctors and nurses giving her care that night. Instead, she wrote in her Post column recalling that night that she wanted to be the “good patient.” “The good patient in me wanted to please the doctor and saunter out of the room, but the real person in me was scared,” she wrote, even though in fact she wasn’t sure she could even stand and walk at all. That phrase, “good patient,” comes up three times in her article, and is an echo of a deeply-felt Asian value that affects many immigrants in the United States, as well as generations of Asian Americans.

[caption id="attachment_5582" align="aligncenter" width="520"]AARP's TEK team helped elderly Chinese at a senior center in Boston learn to use smartphones, and they were sending texts ad shooting selfies at the end of the session.  AARP's TEK team helped elderly Chinese at a senior center in Boston learn to use smartphones, and they were sending texts ad shooting selfies at the end of the session. [/caption] [caption id="attachment_5588" align="alignleft" width="214"]This was a fun photo booth at the AARP Member Convention in Boston, which promoted an upcoming PBS series about baby boomers sponsored by AARP. Nope, I'm not actually in the series... This was a fun photo booth at the AARP Member Convention in Boston, which promoted an upcoming PBS series about baby boomers sponsored by AARP. Nope, I'm not actually in the series...[/caption]As a journalist, I’ve been really lucky. I started my career as a music critic and then a reporter, so I’ve always been able to write about pop culture – especially the pop culture of my generation, the baby boomers. Then when the Internet came along, I was able to move over to work almost exclusively in digital media, and these days I work in and speak about social media. And since I started writing my “Nikkei View” column and blog, I’ve been part of a growing chorus of Asian American voices (like the JACL's Pacific Citizen, which is about to re-launch its website after a two-year hiatus!) covering issues and stories that mainstream media frankly tends to ignore. So I couldn’t believe my great fortune last month when I was named the 2014 Asian American Journalists Association’s AARP Social Media Fellow. AARP, if you aren’t familiar with the organization, is the American Association of Retired People, whose members are 50 years old and older. That means that this year, the youngest baby boomers are turning 50 and can join AARP (the baby boom went from 1946 to 1964).

godzilla2014 Although Hollywood has been making monster movies since the original 1933 “King Kong,” the monster with the most staying power and screen incarnations didn’t come out of California, but from Tokyo. Godzilla is back with another cinematic reboot produced by Hollywood featuring the usual array of mega-special effects, including a digitized monster instead of a man in a monster suit. Whether costumed or computer-generated, Godzilla is the most famous Japanese American in the world. He’s starred in 28 movies, stomping his way through cities on both sides of the Pacific. Godzilla, or the Japanese pronunciation, “Gojira” (a combination of the words for gorilla, “gorira” and whale, “kujira”) made its first Japanese appearance 60 years ago, in 1954, but the film was edited and scenes inserted starring Raymond Burr as an American journalist for its 1956 release in the U.S. as “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!”

jeremylin-linsanity Evan Jackson Leong, the director of the entertaining and inspiring documentary "Linsanity: The Jeremy Lin Story," tells interviewers that Lin's story "transcends sports, race and culture." That's true enough, because Jeremy Lin's story -- a determined young man loves basketball above all else but is ignored by colleges and the NBA despite his talent, and perseveres in the end by sheer determination and religious faith -- is universal. But as an Asian American, Lin's story is inspirational for me precisely because he's Asian American. His ethnicity was the main reason he was dismissed by colleges and the NBA, even though he was an all-star leader in high school. I hope everyone watches "Linsanity," which went on sales on DVD this week, and is inspired by his universal story, or his incredible accomplishment as an Asian American. I know many Asian Americans watched it at film festivals, or during one of many special fundraising screenings for Asian and Asian American nonprofit organizations across the country. In Colorado it was screened by an Asian American fraternity at the University of Colorado in Boulder and a Japanese American history group in Denver. If Asians didn't watch the documentary in a theater, they probably watched it on cable TV -- Comcast featured it in its Asian American channel for months. But it's great to revisit "Linsanity" on DVD (wish there were some extras added, though).

sueypark I've watched in awe and appreciation for the past week as a Twitter hashtag created by writer and activist Suey Park, "#NotYourAsianSidekick, has achieved the impressive feat of trending on the social network, sparking a global discussion about Asian stereotypes, Asian American identity and especially, the challenges faced by Asian American women. Park first used the hashtag on Sunday, December 15 to promote a Twitter conversation the next day about how feminism had minimized and marginalized Asian American women. "Be warned," the tweet announced. "Tomorrow morning we will be have a convo about Asian American Feminism with hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Spread the word!!!!!!!" The conversation couldn't wait 'til the next morning. It began right away, and led to a torrent of posts from Asian American women who aired their frustration and anger, inspiring others to add their voices to the chorus.

hawaii-five-0 We're fans of the CBS series "Hawaii Five-0" for lots of reasons, including the fact that it's a showcase for Asian and Pacific Islander actors such as Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, and the entertaining "bromance" relationship between Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and Danny "Danno" Williams (Scott Caan). I always loved the original series that ran from 1968-1980, and think it's great that this reboot uses pretty much the same arrangement for the theme song, and even uses quick-cut images that evoke the look and feel of the intro sequence from the earlier Five-0. And finally, who can't love a show that celebrates the coolest and best-looking of all the United States, with loving b-roll shots of both its glistening city life and its incredibly beautiful natural scenery? This week, we get a whole new reason to appreciate "Hawaii Five-0" and tune in regularly. The producers are focusing on an aspect of American history that still remains under the radar of most mainstream American pop culture: The American imprisonment of people of Japanese ancestry in the wake of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.