How cool is this? The March 16 visualizAsian.com show is going to be a conversation with Eric Nakamura, the owner, publisher and co-editor of Giant Robot magazine. Our call with Eric will be at 6 pm PT on Tuesday, March 16!
From movie stars, musicians, and skate-boarders to toys, technology, and history, Giant Robot magazine covers cool aspects of Asian and Asian-American pop culture. Paving the way for less knowledgeable media outlets, Eric put the spotlight on Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li years before they were in mainstream America's vocabulary.
Although Giant Robot has an Asian pop culture focus, it has earned a loyal readership of all colors. The readers are about half-Asian and half-not.
Under Eric's leadership the magazine consistently has featured superior editorial content, innovative design, and a no-holds-barred attitude, garnering Giant Robot notoriety across a diverse crowd ranging from high schoolers to senior citizens. The magazine's graphic sensibility has featured a slew of artists who have gone on to fame in the art world.
The magazine's popularity even led to the opening of Giant Robot retail stores, selling the kinds of cool products that the magazine writes about.
Filmmaker Steve Nguyen of FlipHD posted a cool interview with Phil Yu, the man behind AngryAsianMan.com, one of the truly essential Asian American blogs, earlier yhis week.
Coincidentally, Erin and I interviewed Phil tonight for ...
When I first started the Nikkei View as a weekly column in 1998 that ran in a Denver Japanese community newspaper (now gone), I posted the columns on my nikkeiview.com website. I wrote as a way of telling the world how I saw pop culture and politics through my Japanese American experience. In the decade since then, I've become involved in the larger Asian American Pacific Islander community, and converted the old website to this here blog.
At the time, I don't think there were a lot of Asian Americans writing stuff on the web like I was. There may have been, but I didn't reach out to find them. There were columnists who'd paved the way in traditional media (newspapers), like the late Bill Hosokawa, whose footsteps I followed early on, and Emil Guillermo of AsianWeek. The cool magazine Giant Robot launched back in 1994. The terrific Pacific Citizen newspaper had been publishing for decades, but didn't have a website until a few years ago.
But there weren't a lot of columns being posted online back in the day.
Now, the blogosphere allows for many voices from the AAPI community -- the long list in my blogroll on the right of this page is always growing as I find new blogs to add -- and a couple of them have risen to national prominence.
So Erin and I are planning to participate in a first-ever gathering of Asian American Pacific Islander bloggers called BANANA, Nov. 21 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (it's a link to a Facebook page). It's being organized by Lac Su, the author of the terrific memoir "I Love Yous Are for White People," who ironically is not a blogger. (We'll be interviewing Lac Su on Nov. 17 for visualizAsian.com.)
BANANA will hopefully establish once and for all that there's an emerging chorus of voices that's distinctly Asian American, that's rooted in many Asian ethnic heritages, but is all tied together by shared experiences and values from living in, being born in and growing up in, these United States of America.
Not all of the bloggers I mention below will be at the BANANA event (see Joz's comment below), but a couple of these voices have even developed a national audience outside the AAPI population:
Wow. 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."
The next interview scheduled for Erin and my visualizAsian.com project is one close to our hearts. The free, live interview on Tuesday, August 25 at 6 PM PT (9 PM ET) will be with with Japanese American attorney Dale Minami.
Dale is a rock star within the AAPI community -- in fact, the entire U.S. legal community -- as the lead attorney in Korematsu v United States, the landmark case that cleared the name of Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American who resisted being sent to internment camps during WWII and was sent to prison. A 1944 U.S. Supreme Court's decision established the constitutionality of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. But Dale and a team of young pro-bono lawyers took on the case and in 1983, got Korematsu's conviction overturned.
He's most famous for the Korematsu case, which he won on a writ of coram nobis, a legal tactic that forced the court to admit that an error of "fundamental character" had been made in Korematsu's conviction.
Here's a must-see video about Dale made for an award ceremony when he received the UC-Berkeley law school's highest honor:
But Dale has been fighting for the AAPI community all his career.
He filed the first class-action lawsuit over employment by AAPIs on behalf of AAPIs with United Pilipinos for Affirmative Action v. California Blue Shield, and he helped the Spokane chapter of the JACL take on Washington State University with a class action suit to establish an Asian American Studies program. He also led a fight against UCLA over tenure that was denied an Asian American professor that revealed the layers of discrimination in the academic community.
A couple of months ago, when Erin gave a training workshop for young Asian Americans at the Rise Conference in Denver, she asked the assembled youths their ethnic backgrounds. One woman stod up and said she was Hmong. She said all hger life, she's had to explain her heritage when people ask "What's a Hmong? There's no country called Hmong!"
But now, she said, "I just tell people, H-M-O-N-G. Google it."
That got a big laugh out of the crowd, most of whom were familiar with the history of the Hmong. But most people in the U.S. are woefully unaware of the Hmong.
Clint Eastwood's mostly terrific movie from earlier this year, "Gran Torino," exposed more people than ever before to the history of the mountain tribe of Southeast Asia, and how the CIA recruited them to fight a shadow front out of Laos during the Vietnam War. When the US pulled out of Vietnam, we left the Hmong hanging, and the Communist Pathet Lao government rained retribution on the Hmong.
Although we've relocated many Hmong refugees in various communities in America, thousands are still trapped in refugee camps in neighboring Thailand where they escaped from Laos. The communities are where the US government resettled the Hmong include Michigan, where "Gran Torino" takes place, California, Texas, Colorado (we have a thriving Hmong population in the Denver area) and Minnesota, where the first-ever Hmong American elected to office is a state senator.
So, Erin and I are thrilled to announce the next guest on visualizAsian.comâ€™s AAPI Empowerment Series: Minnesota State Senator Mee Moua. The interview will be held Tuesday, July 7 at 6 pm PDT (9 pm EDT).
Erin Yoshimura and I started visualizAsian.com to interview Asian American Pacific Islander leaders and tell their stories to empower other AAPIs to follow in their footsteps. So far, it's been an absolute blast.
The website launched with a conversation with former Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta on May 21, and this week we spoke with Yul Kwon, the hunky winner of "Survivor: Cook Islands." Both men told powerful stories about the challenges they faced as Asian Americans, and the stereotypes that had to battle.
The next guest on visualizAsian.com's AAPI Empowerment Series is social activist and author Phoebe Eng. The interview will be held Tuesday, June 23 at 6 pm PDT (9 pm EDT).
I met Eng when that book came out, a decade ago, and she was in Denver for a book reading and signing. She was a great speaker, and as inspiring in person as she is in the prose of her book, which is in part an autobiography of her search for identity as an Asian American and as a woman, a double-whammy of identity-politics.
The second interview lined up for visualizAsian.com's AAPI Empowerment Series is with Korean American attorney-turned-TV celebrity Yul Kwon. The interview will be held Tuesday, June 9 at 6 pm PDT (9 pm EDT).
Erin and I were fortunate to see Yul speak during last year's Democratic National Convention in Denver, and more recently during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month at an event in Denver. He's a great role model because of his accomplishments, and because he's on a mission to dispel myths and stereotypes about Asian American Pacific Islanders, and to urge AAPIs to enter the political process.
Kwon has a diverse background in law, politics, technology, business, and media -- except for his exceptional "Survivor" victory, he's almost a model for the "model minority" myth!
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