The AACP Newsletter
Since 1970 Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages May 2004
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At a Glance

The Asian Pacific Fund and "Growing Up Asian in America"
Learn about this annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month contest and the organization that hold it.

Two of the Growing Up Asian in America 2004 Winners

Updates on Past Articles and Editorials

Outraged at Inhofe's "Outraged of Outrage" Statement
An editorial on the Iraq prison story

Why do Good People do Bad Things?
An article on the psychology of evil

The Asian Pacific Fund and
"Growing Up Asian in America"

By Philip Chin
The Asian Pacific Fund was founded in 1993 as a community foundation that connects donors to community needs by making grants to community organizations and sponsoring education and research projects. Every year they select a new theme in conjunction with educators for "Growing Up Asian in America," created in 1995 for students to celebrate national Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May through art and essays. In the words of Ms. Gail Kong, Executive Director and President, the contest "provides a forum where Bay Area Asian youth can explore, express, and value their Asian American heritage (and) to deepen their understanding of what it means to be Asian and American."

The theme for "Growing Up Asian in America 2004," "On Friendship," asked young people to think about what makes a good friend, if friends are different or the same, and why some people don't have any friends at all. The themes for each year are often connected to recent events. For example, following the horrific terrorist attacks in 2001, the 2002 contest had a theme of "Being Brave and Showing Courage."

The 2004 contest attracted 1,750 entries, many reflecting the complexity of diversity and friendships in the San Francisco Bay Area. Judges are selected from a wide range of Bay Area people include teachers, journalists, art teachers, curators, critics,

professional writers, Asian American Studies professors, and other professionals. All of them were struck by the level of self-awareness and depth of cultural understanding and by the honesty these young people brought to the questions posed.

Teachers describe the contest as the only resource of its kind for K-12 schools involving Asian heritage. It is also useful in sparking conversations or special classroom activities and in inspiring students to produce essays and artwork. Parents and teachers also say it often take 2 or 3 years of encouragement before students enter the contest.

Winning students are honored in May by sharing $27,000 in savings bond awards and merchandise prizes. Their entries are hosted on this website and featured in community exhibits that are displayed by Bay Area public libraries between May and December and seen by 1.2 million people. Winning entries are hosted on the Asian Pacific Fund website. Visitors can also see the companion exhibit hosted by more than 50 public libraries throughout the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Libraries are also given copies of a commemorative publication for circulation.

Major sponsors for the Asian Pacific Fund include Albertson's, Allstate Insurance, Chevron Texaco, PG&E, Walgreens, Wells Fargo, AARP, the United Way of the Bay Area, and the media sponsor, NBC11.

Two of the Growing Up Asian in America 2004 Winners
Click here to see all the other winners.
Growing Up Asian in America: "On Friendship"
By Ian Francis Narciso Torres, Age 8
Second Place, K-5th Grade Category

A friend to me is like a plant: when you respect, nourish, and care for a plant, it provides fruit for you. When you are kind to someone, he or she becomes your friend.

My best friend is Bemi. He is Asian and African-American. We sleepover a lot, talk, and play together. He is also a friend of my brothers, aged 5 and 10.

Some of my friends at school are Asian, such as Charles, Justin and Vinh. I know a kid who barely has any friends, because he is mean, he cheats in games, and once he took my snack from me.

I also have friends from a variety of countries. Paul is from Mexico. Once he brought red rice to share with the class. Aaron is from Guam. He showed us the hula dance (which was pretty funny). Richard, from Texas, made a map of many different things about the Lone Star State. As for me, I'm from the Philippines and I shared a video my grandfather gave me about T'nalak (weaving by the T'boli tribe from the Philippines). I brought a real T'nalak blanket to show my classmates. After that we did a weaving art project together.

When you think about it, friendship is pretty amazing. Whether we are from Guam or Mexico, Texas or the Philippines, we can always try to communicate in different ways to become friends.

I have many friends that act, think, and behave differently than me. Of course they're still my friends, because it doesn't matter how fast you run, how smart you are, or where you are from; it's how kind you are that counts.

Always try to make a lot of friends, because the more friends you make, the more company you will have. Don't take advantage of your friends, even if they're really nice to you. Always treat friends like the next best thing to family.

Do you remember what I said about the plant? If you keep doing the same thing, one day you will have a beautiful garden. It's the same with friends: instead of just one friend, you can have lots of friends. The best part is: if you make friends from many different countries, one day you will have a garden full of many different kinds of flowers.

Everything We Are
Eva Hom, Age 17
Third Place, 9-12th Grade Category

She is Friendship.
Taught me to never kneel in life
as dark as it may seem.
Asian connection going on.
Coincidence I'll always believe.

Our jet hair gleamed as we ran through
the playground with our non-Asian friends.
Our small dark naïve eyes danced as we thought of what we'd bring along
when we runaway from our Asian life.

Me and her. Products.
Of Apple pie,
rock and roll,
dim sum
and heady jasmine incense.

We grow up
rolling eyes
as our parents used us as English dictionaries.
We screamed and kicked to Chinese school,
eternal Saturdays - long
like chow mein.
Twin sighs as our As and A minuses are not enough.

Asian best friend.
Like sister to me.
We learned together
to defy ourselves
to break away from our fragile looks and the red lantern's glow,
grasping toward hamburgers and rock bands unknown
Still we flip channels to cheesy Cantonese drama shows.

We talk American
dress American
believe American
act American
Once and awhile
we catch ourselves doing something
"So Asian."
Rolls our eyes
and laugh at ourselves
when books like Joy Luck Club line our shelves.

Asian best friend.
We hold on to
Red and gold ties that bind but do not break us.

Up Coming Events

Here are some events that AACP will soon be attending.
Invite us to your events.
June 5-6
Sa 10-6pm
Su 10-5pm
Foster City Arts and Wine Festival Leo Ryan Park
Foster City, CA
June 16 Jeanne Houston book signing Golden Gate Optimist
San Francisco, CA
June 19
Japanese Cultural Fair Mission Plaza Park
Santa Cruz, CA
July 10-11 San Jose Obon Festival San Jose Buddhist Temple
San Jose, CA
July 17
Books by the Bay Yerba Buena Gardens
San Francisco, CA
July 18
Chinese Summer Festival Kelly Park
San Jose, CA
Other Events of Interest that AACP May Not Attend
May 22
A Day on Angel Island
A Professional Development Workshop for Teachers
Angel Island, CA
May 22-24 NAAPAE 26th Annual Conference Loews Hotel
Philadelphia, PA

Updates on Past Articles and Editorials

The US Supreme Court has heard arguments for the Hamdi and Padilla cases. A ruling is expected within the next month or so. You can read our past article on these cases in AACP's February Newsletter. To read and hear the latest, go to the following links -
PBS's The News Hour
Hamdi v. Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld v. Padilla
We hope to bring you a full report when the Supreme Court makes their decisions.

The He v. Baker child custody case had a ruling - the He family lost custody of their daughter. You can read about the case in our March Newsletter. To read about the latest ruling go to -
World Net Daily
American Family Rights Association
Note: this last link was furnished by the He's or friends of theirs. Thank you.

Editor's Message

Hello everybody. This month is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In keeping with the month, our May Newsletter's theme is on Asian American Identity. Most of the books we are featuring this month have something to do with personal identity issues and the added struggles of growing up Asian in America.

We also have some contest winners' entries from the Growing Up Asian in America contest. Thank you Gail Kong and the Asian Pacific Fund for your help and for giving us permission to use these marvelously works.

I hope you all get a chance to view these items at your local library or on line at the Asian Pacific Fund's website.

Thank you Ms. Eleanor Wong Telemaque for informing us of the reprinting of your book and for allowing us to be one of the main sellers. You can purchase her book below. By the way, I believe I saw Ms. Telemaque in a documentary called "The Chinatown Files" last week. This was an excellent show on Chinese Americans during the McCarthy Era and if any of you have a chance to see it this month as part of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month PBS programming, don't pass it up.

The Friends of AACP Group is now holding a campaign to raise money for the AACP Newsletter and Intern Program. If you donate now, the Friends of AACP Group will match your donation up to a maximum of $600. If we do not receive a total of $600 in donations by the end of June we may have to return some of the funds to this group. Please make your generous donations now to prevent this from happening. Thank you.

Happy APA Heritage Month Everyone!

Leonard Chan
Executive Editor

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Outraged at Inhofe's "Outraged of Outrage" Statement
An Editorial by Leonard D. Chan

You missed a very dull TV show on Auschwitz. More gruesome film clips, and more puzzled intellectuals declaring their mystification over the systematic murder of millions. The reason they can never answer the question "How could it possibly happen?" is that it's the wrong question. Given what people are, the question is "Why doesn't it happen more often?"
- Written by Woody Allen for the character Frederick (Max von Sydow) in the movie Hannah and Her Sisters

A few weeks ago, when the news came out about the tortures occurring at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq at the hands of Americans, I was watching one of my favorite Woody Allen movies - Hannah and Her Sisters. I was instantly reminded of the character Frederick stating how people ask the wrong question (quoted above). To my grave disappointment, our soldiers have proven that Americans are far too human. Americans are not incapable of doing evil. No mater what our leaders say, we Americans may in general be good, but our way of life does not prevent us from doing wrong. To find daily evidence of our propensity to do evil, you need only listen to the evening news.

This incident also brought to mind something I once heard about - a psychology experiment that simulated prison life. The world-renowned Stanford psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, demonstrated the ease at which "good people" could be brought to do bad things. Professor Zimbardo and other psychologist have demonstrated over the past 30 plus years that the concept of absolute "good" and "evil" people may be inaccurate. People's good and bad behavior is very much influenced by the situation in which their actions are committed. (See our article on the Philip Zimbardo paper on evil).

With great interest, I listened to this week's Senate hearings to try to learn about how we got into this mess. With great disappointment I listened to Oklahoma Senator Inhofe's remark of how he was "outraged at the outrage."

Senator Inhofe's Hearing Statement -
"as I watched the -- this outrage, this outrage everyone seems to have about the treatment of these prisoners, I was, I have to say -- and I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment. The idea that these prisoners -- you know, they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cell block 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands. And here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals. And I hasten to say yeah, there are seven bad guys and gals that didn't do what they should have done. They were misguided, I think maybe even perverted, and the things that they did have to be punished. And they're being punished…

"I also am -- and have to say, when we talk about the treatment of these prisoners, that I would guess that these prisoners wake up every morning thanking Allah that Saddam Hussein is not in charge of these prisoners.

"I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons, looking for human rights violations while our troops, our heroes, are fighting and dying. And I just don't think we can take seven -- seven bad people."

Senator Inhofe's remark reminded me of something Ted Koppel once editorialized about at the end of one of his Nightline segments in August of 2001. Nightline was doing a segment on the war atrocities committed by the Japanese during World War II. He had on as one of his guest, Iris Chang, who wrote the "Rape of Nanking." At the end of the segment Ted Koppel said something to the effect that "the United States internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was bad, but not as bad as what the Japanese did in China." I was outraged to the point that I was going to do a one-man boycott by not watching Nightline. If it weren't for all the news on 9/11, terrorism, and Iraq, I still might not be watching Nightline to this day.

So what was it that made me so upset? At the time, I wasn't quite sure. To me the two incidences were totally non-connected and to do such a comparison was like comparing apples and oranges. After Senator Inhofe made his remarks, I began to think more closely at what made me so upset with both the Senator and Koppel.

Historical comparisons have their purpose in keeping things in context. However when such comparisons are made, as in Koppel and Inhofe's case, they seem to serve the purpose of blunting the badness of our own actions. It's almost like the little kid that is trying to find a way out from getting punished for doing something wrong - "don't be upset with me, Johnny did something even worse." Making comparisons for context purposes would work in an academic exercise when the person doing the analysis is not directly involved in the actions and has no vested interest in the outcome. To me, Koppel and Inhofe's statements crossed the line beyond academic exercise and seemed to be making excuses for wrongs that should never be lessened.

We are all to be blamed for what our soldiers did in a prison in Iraq. If we can take credit for the good things that our country does, then we must be prepared to answer for the bad things attributed to us also. It is too easy to take the "we win and they lost" attitude that we so often do with sports teams. Like it or not, whether you believe that you have some responsibility for what takes place in Iraq or not, people around the world have lumped us all together and are holding us all accountable for what happens from here on out. We must strive to do better.

Why do Good People do Bad Things?
By Leonard Chan

Philip Zimbardo, the famed Stanford psychologist, wrote a very interesting article on this very subject. A Situationist Perspective on the Psychology of Evil: Understanding How Good People Are Transformed into Perpetrators.

Prof. Zimbardo general thesis is that the situation and not the disposition of the individual is the primary agent that determines whether we do good or bad things. With just the right environmental situational inputs, almost any one of us could be made to do the wrong thing.

As proof of his thesis, Prof. Zimbardo discusses various well-known psychology experiments that prove his point.

The Milgram Obedience to Authority Experiments (1974)
Stanley Milgram conducted a series of experiments that basically tested a person's willingness to comply with instructions, even when the instructions seemed to be harming another person. The experiment would go something like this - the person being tested (person A) would be given a device that would give electric shocks to another person in a different room (person B). Person A would ask B some questions. If B answered wrong or if B did not answer, A would give B a shock. Person B was not an actual test subject, but rather a person that gave fake responses and yelps.

Milgram tried many variations to the test to see what factors would make person A be more likely or less likely to give person B shocks that were described as lethal. Milgram was able to show that with the right factors, 90% of the people could be made to obey. An interesting variation to the experiment had person B play the role of a masochist (somebody that enjoyed the pain). The average test subject was proven not to be sadist (people that enjoy giving pain), thus proving that these people were not mentally aberrant.

Zimbardo's Deindividuation Experiments (1970)
Prof. Zimbardo did a similar experiment to the Milgram experiment involving electric shocks. He was able to show that conditions that made the test subject feel anonymous, allowed that person to more easily shock the other person. From this test, Zimbardo concludes that it is easier to do harm to people you don't know or if the other person doesn't know who you are.

Perhaps this partly explains the need for the hooding of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Not knowing the prisoners and having the prisoners not know them, probably made it much easier for the soldier to commit torturous atrocities.

Bandura, Underwood, and Fromson - Disinhibition of Aggression Through Diffusion of Responsibility and Dehumanization of Victims (1975)
This was another variation on the Milgram shock experiment. The results of this experiment showed how labels given to a group could influence how the other group reacted to them. In the experiment, person A was lead to believe that person B was either "nice," an "animal" or not labeled. As predicted, people that were label as "animals" were given the most shocks, while the people label as "nice" were given the least amount of shocks.

The implication of the results from this experiment has very important meaning to minorities. Stereotype labeling can be very harmful to us. One need only look at Rwanda to see how Hutu labeled the Tutsi as being subhuman (cockroaches) thus inciting their people to commit genocidal acts against the Tutsi.

The Stanford Prison Experiment (1971)
In this experiment Philip Zimbardo simulated a prison using Stanford student as guard and prisoners, and himself as the superintendent. Prof. Zimbardo carefully made sure that the test subjects were average "good people" that did not show any signs of aberrant mental behavior. The test was suppose to last two weeks, but the guards' poor behavior, the prisoners' stressed condition, and Prof. Zimbardo's own aberrant behavior as the controlling authority, caused them to end the experiment after only six days. The experiment dealt with issues "of power and powerlessness, dominance and submission, freedom and servitude, control and rebellion, identity and anonymity, coercive rules and restrictive roles." Go to to read about the complete experiment (a very interesting read).

Latan and Darley - The Unresponsive Bystander (1970)
This experiment dealt with the evils caused by inaction (letting a bad act happen). "One key finding was that people are less likely to help when they are in a group, when they perceive others are available who could help, than when those people are alone. The presence of others diffuses the sense of personal responsibility of any individual."

Zimbardo's Conclusion

The Zimbardo concluding homily -
"While a few bad apples might spoil the barrel (filled with good fruit/ people), a vinegar barrel will always transform sweet cucumbers into sour pickles -- regardless of the best intentions, resilience, and genetic nature of those cucumbers." So does it make more sense to spend resources to identify, isolate and destroy bad apples or to understand how vinegar works, and teach cucumbers how to avoid undesirable vinegar barrels?"

We must be humble because the right situations can transform any of us -
"Instead of immediately embracing the high moral ground that distances us good folks from those bad ones … any deed, for good or evil, that any human being has ever done, you and I could also do -- given the same situational forces. If so, it becomes imperative to constrain our immediate moral outrage that seeks vengeance against wrong doers; instead to uncover the causal factors that could have led them in that aberrant direction…

The "war on terrorism" can never be won solely by current administration plans to find and destroy terrorists, since any individual, anywhere, at any time, can become an active terrorist. It is only by understanding the situational determinants of terrorism that programs can be developed to win the hearts and minds of potential terrorists away from destruction and toward creation. Not a simple task, but an essential one that requires implementation of social psychological perspectives and methods in a comprehensive, long-term plan of attitude, value and behavior change."


The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end June 14, 2004.

Born Confused

By Tanuja Desai Hidier
2003, 500 pages, Paperback.

Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. She's spent her whole life resisting her parents' traditions. But now she's turning seventeen and things are more complicated than ever. She's still recovering from a year-old break-up and her best friend isn't around the way she used to be. Then, to make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a "suitable boy." Of course, it doesn't go well … until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web of words and music. Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue.

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ORDER -- Item #3217, Price $7.99

Name Me Nobody

By Lois-Ann Yamanaka
2000, 229 pages, Paperback.

Thirteen-year-old Emi-Lou feels like a nobody. She's overweight, her mom lives in faraway California and rarely visits or calls, and she doesn't know who her father is. The only people who make her feel like somebody are her brave, blunt grandma, and her best friend, Von. "Where Von go, Emi-Lou go," their families and friends say. But now Emi-Lou fears that Von is going somewhere she can't follow. What will Emi-Lou be without Von? Nobody, she thinks. But Emi-Lou's desperate actions to hold on to her best friend just may break them apart forever.

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ORDER -- Item #3216, Price $5.99


By Milly Lee
Illustrated by Yangsook Choi
2001, 29 pages, Hardback.
Autographed copies available.

A young Chinese-American girl and her family move their belongings from their home in Chinatown tothe safty of Golden Gate Park during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

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ORDER -- Item #2996, Price $16.00

YELL-Oh Girls!
Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and
Growing Up Asian American

Edited by Vickie Nam
2001, 297 pages, paperback.

In this groundbreaking collection of personal writings, young Asian American girls come together for the first time and engage in a dynamic conversation about the unique challenges they face in their lives. Prompted by a variety of pressing questions from editor Vickie Nam and culled from hundreds of submissions from all over the country, these revelatory essays, poems, and stories tackle such complex issues as dual identities, culture clashes, family matters, body image, and the need to find one's voice.

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ORDER -- Item #2985, Price $13.00

It's Crazy to Stay Chinese in Minnesota
Chasing Bingo Tang

By Eleanor Wong Telemaque
Illustrated by Jeanette Wong Ming (cover design)
2000, 102 pages, Paperback.

Based on the author's memories of her Middle West girlhood, her coming of age, wanting to be "white" and hoping that by seducing a newcomer in town, Bingo Tang, she can find her knight in shining armor and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, Bingo has other plans for his life.

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ORDER -- Item #3218, Price $20.99

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