February 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter Index
Editor's Message Events The Slippery Slope of Erasing School Names 3rd Culture Kid’s View of Chinese New Year Featured Books

Editor's Message

Happy Lunar New Year Everyone!

For those of you that don’t already know, the Lunar New Year occurred this past Friday on February 12th. To learn more about the Lunar New Year, you can start by checking out the Wikipedia article.

If you haven’t stumbled across this animation, try doing a google search for “lunar new year.” I’m not sure if the animation has an expiration date, but hopefully it will still happen when you give it a try. I think it’s kind of neat. By the way, I was just asked the question about what year it is on the Chinese calendar (it’s 4718). That reminded me of this article I wrote for our newsletter back in February of 2009, titled “4707 Began in 1912” check it out.


This coming Friday, February 19, also marks the 79th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066. Normally, in non-pandemic years, we’d be attending Day of Remembrance events that mark this anniversary. San Jose had a virtual Day of Remembrance event this past Sunday. You can still view the event by clicking here.


Have you ever met someone that grew up in the same city as you did and started with the question, “What school did you go to?” For me, someday soon, that question may no longer have any relevance. Every school that I went to in San Francisco has been marked for renaming. Back in August of 2006, I wrote a newsletter article titled “Goodbye Luther Burbank Middle/Junior High School” about the renaming of my Junior High School. Now my high school and elementary school will also be renamed. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but please read my editorial on the school renaming issue in this newsletter.


Please check out this month’s newsletter book selection. There’s no overall theme this month, but there are a number of books that I’ve wanted to feature for a while now including the 2020 National Book Award winner for fiction “Interior Chinatown.”

This book was also selected by the PBS NewsHour’s book club for this month’s pick. If you hurry, you can even write a question for the author on the NewsHour’s book club page.


Thank you Sylvia, Philip, Susan, and Pia for your help with this month’s newsletter.

Take care.

Leonard Chan

Executive Editor


Feb 20, 1pm: The San Mateo Historical Society is hosting a virtual panel (consisting of Jeff Gee and other OCA San Mateo members) to discuss the Chinese lunar new year customs and traditions. Click here for more information and to register.


Feb, 2021: Author Oliver Chin (author of "The Year of" series and many more books) has a full schedule of events through out February and all the way to May. Check out his event schedule.


March 5-7: California Council for the Social Studies Conference.

Author Frank Abe will be doing a session at the conference, titled "Teaching Japanese American Resistance Through the Graphic Novel," featuring his new book "We Hereby Refuse" on Sunday March 7, 11:15am.

Check out Frank Abe's full schedule. Hey, it even includes a 45th anniversary reunion of the cast of "Farewell to Manzanar."


April 7-10: The Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) Virtual Conference. If you're a student, you can register for $25 (that's really good :).


April 15, 10am-3pm: Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE) Virtual Summit. For more information click here.


If you have an event that you would like us to mention and or to participate in, please feel free to let us know.

The Slippery Slope of Erasing School Names

An Editorial by Leonard Chan

In the past, whenever I would hear about a school or street being named for someone, I would wonder which I would prefer to have named after me. I thought having a school named after you at least insured that the school’s student body would be curious enough to make some effort to know and remember you. What an honor that would be and wouldn’t that be great? Now I’m not so sure.

If you haven’t heard about the controversial schools name change process taking place in San Francisco, read the San Francisco Chronicle’s article on the subject (Abraham Lincoln, once a hero, is now a bad guy in some S.F. education circles).

Upon recent movements to remove Confederate monuments and flags, some people that are against it make the argument that it would lead us down a slippery slope of other changes to come. I didn’t buy that argument. Confederate monuments and flags represented an insurrection against the United States, the institution of slavery that the rebellion sought to defend, and the racist and oppressive institutions that followed. They really need to be removed.

But now we’ve reached that slope and have fallen head first down the road of evaluating many others that we used to honor, even Abraham Lincoln.

You may ask how this is of any concern to Asian Americans. One of the marks against Lincoln in the San Francisco school board renaming committee’s finding was the passing of the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 which helped precipitate the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad (TCRR). The TCRR is seen as a contributor to loss of land and natural resources, as well as the loss of lifestyle and culture, for many Indigenous peoples. The building of the TCRR is also one of the major accomplishments that many Chinese and Asian Americans take pride in.

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3rd Culture Kid’s View of Chinese New Year

Part 4 of AACP's Comfort Food Series

By Sylvia Yeh Kataoka

Reminiscing about my childhood, I can recall my parents saying: “Always be ready to pack your suitcase to travel and follow the path of luck no matter where it takes you.” They adopted this philosophy after they met with a seasoned fortune-teller who prophesied, “Go as far away as possible to become successful.” That is what my parents ingrained in me since I was six. My world was in disarray when I became a 3rd Culture Kid (TCK). A TCK is anyone who has experienced living in three uniquely different countries with contrasting expectations and cultural norms. Even though my father only had a 2nd-grade education, he took a leap of faith, secured a chef’s position in Hyogo, Japan, and left home with a mere $5 in his pocket. At the age of six, I accompanied my mother and brothers to join my father in Japan. I was the 21st generation in Taiwan and now I was leaving behind my grandparents who I hardly saw again.

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Featured Books

View full descriptions of all these featured books at Bookshop.org where you'll also have the opportunity to purchase them.

Children's Books

Early Chapter Books, Graphic Novels, and Young Adult

General Literature