Between the Newsletters Blog

May 2020 

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May 31, 2020

If you haven’t read our May newsletter interview with Frances Kakugawa and her simple poetry writing lesson, please have a look.

Here’s my attempt at writing one.

A Poem for Mom

By Leonard Chan


You were tough till the end

Hard to describe


A typical Chinese mom

But also atypical


A perfectionist that drove us to give it our best

But was there when we couldn’t


Wanted the best education for us

But desired us to stay close in this aim


Loved beautiful blossoms

But didn’t like people buying you cut flowers


You were culturally Toisanese

But were proud to be an American


Born in Brooklyn

But disliked the Dodgers


A good Democrat

But also had compassion for the opposition


Tough enough to outlive hospice care

But had to leave us in the end


Happy Birthday Mom!

We miss you.

Ruth Asawa: A Sculting Life

May 30, 2020

There are many interesting children’s books that are biographies of notable Asian Americans. One of the new ones is on artist Ruth Asawa.

For those of you that live in San Francisco, you may know her from the public arts high school that is named for her.

If this is all you know about her, then get Ruth Asawa: a Sculpting Life and learn much more. This is a great introduction of the artist to kids and will show them that there is much more to art than just painting and traditional sculpture.

What is also highlighted in this story is Ruth Asawa’s World War II internment camp experience.

Illustrator Traci Van Wagoner does a wonderful job of illustrating Asawa’s amazing wire sculptures. How does she do it? However she did it, the beauty of Asawa's art comes out fantastically.

Get this book and be inspired.

Leonard C.

May 29, 2020

Hey, it’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and I haven’t mentioned it until now. Sorry about that. For those of you that never read our old newsletters, we featured several editorials and articles on the subject.

Have a look at the following: 

The Forgotten Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

An Idea for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Let's Move It 

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and TV

I believe I also wrote about the origins of Asian Pacific American Heritage month, but I couldn’t find that yet. When I do, I’ll share it with you.

On a different subject – 

George Floyd should be alive today. Add his name to the long list of those that had their life unjustly cut short.

Please people, I know you’re angry - we all should be, but stay safe out there and find peaceful ways to correct these wrongs.

I may write more on this in the future.

Leonard C.

May 25, 2020

As we near 100,000 deaths in the United States from COVID-19 on this Memorial Day, I heard two radio programs about the importance of remembering.

The program “On the Media” had a interesting program called Mourning in America. This program had four segments entitled – An Archive of Grief, Obituaries Reveal Who and What We Really Care About, Mass Grief in a Divided America, and Why the Press Downplayed the 1918 Flu.

The program “The World” had the reading of a poem by Dorothy Duffy about the passing of her sister Rose to COVID-19. The poem is called “My Sister is Not a Statistic.” 

You can also catch an interview with Dorothy Duffy on the Irish website

Take care everyone!

Leonard C.

Ramadan (Celebrate the World) Under the Ramadan Moon

May 24, 2020

Happy Eid al-Fitr!

Another part of what we hope our newsletter and blog will do is cultural education. This is an important part of AACP’s mission. Cultural awareness and understanding helps us live together peacefully. The more we fully see each other as human beings—people with diverse backgrounds, customs, and histories—the less likely we are to do bad things to one another.

So for our first culturally related entry, I will mention a very little bit about what I read and know of the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

First of all, I don’t know a lot about Islam, but I hope this entry will pique your curiosity to do your own research and learning. For those that know a lot about this religion, please give us your feedback. Perhaps we’ll do a full feature in our newsletter in the future.

Back in 2003 and 2004, AACP had a calendar project where we had our interns work on a calendar that contained information on festivals and holidays that were important to Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. 

One of the more difficult tasks of this project was finding the dates for when the festivals would be celebrated in the United States. Many Asian festivals do not have a fixed date relative to the Gregorian Calendar (the calendar in use by most of the world today).

The Islamic Calendar follows the cycles of the moon. As a result, Islamic festivals are approximately 11 days earlier (relative to the Gregorian calendar) each passing year.

To add further complexity to figuring out the dates for Islamic festivals, observances of Ramadan are based on the actual observation of the phases of the moon in a particular place on Earth. Therefore the calendar date of the start and end of Ramadan might not be the same for different places around the world.

The end of Ramadan is marked with a celebratory day(s) called Eid al-Fitr and lasts from the evening of May 23th to evening of May 24th in the United States.

There are more Muslims in Asia than any other continent (approximately 1.1 billion) and is currently the most practiced religion in Asia.  Wikipedia article on Islam in Asia

In Indonesia (a predominately Muslim Asian country), Eid al-Fitr is called Lebaran.  About Lebaran

Aljazeera article on Eid al-Fitr

Pew Research Center article on the “Demographic portrait of Muslim Americans

Leonard C.

May 21, 2020

If you haven’t already heard, the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is holding their annual film festival online this year. You still have two days left, today May 21st and tomorrow May 22nd, to check out their completely free offerings.

Of particular note – there is a documentary showing at 5pm today about the 114 year old Takahashi Market in San Mateo. Those of you that have come to our store will probably know that Takahashi Market is just around the corner from us. In fact the Takahashi family is our landlord.

We would like to take this time to thank the Takahashi family for helping AACP get through the pandemic. So watch the documentary and go to their grocery store to help support them too.

Leonard C.

CAAMFest website

The documentary Takahashi Market: since 1906

They Called Us Enemy

May 20, 2020

We are hoping to devote a significant portion of this blog to writing about books. So to stay true to this goal, I will use our second blog entry to highlight George Takei’s wonderful book They Called Us Enemy.

This was one of AACP’s bestselling books in 2019 and that was for good reason. They Called Us Enemy is one of the best books for shedding light on the Japanese American experience during World War II.

There were over 110,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated in United States concentration camps during WWII (citizens and non, I consider them all to be American since Japanese immigrants did not have the right to be naturalized at the time). Every one of them had a unique story, so it is very difficult to have a book that can encapsulates their general experience. They Called Us Enemy is perhaps one of the books that best achieves this lofty goal.

Although the book is a memoir of actor George Takei’s experiences, both during and after WWII, he seems to cover all the pertinent issues of this unjust event. And to top off this amazing feat, the book was created in an easily readable graphic novel/memoir format.

When it came time to pick books for our restarted newsletter this was the first book that came to mind.

Leonard C.

NPR (National Public Radio) story on the book

- An Evening with George Takei - a program of the Commonwealth Club

- Click on the following button to go to our description and to purchase.

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May 18, 2020

Welcome to AACP's newsletter blog!

This is where we'll be writing about current news, events, thoughts, and things that did not make it into the last newsletter.

The first thing that I'd like to highlight is the new PBS documentary Asian Americans. If you haven't had a chance to see it, you can still catch it online at the PBS website.

For those of you that didn't take Asian American Studies in college or are not that knowledgeable on Asian American history, this will be a good introduction to the subject.

One of the founders of AACP, Edison Uno, is mentioned in Part 1. His family is one of the groups of people featured in this documentary.

We may have other entries in the coming days about this documentary.

That's all for this one. Please come back often.

Leonard C.