Meet Yuh-Line Niou: First Asian-American to Represent Chinatown, NYC

Yuh-Line

She trained here,studied here, got her footing here in Seattle. The influence of so many longstanding Asian Pacific American mentors within social justice movements has changed the way younger APAs see themselves in positions of influence. Go Yuh-Line! (She was also my neighbor for many years here in Ballard.)

 

Questions to ask students:

What is an elected representative?

What should an elected representative be like?

How do you choose the right candidate for you?

 

Here are a few easy and free lesson plans we find useful:

 

Click Here Or The Image Above For The Story 

 

From the Dispatches of NBC News: A Positive Outcome of the National Election

 

When the 115th Congress convenes on Jan. 3, 2017, it will do so with more Asian-American woman senators than ever before.

Three members of the Senate are projected to be Asian-American women, a new high just four years after Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii became the first Asian-American woman ever to be elected to the Senate in 2012.

Projected to be joining her are Kamala Harris — the current attorney general of California — and Rep. Tammy Duckworth from Illinois, who is projected to defeat incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk.

Below are the election results of other races featuring Asian-American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) candidates or candidates involved in the AAPI community.

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Supreme Court rejects effort to grant American Samoans U.S. citizenship at birth

american-samoa-113759_960_720This happened a few months back, but it raises questions about sovereignty, the legacy of or existence of modern American imperialism and more.

1899 marked the year that birthright citizenship was formalized for those people born in the United States are automatically citizens. We can thank Wong Kim Ark for that!

But what about the American territories around the globe? What rights to citizenship do they receive?

“Those born in the other U.S. territories — Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Marianas — all get citizenship at birth, but that was determined by statute in Congress. No such statue exists for American Samoa.”  Technically, what the people of these territories receive is the status of “non-citizen nationals.

Yet– a statute in Congress does not exist? Has it been a question raised in Congress? Or is this the first attempt at gaining rights for American Samoa born?

 

Memory and Renewal: Tanforan Assembly Center

2017 marks 75 years since the first Japanese Americans we forced into assembly centers and then to concentration camps throughout the United States.

Here in Western Washington American citizens and their parents were held at the Puyallup Fairgrounds– renamed Camp Harmony and then most were sent to Minidoka camp in Idaho. “Except in Portland, Pinedale, Sacramento, and Mayer, large fairground or racetracks were selected to minimize the need for building extra housing. At the racetracks, stables were cleaned out for use as living quarters. At the Portland Assembly Center over 3,800 evacuees were housed under one roof in a livestock pavilion subdivided into apartments.” (Densho Project Website)

Tanforan was a racetrack.

When we consider the events and the rhetoric of today’s electoral race, the importance of memorializing this tragic era of American history is not simply a message for those whose families share the direct legacy: It is for all the country to consider whether we will be complicit in this happening again, or not.

 

El Cerrito: WWII Tanforan Assembly Center story mirrors today’s issues

Whose Voice Matters?

In the last post we watched Anh Luu talk about her life as a chef, a Vietnamese American, and her take on blending the many sides of her own cultural identity.

Compare the way this story below begins with Anh’s profile video, even though this video describes an Australian perspective, we can examine the stark differences in narrators and the sources of the narrations.

  • How might hearing her story told by someone else change the way we see Anh?
  • Who is the protagonist of Anh’s story? Who is the protagonist in the second film?
  • Why would it matter who the protagonist is when learning about a person, community or nation?

This is of course a more difficult comparison to make with our younger students but a rewarding conversation to have.

 

 

(ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION OPTION: This second film can also be used by teachers in class to make the comparison with current refugee and immigration issues facing the world and our nation.)

In particular, around the 3:40 mark, point out how many young men arrived on the boat, and why the Australian government kept the boat’s arrival a secret.
How  many non-white Australians was enough to scare the population?
Discuss the importance of fear in the immigration/asylum debate.

A Season to Vote

API Voters.Wooedbyparties.2016
API Voters Remain a Major Swing Vote in the Upcoming Election

 

 

“The Asian-American voter pool is remarkably diverse, ranging from Pakistanis and Indians to Chinese and Koreans.” That is the ethnic breakdown in the state of Virginia in an article from the Wall Street Journal. In Washington State we would add the populations from the Pacific Islands as well. This means the diversity of the Asian and Pacific American voting public is as varied as any other groups. Outreach by both major political parties will need to contend with this diversity. To the list we can confidently add: Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Japanese, Thai, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Hawaiian, Fijian, Maori, Samoan, Tongan and a dozen other ethnicities.

The reality for political campaigns is that there is an assumption that if you reach one of these groups, you’ve reached them all. I very clear terms, that simply is not the effect.

In 2012, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans were a major factor in the elections; some have argued that we collectively were the most significant swing vote in that national and state-level elections.

Yet in the subsequent years, voter turnout in these populations droppedAPIvoterturnout.2014

I pointed this out at the dinner table this past summer. I was happily surprised at how interested my kids were in the topic.

My daughter entered her fourth grade class with the expectation that she would learn everything she needed to know about voting, elections and the Constitution. We are several weeks into the school year and I am trying to manage her expectations a bit. What I am struck by, is that she is committed to this idea of voting. Participation in elections, for her, is as important as her own interests in sports, arts and music. In essence; being a voter is an important part of her identity. She was disappointed that the right to vote wouldn’t be hers until she turned 18, because as she stated, “I’m a citizen now.”

What this triggered was a series of questions of whether the American voter– in particular Asian and Pacific American voters– saw the right to vote as inherent to their identity.

  • Does the right to vote coincide with the identity of being a citizen?
  • How do our next generations see themselves within our political process?
  • What is so important about voting?