Posts Tagged frances-kai-hwa-wang

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Why Diversity in Children’s Books Matters

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Why Diversity in Children’s Books Matters
I just finished reading Lac Su's memoir, "I Love Yous are for White People," a story about growing up poor and Vietnamese American in Los Angeles dodging gangs, alcohol and an abusive father. It was a tough read but a sobering reminder that many Asian Americans do not fit neatly into the model minority stereotype.   Now I am reading Bich Minh Nguyen's memoir, "Stealing Buddaha's Dinner," last year's Michigan Humanities Council's Great Michigan Read, about growing up Vietnamese American in suburban Grand Rapids and her fixation on American food.  Read more »

Preparing our Children for Racism Part II—From Understanding to Action

If you missed Part I of the series, Laying the Groundwork, you can catch up on it here.  Read more »

Preparing our Children for Racism — Part 1

Part 1: Laying the Groundwork   I always knew that this day would come and have been preparing my children for it since they were two or three.  Read more »

The Election of President Obama and Whether My Asian American Kids Could Really Be President

My parents always emphasized that although I was ethnically Chinese, my citizenship was American because I was born in America, “You can even be president someday—unlike us—because you are a natural-born citizen.  Read more »

Creating Our Own Thanksgiving Asian-American Style

My mother is one of the world’s greatest cooks. She never reads any cookbooks, and her dishes are never fancy or complicated. Yet every night we sit down to a delicious dinner of soup, greens, tofu or bean sprouts, stir fried chicken or beef, and rice. The sounds of the vegetables hitting the oil and the fragrant smells wafting through the house call us to dinner before my mom can.  Read more »

What do you mean you don’t vote?

We came up over the rise as the highway curved and my breath caught in my throat. The Washington Monument. The Jefferson Memorial. So beautiful and serene in the morning mist.   My uncle was driving me into Washington DC for the day, and I suddenly realized that I have not been here since I was a child. I quickly flashed through my memory of our family photo albums and I recalled that photo of me and my cousins and aunties standing on the steps of the National Zoo after seeing the pandas.  Read more »

A Taste of Summer at the Japanese-American Obon Festival

My daughter Hao Hao and I were at an outdoor music festival when she first spied the little girl. About 3 years old, in a pink Hello Kitty dress, and one long brown curly ponytail, the little girl was dancing and twirling and hopping and flopping along with the music in front of the stage. “Awww, so cute.” “That was you, not too long ago.” (Then the little girl tried to climb onto the stage for her adoring fans, “That was definitely you.  Read more »

Why the Diane Tran Happy Ending Bothers Me

Last month, eight graduating seniors surnamed Nguyen (pronounced Win) from Presentation High School in San Jose, California (my alma mater) tickled the Asian-American blogosphere by combining their senior quotes in the high school yearbook. One or two words under each photo created their “Nguyen-ing” “We know what you’re thinking and no we’re not related.  Read more »

Lessons I do not want to teach my children–about Dharun Ravi, Trayvon Martin, Shaima Alawadi

After Indian American Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was convicted of bias intimidation, I sent the very long New Yorker article about the case to my teenagers so that they can understand what kind of digital footprint they leave whenever they do anything online, and to remind them that regardless of what they might actually be doing, they need to be aware that sometimes those actions may be perceived quite differently by others, including people who do not understand technology and culture, including people with power.  Read more »

Linsanity’s Impact on My Son

I missed the first week of Linsanity because I was caught up in fighting the racist China-fear-mongering Pete Hoekstra political ad that aired during the Superbowl. I remember feeling beleaguered at the time, like we still had a looooong way to go until the elections in November, and if this was just the beginning… I was surprised to learn that the mainstream considered Jeremy Lin an unknown who had come from out of nowhere, because even though I know nothing about sports, even I knew who Jeremy Lin was (courtesy of Ryan Higa and Kev Jumba).  Read more »

Explaining History and Racism to Grandpa

Two years ago, my father’s choir at the University of Hawaii was invited to sing at a big international diversity concert at Lincoln Center in New York for Martin Luther King (MLK) Day. Choirs from around the world had been invited to sing together, and a Hawaiian choir adds instant diversity with its multicultural population of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese, Caucasians and native Hawaiians.  Read more »

How to Raise Strong and Confident Asian Pacific American Daughters

A few years ago, I took a seminar called, "Raising Strong and Confident Daughters." My husband laughed at me. "Could our daughters be any stronger or more confident?" The class was an eye-opener for me, not just in how to raise my girls, but also in understanding my own Chinese-American childhood. I had no memory of dealing with a lot of the issues the instructor talked about as being so important to pre-adolescent girls, such as friendship and physical appearance.  Read more »

Racism in the Extended Family on the Holidays

The Sunday after Thanksgiving: The day we pack up, gratefully drive back to our own home in our own town with our own way of doing things, and are stuck in the car together for hours and have no choice but to talk to each other. It is a time to reflect on the (peculiar) people we met and the (wacky) things that happened, and it is a chance to talk to the kids about what is really important to us as a family.  Read more »

Distant Relatives versus Nearby Friends on Thanksgiving

My parents say that there is a Chinese saying (there is always a Chinese saying) about how distant relatives are not as good as nearby friends. To illustrate, they recall the time our car broke down on the winding and treacherous Pacheco Pass after midnight and how our neighbor, Mr. Shigematsu, came to rescue us and did not get home until after 2 a.  Read more »

Ode to Halloween Costumes, Plus a Warning about Bad Ones

As I child, observing the world as it was presented to me by the mainstream, I often decided to shut doors myself before anyone actually told me to. Growing up in the age of Farrah Fawcett, I knew that one had to be blond in order to be beautiful, by definition. My horseback riding friends and I knew from statistics that at 10 years old we were already too tall to ever become jockeys.  Read more »

The Unexpected Joys of Parenting Teens

“This would be a good day to rob Ann Arbor,” jokes Shi-yi as she waves to another friend she hasn’t seen all summer, “Half the town is here.” After a summer of family time, it is quite a plunge back into the cold refreshing waters of school life up here at Interlochen where the Huron, Pioneer, and Skyline bands, orchestras, and choirs are about to perform after a week of band/orchestra/choir camp.  Read more »

Rhythms of the Season

After a long trip away from home, one of the first things I always do upon our return is take all the kids to buy groceries at our favorite Chinese grocery store. I love watching them zip around, squealing as they load up our basket, “Ooooh! It’s been so long since we’ve had cong you bing!” “Xiao long bao! I want xiao long bao!” and “I haven’t seen this kind of zhu rou gan in soooooo long!” At Tsai Grocery, the kids and I all know what and where everything is.  Read more »

Celebrating Japanese Culture with the Obon Dance

We went to the Obon Dance at the Puna Hongwanji tonight. I love first walking up to the temple grounds, totally transformed by the strings of lanterns glowing in the night, the tall yagura platform calling everyone's attention to the circle.   It is always great watching the elegant old ladies from the Japanese dance schools in their matching kimonos and perfectly coifed hair lead the way, their hands so graceful, their faces so calm.  Read more »

Crime Without Punishment: Why the Death of Vincent Chin Resonates Today

Before I came to Michigan for graduate school, the only thing I knew about Michigan was that it was where Vincent Chin was killed. My parents’ Japanese-American neighbors warned me to sell my father’s Toyota 4Runner and buy a Ford Bronco. I asked about safety as much as I did about academics before I decided to come.   This year marks the 29th anniversary of the baseball bat beating that caused the death of Vincent Chin.  Read more »

Mother’s Day in Mandarin at the Chinese Speech Tournament

My daughter Hao Hao was once a timid child who cried at every little thing. She even got kicked out of sports camp because she dissolved into a flood of tears every time she got "out" in softball or tag. Once when she was at Leslie Science Center, she cried on a hike through the woods because she was afraid of the spider webs on the trail. Instead of giving in to her tears as the teachers and moms at Chinese School tended to do, the Leslie Science Center instructor simply handed her a butterfly net to empower her to wave away the spider webs as she marched down the trail, head and butterfly net held up high.  Read more »

Sorting through the varied hues of Easter – cultural or religious holiday?

My father and I always sang in the church and school choirs, so every year we celebrated Easter by putting on our choir robes, singing joyously at Easter sunrise mass, and then going out for a Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny's. After weeks of preparation, we were happy and stuffed and done with Easter by 9 a.m.   Because I went to Catholic Schools, I always had Good Friday and the week after Easter off of school, while the public schools in California had a different week off, so I thought Easter was a straight-forward religious holiday.  Read more »

InCultureParent Connections

Last night, I finally had the pleasure of meeting one of ICP's contributors, Frances Kai-Hwa Wang. Frances is a talented writer, journalist and activist and writes the witty and insightful Adventures in Multicultural Living column about her experience raising four multicultural kids. Here's a pic from our meeting.     On the other side of me is Saill White, the amazingly talented website designer and programmer who made InCultureParent come to life and whom ICP would be lost without.  Read more »

So what’s the big deal about sleepovers, anyhow?

On my 16th birthday, a blond classmate was shocked to discover that I would not also, automatically, be allowed to date.   “But it’s a Constitutional right that you are allowed to date when you turn 16.”   The other three Asian American girls in my class and I all looked at each other. None of us were allowed to date until college.  Read more »

Living in harmony in a great world house on Martin Luther King Day

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize lecture, given in 1964, he talks about the idea of a house, "We have inherited a big house, a great world house in which we have to live together--black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Moslem and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other.  Read more »

Is Christmas any less Christian if you put up a Bodhi Day tree?

One of my daughter's Jewish friends from preschool once said that she liked coming to our house this time of year because we were the only other people who did not have a Christmas tree, either. Her mother described the conflict her child felt at school having to do Christmas-themed art projects such as decorating trees, which, regardless of what you call them, are still Christmas trees.  Read more »
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From Are Germans Really Rude?
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From Are Germans Really Rude?
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