Category Archives: controversy

The Perspective of a Tiger Mother’s Child

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” Albert Einstein’s words say a lot about this society. Well, we do call the man brilliant for a reason. He speaks the truth, especially in the world of Asians/Asian-Americans.

It’s true that a major factor of being raised an Asian household is to not only get good grades, but to receive the top scores. However, being book-smart, being able to regurgitate from a textbook does not ensure your success in the future. Life isn’t about what comes out of a book. There is no cheat sheet to finding your passion and taking risks to achieve your dream.

Psychologists have argued that it is important for you to de-focus as it allows the mind to truly think creatively with clarity. And this is where the problem lies. Studying so hard inevitably gets in the way of other things, such as a social life. There is no real time to deactivate from your focused intelligence. How can one think creatively that way? Even more so, how can you truly find and experience what it is you love in life without being able to release….or rebel?

I only say rebel because that comes from my experience. I would have never discovered my love of music or writing if I hadn’t taken my nose out of those books and snuck out to those concerts, b-boy battles, street races…you get the idea (sorry, Mom!). I could have the best writing education in the world. What is it worth if I don’t have a story to tell?

And in today’s society, I would be considered a highly-educated person (degrees stacked up on them walls!), but the truth of the matter is I did that for my parents. My love of hip hop and writing did not require the extent of schooling that I went through. My knowledge of textbooks did nothing to help me in the industry I so desired to be a part of.

Despite all the opportunities in my journey, Einstein’s words hold a lot of weight. I do find times that my education does hinder me from a kinship with others. I work in a world where experience speaks louder than schooling. It’s about your grind, not your resume. And because I formerly lived in a world of academia, there are moments I get too technical with details and people look at me sideways, not because they’re not intelligent but because it isn’t necessary. Yet, and this is hard for me to admit, a small voice in the back of my mind is glad that I got those degrees just in case my dream (gasp!) didn’t come true. However, I know that I am not alone.

The fear may not be there for some. However, in many cases, including Quest Crew member Victor Kim, getting a college degree is something to obtain for your parents. Singer, Joseph Vincent, graduated this past semester and now, signed to Catch Adventures, he will pursue his career as a singer. Let’s face it – that piece of paper will always be there.

Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”, an article published in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, created quite a stir, but would it have done so if there wasn’t any truth to it? Yes, it’s a stereotype, but many Asian kids are known to study hard, get those grades, and follow their parents’ wishes. WSJ states, “A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.” But I have to wonder what exactly they mean by “successful”. Does that mean they have good jobs?

Because my definition of success is different – it means living out a dream and being truly happy in a career they chose. This leads me to question, and maybe even challenge, if pushing kids towards a particular path is truly the right thing, especially when it happens to an insatiable music lover who would rather not be an engineer or a talented dancer whose preference is not to live in the suit-and-tie world.

But does our education hinder that? After all our “gold stars” and “straight-A’s”, does it make us feel fearful to make a mistake, take a risk, or chase an opportunity where the outcome is unknown?

What is the underlying fear that makes some of us not even take that risk? Disappointing people? Because the only one who has to live with our mistakes is us. And I’d rather know I took that chance to live my dream than play it safe and never try.

As Jin told us, “Make sure you shoot for the moon so you can land on the stars.”
It’s a good place to be.

Examples of people following their dreams
Facebook Game by Peter J. Su : Venture Capitalist turns Singer/Songwriter

Follow your passion with Cynthia Lin

Food from Taiwan contaminated with DEHP

Food from Taiwan contaminated with DEHP

About a month ago, Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that some companies in Taiwan were using toxic chemical DEHP (Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) to manufacture various consumer food products. (DEHP is a plasticizer frequently used in the production of plastics to make it soft and pliable. If consumed on a regular basis, DEHP can cause cancer and also lead to kidney or testicular damage and fertility problems.) Food contamination occurred when these companies intentionally added DEHP to emulsifiers to lower production costs. The emulsifiers, better known as cloudy agents, are legal food additives generally made of Acacia gum, palm oil, & various food additives and used in juice and beverages to give it a cloudy rich look.

Initially, only two sports drinks (Dongli Sport Drinks and Dongli Lemon Sport Drinks) were found to be contaminated. Now, suspected product categories contaminated with DEHP have expanded to include: sports drinks, fruit juice, tea drinks, fruit jam/fruit nectar or jelly and food in tablet, capsule or powder form. You can see a full list here (English) or here (Chinese).
Food recalls have been issued in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and more Asian & European countries. (The US has not yet issued any recalls.)

Without clear information from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you’re favorite frozen yogurt shop and bubble/boba tea spot could still be serving DEHP-contaminated products along with your local Asian supermarket. Some US-based locations have already taken proactive steps to remove these products off the self or get certified to be DEHP-Free . A few years back melamine triggered a China import ban on certain products.

Taiwan raises fine on DEHP-related cases

Taiwan’s food market hit hard by DEHP crisis

Vincent Who? documentary film about Vincent Chin

Vincent Who? documentary film about Vincent Chin

The 29th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s murder is coming up. Through July 2011, Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (APAP) and the producers of “Vincent Who?” have made the entire 40-minute documentary for free for this limited time, so catch it while you can. If you don’t know the importance of this story, here’s a synopsis:

In 1982, at the height of anti-Japanese sentiments, Vincent Chin was murdered in Detroit by two white autoworkers who said, “it’s because of you mother** that we’re out of work.” When the judged fined the killers a mere $3,000 and three years of probation, Asian Americans around the country galvanized to form a real community and movement. This documentary, inspired by a series of townhalls organized by the non-profit Asian Pacific Americans for Progress on the 25th Anniversary of the case, features interviews with key players at the time, as well as a whole new generation of activists. “Vincent Who?” asks how far Asian Americans have come since then and how far we have yet to go.

If you prefer to see a special screening , you can check out the latest touring schedule for 2011-12 here.

Vincent Who? documentary film about Vincent Chin

Help fund documentary Hahn on Korean education system

Help fund documentary Hahn on Korean education system

Last week, we did a post about Asians seeking surgery to look Western with plenty of controversy around the piece. Recently, we got word about a documentary about life as a female student in Korea by 19 year old American filmmaker and visual artist Kelley Katzenmeyer. Initially it started as a film about the pressures faced by high schoolers in the Korean education system, but quickly turned into more than that. Korean teenagers also have the added stress of looking a certain way, “Western”. Looking “beautiful” has these students carrying eyelid glue and getting plastic surgery. Here’s more on the documentary:

“Hahn” hopes to explain a very important Korean concept– “한” or “hahn”, a Korean word for which there is no English translation. “Hahn’ is perhaps the driving force that brought South Korea from being one of the poorest countries in Asia to the world’s 13th largest economy in 60 short years. It is perhaps because of “hahn” that Korean students have some of the highest test scores in the world, and a higher rate of acceptance into American Ivy Leagues than any other foreign country. It is also perhaps the reason why, among developed countries, Korea has the highest suicide rate. It’s what’s making Korea one of the strongest countries in the world– but at the same time, one of the weakest.

“Hahn” will follow several Korean teenagers in the most stressful time of their lives- their last year of high school. After studying for roughly sixteen hours each day, their futures boil down to one last exam. On November 10th, 2011, thousands of high school seniors will take a nine hour test that for many, will determine their economic and social status for the rest of their lives.

“Hahn” hopes to reveal why Korean education is extraordinarily competitive, and how it came to be that way.

The film is looking for funding to get better cameras and sound equipment. To learn more about the project, go here.

Fundraising video for Hahn (see the 2:30 mark for more about the pressures to look “beautiful” in high school.)

More about Kelley Katzenmeyer
As a high school senior, Kelley Katzenmeyer won the 2010 YoungArts Gold Award in Cinema, a $10,000 prize, and was nominated as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, meeting President Obama. During high school, her short film “To Be Remembered” screened at film festivals across America. After graduating from the NC School of the Arts in 2010, Kelley received a full scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study abroad in South Korea. Recently accepted into Columbia University, she has deferred admission in order to direct a documentary feature film on Korean high school students. Currently, Kelley lives in Seoul, South Korea.

Asians seek surgery to look Western

Asians seek surgery to look Western

This disturbing piece ran on CNN talking about Asians seeking surgery to look more Western. People across Asia are flocking to Seoul to get various cosmetic surgery done. Not only is it eyelid surgery, but it’s also nose reshaping, facial contouring, and tongue snipping. People of all ages from kids to middle age are doing it. They believe that with a prettier “American” face and better English speaking abilities they can be more successful. Hopefully this trends won’t last long.

CNN’s Kyung Lah reports on the phenomenon of Asians flocking to Seoul for plastic surgery to look more “Western.”

George Takei vs. Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

George Takei vs. Tennessee's Don't Say Gay Bill

George Takei takes on the Tennessee Legislature and its “Don’t Say Gay” bill, in the way only George Takei can!

A bill now pending in Tennessee would prohibit teachers in that state from discussing homosexuality in the classroom. The so-called “don’t say gay” law is premised on the misguided belief that, by not talking about gay people, they can simply make us disappear.

George is here to tell Tennessee, and all the LGBT youth and teachers who would be affected by this law, that he is here for you. In fact, he is lending his name to the cause. Any time you need to say the word “gay,” you can simply say “Takei.”

Have a TAKEI old time!

The Star Trek alum is on a roll with the past few videos he’s done. Did you see George Takei Should Be Spiderman on Broadway?

George Takei vs. Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill