Category Archives: history

The Red Kimono book by Jan Morrill

The Red Kimono book by Jan Morrill
With themes of fear, racism and forgiveness that are as relevant today as they were seventy years ago, Jan Morrill’s debut novel “The Red Kimono” is gripping audiences from coast to coast. Taking readers deep into the lives of two young Japanese Americans and their African American friend as they experience dramatic events of World War II, The Red Kimono offers a compelling reality check for all.

A glimpse back at 1940s America will send chills down the spines of many who lived through it. As the United States suffered crippling societal fear and racism, a string of geopolitical events further deepened tensions. In a ground-breaking debut novel by Jan Morrill, the fictional story of three young Americans caught up in troubles of the era is vividly depicted for a twenty-first century audience. The Red Kimono travels deep into each of their lives as they navigate and pay for the problems inflicted upon them.


In 1941, racial tensions are rising toward Japanese-Americans in the California community where nine year-old Sachiko Kimura and her seventeen year-old brother, Nobu live. When Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, tensions erupt and Sachi witnesses three teenage boys taunting and beating her papa in a park. She especially remembers the colored boy with hazel eyes, Terrence Harris. When Nobu comes upon the scene, he cannot believe the boys he witnesses beating his father are his friends.

Unbeknownst to Sachi and Nobu, that morning, Terrence’s family received a telegram that his father was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Desperate to escape his pain, he leaves home and runs into two high school friends who convince him the only thing that will help is to “get a Jap.” When they find a Japanese man and beat him up, they do not know it is Nobu’s father.

In the months that follow, Terrence is convicted of manslaughter is sentenced to two years in prison. Sachi and Nobu are sent to an internment camp in Arkansas. Each will change during imprisonment. One will learn acceptance. One will remain in a prison of resentment. And one will seek a path to forgiveness.

Woven with themes of bigotry and betrayal, friendship and forgiveness, treachery and tradition, The Red Kimono takes place in California and Arkansas during World War II and sets a multi-cultural stage that contrasts the lives of those who can and cannot forgive.

As the author explains, her book’s startling themes are still deep-rooted in modern society.

“Fear, racism and forgiveness are as relevant today as they were when this story took place seventy years ago. Though the fear surrounding 9/11 reminded me of that which surrounded Pearl Harbor, I still see ignorance that causes anger, fear, hatred, etc. with regard to differences in politics, religion, culture, class,” says Morrill, whose own mother was a Japanese American internee during WWII. Continuing, “The Red Kimono compares the lives of those who choose to remain closed to those who open themselves to the discovery of our differences.”

You can get the book here.

The Red Kimono book trailer by Jan Morrill

The Red Kimono discussion with Jan Morrill

More about author Jan Morrill
Jan Morrill was born and (mostly) raised in California. Her mother, a Buddhist Japanese American, was an internee during World War II. Her father, a Southern Baptist redhead of Irish descent, retired from the Air Force. Many of her stories reflect memories of growing up in a multicultural, multi-religious, multi-political environment as does her debut novel, THE RED KIMONO, which was published by the University of Arkansas Press in February 2013.

An artist as well as a writer, she is currently working on the sequel to The Red Kimono.

Jan’s award-winning short stories and memoir essays have been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books and several anthologies. Recently, she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for her short story “Xs and Os,” which appeared in the Voices Anthology.

Top videos for 2012 on

There were many unexpected surprises in 2012 for Asians and Asian Americans in entertainment. We saw both tears of sadness and joy. Our hearts were broken in early 2012 with the story of Janet Liang as well as school yard bullying caught on tape. We witnessed global phenomenons from Jeremy Lin and PSY along with the long-awaited and often-feared K-Town Reality Show. Thanks to all the fans, followers, supporters, the people we interviewed and the people behind the scenes of Here’s a recap of the top videos for 2012 on our site.

Finding a Perfect Match for Janet Liang : Her Personal Plea
1. Finding a Perfect Match for Janet Liang : Her Personal Plea
Easily the most heartbreaking video of 2012 was Janet Liang’s personal plea to find a bone marrow donor match in her battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The Asian American community came out to support her cause (White Frog cast PSA from Janet Liang and Asian Americans Helping Janet Liang). even had a chance to meet her in person at a YTF concert in the San Francisco Bay Area. The views skyrocketed on our site when Jeremy Lin retweeted out post at the height of Linsanity.


In June 2012, she found a match and by September, she got her bone marrow transplant. A week later, Janet Liang passed away. We’re saddened by the lose, but she opened our eyes to the importance of Asian American bone marrow registration. In mid-September 2012 along with other Asian American site, we launched a bone marrow donor cyberdrive.

2. Linsanity
In his rookie season, Jeremy Lin didn’t get too much play time with the Golden State Warriors and was send to the D-League several times. December 2011 was probably the worst time for him after being waived by the Golden State Warriors, then picked up and waived by the Houston Rockets, the picked up by the New York Knicks. In February 2012, we witnessed what became known as Linsanity as Jeremy Lin played against the New Jersey Nets. Some of his better known highlights during his run include the spin move against Los Angeles Lakers’ Derek Fisher and the game winning 3 pointer against Toronto. Needless to say Linsanity caused a major spike on Listen to Jeremy Lin’s testimony about Linsanity for his first had account of that magical run.

From Linsanity, we saw companies like Nike embrace an Asian athlete with their commercial about Meng Ling : Rookie of the Year in 2030. Also look for Linsanity the movie to hit the screen in 2013.

K-Town Reality Show
3. K-Town Reality Show
Two years since, broke the story about revealing the cast of the K-Town Reality Show. The long awaited show made it’s debut online with a slight change in casting with not one, but two seasons. K-Town Reality Show Season 1 revolved around Joe and the crew helping him promote a big club event, while Season 2 focuses on the cast helping to plan Young’s wedding. K-Town Reality Show started at 10 minutes an episode in Season 1 and doubled to about 20 minutes an episode in Season 2. If you haven’t seen the series yet, you’re missing out on lots of drama, drinking, and more drama. Drinking begats more drama. Get to know Violet Kim, Scarlet Chan, Jasmine Chang, Young Lee, Steve Kim, Joe Cha, and Jowe Kyu.

Helpless Asian Teen Attacked and Jumped By 7 Others Behind School
4. Bullying
On MLK weekend, a viral video surfaced with a Helpless Asian Teen Attacked and Jumped By 7 Others Behind a School out in Chicago. Not only was giant spotlight put on race, but also on bullying. Whether it was revenge or unprovoked, there is no reason fists should be thrown. Check out these campaigns against bullying : TEASE (To Encourage A Safe Environment) : Lil Crazed Bullying Prevention Campaign and Wonder Woman by Elise Estrada

Dirty Bass by Far East Movement
5. Far East Movement
Not only did Far East Movement promote their Dirty Bass album in full swing, but the guys also made the theme song for the cartoon Monsuno. They dropped more tracks and music videos than ever in 2012 with singles including Jello, Live My Life (Party Rock Remix), Candy, Live My Life, Dirty Bass, Turn Up the Love, Change Your Life, Little Bird, For All, Lovetron, Get Up (Rattle), and Christmas in Downtown LA. They’ve been traveling the world spreading the word on the Dirty Bass Movement. What’s next for them in 2013?

Wedding Impossible with Gail Kim x Robert Irvine
6. Wedding : Impossible with Gail Kim x Robert Irvine
WWE Diva Gail Kim married chef Robert Irvine (Restaurant Impossible) over the summer. The Food Network Special Wedding :Impossible showed the highlights of their Napa Valley wedding with Irvine leading the charge and his chef friends contributing special dishes. Lots of wonderful dishes and surprises for everyone.

Seoul Sausage wins The Great Food Truck Race Season 3
7. Seoul Sausage wins the Great Food Truck Race Season 3
Seoul Sausage entered Season 3 of the Great Food Truck race to win their dream truck and cook full time. The first-generation trio of Korean Americans Yong, Chris and Ted sold their signature Korean-style sausages along with other Korean inspired dishes at each leg of their journey. They made their way from the west coast to the east coast to eventually take the win on The Great Food Truck Race Season 3. Seoul Sausage has won the keys to their dream food truck and $50,000 to start their business.

I'm Not Perfect by Cheesa x Charice
8. I’m Not Perfect by Cheesa x Charice
Singer Cheesa x Charice collaborated on the single “I’m Not Perfect“. Cheesa appeared on “The Voice” Season 2 with Team Cee Lo and is part of the group A2C, while Charice needs no introduction. The two powerhouse singer combine for a special duet to inspire those who have been underestimated and bullied.

Gangnam Style by PSY
9. Gangnam Style by PSY and the spoofs
PSY seemingly came out of nowhere this year. His music video with unforgettable characters, odd locations, and invisible horse dancing took the world by storm. Gangnam Style became the most viewed YouTube video of all time and was the first video to break the 1 billion view mark on YouTube. His music spawn numerous parodies and spoofs ( Canton Style, Lo Pan Style, Gangnam Style by Just Kidding Films, Byuntae Style by David So, K-Town style, and Opo Pinoy Style) and opened many doors with American artists like Madonna and MC Hammer. Never did we think we would hear Kpop music on the American airwaves and around the world. Look for new music from PSY in the coming year.

Sullivan and Sons
10. Sullivan and Sons
Comedian Steve Byrne brought his sitcom Sullivan and Son to TBS. Much like his own HAPA background, he created a show with a very diverse ethnic mix. His character buys a neighborhood bar from his Irish-American father, Jack Sullivan (Dan Lauria – The Wonder Years), and Korean mother, Ok Cha (Jodi Long – Beginners). Meanwhile, he has an ongoing sibling rivalry with his younger sister Susan (Vivian Bang). What can possibly go wrong running a family business? The show has been renewed for a second season, so look for more Sullivan & Son in 2013.

Some of these moments were captured in YouTube Rewind Style

Each year since we’ve started, we’ve seen bigger and bigger accomplishments from our community. We expect more unforgettable moments in 2013. We leave you with the DJ Earworm Mashup “United State of Pop 2012 (Shine Brighter)” featuring Bruno Mars, PSY, and more

Chinatowns Decline As Asians Head to Suburbs

Chinatowns Decline As Asians Head to Suburbs

As the Lunar New Year Begins, new census data shows Asian Americans moving to suburbs in record numbers, leading to the decline of historic Chinatowns throughout the country. More and more of the middle class are moving to the suburbs (62% of Asian American live in the suburbs vs 54 % in 1990). Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Seattle, and San Francisco Chinatown are all seeing shifts in the population to safe, convenient, and quiet suburbs. These city’s populations prefer satellite Chinatowns like Richmond District, Irving, and Noriega in San Francisco or Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn in New York. This leaves Chinatowns as tourist attractions. In Washinton DC, Asian residents have moved to Montgomery County, MD and Fairfax County, VA leaving Chinatown without many Chinese residents.

Chinatowns Decline As Asians Head to Suburbs

Secret history of Building 640 in Park Presidio revealed

Secret history of Building 640 revealed

The Presidio National Park in San Francisco is making plans to honor more than 6,000 linguists from World War II, who were mostly Japanese Americans. They served their country while many of their families were ordered into detention centers. A warehouse across from Crissy Field sits empty and neglected. However, Building 640 has a secret history that’s about to be told. In 1941, before Pearl Harbor, it housed the first class of the U.S. Army’s secret Military Intelligence Service Language School. Training 60 linguists in anticipation of war with Japan, 58 of them were second generation, or Nisei, born here. After Pearl Harbor, the school was moved to Minnesota.

Now Building 640 will become a learning center, telling the story of Japanese Americans, their story of patriotism, and the pain of prejudice. (Sounds similar to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.) A model of the future Building 640 is at the National Japanese American Historical Society, which has helped make the learning center dream a reality along with the Presidio Trust. Groundbreaking on this facility started this weekend.

Secret history of Building 640 in Park Presidio revealed

Who Knew? Chinese Food

Who Knew?  Chinese Food

Did you know that there are more Chinese restaurants than McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s combined in the US? A real all-American dish, Chinese food has been popular since the 1800s, when Asian immigrants first started arriving. But what we call Chinese food looks nothing like what you’ll find in Beijing. It’s a nice little video that ties a little bit of history with food.

(Thanks for the tip Michael F.)

Here’s a few more videos about Chinese food: Chinese Food by Jimmy Wong, Real or Fake Chinese food?, and Dimsum Song by Inglish

Who Knew? Chinese Food

Agent Orange : 35 Years later

Agent Orange : 35 Years later

In the San Francisco Bay Area, a special report about Agent Orange recently aired. Returning to her homeland, CBS 5 anchor/reporter and Vietnam Reporting Project fellow Thuy Vu reports on one of the most contentious issues remaining from the Vietnam War – the legacy of Agent Orange. During the Vietnam War, more than 20 million gallons of the dioxin-contaminated defoliant were dumped on Vietnam jungles, affecting its people and the soldiers who fought alongside American troops. Vu travels to Vietnam to report on the impact of Agent Orange on Vietnam, 35 years after the end of the war. Generations of Vietnamese continue to be born with birth defects and other illnesses believed to be the result of exposure to herbicide Agent Orange. She also explores how the toxin that was sprayed by US forces has impacted both Vietnamese veterans and US veterans of the Vietnam War.

Agent Orange : 35 Years later (part 1)

Agent Orange : 35 Years later (part 2)