Tag Archives: Asian American

When Linsanity first swept America, I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. I don’t like bandwagon fans, and I think I have the ultimate reason to dislike bandwagon fans: After Michael died, thousands of “fans” came out of the woodwork. All I’ll say is, “Sure.” Honestly, though, it’s really stupid to try to prove you’re a “better” fan than bandwagoners or fair-weather fans. A fan is a fan. You both love the same person or thing for similar reasons; there’s no need to hate or classify. If anything, trying to prove you are a “true” fan is selfish. I find it very annoying. In the end, I’m glad so many people came to love Michael’s music. Sometimes I wish people would have loved it sooner.

Concerning Lin, though, I was adamant that I wouldn’t be like “those” Michael fans. I thought I would appreciate Lin, but not necessarily follow him.

Well, that plan fell through. I was caught in Linsanity, and of course my mind explored why. I love Jeremy for a number of reasons. Wherever he ends up in the NBA, I’ll be a fan. He’s made me love the Knicks, thus keeping my sports allegiance to New York (Giants and Knicks; if I watch baseball . . .).

Concerning Linsanity, though, a lot of my basketball savvy friends weren’t buying into Lin. I’ll agree: the media definitely overhyped him. I will argue, though, that he had to be overhyped. He is the underdog story inherent. I want to clarify, though, that I am not a Jeremy Lin fan simply because he is Asian American and happened to stumble into the limelight. That’s only part of my reasons. Let me share with you why Jeremy Lin gets me so excited!

  1. He is Asian American. When is the last time an Asian American (not an Asian international) has gained prominence in the American mainstream? When was the last time anchors and reporters were sharing a story about an Asian American? Yao Ming doesn’t count. Jackie Chan and Jet Li don’t count (I actually like Donnie Yen a lot more than either of them). What was the last Asian American thing to grab the national conscious? Fortune cookies? Wong’s Wok? Anime? Japanese schoolgirls (don’t even get me started on that)? Arguably, Bruce Lee in the 1960’s (it is currently 2012 FYI) was the last respectful Asian American icon that pierced the American mainstream–and he had to do that with an “exotic crutch”: wushu (AKA martial arts). Jeremy Lin is the first Asian American to gain respectable prominence in America since Bruce Lee. This 50 year hiatus is finally filled! All the more, Jeremy is surfacing in a very “American” thing: basketball. He has surpassed the national idea that Asian Americans are the eternal foreigner within, always having to be domesticated to become “American”. Jeremy Lin is American, America. And he’s doing something so America very well (debatable, but grant me rhetorical license).
  2. He is InterVarsity alum. Lin and I share something in common: We both were a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I’m so glad that Jeremy and I were able to share in this college ministry. Faith is usually something that wanes at college, and I know my faith would have dissipated had it not been for InterVarsity. I was able to find a core group of friends that shared in my love for Christ through worship, Bible studies, conferences, and just by trying to discover what it means to be a Christian at college. I know Jeremy experienced similar things at Harvard, and I’m glad that we have this common denominator between us.
  3. He is a follower of Christ. It’s uncanny that Lin would follow Tebow, and that the two athletes would give Christianity prominence in American sports. Unlike Tebow, Lin is a bit more soft spoken about his faith on the court (i.e. there is no Lin-analog to “Tebowing” . . . unless you count this cute thing he does with Landry Fields). I’m sure there are many other Christian athletes that don’t go the route of Tebow (and I’m not saying that Tebow is doing bad things for Christianity), but it’s always good to have a spectrum of character within Christian profession. Should all Christians be vocal about their faith? Yes, but to what extent? If you ask me why I do whatever I do, I’ll always tell you because I want to do a good job or something like that, but then I might tail that explanation by saying something about my savior: “God’s blessed me with this opportunity and this ability, and I want to give it back to him for his glorification.” Jeremy is tactful about his witness, and tact is something that has been a fixture in my faith story.
  4. He is the underdog inherent. Unrecruited out of high school–after being named first team All-State and Northern California Division II Player of the Year? Walking-on at Harvard instead of being offered a scholarship to hometown Stanford? Undrafted out of college? Picked up and dropped by two NBA teams before settling with the Knicks? Only given playing time with the Knicks out of desperation, likely to have been cut the next day? Add onto this Asian American stereotypes, and you’ll understand that Jeremy embodies the underdog story. I love the underdog. That’s part of the reason I’m a Giants fan too. No one expected Eli to pan out and become an elite quarterback (yes, I’m saying that). No one expected the Giants to beat the Patriots in 2007–and then again in 2012. Likewise, no one expected Lin to be a starter in the NBA–let alone, make it into the NBA. But he did it, and I love it!
  5. He is the surfacing of Asian American exigencies in the national American culture. Like my first point, Jeremy Lin is addressing or bringing to light so many inadequacies of the American national culture in accommodating, mediating, and incorporating Asian American culture. This is evidenced by the insensitive and ignorant headlines: Chink in the Armor? The Knick’s Good Fortune? America clearly doesn’t know what to do with Asian Americans besides talk about them in a racially infested manner or to relegate our culture to “good food” and “subordinate women” (though Lin hardly brings to surface the latter . . . though he does do much for Asian American male sexuality). America can only progress from her failure to understand her own Asian Americans. That is why I’m so excited Jeremy Lin has received so much media attention. He’s arrived at a time at which I believe Asian Americans are finally integrating into the national culture, and I would mark “Linsanity” as the beginning of this act. I’m excited to see what is in store for Asian America. All the more, I am so glad my vision that a Christian Asian American would be the spearhead of this movement. Quick note on that last link to my “vision”: 1) Interesting to see how that within 2 years I developed a taste for the West Coast over the East Coast 2) I don’t necessarily speak about my vision for the Asian American movement to be led by Asian American Christians, but that is my heart for the coming years.
So much for trying to keep this list brief. Go Knicks! Go Lin!

“I am sitting in a service at my home church in Missouri. During an announcement for a new outreach to international students, a non-Asian woman dresssed in a kimono (traditional Japanese dress) stepped up to the mike [sic]. She was an elder’s wife. She feigned an accent, in which she spoke in halting English. The congregation roared with laughter. There were two Asians in church that day. One was me. The other was my unchurched friend. He turned to me and said, “This is bullsh__.” He got up, turned around (we were sitting in the front row) and walked past the crowd of 800 laughing and guffawing faces.

“To my knowledge, he has never stpped into a church again. When he (and I) walked out, it stirred a controversy. Some were concerned that the way we walked out was too militant and not a new testament model of reconciliation. Some were concerned that we were hurt, and needed inner healing. Some were concerned that we didn’t get the joke, and did not understand that no harm was intended. Not once was the elder’s wife held accountable. The problem, it seemed, was us. Thicker skin, an improved sense of humor, inner healing, less outrage, and a less serious disposition seemed to be the order of the day.”

Cited from The Next Evangelicalism bySoong-Chan Rah, from a comment to “A Public Apology to Our Asian American Brothers and Sisters

My little brother in a garden in Laos lololjkjk this is a backyard garden in Wisconsin.

Whenever I think of cultural heritage months, I think of Morgan Freeman (video link). Morgan Freeman hates Black History Month.

Did you know May is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month? I didn’t. Marquette celebrates it in April because we aren’t in school in May and it would be mean to only devote a week to Asians and Pacific Islanders.

I went to two Marquette University events that celebrated API Heritage Month.

On Wednesday, I went to a Soup for Substance program. What happens at Soup for Substance is that you eat soup and learn about something. That Wednesday I learned about the Hmong involvement in Laos during the Vietnam war. Before Wednesday, I had asked my dad to tell me how Laos became a communist country. He talked about the old royal Lao government, the Pathet Lao, the re-education camps, General Vang Pao, and his [my father’s] escape from communist Laos. The Soup for Substance program talked about the same things. I was hoping they would talk more about bombies and the tons of unexploded ordinance still left in Laos, but, understandably, the presenters, from the Hmong student organization, focused on the Hmong involvement in the war.

Let me tell you about bombies.

Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world. Seriously? This should surprise you. You probably didn’t even know Laos existed, let alone know that a war happened in Laos. But how much is most heavily bombed? Have you ever seen Saving Private Ryan or some other WWII movie? I’m sure you have. America has a strange obsession with WWII movies. Anyway, have you seen the bombed cities in WWII movies? They’re awful! Imagine what Britain looked like during the Nazi air raids: 76 nights of bombings within the span of nearly a year. Ridiculous.

In comparison, Laos has been bombed with more ordinance than WWI and WWII combined. Two world wars. Two world wars worth of bombs dropped into my home country. Ridiculous.

Nearly 30% of those bombs dropped in Laos are still unexploded and live. Ridiculous.

People still die from those bombs. People still have to eat food, right? How do you get food? Well, if you live on a farm, you farm. If you farm, you need to move land. If you move the wrong piece of land, you lose a limb. Maybe your arm, maybe your leg. Maybe your son or daughter is helping you farm and instead of your limb, their limb is ripped from their bodies. Maybe they’ll bleed to death. Maybe the shock of the explosion will hasten their death. Maybe they’ll die. Maybe you can bury them fully. Ridiculous.

Why was Laos bombed? Because the Ho Chi Minh trail was in Laos. America wanted to break that trail. So America decided to bomb Laos. I don’t think that was the best thing to do. America probably killed more civilians and ruined more land than actually destroy the trail or kill their intended enemy.

The history of the secret war and the bombies in Laos are really disappointing. My dad tells me stories about those bombs. Those bombs are part of my ancestral history. I’ll never escape them. Actually, neither will the rest of the world.

The other program I went to was Varsity Live!. It featured the poet Asia and his The Asia Project. It was awesome.

He was a legitimate man, a Filipino man. He was very funny and real. One of the first things he told the audience was that poetry is like sex. Let me explain.

When you share poetry (or, in a general sense, perform) you feed off of the audience’s energy. If you love it, let the poet know. If you’re enjoying sex, let your partner know. Otherwise, in both cases, it becomes awkward. The poet and the partner begins wondering what they are doing wrong, whether they should continue, whether they should try something funny . . . Poetry is like sex.

He started off by doing an Asian roll call. He said that he doesn’t get to do that on his tours because his audience isn’t usually Asian. He usually doesn’t Asian shows, I guess. I was the only Laotian. My friend was the only Japanese. My other friend was the only Chinese. It was fun being with other Asian people.

Not many of his poems were about being Asian. He was just an Asian poet talking about his life. They were all so good. His brother-in-law played the guitar behind some of his lyrics, and it was very nice. He sold his CD for $10 afterward. He even made a special deal: 2 for $20.

My Japanese friend (and my Korean friend actually) bought a copy. I listened to a sample on Amazon because I’ll eventually buy one to support him. It’s not the same hearing it on CD though.

I think Asia, for me, is a part of this next movement within the Asian American community. He navigates the ambiguous situation for all Asian Americans: Are Asian Americans Asian and then American, or are we American before we are Asian; what does it mean for us to participate as both; can we participate as both? Asia’s poetry, I think, might demarcate that ambiguous spectrum. In him I saw an Asian American.

Those are the two events I went to during APA month. I wonder what other events will actually happen in May. That’s kind of a neat perk. I get about two months worth of APA month.