Myung Mi Kim is a Korean American poet who teaches at the University of Buffalo. Her other books are Dura, The Bounty, and Under Flag.

          stun . sun shaped (64)

Is there a strong dose of Doctor Williams in the punctuation? If so, only faintly. The floating period is not an ebb in the flow of lyrical thought. It is more equivalence, more barrier. The eye in the needle, an aperture through which one word passes and is transmogrified into another. Only faint traces of the original remain, the now doubled ‘s’, the ‘un.’ The ‘t’ is Continue Reading »

Gran Torino post, Part II

Okay, new computer lab.  As I was saying, I think that Eastwood attempts to upend, or at least complicate, the white-savior narrative by portraying Walt as such an un-sympathetic character initially and by offering some insight into the workings of one Hmong household, and the members that populate it, with scenes of family barbecues, Thao and Sue in other non-family contexts, general humanizing cinematic work to show that these people are people.   The gang members, unfortunately, are mere thugs with guns, and if Eastwood’s objective with their characters is to show them to be neighborhood terrorists preying on their own clan, then he is successful.

Class is also something that hovers over this story, and this corner of Detroit, like a dirty cloud of car plant smog.   Maybe James can pick up the baton with this?  Or whatever else.  That’s also an element worth looking at.

Excellent questions, Kenny. I had many of these same thoughts running through my mind watching the movie last night, and in the hours and hours it took me to fall asleep after. The one conclusion I had walking out of that movie theater last night, and the one thing that Clint Eastwood, as director and producer of the film, most definitely wanted his audience to take with them, is — race relations in the contemporary United States is very, very complicated, and very, very ugly, no matter what the skin color is of the man being inaugurated as President today, and whatever notions of progress we assign because of it. Spoilers below! Continue Reading »

Gran Torino

Watching Gran Torino has left me with more questions than interpretations of the film:
1. Why won’t Hollywood let a Hmong director/writer tell the story of the Hmong communities in Michigan?
2. Why does the white American male lead have to absolve himself at the expense of Asian Americans?
3. Why couldn’t the script offer at least a little backstory about the evil Hmong gangsters, i.e. what was their schooling like? What’s the story of their or their parents migration? How did the Hmong gangs form? What purpose do they serve? What are the root causes? War? Displacement?
4. Why is the Asian female character once again a victim the white man has to save by sacrificing himself?
5. Ahney Her has star quality and she is so much better than this role. Will she find the parts she deserves to play?
6. How many times does Clint Eastwood’s character have to say “Gook” and “Chink” and “Beaner” and “Spook” to get the point across that he’s a bigot?
7. Why is the audience manipulated by narrative witchcraft into rooting for the bigot versus the evil Asian male characters?
8. Why was the audience in the Lafayette Indiana theater laughing triumphantly at all the racial slurs?
9. Bee Vang’s character, Thao Vang Lor, is the most interesting character in the film, why does he take a backseat to Eastwood’s relatively 2-dimensional role?
10. Why are there so many missed opportunities to explore the Hmong experience through the character of Thao?

JACL Press Release

“Washington, D.C.—The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil and human rights organization, commends the passage of the State’s Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization, H.R. 2 which also included coverage for legal immigrant children and pregnant women without the five year bar. Continue Reading »

Whatchu doin' back there Cho?

Whatchu doin' back there Cho?

I don’t watch much television but I do have a particular weakness for police procedurals.  One thing that I’ve noticed after watching episodes of the new CBS show The Mentalist is the presence of Asian-American men– in particular East Asian men– on the cast of crime dramas.  There are of course the veterans– B. D. Wong who plays Dr. George Huang on Law and Order SVU and Archie Kao who plays Archie Johnson on CSI.  But recently there have been two newcomers to this far-east forensic fraternity™: C. S. Lee who plays Vince Masuka on Showtime’s excellent series Dexter and Tim Kang as Dectective Kimball Cho on the aforementioned show The Mentalist.

Continue Reading »

James and Ted Fang sent an email to their readers today, announcing that AsianWeek is going to cease regular publication immediately. The last issue is coming out on Friday, January 2, 2009:

“To Our Readers:
AsianWeek has played a long and significant role in helping develop
Asian Pacific America, from publishing the first 1980 U.S. Census data
on Asian and Pacific Islanders Americans, to co-publishing the most
comprehensive textbook analyzing 2000 Census data with UCLA.

AsianWeek has also changed itself to keep up with the rapidly evolving Asian American community. This includes the re-launching of
AsianWeek.com as the largest Asian American news site, using the
newest delivery tools for electronic media. We also have worked to
bring together the increasingly diverse segments of the Asian Pacific
American community, organizing events like the Asian Heritage Street
Celebration and community-wide campaigns like the San Francisco Hep BFree initiative. Our news focus has shifted in turn, to reflect the growing focus of Asian Pacific Americans on their own career,
professional and business development. We are also producing more
special newspaper sections around issues as diverse as heritage,
health issues and car reviews. Continue Reading »