As you know, I attended the National Rally for AAPI Lives last Sunday at Union Square Park, Manhattan sponsored by the Asian American Christian Collaborative. It turned out to be a great event and blessing. I was glad I went. I wouldn't mind doing it again.
Frankly, I was a little concerned attending the event not myself being vaccinated yet. But everyone was masked and social distancing and it was all outdoors. Driving in from Jersey was easy and traffic light; I found parking right at the event. This was the first time I had driven to the city since the pandemic began over a year ago. Another issue was the weather. Forecasts predicted thunderstorms and rain. But on the day of, a three-hour window of only light rain developed right during the time of the rally! There must be a God!
Several hundred people gathered at the north plaza and listened to speeches, exhortations, prayers and music. Nothing dramatic happened and there were no news or media crews around. I even bumped into some old friends behind their masks. Here's a link to the AACC recap with some news reporting and here's a link to the program with names and churches/organizations you might know.
All in all, I was glad to be out and about and standing up for AAPI lives.
I don't know if anyone has coined the phrase "The Silent Minority" but I will. Asian Americans have traditionally been the Silent Minority in this country. Our parents told us to be quiet, don't cause trouble, keep your head down, suck it up. Compliance and conformity are part of our inherited culture. There's an expression in our first generation community which explains why: "The nail that sticks out the most gets hit on the head first." But in light of the year-long physical and verbal attacks on Asian Americans as the "China virus" and "Kung Flu" and especially the deadly killing of eight people, six of whom are Asian women, in the Atlanta area two weeks ago on March 16th, the Silent Minority must no longer be silent.
It is gratifying to hear from almost every AA and AAPI group I know issue their statement of horror, protest and denunciation. You can read them all here:
It is also encouraging and a step forward to hear President Biden directly and publicly address the anti-Asian hate issue in Atlanta the Friday following the Asian spa shootings.
As a Chinese and Asian American born and raised in this country, I find it shocking that these anti-Asian attacks are happening; I thought we were past this. I grew up in Brooklyn with my three brothers and three sisters where racial discrimination and verbal assaults were a regular experience. Sometimes, it would get physical. My older brother Peter would get into fist fights. When I was about twelve, some punk through rice in my face and we got into a scuffle. Trying to get up from the ground and get him off me, my right arm slipped behind my back and I dislocated my elbow. It has never been perfectly straight since. Then, in the many years that followed most everything was fine. I don't ever recall hearing the work "chink" again. Perhaps, the discrimination just went underground.
But last year in late March, at the beginning of the pandemic, my wife came home one day from the supermarket very upset. She's the traditional "don't make trouble" type of Chinese person but even she sent out an email to her relatives with subject line: "Grocery Shopping - bad experience!." (She doesn't have a Facebook account.) I won't get into the details but let us just say that she experienced two notable anti-Asian incidents at a major supermarket chain here in northern NJ!
I believe the change in climate is complex and complicated by (1) the rise of China as a major economic and political rival to the United States, (2) the anti-Chinese rhetoric played up by the previous Trump administration and (3) anti-Chinese rhetoric amplified by certain propaganda outlets on social media.
Regardless, it is no longer good enough "to be quiet" anymore. We must speak up. In this country, only the "squeaky wheel gets the oil." For far too long, Asian Americans are the first to be overlooked and the last to be hired. Even President Biden has failed to appoint barely any AAPI's to his cabinet and high administration posts. See OCA Demands AAPI Inclusion from Biden Administration and White House Pledges Asian-American Focus After Democrats Threaten Nominees.
But as a Christian minister, I don't believe we should answer anti-Asian hate with more hate, and anti-Asian rhetoric with more rhetoric and anti-Asian violence with more violence. I just watched today a wonderful Virtual Talk with Larissa Lam and Baldwin Chiu on AAPI Violence and Identity sponsored by the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. Larissa quoted Will Smith, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, who said that when it comes to racial issues "Most people are ignorant not evil." And so, when we speak up, we speak up to educate not to antagonize or threaten. Education Lesson #1: Asian Americans are Americans not foreigners. Education Lesson #2: Asian Americans have nothing to do with the coronavirus.
The Asian American Christian Collaborative has called for a National Rally for AAPI Lives this Sunday, Palm Sunday, March 28th. I will rally with many others this Sunday in New York City's Union Square Park at 4 pm. I hope you will join us. It is time to be "silent no more."
After seeing the first Wonder Woman film in 2017, I was looking forward to watching the sequel released on Christmas Day 2020. I even splurged and subscribed to HBO max just to view it. While not as "wonderful" as the first, 1984 is still worth seeing and thus I gave it four out of five stars. (Warning: a few spoilers below.)
On the positive side, the two best scenes are at the beginning and the end. The opening scene features young Diana in an Olympic type games competition on the Amazonian island of Themyscira. The competition is intense and young Diana (Lilly Aspell) is adorable. Hans Zimmer's score is thrilling. The next best scene is actually not at the end but a few minutes after the credits start rolling. There is a special guest appearance which I will not detail for fear of spoiling it for those who haven't seen the movie yet. So, don't walk out or stop the film when the credits start. You'll be very pleasantly surprised. Some performances are particularly strong including Kristen Wiig as WW's co-protagonist Barbara Minerva (aka Cheetah) and Pedro Pascal as the villain Maxwell Lord. There are a few cute and engaging scenes like the one at the gym where Barbara gaining some of WW's powers starts pumping iron in front of a bunch of shocked men.
Unfortunately, there are also quite a few disappointments with WW84, the main one being that the story line is so outlandish it is even not very believable for a superhero movie. It begins with the core problematic of a dream stone where anyone who makes a wish upon it gets their wish. Unknowingly, WW as Diana Prince wishes her past love Steve Trevor who died in the first film comes back to life. Voilà, he comes back to life but through the body of another man! The villain of the film, Max Lord steals the stone and wishes that he himself would become the stone so that he can grant wishes to other persons whom he tricks into making wishes that benefit himself. Naturally, all this conniving leads to a world that ends up destroying itself through the unintended consequences of everybody's divergent wishes. One of the most "un-believable" scenes is that of a middle-eastern oil magnate who wishes for his ancestor's ancient Bialyian Kingdom to be restored. Next thing you know, a divine wall appears throughout the landscape marking off his ancient territory. Another disappointment is the performances of the two main characters. For some reason, Gal Gadot as WW this time is not as dynamic and charming. Her performance though decent is rather flat and lacks the spark and chemistry with Chris Pine (as Steve Trevor) we saw in WWI. One gets the impression that Gadot was rushed in this film and didn't really have time to enter into her character.
In spite of the disappointments, this film is still worth seeing. The action scenes are well-done and will keep you entertained. And the special guest appearance while the credits roll is a real delight.
Last Sunday evening (Dec. 6th), we had a great time with our Encore Private Screening of the new documentary Far East Deep South. With this and the one in July we shared this wonderful film with over 250 viewers and we had about 40 during the Q&A Zoom session. Larissa and Baldwin did a great job answering questions and sharing and we learned of their continuing success including (1) additional awards like at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (2) signing with New Day, a major distributor of educational films, (3) breaking into the higher ed market for cultural and ethnic studies like the film libraries at Stanford and Duke and (4) coming soon on PBS?
The best part is the praise we heard from viewers:
If you enjoyed the film or have some special insight please comment here on this blog. We'd love to hear it.