On the Last Day of APA Heritage Month 2020

Here at triscribe.com, APA Heritage Month is really every day. As usual, life distracted me, but honestly, I never imagined that 2020 would bring in a global pandemic, an economic depression, and racial injustice all at once in less than six months.

Racial injustice is, unfortunately, a perpetual problem and fear of others keeps going on. Asian Americans get wrongful blame during the pandemic – as if they’re (still) the source of disease since the 19th century and (still) have to be told to “go home.” (when home is supposed to be America, thanks). Police brutality is especially infuriating to me because I feel as if there’s a willfulness in continuing unnecessary police violence toward African-Americans – in conflict with training, policy, law, and morality, so far as could be apparent to me.

The same problems continue to happen; it’s “normal.” (see here from NPR regarding former President Barack Obama’s thoughts on the maddening normalcy of racism). I wonder, as usual, about where’s the cultural shift for greater morality, rationality, consideration, compassion, and empathy? I look for basic decency and I wonder I’ve lowered my expectations too much.

Anyway, on the waning hours of APA Heritage Month, some stuff to consider:

With the pandemic ongoing, see here for “AAPI Frontline” from NBC Asian America for the voices of AAPIs on the front lines to deal with the coronavirus that has caused so much pain.

PBS presented the documentary series “Asian Americans,” which can still be accessible for streamed viewing (and even easier if you have PBS Passport, so support your local PBS). I still have to watch properly the 4th hour part, but overall appreciated the stories told with an activist frame. The writer in me would have liked a little more editing and closure to the narratives, but I fully realize that documentaries are never easy.

With Daniel Dae Kim and Tamlyn Tomita as alternating narrators, it was fascinating to watch the stories of Filipino farm workers fighting for unionization, or how Tereza Lee was one of the first DREAMers, and to be reminded of the consequences of 9/11 on South Asians.

The World War II segment of the documentary series was really moving to me, to see the complicated stories of the Japanese American families and what it means to be American, when the American country has subjected you to discrimination and tests loyalty in a very one-sided and unfair way.

The story of Susan Ahn Cuddy was also illuminating. She was the first Asian-American woman in the US Navy during World War II, training men to shoot. I had realized that I heard about her story over at NPR’s Story Corp segment awhile back, but I had no idea that she was the sister of actor Philip Ahn. Really fascinating stuff.

Check out the NY Times’ interview with Daniel Dae Kim (who recovered from Covid-19), from earlier in May 2020, about the “Asian-Americans” documentary and how timely it is.

I also thought that this Smithsonian Magazine overview of “Asian-Americans” – “Watch 150 Years of Asian American History Unfold in This New Documentary” by Nora McGreevy – was interesting, as it included links to other articles about coverage of the documentary series.

Also, check out NPR’s Alisa Chang’s interview of Renee Tajima-Pena, the series producer (from May 28, 2020). Tajima-Pena brings up the iportant question of how do we move forward together, and her hope that the documentary series helps us see what has happened to figure out the future. (h/t Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)’s Facebook page post, May 30, 2020).

Even though a lot of in-person APA Heritage Month events were cancelled, a lot did go online. For instance, yesterday, some of us triscribers and friends viewed some of Flushing Town Hall‘s “Crazy Talented Asians & Friends: Live Comedy & Animation Shorts” via Facebook Live. Always great to see what a rich range of short animations from talented Asians and Asian Americans.

On a non-APA Heritage Month note, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have become the first two American astronauts to have made it back to space from American soil, for the first time in nearly a decade, via SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, as they launched on May 30, 2020, from Florida and docked with the International Space Station on May 31, 2020 (links to NPR reports).

SpaceX-NASA effort could lead the way to cheaper and sustainable spaceflight. I’m still not sure how I feel about private entities doing this (money is good and bad). But, it’s exciting to realize that Americans are back in space without hitching a ride with the Russians, as discussed in “SpaceX’s Crewed Launch Restores America’s Status Among an Elite Group of Spacefaring Nations” by Jeffrey Kluger, Time Magazine, May 30, 2020, which worthy reading.

Always great to find some hope in a crazy world.

Distraction and Stuff in the Pandemic Age

Well, triscribe is still here and the triscribers are doing what we can. We are living in trying times, where the phrases “in excess of precaution,” “lockdown,” “shelter-in,””quarantine,” “isolation,” and so on – become part of our language because of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the pandemic age. We have lost people; having our lives disrupted is preferable to further loss of life. Fear and unpredictability prevail, yet we have to have hope?

I put a question mark because I really find it hard to have hope, but can’t stop hoping. Fear the worst, hope for the best, and what else can one do, when there is only so much one can control?

I resent COVID-19 for ruining Lunar New Year, for being an awful bitch, and all that. Our public health is the priority, but we have an economy in free fall (so, I wonder if we realize: without health, do we have an economy? It’s really not an either/or question, folks). Do we have societal solidarity? What about xenophobia and racism, and who do we leave behind? We’re so focused on coronavirus all the time, but our world really still sucks in all kinds of ways (climate change is still real). YC and I end up posting all these articles on Facebook. There is so much to read and to figure out. There are no simple answers to questions.

After awhile, I have to do some self-care, and I do my breathing exercises and I think that I’m in the middle of another round of spiritual searching in the middle of a public health crisis. I look for ways to distract, because the ongoing news hits the anxiety to levels I could not previously envision. History is made when there is no precedence. The news can be – is – overwhelming.

So, I end up watching “Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross’s happy little trees; cooking shows, even though I don’t cook; and animal videos or images (cute kitties and puppies are wonderful). I’d watch cooking videos on Food52, marathon episodes of “America’s Test Kitchen,” and whatever illuminating thing that could keep my anxiety at bay. There are the even many videos of Chef John of Food Wishes on YouTube. I’d giggle over more marathons of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Back in January of this year, a friend of mine (L) shared this link on Facebook to the video of how to make no-bake cheesecake with a chocolate-covered strawberry, and I then saved it to share on triscribe and procrastinated. This seemed a good a time as any to finally share it, as it is very nice to watch because it looks very doable and yummy:

I have also appreciated that FC posted on Facebook photos of his progeny’s school lunch, as part of the remote learning program; they really do not make school lunches the way they used to when I went to public school. My ongoing Facebook addiction can’t be any good, but so that goes. I binged on podcasts, but I’m not going to pretend that I’m caught up on Star Trek or Doctor Who. (I’m still behind).

I am not feeling the desire to write fiction. The first idea I had in ages was inspired by the Spanish influenza, and I was somehow intrigued but then the mindlessness of technically working from home has been sucking me into blech.

On a happier note: John Krasinski (the ex-Jim of “The Office”) started “Some Good News” and the 2nd episode, the original cast of “Hamilton” returned. Some 16 minutes total; around 8 minutes in, Krasinski just happened to have his Mary Poppins connection, when his wife Emily Blunt appeared and then her Mary Poppins co-star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and his crew came on screen. The original Hamilton cast still looked and sounded so good! I embed the video below:

So, I’ll end on that happier note. Keep hoping for better. We need better and we have to be better.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Observed 2020

On this observed holiday today, remember to take a moment to reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and consider what we can do to do better to meet that legacy. The work continues.

As a relevant item as food for thought: a Story Corps oral history dialog with US Congressman John Lewis (Georgia, Democrat), regarding how Dr. King inspired him and how he met him.

The segment was originally aired on NPR’s Morning Edition on Jan. 17, 2020, and especially poignant as Rep. Lewis is in treatment for pancreatic cancer.

On Facebook for the holiday (via its Facebook page), PBS NewsHour shared the link to its website‘s re-posted from Jan. 21, 2019 (and it looks like the interview was from 2018): an interview with Reverend William J. Barber, who co-chaired in 2018 the revived Poor People’s Campaign, 50 years after one of Martin Luther King, Jr., did it. As we face the presidential election campaign in 2020, Barber reminded us of what King tried to get us to face: what kind of democracy do we want? What are our moral values and how do we define justice?

A lot to reflect. We’ll keep trying.

(cross-posted at sswslitinmotion.tumblr.com)