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.