Archive for category race

Asian American Journalists Association conference #aaja2014 — CSPAN panel, some observations.

I’ve been coming to these conventions since the very first one in the 80s. But the “convention” has evolved, as has the media itself. It’s  more like a modest, yet big meeting. But still very valuable as it brings together veterans and young people who haven’t given up on journalism as a career, or as a way to make a difference.

The drive for diversity plays some role in that, but the young are less conscious about the civil rights aspect of journalism. Free speech? First Amendment? The new generation hates trolls slightly more than racists. (Sometimes they’re one and the same. But in this digital post-racial world, racism doesn’t quite compute. Until you experience it first hand).

Generational differences in perspective actually make AAJA more interesting. In DC,  I said hello to old friends, some who met their spouses at AAJA, had babies while at AAJA. Some have kids who have entered journalism/media/writing.

My personal memory from my years of convention going? It’s not asking Connie Chung a question in an open meeting about her lack of involvement with AAJA. It’s not even our nice chat at the 2010 LA convention when we were both among the “Pioneers.” No, my personal AAJA story is about coming back from an opening night of the first Chicago convention, and then being forced to leave the next day.

I got a call. My mother had died.

AAJA. It’s  journalism, life, and death.

These days at conventions, I speak more often to young people than the veterans. (Most of the best ones have retired, or  like Dith Pran, have passed on).

In DC, I’ve met with young men and women who are working their way through the path we’ve left.

And with each one, comes a reminder of why we’re all in this game to begin with and why we stay.

We’re all yearning to have a voice.

This is the panel I was in, moderated by Phil Yu, Angry Asian Man, that discussed the Asian American community and the Media.

 

 

 

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Trial in Dearborn, Michigan highlights murder similar to Stephen’s case

 

This Michigan case is very similar to my cousin Stephen’s who was murdered in May.

Does a gun owner have a right to use his gun in self-defense when defending his home.  In Michigan, the law still makes you prove you are in fear of your life.

In California, the law gives the shooter the presumption. That’s why I call California’s law “Affirmative Action for murder.”

All a shooter needs to prove is that the person shot had no business in the house. And if there’s a dead body in the house that doesn’t belong, a court generally considers that as proof of an intruder.

That’s the Castle Doctrine as it applies in California. You can defend your home, even if it means you kill innocent people.

In Michigan, the law as I understand it, is a little different. You must prove you were in fear. And given the racially charged case in Dearborn, the District Attorney felt this was a case worth fighting.

Not so in California, in the case of Stephen. No trial, no justice. Just pain.

Upshot: The law needs to be changed or tightened in California to make sure people with guns aren’t given so much leeway when they shoot and kill innocent people.  There should be a price paid for taking a life.  Maybe too, we should rethink self-defense laws around the country  that enables paranoid people to make mistakes that turn into tragedies as  in Michigan.

 

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Coming this Sunday, 7-20! Me! Live! On stage! On stage?

 

 

Been developing a solo performance piece that puts into context  the death of my cousin Stephen and the history of Filipinos in America.

Come see where I am as I show a bit of it  at this series at Stage Werx in San Francisco at 7pm this Sunday the 2oth.

Buy your tickets here, and tell them Emil sent you. It will score all of us brownie points!

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/757139

I tell Stephen's story in my new solo theatre piece. Come see it!

I tell Stephen’s story in my new solo theatre piece. Come see it!

 

CHECK OUT THE NEW HOME FOR THE AMOK COLUMN: www.aaldef.org/blog

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Zero Tolerance on racism? The NBA’s Adam Silver got it right on Donald Sterling

Adam Silver’s NBA media conference had that special kind of feeling. That same feeling I had when as a young boy  I saw Tommie Smith and John Carlos, U.S. Olympic sprinters, raise their fists from the medal stand in Mexico.

This was that kind of special moment for all people of color in society.

And, of course it had to happen first in the place too often dismissed by people as the toy store of life—in sports.

But where else would we see this sort of thing happen first?

Sports has always been the place for the truly gifted and exceptional athlete—many of whom are persons of color.

And when we see their excellence, it is hard for society to square up with all the ignorance that exists on race.  Sports people want to win. They want the best players. When the best players are people of color, it’s hard to harbor a racist thought.

Unless someone tape records you and releases it to the public.

And then, from there,  it really is up to the players, not the bosses.

Great leverage comes when 70 percent of the league’s  players are African American. The players’ recognition of their power made Commissioner Adam Silver’s job even easier.

Morally, and for business, it was just the right thing to do.

But Sterling is a professional litigant. Here’s a guy who wasn’t scared of the Fair Housing Act.

And he will no doubt challenge whether and if the NBA can force him to sell his business, or impose a lifetime ban.

That judgment will take place in the courts, where it always takes time, and money to get the kind of imperfect justice we usually end up with. I expect a long, protracted court fight.

But Silver really showed what an empowered executive, with the backing of the players, and a majority of fans can do—achieve a moral triumph.

It’s definitely “feel good” time. But this battle is far from over.

We still live in a society where soon we will hear from people who will question Silver and the NBA. These are the people who are against things like  affirmative action, who see eye to eye with Sterling, and believe that he was a man who enriched minorities,  bought them houses, cars, put food on their table. There will be people who will insist Sterling is some sort of humanitarian.

Hard to believe. But  remember, we live in a society where there are people who think you’re a racist if you fight for race-based admissions and fairness for people of color.

Enjoy the “feel good” of the moment.

When Sterling responds, it will be a new game, new fight. Already Rush Limbaugh has come to his defense. Surely, he will enlist his One Percent allies, the Kochs, Tea Partiers, et al.

Amid the noise, we will need the memory of the moment to remind us Silver got it right when it came to Sterling.

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