‘Chink’ Was NOT In The Armor Of APA Journalists

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“Chink” wasn’t even in the armor of the Asian American Journalist Association during the controversy over ESPN’s use of the slur during stories about NBA sensation Jeremy Lin. The San Francisco-based AAJA did not have the slur “chink” listed in their authoritative online All-American: How to Cover Asian America handbook for their 1,400 members and journalists. As Catalina Camia then national president in 2000 wrote, “Through this book, we hope to help our fellow reporters and editors practice good journalism about one of the fastest growing – but least understood – groups in America. We hope you find it an indispensable guide.” The handy book crafted includes some of the usual racial slurs but excluded “chink” until Wednesday when AAJA added it to a list on an abbreviated website on Feb. 22…Meanwhile, Filipino slur “flip” is not included. Calls to AAJA’s office for comment were not returned….

AAJA SITE DOWN: Poor timing as AAJA’s website was down since Thursday as they were trying to use Lin as a teachable racial moment while ratcheting up the chorus condemning ESPN. The network has apologized and fired/disciplined the employees using the racial epithet “chink” or failing to intercept the edit out the epithet associated with stories on the Palo Alto High alum and NY Knicks hoopster. National President Doris Troung, Media Watch Co-Chairs Bobby Calvan and Jam Sardar wrote, “AAJA find[s] it hard to fathom how such an offensive headline appeared on [ESPN’s] publishing platforms. The phrase was even spoken on-air”….

DIGITAL DIVIDE: The promise of Twitter’s relocation to 9th and Market Street economic boost of tech employees in the Central Market and SOMA is elusive to Rudy Asercion, director of West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center, just blocks away at 7th and Mission. “None of West Bay’s clients are affected,” he said. “West Bay is doing intervention to raise the economic level of Filipino kids coming out of high school totally unprepared.” Citing a National Federation of Filipino Associations (NaFAA) study, San Francisco’s Filipino K-12 students with Los Angeles, Seattle and Honolulu in 2004-05 had “serious academic deficiencies” compared to six urban areas like New York, San Diego and Chicago which were “doing well” or “appeared to be doing well.” Asercion’s 43-year old non-profit works with students who can’t or struggle to finish high school, let alone securing college degrees needed to work at Twitter. “All the Filipinos who are in the [tech] level are already working in Silicon Valley. Twitter – there’s nothing for the Filipino community, other than employing them as janitors,” he said…

HOPE IN HEARST: With Filipinos losing ten percent of their SF numbers in the last census, Asercion is intrigued by nearby Forest City and Intersection for the Arts transformation of the Chronicle newspaper building at 5th and Mission into 700 housing units and 1.3 million square feet of commercial space for cultural and arts organizations. Now under scrutiny at the Planning Department, it’s an evolution out of 2,000 small businesses already operating at a non-profit space for social entrepreneurs, artists, tech startups and media. Alex Michel, project director, said last September, “5M.org is a way for us to work together to share resources with our neighbors and beyond,” Asercion said, “It’s something we’re going to lobby them for” along with the housing units, especially if some of them are affordable. “A lot of West Bay clients live in one bedroom apartments,” he said while searching for Filipino American mentors for his West Bay charges…

CLOSED STOREFRONTS: A few dark Chinatown curios storefronts on Feb. 21 testified to the power of May Louie. Out of respect for this month’s passing of a Chinatown political matriarch, Louie is remembered for forming the Chinatown Merchants Association after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake led to the demolition of the major Embarcadero freeway artery to Chinatown. To demonstrate Chinatown’s economic losses and against the freeway closure, Louie led other merchants to shut down for a day to protest demolition of the Embarcadero under then Mayor Art Agnos. REMEMBER THE EMBARCADERO: Louie’s Alamo was a rallying cry in the 1991 mayoral defeat of Agnos as well as inspiring “highway housewives” Julie Lee and Rose Tsai of the west side SF Neighbors Association allied with then Supervisor Leland Yee. Their 1997 initiative only temporarily delayed the tear down of the seismically unfit Central Freeway. Yee meanwhile stumped for H by referring to the Central as a “Chinese freeway” – illustrating to this day that the city’s freeway system expedited far flung APAs from the city’s farthest peripheries like Visitacion Valley, Sunset, Richmond to Civic Center, Downtown and Chinatown …

LAST ROLL CALL: “I only have 17 veterans left” said Rudy Asercion, also a SF Veterans War Memorial Commissioner, as he did a mental roll call of his 384 Filipino American World War Two veterans around for a 2003 intergenerational meeting with Iraq war whistleblower and Major General Tony Taguba, son of a Bataan death march veteran. Fewer Filipino American soldiers overall live in the City. “San Francisco is not military friendly,” he said, noting San Francisco’s eleven military facilities have been reduced to Ft. Miley – a VA medical center. Most Filipino American vets will be found in around bases near Monterey, Vallejo and Seaside….

ASIAN WIFE DEFENSE: After using the slur “ch—k,” the usual twit defense was twitted from suspended ESPN anchor Max Bretos, “My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community.” Didn’t Bretos learn? First it’s a myth that Asian or APA wives miraculously inoculate racially insensitive spouses. Second, while he didn’t disrespect his wife, he disrespected “that community” of APAs much like 1992 presidential candidate’s Ross Perot’s patronizing “you people” reference at an NAACP convention…

FINLY VEILED BOYCOTT: After the hubbub about how the President plunked down a few Andrew Jacksons [to be framed for posterity] and treated staff and press pool to Chinatown dim sum last week, one clear tactic has emerged. Some anti-shark finning advocates have intimated in national press coverage that Obama as signer of the federal Shark Conservation Act should have set the example and boycotted Great Eastern, let alone any restaurant serving shark fin soup ($48 at Great Eastern) to save sharks and their fins. Although, Sunnyvale Assemblyman Paul Fong’s state law – signed by Governor Jerry Brown – does allow use of fins still in inventory until July 1, 2013… HURTS HUMANS: However, an Obama “boycott” Great Eastern or any fin serving place might save sharks, but hurt vulnerable low wage and immigrant employees like waiters and dishwashers in a fragile Chinatown economy.

Well behaved shark lurks for support from SF mayoral candidates at the Sept. 28 Chinese for Affirmative Action forum.

DON’T BE A SOUP NAZI: For Soup Nazis, another economic tactic. With banned shark fins likely to drive prices higher, pro-shark advocates might educate frugal Cantonese palates to sub out already pricey (and sometimes low quality or cinchy) shark fin soup for two to three quality, less expensive entrees. Save money, save sharks, save jobs and eat more… BETTER TACTICS NEEDED: English-only boycotts and protests are likely ineffective since they fail to target one major segment of the shark fin soup market – Chinese-speaking diners, employees and restaurant owners. Take for example Animal Welfare Institute and StopSharkfinning.net which in English urged restaurants to stop serving shark fin soup. The StopSharkfinning.net has a photo of demonstrators outside a soup serving restaurant or market selling fins on a crowded Chinatown Stockton Street while raising English-only signs and sporting anti-finning tees in English to stop shark finning and soup consumption.

EAT, DRINK AND BE MARY: While sharks are at the top of the political food chain, somewhere at the other end is the placid plankton universe where Mary Jung hangs out among upwardly mobile bottom feeders of the SF Democratic County Central Committee – the endorsement and organizing arm of the SF Democratic Party. On the Ides of March (6 pm, March 15) at toy importer Caryl Ito’s home, 676 Miramar Avenue, Jung will be honored by a rare moment when Mayor Ed Lee shows up for a bottom of the ballot race where most incumbents did not endorse Lee or any APA mayoral candidate last year. In the hurly burly of SF plankton, Mary is everyone’s Big Sister or Favorite Aunt always making trinkets, floral arrangements and cookies for a special occasion from a Hep B benefit to a Half Moon Bay wedding for Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fiona Ma, who’s also a Mary co-host. Suggested donations range from $50 to $500. RSVP 415-334-6759 by March 9.

MISS ME?: Email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net.

About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.