Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Challenge Update: Two New Educational Proposals Added

We've added two new educational proposals to the RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge, our ongoing philanthropic venture: Asian American Heritage One Book at a Time and Characters that Look Like Me.

These two proposals seek to stir the imaginations of our young children through the use of literature that promotes positive images of diversity. And we all know what happens when a child is inspired through literature: a lifelong love of learning, and a propensity toward exploring life's endless possibilities...

Launched in June 2007, the RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge aims to mitigate the marginalizing effects of diversity-negligent pop culture and media by funding innovative educational programs that do the following:
  • Promote positive images of ourselves for our children
  • Promote positive images of ourselves for other people and their children
  • Develop skills in our children that empower them to be leaders in the world in which we live
  • Promote pride in one's culture instead of shame
  • Promote self-respect and appreciation for others like ourselves
  • Develop our children's ability to use their imaginations in an empowering way
  • Encourage our children to be who they truly are
Asian American Heritage One Book at a Time
- Chicago, Illinois - PreK-2 - 95% low income -

"I work in Chinatown in Chicago. My classroom is 100% Asian-American. As a Kindergarten teacher, I spend lots of time reading aloud to my students.

"I feel it is important that they are exposed to stories with Asian-American characters as well as stories that they are able to relate to. I have selected 18 books that I feel would benefit my students as we work towards their understanding of family heritage and the value of cooperating within the community.

"My students will benefit greatly from these books because they are written in a way that not only I can read them, but as the year progresses the students will take ownership of the stories as their literacy skills develop.

"Please help my students become better readers by making connections with these stories.

"My students need a collection of books that reflect their Asian American heritage. The cost of this proposal is $379, which includes shipping for any materials requested and fulfillment."


Characters That Look Like Me!
- Oakland, California - PreK-2 - 58% low income -

"I am a second year Kindergarten teacher in a low-income public school in Oakland, Ca. Over 90% of our student population qualifies for the federally funded breakfast/lunch program. I teach a variety of students from a multitude of different cultures, Filipino, African American, Chinese, and Hispanic.I have some books in my library and I have spent a lot of time and money acquiring the books. However, my classroom library lacks books featuring African American, Hispanic and Asian children. My students LOVE to read and be read to. They would greatly benefit from the exposure of characters from many different ethnic groups and it would help them to appreciate the diverse society that they live in.Please help me build a strong multicultural foundation with the multicultural books I have selected. These books will allow my students accessibility to real literature and it will hook them and excite them to learn about the world around them, as well as validate where they come from. By providing my students with books that show multicultural characters, like themselves, you will provide resources that build on the basic curriculum and on the equity we are trying to bring into our classroom community. These books will allow my students to know so much more about themselves, others and the world. Thank you so much.

"My project needs multicultural books that depict characters like the students in my class: African American, Asian, and Hispanic. I have selected a number of Multicultural sets about Holidays, Children of the World, and such titles as On Mother's Lap, Fiesta, Round is a Moon Cake and Whoever You Are. The cost of this proposal is $520, which includes shipping for any materials requested and fulfillment."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rice Daddy Represents on "The Amazing Race"

First there were the Cho brothers and the Patels on season 10. Now, for those of us who like to play the "oooh, there's an Asian American on a reality competition show (that's not Survivor: Race War Edition), look!" game [and hell no, I ain't watching that Tila Tequila thing on MTV], season 12 of CBS' Emmy winner (and the only reality show my wife and I watch) brings us an Asian American dad/daughter team.

The newest TV rice daddy is Ronald Hsu, 58, of Tacoma, WA, the vice-president of a paper packing company and father of teammate Christina Hsu, 26, a policy analyst in Washington, D.C. According to their show site profile:

Ronald & Christina are a father/daughter Team who are competing in the Race to make up for lost time. Since Ronald was constantly traveling for work throughout much of his daughter's formative years, Christina hopes the Race will allow her father--a self-proclaimed workaholic--to stop and smell the roses and provide them with some meaningful time together.

Ronald, a first-generation immigrant and eldest of five, works as a Vice President of sales for a paper packaging company. His proudest achievements are his thirty-one years of marriage and raising two independent daughters. Christina is Ronald's youngest daughter and holds degrees from both Duke and Princeton. She once served in the State Department and often wishes her Teammate could be as diplomatic as she.

Neither are strangers to the unpredictability of international travel as they have both lived and worked abroad. Ronald describes himself as inquisitive and open-minded, while Christina describes herself as loyal and adventurous. This father/daughter duo is excited to grow closer, make friends across continents and create Race history by being the first father/daughter Team to claim the $1 million prize.

You go, Ronnie! Represent, brother—and we'll be watching on November 4.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nostalgic For Nothing

This morning I heard that Lance Hahn of J Church passed away due to complications related to kidney failure. I had met Lance back in the early ‘90s when he lived in San Francisco. The Ear of the Dragon compilation came out and a lot of attention was being focused on Asian American rock, a fraternity that Lance helped bring attention to. J Church were deceptively smart punk poppers, drawing upon Lance’s roots as an anarcho punk and his deep love of cinema, art and music. He could also break it down at the emotional level, connecting to issues of the heart. The sticker on his guitar said it all: “Overthrow cockrock and worship your girlfriend.”

Being a music writer and JA in the ‘90s, this was a good time to discuss issues of race, music, stereotypes and upbringing as well as bond with interesting people over good food. So I think the majority of memories I have of Lance involve food and music. We sat down for a proper interview in 1995. I remember thinking how open and frank he was. We talked about major labels, touring with Beck (he beat out a stable to tour as Beck’s guitarist during Mellow Gold), Hawaii, Faye Wong. He was obsessed with Faye Wong, so much he wrote a sweet song about her.

Since then, we remained on friendly terms. They’d play an occasional show in the South Bay and I’d roll out to see them. Another time was when Giant Robot magazine held a concert with Seam, Korea Girl and J Church in their warehouse. We drove down for that. I remember Lance thinking how clever he was for playing the Smiths cover “Girlfriend in a Coma” and “Faye Wong” right next to each other. I have the set list packed away somewhere. Lance could hold a conversation about any possible topic, and be fully informed and hilarious at the same time.

My last memory of Lance is seeing him blow through a hardcore set at SXSW in 2005. He was so deeply entrenched in the music, which had turned ultra-political (naturally, given his temperament and the general state of the U.S.) and loud as heck. I was happy seeing J Church operating on full blast and left stoked he was still rocking hard.

So when I heard of him passing this morning, after long illnesses and no health insurance, I was sad but also glad that his painful ordeal had ended. I was also comforted that every time I saw him, he was living life to its fullest. He had done so many great things, toured the world, made great music, touched many people’s lives. This morning, a work colleague who knew Lance passed me a zip file of J Church songs. I couldn’t listen. It was too soon to process Lance’s distant voice in my work headphones. Plus his death also had me thinking about my own mortality. Like, a musician of my generation died? Holy crap!

Tonight, though, I put on Nostalgic for Nothing after dinner. Maceo was playing with his cars and when he heard the drums kick in during “My Favorite Place” he got all excited and started dancing. This went on for “Ivy League College” and “Tide of Fate.” Soon I was lifting him up and down and he was having a heckuva time wilding out to songs about silver-spoonfed kids wearing t-shirts that say “Lick Bush.” It was all quite surreal, as if Lance was reaching out to remind me: look for the humor in life because it’s all around you.

Thanks, Lance. Godspeed.


This is where we live.

(crossposted from Anti-Racist Parent)

This is where we live.

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I took our almost-three-year-old daughter to her first county fair. She got to eat French fries and funnel cake, look at cows, and dance like crazy to Los Lobos, performing live in a concert sponsored by an English-language magazine for second-generation American Latinos that the media company I work for publishes.

On our way out, we passed a t-shirt vendor selling souvenirs. I did a double take when I noticed the wide variety of t-shirts featuring the Confederate “Stars and Bars” flag on offer. “Take a picture, take a picture,” I nudged my wife, who reluctantly snapped a shot of the display of t-shirts with slogans like “Heritage Not Hate” and “If you don’t like my flag you can kiss my rebel ass.” The woman selling the shirts saw us—we tried to act nonchalant. But then I saw the kids’ shirts. I urged my wife to get a shot of the child’s shirt proclaiming “Daddy’s Lil Rebel” on top of the Confederate flag, but the shirt-seller saw her and shook her head no. Guess we couldn’t quite pass for members of her target demographic who just wanted to show her shirt designs to friends. Or maybe I just wasn’t too good at masking the look of shock on my face. [When googling for images of that kiddie shirt, I stumbled on this plethora of rebel merchandise for sale in that bastion of antebellum Southern heritage, New Jersey.]

This fair, by the way, made national news two years ago when it removed from its musical schedule a performance by local folk duo Prussian Blue, the Olsen twins of the white supremacist set. They were uninvited only after a classmate complained and told the fair folks what their act was really about. Apparently, they hadn’t known until then—despite the pair having performed at the fair the year before.

This is where we live.

In recent weeks, this has been the stuff of our local news:

•One of our city councilmen introduced measures to declare our city, steeped in its history of agribusiness and labor conflicts, an anti-sanctuary city vis-à-vis illegal immigrants and to declare English our official language.

•The city’s public high school district’s South High School celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Its team name: the Rebels. Yes, those Rebels, and that South (and their colors are blue and grey, natch). Our paper featured some alumni remembrances accompanied by a photo of band buglers from back in the day with the stars-and-bars hanging from their horns. Wrote one member of the class of 1986: “Being an African-American student at a high school whose mascots are representations of the Southern Confederacy was peculiar, to say the least. Slavery ring a bell? Anyone?”

•A member of the high school board of trustees introduced a measure to require every classroom in the district to display the national motto, “In God We Trust.” The motto will be on flag-emblazoned posters donated by a non-profit run by a city councilwoman dedicated to putting up that same national motto in city halls across the country. The trustee, a former youth pastor and now founder of his own church, recently led the charge to change “winter break” to “Christmas break” and “spring break” to “Easter break,” and he originally ran for office because the board wasn’t strict enough in its partial ban of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.”

This is where we live.

A real-life friend and fellow dadblogger, Dr. Lo Siento, wrote of his concerns about raising his Asian American son in this kind of environment, shortly before moving with his wife and child back to Orange County. Recently, Mamazilla wrote about how some encounters with clueless racism has made her wish she could connect with an offline, non-virtual Anti-Racist Parent group of like-minded local moms and dads to share stories and strategies with, to vent to, to lean on. Though this stuff is never far from my mind, all this recent crap has made me think even more about the challenges my wife and I face in raising our daughter where we currently live.

I could throw up my arms and say, screw it, we’re moving, now. I could go crazy with anger and frustration, or get paranoid and see enemies everywhere. But for now, we live here.

And this is also where we live:

Did I mention that, at the County Fair, that Confederate t-shirt stand was just around the corner from a section of the fairgrounds devoted to Latino food and culture, and down the midway from food stands run by Basque, Italian and Mexican community organizations? (And we were coming from a Los Lobos concert.) It was a crowded Sunday night, and it seemed like families from all parts and communities of Bakersfield were there, having fun.

Those anti-immigrant resolutions in front of the City Council were voted down, after UFW legend and local resident Dolores Huerta led a diverse group of protesters to speak out against them and fill the council chambers.

Public opinion seems to be against our crusading school board trustee, who is seen and denounced by many as a divisive political opportunist who needs to be voted out of office.

This is where we live.

Every week, as part of my job, I make sure that a small cadre of local high school students take photos of fans at their schools’ football games and upload them to our website. And every week, I’m pleasantly surprised by what I see, photo after photo of interracial groups of friends, of families of all backgrounds enjoying the game with each other. Take a look at the photos from South High, where the majority of the students, like at many California high schools, are “minority” students, and you will not see the school it was 50 years ago, when someone thought it was a good idea to name a school after the losing side in the Civil War.

My wife and I consciously surround ourselves with a diverse group of friends, We support each other, we love each other’s kids, and, though we may not all share the same politics on everything, we all desire to create a better environment for our children. We complain when something pisses us off about this place not because we’re bitter and we’ve given up, but because, for the sake of our children, we can’t afford not to complain, we can’t afford not to get pissed off.

Because, at least for now, this is where we live.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Recalling Yo-Yo Ma's 1986 session with Elmo

While we're on the subject of music on children's television...

This week on WNYC's Studio 360, a reference was made to Yo-Yo Ma's classic 1986 "session" with Elmo:

Rockin' that sexy 1980s Asian hairdo!

And if you're up for some multiple eargasms with your morning coffee, klicken Sie hier:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pick It Up

As a ska fan, this is quite possibly the coolest thing I've seen on Yo Gabba Gabba. An upbeat, knees-up tune by GoGo13 and Alex Desert from Hepcat. References to Prince Buster, rude boys, Rhoda Dakar, Go Feet records, 2-Tone, Vespas and Judge Roughneck mixed in among a primary message of cleaning up your room. It's from the "Move" episode. It's freaking brilliant. Hurry before it gets taken down by the Man.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

No English, Please!

A few months ago, we got an off-the-boat babysitter from the Philippines. I was excited because we'd have someone to teach our baby Filipino. Well, she kept forgetting to speak Filipino, and I gave up on reminding her to NOT speak English.

Then, when I found out that my mother-in-law was coming to stay with us for a couple of months, I thought we'd have another opportunity to immunize her against monolingualism.

That was not to be... It's been a month now, and though my mother-in-law will speak her native dialect when talking to my wife and to my parents, she can't help but speak English when she plays with the baby.

I should have known. You see, even though my wife grew up in the Philippines, her first language was English too. She even grew up watching the same television shows I did: Sesame Street, Scooby Doo, Flintstones, etc. And none of it was dubbed into anything other than English. Not even Voltron, He-Man, or the Transformers.

I came to realize that for a lot of folks in Philippines, English is the language you use when you talk to children. They can't help it. They speak their native tongue when speaking to adults, but when they talk to babies and young children, they can't help but to break into English!!

Oy vay, at this rate, it looks like the only other language she'll be picking up is the Yiddish I picked up from the neighbors when I was growing up!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fatherhood 1997.0

Woh I woke up and read this article. Um did I just dream the last decade? Am I really stuck in 1997? Plus there is a strangely familiar dude on the page.

I can't wait until their next article on this new MP3 thing I've been hearing about or maybe something about teh internetz.

Friday, October 05, 2007

public service announcement...

...okay, so it's more a self-serving announcement, but I don't know what else to do. I'm reposting this from my solo blog, daddyinastrangeland.com, because I figure most of the folks I need to see this will see it here. Long story short, if you have my old (non-alias) address bookmarked or, more important, you subscribe to the RSS feed for my eponymous solo blog, please update your bookmarks and go to the site and resubscribe to the feed, b/c the address has changed. Why? Here's the full story:

For the handful of you faithful readers out there who’ve been wondering where I’ve been, well, I’ve been here, and I haven’t.

I’ve been having some “technical difficulties” (more on that in a sec), which, in my usual get-frustrated-and-try-not-to-break-things manner, made me just give up for a bit. But I’m back. And hopefully you’re seeing this.

Okay, so two months ago Apple released iLife 08, a major upgrade to its package of multimedia “even somebody who can only point-click-drag (like you) can make something cool” software, including iWeb, the software this blog is built with. So I downloaded, upgraded, even wrote two posts in August after the upgrade, and none of you know it.

Here’s what happened. The new version of the program, in an effort to simplify things, changed the urls for iWeb sites and pages, creating new domains. Somebody frakked up in all of this, because all the comments on everybody’s iWeb blogs built with the old software disappeared. My daddyinastrangeland.com alias redirect was still going to the old address, which one, was still there, though it wasn’t supposed to be, and two, still had all my old comments. And then I realized that the address for the RSS feed had changed too. So at that point, knowing that if noone could tell I’d written anything new they wouldn’t find it, I froze.

Yes, for two months.

After confirming with a dude at the Apple store that yes, they screwed up and that no, there was nothing that could be done, I finally changed the alias redirect to go to the current, commentless site. Daddyinastrangeland.com now goes to http://web.mac.com/quioguesperber/daddyinastrangeland/blog/blog.html. [Yes, that’s the simplified version, and yes, that’s a lot of crap, why do you think I did the alias redirect in the first place?] The old address, http://web.mac.com/quioguesperber/iWeb/daddyinastrangeland/blog/blog.html, still exists (though it’s not supposed to, apparently), and you can go there to see any comments written on posts before mid-August.

But, and here’s the important part, please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds. Daddyinastrangeland.com will now go to the current site, but if you bookmarked the long, convoluted .mac address a long time ago, please change it to the new one. And for the even smaller handful of folks who subscribe to my feed, go to the main page of the “new” site and click subscribe again, because the address has changed, and if you don’t, you’ll never see that I’ve written new crap.

Okay, I’m unfrozen now. I hope somebody’s reading this. ;)

[Questions? Feel free to contact me directly.]

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Challenge Update: New Educational Proposal Added

We've added another educational proposal to the RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge, our ongoing philanthropic venture.

As you can see from the proposal description, these children are in dire need of our support. Ninety-three percent of this school's students come from low-income, high-poverty homes. The proposed program meets the objectives of our Challenge and will provide 60 instructional hours to over 300 of those students. So the sooner we donate, the sooner they can learn!

"International Studies Learning Center is one of 9 schools in the country sponsored by the Asia Society to offer an internationally focused curriculum to its students.

"Media is an excellent way to help students understand international perspectives, but I am having trouble making that asset available to these children on a daily basis due to limited resources for technology. There is one TV/DVD combination deck in the school, and it is often checked out to other teachers. With one more TV/DVD deck available, I and the other teachers of the 7th grade would be able to show movies during class time to augment the classroom experience."

"As part of our school's schedule, we have an advisory class, and in that class I would like to show movies or images. Next year, as an institution, we will be reading Farewell to Manzanar and several other books with video components or pictures taken from the Japanese American Museum in the Los Angeles area. In a perfect world, I would be able to take the students to the museum and all the other associated resources with the reading material for next year, but the budget is already too small for excursions, so I may have to bring the resources to them via video and images.

"The students have the expectation of being able to participate in a world economy and marketplace, as expressed in the ISLC Mission Statement. We are acquiring texts and helping the students get access to a truly international perspective, but we need the help to make these resources reachable by our students.

"A contribution of a DVD player and Television would help the students develop this perspective and help them get to their grade level in understanding by assisting their comprehension with video input into their texts and exercises in class.

"My project needs A Sony DVD player and 27" color television to enrich their internationally-oriented curriculum. The cost of this proposal is $401, which includes shipping for any materials requested and fulfillment."