Lisa Wong Macabasco

Former Editor in chief

Lisa Wong Macabasco joined Hyphen in 2006; she has worked as the magazine's features editor, managing editor, and editor in chief. She has written for Mother Jones, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, AsianWeek, Audrey, Filipinas and ColorLines’ RaceWire. She graduated from U.C. Berkeley and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and co-founded the National Asian American Student Conference. She was formerly an editor at AsianWeek newspaper and an editor in the marketing department of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Dance, Dance, Dance: Korean Seniors Step Up to Fitness

A Korean dance troupe in Queens is proving that it’s never too late to become a dancing queen.

It’s a gray afternoon in June, on a sleepy side street in Flushing, N.Y.. Inside, however, on the basement floor of a church, a Korean pop song reverberates throughout a large hall as a group of 10 women, pretty faces glistening with sweat, flawlessly execute a dance routine.

Are Your Grandparents Being Served?

A new San Francisco program serves Chinese seniors nutritional Chinese American favorites far from the senior center.

James Wong is a man of routine. Every morning, the 63-year-old resident of San Francisco’s Sunset District meets his friends for some tai-chi exercise. Then they decide where to eat lunch. It’s usually at one of three senior centers in the southwest corner of the city. There they can get a hot meal, perhaps even freshly cooked, for $2.

Issue 26: The South Issue Contributors

As a 32-year-old woman frequently mistaken for a 16-year-old boy, writer Mandy Hu caught a performance by gender-bending comedian D’Lo and found it a revelation. In a profile of D’Lo in this issue, San Francisco-based Hu thinks readers will be surprised by “the expansiveness and flexibility of first-generation immigrant parents’ love for their weirdo kids.” What does she hope readers will take away from the story? “I want a shorthaired girl who sometimes wears it twice as long, George Harrison says.

Our House

Seven family members span three generations under one roof.

Sometimes when Kathleen Dang is at home by herself, she hears a strange and eerily disturbing sound — silence.

“When there’s so few people at home, it’s really weird,” she says, laughing. “I feel creeped out because there’s no one else with me.”

Issue 25: The Generation Issue Contributors

With this issue, we welcome editor Karissa Chen at the helm of both Hyphen’s Fiction section and our debut Poetry section. Chen’s goal is to showcase the breadth of Asian American literature today and offer a balance to Hyphen’s journalistic works. “I hope readers are moved or in some way changed by the pieces,” says Chen, who lives in Guttenberg, NJ. “Literature should be personal, and I hope readers become as invested in the experience of reading as the writers were in writing.” A hallmark of her generation? “Narcissism.

Picturing Fashions Past: Fashion Histories of American Women of Color

A discussion of the digital fashion media complex, fashion shows in Japanese American internment camps and the aesthetic value of UGG boots with Minh-Ha T. Pham, founder of the blog Of Another Fashion, an online archive highlighting the oft-ignored fashion histories of American women of color. 

Oh, This Old Thing?

Archiving the oft-ignored fashion histories of American women of color.

Growing up in 1980s Southern California, Minh-Ha Pham remembers accompanying her mother as she shopped. But instead of returning with arms full of shopping bags, her mother brought back a head filled with inspiration. “We were poor so we didn’t buy anything, but she’d spend hours studying clothes,” Pham says. “Then she’d go home and make it.”

Issue 24: The Survival Issue Contributors

As a Hyphen staffer for most of the past nine years, Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik knows about survival. She was Takeout editor in our early years and then returned for a second tour as editor of Artwell in 2009. She has since been dedicated to showcasing some of the most compelling contemporary Asian American artists. Bhaumik is sadly leaving Hyphen to focus on her duties as a Kearny Street Workshop board member and on completing her master’s thesis on the role of food in the construction of identity in contemporary art.

Make Magazine

In the digital media era, DIY publications are thriving.

When Malaka Gharib, founder of the Washington, DC, zine The Runcible Spoon, is told that her publication has been spotted in the halls of the federal government, she chuckles in disbelief: “Really?” Her reaction is understandable: The zine, focused on new and healthy eating in the district, collages adorable illustrations and magazine cutouts alongside articles titled “Food So Fresh It Should Be Slapped: Celebrating the Season’s Best at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market” and recipes for homemade mustard.

Choice Made

Many Asian American women accept abortion as a practical way out of an unwanted situation.

Amid barbed national debates about abortion access, Asian American women are standing assertively behind their choices, and behind other women’s right to make that choice.

All in the Family

Asian American families by the numbers


Asian American women have a low rate of unmarried births: About 9 percent of Asian American mothers who gave birth in 2004 were unmarried, compared with 28 percent of all American women. (Source; us census Bureau, 2004 American Community Survey. Selected Population Profiles. S0201.)

Over Their Heads and make light of unintended gaffes. We showed our parents. They laughed — a little.

From: [Mom]

To: [Eunice]

Subject: RE: you're not the only one. . .

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2008 20:07:17 -0500

Thanks for sharing, but I don't understand all. What is the name of Website mean? My mom is a fob?

Chinese moms are very loving and caring moms, right?

Louder Than Words

PEOPLE ARE USUALLY SURPRISED to learn that I'm a workout enthusiast. Whether because of my scrawny frame or my hipster posturing, I don't scream "athletic" upon first (or even subsequent) glance. But in fact, I love to run and do yoga, and I try to do one or the other every single day.

So when I recently took a knee-busting fall on my usual run through Golden Gate Park, it jolted me out of my routine. I got to truly - and rather painfully - notice the hundreds of tiny daily movements I once took for granted.

The Five People You Will Always See at the SFIAAFF

1) Sam Chanse (Kearny Street Workshop's mistress of the arts)
2) Ali Wong (diminuitive, bespectacled Hyphen hoochie cover girl)
3) One of those Asian Am scene photographers
4) A member of a local indie Asian American band
5) Someone from Hyphen (possibly stoned)

Who did I leave off? Post in comments.

Teens First, Asian Americans Second

Forget Amy Tan, today's books for young adults take readers far from Chinatown.

WALK DOWN the young adult fiction section of any sterile, superbookstore and you'll amble through a cross- section of the lives of modern teens and-marketers' category du jour-tweens. Besides the age-old books about crushes and summer camp are books about 21st century love rituals like hooking up and IMing, like l8R, g8R; ttyl; and ttfn, as well as Summer Intern and Tips On Having A Gay (Ex)Boyfriend.

The Fastest Asian American Woman in the World

Who says Asian women can't drive?
Not guitarist/facial hair devotee Dave Navarro, who wrote about Verena Mei, the first Asian American woman and first import model to earn a NHRA Pro Drag Racing License, on his blog (linked from Gawker). Seems like his Internet radio show is one of her sponsors. Check out her site here.
Eat that, Devon Aoki. Too fast too furious indeed.

On Asian American Dating

Just a thought before the weekend: if I tell you that I — an Asian American woman who lives in San Francisco — have a boyfriend, what ethnicity would you assume he was?

A friend says that if he met an Asian American woman in the Bay Area, and she mentioned she had a boyfriend, he would assume her boyfriend was white. Do you agree? What does this say about dating in our community? Does it make a difference if the woman lives in another place, say Chicago or New York? What assumptions do you make about girlfriends of Asian American men? And what about gay Asian Americans?

The Applied Rhyming of Apsci

New York-based duo spans genres and continents.

LIKE A PERFECTLY matched vegemite and potato chip sandwich, the precision of opera singing meets the energy of garage rock, and hip-hop samples are laced with sharp rhymes in the sounds of New York-based ApSci. Vocalist Dana Diaz-Tutaan is one half of the international duo that forms ApSci's core, along with her Bronx-born husband MC Ra LaMotta. Hyphen caught up with this Aussie by way of the Philippines to discuss her theories, musical influences, and training, both formal (opera at age 10) and not-so-formal (disco moves at age three).

Booking It

When I was younger, I was a hardcore reader. I read in every place that it was socially acceptable to do so — and even a few where it was not (church) or was technically challenging (the bath). I even had one of those little pocket lights that attached to the tops of books so I could read at night riding in my parents' car on the drive home.
I wanted to read more about Asian American kids like myself, but at that time Asian American young adult fiction basically meant Lawrence Yep , who was a big favorite of mine. Hungry for anything else that might reflect my community, I also read the entirely age-inappropriate Amy Tan, as well as books set in Communist China (Anchee Min) and modern Japan (Banana Yoshimoto - highly recommended!).
But I really wanted to read a Babysitter's Club that was about Asian Americans; a Sweet Valley High about Asian Americans; and a Sleepover Club about Asian Americans. I wanted to read books about teens who happened to be Asian Americans, like me, but where their ethnicity didn't define them or preoccupy them 24/7, like me. In my dream teen book series, they were just normal teens, who sometimes ate Chinese food but sometimes ate meatloaf for dinner. Their parents spoke English and didn't put pressure on them to study hard, get into Harvard, and marry Asian. They had crushes on other Asian Americans, not white classmates. Their friends were all Asian American.
I realize only now how unrealistic this is - or is it?
I ask you, readers: do you know any books today that portray Asian American youth in realistic, nonstereotypical, non-cliche ways?
Has my dream series finally become a reality?
Should I get out my reading light again?

Silence = Death: AIDS in the APA Community

The New York Academy of Medicine released a report in May on the needs of APIs living with HIV/AIDS in the New York City area.

Some key findings show no real surprises (many barriers to care like cost and language, evidence that APIs delay testing, and overall low knowledge of HIV prevention and treatment), but something to note:

Extreme Isolation and Mental Distress Because of HIV Stigma. Reluctance to disclose one’s HIV status because of HIV stigma was a major theme in the qualitative interviews. Many participants experienced extreme social isolation because of their fears about disclosing their HIV status and the sometimes negative responses they received when they did disclose. Social isolation appears to have had significant negative mental health consequences. 71% had low or very low mental health scores, compared to 50% for the cohort. (emphasis mine)

Yet even given these high levels of isolation and mental distress, relatively few had utilized mental health services; providers said the barriers were both clients’ reluctance to seek mental health services and the lack of appropriate services. Once again, we see mental health as a major unaddressed issue in our community.

There are many APAs around the country trying to bring more attention to the issue of AIDS in our community and prompting folks to get tested (Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon got an oral test in front of the press in May). But at the same time, HIV clinics and researchers are seeing their funding slashed as the result of an administration that prefers to promote abstinence instead of sex ed to combat AIDS. Here in San Francisco, a Japanese American researcher at UCSF who worked with Asian and transgender communities was recently fired (he claims racial prejudice and lack of concern for transgendered communities).

I wrote about undocumented Asian immigrants living with HIV/AIDS in New York City in HYPHEN’s Fall 2006 issue (The Music Issue), and it never fails to amaze me how invisible this issue is to our community. Maybe people think it’s a nonissue; it has fallen off our radar since the ’80s and ’90s when it was on all the celebrities’ lips and lapels. Or, more disturbingly, maybe people think that Asian Americans simply don’t get AIDS. I once read a submission from a writer who didn’t use condoms because he assumed the Asian women he slept with were “clean” (his words).

So what to do? Volunteer with or donate to APA AIDS/HIV research and service groups, don’t assume HIV is just a gay or White issue, get tested regularly and for God’s sake, use a rubber.