Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications. She is a senior contributing editor and writer for Hyphen.

Oakland Man Facing Deportation for Nonviolent Drug Crime

Chea Bou, a plainspoken, middle-aged man, fled Cambodia when he was nine years old. He recalls the way the grass pricked the bottom of his bare feet as he walked for miles to the Thai border. His family shared one can of rice a week and foraged in the jungle for insects and potatoes. Bou carried a knife to defend himself against the soldiers who escorted refugees fleeing the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot's brutal regime in the late 1970s.

Ai-jen Poo, MacArthur Fellow and Author of 'The Age of Dignity' on Caring for Our Elders

Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance
and the co-director of Caring Across Generations, Ai-jen Poo tackles the challenge of how our country can provide care for the rapidly growing elderly population in her book 'The Age of Dignity.'

The ABCs of Hmong

A Sacramento school learns the value of Hmong language immersion

At Sacramento’s Susan B. Anthony Elementary,
Sao Vue’s kindergarteners sit on a brightly
colored carpet, looking up at him and repeating
alphabet sounds. “Ahhh, aaay, eeeh,” they sing.

The sounds are not in English — they are in Hmong. Sacramento
is home to the nation’s third-largest Hmong American community,
and the school has the only Hmong dual-language immersion
program on the West Coast. It’s the second such program in the
country after one in St. Paul, MN, which has the largest Hmong
American population.

Dreams Deferred

Undocumented Asian Students confront a lack of visibility within the larger immigration movement — and often silence within their families and communities.

Of all things, it was an episode of the ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that tipped Catherine off. In it, the British butler, Geoffrey, made a joke about not having a green card. Innocently, the then-9-year-old asked her mother whether she had one.


Mitchell Chang: Tiger Mom Hurts Asian Am College Applicants?

Here's an op-ed by UCLA Professor of education and Asian American studies Mitchell Chang on one possible negative effect of the Tiger Mom book (Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother): more stereotypes of Asian American college applicants that will (further) hurt their chances of getting into colleges and universities.

Here's an excerpt from the op-ed:

Jay Chou: 'The Green Hornet''s Kato, in His Own Words

That is not John Cho, folks. That's Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou in Columbia Pictures' The Green Hornet.

I interviewed Taiwanese pop star, composer, singer and actor Jay Chou (周杰倫), who stars in the new comedy-action The Green Hornet, directed by Michel Gondry and also starring Seth Rogen and Cameron Diaz. The Green Hornet has seen many lives, but is most famous for introducing Bruce Lee to the wide world in the 1966 TV show. Chou plays Lee’s character, Kato, sidekick to Rogen’s main character. .

Best Gifts EVAR

Just for kicks, and because I like fluff pieces sometimes, we Hyphen staffers put together a list of BEST GIFTS EVAR that we received from our parents.

The idea came about a few weeks ago, when the Bay Area weather began hitting the upper 50s, and I began thinking about wearing socks again. While I was perusing my sock collection, I realized that at least half of my socks are from my mom. Is this an Asian thing or just a mom thing, or an Asian mom thing? Stocking stuffer takes on new meaning.

DVD Review: Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues follows four students in the U.S. who are learning Chinese or Spanish. Sounds simple, but the debate around “speaking English” has inflamed political discourse for years, with some states adopting English-only laws. This narrow view is quietly being challenged in immersion classrooms, where kids learn second languages, such as Durrell, an African American in San Francisco who is learning Mandarin. The film, moving at times, shows that becoming bilingual is more than just about creating a competitive workforce in the global economy.

DVD Review: Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story

The story of Wat Misaka is unusual: a Japanese American college basketball darling who captures the imagination of fans at a time when his ethnic group is targeted as the country’s enemy. A “sparkplug,” the 5’7" Misaka broke the racial line as the first person of color to join the nascent NBA, as part of the New York Knicks. This was in 1947. Extensive interviews with Misaka, his brother, sports historians and Misaka’s teammates show an optimistic and popular man. Though the humble Misaka doesn’t admit it, he was a victim of discrimination.

DVD Review: 9500 Liberty

9500 Liberty is a riveting documentary that captures the anti-immigrant debate in Prince William County, VA. Filmmakers and Coffee Party USA founders Annabel Park and Eric Byler capture the often-painful footage of neighbors pitted against each other as a county tries to oust all of its Latino “illegal aliens.” It begins with a conservative white blogger dubbed “Black Velvet Bruce Li” who teams up with a local politician to pass a heinous law that targets everyone who doesn’t look white or speaks another language.

DREAM Act’s Defeat Spells One Family’s Imminent Loss

San Francisco City College Student Steve Li, 20, is about to be deported to Peru on Monday, November 15th, but demonstrators and supporters, including local politicians, are trying to stop this. They are urging California State Sen. Barbara Boxer to introduce an emergency bill to stop his deportation.  Li has been detained in Arizona for the past two months. He would qualify for the DREAM Act. 

Filmmaker Arthur Dong Releases DVD Collection

Award-winning Chinese American filmmaker Arthur Dong is releasing a DVD box set entitled Stories from Chinese America: The Arthur Dong Collection, Vol. 2. The films include Hollywood Chinese, about Chinese actors and characters in US Hollywood films and Forbidden City, U.S.A., about the Chinese American nightclub scene during WWII; both are feature length documentaries.

San Francisco's Attempts to Make Nail Salons Safer

In San Francisco, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has introduced an ordinance that encourages the 200 or so nail salons, with 1,800 workers, operating in San Francisco to stop using nail polishes that include the "toxic trio." The toxic trio are three identified chemicals: formaldehyde, toluene; and dibutyl phthalate, linked to reproductive problems, thyroid problems and cancer, among other things.

Documentary '9500 Liberty' is a Timely Must-Watch

I recently watched 9500 Liberty, Annabel Park and Eric Byler's film about immigration. I was floored. I'd heard about this film for years. The filmmakers posted segments of their footage on YouTube on the 9500Liberty channel as they were completing the full length doc. All of this -- the creative use of technology and the actual footage of the immigration debate -- garnered a lot of attention, tons of comments on YouTube, and articles in the Washington Post

2010 SFIAAFF Reviews: 'In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee,' 'Wo Ai Ni Mommy,' and 'Lt. Watada'


Photo from Wo Ai Ni Mommy.

As usual, there seem to be lots of great documentaries to choose from in this year’s San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival’s lineup. I had the chance to review a few of them, all of which happen to be directed by Asian American women.

In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee

Directed by Deann Borshay Liem