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.
In an Oakland, CA youth center on a Sunday morning, while many everyday American folks prepare to eat brunch, I’m in for a different kind of meal. Four Californian men are assembling their signature dishes in a special cook-off.
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.
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.'
An interview with Oscar Award-winning filmmaker Freida Mock Lee about her latest documentary on the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas hearings, and the high profile and sometimes disturbing public discourse around sexual harrassment, race, and politics.
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
The San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival -- renamed CAAMfest -- takes place March 14-24 in the Bay Area and will include film, video, music and food, bringing the art, stories and people of film to life. Hyphen will be along for the ride, bringing you film reviews and event coverage on our blog throughout March.
An elementary school in South Sacramento is home to the only Hmong dual-language immersion program on the West Coast.
The life of Richard Aoki, the former Black Panther and Asian American leader, was more nuanced than his hardline image makes it seem.
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.
Undocumented Asian American college students share their lives in poetry and prose
A recent report from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control reveals that some nail polish manufacturers have been mislabeling what's inside those pretty bottles.
The daughter of a cosmetologist, Thu Quach is one of the few researchers studying nail salon workers and the health hazards they face. We ask her about what can be done to make salons safer for consumers and workers.
A new service in Oakland's Chinatown delivers meals like chicken and black fungus wine soup to new moms.
We are very excited and pleased to announce our Hyphen Public Interest Journalism Fellow, Kevin Lee.
Help Hyphen reach its fundraising goals for two important writing projects on Filipino nurses in the US and API bullying via Spot.Us.
Hyphen reviews Min Sook Lee's documentary My Toxic Baby, one mother's educational journey through green parenting.
We share a supplemental video and the author's personal observations on her "Motherhood Rooted" story, about postpartum traditions among Asian and Pacific Islander moms.
The final installment of traditional postpartum recipes for healing and health. Here's one for Sesame Oil Chicken, or ma you ji.
In our Bittersweet issue, Asian American moms share traditional recipes for postpartum health. Here's one for Korean seaweed soup, including a vegetarian version.
Asian and Pacific Islander moms in the US embrace ancient post-birth traditions.
Many Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin, indigenous and other cultures view the month or so following birth as a sacred and crucial time for new moms to recover.
In our Bittersweet issue, we explore traditional postpartum practices among Asian American moms. We share some of their special recipes for mothers who've just given birth.
Lee Wang’s documentary focuses on those lured to work in Iraq under dangerous conditions, often without any idea what they’re getting into.
We break down post-birth traditions by culture, and the different rituals that celebrate your new arrival.
Hyphen has another story on Spot.us that you can help fund. It focuses on deportations and in particular on the case of Steve Li.
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:
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. .
We’re excited to try something new: using community-funded journalism to support our feature stories. We have two story pitches right now on Spot.us.
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.
There's a campaign to get CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to pardon Eddy Zheng, a Chinese American community leader and former inmate at San Quentin, before the next governor takes over in January. The hope is to prevent Zheng's deportation to China.
The DREAM Act, a bill that would have allowed some undocumented youth to gain citizenship down the road, failed in the Senate. Julianne Hing of ColorLines has been following this quite closely. In the end, it was literally a handful of Democrats who prevented the passage of the bill:
Why hello, another year has (almost) passed, and, just in time for the holidays...it's your Hyphen Holiday Gift Guide, the documentary DVD edition.
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.
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.
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.
Jean Quan by Lake Merritt in Oakland, Calif. Photo courtesty of www.JeanQuanForOakland.org.
Elections happened November 2nd and it seems like there are several symbolic and historic Asian American winners. In no particular order (except with a strong West Coast/Bay Area bias):
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a volunteer-run publication, Hyphen is a passion project and a veritable labor of love. As one of its longtime contributors, I remain committed to the magazine because I love what Hyphen is about: coverage of Asian America that you won’t find anywhere else.
It has been about a year since the passing of Richard Aoki, a student leader in the Ethnic Studies strike at UC Berkeley and field marshal of the Black Panther Party (one of the few Japanese/Asian Americans, at that).
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
I had my doubts about this kid's show early on, but I am liking it more now every day. In case you don't hang around preschoolers often, or watch the Nick Jr. channels, Ni Hao, Kai-lan is a TV show akin to Dora the Explorer. Kai-lan is a Chinese American girl who speaks English and once in a while, Mandarin.