Neela Banerjee

Let Your Inner Asian American Superhero Out with "Secret Identities"


There seems to be nothing hotter than Asian American graphic novelists and comic book artists. (Be sure to check out Issue 12 of Hyphen for a great story on South Asian-centric Shakti Comics at Virgin and what desi comic artists have to say about it.) Now, add to the list an exciting new project from our friend Jeff Yang and his buddies in the comic industry: Secret Identities: The Asian American Superman Anthology.

Remembering Filipino American Activist: Bill Sorro

When I arrived in San Francisco as a country-bumpkin from the Midwest, I often found myself standing by the hole in the ground at the corner of Jackson and Kearny in Chinatown. I had seen the amazing documentary The Fall of the I-Hotel back in college and I was amazed that the space was still being protected. It was the last year of the dotcom boom and all the history of displacement seemed incredibly relevant.

The Success Story of Vietnamese Americans in New Orleans East

It’s been almost two years since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. While the major focus has been on the failure of the government to provide support to the majority African American community in the 9th Ward, the resilience of the Vietnamese American population in New Orleans East – a suburban community 15 miles northeast of downtown New Orleans – has been getting a great deal of attention. Both academic research and mainstream media seem to point to the idea of a hard-working community whose been through much worse than Katrina's destruction.

Top Three: Ted Chiang

We asked Ted Chiang, two-time Nebula Award winner and author of the collection Stories of Your Life and Others (Orb Books): What are your favorite books of all time?


By Annie Dillard (Harper)

Nowadays it's unusual to read a memoir of a happy childhood, and there are passages in here that I find quietly hilarious, but those aren't what makes this such a great book. Dillard can write nonfiction that's more vivid and compelling than most novelists' fiction, and this book captures youthful wonderment at being alive and connected to the world better than any novel I can think of.



By Gene Wolfe (Orb)

Big, Fat Indian Weddings, and a Few Divorces

The idea of marriage makes my hands sweat, not in a good way. I’m trying to figure it out though, really I am. Therapy has helped me realize that it’s one part rebellion to the South Asian obsession with weddings, one part my parent’s divorce ... and the rest is still murky. I mean, I’ve always been a bit of a cynic: the whole concept of “forever” that marriage is predicated on just doesn’t compute for me. The idea of celebrating that idea by spending thousands of dollars for a huge party just seems like asking for it … but at the same time, I love champagne.

Awesome Francophile Korean American Fiction in the New Yorker

I've never been one of those New Yorker magazine junkies, like many people I know. I guess I'm more of a secret New Yorker junkie because I have enough things piled up in my life to feel guilty about not getting to. But the annual "Summer Fiction Issue" is kindof a must for me. I picked it up a few weeks ago on the way back from a trip to Mexico and have been carrying the increasingly more tattered thing around with me ever since.

My Global Goddess Dilemma

I was poking around make-up megastore Sephora the other day while waiting for a meeting and came across this display for Shalini Vadhera’s Global Goddess line. Come to think of it, I was actually looking for some concealer that would match my skin tone and there it was – a whole line of beauty products made by a South Asian woman, catering to different skin tones.

Some Thoughts on the Asian American Shooter

I work at a media organization where we look at the news through a mostly ethnic lens, which -- along with my work at Hyphen -- makes the Virginia Tech shooting a very complicated news day. I haven't had a whole lot of time to orchestrate my thoughts on this yet, but here are a few things that have me thinking.

SFIAAFF = 2 Legit 2 Quit

MC Hammer shows his love for Asian America and Hyphen magazine at the opening gala for the 2007 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Hammer played talent agent Roy Thunders in Justin Lin's Finishing the Game which opened the festival. Photo by Bernice Yee

I’ll have to say, there’s nothing like a giant theater full of Asian Americans and a party with free Lychee Martinis to make you feel good about your community.

Gurus Gone Wild

The good, the bad and the ugly in some of our favorites.

Writers Neela Banerjee & Rebecca Klassen



A K A: "Sex guru", self-described "guru of the rich", Chandra Mohan Jain, Acharya Rajneesh Zorba the Buddha, Osho

MULTITASKING: Taught philosophy and was a religious leader.

Comedic Geniuses

Four Asian American jokesters steal the show.

Single Asian Male looking for that special someone who enjoys a good physics joke. Has magic fingers.

Chinaman is the alter ego of comedian Mark Britten, who is part white, Filipino and Chinese. Though he’s developed a mighty repertoire of zingy one-liners and edgy wisecracks, he still likes to tell the joke that he came up with in high school when someone asked him if it’s true that Asian men have small genitalia. Turning to his provocateur, he retorted, “I’m half-Chinese … from the waist up.”

The Best South Asian American Film Ever -- and other desi picks from the SFIAAFF

I know the festival is already in full-swing, but I just wanted to point out some awesome South Asian picks for you to attend in the next few days. And the best thing about the South Asian films is that if you miss them this weekend or this week, you can make a field trip out of it next weekend and head down to San Jose and maybe stop for some yummy South Indian food on the way.

South Asians are NOT white

When I was a little Indian kid growing up in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, I would often face confusion about my ethnicity and race from my fellow classmates. I remember riding the school bus home from school and being crushed into a green rubbery seat with my friend Michelle and her little sister. We were bouncing along the street and Michelle was pointing out the window at people in passing cars and informing her little sister on the ways of the world.

Michelle: See, that lady in that car is Mexican and she is bad because she takes all our jobs.
Little Sister: Oh, okay. (Looking over at me with a confused look.) What about her?
Michelle: Oh, she’s okay. She doesn’t count.
Little Sister: (Still looking confused.) Oh?

Armed With A Camera

Stories of a post-9/11 America, as captured by a Sikh American.

Photographer Ejen Chuang

When Valarie Kaur first heard about the hate crime shooting of Sikh American Balbir Singh Sodhi, just three days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, her first instinct was to escape. She retreated into her room at her parent’s house in Clovis, CA, and read the first three Harry Potter books.