Page 1


volume XXVII, issue 1

also in this issue:

students hold candelight vigil

in memory of danny chen

4 | Ban on Gay Blood Donors | Kayla Natrella 8 | Coming Out of Their Shells: Problems Faced by the Asian LGBTQ Community | Diandra Hassan 10 | Visibility Project | Raye Holab 12 | In Our Best Interest: Confronting Homophobia Within the AAPI Community | Claire Chang


Volume XXVII, Issue 1

contents OUTLOOK




editorials 15 | Mandating Virtue: China’s New Elderly Rights Law | Dale Gao 16 | The Duty of a Statesman | Her Min 18 | Stop And Frisk | Siu Lam Koo 20 | Gentrification And Why You Should Care | Sharon Lau 22 | What Makes Us Happy | Yusef Tahdeebiddin Ahmed 24 | Honoring Private Danny Chen: The Road So Far | Paul Chen

arts & entertainment 28 | The Ghost Bride | Kayla Natrella 30 | There Is Something About Asian Girlz | Kahlil Stultz

conscience 34 | Ying Xu 35 | J Oliver Lang 36 | Soyeon Lee 37 | Benduka 38 | Joe Park 38 | YaeJin Oh 39 | Frank Tiu

Cover image sources:


letter from the editor...

t’s hard to believe that we’re more than halfway done with the semester

already. It’s also hard for me to grasp the fact that it’s my last year in college. Taking on the position of Co-Editor-in-Chief was something that I’ve only thought about in passing after seriously becoming involved in Asian Outlook back in the Spring semester of 2012. I never thought that it would actually become a reality. That being said, it’s been challenging me in all the ways I thought it would, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Last semester, I saw this as an opportunity for me to learn and grow as a person. With some encouragement and convincing from both myself and friends, I decided to just go for it. College really is the time to push yourself into pursuing what you’re passionate about. By being proactive, you find yourself meeting new people and in new situations that really enrich your college experience. Even though I knew that entering college, I found it hard to actually practice it. Reflecting on that, I’ve realized how far I’ve come to be where I am today. This brings me to the theme of this issue, which is: LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer/Questioning) or *GSD (Gender, Sexuality Diversity). I identify primarily as a Queer Asian American woman, so the topic is very close to my heart. From my own experience, I used to feel the need to compartmentalize different aspects of my identity and join groups accordingly. When I was in an Asian-interest organization, I left (or at least tried to leave) my sexual orientation at the door. When I went to an organization that was women or GSD-focused, I felt like a token minority, and did not bring my race into the conversations. Obviously this wasn’t doing me or anyone any good. I knew that if I could just gather enough courage to be my whole self, I would be challenging the spaces I occupied. Intersectionality is such an important element to effective activism that it would be impossible to achieve any real change without it. Asian Outlook is a magazine with activism at it’s core. It’s very existence is an embodiment of activism because it serves as an outlet for the voices of marginalized groups. It’s not just about race, we need to include all the other facets of identity such as sexual orientation, gender identity, class, religion, able-bodiedness, neurotypicalness, and more. The incident that occurred earlier this year with Councilwoman Elisa Chan, conversations overheard at our meetings and amongst friends, as well as October being LGBT history month naturally made this issue’s theme a no-brainer. The articles in this issue set a more serious overall tone, with pieces such as “Gentrification and Why You Should Care” and “Honoring Private Danny Chen: The Road So Far” which highlight issues that affect not only the Asian American community, but communities of color in a society that utilizes systematic oppression. I hope that you will be able to take something useful or informative away from each article and that my rambling didn’t put you off completely. To wrap it up, I would like to thank Kayla for agreeing to stay on as CoEditor-In-Chief with me, and for just being really supportive in general. I would have burned out weeks ago if we weren’t doing this together. I still have a lot to learn and to step up on. I would also like to thank our contributors, e-board, and general body members for making this issue possible and our meetings worthwhile. And last but certainly not least, thank YOU for picking up this magazine! *The LGBTQ organizations on campus have recently been making an effort in using GSD now due to it being much more inclusive of all the different sexual orientations and gender identities that exist. I personally use ‘queer’ as an umbrella term when addressing the community, but the term’s usage and appropriateness varies from individual to individual. Claire Chang Co-Editor-in-Chief, Fall 2013

asian outlook executive board Fall 2013 editors-in-chief conscience editor copy editors

layout editors

secretary business manager publicity manager social chair

Claire Chang Kayla Natrella Rudy Kuang Adam Mei Joe Park Tina Yu YaeJin Oh Alena Kim Cyndi Chin Jimmy Zhang Calvin Chan Dale Gao Frank Tiu Her Min

editorial policy Asian Outlook is the art, literary and news magazine of the Asian Student Union of SUNY’s Binghamton University. Originally conceived and created to challenge, redefine, re-imagine and revolutionize images and perceptions associated with Asians and Asian Americans, Asian Outlook also serves to protect the voice of those in the minority, whether by ethnicity, gender, and/or political orientation. All matter contained within these b`eautiful pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board. Asian Outlook reserves the right to edit submissions and publish work as deemed appropriate. Prospective contributors are encouraged to discuss their work with the editors prior to submissions. Articles may be submitted as an e-mail attachment to All artistic and literary pieces may be submitted to

contact policy Uninvited contact with writers and contributors is forbidden under punishment of pain. Please direct all questions, comments and complaints to

interested in contributing?

E-mail us at:

Or come to our weekly meetings held in the Asian Student Union office (UUW-329) every Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


Ban On Gay

Blood Donors By: Kayla Natrella


n Wednesday, July 31, 2013, Mayor Evan Low of Campbell, California hosted a blood drive as part of a Red Cross competition between Northern California municipalities to collect blood donations from August through the end of September. Ironically, the mayor’s blood was rejected. Despite blood shortages, many potential blood donors are turned away because they are gay. According to the Red Cross eligibility requirements listed on their website, a donor must be refused if he is “a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977.” The FDA is responsible for all eligibility requirements, including the policy of a lifetime deferral for men who have sex with other men, and decided to retain this policy on the recommendation of the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability on June 11, 2010. While opponents of the policy believe it to be outdated since, as Low argued, there are scientific tests to determine whether or not blood is tainted, proponents disagree about the effectiveness of such tests and believe that removing the ban could significantly increase the risk of transmitting HIV through blood transfusions.



According to the Center for Disease Control, men who have sex with men (MSM) are most severely affected by HIV. This demographic accounted for 63% of all new reported HIV infections in 2010. At the end of that same year, an estimated 56% of all those diagnosed with HIV were MSM. Statistics such as these are the reason that the policy was initially adopted in 1983 and remains in effect 30 years later. Although these statistics alone do not rebut Low’s argument that scientific tests effectively determine

news that the window period lasts 10-11 days after infection. The longest estimates suggest that the window period could last from 9 days up to 3-6 months after infection depending on body type and the HIV test used. Looking back at the eligibility restrictions listed on the Red Cross website under the HIV/AIDS heading: “You should not give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming

Although the proponents argue that the policy is necessary because of the up to 6 month window period in which tests may result in false negatives, the policy states that males who have had sexual contact with another male “even once, since 1977” may not donate.

whether or not blood is tainted, rendering screening redundant, proponents of the ban point to the window period as proof of the inadequacy of tests. According to the CDC, there are multiple tests used to detect HIV antibodies or RNA in donated blood. Enzyme Immunoassay is used for the qualitative detection of antibodies to both HIV-1 and HIV-2. Confirmation is performed using a rapid diagnostic test for HIV-1 and HIV-2 differentiation and NAT which uses mini pools of 16 TNA to detect HIV RNA. The Red Cross website explains that these tests have been regularly updated and are extremely accurate, yet, there is still a very minor chance of contracting HIV from blood that tests negative. The reason for this is what is known as the “window period” of infection—the time right after infection, before antibodies and antigens are produced and can be detected. Those in favor of the policy believe that with the introduction of blood from MSM, the chance of infected blood testing negative will greatly increase, thus putting more Americans at risk of contracting HIV. This argument is flawed. A spokesperson for the American Red Cross told reporters for KTVU

infected with HIV. You are at risk for getting infected if you: •have ever used needles to take drugs, steroids, or anything not prescribed by your doctor • are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977 • have ever taken money, drugs or other payment for sex since 1977 • have had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone described above” Although the proponents argue that the policy is necessary because of the up to 6 month window period in which tests may result in false negatives, the policy states that males who have had sexual contact with another male “even once, since 1977” may not donate. Logically, by the argument of policy proponents, the requirement should say “are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, in the past 6 months,” or to be extra safe, “in the past 12 months.” In fact, if you continue to read the eligibility requirements for those at risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS, it says that you are ineligible to donate if you “have had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone described above;”

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


Evan Low, the nation’s youngest openly gay mayor.

those described above including people who have used needles to take anything not prescribed by a doctor, men who have had sexual contact with other men since 1977, and people who have taken some form of payment for sex since 1977. So, it follows that heterosexual men and women who have had sex with any other “at risk” person must only wait one year to regain eligibility, despite being exposed to the same risk as a man who has had sex with another man, even once, since 1977. Since peoples with the same risk exposure are subjected to different deferral periods (lifetime deferral for MSM and one year deferral for others), the policy is unfair and discriminatory. The Red Cross, as well as, America’s Blood Centers and AABB agree. On June 15, 2010 these three organizations issued a joint statement about the policy, urging the



FDA to reconsider the eligibility criteria. They stated: “AABB, America’s Blood Centers (ABC) and the American Red Cross strongly support the use of rational, scientifically-based deferral periods that are applied fairly and consistently among blood donors who engage in similar risk activities.” Despite the push from these organizations to revise eligibility criteria and evidence that reasons for the deferral period are irrational and unfounded, the FDA has maintained that the change will pose too much risk. More recently, the American Medical Association (AMA) and a number of US lawmakers issued statements opposing the current ban. In June, the AMA called for a federal policy change to ensure that “blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.” They also asserted that the current ban is discriminatory and not grounded in science. On August 1, 2013, 86 Congressional Representatives signed a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services, urging the department to swiftly revise the current ban on MSM blood donations, supporting the AMA’s position that criteria should be applied fairly based on individual risk factors, and requesting that the HHS provide detailed reports, plans and timelines informing on their efforts in the past year and future plans regarding a reassessment of the current policy. There has still been no policy change and the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to respond to the opposing statements and demands. Sources: h t t p : / /w w w. a a b b . o r g /p r e s s r o o m /s t a t e m e n t s / P a g e s / statement061510.aspx htm html

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


Coming Out of Their Shells:

Photo of a flag symbolizing the LGBTQ community.

Problems affecting the Asian LGBTQ Community By Diandra Hassan

While some members of the Asian LGBTQ countries are being accepted in society, many deal with the fear of rejection and prejudice from family and friends.



“What’s next for the LGBT Asian community?”


Asian communities and countries still ban the rainbow movement despite its rise in many parts of the world including the United States. For many Asian communities, being gay or having gender changes are still considered heinous religious crimes that disgrace one’s family and friends and lead to social exclusion. Sometimes the rainbow movement incites protest rallies from citizens who argue that the country should never allow samesex marriage condemn homosexuality because it is considered a sin in Abrahamic religions. What’s more, “coming out” or being honest one’s homosexuality/ gender change can cause discrimination and rejection by peers, and sometimes, even family members. There’s no denying that even now, many gay and transgender Asians are still facing social and family issues. Social Issues Social issues that the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bi Transgender) community face depend on the country in which the person resides. Each country has a dominant religious belief and traditional value system that affects the common sentiment towards LGBT people. Some, like Nepal, are very accepting toward the idea of homosexuality and gender change. They even outlawed any discrimination toward those who identify as LGBT and legalized gay marriage. However, other countries prohibit these ideas and shun anyone who dares to mention their LGBT identity and pride. Usually people who oppose LGBT are conservatives who disapprove of differences in sexual orientation and gender identity. Because of this, discrimination and social prejudice become common problems for the LGBT community; for example, gay men are viewed “less masculine” and often assumed to have feminine qualities. On the other hand, lesbians are judged as “boy-haters” or even “girls who look like guy.s” These prejudices lead to the bullying of anyone who is homosexual, bisexual, or transgender. What causes this social issue in several Asian countries is still debatable. Perhaps the homosexual stereotypes are caused by the patriarchal society itself which values distinct gender identity for social order. Patriarchal societies facilitate “sexual politics” in families by designating the man as the “leader of the pack.” Furthermore, people who live lot of

in a patriarchal society are often taught distinctive gender norms and reject any gray areas. Even though more and more Asian patriarchal societies are experiencing cultural change as more and more people are beginning to accept the LGBT community, some social issues still exist because of traditional values. Family Issues For some Asians, family issues are arguably the hardest problems: it’s hard to change their own families’ perspectives, especially if they come from more conservative backgrounds. “Coming out” and being honest to family members, especially parents, can be hard because of fear of rejection and unwelcome reactions. Some fear the potential humiliation. Because of this, many homosexual/ transgender Asians try to conceal their sexuality or gender identity from their own families. Families like these usually expect every young member to find someone to marry, have kids, and obtain a good job, such as doctors or engineers, in order to live a stable life and continue the family’s lineage. A lot of Asians are expected to accomplish this, but not all of them can. “Coming out” and not fulfilling family expectations are hard things to face. But when it comes to the future, it’s definitely worth fighting for. Facing This Issue What’s next for the LGBT Asian community? Non-LGBT members can and should make the effort to change their perspective on LGBT issues. Toleration and acceptance are important, even if you’re not a part of the LGBT movement. Bullying and insulting won’t solve any problems. In fact, it will make matters worse. For Asian LGBT members, don’t hide! It’s hard to embrace your sexual orientation and identity, but you can take things slowly. You can join the rainbow movement and voice your opinion. Of course, while some might believe that LGBT, “non-normative” relationships are perfectly acceptable, others might say they prefer the “traditional” woman-man relationship. While the debate still continues, remember, it’s important to treat a person based on character, not sexual/gender identity or orientation.

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


Visibility Project

By Raye Holab

I think it’s important to be out so that other people will feel, ‘I have the community, I think that I can be pretty safe here.’ Even if I can be out to certain people, that will also help


Laurent Widjaya in her video interview for the Visibility Project. Her thoughts perfectly capture the purpose of the Visibility Project, a collection of photos and video testimonials of the Asian American queer, trans, and gender nonconforming communities. The creator and lead artist behind the Project, Mia Nakano, showcases Asian American queer stories in an effort to create a more unified and “visible” Asian American LGBT network. The Project has collected a multitude of stories about the many facets of the queer Asian American experience. Though the white LGBT experience and Asian American LGBT experience do have their similarities, the Asian American queer community has faced challenges and undergone experiences to which the white American queer community has not been subjected. Noel Bordador’s story of coming out as a gay Filipino American exemplifies one such difference. “Although I was very comfortable being out as a proud gay man…I could not be ‘out’ as an undocumented immigrant. There’s a part of me that’s always tentative about life because I don’t ays



know what could happen.” Today, Bordador is both a priest and a social worker, working primarily with New York City’s homeless population. “I work with the homeless… because I struggled with ‘What is home?’ for so many years, and the insecurity of not having a home, and so I have some kind of emotional and spiritual kinship with the homeless.” Urooj Arshad also stresses the difference between her experience and that of the white queer American in her interview with the Visibility Project. “It was only through my coming out process that I started identifying as a person of color because what I saw was that I had very little in common with white LGBT people…a lot of people who are LGBT Muslims, who grew up in a Muslim family, have to unpack a lot of their trauma… and know that Islam… can be really beautiful—it doesn’t have to be that dogmatic, traumatic, thing that they grew up with.” Her experience speaks for many LGBT Asian Americans, especially those with recently immigrated, heavily conservative, and/or religious families. Arshad continues to advocate for LGBT South Asian and Muslim rights, especially addressing issues of

Noel Bordador sharing his story with the Visibility Project.

I work with the homeless… because I struggled with ‘What is home?’ for so many years, and the insecurity of not having a home, and so I have some kind of emotional and spiritual kinship with the homeless.

Islamaphobia, violence, sexism, transphobia and ageism. Though many of the subjects of the Visibility Project are older, it is perhaps even more valuable for young queer and questioning Asian Americans to hear the stories of those they can identify more closely with. “There was a lot of anti-gay bullying in my school,” says Jayden, a lesbian Vietnamese American woman. According to Jayden, her struggle with finding and accepting her identity was made more difficult by her isolation from others in the LGBT community. When she started going to a more liberal and tolerant high school with others like her, she says, “I was able to put the negativity of homosexuality into a positive light. It became… okay to feel this way towards a woman.” Efforts such as the Visibility Project can undoubtedly help in the establishment of a well-known queer Asian American community, and possibly aid others like Jayden in finding their voices. With “the power of the internet,” explains Jayden, “Youth are able to be exposed to it more and understand it more…

and they can be connected to communities that are positive, rather than negative.” The stories and photos of the people involved in the Visibility Project provide a powerful image of the queer Asian American community: one that is diverse but united, small but empowered, marginalized but vocal. The Project’s goal of documenting the LGBT Asian communities of America serves to bring this unique and often ignored group of people into the limelight, showcasing the community’s varied beauty and strengths. One can only hope that the Project will lend solidarity to those queer Asian Americans without a support system or role model in close proximity. Those trans, ftm, mtf, gender-queer, bisexual, gender non-conforming, lesbian, queer, intersex, androgynous, and otherwise identifying Asian Americans who wish to be shot or interviewed for the project should email Mia at visibilityproject. org for more information. The information and stories in this article can also be found at www.

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


In Our Best Interest Confronting Homophobia Within the AAPI Community By Claire Chang

It is important to recognize that Councilwoman Elisa Chan’s homophobic views are not reflective of Asian Americans’, however, the community still needs to assume the responsibility of confronting the issue and take the appropriate measures against homophobia.


May 21, 2013 Councilwoman Elisa Chan of San Antonio, Texas was recorded exchanging anti-gay remarks with her staff members in her City Hall office. They were discussing how to combat a newly proposed ordinance in favor of nondiscrimination laws for sexual orientation and gender identity. The aide who secretly taped the meeting released the recording to news outlets which then prompted San Antonio Express-News to reach out to Chan for her comments on the incident. In the video and interview, which can be found online, Chan expresses her opinions about same-sex relationships quite clearly: “. . .I know this is not politically correct, I never bought in that you are born, that you are born gay. I can’t imagine it,” and continues with, “I will say, ‘Strip down! What equipment do you have? I’m telling you. Crazy. We’re getting to crazy realm,” in response to pansexuality (sexual orientation referring to attraction to any gender identity). In addition to these comments, she repeatedly voices her disgust towards same-sex relationships and believes that same-sex couples should be banned from adopting children because it would “confuse those kids.” Since the circulation of the recording, the mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, has publicly stated that he does not support any of Councilwoman Chan’s statements and that they were “hurtful and ignorant. . .[no one should] believe for one second that they represent the views of San Antonians. . .” I want to extend what Mayor n



Castro said and apply it to the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community; that being, Chan’s views should not be representative of the community as a whole. Yes, homophobia does exist within the AAPI community, but it is a mistake to think that this particular community is “more” homophobic than others. Personally identifying as a queer Asian American woman, I’ve heard countless numbers of homophobic statements casually thrown around throughout my life. I once believed that the AAPI community was more hostile towards LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trangender, queer/questioning, and more) people than any other group. Growing up, I heard the same beliefs about other communities of color, basically about how our traditional cultures and their ideas about masculinity, and so on, play into why we’re all “more” homophobic in one way or another. Right, let’s not forget about the major contributors to movements that are anti-equal rights for LGBTQ+ folks, the politicians that fight against passing nondiscrimination laws and leaders of institutions such as the National Organization of Marriage. They are very much white and very much active in doing their best to prevent any progress in equality for LGBTQ+ people in the United States. Basically, what I wanted to clear the air of first is that although LGBTQ+ people of color have different struggles within their community, I don’t think it’s fair to call any community of color in the U.S. “more”

homophobic just like how it isn’t fair to condemn hip-hop as more sexist than rock music because they’re both pretty damn guilty. Now, to address the difference between the older and younger generations, while Councilwoman Elisa Chan’s opinions may not be too dissimilar to many of our parents’, in that anything other than cisgender heterosexuality is unnatural and disgusting, the younger generation of Asian Americans grew up in a more progressive era which should result in a more progressive mindset. The problem, however, is the casual homophobia that permeates youth culture, and therefore, our communities. This combination of having traditional cultural backgrounds that tend to be conservative, and the casual homophobia that young people participate in, creates this perception that our generation of Asian Americans is just as homophobic as that of our parents and older relatives. I used to believe that, but now, I hope I was very wrong. I don’t want to excuse casual homophobia, which pretty much entails things such as saying “that’s/you’re so gay” or hacking onto a male friend’s Facebook just to jokingly write a “I love sucking dick” or “I’m gay” statuses because all of

This combination of having traditional cultural backgrounds that tend to be conservative, and the casual homophobia that young people participate in, creates this perception that our generation of Asian Americans is just as homophobic as that of our parents and older relatives.

Councilwoman Elisa Chan listening attentively at her seat in San Antonio.

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


Communities are integral to our lives, they’re supposed to be safe spaces, places to meet others with commonalities, places to find support and organize when needed.

these little actions reinforce the notion that there’s something wrong, negative, gross, and so on about being gay. The atmosphere these everyday actions and ‘jokes’ create definitely does not feel safe and comforting for someone who actually identifies as something other than heterosexual. But a lot of these people will defend themselves with “Well, actually, I’m not homophobic, I support marriage equality,” or “It was just a joke, you know I didn’t mean it in that way.” To that, I say show, don’t tell. If young Asian Americans don’t want to be considered a homophobic group of people (and I’m hoping that many don’t), there should be a conscious effort to change that image. Those microaggressions are still forms of violence because even if they’re not physical, they chips away at an individual’s self-worth and sense of humanity. Little changes like being mindful about not telling offensive jokes or using derogatory slurs for fun, actively combating heteronormativity by keeping in mind that not everyone you interact with is straight, and speaking to friends who do or say problematic things would bring a positive change to your social circles. Lastly, I want to touch on why solidarity within a group is so important. I think that we’re all pretty aware of what kind of world we live in, so why make it even a bit harder than it already is for each other? Communities are integral to our lives, they’re supposed to be safe spaces, places to meet others with commonalities, places to find support and organize when needed. Instead of keeping particular members of the community down, we should be celebrating and helping each other, because we



Asian Americans, as a race, are still a minority in this country. How can the community move forward together if it forgets about the Asians who aren’t straight, who aren’t upper-class, who aren’t ablebodied, or neurotypical, or cisgender, or citizens? We shouldn’t forget about all the intersectionalities that make up our identity. As Audre Lorde puts it: “Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. . . [only] within that interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate. . .[difference] is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged.” Actively confronting homophobia within the AAPI community, is not only in the community’s best interest, but (obviously) the right thing to do. Ultimately this leads to taking action against all oppressions, whether they have a direct effect on you or not. The little things can make a big difference, especially in someone’s everyday life.

Sources: Photo Sources:

Mandating Virtue:

China’s New Elderly Rights Law

By Dale Gao

In a growing economy, citizens have become more attached to materialistic pursuits and cases of abandonment and mistreatment have become more common in China.


n the past, filial piety has been the norm for

Chinese citizens ever since the introduction of Confucian philosophy. Adults would take care of their parents when they were deemed to be too old to take of themselves. However, times have changed as children are becoming less attached to their parents by moving away from their home village and into the rapidly expanding cities for work. In a growing economy, citizens have become more attached to materialistic pursuits and cases of abandonment and mistreatment have become more common in China. There were even cases where adults tried to seize their elderly parents’ assets without approval. While these cases are shown to be malevolent, there have been other situations in which children were unable to visit their parents because they did not have the time to do so. Distance has been a hassle since a visit might take up half of the visiting child’s day or longer. Working overtime has also become so common that family members would have to wait until the holidays to visit their loved ones. Although China’s economy is flourishing, it comes with the price of parents feeling neglected by their children. In response to the complaints by the elderly citizens, the Chinese government implemented a revised law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People in the summer of 2013. Starting on July 1st, “family members living apart from the elderly should frequently visit or send greetings to the elderly person.” With this new law, parents now have the legal right to sue their children if they ever feel that the children are not fulfilling their filial duties. In one case, Ms. Chu, an elderly woman from the eastern city of Wuxi, sued her daughter and son-in-law on the same day that the law was enacted because of neglect. The Wuxi court ruled in the 77-year-old mother’s favor as her daughter and son-in-law must visit at least once every two months as well as pay her compensation. Failure to visit would allow Ms. Chu to ask authorities to fine or even detain her children.

Media outlets in China often portray adults to have abandoned and rejected their caretakers, which I find heartbreaking to hear. To see parents who have spent many years caring and making sacrifices for their children receive no recognition or appreciation in return is extremely despairing. Nonetheless, the idea of parents’ suing their own child for neglect is a bit unfortunate. I do understand that they yearn for their children’s attention and support, but I am sure there are better ways to get children to be more respectful towards their parents than turning a virtue into a law. To all Binghamton students who are living away from your parents or guardians while attending school: Although filial piety is not legally enforced in the United States, from time to time, contact your parents to see how they are doing. Hopefully, our government would never have to pass a similar law. Ms. Chu attends the hearing of the case against her daughter and son-in-law.

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


The Duty Of “Korean politicians fight whenever they cannot establish laws that they want—with fists.”


hat is the duty of statesman?

To be honest, I am not familiar with politics. When I compare the government of South Korea and America, however, I feel a little bit shameful of my country. Korean politicians fight whenever they cannot establish laws that they want—with fists. They work for their own profits. In 2007, CNN updated Korea’s parliament situation. The title was “Lawmakers’ Fists Fly.” I was impressed because CNN, one of the most influential U.S. newspapers, covered the politics of a small country. I mean, it was still indeed dishonorable in the first place since the fighting had grown so big it had gotten the interest of another country across the world . This was not the only time either. In 2010, CNN, AFP and BBC released reports headlined, “Fistfight Theater in Korea Parliament.” They had fought with each other again because they couldn’t enact laws that benefited their own party. I doubt whether the Korean government system was organized for its citizens. However, I do know that politicians physically combating each other is ridiculously disgraceful. Unfortunately, however, they punched each other in the face. It is hard for me to believe, since they supposedly had a higher education than us. The statesman’s duty is to represent citizens. So does that mean the general population of Korea is also aggressive and violent? Why must Korean politicians resort to committing such crude acts of brutality? Sometimes, I think politicians believe they’re



qualified to have special privileges because of their status. In my opinion, the government officials are not doing their jobs. For example, there is a Ministry of Gender Equality which has been made for women’s rights. I understand why we need this party for women. However, they paid $15,000 for a flowerpot—not as a decoration, but as a bribe. In addition, they spent a ‘civil tax’ of $4 million at a party that was supposed to celebrate the equality of men and women. I want to know if the party was worth wasting so much of the national tax money. Moreover, a while ago the Korean National Assembly made a legislation that gave a pension to politicians. This pension is only applied to statesmen. If someone became a politician for even a second, they can get a pension of $1,000 for the rest of their life when they are 65 years old. During the presidential election, one of the public promises was eliminating this annual pension. Right after the presidential election ended, however, they completely changed their attitude. To support one politician, the government pays $400,000 each year. I heard about America’s political propensity. The government officials work for the citizens, and if needed, would use their own money. The United States think politicians exist to serve the American people. They don’t think anyone should have any special privileges. On the other hand, the Korean government officials have a lot of privileges but often neglect their responsibilities.

A Statesmen Statesman By Her Min

Ruling Grand National Party and opposition fight over controversial government spending in 2010.

Since I am Korean, it is shameful for me to comment on the Korean government. Recently, we are trying to fix the unfairness in the government. In June 2013, the Korean Civil Society Organization revoked politicians’ privileges in the government. At this moment, I can’t say whether this repeal will work out. Nonetheless, one important thing is that people are not watching the behavior of government officials and just being bystanders anymore.

When we strive to make our society better, someday, we can face a better life.

Sources: Photo Source: south_korea_fight_01.jpg

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1




By Siu Lam Koo

Young adults of color are virtually unable to even walk out of their house without a police officer interfering, just because of their skin color: “When you’re young and black, no matter how you look, you fit the description.”


n August 13, 2013, a Twitter storm exploded over the Harold & Kumar actor’s tweet, which included a link to Mayor Bloomberg’s op-ed piece on the city’s controversial Stop & Frisk policy, and declared his support of said policy. Many of his followers immediately questioned his decision, since as a Person of Color (POC) it would be logical to despise Stop & Frisk. His support, suffice to say, was very off-putting. Stop & Frisk has been contended over many times due to the citizens that it targeted. The New York Civil Liberties Union’s yearly reports determined that a large majority of the people being stopped and frisked were black and Latino, between the ages of 13 to 25. In 2012 alone, over 532,000 stops were made, and of those 532,000, 55% of those stopped were black and 32% were Latino. However, only 10% of those searched were guilty. Needless to say, the amount of ethnic disparity is overwhelming. Frankly, it’s not surprising. Many of the NYPD’s target areas are black and Latino neighborhoods, which the officers indiscriminately mark as “high crime areas” roughly 60% of the time, even though there is no concrete evidence of such activities in those areas. According to reports from the Center for Constitutional Rights, more than 95,000 of stops lacked reasonable suspicion. During these stops, some officers don’t even provide a reason for the stop and immediately start their frisks. In some cases, when the citizen protested or asked why they were stopped, the officer retaliated and even made arrests without legitimate reason. The emotional consequences of these practices run deep. It’s so terrible because these frisks are not few-inbetween for these teens. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, 44 percent of young people who had been stopped reported that they were frisked no less than 9 times. In many instances, these frisks start at a young age, and continue into adulthood, continuously haunting them. As a result, many youths of color are becoming increasingly distrustful, and even fearful, of the police; so much so that some of them avoid going out on the streets altogether. In an interview with the New York Times, black teen Tyquan Brehon states that between the ages of 15-18, he’s been stopped and frisked about 60-70 times. This recurring behavior was so horrible for him that he says, “The only way [to get a break from the police] was to stay at home.” Young adults of color are virtually unable to even walk out of their house without a police officer interfering, just because of their skin color: “When you’re young and black, no matter how you look, you fit the description.” So why do so many police officers perform these frisks? Many of these officers have quotas set by their NYPD

superiors that they must fulfill to avoid punishment. In a CNN interview, veteran officer Adhyl Polanco admitted that he had to perform five stop and frisks, one arrest, and write 20 tickets per month. Similarly, nine-year veteran officer Serrano stated that if he was unable to meet the quotas set each month, he would receive reprimands, low evaluations, and be denied days off. The true nature of Stop & Frisk is so violent because the NYPD has turned its officers into bounty hunters; they must frisk and arrest a certain amount of people or else they face punishment. Therefore, officers would have no problem provoking and threatening citizens to cause a reason for arrest. Doing this in black and Latino neighborhoods makes the job even easier. It’s a simple equation for them: get your numbers up, get a promotion. There are, however, ways for citizens to defend themselves. What most people do not know is that during a stop and frisk, they consent to the frisk even without knowing it. It is important to know our rights and defend ourselves. The following information is from the Drug Policy Alliance: • An officer has a right to stop you for questioning. During this period you may ask “Am I free to leave?” and if the officer has no evidence of any criminal activity you may go. • The officer can only detain you (“forcible stop”) if they have “reasonable suspicion”, when the officer has actual facts that prove that you are related to or about to commit a criminal activity. Although, if the officer is operating on a “hunch” without concrete evidence he/she can only ask you more questions regarding said activity. But no other physical search can be done. • A frisk is a limited pat down of an individual’s outer clothing that can be conducted if, and only if, the officer has reasonable doubt that you are armed and dangerous (suspicious bulges in clothing etc.) (According to the 4th Amendment) • A full search is overturning your pockets and/or removing outer clothing that can be conducted only if there is a “probable cause”, where there is enough concrete evidence that you have committed a crime. Only if you are found with incriminating evidence on you, will you be arrested. Sources: Issue%20Brief%20--%20%20FINAL%20May%202011.pdf

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1



And Why You Should Care By Sharon Lau

Crappy funeral home in East Village transforms into a townhouse worth $9,000 in rent.


New York City or any other developed urban area to get away from your parents? Well, think again. Urban neighborhoods such as Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan or Andersonville in Chicago have been gentrified, thus causing rents to skyrocket. Still thinking that you have a chance? Save an extra few $K before you even start to think about moving out. For those who are unfamiliar with the term gentrification, it is the renovation of deteriorated neighborhoods to make them more affluent. Often, the process ooking for a place in



of renovating neighborhoods displaces low-income residents and invites people of the middle and upper classes. In other words, wealthy landlords buy properties, kick the old tenants out, renovate the apartments, and then rent it out to upper class people for their own economic gains. The average number of nights a family has to stay in a shelter shot up from 22.6 nights in 2010 to a significant 13 months now, in 2013. Why are these families spending long periods of time in shelters? Well it is

because of gentrification. According to a gentrification report about NYC that was completed by the Urban Justice Center along with other coalition members, “Communities being targeted for the type of development and public policies that are spurring gentrification are predominantly lowincome, immigrant, and people of color communities.� Thus, many of the families that are staying in these shelters are immigrant, minority, or a low-income residents. Now, you might ask how the condition of these families

Often, the process of renovating neighborhoods displaces low-income residents and invites people of the middle and upper classes. In other words, wealthy landlords buy properties, kick the old tenants out, renovate the apartments, and then rent it out to upper class people for their own economic gains.

is relevant to you. It is relevant if you are ever planning to rent or own your own place in the city. If you are looking to rent or own a place, keep in mind that the increase in well developed buildings in deteriorated neighborhoods means that there will also be an increase in expensive apartments and, thus, a decrease in affordable apartments. More luxury apartments result in less money being tucked safely into your wallet. I can assure you that no one likes an empty wallet! And for those of you who are following the mayoral campaign in NYC may know that many of the candidates have been trying to enforce greater developments in affordable housing. As a result, this is potentially a replacement for low-income residents losing their affordable homes because of landlord harassment and/ or eviction. Everybody desires affordable housing, but there are not enough affordable options to go around, and those that do exist are often temporary. The government describes housing as “affordable” if a family spends no more than 30% of their income to live there. This may remind you of something called New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), or what many call public housing. NYCHA is one of other government subsidized housing programs. Some of these housing programs include Section 8 and 80/20. Although there is affordable housing out there, only a small amount of it is being preserved. If anything, it is in the process of diminishing. The existence of affordable housing does not mean that you do not have to worry about finding a cheap apartment for several reasons. Firstly, you must be able to qualify, whether socioeconomically or otherwise. Secondly, you must have the luck of being selected for affordable housing and many people describe the chances as low as winning the lottery. Also, say you are lucky enough to “win the lottery,” and you get the affordable housing, you will have to start thinking about where you are moving in about 15-20 years because the housing you just got is not permanent. Low-income residents who are not fortunate enough to get affordable housing are living in private housing. These people are at risk of being evicted. Many immigrants, minorities, and low-income residents do not know their individual housing rights. On top of that, many of them have problems communicating with the landlord and/or the management company. Please keep in mind that there is a large number of developers and landlords out there in the market who are trying to increase their wealth by purchasing properties and then gentrifying the neighborhood wherever the property is located. I’m not saying that all landlords do this, but there is quite a number of them who do take advantage of the fact that they are often not as knowledgeable about their individual housing rights.

Another reason why gentrification should be significant to you is because residents are being stripped of their human rights. There are cases in which landlords have slipped notes under tenants’ doors, warning them that if they did not move out of their apartment they would have to go through legal proceedings. There are also times where landlords would seek lawyers to write tenants a letter stating that they should vacate the apartment for so and so reason without any legitimate evidence. In more extreme cases, the landlord would shut off the heat and hot water! Of course this is an illegal act, but not many elders or immigrants know about this Because of communication problems, lack of help, and lack of knowledge of their own rights, landlords take advantage of these tenants. Society needs to step up their game and provide help to these tenants. These tenants end up being displaced. Then what happens to the vacated apartment? Well it becomes market rate. Although gentrification may seem like it only has a negative impact on society, it truly doesn’t. There are some positive aspects of gentrification. Gentrification creates job opportunities for low-income households, increases land values, provides additional resources to tax-dependent local governments. Some also argue that it could improve neighborhood quality for poor residents. The increase in construction of luxury buildings and management companies does increase the number of jobs that are available in the market. And in these tough economic times, many are in need of jobs. Not only does gentrification create greater numbers of job opportunities, but it helps improve the safety of a once underdeveloped neighborhood. Crime rates that were once high noticeably decrease, thus increasing the potential for the neighborhood to flourish. All in all, the significance in learning about gentrification is to be aware of what is occurring in their surroundings. Many people are too wrapped up into their own lives or only care about what happens globally and neglect what happens locally. One has to note that gentrification is not just affecting the neighborhoods that have been gentrified, but everyone as a community. Gentrification not only increases rent prices, but also the displacement of tenants which causes a drain on government resources. This is so because as more people require assistance to sustain a living, they turn to the government for help. And where does the government receive its funding from? They get it from the taxpayers. In order for us to see a change in the government’s policies on affordable housing, landlord’s treatments of tenants, and a change in giving back human rights to the tenants, more people need to be educated about gentrification and take action.

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1



By Yusef Tahdeebiddin Ahmed



The name is synonymous with disaster. Whether it is a fire in a garments factory claiming many, many lives and injuring more, or a building collapse—something always happens. Yet, you will never see Bangladesh ever admitting defeat. As a matter of fact the opposite effect will happen. We will unite, we will shrug off the debris and we will walk towards the light. All this, with a smile on our faces and hope in our hearts. We will always be happy. Let me explain why. On February 21st of 1952, students from Dhaka University, the most prominent school of Bangladesh, gathered to voice against the Pakistani government’s decision to keep Urdu as the national language. Things heated up as the students tried to break the police line which surrounded them—and wouldn’t you know— out came a rain of pouring bullets, claiming their lives. This day went down in history as a day of infamy, but eventually became what is now known as the International Mother Language day. This day was just the start. A flurry of events led to one dreadful night on March 25th, 1971. The West Pakistani army carried out a mission codenamed “Operation Searchlight” to cull any resistance that Bangladesh might respond with.



They killed many military officers, political figures, intellectual members of society, students and any ablebodied male who could fight. The next day we declared ourselves an independent nation and fought a brutal war of nine months. Many lives were lost. Many sons died and many mothers cried. But on the faithful day of December 16, 1971, a military captain in some forest of Bangladesh heard the news we all wanted to hear. As the misty fog cleared, he turned on the radio and a smile swept across his face, the same smile that would appear on my parents' and grandparents' face. We had won! Unfortunately, the lives of our two leading figures, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman were claimed years after the war. Their deaths were sad incidents in our young history. But those days became ones from which we came together and grew stronger. Days we have now moved beyond from. Though the heroes are not here to see, their vision came to life. An independent Bangladesh. A successful Bangladesh! In 1970, a devastating cyclone, the worst tropical storm in history, hit our country. It claimed more than 500,000 lives. This and the war actually prompted George Harrison to sing for our aid in 1971. In 1974, only a handful of years after war, we were hit with a

Photo stills from Farhan’s video.

“There is a reason why we are one of the happiest countries in this world. We always hope.” historically devastating famine which claimed over a million lives. In 1998 and the year after, we were affected by two severe floods. The one in 1998 was one of the most disastrous ones; about two-thirds of our country was underwater. The lives lost and displaced were in the hundreds of thousands. But even though nature had thrown such mighty blows against this young sapling of a country, we did not give up. We will not give up. We faced it and came out with a smile. On the 24th of April, 2013, Rana, a garments factory worker in Savar, Dhaka was working diligently. He suddenly saw his colleagues rushing towards the exits. He shifted in his seat but a few seconds later he was trying to shift through the rubble that had fallen down. Although Rana himself is fictional, there were more than 1,100 real people underneath the debris of the collapsed building. Yet thanks to the efforts of many good-hearted people, many survived, including Reshma, a nineteen year old seamstress trapped for seventeen days without sustenance. Yes, seventeen days! She fought and would not give in to defeat. She survived with hope in her heart and came out with a smile on her face.

There is a reason why we are one of the happiest countries in this world. We always hope. We always live for those little “moments”. We expect less, we are very down to earth, and we live to see happiness in others. We have survived disasters, fought through wars, and went through whatever has been thrown at us. I’ll be happy knowing one person came to my funeral. I’ll be happy knowing I’ve made a difference in a poor man’s life. I’ll be happy knowing that there is someone-even if it is one person, who thinks about me. I’ll be happy expecting little and being so down to earth. I’ll be happy with whatever I have. When everyone around me is also like this, it is obvious as to why Bangladeshis are so happy. Special Thanks to Farhan Hussain. Keep on inspiring. You can check out Farhan Hussain’s viral video survey “Are you happy?” at: Photo Source: “The Bengali Filmmakers”

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


Honoring Private Danny Chen:

The Road So Far 24


Photo Taken By Jimmy Zhang

By Paul Chen

Two years after Private Danny Chen’s death, Binghamton students from the Asian American interest fraternities and sororities joined together for a candlight vigil. The message was clear: While the struggle to uncover the truth continues, we should all take some time to honor Danny Chen’s memory by putting aside our differences and joining together in solidarity to bring an end to the kinds of discrimination and harrassment that led to his tragic death and that continue to affect many in our community.


3 was an ordinary day for most New Yorkers, but for one family, it was the day time stopped. A knock was heard on the door of Suzhen and Yan Tao Chen's residence. Three soldiers arrived to deliver news that no parent would ever want to hear, "He's dead.". The shock and reality of what had occurred eventually gave way to despair mixed with feelings that one I cannot even imagine. It has been 2 years already since Pvt. Danny Chen died, but much has been done in honor of his memory. The Army has concealed the truth regarding this terrible tragedy, but Danny's death brought the Chinatown community together in order to seek justice against those responsible. The road to truth and justice was paved with disappointment, hope, and closure not just for the Chen family, but for the Chinatown community as well. Danny's family, with OCA-NY's help, was able to gather enough support to bring the trials of the 8 soldiers responsible for Chen's racially fueled hazing and suicide to the United States. This was a tremendous first step because if the trials had taken place in Afghanistan, this tragedy would have been swept under the rug by the military. Instead, the trials took place at Fort Bragg, NC where they are more transparent and can be monitored by human rights groups. However, as justice was about to be met, it began turning into bitter disappointment; the trials spanned from July to December of 2012 and each soldier received sentences that were laughable. The heaviest sentence was 10 months in prison, while the lightest was a discharge from the army. This was a terrible blow to everyone who had worked so hard to bring these trials here, as well as to the Army's goal to promote diversity and tolerance. Danny's family traveled all the way to North Carolina and sat through each trial enduring the pain of reliving what their child went through only to be ultimately disappointed. Though the last of the trials had concluded in December, the Chinatown community remained united and sought other ways to bring justice to Danny's name. The dedication and perseverance of supporters of change led to Obama signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, which includes provisions for anti-hazing. This is a crucial step in honoring Pvt. ctober

Chen's memory because it will ensure that others will not have to go through what he went through. In May 2013, the Army discharged the remaining 6 soldiers that betrayed Danny after numerous petitions were filed. A documentary known as "What Happened to Danny" is currently in production and is directed by Mansee Kong. The documentary details the journey that was taken by Danny's supporters to uncover the truth as well as their accomplishments. Additionally, OCANY is pushing for the co-naming of Elizabeth Street, where Danny spent his early childhood, to be known as "Danny Chen's Way" so that his sacrifice will not be forgotten. The petition for co-naming had passed the Transportation Committee of Community Board 3 and Community Board 3 in June 2013 with overwhelming support. Now, it must pass through the City Council and be signed by the mayor for the goal to be realized. So when walking down Elizabeth Street, if you see Danny's name, remember the impact he had on reform as well as the sense of unity he brought to different people. October 3rd will always be a sad anniversary for the Chen family, but perhaps it is best to remember how Danny lived and his sacrifice to those he loved as well as to the country he loved. Danny was born as a second generation immigrant to parents who worked long hours to provide for their only son. While in school, he was known to be a bright young mind and he was even offered a full scholarship to Baruch. However, he turned down the offer and joined the army against his mother's wishes because he wanted make a difference in people's lives. He endured the difficulty of basic as well as advanced training in the face of racial taunts from his fellow cadets in order to prove his love for his country. His sacrifice has brought together different people who all believe in equality and has truly made a difference in his community. That was all he had ever wanted to do when he joined the Army two years ago. The people that supported his cause have come a long way and were able to stay strong when the outcomes were against them. Therefore, Pvt. Danny Chen's death was not in vain, as it has brought light to the problem of military hazing and has impelled community members to implement changes that will better our country and those who serve.

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1



voices at the vigil


t l


I know this tragedy has touched a lot of us, but let this be more than just a moment of grief, let this be the beginning of a new revelation. Let’s not just mourn the passing of one of our brothers. Let’s remember the struggles that he had to live with and many minorities still have to live with to this day. We can no longer just acknowledge when we’ve been wronged, we need to start taking a stand to make a difference, to make it right. - Andrew Chen, Senior, CASU, Lambda Phi Epsilon Through this event, we were all able to come together to honor Private Danny Chen. It was really inspiring and touching to the words of those commemorating Danny. He has been a role model for all of us and a representation of who we are. This event was really eye opening. - Cyndi Chin, Sophomore, Asian Outlook, Delta Sigma Pi

We want this event to be the catalyst for social awareness and social change not just on campus but within the Asian community as a whole. It was inspiring to see the community band together regardless of Greek letters or race. - Aaron Yau, Senior, Pi Delta Psi We all came together in an unprecedented event, putting aside differences for our unity. - Jeremy Poserio, Senior, Pi Delta Psi Having this event on campus definitely brought attention to subgroups and different organizations on campus. Taking initiative and spreading awareness to our community is very important. - Lisa Chin, Senior, President of Kappa Phi Lambda Opening our eyes and noticing the injustice of Private Chen’s situation is only one step towards the progression of our society. LASU’s motto is “En la union esta la fuerza -LASU 1969” Translated, that means: “In unity there is strength.” I just wanted everyone to know that. - Nathaniel Jimenez, LASU alumni, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc.

The vigil gives me hope that, in an otherwise callous, ignorant world, there are still some bright spots of human kindness and feeling. - Kyle Mi, Senior, AAAS major


This event was very touching. I don’t think people realize how serious this situation is. Danny Chen suffered a horrible death. This was an event that will help promote awareness about racism. I hope people will changing their way of thinking after this event. Thank you. - Brian Lau, Senior, President of Nu Alpha Phi Vol. XXVII, Issue 1



e d i r B t s o h G The By Kayla Natrella

From Back Cover: One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride. . . . Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound. Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, traditional ghost marriages are used to placate restless spirits. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price. After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lims' handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits, and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.



“In her debut novel, Yangsze Choo weaves together elements of historic colonial Malacca and elements of Chinese folklore.”


lthough, every so often, I need a good High/ Epic Fantasy series (you may have heard of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire), my “brand” of fantasy has always been in Low Fantasy, somewhere amongst the historical, mythic and alternate world sub-genres. A major gripe I have with the genre, however, is that it is saturated with white men writing about white heroes in a European or European-esque setting. Furthermore, majority of the historical and/or mythic fantasy subgenre is set in the British/Irish Isles and, of course, the dominating mythology is that of the Celts. As a child, I couldn’t get enough of the Celtic myth-based fantasy books. Being of Irish descent, I would imagine that I still had some fae blood, or maybe my parents didn’t understand me because I wasn’t really their child at all, but a fae changeling. Now that I’ve been reading the genre for some time, though, the faerie plot gets old. When authors of this genre do stray into nonEuropean settings, the peoples are often portrayed as exotic or barbarian and the well-developed characters, generally, are white and foreign to the land. Despite my love for Celtic mythology and the Medieval to Victorian British setting, there are wealths of mythology and folklore throughout the world that the genre just hasn’t properly and fully tapped into. Enter, stage center: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. The provocative title and cover initially drew my attention to this book. Maybe all the Supernatural episodes I’ve been watching has my mind on ghost watch. Regardless, I am glad I took notice because The Ghost Bride contains all my favorite ingredients-historic setting, alternate world, fantastic/paranormal elements based in an existing mythology and a female protagonist. When I took my first bite, the ingredients blended together so perfectly that I devoured the entire book in one day and later regretted not having any leftovers for lunch. In her debut novel, Yangsze Choo weaves together elements of historic colonial Malacca and elements of Chinese folklore. Even those unfamiliar with colonial Malaysia and Chinese religion and mythology will have no problem keeping up. In fact, unfamiliarity with Chinese mythological figures could even enhance the plot’s development. Without pointedly giving a history lesson, Choo’s descriptions bring colonial Malacca to life along with its lingual, culinary and religious diversity and the effects of new technology and trade of opium on the old trading port, now in decline. As her detailed passages make it difficult to avoid being sucked right into her Malacca, her

character development is so strong that by the end of the first chapter I was finding myself stressed out over whether or not I should sacrifice my happiness for the security that marrying into a wealthy and powerful household would bring to my bankrupt family. As Li Lan is drawn into the parallel spirit world, I was drawn into Li Lan’s world, fighting to keep hold of my own reality. I tend to enjoy long, drawn out stories, but for those who do not have the patience, The Ghost Bride is guaranteed to keep your attention. The plot moves quickly, without really rushing or sacrificing character and story development. If there was an unabridged version, however, I would have enjoyed a lengthier Sanderson-style narrative with at least an Er Lang parallel plot. The melodrama of a romantic subplot can sometimes ruin a story. There is no denying the romantic subplot in The Ghost Bride. Even the title betrays that marriage and relationships are integral to the plot. Choo, however, never gets too wrapped up in the romantic aspects. The comparatively weak romance thread plays an important role in the development of the plot, but never overwhelms the more interesting aspects of the story. This is not to say that the romance is boring or unconvincing. Li Lan’s relationships and the romance of those relationships seem to grow and/or fade as she develops into a woman. Although Choo wrote The Ghost Bride for adults, and some steamier scenes place it firmly within the realm of adult fiction, it is also a coming of age story. Through her spiritual journey, Li Lan grows and fully realizes herself as an adult women. College-age students might find this book especially appropriate and the protagonist particularly relatable despite outdated conventions and unlikely scenarios. Choo does particularly well with creating a female character who conforms to the conventions of her time, while still managing to be strong and bold. She does break down into tears quite often throughout the story, but she is a spunky, highly educated woman who continues to fight with tears in her eyes, even in the most painful and impossible circumstances. All in all, The Ghost Bride is an absorbing and refreshing must-read that is getting a lot of muchdeserved attention. Despite only being released in August 2013, within the month it has already been well received by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews and more, and featured as an Book of the Week. I will continue to watch out for more of the same from this exciting new author.

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


There Is Something

A still of Day Above Ground gaping at Levy Tran taken from their music video.

By Kahlil Stultz

There’s something truly loutish and uncreative about music nowadays, and the advent of sites such as YouTube and other social media outlets has made things even worse.


here is something about music today that’s so terribly disheartening.

Of course that’s the great cliché of our time: “Music is so bad today!” But there is a nugget of truth behind all the pretentious muck. There’s something truly loutish and uncreative about music nowadays, and the advent of sites such as YouTube and other social media outlets has made things even worse. The timehonored tradition of the mediocre musician being told by a nightclub audience about how much his music sucks, is no longer relevant. When millions of people who share an artist’s sentiment can come to his defense, fund and support him, then bad music is bound to thrive. Case in point: Day Above Ground and its hit music video – “Asian Girlz”. Day Above Ground’s one hit controversy, “Asian Girlz”, is the worst thing to come out of Los Angeles since Ronald Reagan and Snoop Lion. The video starts with a meek Asian woman in her early twenties shuffling into a dark room after a seemingly long day at work. Flickers of her moaning in a soapy bath tub fill the calm before storm. Then comes the oriental guitar riff and as our heroes present themselves,



our suddenly exuberant heroine begins to gyrate her tiny frame. With each shake of the hip, falls another article of clothing and with each smirk and giggle, the setting goes from working-class girl to just working girl. It boggles the mind that a woman would be returning from work with expensive lingerie on, but I have learned after viewing this music video that logic is something which this entire endeavor was aimed against. Between the scenes of scantily clad model Levy Tran convulsing like Miley Cyrus on LSD, the poorly miniaturized band sings about how much they love Asian girls. With ingenious lyrics such as: “I love your creamy yellow thighs,” “butt fucking all night,” and “Ninja pussy I’m stabbing,” it is little wonder that there has been major controversy surrounding the song. If one wasn’t aware of the intent of the band, then one would easily assume this is the most racially insensitive song to have ever hit the airwaves since Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s flop, “Accidental Racist”. Truth be told, a verse like: “Now lay your hair by the toilet…Your momma’s so pretty. Best nails in the city. Pushing your daddy’s Mercedes,” is very hard

Levy Tran, the featured female lead of the controversial video.

About Asian Girlz to defend against allegations of racism. When the front man of the band Joe Anselm finally opened up in an interview with Derrick Clifton for the Huffington Post, he claimed that it was only a shared experience with Asian women that had provided the song’s inspiration: “Well, it was mostly out of the admiration for the relationships that the band has had or has with Asian females.” He later goes on to, somewhat paradoxically, describe how this was a work of satire and how people, particularly his fiercest critic—Phil Yu (a.k.a. the Angry Asian Man), have misunderstood him. It can honestly be said that if Day Above Ground is a satirist band, then they make Carlos Mencia look like Monty Python. Every single Asian stereotype is thrown out in a fashion that’s so vulgar and obtuse that it’s no wonder that it shows up on the first page of Google searches for “most racist song of all time.” Perhaps what make this song so repulsive is how it seemingly trivializes serious issues in the Asian community, such as human trafficking and the outright objectification of women. You can’t go wrong with a racist or sexist accusation when dealing with evidence like, “Come on sit on my lap (right here baby) or we’ll send you back.” Regardless of whether the band is racist or not, the lyrics they sing are ignorant, poorly thought-out, inartistic and insulting. It may seem like a double standard how we enjoy other similarly stereotypical and racist songs, yet criticize this one. Why is it that Chris Brown can write a song about Kung Fu

fighting the Asian henchman of his girlfriend’s Triad father or David Bowie can sing about his obsession with Chinese women, while a few guys from the hipster end of Los Angeles can’t sing about their love for their Asian girls? The answer to that is clear cut—David Bowie’s 1977 hit, “China Girl” never mentioned anything too overtly controversial as to be construed as racist. In fact he himself wrote the song to protest racism, describing the song as a “very simple, very direct” statement against racial prejudice. Even Chris Brown’s “Fine China” wasn’t overtly insulting and was more banal and clichéd than stereotypical. “Asian Girlz” by Day Above Ground is guilty. If it’s not of racism that their song is guilty, then it is of ignorance. If it’s not grossly sexist, then it’s clearly guilty of objectifying women into hyper sexualized meat for male entertainment (near the end of the music video, the characters (still in miniature form) jump into the Asian girl’s tub, where they swim around her nude body). It’s guilty of being crude, it’s guilty of being vulgar and it’s also guilty of making Asians out to be something they are not. Most Asian women probably aren’t bra busting lingerie models like Levy Tran. Lastly, Asian women don’t need a band like Day Above Ground telling them what and who they are.

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


AO Conscience

Photo by Farhan Hussain



Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


“Midnight Study”



By Ying Xu


By J Oliver Lang Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


“Rose of Sharons”



By Soyeon Lee

Utterly Average By Benduka We’ve been told, Since we were young That “Darling, you could be anything you want to be.” Dreams of astronauts and presidents Turn into realities of families and bills. “Darling, you could be anything you want to be”s Into “you’ve gotta pull up those grades” Endless cycles of rudely snoozed alarms Diligently churned out reports, Ambitiously traded stocks, Anxiously awaited raises, and cold lonely nights drinking scotch staring at the sky yearning for something that could not be named. Yet, Somewhere deep inside, There exists that trampled sprout. Tender as an orchid bud, Resilient as a weed between pavement cracks, Glowing only in your deepest sleep, Whispering, “You are you.” On the tapestry of life We are all blind, colorful threads. Each singular, yet all intertwined; Running our own courses to form the universe. You are you, Yet we are we. Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


The Forgotten Lover By Joe Park You used to eat me twice a day. Now you don’t even look at me anymore. Am I not crunchy enough for you anymore? Am I not spicy and salty enough for you anymore? Did you lose interest in me? Don’t gimme that “it’s not you, it’s me” nonsense. You used to not care even if I stunk up the entire room when I was taken out of your lunch box with my buddies rice and seaweed. You used to wrap my homie seaweed around me and embrace me like a chubby little boy embracing his donut. Small pieces of me would get stuck between your teeth and you would gladly pick me and just swallow me even though all your friends were grossed out. And now I’m nothing but a stale pile of stinky rotting cabbage sitting in the back of your fridge? What happened to us?

Legacy By YaeJin Oh Promise me not the world Neither the heavens nor the seas Pledge to me instead My name whispered through the trees.



“Charcoal Blue Macaron” By Frank Tiu

Vol. XXVII, Issue 1


Asian Outlook Fall 2013 Issue #1  
Asian Outlook Fall 2013 Issue #1  

Asian Outlook Magazine's first Fall 2013 publication. Asian Outlook is the literary, creative and news magazine of the Asian Student Union a...