Where arts and diversity meet
Diverse|City is currently looking for people of mixed-race ancestry with partial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ancestry to tell their story on camera for a film produced in collaboration with the City of Bellevue’s Cultural Diversity department. The film will include hapas of all ages and professions from the Eastside and Seattle.
This film will celebrate and promote multiculturalism and awareness of the mixed-race Asian American story. It will be a localized version of larger-scale national projects, such as “The Hapa Project” by Kip Fullbeck and the website, Hapa Voice.
Questions may include how do you feel about being hapa? Have you always embraced your heritage? What are the challenges of growing up mixed-race? What parts of your ancestry do you identify with the most?
Please contact Gabrielle Nomura at email@example.com or 425-453-4270 to learn more about participating, or to nominate an individual.
*Photo by Kip Fullbeck, Seaweed Productions.
Mayor Conrad Lee is an organizer of the upcoming immigration forum.
All are invited to attend an “American Immigration Forum – an Asian Perspective” from 6:30-9:30 p.m., Feb. 9 at Bellevue City Hall.
Attendees will share, listen, and learn from the perspectives of Asian community members. Six panelists will help get the conversation going.
Anyone who is personally affected by immigration policies should attend, said Mason Ji, an organizer and an intern for Mayor Conrad Lee, who is also hosting the event. Immigration affects national security, shapes the fabric of society, and impacts America’s economic future. Few topics are more consequential – and few have been more resistant to resolution, said Ji, who pointed out that Bellevue is 30 percent foreign-born.
This event will be recorded for possible future public distribution. By attending this event, you are giving permission to have your image and comments recorded for future use.
Future talks on immigration policy as it pertains to European and African communities are planned for the spring and summer, Ji said.
To get tickets and more information, go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/218965. Bellevue City Hall is located at 450 110th Ave. NE, Bellevue.
By Gabrielle Nomura
His mock-Asian accent and curse words would definitely offend your politically correct friends. But if you ask the 733,999 people who subscribe to Davin Tong on YouTube, he’s a comedic genius. In his online (or, onrine, as his character would say) videos, Tong plays Peter Chao, a bad stereotype of a Chinese immigrant who, like “South Park,” isn’t afraid to make fun of everyone, especially himself and his Chinese-Canadian heritage. This charismatic 24-year-old (who doesn’t really have a thick accent) has already captured hundreds of thousands of viewers online–and he’s not stopping there. What’s next for him? Tackling the stage as a standup comedian, furthering the boundaries of his fan base, Chao Nation, and trying proving that he’s not really the “ass-hoar” some may think he is.
DIVERSE|CITY: The Vancouver Sun said you were “a breath of politically incorrect fresh air.” Is it OK to be politically incorrect once-and-a-while?
DT: It’s definitely important. My comedy is not meant to be offensive. Sometimes, you have to put yourself out there and just be courageous.
DIVERSE|CITY: How would you describe your comedy in one word?
DT: Outrageous, wild … actually, zany is probably the best word.
DIVERSE|CITY: Who is Peter Chao?
DT: Peter Chao is a zany Chinese immigrant forced into Canada by his prostitute mother. Instead of listening to his mother to go to school, he decided to pursue comedy on YouTube. The character has really evolved since then.
DIVERSE|CITY: If they were going to make a movie about your life, who would play you and why?
DT: I think the only person who could play me is me because it’s a creation of my brain. I’ve seen many imitations of me online. And, not to be arrogant, but it’s never as good as the real thing.
DIVERSE|CITY: I thought you were going to say Jackie Chan.
DT: Jackie is too old and he wouldn’t agree to having a prostitute mother.
DIVERSE|CITY: According to the Peter Chao Facebook page, many of your fans are very curious about your character’s sunglasses. Why do you never take them off? What brand are they?
DT: They are Wayfarers by Ray Ban and I have some Louis Vuitton ones as well, I like to switch it up. I wear sunglasses because they look cool. I look really good in them, and I wanted to maintain a little mystery.
DIVERSE|CITY: People frequently comment on how sexy Peter Chao is. Why do you think that is?
DT: These questions make me seem so full of myself. I do enjoy a quick glance in the mirror, I admit. I find myself looking better with sunglasses than without. I think the sunglasses add some sex appeal.
DIVERSE|CITY: What’s your guilty pleasure?
DT: I really like reality T.V., the show “Bridalplasty,” as well as “The Apprentice,” “Survivor” and I like watching wrestling.
DIVERSE|CITY: What’s Peter Chao’s guilty pleasure?
DIVERSE|CITY: How do you use Asian and other racial stereotypes in your comedy?
DT: When I was younger, I watched these Chinese commercials on TV. Even though they were in Chinese, sometimes they would incorporate English for no apparent reason, like they’d say “lumba one,” instead of “number one.” I took that Chinese and started turning my “l’s” to “r’s,” “n’s” to “l’s,” etc. I decided to incorporate every type of racial stereotype into my character, so I talk about car crashes, bad asian drivers, parents always owning restaurants, Honda Civics …
DIVERSE|CITY: Why is it important to be able to make fun or yourself?
DT: When I make a video, there’s so much negativity, sometimes 50 percent of feedback is negative. If you can make fun of yourself, you won’t be sensitive to that.
DIVERSE|CITY: What do other Chinese and Asian people say about your comedy?
DT: It depends on where they were brought up. Culturally, Chinese-Canadians understand that I’m making fun of our race. My grandma or my parents know what it is, but they don’t really understand it. They’re almost ashamed that this is the way I’ve chosen to make a career out of myself. Some of my mom’s coworkers asked her if she was a real prostitute.
DIVERSE|CITY: How often do people get mad at you?
DT: Nobody has ever gotten mad at me in real life. Everybody who comes up to me on the street is like, “I like your stuff. Sign my shirt.” It’s different with people online. It’s easy for them to just create a username and they find anyway to bash you, either out of jealousy or because its anonymous so they can say whatever they want about you.
DIVERSE|CITY: Do people get offended?
DT: If you’re not stupid, you won’t. Making fun of other races is always a bit controversial and gets a rise out of people.
DIVERSE|CITY: How have you used YouTube to become successful.
DT: I became successful on YouTube, but I’ve always wanted to try other forms of comedy as well. Standup was always a dream that I wanted to approach cautiously.
DIVERSE|CITY: How does your standup in front of an audience compare to what you do on YouTube?
DT: It’s a completely different ballgame. I had to practice 30 times before I felt comfortable doing standup. You don’t get to edit yourself in the same way. But the nice thing about standup is being able to hear the response. When people are laughing, you know when to take a pause, when to take a sip of water or when you need go into your next joke.
DIVERSE|CITY: You’re famous for making fun of Justin Bieber. What do you really think of him?
DT: Honestly, he’s just a kid. My character hates him. When you make a video and say you hate something that so many people love, it’s a way to draw attention to yourself. Of course, many people will defend him, too. Peter Chao hates him out of envy because he’s angry someone so young can be more successful than he is.
DIVERSE|CITY: Have you been to Bellevue or the Seattle area before?
DT: Yes, I always go to Seattle to watch wrestling and go to Target. It’s a very beautiful area.
DIVERSE|CITY: What’s on the horizon for you, Davin?
DT: Continuing my YouTube career. I also want to be very successful on the standup stage and see where my online and live careers can merge.
DIVERSE|CITY: What’s on the horizon for Peter?
DT: He’s just gonna continue offending people.
Check out Davin Tong’s website at: thechaonation.com
This article originally ran in the Bellevue Scene magazine.
Today, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen’s announcement of her support of marriage equality in Washington State was cause for cheer among the members of Washington United for Marriage, a coalition of organizations, congregations, unions and business associations.
The bills, SB 6239 and HB 2516 are being heard in senate and house committees today, Monday, Jan. 23.
“We’ve known for a long time that our stories are powerful, and sharing those stories can change hearts and minds,” said Lacey All, Chair for Washington United for Marriage. “Hundreds of constituents shared their stories of love, commitment and family with Sen. Haugen, and in doing so, convinced her that she was doing the right thing for Washington.”
Haugen made her stance on the legislation known following a two hour Senate Committee on Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections heard testimony for and against the bill. With Haugen’s support, advocates now have enough votes to pass the legislation through both the house and senate. Gov. Chris Gregoire is a strong supporter of the legislation and has indicated she will sign the bill.
Washington United for Marriage is a coalition of organizations, congregations, unions, and business associations working together to secure civil marriage for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples. To find more information and learn how you can help, visit WashingtonUnitedForMarriage.org. Engage with Washington United for Marriage on social media at Twitter.com/WA4Marriage and at Facebook.com/WashingtonUnited.
Japanese American veteran, Masao Rokui, 98, of Seattle, will receive a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the nation, Jan. 14.
In September of 2010, Congress passed Bill S1055, which awarded the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal to Japanese American WWII veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service. President Obama signed the Bill into law in 2010, and the official award ceremony was held in Emancipation Hall in Washington, DC, on Nov. 2, 2011.
The 100th Infantry Battalion was formed of Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) volunteers in Hawaii. They became known as the “Purple Heart Battalion” due to their high casualty rate. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was later formed and was the largest Nisei unit, consisting of Nisei volunteers from Hawaii and the Mainland. In June of 1944, the 442nd joined forces with the 100th Infantry Battalion in Europe and incorporated the 100th into the 442nd. Due to the heavy combat duty they faced, the 100/442nd RCT became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history.
The Seattle Congressional Gold Medal Celebration will be held at Meany Hall, on the University of Washington Campus at 2 pm on Saturday, January 14. The event is sponsored by the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee .
Masao was born and raised in Oahu, Hawaii and is now a resident at Nikkei Manor, an assisted living community in Seattle’s International District.
Last Saturday, I had a pivotal moment sitting at a table with total strangers at Crossroads Mall.
I had received an email earlier in the week, telling me about an “international gathering” that would be held at the mall on Saturday, Jan. 7. The theme of the event was “How is New Year celebrated in your culture? “Being that I’m the go-to diversity reporter, I figured I would swing by to check it out.
I’m not sure what I was expecting – a huge crowd watching a dragon puppet in honor of the Chinese New year tradition? Perhaps.
When I arrived at the mall, I actually walked right past the small group at the table with the “International Gathering” sign. It was only four individuals who hailed from places including Hong Kong/Panama, Russia, China and India.
I felt almost bashful when “Seattle” was all I had to bring to this roster of hometowns.
Quickly, I realized that this was inspiration for a column, rather than event coverage; because as I sat there for several hours, I couldn’t stop myself from joining in the conversation, as opposed to observing like a reporter. I heard about the Hindu Ugadi celebration in a region of India, and 14 days of New Year, which includes Orthodox Christmas, in Russia.
While there were many ways in which we differed, (I don’t think anything can compare to the traffic jams and multitudes of people who flood the streets for Chinese New Year) our traditions drew parallels and had similarities, too. Oranges and satsumas were an auspicious, “lucky” holiday food for many of us from the U.S. and Asia.
We also compared notes on other holidays. One woman and I discovered that we both honor females in March. In Russia, where she’s from. International Women’s Day is celebrated on the eighth, and in my Japanese American community, we celebrate Girl’s Day on the third.
Despite that all our native languages were different, and that we sometimes struggled to understand one another, all of us listened, asked questions and tried our best to learn when someone was talking.
It wasn’t tolerance – none of us simply “tolerated” our heavy accents, our Mandarin instead of Cantonese, or our monolingual limitations. To me, it felt a lot more like deep understanding, like acceptance.
Just a week before Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 16, I was inspired.
I’m proud to report, from the trenches of the diversity beat, that the dream is alive in Bellevue. What we sometimes lack in socioeconomic diversity, we make up for in the 85 languages our children speak in schools, the 30 percent foreign-born population and the commitment that many of us share, of seeing each other for who we are before we see a skin color or stereotype.
For more information about the national MLK Day of Service, go to http://mlkday.gov/. For more information about Bellevue’s MLK Day Celebration at Crossroads, go to http://www.bellevuewa.gov/.
Gabrielle Nomura can be reached at 425-453-4270.
“The Celebration of a Dream,” a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Crossroads Bellevue Shopping Center’s Market Stage. The annual event is free and will feature a variety of entertainment and a health fair.
12:30 p.m. – Nu Black Arts West Theatre;
1:15 p.m. – Filipinas Performing Arts of Washington State (FPAWS);
2 p.m. – Show Brazil
The health fair will include representatives from 10 nonprofit and public agencies in King County, and will provide attendees with information related to health issues and available community services. The purpose of the health fair is to provide information about community health resources and events that have an impact on all communities to assist in making informed health choices.
The health fair is sponsored by the Bellevue Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a non-profit organization predominately comprised of African American college-educated women who have been serving the Bellevue area since 1989.
The event is sponsored by the city of Bellevue Parks & Community Services Cultural Diversity Program, Crossroads Bellevue Shopping Center and the Bellevue Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
More information is available by contacting Kevin Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-452-7886.
She may be in the Miss Hispanic Seafair Royal Court, but Isabella Figueroa is more than a beauty icon. This Eastsider represents the influence and political power of the fastest-growing U.S. minority.
by Gabrielle Nomura | Photos by Chad Coleman …Read the rest of this post
This past holiday weekend, I watched a YouTube video that nearly made me spit out my coffee in astonishment: It was a message of encouragement from the Walt Disney company.
In the video, you hear from numerous Disneyland employees, or “cast members,” clad in their work uniforms and name tags. While they varied in age, gender, race and jobs (from imagineers to food/beverage employees) each one of them had at least one thing in common – they were gay.
“This message is for anyone who has ever been bullied, teased or harassed for being different, said George Kalogridis, president of the resort. One by one, the Disneyland employees told stories of what it was like growing up “different.” Often, it wasn’t pretty – from being bullied, beaten and even considering suicide, each person shared a story.
“I was asked to leave my cheerleading squad in high school, and then faced with potentially having to leave my school,” said cast member Megan. But, despite Megan’s struggles, she and her coworkers had an important message to give: You are not alone. Life gets better.
I couldn’t believe it.
It was like the doors were parting to “The Happiest Place On Earth” and God himself, or more like, Mickey Mouse, was saying you, too, can belong to our wholesome, all-American family. You, too, are normal, acceptable and worthy of love. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight or just feel like an outsider.
Yes, this is the same company founded by a man known for his Midwestern Protestant values, rumored to be a racist Anti-Semite. His films, beloved by children, have been abhorred by minority groups for their blatant stereotyping and lack of sensitivity (think “What Made The Red Man Red” from “Peter Pan”).
But, it appears Mickey Mouse can evolve. And if he can, perhaps so can the rest of our institutions, traditions and public values.
Maybe then we can foster a culture that’s safe for all of our kids to grow up in, without fear of being despised for the way they were born.
You may say I’m a dreamer. But quite clearly, I’m not the only one.
Gabrielle Nomura is a staff writer for the Bellevue Reporter. She can be reached at 425-391-0363.
It used to almost be a dirty word – ”hapa,” meaning “half” in Hawaiian.
It was once a derogatory term to describe people of biracial ancestry. Today, many multiracial individuals of part-Asian or Pacific Islander descent have embraced the word as a term of prideful self-identification. Although some object to the term’s appropriation and perceived misuse outside of its traditional Hawaiian context, “hapa” has been widely adopted by the part-Asian and part-Pacific Islander multiracial communities, and even by some multiracial, non-Asians.
Diverse|City blogger and staff writer for Bellevue Reporter, Gabrielle Nomura, shares her story growing up Japanese, Filipina, Irish and all-American on the website, http://www.HapaVoice.com.