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Spring 2007, XI.2
Editor-in-Chief Christine Chung Copy Editor Kelvin Vuong Layout Editors Cathryn Chu Julie Kim Contributors Megan Anctil, Wendi Goh, Elizabeth Heng, Jazib Jahir, Erin Kim, Francie Neukom, Takeo Rivera, Reid Yokoyama, Theresa Zhen, Dani Zhou Cover Design Cecilia Yang

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Doo.Ri Chung Lolita Girls AASA Charity Fashion Show Chloe Dao SAAAC Sweat Free Campaign Jimmy Choo

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Father Vien in New Orleans Blacks and Asians

communicASIANS is published semiannually by the Asian American Activities Center (A3C). Views expressed in communicASIANS are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the A3C. communicASIANS welcomes all signed letters of opnion, which are subject to editing for length, accuracy, and grammar. Asian American Activities Center 545 Lomita Drive Stanford, CA 94305-3064
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Ban Ki-Moon MTV World’s cancellation

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Assistant Dean of Students & Director Cindy Ng Assistant Director Shelley Tadaki Administrative Assistant Yang Lor AIM Coordinator Diana Austria Alumni Relations Coordinator Linda Tran communicASIANS Cathryn Chu Christine Chung Julie Kim Kelvin Vuong Community Building Coordinator Tammy Phan Computer Services Steve Nguyen Cultural Programming Beijia Ma Facilities Coordinator Marcia Lee Frosh Interns Christie Cho Jason Jia Lan Le Eunice Lee Andrew Pipathsouk Grad Student Programming Alice Siu Publicity Coordinator Cecilia Yang Speaker Series Coordinator Jason Lee Webmaster Amy Yu
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Christine M. Chung, Editor-in-Chief

Jarah Mariano: (a) political pawn, (b) A&F puppet, or (c) just a really good model?

Correction! In our Fall 2006 issue we incorrectly cited U.S. figure skater Michelle Kwan’s age as 36. She is actually 26.


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ashion is something I personally hold close to my heart, so much so that I hesitate to use fashion for fear of it being used synonomously with couture and haute couture. The industry itself is a bizarre one; self-expression is metered by money and yet, all the money in the world can’t buy good style. The number of Asian American leaders in this field is burgeoning every day, and though this is something to be celebrated, these successes are bookended by two relatively tumultuous events both within and outside of the fashion world. My very first confrontation with my own Asian American identity took place in 2004 during the highly controversial Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch class action lawsuit, after which I found it strange that Jarah Mariano posed as a model for the brand. Was this done as a conscious effort to ameliorate relations between the company and the Asian American community? And unrelated to fashion but related to all APIs is the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech. Like everyone else with a firm grasp of reality, Cho SeungHui’s decision to massacre his peers left me disturbed and a bit antsy. However, what underscored this anxiety further was the fact that Korean President Roh Moo-hyan had “expressed his condolences” for the victims and their families on four separate occasions. I found it a tad odd that, fearing discrimination against Korean Americans within the U.S., Roh Moo-hyan had essentially apologized for something that may not have been related to race and ethnicity in the first place. Like Cho Seung-Hui, I too am a Korean English major. And like Jarah Mariano, I served as an employee of Abercrombie & Fitch (she as an amazing model, me as a brand representative). Despite these two rather loaded elements of my identity, never have I felt closer to the Asian American community than in 2007. Let’s celebrate the advancements Asian Americans have made in the fashion world by continuining to support those who endeavor to wow us each year.


et’s be realistic, shall we? It really was bound to happen sooner or later. Considering the advancements Asian Americans have made as industry professionals, athletes, and artists, the 21st century has hosted a rather unsurprising growth of Asian American leaders within the fashion, couture, and haute couture industries. These creative minds are quickly staking their claim in this intensely fast-paced field, and, for once, this wave extends beyond the likes of the cliché (a la Gwen Stefani’s signature Harajuku fetish). Fashion fans are witnessing the birth of culturally-inspired aesthetics in the shape, form, and movement of each piece—an artistic coup d’état bound to leave both the average consumer and the fashion elitist wanting more. There are movers and shakers in the mainstream like both Chloe Dao and Jimmy Choo, but there exist the unsung as well—Doo.Ri Chung, the fans who keep Lolita fashion alive in Japan, and on our very own campus, those who fight for social justice in the fashion industry. The number of Asian American designers, muses, and workers within this sphere will continue to grow at lightning speed, and these individuals will only continue to change our lives as we know it.
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Doo.Ri Chu
doo.ri chung


by Reid Yokoyama

f you go to Gap in the next few weeks, amidst the heavy marketing of the (Product) Red campaign, you may be able to get your hands on one of three limited-edition designs inspired by the classic white shirt, designed by Doo.Ri Chung. Simplistic design is apparent in her three Gap pieces. The scarf shirt features a removable scarf to drape around the shoulder or tie around the waist for a dramatic look. A belted shirtdress and pleated shirt update both designs with pointed collars, wider belts, while still maintaining a clean, classy look. “I’m like my clothes,” Chung says, “there’s no kitsch, no clutter, but there’s warmth.” And it is this simple style philosophy that has earned her high accolades in the 2006-2007 fashion season. She recently picked up the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for emerging talent and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, a

prestigious prize that awards $200,000 plus a one year mentorship with a top industry executive. Designing for Gap seems worlds away for the New Jersey native who started her studio in the basement of her parents’ dry-cleaning shop. Talent, however, has never been in short supply for Chung. Born in South Korea and an immigrant to America at the age of 4, Chung was always interested in drawing and illustration. In her first fashion endeavor as a teenager, she tried to sell Lycra T-shirts that were turned into dresses at a New York City street fair. “It was very awkward for most people,” she recalls. “When they saw it, they were just like ‘What is it?’” Funny enough, designers are still asking the same question, but now the inquiries are followed by, “Where can I buy it?” Chung’s distinctive style draws upon both her personal and professional experi-


Above and right: Looks from Chung’s spring 2007 collection. 4 | communicasians

NY’s Cur
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ences. During her time at the Parsons School of Design, she worked oneon-one with designers such as Donna Karan, founder of the popular DKNY brand. As a fashions student, her designs were influenced by movement. Chung recalls being moved by Martha Graham, founder of her famed modern dance company, performing Lamentation: “She’s in that jersey and she’s stretching. The fabric was talking—so beautiful, so dramatic, so grand.” Her artistic style took form while studying abroad in Paris during her second year at Parsons. “Paris is more creative,” Chung said. “New York is more corporate-based… and corporate design is not how I want to go.” Corporate experience, however, was crucial to Chung’s artistic development.

doo.ri chung

Doo.Ri Chung with Penelope Cruz after winning the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award. Right: Chung accepting the honor.

Current “It” Designer

After picking up the Designer of the Year award in 1995 at Parsons, she caught the eye of Geoffrey Beene and worked for the next five years up to head designer. Calling the experience with Beene the “best graduate school I could have had,” Beene would teach her the importance of draping, movement of garments, and utilizing colors and not patterns in dress construction. In 2002 Chung left to start her own collection, working out of the basement of her parents’ drycleaning shop. Her first collection featured dresses that utilized jersey to create black and crimson party dresses that, while lacking patterns, clearly exhibited Chung’s understanding of shape and movement. Her distinctive style has been seen as both rebellious and reasonable, with critics calling her dresses the “yin and yang of design.” Vogue and InStyle came to her first fashion show, and since then, work has not been in short supply. It was Chung’s Spring 2006 collection that would put her on the fashion map. Unveiled at New York Fashion Week, Chung’s collection showed what New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn called “a darker view of fashion surfaced that will make mere mortals think twice about their tulip-time pinks.” Chung’s pale jersey dresses lacked patterns and bright colors that


were shown on the same runway by fashion heavyweights Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta, but she made up for her lack of frill by using pieces that showed off the women’s body and emphasized elegant movement of the female form. Chung’s rise to success came with a combination of patience, talent, and hard work, but even her newfound fame seems unable to let her forget her days as a budding basement designer. Though her recent success has allowed her the luxury of moving her studio out of her parent’s dry-cleaning shop and into Manhattan’s bustling garment district, she still depends on her parents for both love and support. For to this day the designer still has not mastered the art of attaching a zipper; when one is required for a design, her mother comes in the studio to sew one in for her. And when she’s busy preparing for a runway show, her parents bring her Korean food to make sure she remembers to eat. “I can’t forget that hard work and ambition got me here,” said Chung in a feature by Vogue four years ago. “And it will hopefully keep me here for a long time.” ■

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lolita girls

Japanese Lolita
While a few Americans have begun to adopt this style of dress, it is most commonly seen tarched, white pinafores, crinoline petticoats, in the Harajuku district of Tokyo, which is aland knee-high socks. Patent leather Mary ready famous for the many outrageous fashion Janes, ruffled, frilly aprons, and all of this ac- trends present within its boundaries (thanks to cessorized with jewelled sceptres and crowns. Gwen Stefani and the like). It is very prevalent The costume section of the Disney Store? The in Osaka as well. local preschool’s dress-up corner? A museum exLolita fashion got its start in the nineties hibit on Victorian children’s clothing? Guess again. in Japan, interestingly, via the music indusThese clothing pieces are the requisite items for the try. These groups were called “Visual Kei,” most fashionable teens and twenty-somethings of glam-rock inspired ensembles whose members Japan’s newest style—Lolita fashion. would often dress up in elaborate, androgySince the early nineties, more teenagers and nous costumes, and striking make-up. One of young women have been dressing in this bizarre the most famous was Malice Mizer and its efstyle, wearing outfits that look like a cross between feminate, cross-dressing guitarist, Mana. Fans Alice in Wonderland and Strawberry Shortcake. of the band would engage in costume play, Taking its name from Vladamir Nabokov’s famous or “cosplay,” where they would sew special 1955 novel about a romance between a man and outfits that looked like Mana’s to wear to the his stepdaughter, it makes grownup women dress band’s concerts. as if they were going out trick-or-treating or to a It wasn’t long before the fashion world began fairy princess tea party for seven-year-olds. capitalizing on this trend, with Mana himself be“My mom, when she first saw me dressed up, ginning his own clothing line in 1999 for his fans, said, ‘Why didn’t we just save your baby clothes?’” called Moi-même-Moitié. The label’s name is an said Michelle Nguyen, a 22-year-old who lived in amalgamation of the French words “moi-même” Japan for five months and now attends Penn Sate (myself) and “moitié” (half), although the expresUniversity, in a New York Times article. sion “moi-même-moitié” does not exist in French.


by Francie Neukom

Other popular Lolita clothing lines began to spring up at around the same time, such as Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, and Angelic Pretty. In 2000, publishers of the Japanese fashion magazine Kera started to publish a special quarterly magazine for the Lolitas (or “Lolis”, as they are commonly called,) entitled the “Gothic & Lolita Bible.” At more than 100 pages, the book was not just a shopping catalogue with photos of girls modelling the newest fashions, but the work also featured patterns for making the dresses, articles on Loli culture, reviews of the newest “Visual Kei” albums, and even recipes for cakes to be baked for the tea parties that Lolis often hold with their friends. By 2005, the “Gothic & Lolita Bible” had a circulation of more than 80,000 worldwide. The word “gothic” in its title refers to one of the many subcategories of Lolita fashion now in vogue. Among them are Classic Lolitas (elegant, empire-waist dresses in florals and deep, muted colors); Sweet Lolitas (pastel, lacy dresses with an emphasis on cuteness and frilliness); Gothic Lolitas (darker colors, usually black, red, and deep blue); Wa Lolitas (a cross between traditional Japanese dress, such as kimonos, and Loli fashion); and even Ouji and Dandy Lolitas (male versions of the trend,

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lolita girls

ta Fashion
focusing on Victorian schoolboy outfits and 19th century male dress suits). However, it is not easy to be a Lolita, as dresses are often handmade and can cost upwards of $200. While patterns are provided for making one’s own dresses, the material needed is very expensive. Additionally, Lolita fashion is hard to find outside of Tokyo, the only official stores being in Hong Kong, Paris (both Moi-même-Moitié), and Waterloo, Ontario (Delirium Clothing and Accessories). The dresses are also often impractical for everyday use. “I used to wear big, frilly skirts out to classes, but it’s hard to do,” Nguyen said. “You have to function sitting at a desk and, in a ruffled skirt, you just can’t do that.” And it’s not only the challenge of acquiring clothes that keep many Lolitas down. In Tokyo, strangers commonly call Lolitas “stupid,” give them vicious looks, and even stick chewing gum to the backs of their dresses. Novala Takemoto, a famous male Lolita who has written a number of books on the subject, including one which turned into a feature film, “Kamikaze Girls,” talks of how Lolitas are often disowned by their friends and family because of their fashion choices and are reduced to tears by the estrangement.

“That’s the kind of resolve you need to be a Lolita,” said Takemoto to the Wall Street Journal. Because of the accompanying unkind reception, Lolitas often see their outfits as more of a hobby than a lifestyle. It is not uncommon for Lolitas to dress up only on the weekends, when they can loiter around the Harajuku district with other similarly dressed girls. “It’s not like in America, where if you say you’re a punk, you have to dress like a punk 24/7, or you’ll just look like a poseur,” said Francis Henville, a reporter for Style Us Magazine. Many people are also interested in why exactly these girls—many of them grown women and well beyond the age of tea parties and teddy bears—revert back to such a childlike style of dress. One explanation is that they are like many other teenagers with the desire to dress in the most extreme, nonconformist style they can. This is especially shocking to traditional Japanese culture, where “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down” is a common admonition toward children. “A lot of these kids go to private school and most of them wear uniforms,” said Annissa Bellenie, the owner of Delirium Clothing, in an article in The Toronto Star. “So when Saturday comes

Japanese teens and adults who dress in the Lolita style are found roaming the streets of Harajuku and Osaka, where various boutiques carry Lolita-inspired items.

around, they go crazy.” Others argue that their style reflects the underlying doubts about Japan’s future. “They live in a society that doesn’t feel very hopeful,” said Rika Kayama, a psychologist, in a Wall Street Journal article. “By dressing up like babies, the Lolitas are attempting to hang onto the carefree days of childhood.” Still others argue that Lolitas dress the way they do because they are protesting the role of the female in Japanese culture. “Lolitas appropriate the image of childlike dolls in order to protest growing up and assuming the roles of Japanese women,” said Faith Shinri, a researcher of Lolita fashion. “By wearing their doll-like Lolita clothing, the girls become martyrs for childhood innocence and freedom in a society which strives to oppress female individual identity.” Still, Lolita fashion seems to play right into the hands of masculine-controlled society, at least in Nguyen’s experience. “My boyfriend really likes to see me in the sweet stuff, all white,” she said. “I’m like, ‘Can’t I wear something more practical?’” ■
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aasa charity fashion show

Struttin’, Not Sweatin’
by Dani Zhou evon Aoki is the only Asian American model I know. Funny thing is, it’s not her modeling but her obnoxiously pink car in 2 Fast 2 Furious that left a mark in my mind. When it comes to the fashion industry, the usual complaint is that there aren’t enough Asian American faces to represent the second fastest-growing minority group in the country. The belief is that Asian Americans are severely underrepresented in the western fashion industry. Think again. Although Asian Americans make up less than 1% of the modeling industry, they represent a significant portion of the garment industry worldwide. In Los Angeles, the nation’s sweatshop capital with sales of over $24 billion each year, Asian immigrants represent 20% of the sweatshop workforce. That’s 18,000 workers working in 4000 factories in the city of LA alone. But that alone is 20% too much. On August 2, 1995, a federal raid at a seven-compound apartment complex in El Monte, CA (15 miles east of LA) freed seventy-two Thai nationals who had been forced to work under inhumane conditions for up to seventeen years. The workers toiled for more than eighteen hours a day and received less than $2 an hour. The El Monte story brought national attention to the fact that slavery still exists today, but just under a new name: sweatshops.
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The Charity

In 2001, after a series of meetings with garment workers, including some former El Monte Thai workers, the Garment Worker Center (GWC) opened its doors in the heart of LA’s fashion district. From the start, GWC’s mission was to “empower garment workers” by providing them with the tools and skills to fight against injustices in the industry. Although the minimum wage in California is $7.50 per hour, workers that have come to the GWC earn an average of $3-4 per hour. Not only are the workers paid so little, but rarely do they receive adequate benefits for their jobs. The trilingual (English, Spanish, and Chinese) informational brochure lists just some of the services provided by the GWC for its members: weekly workshops, weekend childcare, and yoga classes. As to date, the Garment Worker Center has played an integral part in labor campaigns such as that against Forever 21 and has won more than $2.5 million in owed wages for its members. The garment workers at GWC are also responsible for heading their own campaigns. One of these campaigns, the workers’ wage claim committee, offers a support group for workers confronting their bosses for back wages and better working conditions. By being proactive in the fight against individual injustices, the garment workers of GWC are not only winning in the short run, but are also gaining experience for the long term struggle against sweatshop exploitation.

The Fashion Show

In conjunction with the Stanford Asian American Activism Committee’s (SAAAC) “SweatFree Stanford” campaign, the theme for this year’s Asian American Students’ Association (AASA) charity fashion show was “Sweat-Free,” with all proceeds going to the Garment Worker Center in LA. The show was held in Tresidder Oak Lounge on May 12 and included both walking and dancing sets. Industry designers such as Army Wear, Youlin Tsai, and Rocawear, as well as student designers such as Cathy Ye and Wayne Hwang, were present to watch their collections go down the catwalk. A representative from the Garment Worker Center was also present to give a brief presentation about the GWC and its programs. Preparations for the show began in fall quarter with core selection and model auditions. Thirty models were selected out of a talented pool of students. The models’ unrelenting dedication shone through from their continual attendances at weekly dance practices, which began in winter quarter, to their dazzling performances during the event itself. Designers were asked to lend or donate at least four pieces of either clothing or jewelry per set and the Design Team


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aasa charity fashion show
took extra caution to ensure that the designers recruited for the show do not employ sweatshop labor. This year, in order to emphasize the charity component of the show, the core members created a new position and selected Dominique Figueroa as Educational Coordinator (EdCo). As EdCo, Dominique researched extensively on the issue of sweatshops and worked with members of the “Sweat-Free Stanford” campaign to prepare materials to educate both the models and the attending student body. During the weeks preceding the show, Figueroa implemented a series of educational presentations, covering topics such as “Modern Day Sweatshops in the US” and “What You Can Do About Sweatshops,” that were given at each weekly practice to underline the main purpose of the Charity Fashion Show.
photos courtesy Wayne Hwang and Dani Zhou

Opposite page: The members of the charity fashion show take a break for a photo shoot. Above: The models/dancers for the 2007 Charity Fashion Show began practice long before spring quarter. Left: The event was highly publicized both by AASA and other participating Asian American organizations. Below: Show attendees were able to purchase their tickets in the form of a bracelet.

What You Can Do

One of the first questions that people ask is, “What can I do to help?” There are numerous ways to get involved. Supporting fundraising events such as the Charity Fashion Show that donate to non-profit organizations working with sweatshop employees is just one way to be proactive. Another easy way to get involved is to spread the message by educating friends and family about sweatshop injustices and what actions are being taken in the present to fight for the rights of workers. Secondly, you can write or call stores where you buy clothes and ask about their labor practices. Let retailers know that you, the customer, do not condone unjust worker conditions! Another great way to be proactive is to support the campus-wide “Sweat-Free Stanford” campaign (http://sweatfree.stanford.edu) and to let President Hennessey know that we want our university to support worker rights and safe labor practices. No matter what action you take, just remember that: SweatFree is the way to be! ■
For more information about El Monte Thai garment workers, visit http://www.sweatshopwatch.org/index.php?s=68. To ways to donate to the Garment Worker, visit http://www.garmentworkercenter.org. For more information on the 2007 Charity Fashion Show, visit http://www.stanford.edu/group/AASA/sweatfree/.

Ways You Can Help
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chloe dao

The Project Behind the Runway
by Megan Anctil

The sixth of eight children in her family, Dao was born in Southern Laos in 1972 to Vietnamese parents Thu Thien Dao and Hue Thuc Luhe scene was New York, week ong. Fleeing the clutches of war-torn Laos in 1979, her family spent after week contestants were time in a Thai family prison before moving to Dallas, Texas, thanks to an judged on their design style uncle’s financial support. They soon moved to Houston, where her parand innovation, and designer after ents seized the “American opportunity” by becoming successful owndesigner was told to pack up, clean ers of a variety of dry cleaning, food service, and tailoring businesses. up and leave the competition. Ten Growing up, Dao and her seven sisters were encouraged to study months passed, needles were bro- hard and pursue careers in medicine or law, but from the age of ten, ken, seams were torn, but out of the Dao harbored a passion for fashion, style and design. After a year of carnage rose designs of varying ele- majoring in marketing at the University of Houston, Dao decided to folgance, class, and questionable style. low her heart’s ambitions and dropped out of UH, choosing to instead After competing against fifteen enroll in the fashion design program at Houston Community College. designers, making it to the final Her future was uncertain, especially due to the fact that she was about three, and having the prestigious to enter one of the most ruthless and fast-paced industries in the world, opportunity to present a fall collec- but nevertheless she continued forward with confidence and vigor. tion at New York’s Fashion Week in After her first semester at HCC, she took a vacation to New York Spring 2006, Chloe Dao emerged as the winner of the second season City, and soon after she made the choice to enroll in the Fashion Instiof Bravo’s Emmy nominated show, Project Runway. She was imme- tute of Technology. She graduated from FIT in 1994 with an associate’s diately placed in the spotlight as one of fashion’s up and coming stars, degree in patternmaking, and began work with Finity, a sportswear and and she became a household name for those in the fashion know-how. knit company. While at Finity she worked as a design assistant and Some attributed her winning to her skill, others to her style and cre- patternmaker, but after meeting eveningwear designer Melinda Eng ativity, but there was one aspect that had contributed to her winning one year later, she made the choice to leave Finity and join the small that couldn’t be seen as easily on-screen betwixt the catfights and couture evening design house. While she started as a design assistant, drama contests of her fellow contestants—the support of her family. Dao soon became production manager for the company and in the pro-



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She was about to enter one of the most ruthless and fast-paced industries in the world, but nevertheless she continued forward with confidence and vigor.

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chloe dao
cess was able to gain more knowledge of the inner workings of the fashion world. Dao was a great asset, and, over the span of six years, she helped develop the company into a multi-million dollar success. Dao left Melinda Eng to work for Catherine Dietlein as an assistant buyer, where she developed her skills in buying and merchandizing for specialty boutiques. With the skills to open her own business, Dao returned to Houston in 2000 to open Lot 8 Boutique along with her younger sister, Kim. The boutique is named after the eight daughters (herself included) of her family, and it carries a variety of clothing and accessories designed by Dao and other designers from around the world. While some might expect that Dao has been overwhelmed by the fame that comes from winning Project Runway, she has defied the celebrity stereotype by staying connected to her family and her roots through her work. After all, it was her family that played an integral role in helping her open her store and realize her dreams. The business took three years to find its footing, during which her parents provided a roof over her head, clean laundry, and home-cooked dinners, and it was with the help of her sisters Kim and Sydney that she was able to get the business up and running. Her aunt, Tina Luonagpho, also worked at the store, sewing patterns with Dao paying double her asking price. With her family helping to manage the boutique, Dao has had more time to create her own original designs and participate in Vietnamese community events. In 2006 she spoke as a panelist in a Women’s Leadership conference for the Vietnamese American National Gala in San Francisco where she discussed her experience as an Asian American woman in the workforce. She has experienced the prestige of being invited to attend a conference celebrating Asian American heritage month with President Bush, but she has also found the time to attend small events such as those hosted by local Vietnamese art communities. By staying in touch with her heritage and her family, and by blazing trails in the fashion community with confidence and business savvy, Dao has become a woman on the rise. She is a prime example of how family commitment, entrepreneurial skill, originality, and a nice backstitch can lead to success in the business world and beyond. ■ For more information on Chloe Dao’s boutique, please visit: http://www.lot8online.com


Chloe Dao hard at work behind the scenes for her Project Runway finale collection.


She is a prime example of how family commitment, entrepreneurial skill, originality, and a nice backstitch can lead to success in the business world and beyond.

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TheProblem with SWEATSHOPS
saaac sweat free campaign

ills that are governed by economic competition. requiring the use of independent monitors to enIs there a solution? sure that factories comply with codes of conduct. For such an entrenched macroeconomic prob- However, monitoring only unearths the problem weatshops are inextricably linked to the mass production of fashionable clothing, lem, a solution seems to fall outside the realm of and is rendered an empty gesture if there is no where there is a demand to look good, the possibility. To alleviate corporate greed, provide a sustainable incentive for factories to comply with supply of cheap labor proves extraordinarily easy worker with a living wage, and improve the condi- the codes of conduct. According to a Businessto find. A sweatshop is defined as a factory that is tions of factories across the world – these are all so- week article titled Secrets, Lies and Sweatshops, not in compliance with an established code of con- lutions that are seemingly impossible to enforce and the problem of sweatshops is more prevalent duct. This is evident in insufficient wages, forced equally ridiculous to posit to President Hennessy, than was previously documented because facovertime, unsafe working conditions, child labor, right? After all, how can universities alone influ- tories are now consulting outside agencies to and suppression of the ability to organize workers. ence the supreme governance of economic laws? learn the art of falsifying records for the purpose Convened by the Stanford Asian American of audits. “Ultimately, the economics of global We point to the downward price pressure as the most significant root cause for the creation and Activism Committee, the Sweat-Free Stanford outsourcing may trump any system of oversight that Western companies attempt. And these proliferation of sweatshops. In the apparel harsh economic realities could make it exsupply chain, large companies (including ceedingly difficult to achieve both the low universities) place orders with brand-name prices and the humane working conditions manufacturers (including Nike) who in that U.S. consumers have been promised.” turn, hire contractors and subcontractors The Designated Supplier Program ad(factories) to recruit, hire, and pay facdresses the economic pressures imposed tory workers to assemble the clothing. by the system of global outsourcing. The As demand for apparel rises, basic misolutions lie in long term factory contracts, croeconomic theory dictates that driven the Fair Price Standard, factory certificaby economic forces, manufacturers will tion, and the consolidation of collegiate seek to maximize profits by minimizapparel production. The idea is that certiing their expenditures, and, as a result of fied factories who are meeting the codes of competition, factories with the greatest conduct (paying their workers living wagmarginal productivity per unit of labor photo courtesy of Stanford Asian American Activism Committee. es, allowing for unionization, compensatand the lowest cost per worker are the ing for overtime hours) can receive 3-year ones that receive the most orders. Driven Students of the Stanford Sweat-Free Campaign presenting binding contracts with licensees, and proby this market, factory owners act to reap their masterpiece--a quilt from their “ Sew In” on Friday, duce collegiate apparel in a concentrated profits and to truncate total costs (such as Feburary 23, 2007. number of factories. This will increase transaction, contract, and wages). Factothe effectiveness of monitoring initiatives, ries will only make positive profits if they receive orders from brands, so the fight for a Coalition has stumbled upon an innovative and as well allow for a long-term sustainable solucontract becomes a fierce “race to the bottom” thoroughly researched answer to that question tion that the university can play an active role in. In Hennessy’s International Initiative of The where factories are forced to accept lower and and it is found in the independent monitoring lower prices in order to remain competitive in the agency called Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) Stanford Challenge, he highlights the need for global market. As factories search for ways to and the agency’s innovative program, the Desig- global consciousness and the need for Stanford, cuts costs they often compromise their workers’ nated Supplier Program (DSP). In-depth investi- as a premier university, to be a leader in the adwages, ability to unionize, health, and working gations of factories are executed by the Worker vancement of human health and wellbeing. In conditions, in order to maintain their contracts. Rights Consortium, including off-site worker today’s day and age, Stanford sweatshirts are This downward price pressure is a prevalent interviews, extensive conversations with local littered across sweatshops around the world; force throughout the supply chain, and it is an NGOs, and trainings to ensure that all finalized our school pride is plastered on our chests at indisputable fact that with less capital, a factory reports paint a comprehensive portrait of the the expense of human rights and the moral high cannot pay its workers sufficient wages or cre- factory’s inner workings. These reports are then ground. It’s time that the university stayed true ate safe and working conditions. To maximize made available to the public and to the manufac- to its mission and join the WRC and the DSP. ■ productivity and minimize costs, the pressure to turers that outsource to the investigated factories. There is ineffective regulation and weak in- For more information on the Stanford Sweat-Free produce in short periods of time often results in forced and unpaid overtime for workers – uncom- frastructure within countries that are particularly Campaign, visit: http://www.stanford.edu/group/ pensated productivity – as well as a host of social vulnerable to the creation of sweatshops, thus saaac/


by Theresa Zhen

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The Man Himself Jimmy Choo A
jimmy choo
by Wendi Goh shanti and the French artist Shyne have mentioned his shoes in their songs, Carrie Bradshaw has proclaimed her love for the brand, and fash- of Fashion. It was at London, rather than luxury brand. Every year, the ever-famous ion elitists all around the world swear by Malaysia, where Choo’s standing as a shoe Choos continuously make the walk down the Choo. Surprisingly, however, little is designer rose to legendary status. There the the red carpet at the Oscar underneath the known about Jimmy Choo himself amidst British people welcomed Choo as their own, feet of celebrities that continue to worthe craze that surrounds the brand. Who or and in 2003 he was awarded an Officer of ship the iconic line. what is he, and is his namesake a real person? the Most Excellent Order of the British EmWhile the Jimmy Choo line has flourThese questions are not as easily answer- pire by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of ished and cemented their name in the fashable as it seems, since the Jimmy Choo icon his services to the shoe and fashion industry. ion history books, what has become of as Vogue and Vanity Fair-devotees know Jimmy Choo’s iconic shoe line started off founder and creative genius Jimmy Choo? the line today is the Currently, Choo product of a long, lives in London, which complex history. he now considers as Every year, the ever-famous Choos continuously make the walk Jimmy Choo was much of a home to him down the red carpet at the Oscar underneath the feet of born in Penang, as Malaysia. Allegedly celebrities who continue to worship the iconic line. Malaysia where he a bit disillusioned from was quickly inducthis experiences from ed into the family mixing fashion with trade of shoemaking, making his first shoe as the brainchild of Choo and former United the corporate world, Choo has reverted back to at age eleven. Ironically his signature last Kingdom Vogue accessories editor Tamera his former days designing custom made haute name Choo is a result of a misspelling of Mellon. She recognized the demand for styl- couture shoes for a select clientele through his his family name “Chow” on his birth cer- ish but wearable shoes and with Choo in 1996 new line, Jimmy Choo Couture. Despite Choo’s tificate. Choo’s talent and gift for the art of opened the first Jimmy Choo stand-alone divorce from the mainstream version of his shoemaking was undeniable even at an early boutique in London. Almost immediately namesake brand, Choo continues to do what he age, and as a young man he left Malaysia the Jimmy Choo line experienced explo- does best – making the world a better place, one to attend the prestigious London College sive success with almost a cult-like support shoe at a time. ■ from celebrity fans such as Katie Holmes and Paris Hilton. Choo’s most avid supporter however, was the late Diana, Princess of Wales. It was a wide known public fact that Diana could never wear high heels when she was with her rather short ex-husband Prince Charles. However, after the divorce she was frequently seen in Choo’s most elegant stilettos. Call it a combination of retail therapy and revenge if you must, but actress Nicole Kidman seemed to also follow suit after her divorce with petite ex-husband Tom Cruise. While it might seem logical to assume that Choo continues to sit at the creative helm of the Jimmy Choo line of shoes, the designer has long since parted ways with the fashion empire he built with Mellon. In 2001 Equinox Luxury Holdings bought Choo’s share of the Jimmy Choo line, www.urbanpath.com and, soon after, Choo left the company. www.nicolestyle.hollywood.com Despite Choo’s departure, the Jimmy A Jimmy Choo boutique located on New Bond Choo line has continued to grow, addA Jimmy Choo ad featuring Nicole Richie. Street in London. ing purses and other accessories to their



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father vien in new orleans


by Elizabeth Heng

Elizabeth Heng spends spring break in New Orleans and witnesses the disaster, change, and unity
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The Socia
Another woman, who had never needed government assistance, spoke of how she had to stand in a 10-hour line to get food stamps and the degrading treatment she received. She got a glimpse of poverty and the injustices that accompanied it and vowed to herself, “I will never again look at another homeless person in the same way.” Later, we met with Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu. He claimed that people will
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ou can go anywhere in the world and make a living. Come to New Orleans and make history,” as Father Vien Nguyen, a Vietnamese Priest in East Orleans Parish, said to me after his guest presentation in my AAS 185: Southeast Asian Migration and Community Formation course. After the devastation of Katrina, the media failed to acknowledge all of the groups and social classes impacted, including the Vietnamese Community. Now that New Orleans is rebuilding, it is the social laboratory for disaster research, business growth, political reorganization, and cultural change. Decisions are quickly being made at the local, state and national levels; therefore, Father Vien is pushing the community’s agendas to the forefront. Being the politician that I aspire to be, I knew I had to see New Orleans for myself. Shortly after, I discovered that Jan Barker, the Resident Fellow at Uujama, was leading a trip to New Orleans to provide a handful of students the opportunity to learn about the depth and breadth of the disaster. Fortunately, I filled the last spot on the trip and hopped on a plane to Louisiana. I did not know what to expect because my only real exposure to New Orleans was through Father Vien’s presentation and CNN’s skewed version of the atrocities. I had a lot of catching up to do. On my first night, I had the opportunity to speak with upper middle class black families who lost everything. One woman spoke of how six generations of family heirlooms had been lost, family photos were erased and home became a mere memory.


father vien in new orleans

photos courtesy of Elizabeth Heng

cial Laboratory
from the interest accrued; why hasn’t it been dispersed; why are people still suffering? This program is failing. Another issue that the state faces is whether other parishes want people in New Orleans to return. By increasing the population distribution among the different parishes, state monies are allocated accordingly. Lastly, displaced persons may have difficulties casting their votes in the upcoming election. a silent community. Now, they realized their power in uniting. In the original plans for rebuilding New Orleans, their community was excluded; after protesting and lobbying, their community is highlighted as one of the key spots for development. Not only has the devastation brought the community together, it has provided them with a voice. Furthermore, they are building mutual respect with the black community through protesting with the Southern For any other questions, please contact: elizabeth.heng@stanford.edu

not move back to New Orleans until a family could find a functioning house to live in, a job to pay the bills and schools that their children could attend. One could not happen without the other. If done properly, New Orleans has the potential to become the perfect laboratory by reforming its whole education process, housing options and job markets. If not, I don’t even want to imagine the outcome. In looking at some of the corruption that has been covered by CNN, one week of exposure to the problems unveiled enough to make anyone rebel. For example, the infamous Road Home Program was supposed to provide lump sum grants towards rebuilding homes. Although there is $7.5 billion allocated towards the program, only a few hundred people have been able to obtain the money. One should ponder: where is the money; who is benefiting

Top left: Senior Lauren Graham, Jan Barker Alexander, Director of the BCSC and Heng. Top right: The devastation left by Hurricane Katrina still marks the streets of New Orleans. Left: Hurricane Katrina affected about 9.7 million people in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Many of these people were forced to desert their belongings in order to evacuate.

The majority of East Orleans Parish typically voted Democratic. Since many are displaced, the political seats are highly contested. Early on in the trip, someone advised us to keep our eyes open for the good. In looking at the Vietnamese Community led by Father Vien, lots of good has been able to happen in the community. After the devastation, they mobilized their community and over 90% returned. They lobbied the government and were the first community in East Orleans Parish to receive electricity. Prior to Katrina, they were

Christian Leadership Conference on a united front. Good is happening. Still on my spring break, I had the opportunity to explore the city in the evening time and in speaking to managers on Bourbon Street (where Mardi Gras takes place), learned that the crime has forced single women to leave the city and to refrain from the nightlife. They have tried to alleviate this problem by having no cover charges at clubs and providing women with open bars. Although I had a great time, I cannot possibly imagine that they are

profiting. If you want to help New Orleans in a small way, take a vacation there and spend money there. If you want to make progressive change, go intern or work in New Orleans. There are vast opportunities everywhere: politics, environmental justice, business, etc. Go make history. ■

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blacks and asians


ell, maybe not “hate.” That’s one of those really loaded words that wishes the end of someone’s existence. Nah, I’m not quite at that level. Unlike a certain someone named Kenneth Eng, 23-year-old New York-based science fiction writer and columnist who, on Feb 23, 2007, published the now-infamous article in Asian Week entitled “Why I Hate Blacks.” I heard about it word-of-mouth because ironically, the article drew more national attention to the

Asian American publication than it had ever received before in its 28 years of circulation. His Imusian wit managed to belch, for example: “I would argue that blacks are weakwilled. They’re the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years.” “In high school, I only remember one black student ever attending any of my honors and AP courses. And that student was caught cheating.” So, of course, I’m like, “holy frickin’ nuts!” Granted, I’m not sure how seriously Eng was meant to be taken, since he goes by the pseudonym “God of the Universe,” but even if some of the statements were simply gross and discriminatory stereotypes, they weren’t there for the purpose of rendering them absurd. He could have closed the column with some kind of ironic punchline, or with some kind of self-parodying list of “why blacks should hate Asians.” Instead, I’m left here having to take the piece at face value: Eng’s advice that Asians should hate blacks. Indeed, entries on his weblog show evidence that he is, in fact, a old-school racist, urging Asians to rise up against blacks and whites to “finally make those big eyed fuckers suffer.”1 The public response was swift, vicious, intense. Nearly every public statement, including that from NBC 11, called it hate speech. Henry Der from Chinese for Affirmative Action called it “trite and hateful.”2

The public criticism came crashing down on Eng, eventually resulting in his firing, and an official apology from AsianWeek. Kenneth Eng, racist Asian neo-Nazi-Tojo crossburning-fantasy asiafortheasians science fiction freak, expelled and shamed without so much of a “now I hate Asians for hating me!” Good riddance. …Yet… I find myself feeling slightly uneasy about his firing. It was not the fact that he was fired in and of itself—I think in terms of journalistic (and human) integrity, he deserved what he got. I suppose it was the attitude that we Asian Americans got caught up with that alarms me. It was not necessarily the indignation, but the righteousness of that indignation. We targeted “the racist,” and congratulations; we shot him down. He’s gone, the demon exorcised from the pages of AsianWeek, and we can get back to our lives. In that sense, we have turned Kenneth Eng into an “other,” a distant and separate Racist that is on the periphery of Asian attitudes. If we call him the racist, we can’t be the racist, like the New England white democrat who calls a Southern klansman a racist while he himself is afraid to visit Ujamaa. We discussed this at length in Jon Jang’s IDA course last quarter when the article came out. My co-Fellow Samia Abou-Samra remarked that what Eng wrote was like dinnertime conversation. It’s the dirty laundry.




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blacks and asians

The intracommunity monologue. But since Eng’s article was so out in the open and clumsily written, it was uglier. We could laugh at it, like teenage boys laughing at the littleness of a friend’s cock when everyone’s pants are still on. Is there Asian racism towards the black community? Damn right there is, which is both painfully obvious yet difficult to acknowledge. Does the black community reciprocate? Naturally. The tragedy is that Kenneth Eng is not alone in his sentiments. I went on a camping trip with an old Chinese American friend of mine last summer who remarked over the bonfire that blacks have to prove their humanity. If we were to deny that statements like this are made on a de facto basis, we wouldn’t make any progress. Last quarter at Crossing the Line, they asked if we had ever engaged in racist behavior. I was one of the few who crossed. My crossing was not a statement saying that I was proud to be a racist. It was an acknowledgment that I knew what racist behavior is, and that I was working to correct it. It is impossible to avoid racist behavior in America because we live in a racist society; our very words are coded with bloody legacies. How can we shut our eyes to the ubiquity of racism when etymololgy of “picnic” comes from lynching black men? The first step towards healing is simply acknowledging the prevalence of racism. It

is usually more nuanced and more hidden than a Kenneth Eng rant. And racism between these two communities is also tragic and ironic, given the long and rich history of Asian-black cooperation, from African Americans’ support of Japanese Americans during internment, to Asian Americans’ involvement in the anti-apartheid protests. Yet nowadays, perhaps one of Kenneth Eng’s obtuse oversimplified comments reflects a misinterpreted truth: “Blacks hate us.” With the decades-old image of the model minority—which for better for worse some of us have chosen to internalize—who could necessarily blame the Black community? Jon Jang frequently told us in class that black renaissance man Paul Robeson performed the Chinese liberation anthem “Chee Lai” and had collaborated with Beijing opera performer Mei Lanfang in 1935, citing that Chinese and African cultures had a lot in common. Where did that go? Here we are, in 2007, and both of our communities find ourselves trapped in the same gladiator’s arena of color that we had once fought to escape together. It is good to see the Asian American community fight Kenneth Eng, but it is not nearly enough. Bigotry is not a boogeyman; it is a disease. Cancer can remain after the tumor is removed. Kenneth Eng is an indication that we need to examine how deeply it runs, lest we actually wish each other’s existence to end. ■

Why I Who



Blacks an editorial
by Takeo Rivera




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as the ROK’s minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, taking responsibility for many portfolios including Foreign romising to “set the highest ethical Policy Advisor and Chief National Sestandard” not only for himself but curity Advisor to the President, as well for the United Nations as a whole, as Director-General of American AfBan Ki-moon, the newest UN Secretaryfairs. He has also played vital roles General, took his oath of office last Dein inter-Korean relations, cember, succeeding Kofi helping in the adoption of Annan of Ghana. While a landmark peace agreeBan Ki-moon is the first ment to resolve the North citizen of the Republic Korean nuclear issue at of Korea (ROK) and only the Six Party Talks of the the second Asian to hold Joint Statement in 2005. the position, his backIn the few months since ground bears similarities he took office in January of to those of the previous this year, Mr. Ban has travSecretary-Generals. His eled all over the world, incommitment to the “three cluding Washington, D.C., pillars” of the United NaEurope, Kenya, Israel and tions, namely, “security, occupied Palestinian terdevelopment and human ritory, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi rights,” stated in his adArabia, Egypt, and Qatar. dress to the General AsWhile he was recently critsembly, has been made icized for waiting until the obvious already in the middle of April to visit UN actions he has taken just headquarters in Geneva, in these past few months this kind of constant travel as well as in his career. is a part of the SecretaryFor 37 years Mr. Ban General’s day-to-day work has served the interand is “intended to keep national community in www.state.gov him in touch with the peomany capacities, through ples of the [UN’s] Memboth involvement with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon meeting with Secretary Condolezza Rice in the ber States and informed” the United Nations since Treaty Room on December 11, 2006. about international issues 1975 and in governmenon the agenda. He has tal offices for his home country. From the beginning of his a number of important resolutions,” in- worked with the Security Council, career Mr. Ban worked in the ROK cluding the condemnation of the Sep- General Assembly, and his represenForeign Ministry’s United Nations di- tember 11th attacks on the U.S., were tatives and envoys to develop and set vision, holding various posts around adopted. Most recently, Mr. Ban served into action plans to address the crises

A Rapid Start for New UN Secre
by Erin Kim the world in New York, Washington, D.C., Seoul, New Delhi, and Vienna. As Chef-de-Cabinet during the ROK’s Presidency of the General Assembly in 2001-2002, he facilitated the rapid turnaround of that session from one of “crisis and confusion into one in which

ban ki-moon



I, Ban Ki-moon, solemnly swear, to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience, the functions entrusted to me as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

I will do everything in my power to ensure that our United Nations can live up to its name, and be truly united; so that we can live up to the hopes that so many people around the world place in this institution, which is unique in the annals of human history.

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ecretary-General Ban Ki-moon

ban ki-moon

Former Secretary General Kofi Annan (left) with new Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (right) during a U.N. press conference after Ban Ki-Moon’s selection.

in Kosovo, Fiji, the Sudan, and Iraq. These past few months serve as testimony to Mr. Ban’s passion and dedication to international service and to the effective fulfillment of his position. It is a strong beginning to his term as UN Secretary-General, and all eyes in the international arena will follow him as he works to implement his core goals— strengthening the “three pillars of the UN,” bringing “renewed confidence” into his position and in relations between the Secretariat and the Member States, “improving human resource management and career development systems,” and most importantly, setting the “highest standards of ethics, professionalism and accountability.”

Ban Ki-moon

Born June 13, 1944 in Eumseong, South Korea. Fluent in English, French, Korean, Japanese, German. Assumed office on January 1, 2007.


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mtv world’s cancellation

tity live ng ed-Idenon A epinat Ke he isi lev Te yp H
statement on how marketing the channels proved to be an insurmountable challenge. But it was no secret that the channels had collectively failed to garner the anticipated popularity. This has been attributed largely to the failure of MTV to bring the channels to cable, the primary means of broadcasting television to urban centers that house the majority of Asian Americans. Instead the only delivery mechanism for the content was satellite transmission whose reach is limited to suburban stretches. This prevented it from generating the kind of viewer base and advertisement revenue that would have made it indispensable to MTV’s portfolio. So when the cancellation was eventually announced, it ver the last two years, MTV launched caused some dismay among those who cared, a series of ethnically-inspired channels but didn’t really take too many by surprise. The MTV empire itself has been in a state under the united banner of MTV World. of churn. It recently decided to lay off as much MTV Desi, MTV Chi and MTV K were primarily targeted at the South Asian-American, as 5.5% of its total staff as part of a restructurChinese-American and Korean-American ing effort. But the fact that these three channels audiences respectively. The New York Times were the first to go suggests they were seen as termed this event the dawn of hyphenated- most superfluous and least aligned with MTV’s identity television. Asian American communi- long term vision. It is this symbolism behind ties cautiously welcomed it as potential accep- the action that is the cause of greatest concern. In the age of Web 2.0, it is easy to gauge tance of their social and economic significance. popular sentiment by studying the responses Unfortunately, just this past February, MTV officially announced the cancellation of this set of on relevant forums. Relevant petitions are rife on the internet, from those simply looking to channels by some unspecified future date. The channels were more than a mosaic of accumulate as many signatures as possible to music videos bred by specific ethnic groups. convince MTV to change its mind, to those ralThey served as cultural platforms, encourag- lying viewers to respond to this overt bias toing constructive dialogue and promoting un- wards Asian Americans. A spectrum of opinions and explanations derstanding of the norms of each community. can also be uncovered. Aseem Chhabra, a freeThey also provided valuable exposure to Asian Americans interested in the entertainment in- lance Indian journalist, suggests that this epitodustry by recruiting video jockeys from the re- mizes the insignificance of Asian Americans to the American economy as a whole. He fairly spective demographics. There has been little in way of official ex- points out that Asian Americans are quantitaplanation for the cancellation beyond a trite tively inferior to other minority groups such as

by Ja

zib Z



African-Americans and Latinos and thus exclusive programming for them is not a necessity for a revenue-driven enterprise. Some suggest that the whole concept of segregated programming is flawed and such niche products are bound to fail in such a competitive landscape. This argument is somewhat dubious. For many years now, the veritable British Broadcasting Corporation has offered a channel exclusively to cater to its South Asian diaspora and this channel has become an integral part of its programming. Indeed, the airtime devoted to South Asian music, dramas and cooking has not only titillated South Asian immigrants but has attracted a fair chunk of viewers from outside the South Asian demographic. The United States has traditionally embraced foreign and exotic cultures to a larger extent than Europeans and there is no reason why this should be any different in the domain of television. If maintaining such broadcasting is truly infeasible, then that is fair grounds for eliminating it. But this turn of events could still serve as an impetus to increase the prominence of Asian Americans within the existing channel stream. The most popular content from the MTV World channels could be kept alive by being incorporated into MTV’s standard programming. It is notable that two Asian American characters prominent on television in recent times, William Hung and Sanjaya Malakar, were more appreciated for their unconventional styles than their raw talents. This is possibly because few Asian Americans are seen performing on television by the casual user, so the ones that get the rare opportunity are seen as out of the ordinary. A more concerted effort to give them a place on mainstream television would thus ensure that the culture of Asian Americans is recognized primarily for its artistic beauty for everyone, not just because it’s different. Hyphenated-identity television need not be an individual statement on the fringes, maybe its better off being a small part of everyone’s life. ■

But it was no secret that the channels had collectively failed to garner the anticipated popularity.

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Spring 2007

Non Profit Org. U.S. Postage Paid Palo Alto, CA Permit No. 187

***TIME VALUE PLEASE EXPEDITE*** Published by the Asian American Activities Center 545 Lomita Drive, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-3064 | (650) 723-3681 | http://a3c.stanford.edu


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