Category Archives: Media

Thoughts on BET Awards and Appropriation and being Yellow and Jesus

So, I just read, “Dear BET Awards, Why did you think it was okay to Appropriate Asian Culture?”  And to be completely honest, I didn’t watch the BET awards. I didn’t even watch the Jesse Williams’ speech that all my friends shared.  However, I clicked this letter while wondering if the blogger was just being “oversensitive.”
Then I read the letter. Then I watched the video.  Then I wondered about it means to “appropriate.”  Then I thought a lot of things.  I’m going to try to walk you through my thoughts because my ultimate point isn’t to point to hypocrisy or to even assume it was intentional, but to perhaps make connections between trends that both I see and others seem to be uncovering.
[[Ten Second Word Association Break:  APPROPRIATION: Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Blackface, Kimmy Schmidt Season 2, Oriental, Blackish, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Tiger Lily, Halloween, Awkward Black Girl]]
I’ve been listening to a lot of Hamilton and I just super admire Miranda’s choice to use minorities to represent the US “immigrant/minority”-founding fathers because it’s true – even though our founding fathers were white, the point is that their status was that of what an immigrant minority might be today. (I also love how he uses rap as the “new” language and traditional, harpsichord, musical-y singing for the British king.)
Rough US history that’s more or less accurate-ish (notice how noncommittal this title is)
  • Back then, the British looked down on the colonists.
  • Then the British-heritage Americans looked down on immigrants from other nations.
  • Then the white Americans looked down on black and brown Americans
  • Maybe now that Black/brown people have more of a voice, they look down on the yellow?
Is this intentional? I don’t think so. But perhaps it’s a lesson about sensitivity.
A friend of mine was saying how the racist Red Cross posters  that were trending yesterday seemed blown out of proportion.  I looked at it today, and I see it. Maybe because I study this. And I do believe that there are certain defaults that people do because of our history, our schooling, and our unconscious biases.
I think we notice things that are dear to us.  And I guess up to this point, most people would agree.  Then we’d split into the “It wasn’t malicious, move on!”-Camp or the “Blow the whistle and change!”-Camp.
And maybe because Asian people aren’t loud about offenses, because of the fact that we’re used to the way we’re portrayed, that it has been a “non-factor”. Or maybe because of the desire to “unite” and support other minorities, we turned a blind eye to the racism thrust at us.  (For example, I was never comfortable with how this Chinese girl was treated when she shared an anecdote of experiencing racism from a black person, but I felt that maybe it would distract from the rallying cause of blacks, and maybe it’s better to just wait…)
[[ Aside: This year, at one of my schools, one girl (who also just had many other issues), kept swearing at me (3 times) and referring to me as “Chinita.”  I asked for a conflict-res conversation , andwhen the adult who was supposed to moderate this for me came to “prep” me, he mainly explained how in latino culture, it’s normal to call Asians “Chinita” and that no offense was meant by it.  Then in our conversation, it was about how this girl “hurt my feelings” until I veered the conversation towards community and the message that it sends to other people when you call someone a “chinita.”  I mean honestly – I didn’t want a conflict-resolution because my feelings were hurt – it just shouldn’t be a non-issue that the one Asian teacher is being called this!]]


Okay, the point isn’t to point out grievances against Asians.  Nor is it to point out how other minorities are also racist, because let’s be real – even WITHIN races and ethnicities, there are prejudiced factions.  I guess it’s that.. if I assume positive intent (hur hur), the learning for  communities may be that many times, the more powerful group doesn’t intend racism – so we don’t need to jump down their throats when they make mistakes, and we should be patient, because… the same mistakes will probably happen again… and there are many ways to get your way – so think about how you want to go about getting it.

This doesn’t mean you have to just let it go by.  But perhaps it means being more gracious when you do point it out.  [[Here is where I erased a few pointed/snappish remarks. I don’t think they translate well into type but you can hear it from me in person if you’d like]].

[[Final Aside:// This reminded me of a sermon my pastor preached a few weeks back in Ephesians 2:11-13.    K, I know the verses seem super random and hard to get and the sermon itself is a 78-minute doozy, but let me briefly explain the context.  As Paul writes this letter, he’s reminding the people of Ephesus, the Gentiles (aka non-Jews) about their background.  This piece here also serves as a huge reminder of how basically, in one generation, the gap between the Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles/goyiim) – one that has historically been preserved since Israel was a nation and has definitely been hostile – was bridged by the gospel… and I think that’s what’s super interesting about a truly biblical church. You go in and the commonality isn’t in ethnicity, socio-economic status, or whatnot, but it’s in the commonality of Christ.]]

Basically… people! Understand that you might be oppressed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also be an oppressor.  So, Be. Gracious. And… if need be, admit that you’re wrong.  I promise, it won’t make you look weak or lose ground.

(But then ultimately, what change can there be until our hearts are changed?)

#rockandahardplace #imout



It’s my birthday, I can alienate folks if I want to…

This week’s hot topics (in no particular order): 

  1. Never-ending race-based police brutality (and denial of it)
  2. Call for extraditing the dentist that killed Cecil the lion
  3. Planned Parenthood funding
  4. Meek Mill v. Drake

I’m gonna talk about #3.

Amidst the histrionics on both sides, I’m having a hard time finding numbers.

Plus, their site is down right now (8/2/15)

Plus, their site is down right now (8/2/15)

This is my.. rudimentary start…
Planned Parenthood received $360 million in federal funding. That’s $360,000,000.

If only 1% of that went towards abortions, that means, it would be $3,600,000 … which is still $3.6 million. (Although I believe it’s 3% so.. let’s round to $10 million).

About 50% of federal revenues come from income tax. (

so $5 million of federal revenue goes towards abortions.

I know that seems really tiny. I know PP’s services are more than just abortions. I’m pretty sure no one’s going to shut them down.

But, my $0.02 is this.

I’m working at a school that focuses on our community. I don’t think we could do so much within our community if we were a huge federal organization (like TFA). I don’t know if “scale” is always the best when human well-being is in question. If we truly care about family planning, early pregnancies, relationship abuse.. I really do think it should be more localized. When organizations get huge, that’s when you get the callousness and depersonalization (which might be why we saw people sipping wine and discussing baby parts — let’s not decry the footage, the WHOLE thing is available online if you think it’s doctored). So, if PP were defunded, I wouldn’t mind. I’d keep working where I’m working, go down the pipeline, and figure out how best to PREVENT these things in the first place and how best to SUPPORT with long-term well-being in mind.

This year, an estimated 640,000 babies were aborted (less than 1% due to rape). Eeks. Since PP began, almost 7 million (7,000,000) babies have been aborted. (

Sure, to some a fetus is a “cluster of cells”, but let’s be real. Anybody who took high school biology knows we’re ALL a cluster of cells. Cell > Tissue > Organ > Systems > Body #amirite? haha.

So again, it comes to the question of personhood and when that begins. The line is getting grayer and grayer as people are now able to abort late-term pregnancies.

I get that we all have a right to our own body… but I’d like to quote a friend here (who’s currently pregnant):

I have a right to my own body. I DO NOT understand why I have a right to HERS. I support and am thankful for a woman’s rights to health, safety, and happiness. It kills me that those rights are not extended to the little one inside of me, and that I, her mother, am granted the right to take that away.

For me, the main mind-boggling part is it really just SEEMS like it has to do with *want*. If the baby is *wanted* the baby is a boy/girl. If the baby isn’t wanted, it is a fetus/parasite. That just seems so contradictory and unfair… that someone’s future could be determined by whether or not he/she is wanted. Especially since data  shows that there are many reasons for abortions – but only about 1/8 have to do with health risks.

Couple that with data that seems to show that abortion locales are predominately located in low-income, minority neighborhoods, and that females are more likely to aborted than males……. To me, this is where human rights truly come in and where I think I could give a voice to the voiceless.

This is why – even though I know many of my friends/contacts on social media would disagree with me – I’ll still pipe up when I can. At the end of the day, I can’t just go with what others tell me and what the Bay Area would deem popular (I used to support PP too). There is too much at stake for that.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Deitrich Bonhoeffer

PS. Things that bug me

  • Reading invectives hurled at people who want their federal tax dollars to not go towards abortion.  Or just the fact that right now, people are using clever and humorous ad hominem, slippery slope, and strawman arguments…
  • Planned Parenthood’s power and political clout
  • This article reflects a majority of my views but speaks with so much vitriol, I wasn’t able to share it on Facebook for fear that people would focus on the bones and miss the meat  (aka throw the baby out with the bath water).

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The ups and the downs.

I read this article, “Where Have All the Teachers Gone” today.  In particular this stood out.

“An analysis just out from Georgetown’s Edunomics Lab argues that boosting class size for great teachers would save money that could then be funneled into bonuses for those educators taking on a larger load. The savings would come largely from a reduction in the overall teaching force, angering teachers unions and their allies.”

Calm down teachers unions.  What sane teacher would boost their class size for extra money?  I don’t want you to pay me more for added time or kids, I want less kids for the same pay.

Today was really rough. I had a hard time keeping the simmering anger down and when I got cut off on the bridge and there was weepy country music in the background, I couldn’t help but start to cry out of self-pity.  Amidst the excuses and trying to empathize with two students who made it hard today, I harshly told myself that maybe that time of the month was approaching.

But there comes a fault where it just can’t be my fault.  As I neared the last light before my house, I glared at the blinking red hand and railed against this piloted “rotations” system going on in my classroom.  I’m told that the light is closer than I think and I’m doing better than I’m giving myself credit for.  But at the end of the day, nothing feels worth it.

I try to concentrate on the rest of the kids.  The laughs.  The miniature successes.  And how with a rotations system, I can finally give some of my higher kids extra attention too.  But what do I do about little Bo Pete who stares at me blankly.  How many more emergency meetings are we going to have on differentiation and outlier students?  I’ve heard the science teacher explain her differentiation piece three times now in three meetings with I’m sure the same audience.  I’ve heard us voice the same issues.  Kids know that all they need to do in my class is work hard.  If I have Mr. Freshly-Tested-Out-of-His-IEP and Ms. ELL/IEP/Missed-class-because-of-broken-leg thriving, what’s the excuse for the kids who claims that “I get him in trouble” or “nothing will change” or “it’s because others distract me”?  How do  I respond to ridiculous requests like, “when I’m distracted, let me go for a five minute walk, let me listen to music, seat me somewhere else, seat me near a friend?”

Do I reward you because you, as a fourteen-year-old, can’t hold it together?  Sure, go on your five-minute walk.  Then come back and be more confused than before.  And then get more frustrated!

Or sure, go ahead and listen to music.  Oh wait, you don’t know what’s going on because you’re spacing out even more?  I’ll take time out of my lunch break to help you out.

Oh sure, sit with your friend who’s going to “help” you.  Wait! Now you’re both throwing things at someone else at the table?

Give me a break.

And while I’m juggling kids, there’s people who promise help and never deliver. That’s even worse.

And I promisepromisepromise you, I have it really good here.  How do I deal?  Money’s definitely not what’s going to sweeten it.

What’s interesting though, is that when kids are rotten, something sweet happens with the school.  And when school things discomfit me, the kids are pretty sweet.  I’m thankful for a happy end of the day.  Now onto the massload of emails concerning students I sent to the office, a failed conflict-management, and phone calls home.

Dear “Education Innovation Grant Donors”, I really really really dislike you.

Dear Education Innovation Grant Donor,

I really dislike you.  You come into cities, districts, and states with your shiny, quiet offices and fancy titles to dangle all this money right out of our reach.  It’s quite easy to get this money, you say.  All you’re looking for are schools that are serving their kids, being innovative, thinking outside the box, providing 21st century skills.

You lie.

What you really mean is you want us to be like [insert some school you love here].  What you really mean is that you want us to flood our classrooms with yet untested technologies from partner* companies.  What you really mean is that you will look at the numbers instead of delving deep into what’s actually happening at a school.

You’ll give a school a gold star just because their data appears stellar (high test scores, abnormally high college acceptance rate, serving low-income population), without actually looking at how they’ve achieved it (paternalistic disciplinary practices, no extra-curriculars, no college graduations).  You’ll give us lofty ideas and advice (try montessori, try flipping the classroom, scale your model, blow up your model) without a clue as to how implementation would work. You’ll encourage us to pilot, pilot, pilot without acknowledging that in reality this is experimenting on kids who don’t have any other options.

You are a parasite disguised as a benefactor.

You don’t actually know what teaching entails.  You have a vague notion of what success means.  You think that all you need are good managers and consultants to help you get your innovative grant donor-ing group to do well.  You think that your two years of teaching experience and grad school has earned you the right to march into our buildings and “consult”.  You think your ideas are news to us and that they will help us turn things around.

And guess what?  You have so much money, that we are willing to listen, meet, pander, and spin our schools at different angles just so we can get some.

Because we don’t really have a choice.  Do we?

In truth,


*aka, you serve on their board or payroll

Links Dump! Because today is interesting

Being Bored Makes You Brilliant!  This article is about the time people spend on smartphones and how rarely people are bored.  And yet, it is in boredom that  brilliance happens!  An iOS app (Moment) is mentioned and a challenge (less phone time) is issued.  Oh yes and a video (of people in NYC on phones) is shown.  As a new smartphone owner, I prided myself in not being connected.  But lately I’ve gotten the hang of Instagram and…

An Algorithm Teaches Math!  Okay, basically, it’s 100 kids in a gym-like classroom with partitions and 15 teachers and assistants and a computer.  I like this article because the grain of salt is in it.  It’s another approach at Blended Learning, and I can see this style definitely being issued because honestly, at a certain point “disruptive innovation” is not about getting the most quality but getting a “good enough” for the most amount of consumers.  Sadly, in this case, consumers are our students (aka, our future) and “good enough” is not good enough!  Anyway, off my platform.  This article is INTERESTING in its descriptions, caution, and qualifiers!  And again, creativity and critical thinking gets the boot.  sigh.   (ps: spoiler alert: blended learning is not cheaper)

East Palo Alto v. Silicon Valley – This article will take multiple sits as it’s super long.  Yet it’s very nuanced and covers the history of the more implicit racism at play from the 50’s and onward.  Having lived here for 5 years, I recognized a lot of buildings and areas and ideas that I took for granted.  We studied A Raisin in the Sun in high school.  I wonder why although we touted diversity, we were never pointed to the glaring pink elephant right over the bridge.

Speaking of the 50s…

Photos of Korea in 1952 – Korea.  Because the war was still going on.  These are photos from Captain John Randolph Coupland III from the US Army.  It reminds me that in order for any country to be “fully developed”, they need to go through the awkward “developing” stage.  It causes me to admire the Korean spirit in how they are always so determined and so FAST at trying to accomplish.  It also causes me to mourn because it’s so broken with totalitarian brainwashing in the north and mindless consumerism in the south.

Pushing Back Against the “School Saves” Narrative

An unpublished post from 2/20/14 (two months ago).  Still applies.

We’ve seen this everywhere: stories, op-eds, movies.  The teacher or the school flies into the neighborhood or town.  Takes out their Mary Poppins carpetbag of tricks and voila, students change!

I watch clips like these, and I’m not gonna lie – it gets me every time. I cry, I weep, I feel guilt, I feel relief.

Yet at the same time, I feel scorn, and I know the satire and the naivete. And it reeks.

I see someone of privilege come in and say the exact words I say to my kids:

The positive, “I know this is not you – I know you can do better, you are better.”

The strict, “You gotta give respect to earn respect!”

The risque, “After you die, you rot in the ground, and everyone else will go on living!” ..  That sort of response is supposed to achieve a hush-hush effect, the whole “did she really say that?” thing.  The words that adults disapprove of yet also admire and defend showing how this teacher is “level” to the kids.  This teacher was just spouting “real talk.”

Honestly, it sucks.  How does a teacher from a middle class background actually know anything about their students?  How can they realistically speak “hard” “street” words when they drive a car and have insurance and a savings account?  Half of these teachers are in their first jobs out of college and they weren’t going to make it as I-bankers or get into law school right away, so they’re here to make themselves for competitive.

I’m not saying baby the kids.  They don’t need that.  But… there has to be something more.

I know Lisa Delpit and David Whitman could probably give a more nuanced explanation/critique. But my poor poor mind is so frizzled that at this point, only the emotions that I felt from grad school remain.  The actual research and analyses?  Buried somewhere in the recesses of my brain (or so I would like to think).