Monday, July 26, 2010

Lao American Writers Summit

We're less than 3 weeks away from the 1st ever Lao American Writers Summit and there's still time to register! As you may or may not know, I have been actively partaking in what will be a historic event in our history as Lao American writers and artists from around the nation will gather for the first Lao American Writers Summit on August 13-15, 2010 at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. The event includes panel discussions, workshops and author readings. If you, or anyone you know might be interested in participating, please read on below and contact for further questions or information:
The grass-roots Lao American Writers Summit examines ways Lao American writers create and present work to transform their lives and their world. Confirmed summit participants include award-winning film-makers, writers and performers such as myself - Catzie Vilayphonh, Saymoukda Vongsay, playwright and author of “No Regrets,” and acclaimed poets Phayvanh Leukhamhan, Mali Phonpadith, Souvankham Thammavongsa, and of course my very good friend Bryan Thao Worra, who is responsible for bringing all this together.

Lao culture traces its artistic and literary roots to the 14th century. Modern Laos, a nation approximately the size of Great Britain, is home to over 60 ethnicities, each with their own linguistic traditions and customs. In the United States there are approximately 200,000 Lao who have resettled here since the wars of the 20th century.

In recent years, the Lao community in America has produced an Oscar-nominated film, several books and explored magazine production, blogging and the literary performing arts, identifying distinctive
challenges and opportunities for the modern artist. A free reading for the public is scheduled on the evening of Saturday, August 14th.

Discounts are available for students, teachers and elders. For more information about this literary event, email or visit the summit website at

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Friday, July 09, 2010


Corey Moore/KPCC
Aigge Patterson leads a protest at Leimert Park against the involuntary manslaughter verdict in the Mehserle case

Activists protest involuntary manslaughter verdict in Mehserle shooting case

5:46 a.m. | Corey Moore | KPCC

Protesters in Los Angeles are expressing outrage over the verdict handed down in the case of Johannes Mehserle. An L.A. jury yesterday found the white former transit officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed African-American man. The incident happened early on New Year’s Day 2009 during a confrontation at an Oakland train station.

Soon after the announcement of yesterday’s verdict, dozens of demonstrators gathered at Leimert Park in South L.A. Aigge Patterson led the protest.

“Our coalition’s stance and across California with all the coalitions for Oscar Grant is straight up and down that anything other than a murder conviction is not justice," Patterson shouted into a microphone. "Anything less for what we would have gotten for committing the same cold-blooded murder is not justice of any sort. And we are not going to stand for anything less. We are not going to allow them to get away with murder over and over and over again y'all."

Protesters at Leimert Park carried signs that said “Justice for Oscar Grant” as others took the microphone and expressed their outrage.

Architect Raz Karl was there. The father of two young sons expressed anger over the verdict. He admitted that it may deliver a tough lesson to Oscar Grant’s family.

“Oscar Grant’s parent and uncles – I’ve been hearing them talk," said Karl. "I haven’t heard one thing about what they taught him. I think Oscar’s mistake, being a young dad, is you can’t be going out on New Year’s Day fighting with nobody. And unfortunately I’m going to hold Oscar to that first action.”

Prosecutors said the officer meant to shoot Grant because he thought the young man was resisting arrest. That’s why they sought a second-degree murder conviction. But the jury decided on involuntary manslaughter.

Sentencing for Johannes Mehserle is scheduled for August 6.

Officer guilty in Oakland transit shooting

Police in riot gear braced for protests

Last Updated: Thursday, July 8, 2010 | 8:40 PM ET Comments43Recommend37

A pedestrian passes a mural on Thursday of Oscar Grant in Oakland,
 Calif., shortly before a jury delivered an involuntary manslaughter 
verdict in Johannes Mehserle's trial. A pedestrian passes a mural on Thursday of Oscar Grant in Oakland, Calif., shortly before a jury delivered an involuntary manslaughter verdict in Johannes Mehserle's trial. (Noah Berger/Associated Press)
  A former transit officer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Thursday in the shooting death of an unarmed man on an Oakland train platform in a 2009 encounter that set off days of racial rioting in the city.

The jury deliberated more than six hours over two days to convict Johannes Mehserle, who is white, in the killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, a black man who was shot to death as he lay face-down.
Involuntary manslaughter carries a sentence of two to four years.

Mehserle was placed in handcuffs and taken away after the verdict. He turned to his family and mouthed, "I love you, guys."
Johannes Mehserle, right, testified that he thought Grant had a 
weapon.Johannes Mehserle, right, testified that he thought Grant had a weapon. (Cathleen Allison/Associated Press)
  At least five bystanders videotaped the New Year's Day incident in what was among the most racially polarizing cases in California since four Los Angeles officers were acquitted in 1992 in the beating of Rodney King.

On the east side of San Francisco Bay, police in riot gear were deployed on the streets of Oakland, fearing protests would erupt following the verdict. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement urging Californians to remain calm and not resort to violence.

A crowd near Oakland City Hall moaned and cursed when they heard the verdict. A dozen people gathered in a semi-circle to pray.

"It's not real, it's not real. Where's the justice? He was killed in cold blood," said Amber Royal, 23, of Oakland.

Grant family lawyer John Burris said the family was "extremely disappointed" with the verdict.

"This verdict is not a true representation of what happened to Oscar Grant and what happened to him that night. This was not a voluntary manslaughter case," Burris said.

The jury had a choice between murder and lesser charges of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. The panel included eight women and four men, and none listed their race as black.

Seven said they were white, three were Latino and one was Asian-Pacific. One declined to state their race.

The verdict followed a three-week trial in which prosecutors played videos recorded by bystanders, and witnesses recounted hearing the frightening gunshot that killed Grant.

Mehserle, 28, testified that he struggled with Grant and saw him digging in his pocket as officers responded to reports of a fight at a train station. Fearing Grant could have a weapon, Mehserle said he decided to shock Grant with his Taser but pulled his .40-caliber handgun instead.

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney David Stein said in his closing argument that Mehserle let his emotions get the better of him and intended to shoot Grant with the handgun without justification.
One of Grant's friends, Jackie Bryson, testified that Mehserle said "(expletive) this" before firing the fatal shot.

Defence lawyer Michael Rains contended the shooting was a tragic accident. Mehserle had no motive to shoot Grant, even though he was resisting arrest, the lawyer argued.

Planned to use stun gun

Rains also said Mehserle told a colleague before the shooting: " I can't get his hands. I'm going to tase him."

Mehserle pleaded not guilty to murder and resigned from the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency after the shooting.

Fallout from the shooting was swift in Oakland after the videos were shown on television and the internet. The shooting and the nearly two weeks it took to arrest Mehserle sent the city into a tailspin of violence as downtown businesses were damaged, cars were set ablaze and clashes erupted between protesters and police.

Grant has become a martyr of sorts in a city where more than a third of residents are black. His omnipresent image on buildings and storefront windows arguably rivals that of slain hometown rapper Tupac Shakur.

Grant's family and friends filed multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the transit agency. Only the mother of Grant's daughter has reached a settlement.

Prior to his death, Grant had been released from jail after being sentenced to 16 months for a gun possession charge, filed after he ran from police and was subdued by an officer with a stun gun.

Read more:

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

FAMILY STYLE!!! FRI., JULY 16 @ AAI, 7:30pm

Family Style
Open Mic Series
Third Fridays of the month:
UPCOMING: Friday, July 16, 7:30 p.m.
$5-10 sliding scale admission

Hosted by YELLOW RAGE (Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh), AAI's popular monthly Asian American open mic FAMILY STYLE welcomes extended “family” from all communities and cultures.

Sign up for the open mic here! (Advance sign-up is strongly recommended!)

July's open mic features DAN KIM and the theme "LOST & FOUND."

Photography by Ernie Pena

Dan Kim is an actor, writer, and stand-up comedian who has performed in countless venues across the nation, including New York City's popular Laugh Lounge and Los Angeles' renowned East West Players.

He is a founding member of Asians Misbehavin', an Asian American multimedia performance group whose works have been featured on WYBE TV and at New York's premiere Fringe Festival.

His wry wit and musings about Asian American identity, geekdom, show business, and technology can be found at the Geeky Asian Guy Blog

Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 02, 2010


Hello beautiful people,

I just received this from our friend Anselmo Villanueva in Oregon.  Please support this boycott of "The Last Airbender" movie.  My kids and I love the cartoon--and it's so nice to see Asian and Inuit representation in such a positive way for our children.  But Hollywood's casting of white actors in these roles for the movie is an insult but typical of their continued Yellow Face and race bending/white washing practices. I personally am finished supporting M. Night Shyamalan movies as well.

In Struggle and Solidarity,

* * * * *

From Anselmo:

Han invited you to "Boycott 'The Last Airbender' Film" today. Maki Doolittle, Leo Chiang, and 8 other friends are also invited.

Han says, "I'm aware that many of you might actually disagree with Racebending on the issue of the casting of the Last Airbender film.  If nothing else, please watch our doc: "Yellow Face" which will be online in the next few days before you purchase a movie ticket.".

Event: Boycott 'The Last Airbender' Film
Start Time: Today, July 1 at 12:00am
End Time: Thursday, September 16 at 2:00pm
Where: Your Wallet

To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:

The Facebook Team

"We want to support The Last Airbender film, but we cannot in good conscience support a production that systematically excludes people of color from heroic roles."

'The Last Airbender' (2010) is a live-action Paramount film directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It is based on a popular cartoon called 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' on Nickelodeon. The world of 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' was heavily inspired by Asian and Inuit cultures, and championed by Asian and Inuit heroes.

For children, the animated series was an opportunity to witness heroes and heroines of color – an opportunity that enriched all of us, regardless of ethnicity. With the live-action film adaptation, that opportunity was lost.


'The Last Airbender' cast white actors to portray Asian/Inuit heroes, the latest example of Caucasians playing Asians (e.g., '21', 'Dragonball Evolution', 'Kung Fu', and more).

Paramount's choices have taken the film away from the integrity and dedication to cultural accuracy that fans respected in the original animated series.

Did they find the best actors? Initial casting calls for the principal roles clearly indicated a preference by using the wording, "Caucasian or any other ethnicity."

This preference was not seen when casting for background actors which sought "authentic Asians." Relegating actors of color to unnamed featured characters, villains and background extras perpetuates Hollywood's glass ceiling.  [More:]

The most important color in Hollywood is green. Paramount, or any other production company, should NOT PROFIT from such discriminatory casting practices.


1. Do NOT pay to see this film in theaters. This is most important.*

2. Tell your friends and family that you're boycotting the film and why. Discourage them from watching the film if you can.

3. Do NOT endorse or purchase any promotional products connected to the film (e.g., action figures, Happy Meals, novelizations, video games, etc.).

4. DO endorse products connected to the original animated series (e.g., series DVDs, toys, artbooks, etc.).

* If you do nothing else, please DO NOT PAY to see this film in theaters. Box office figures are the biggest indicator of a film's success or failure. If you really, and I mean REALLY want to see it, wait a couple of months to rent it on DVD. Or better yet wait til it's On Demand; the idea is to only give them cents instead of dollars if any money at all.


This is not the first instance of racebending in film, nor will it be the last. 'The Last Airbender' is the biggest and most recent example. We ultimately want to end the practice of yellowfacing, whitewashing, and racebending in the media.

Now is the time to make your voice heard.


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