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没有勤奋与贡献,无以谈政治正确


费城/抱香书生

没有勤奋与贡献,无以谈政治正确

中国有句老话:富不过三。说的是第一代辛苦打拼创造财富,第二代至少还见证了父母辈的创业辛苦,懂得珍惜。到了第三代则对于财富来自勤奋毫无概念,往往在游手好闲纨绔人生中让祖辈辛苦积累的财富悄悄溜走。

美国的繁荣,不仅仅因为有深具远见的建国精神与进步的价值观,不仅仅因为有更文明进步的政治体制管理结构,也因为人民的勤奋与努力。远的不说了,经历过经济大萧条时代的美国人靠着坚强与勤奋挺了过去。肯尼迪总统的“不要问国家能给你什么,问一问你能给国家什么”凝聚激励了整整一代美国青年。做为新一代移民,我们很多人为了追求更好的未来漂洋过海,从零开始发奋学习,努力工作,终于用自己的勤奋与贡献,自豪地被这个伟大国家接纳认可。我们知道,美好未来始于勤奋与贡献。

但是今天,面临自身发展的瓶颈,面临全球化的竞争与挑战,美国人民将以什么心态与做为面对美国的明天?
美国人民有没有看到美国持续美好的根本动力所在?美国人民,包括年轻人,下一代有没有感觉到责任与压力,有没有勇气继承勤劳的精神,用贡献创造未来?

这个问题不分族裔背景。白人,非裔,亚裔。做为一个国家,应该在保障弱势群体基本权利权益与尊严的基础上明确地奖勤罚懒!习惯了向社会向政府(其实就是向辛勤劳动守法交税的纳税人)要福利与照顾的人不应该得到鼓励。有能力有条件却不愿意合法劳动为国家做贡献的人需要得到警告!不遵纪守法危害社会的人需要得到惩罚!天下没有免费的午餐。所有的福利都来自每一位勤奋努力的纳税人。期望分享福利而不愿做出自己努力的人,尤其是不珍惜因为他人辛苦努力创造财富而提供的社会各种福利包括合法发声的权利,必须意识到,大家同坐一艘船,而且是在与很多国家竞争的公海上。如果没有足够多的人努力,不仅仅会落后,还可能 沉没。承受后果的也必然是所有人,尤其是没有一技之长又不愿意努力的人。

八年前人们满怀期待地要求改变。今天,我们更期待改变。不过这个改变,是回归传统的,也是普世的精神与价值观:勤奋与贡献!不愿为此付出的,无以谈“政治正确”。

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梦里依稀身是客,原来参与是主人



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费城/抱香书生

梦里依稀身是客,原来参与是主人
— 八年前的“改变”与今天的“改变”

八年前,我坚定地投票给奥巴马,抱着一个强烈的“改变”的信念。美国诞生了历史上第一个少数族裔总统,同时收敛了咄咄逼人的强硬外交路线。

今天,我重又有了要求“改变”的激情,不仅会参与最后的大选投票,而且头一次参加了初选投票。然而今年,我渴求改变的冲动,不仅仅是关乎国家的正义,经济,安全与未来,更想改变的是华人的利益与未来。比之八年前,我更清醒地意识到我的一票,不仅仅是一个美国公民的态度,选择与呼声,更是一个少数民族,一个亚裔,一个华裔的态度,选择与呼声。也许或者即使,我的一票对谁最后当选的影响微不足道,但这是最有效展示华人对美国政治和政策对华人权益的影响的关心与维护的一种和平手段。我希望我的投票发出一种声音,做为美国华人,我希望看到的改变符合或维护包括华裔在内的美国人民和国家利益。

今年,我还希望看到另一种改变,就是来自华人自身的改变。华人权益,需要华人集体的声音和力量去争取去维护。寄托于一个完美的政策制度尤其还总能照顾到少数公民权益,在任何国家都是不现实的。然而有幸的是,这个国家毕竟提供了公民合法争取公平公正的各种渠道,其中最重要的就是投票权和参与权。八年前的我,虽然已然是公民,虽然也在大选中投票参与要求改变,但在参与社会的心理层面上依然是“梦里依稀身是客”。而今年,我希望改变。我们是这个国家的主人之一,而最能反映这种主人翁心态与身份的,就是更多地参与社会互动,社区建设,政治与决策的行动。学校活动与学区政策我们参与了没有?市镇财政预算与支出我们了解并同意吗?在各级政治结构和行政机构的选举中,谁更能代表我们利益与价值观?我们对本地以及更高级地方或国家政策与事物,尤其是涉及或影响到华人的,有没有通过正常合法渠道反映个人或集体的声音,或者采取个人或集体合法的行动?

通过自己的勤恳努力,在赢得属于我们的美好未来的同时为这个国家的未来做贡献,我们不是客人。选举国家总统,我们不是客人。参与社区与国家政治建设,我们也不应该是客人。也许当我们放弃自己人中间的抱怨,用声音,用身影,用参与,用对社区建设的贡献,用自己平等的政治权利参与各个角落各个级别的讨论与决策,用自己的投票权去影响政治人物时,我们的心态就会幡然变为“原来参与是主人”。

这是我在八年之后再投票的感慨与期许:改变,也从自己开始。做一个主人该做的事。

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Minority Students at Grade Schools

Today during casual conversations my 9 year old son and his best friend told me this event. Two weeks ago another friend (white, let’s call him Fred) made a rap song and shared with those boys in his  small circle (2 out of 5 are minorities but no blacks). The song went like this: “black people suck, they suck less than a buck, they suck, suck, suck….” The rap shocked those boys and they scolded Fred for racism and made him stop. This incident touched a sensitive nerve of mine, so that I probed my son and his friend for more intelligence. I know Fred pretty well. He is nice to his friends and respectful to adults. Fred has some anger issues so that he took out from certain kids including his younger brother. In the same week the only black boy at 3rd grade was suspended for two weeks as a result of repeated kicking of another  boy on his private part. Therefore Fred made the rap to bash the blacks in general. Apparently he made himself a fool and received scolding from his friends.

I immediately thought of the Peter Liang case. The black boy made a mistake and had been penalized with suspension. He should not be further penalized by receiving the outrageous rap. The black boy was spared from undue penalty by his friends which were properly taught by the school system. The difference in Liang’s case is he was not as lucky due to a corrupt system, the NYC government. The different treatments the black boy and Liang received amplify the importance of good systems. Bad systems make much harder to prevent damages to the societies and the people in them. Many schools are good but not flawless and people are not perfect. We may all be Fred or victimized by Fred once in a while. In those less than desirable situations minorities are usually more vulnerable. We all want our kids to have fun and prosper at school. I summarized the following ideas for young minority students and their parents to consider.

1. Assimilation is a powerful tool. Usually kids don’t have English issues. They may need to become culturally closer to the mainstream. Team sports or other group  activities  are effective means to help them blend into the environments different from their families. Kids are usually keen on what they need to do to be included. Immigrant parents lack of school experience at USA may need to pay extra attention to their kids behaviors and requests. Listen to your kids.
2. Make efforts to influence the systems.  Decent US schools have high standards of fair play rules and little tolerance on bully.  At school kids need to learn and practice how to raise attention and work with the authorities such as the teachers to seek protection or fairness.
3. Create alliances with other minority students.  Recognize other Chinese, Indians or blacks  can be your allies on certain issues.  If seeing unfairness to other minorities, you should help them. That is good for you as well.  My son’s grade there are less than 10% non-white students. I asked him to try to become acquainted with those minority students. At times they may need to unite for larger impact.
4. Make friends in general.  Friends make each other happy and help each other out. The fact you have friends shields you from being picked on by bullies.
5. Know your status as a minority,.  Know your strengths and weaknesses, and find your unique paths to your goals. Not every Chinese kids like to stay quiet and like only math and science.  The Chinese kids are just as diverse as other races.
Lastly I think we should teach our young kids how to live happy and fulfilling lives. Everybody just gets to live once, and this is one of the few things that are absolutely fair regardless of race, gender or the family you are born into.

Response to Misintepretation of 220 Rallies in Clara Wang’s Opinions on USA TODAY

Clara Wang’s USA TODAY Article
Clara-


As one of the organizers of the Peter Liang rally in Philadelphia, I have to say I strongly disagree with your overall opinions on those rallies in 43 cities across the nation. As a Chinese American, I hate to tell you I am disappointed that you, a top university educated Asian descendent, unfortunately misconstrued the rallies and our pledges. Furthermore, your article is spreading the wrong messages and bringing more misinterpretation to the general public. I ask you to stop, listen to me, and think again for yourself.

You wrote “both black and white activists misconstrue Asian activists as protesting Liang’s conviction. What they are really protesting is the fact that so many white cops before Liang got away with the same crime scot-free.” You may believe you have possessed the insider’s viewpoints on these protests as an Asian descendent. Unfortunately I have to tell you, you can’t be more wrong! The black and white activists are correct. We are protesting Liang’s conviction. We are protesting the NYPD’s bureaucracy which has created two victims, Gurley and Liang. We intend to stop this bureaucracy further victimizing Liang by over-penalizing him with a conviction disproportional to his misconduct. Based on your article I had to guess you really knew little about the depths and magnitude of these rallies and our pledges. Please spare yourself five minutes to watch some YouTube videos on those rallies. I doubt you would find substances to support your claims. Could you possibly have misjudged your fellow Asian protesters?

You stated people went on protests “wasn’t because the verdict was unjust. They were angry because so many white police officers involved in fatal shootings before him were let off. Liang,” Again, you are wrong! We are protesting because the conviction was unjust! We don’t believe Liang’s conviction of 2nd degree manslaughter fits the facts of a misfired bullet bouncing off a wall and accidentally hitting Mr. Gurley in the dark. More evidences have surfaced with regards to the accidental and tragic nature of Mr Gurley ‘s death, and the political undercurrent of the subsequent conviction. Those new findings have cast serious doubt on various aspects of this conviction including mishandled court hearings. Questions for you, in your idealist mindset, have you ever wondered why a then 26-year old, only several years senior of you, who may not be as privileged to enter a top university, got convicted for reckless 2nd degree manslaughter from a gun accident in NYC, where NO police officers have been convicted in line-of-duty shooting deaths for over a decade? Have you ever wondered why the NY Police Union did not spare him a top attorney, as the Union had previously done in similar incidents, as many other police unions in the country may have done? Have you ever wondered what life and death really meant to two rookie cops while patrolling at night in NYC house projects which at times can be war-zone like, and near where two police officers were killed in execution style in 2014? Have you ever wondered why NYPD had two rookie officers without adequate training patrolling in those highly dangerous areas? Aren’t you suspiciouu?  Had you thought through those facts, I doubt you would have stated “Liang is facing up to 15 years in prison, and rightfully so…for a police officer in a tense situation — especially in New York City — there is no room for panic”.

I trust you would do more research on this tragedy, rethink your opinions, and take corrective actions. If you need info, please contact me at fishswimsallday@gmail.com. I appreciate you have properly acknowledged a few good things of those protests such as breaking away from being the silent minority. Thank you.

The city as an arena for civic action

I recently dug up this 2014 TED talk by Asian American author, civic educator and politics commentator Eric Liu.  In this talk, Mr. Liu put forth the simple but often overlooked idea that the power of individual citizens are best realized at the local level, in the arena of the city.  Mr. Liu was President Clinton’s speechwriter so of course his own talk is very engaging.   I was reminded of Mr. Liu’s work by Wen’s recent essay urging Asian Americans to engage in local public service and politics.

A few days ago, a group of community volunteers started the Philadelphia Tri-State Chinese American Association. The mission of this nonprofit organization is to encourage and support Chinese Americans in local public service and politics. I think this is a wonderful and timely act.

Also by the way, here is a whimsical quiz written by Eric Liu to see how much political power YOU have:

(Not to be taken too seriously.)

Jason Shen: What is life like for the Asian American man in 2015?

I didn’t really think much about how my own race/ethnicity affected my life until 2011, when I read the ludicriously long piece in New York Magazine. It was called Paper Tigers, with the subtitle: “What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?” and it covered issues I had discussed occasionally with friends but rarely saw elsewhere.

Questions like how come Asians are rarely in leadership positions despite being “so smart”? Or is it possible to maintain traditional Asian values like being humble in a loud, show-off-to-get-ahead world? Or why the hell was dating so damn hard?

I thought Wesley Yang’s article was going to lead to a national conversation about these issues, given that Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua had been all over the media for months. But it didn’t happen. It’s understandable in some respects because he admits that he is “in most respects devoid of Asian characteristics”. While born to Korean parents, he does not: speak Korean, believe in Asian values, date Korean women or have any Korean friends. Maybe this was all he wanted to say about being an Asian man.

And yet, there’s more to our story.

Asians are the fastest growing minority group in America, while in sheer number are far fewer than blacks or latinos. a far smaller minority group compared with blacks and latinos, but are also growing faster than either. We often get lumped into the same category as whites in tech diversity reports, but when it comes it executive leadership, Asians are 2.5x less likely to be in an executive role compared to whites.

I was having some conversations with an old friend of mine, who’s Chinese, and who has been grappling with these issues both at work (he’s a resident at a hospital in NYC) and in his dating life (where he’s single again after a 3 year relationship). He encouraged me to write more about this topic, and I decided that if I were to do that, I’d need a lot more than a few stories from my own life and from my friends.

So I’m collecting some data via a side project called The Asian American Man Survey.

Already, over 100 East, South, and Southeast Asian men living in the United States have taken the study, sharing their perspectives on how they’re treated compared to whites, and non-Asian minorities, how they feel their race affects their opportunities at work, and how it plays a role in who they date and who they settle down with.

If you’re are an Asian man living in America or you know some who might be interested in this, I’d love if you could share this study with them.

I’ll be closing results on November 30th and sharing results sometime in December.

Source: http://www.jasonshen.com/2015/what-is-life-like-asian-american-man-in-2015/

AsianCivilRights.org’s response to CAAAV’s statement regarding Peter Liang’s Trial

Correspondence: Nancy R. Zhang (nrzhang@gmail.com), spokeswoman for Philadelphia’s 2/20/2016 #Justice4Liang Rally

On February 20, 2016, rallies held at more than 40 cities involving over 100,000 participants voiced loud and clear our deep and serious concerns over the conviction of former NYPD officer Peter Liang. Looking back, we are particularly disappointed with CAAAV’s hasty and misguided response to this tragic incident. We admire CAAAV’s dedication to serving the disadvantaged communities to which Akai Gurley belongs. However, we believe that CAAAV’s stance on this issue runs counter to the values of equality and justice on which the group was founded.

We disagree with CAAAV’s statement that Liang’s accidental shooting is “part of the systemic targeting of black people by the police” — Liang did not even see Gurley until minutes after Gurley was hit by the bullet, and hence this could not have been a race-inspired shooting. We disagree with their statement that the incident was “part of the institutional injustice we see everyday with law enforcement.” True, this tragic accident reflects deeper problems that pervade our law enforcement, but Liang’s act, of misfiring a bullet in to a wall in a pitch dark stairwell, is a far cry from the cases of police brutality that the CAAAV rightfully opposes.

Akai Gurley’s tragedy reveals inadequacies in the training that young NYPD police officers receive before taking to the streets. It reveals the dangers associated with NYPD’s policy of assigning teams comprised solely of inexperienced rookies to patrol New York’s most dangerous zones. It underscores the need for comprehensive security upgrades throughout New York’s public housing developments. Making Peter Liang a poster child for the city’s long-due response to police brutality is both unfair and counterproductive. It is unfair to Peter Liang. It is unfair to the past victims of true police brutality. It impedes progress by reinforcing the idea that responsibility for Gurley’s tragic death falls solely on the one individual at the frontlines, and not on the flawed system that placed him there.

We would also like to take this opportunity to clarify the misunderstandings reflected by the statements on CAAAV’s website.

  • By supporting Peter Liang and protesting against his conviction, we are not arguing for Liang’s innocence. We are protesting against the conviction of second degree manslaughter, which we believe to be too harsh.
    • By comparing the legal outcome for Liang’s case to the outcomes for the shooting of Michael Brown and the choking of Eric Garner, we are not voicing support for those past jury decisions. We invoke these past cases to emphasize the political pressures that served as a backdrop to Liang’s unfair ruling, and to highlight the selective prosecution that is so blatant in this case.

The tragedy of Akai Gurley’s death unfortunately happened amidst strained relations between NYPD and black communities. Yes, Black lives matter, but justice matters too. We admire CAAAV’s efforts to end racial injustice and empower Asian communities. However, we do not agree with CAAAV’s comparison of Liang’s incident with the shootings of Michael Brown and Rekia Boyd. These shooting incidents are clearly of a different nature. We hope that CAAAV, a group known for fighting injustice in America, can provide a more nuanced perspective on this complicated case.

What is all this about? — on the subject of race

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Recently, I found myself in a surprising role as the “media spokeswoman” for the Philadelphia 2/20 rally. You may ask how did I stumble into that role, well, I will save the reminiscing for another time. I certainly did not see it coming.

Before this, race was never something that I talked about publicly. In fact, the subject of race is something very personal to me. For example, although I am proud of my heritage I chose not to join any professional organizations with a “Chinese” in its title.   I feel strongly that, as an academic, I should be evaluated and grouped purely by the content of my ideas.  Having grown up in America, I do not remember encountering discrimination.

As a second generation immigrant I felt, and still feel, very comfortable with being yellow in America. It is only the recent events in the news that bothered me on a deep level. Bad things happen in America to all races, but recently they seem to be happening at an increasing frequency to Asian Americans.  There was the witch-hunt that led to the hasty arrest of Sherry Chen last year.  And then of Xiaoxing Xi right here in Philadelphia.  Now, we see this selective prosecution of Peter Liang.  Was I oblivious before, or is this anti-Asian sentiment really gathering steam?

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So, after this 220 rally for Peter Liang, a group of dedicated volunteers in Philadelphia are riding the momentum to start an Asian civil rights movement. I am proud to say that I am part of this passionate group!  But before I start calling myself an activist, I have to figure out what this is all about.

Why are we doing this? Most second generation Chinese that I know do not seem to be bothered by the recent events.  Many of these ABCs, or American Born Chinese, are also doing very well, through their hard work they are working in stereotypical non-Asian fields such as lawyers, artists, and even politicians. So, this racial “discrimination”, if we may call it that, is it unique to fresh-off-the boat (FOB) Chinese immigrants?

But, Peter Liang was second generation!  Seems we can’t just wait for assimilation to be the solution. Even a second generation local kid gets treated this way. But how much of Liang’s unfair treatment was because of his skin color, and how much of it was because of his remnant fob-ness, his lack of assimilation? If he were an assertive, truly Americanized banana, would he have met the same fate?

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At the press conference for the 220 rally I was asked the question “Do you think there was discrimination against Liang?” After hesitating, I said, “discrimination is a strong word. In Peter Liang’s case, there was unfair treatment. ”

In the following days, I lost quite a bit of sleep over this question. Was that the right way to answer it? My instinct was that in America people hate it when you play the race card. Or, more accurately, the white majority hate it when you play the race card. But we are playing the race card, why deny it? Yet, if Peter Liang were white, would I still think this outcome is unfair? Absolutely! But I probably wouldn’t feel strong enough to protest it on the streets.

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So now, for this civil rights movement or whatever it should be called, our main goal is to get Asians to become more socially and politically engaged, to stop being the silent minority.  How should that be achieved? And what role does assimilation play in all of this?

Will political involvement and social engagement come naturally as immigrants find and adjust to their new identity in this adopted country? For me, a second generation schizophrenic Chinese American, identity is an especially illusive concept.  For everyone, finding identity in America must be a personal thing, something that needs to be taken at one’s own pace. If anything, I hope that my involvement in this whole cause can help others find their own voice.

If you have read this far, well, I would really like to hear how you feel. What do you think our efforts are all about?

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