Withheld National Merit Awards From Asian-American Students

Seventeen high schools in Virginia withheld National Merit awards impacting Asian-American students. According to Fairfax County Times, “an estimated 75 percent of National Merit Semifinalists—a notch above Commended Students—are of Asian heritage.” This is absurd. This type of shits makes me want to vote for Republicans and Youngkins.

Merriam-Webster Misdefines Bánh Mì

Merriam-Webster defines bánh mì as:

a usually spicy sandwich in Vietnamese cuisine consisting of a split baguette filled typically with meat (such as pork or chicken) and pickled vegetables (such as carrot and daikon) and garnished with cilantro and often cucumbers

Bánh mì simply means baguette. What Merriam-Webster describing is bánh mì thịt, which translates as baguette with meat.

Less Asian

Amy Qin, writing for The New York Times:

Many families still seek out professional advice. In interviews, college admissions consultants spoke about trying to steer their Asian American clients away from so-called typically Asian activities such as Chinese language school, piano and Indian classical instruments like the venu flute.

Maybe we should save money by not sending our kids to piano private lesson. Qin writes:

Many consultants said that, when it came to elite college admissions, it was not enough to just be a well-rounded student. Differentiation is the name of the game, regardless of race.

Part of the problem, some college consultants say, is that there are kernels of truth in the stereotypes of Asian applicants. Within the communities, violin and piano are, in fact, oversubscribed activities, the consultants say, making it difficult for most students to stand out.

“I often tell families that instead of playing violin or piano, which is something almost every Chinese American can check off on their profile, try a different instrument,” said Shin Wei, the founder and chief executive of IvyMax, an admissions counseling company based in California.

Sure, how about trying different sports like rollerblading or skateboarding. Qin reports:

Lap Nguyen, 20, a junior at Harvard, had also leaned into generational themes, writing about his love for the language of his birth country, Vietnam, and his experience teaching that language to his little brother.

I am glad Lập Nguyễn wrote about his love for Vietnamese and was accepted to Harvard.

Patterns of Hate in Asian American History

Professor Dana Y. Nakano, writing for The Rafu Shimpo:

The persistent visible racial difference of Asian Americans and its associated assumptions of forever foreignness, disloyalty, and non-belonging can so easily become an outward trigger for violence and hate at any moment. Anti-Asian sentiment and violence are racism. Knowing our history helps put this into perspective.

The entire article is a must-read.

A Black Man Who Attacked an Asian Woman was Sentenced to 17.5 Years in Prison

Tammel Esco, a 42-year-old Black man, was charged with second-degree attempted murder after he punched a 67-year-old Asian American woman more than 100 times, stomped on her seven times, spat on her, and cursed at her. The attack was brutally captured on the video. What a senseless hate crime. He deserves the full sentence.

Asian American Students Got a Boost

In her research, Dr. Jennifer Lee, a sociology professor at Columbia University, found that “K-12 teachers and schools may actually give Asian Americans a boost based on assumptions about race.” She opines in The New York Times:

A Vietnamese American student I’ll call Ophelia (all names have been changed to protect participants’ privacy under ethical research guidelines) described herself as “not very intelligent” and recalled nearly being held back in second grade because of her poor academic performance. Ophelia had a C average throughout elementary and junior high school, and when she took an exam to be put in Advanced Placement classes for high school English and science, she failed. Ophelia’s teachers placed her, with her mother’s support, on the AP track anyway. Once there, she said that something “just clicked,” and she began to excel in her classes.

“I wanted to work hard and prove I was a good student,” Ophelia explained. “I think the competition kind of increases your want to do better.” She graduated from high school with a grade-point average of 4.2 (exceeding a perfect 4.0) and was admitted into a highly competitive pharmacy program. Ophelia’s performance was precisely what her teachers expected, so they did not have to confront the role they may have played in reproducing the stereotype of Asian American exceptionalism.

Rummana Hussain also has an interesting take on affirmative action.

A Vietnamese Hacker Turned Humanitarian

Koh Ewe, writing for Vice:

Hieu grew up in Cam Ranh, a city in south Vietnam, where his parents owned a small electronics store. He got his first computer when he was 13, and by age 14, the curious teen was already dipping his toe into the world of hacking, inspired by a man he had befriended at a local internet cafe.

Bánh Mì Entered American Dictionary

Merriam-Webster defines bánh mì:

a usually spicy sandwich in Vietnamese cuisine consisting of a split baguette filled typically with meat (such as pork or chicken) and pickled vegetables (such as carrot and daikon) and garnished with cilantro and often cucumbers

Vietnamese Names

Thảo Võ, writing for Salon:

The Vietnamese language is written with marks — diacritics — that represent different tones. To me, the diacritics represent childhood. They represent confusion. They represent something I cannot reach. It’s a change in the pitch of my voice that I have not perfected. It’s my entire family history. And so the saying of my name and the writing of it becomes complicated. I’m not here to teach my colleagues Vietnamese. I can’t. I can barely pronounce the language correctly myself. It’s a gift to be given or earned. My heart warms when I hear Vietnamese spoken with a southern accent. It’s something for me to work toward.

It’s a beautiful personal essay that reassures me that it’s OK to give my kids Vietnamese names. Xuân and Vương are difficult for Americans to pronounce, but I love to see them try.

The King of Misinformation Had Been Shut Down

I was late to the party, but I was filled with joy when I found out last night that The King Radio account on YouTube got shut down. Ngụy Vũ, the self-proclaimed the King Radio, is more like the Vietnamese Alex Jones who spread misinformation including wearing a mask can kill you.

Ngụy Vũ’s studio is located right inside Eden Center. It used to be a Kobe Phở restaurant. I knew then that this guy was a scam because his phở was plain. He just beefed up the Kobe steak. There were not many customers and the rent in Eden Center was not cheap. He shut down the restaurant and converted it into a radio station. His YouTube account was pulling in over 90K subscribers.

I tried to listen to one of his episodes, but I could not get past 10 minutes. He was rambling on and on about right-wing conspiracy theories. I did not understand how YouTube allowed his misinformation to spread freely and dangerously on its platform. It took John Oliver who pointed Ngụy Vũ out in his Last Week Tonight episode on digital misinformation for YouTube to take action.

When I found out last night through one of the Cub Scout parents, I checked YouTube immediately. Ngụy Vũ already set up a new account with less than 5K subscribers. Although John Oliver brought the attention to YouTube, users who reported his account got him banned. We need to stop him from poisoning our Vietnamese-American community. I reported his new account as well.