Remember when we all cheered for Asian Americans Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan? Gone are the days when we sat as a nation, riveted in front of our TVs, watching women’s figure skating during the Winter Olympics. So what’s there to cheer for in 2010?
On Jan. 16, Houston became the first city in the United States to name a major commercial area after Mahatma Gandhi. The Hillcroft-Harwin area, where the new Gandhi signboards are displayed, is dominated by South Asian businesses. Houston Mayor Annise Parker told Voice of Asia, a community weekly in Houston, that the new district signified the international character of the city.
On Jan. 12, a 7.0 magnitude struck Haiti. The earthquake’s epicenter was 16 miles west of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, causing massive devastation. Seventy percent of the city’s buildings were destroyed. On Jan. 25, Haitian authorities stated that the death toll has exceeded 150,000 people, and as many as 1 million Haitians are homeless. To put this in perspective, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake caused nearly 70,000 deaths.
Late last year, the University of Washington’s provost, Phyllis Wise, accepted a position on the corporate board of Nike, which has stirred up contention. Wise is the second highest administrator, behind UW President Mark Emmert.
In 1887, more than 30 Chinese gold miners were massacred on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America. They wanted the gold dust that the Chinese had painstakingly accumulated. Historians and scholars debate the exact number of miners. Only 11 names are known. The gold was never recovered.
The situation may be even more troubling than the numbers reveal, as the Korean Consulate General in New York stated that it only keeps statistics on Korean citizens, not Korean Americans. Consul General Kyungkeun Kim told The New York Times that he believes the actual figure may be twice as high. The Korea Times has reported that at least 36 Koreans and Korean Americans have taken their lives in the New York region in the last year.
American professional golfer Tiger Woods has come under some heat lately for his indiscretions. This is a shock to many, as Woods was not only the highest-paid professional athlete last year, but he has also been a son of the media. Wood’s public image has been very positive and wholesome.
Last week, it was announced that King County Executive Dow Constantine’s top aides were six notable people. Two of them are Asian Americans Frank Abe and Sung Yang. Seattle Mayor-elect Mike McGinn named Asian American Phil Fujii as one of his three top aides.
Some are speculating that it could be one vote that ends U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao’s career. Cao was the only Republican who voted for President Obama’s health care plan, HR-3962.
Last weekend, during a trip to Asia that was designed to build U.S. influence in the area, President Obama bowed to Japan’s Emperor Akihito. This single action caused a storm of controversy. Responses have been polarized, divided down party lines. Obama’s Republican critics say it was a sign of subservience, and the president was showing weakness. The State Department, however, has stressed that “the president was simply showing respect.”