tv Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa NBC October 15, 2017 5:30am-6:01am PDT
♪ "asian pacific america." and welcome to i'm robert handa, your host for our show here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. we start with the latest on daca and how it impacts the asian american and pacific islander communities. we'll examine what's going on with the deferred action for childhood arrivals process through the local aspire program, which also wants us to take a much closer look at the common description of dreamers. we'll also take an early peek at a new documentary being made about chinatown, a film about the asian american movement from the perspective of young residents on the front lines of their neighborhood in the midst of a massive cultural transition. and we end with our traditional artistic showcase with a musical and dance performance by likha, a group that promotes pilipino folk music culture.
they'll join us live in our studio today. well, the plight of those in the daca program has gotten a lot of coverage, with the future of many involved in this program, designed to protect those undocumented children and young adults brought into the us, very much in limbo. but it's fair to say much of the attention has been on latino communities, for a good reason. still, it is a changing landscape that impacts many in the asian american and pacific islander communities as well. the bay area group aspire is addressing it in short-term and long-term ways. joining me right now is wei lee, a program coordinator for aspire, and nelson wong, a daca recipient and aspire member. welcome to the show. wei lee: thanks, robert. robert: and we try not to be, as we were mentioning before, not too assuming that people know already what daca is, and all the other things associated with it. give us a quick overview of daca and how aspire kinda fits into that. wei: okay, you wanna talk about it? robert: either one. nelson wong: go ahead.
wei: yeah, so, daca was a program that was created in 2012 by then president obama. and when they recognized that victory was, like, done by non-documented communities on the front line, protesting, shutting down things, to make sure that this program was created to protect people from deportations. and this program allowed people to apply for a work permit and also protect from deportations, and this program is-- you could renew for every 2 years. robert: that's why we see kinda the controversy now, because he basically put that program up because congress just wasn't getting something done at that point, right? yeah, for nelson, for you, we were talking about how many people in the community are affected. do we have a number, in terms of how many--? nelson: i think it was about 700 or 800,000 undocumented youth who were eligible for the daca program. robert: yeah, and that included you, right? nelson: yes
robert: what is your personal experience, in terms of how you got involved, and how it helped you? nelson: right, so, the daca program allowed me to pursue work. i no longer had to work under the table. i was able to pursue a more professional experiences, and so i was able to work as an it coordinator for a school that's local in the area. robert: oh, very good, yes, an it coordinator probably would not be the kind of job you would be getting paid for under the table, right? nelson: right. robert: yeah, so, how about in terms of aspire then? what does aspire try to do, or how do you fit into what aspire does? nelson: right, so aspire, we do advocacy and outreach in order to get legislators to-- robert: be more obviously involved in the daca process,
get something done productively, as well as include the asian american and pacific islander communities, right? nelson: exactly. robert: yeah, do you find that that is a difficult thing to do? is there any kinda cultural--? wei: yeah, there's, like, extremely difficult to reach out to undocumented asian and pacific islanders. there's this cultural stigma, and, like, people are afraid to come out. we don't have the same, like, coverage as the latino-- like, during the president campaign trail, everyone talked about immigration associated to latinos. and asians are always, like, often, like, ruled out of that conversation. robert: and the coverage actually amounts to kind of protection, in a way, right? because they know that people are watching out what happens to them. but if you're not getting that coverage, you don't feel that same protection. wei: exactly, and that's why, like, we here in aspire, we like to bring this ability for the undocumented apis, undocumented immigrants, like, in the country, to make sure they also feel, like, the sense of, like, there's other people here just like you, fighting on the streets, advocating for ourselves, our family members,
and our communities, you know? i think that's the very important existence of aspire. robert: yeah, how about for you, nelson? what would you want them to think about, people who might be reluctant? how was it for you? how much did it help you? nelson: without daca, i was very fearful of being separated from my friends and family. and so, that really helped, in terms of having that peace of mind, and not being removed. robert: great, well, thank you for being here to talk about your story. you'll stay with us a little bit 'cause we wanna elaborate a little bit more on this topic, okay? wei: okay. robert: all right, thanks. well, as you heard, the word "dreamer" is often used, but is it still appropriate? and is it appropriate for everyone, especially in the asian american and pacific islander communities? wei lee will stay with us and help us explore that coming up.
still with me right now is wei lee, a program coordinator for aspire, the nation's first pan-asian undocumented youth group, and who says it's time to evaluate, analyze, and deconstruct the description of "dreamer." give us an idea why, and maybe in the context of what the dream act was. wei: yeah, so, the dream act was introduced back in 2001 as a way to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented students and for young undocumented people who came here at a young age. robert: now, "dreamers" seemed as though that's a broad kind of description for everybody. but i think that's what you don't like about it, right? wei: yeah, i think how that, like, officials, advocacies, like, a narrative to push it forward was, like, to create this narrative of these young immigrants as, like, valedictorians, 4.0's gpas. they grew up here, all-american in every sense, you know? and they're gonna become future doctors, lawyers, all of these desirable things that people like.
but not everyone can live up to that standard. robert: and it becomes kind of a standard, that kind of description, right? wei: mm-hmm. robert: and almost like the model minority in that situation, right? wei: yeah. robert: so, what's the downfall, then, by using the term "dreamers"? has it become kind of a divisive term? wei: yes, because, like, not everyone will benefit from that legislation. because, like, people who grew up in poor neighborhoods, weren't able to complete high school, or people who made mistakes, you know, were gonna be left out of this conversation. and when the media shows those stories, they were always gonna show the stories of the high achieving immigrants. and so, people won't see themselves, like, being portrayed on the media. robert: yeah, so, what does aspire wanna do? who are you reaching out for? what are you hoping to--? who do you hope to reach, and how? wei: i think our intention is to, like, really ask, like, allies, advocates, to think about the word "dreamer," you know, and what it means in a more critical lens, to encompass more all-inclusive, like, narratives,
to be more inclusive, especially our parents. 'cause one thing that we don't really like, it's how, like, the officials use, like, "these young immigrants, they came here through no fault of their own." which, essentially blame our parents for bringing us here. but to me, you know, like, we need to also acknowledge all the sacrifices that our parents brought us here, you know? and because behind every success story from a dreamer, behind it, like, is our parents. robert: that's right, no, no, that's a very good point. wei: they, like, made all the sacrifices for, and created the conditions to allow those success stories of being portrayed in the media. robert: well, for those people, then, who don't relate to that image or think that it doesn't apply to them, how do you reach them? and what do you want to say to them? wei: i just wanna tell them, like, you know, you're not alone, you know? i understand there is, like, this-- we don't wanna be divisive. we wanna be sure that everyone is heard, you know? but we need to include our parents, people who might not be labeled as a "dreamer," you know,
by on the paper. and to, because there's a lot of fight going on, like, daca's gonna end. and essentially, we need to be unified on this, and resist, and advocate for everyone, not just a few people, but everyone else. robert: so, how are you reaching them? how can they reach you? wei: so, we usually do a lot of community presentations here in the bay area. we are a very small group, but, like, we have a lot of heart and a lot of dedication to serve our communities, to stop deportations, and increasing health care access, and all of those things. they can originally reach to me, you know, through our facebook page, our website. they can look us up, you know? 'cause we wanna make sure that, especially undocumented asians, they have a place to, like, you know, a voice, that we like to represent them. robert: and what is that facebook page? how do people find it? wei: facebook.com/aspireforjustice, yes. robert: and so, if they use "aspire," as the, kind of, the search word, they'll find you. wei: yeah, aspire, and asian undocumented groups, yeah.
robert: okay, great, hey, you know, some of the things-- you make some very good points, and it is interesting how something that's supposed to be kinda positive can work against you. all right, good luck. wei: thank you. robert: keep us posted on how it's goin', okay? wei: all right, thank you. robert: all right, well, coming up, a documentary in the works called "chinatown rising." a look at this unique perspective on chinatown, as well as the process of trying to preserve it. the director and producer join us next.
we have done a number of specials on chinatown and the historical events and current issues around it. and right now, some filmmakers are putting together a documentary that provides another unique and compelling perspective. joining me right now is the director of "chinatown rising," the reverend harry chuck, who has been involved with the community for a long time, including as a youth director, and later executive director of cameron house, who also led the famous fight to save the chinatown playground. and also with us, the co-producer and assistant editor of the documentary, josh chuck, who grew up in chinatown and has also been an important part of the community
as a youth worker and filmmaker. and just glad to have both of you here. this is kind of a family affair, right, a family project? reverend harry chuck: it sure is. robert: first of all, what made you want to do this project? harry: well, when i had my 80th birthday, i decided it was time to clean up the garage, and i came across these boxes of film that i had shot as a film student back some 45 years ago. robert: oh, yeah, in fact, i know you incorporated that into the documentary, some of the video that we're gonna see, right? harry: correct. robert: let's take a look at this clip here, and then we'll talk about more about the project. harry: i filmed this in around 1973 or 1972. got boxes and boxes, and some that aren't even on this shelf. so, i have to go in and take a look to see what we have.
harry: i grew up in chinatown, a chinatown that seemed never to change. life was simple and predictable. but, you know, things around the country, change was happening. the civil rights movement was in full bloom. the cold war was going on. and in 1965, because of the immigrant and nationality act, there was a huge influx of chinese immigrants. chinatown wasn't ready. we did not have enough housing, jobs, and educational programs. robert: now, that was quite a gold mine to find that video, huh? i told you before, i was a documentary producer, and finding the appropriate pictures, visuals, and images to be able to tell your story is pretty crucial. and you shot a lot of that, right?
harry: yes, yes. robert: did you shoot it with the idea of being, like, a filmmaker, or knowing that it would have some historical value one day? harry: well, it actually started as a student project, but it got so involved that i couldn't finish it before the semester was over. so, i boxed it. i promised my teacher that someday, i would finish. so, some, now, 45 years later, i'm going to finish it. robert: all right, you're keeping your promise, huh? but again, i could tell by what you were shooting that you had an eye for what you were shooting, in terms of it not being random. it was very focused, and the scenes, the way you were shooting it, looked like somebody was trying to record these images for posterity of some kind. josh, give me an idea here, in terms of how you got involved in the project and what you kind of saw when you saw this being put together, and what kind of perspective you could add. josh chuck: yeah, i mean, i've been doing film work for the last 15 years, and this is, by far, the most special project that i've been able to be a part of. when i got to see the actual footage that my dad had shot,
i was pretty amazed, you know? and it's been enlightening to find out more about his life, which he doesn't like to talk about all that much, and also, just to find out about the history of my own neighborhood. robert: yeah, and what kind of perspective do you wanna make sure this documentary has, so that it has that kind of appeal? josh: yeah, i think, i mean, i didn't know a lot of the things that we're talking about in this film, and i'm from chinatown, and i've worked in the community before. so i know there's a lot of people who have no idea about the sacrifices and the risks that people have made so that young people today can, you know, live freely and pretty much do what they want. and so i think it's important for young people, especially, to watch this. robert: i think you're right. give me and idea, though, how difficult has it been to put this together? how much funding have you gotten?
what are you still looking for? harry: well, if it was going to be the home movie that i intended it to be, it would have been finished. and now that so much interest has been shown for this, we feel that we need to ramp it up. so, we're going to continue our fundraising, and try and make it as presentable as we can. it's important for us to get it into the classrooms so that young people today can begin to look at their own history if you think that history is really biographical. robert: mm-hmm, how about in terms of the--how are you doing in terms of getting the funding? and 'cause to me, the support you're already getting shows a lot of community support. josh: yes, we had a kickstarter campaign that allowed individuals to contribute, and that did pretty well. we got about $70,000 from that. but more importantly, we had over 300 people contribute. we're still looking for about three times that, yeah.
all: [laughing] robert: how can people contribute? josh: the information on how to give is on our website, chinatownrising.com. robert: okay, well, it's a good project. keep us posted on how you're doing, okay? just from what i've seen already, i can tell that you've got something kind of important in the works here. all right, thanks for being here. harry: thank you. josh: appreciate it. robert: all right, and we'll also show you how to help support the project soon. but next up, our traditional artistic and cultural performance by likha, pilipino folk ensemble music and dance performance. that's live next.
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we are here with members of likha, a pilipino folk ensemble who perform with a mission to share and educate others about the beauty of pilipino folk arts and culture. with me is the dance director tina matias cruz. thank you very much for being here. tina matias cruz: thank you for having us. robert: how did your group start? tina: well, we started under the direction of rudi c. soriano. he is a former bayanihan artist and choreographer.
and he started off with a small group of college students, and from there, a lot of people decided to learn more about pilipino culture and dance, and the group just expanded from that point. robert: for you, what's important about why this needs to be not only, like, sort of displayed and exhibited, but also continue to flourish? tina: well, i think it's important as second-generation pilipino americans that we need to pursue our culture and to educate, especially, you know, young adults who were born in america, or, you know, second generation, and to also educate the youth. so, we also have a school program for the kids as well. robert: do you get a lot of response from the community? tina: yes, actually, we do. robert: yeah, it's always nice when you see that they're trying to embrace that culture, huh? tina: yes, and their eyes light up when they learn something new, so it's pretty awesome. robert: is there, like-- do you feel, like, almost, like, a danger of it not being around, or disappearing if you don't do these kind of things? tina: oh, definitely, yes. so that's why we pursue this goal to educate the youth, yes. robert: okay, let me see.
first of all, who's here with us right now? tina: so, over here in the back, we have scarlet mcclure, ashley acosta, kristin pahari, and the two musicians are omar pahari and edward cruz. robert: very good, welcome, everybody. edward cruz: thank you. robert: so, what is it that we're going to see you perform? tina: today, you're going to see kadal blelah, which is a dance from the southern part of the philippines, particularly the south cotabato. and it's a dance that depicts the movements of birds that frolic through the rice paddies and through the fields of the philippines. robert: and this is actually part of a bigger show that you're doing for your anniversary, right? tina: we actually did a version of this dance for our anniversary, which was just a couple of weeks ago at the palace of fine arts. we also showcased this particular dance at the san francisco ethnic dance festival in july. robert: and that's a 25th anniversary, right? tina: yes, for likha, yes. robert: you're succeeding in your mission then. tina: yes, we are. robert: all right, tina, everybody, thank you very much for being here. okay, let's hear likha, enjoy.
tina: thank you very much. robert: all right, anyway, well, congratulations on your 25th anniversary. that was great. all right, well, that is it for us. to find out more about likha's upcoming shows and how to help with the documentary "chinatown rising," as well as aspire, you can go nbcbayarea.com, and we're also on social media, twitter, and facebook. that's it for our show. join us next week and every week here on "asian pacific america." thanks for watching. tina: thank you female: thanks so much. robert: you know, my wife's filipino, so she'd be very proud-- because everyone likes easy. sure do. because everyone is on the go. because we all like to save energy, but sometimes we slip up. reaching up. shhh. because sometimes we want it cool at night then toasty in the mornings. introducing the easy to use, energy saving, adjustable from everywhere, easy on the wall and the eyes, nest thermostat e.
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