Art and Culture

The Ballad of Chol So Lee

from the Chol Soo Lee Defense Committee 1978

vocals and copyright: Siu Wai Anderson, Sam Takimoto, Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo


This is a story about a man named Chol Soo Lee.

His case is not uncommon; it reflects on you and me.


Chol Soo Lee came to this country to walk the streets of gold

All he found were broken glass alleys where the gangs were pushin dope 

He tried to find an honest job to try to make ends meet 

On Watching A Song for Ourselves: Chris Iijima

"A Song for Ourselves" (2009) by Tad Nakamura portrays the inspiring and poignant life of Chris Iijima. Iijima was a member of Yellow Pearl (along with Joanne Miyamoto and later Charlie Chin), a folk group that were troubadours for the early Asian American Movement. The group was based in New York and were particularly important for East Coast activists, who saw so few Asian American bands. Much of the poignancy of the film came from Chris' premature passing due to a rare disease and a defiant last interview even as he faced mortality.

Whitewashing Akira

Hollywood is planning a new film based upon the classic manga AKIRA. Guess what? The directors have taken steps to cast all whites as the lead actors in this Asian film. Kaneda and Tetsuo will probably be played by two people from the group, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin Phoenix? Hollywood hasn't recognized the 22nd century as Asia's yet, but I guess they're not reading the newspapers.

Viewing The Rebel: Butt-kicking Martial Arts as Anti-Colonial History

by Mike Liu

The Rebel is a watershed 2007 Vietnamese film that, despite some weaknesses as a film, is important to see on different levels. Despite its production by Viet Kieu i.e. overseas Vietnamese, it became the highest grossing film in Vietnam history. It has also received strong support among the Vietnamese American community.

Anti-Communist Protesters Shut Down Vietnamese American Exhibit on Freedom of Expression

The Vietnamese Arts and Letters Association (VAALA) pulled a Santa Ana, California exhibit about freedom of expression in the face of significant community protests. After a week, the city ordered the exhibit F.O.B. II closed.

Protestors focused on one work in F.O.B. II, a photograph of a young Vietnamese woman in Vietnam wearing a T-shirt with the symbol and colors of the Vietnamese flag sitting next to a bust of Ho Chi Minh.

Book Interview: The Heart's Traffic

Ching-in Chen, a queer, Asian-American woman, recently published a novel-in-poems, a fictional narrative that loosely connects a series of poems. The central character is Xiaomei, a young women who becomes an organizer. While the central theme is self-discovery, we thought activists would find this work of interest. We have selected questions and author's responses to an interview. The book is available from Arktoi Books through the Chicago Distribution Center.


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