E. Tammy Kim

E. Tammy Kim is a contributing opinion writer at the New York Times and co-host of the Time to Say Goodbye podcast.

Short Cuts: Asian America

E. Tammy Kim, 4 November 2021

‘Asian American’, much like ‘Black’, ‘Native American’ or ‘Latino’, is a synthetic category – an attempt to describe life in a messy multicultural society. It was first used in 1968 by Yuji Ichioka, a Japanese-American activist and postgraduate student at Berkeley, in the context of Third World resistance to the Vietnam War. Just three years earlier, the US had reformed its immigration laws to admit people from countries outside Western Europe. As a result, the US population is now 18.5 per cent Latino, 13 per cent Black and 6 per cent Asian. More than a tenth of US residents were born in another country. ‘Asian American’ is no longer the anti-racist, post-colonial signifier Ichioka and his fellow internationalists imagined: the term is vague enough to encompass Taiwanese Trump voters, Hindutva Desis, Cambodian refugees and Singaporean billionaires.

From The Blog
11 January 2018

Just before Christmas, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law. The name of the bill begins with a truth and ends in a lie: there are indeed tax cuts – regressive ones, for large corporations and the super-rich – but there are no jobs. The law will put the country $1.5 trillion in the red over the next decade, despite drastic cuts to social services.

From The Blog
11 September 2017

Last Thursday, three dozen immigrant students gathered for an emergency meeting at Hunter College, a public university on the east side of Manhattan. The mood was grim: two days earlier, in furtherance of his ‘America first’ agenda, President Trump had announced the termination of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme. Daca had given some 800,000 undocumented Americans – including hundreds of Hunter College students – the right to work and temporary protection from deportation. But it was created, in 2012, by presidential fiat, not through legislation, and so fell short of granting permanent residency or citizenship. ‘It made no sense,’ as Obama explained in response to Trump’s repeal, ‘to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know.’

From The Blog
1 September 2017

Ten million people in South Korea, one-fifth of the population, have watched Jang Hoon’s movie A Taxi Driver (Taeksi Woonjunsa) since it was released on 2 August. When I went to see it in Times Square, there were seven of us in the audience. The film is set in May 1980, during the mass democratic uprising – and ensuing military crackdown – in the southwestern city of Gwangju. A German reporter, Jürgen Hinzpeter, was one of the few foreign journalists to witness the events. In the movie, Song Kang-ho plays a cabbie who drives Hinzpeter (played by Thomas Kretschmann) the two hundred miles from Seoul to Gwangju. The story is real, though greased with sentimentality as well as the bbong jjak pop music and fashions of the era.

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