Bollywood in L.A.

Growing up in Kashmir, Raj Singh loved going to the theater. “In Kashmir, I was watching two movies in a day,” Singh recalls. “Here, I have no time to see movies.”

Movies, instead, are Singh’s job. As general manager of the Naz 8 cinema in Artesia, which is northeast of Long Beach, he runs an operation that screens Bollywood movies — as many as 12 shows a day, seven days a week.

Read on in

Geek Looks Like a Lady

It’s not that the PyLadies are intimidated by the men who dominate computer programmer events and workshops. It’s just that they got tired of feeling like outsiders.

Katharine Jarmul, 29, remembers the day they first identified the problem. She and three other women found themselves chatting in a circle at a meet-up in March last year. There were 30 or 40 people there, all discussing Django, a website framework built on the Python programming language. But, looking around the room, Jarmul realized that their little circle contained the only female programmers there. The few other women in attendance were recruiters or product managers, not the people who actually write code.

“We felt like anomalies,” Jarmul recalls.

The women felt the difference most keenly during breaks, when they couldn’t join in the inside jokes and casual conversations into which their male colleagues seemed to fall so easily. In a profession so dependent on teamwork and learning new technology, being part of the community is not just a matter of feeling comfortable. It’s essential to being competitive.

“I said very frankly, ‘Well, maybe we should stop complaining about it and do something,’ ” Jarmul remembers.

Read on at the LA Weekly.

Tina’s Mouth: A Graphic Novel That Gives Indian-American Stereotypes the Finger

Tina's Mouth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
“I’m an alien (but my parents are Indian.)” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Tina Malhotra’s journey through a high school existential crisis was difficult. Bringing her world to life was just as wrenching.

Author Keshni Kashyap and illustrator Mari Araki spent four years working on the graphic novel Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Diary, which was published in January. Kashyap was trained as a filmmaker and Araki is a surrealist painter. The pair had to teach themselves the comic form while melding the book’s substantial text with some 1,000 drawings.

“I’d rather kill myself than do another graphic novel,” Kashyap says flatly. “It was so hard to do.” Besides, “The world is such a rough place right now. I don’t really want to write about privileged teenagers anymore.”

Read more at the LA Weekly

A man of faith

The offices of L.A. Voice, where Umar Hakim is in residency, are on the third floor of the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles. So when it comes time for Hakim to offer his daily prayers, he finds a quiet room, faces Mecca and turns his thoughts to God.
“Most people don’t object to prayer,” he says. “They just object to control.”

Hakim, 41, says that as his faith deepens, so too does his desire to “be disruptive.” Muslims are present in Los Angeles’ civic life, he explains, they’re just not organized.

Read on at the LA Weekly.

Fred Korematsu Day, Two Ways

Yesterday was Fred Korematsu Day in California.

Korematsu, a Japanese-American who resisted placement in a World War II-era internment camp, and later fought in courts to have a Supreme Court conviction of “defiance” overturned, was remembered on January 30 in the state of California. In September, California declared this day, Korematsu’s birthday, to be the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.

I wrote about the day and what it means for Asian American civil rights advocates for Mother Jones online and about bloggers’ initial reactions for GlobalVoices.

Not a reader? Here’s the trailer for 2007 documentary Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story.

Of Civil Wrongs and Rights – trailer from Asian Law Caucus on Vimeo.

Things that aren’t about Pastor Jones

It’s 9/11 in America. I feel like every year for the past nine years, we’ve been questioning our identity, our values in this country. I wanted to remind myself that this is not a country of people like Terry Jones. Rather, this is a country where people like Terry Jones might end up all over the news, but also where Lee Ielpi, Henry Rollins, Amman Ali and Bassam Tariq can carve out their say. So here are a collection of things I saw and heard that gave me a broader view.

Where will you be on June 7?

Southern California friends, I’d love to see you at this event. If the chance to hear from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ian Johnson doesn’t convince you, maybe this cool poster from Maritess Santiago at the UCI Humanities Collective will:

Prize-Winning Reporter Ian Johnson in Conversation with Ian Johnson
(poster by Maritess Santiago)

If you have any questions for Mr. Johnson, please leave them in comments.

Upcoming Events

While I am working on, well, all the different things I am working on, I am excited to be a part of two upcoming events in Southern California. One is a UCLA Extension writing seminar, “Writing in the Digital Age” on May 8. On June 7, I’ll be in conversation with Ian Johnson at UC Irvine, an event hosted by The China Beat, about his new book on the Muslim Brotherhood and his work in China.

Here’s the published blurbs about these events, but let me know if you want more information or if you have thoughts about what we should cover:

Health care reform, diabesity and the language of health journalism

Since Sunday evening this week, I’ve been spending time with National Health Journalism Fellows in downtown Los Angeles. We’ve visited slum housing, debated the terminology used in news reports about domestic violence, spent an evening at the ER, and dissected the legislative debates surrounding health care reform. You can read my live-blogging from the seminar on at ReportingonHealth.org and keep up with later posts, written by other people, on The Fellowships Blog or with @ReportingHealth on Twitter.

But for now, here is a post about one of the panels which I thought merited some discussion, even beyond the health journalism sphere. The speaker gave some specific admonitions about language in news. You can comment here or at the orignal Reporting on Health post.

Global Lives #3: Anka Lee’s Hong Kong Perspective on Tiananmen Square

Anka on Star Ferry
Anka Lee on the Star Ferry in Hong Kong

It’s June 4th today. 20 years ago, in Tiananmen Square in Beijing a huge protest movement was violently suppressed. The numbers are disputed, but hundreds, if not thousands were killed in clashes with the military. Tiananmen Square Massacre, June 4 Incident, or just Six-Four — whatever you call it, the event had a big impact on Anka Lee. He was just a kid then, but he remembers the day well. He was born in Hong Kong and was nine years old that summer in 1989. He talks about his memories and the city where he was born in this episode of Global Lives.

Anka wrote an essay about Tiananmen and his Hong Kong connection. You can find it on the back page of Time magazine’s June 8 international editions. UPDATE: Time put Anka’s story online here.

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Global Lives #3: Anka Lee’s Hong Kong Perspective on Tiananmen Square