Smurfs, Wizards, and the History of Hmong B-Boy Culture in Southeast Fresno

Hip-hop’s founding myth places the culture’s birth at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, where on a summer night in 1973 Clive Campbell, aka Dj Kool Herc, held a back-to-school party in his apartment complex’s recreation room. After Herc’s initial reggae offerings fell on deaf ears and, even worse, still feet, he did what any good DJ would do: break out the James Brown. From behind his turntables, Herc noticed that dancers got especially hype when one of Brown’s songs was stripped bare of everything but Clyde Stubblefield’s funky drums. Eventually, Herc engineered a set up consisting of two turntables and a homemade mixer that allowed him to isolated these “breaks” in the song by switching … [Read more...]

A Past Resurfaced: Memories of Survival and Escape from the Khmer Rouge

In the summer of 2014, my grandma began digging into the old pile of long-forgotten photographs she hoarded in our backyard shack and placed them into old, reused picture frames. Within the following year, she gradually filled and decorated her bedroom walls with the photos. As soon as we thought she was done displaying old photos, we would be surprised to discover the endless amount of photos she had tucked away for all of these years. The series of pictures displayed on her bedroom wall appears to be the first time in decades that our old family photos had resurfaced since we arrived in the United States after escaping the Khmer Rouge's genocidal regime. When my grandpa passed away in the … [Read more...]

Sipping on the Indian Haterade: Hindu American Whiteness and Support for Trump

Unlike other communities of color in the United States, it has not been so easy for South Asian Americans to organize and act as one.  The very complexity of South Asia and the myriad of internal politics make mobilization a difficult issue.   Even during my time in Atlanta conducting ethnographic research on the South Asian American sporting community, organizations like South Asians for Unity struggled to collectively engage the heterogeneous ethnic, class, and religious South Asian American community in Atlanta.  Sikh American elders and I (a Christian Tamil) shared a sentiment of feeling minimally included in the discussions about peace on the subcontinent. Thus, even the coming … [Read more...]

7 Books to Make You Grateful for Your Own Family on Thanksgiving

Visual media have the advantage of providing quick comfort; if you need a change of mood or just an easy distraction, a TV show or a movie or even a YouTube clip can get the job done without too much effort, so long as said visual media is not designed by Ingmar Bergman or Lars von Trier.  Earlier this week ToM offered up its suggestions for films that touch on the variegated vicissitudes of family, on the theory that watching Pan's Labyrinth or Rachel Getting Married might put the craziness of one's own family in gratifying context.  Books, however, don't offer the same kind of instant remedy.  As Meatwad once said, "Books is from the devil, and TV is twice as fast!"  However, we humbly … [Read more...]

No, American Citizenship Is Not Necessarily Inclusive

The rise of Donald Trump has induced a collective shudder through much of America.  For many, the GOP nominee is jeopardizing our most cherished ideals, a broad and capacious sense of who could be an American citizen, and norms that forbid open and outright expression of racist sentiment. The last Republican president at least had the decency to insist that Islam is a “religion of peace,” however destructive his policies might have been to actual Muslims, at home and abroad. Liberals and more than a few conservatives find themselves saying, This is not us.  This is not the America we know. Michael Gerson recently penned one of the more impassioned statements in this genre, looking aghast … [Read more...]

Brexit in the Context of Globalization’s Long History

During the last two weeks, Americans have heard a great deal about the possible convergence of British surliness toward the European Union and the anti-globalization rhetoric of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign. Of course, Trump trumpeted the #Brexit vote from the greens of his newish Scottish golf resort (the Economist, hardly a fan of the Orange One, referred to it as “tarted up”) in Turnsberry, while Scots guffawed at his celebration of the referendum outcome—bestowing upon him countless profane nicknames (“Mangled apricot hellbeast” was one of the nicer insults, points out ToM co-editor ASC) attesting to his ignorance of the fact that the majority of Scotland’s voters … [Read more...]

Hmong Youth, American Football, and the Cultural Politics of Ethnic Sports Tournaments

For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, ToM is featuring two excerpts from the new anthology, Asian American Sporting Cultures from New York University Press. In the first, Constancio Arnoldo Jr. examines Filipino ideas about masculinity and identity through boxer Manny Pacquiao. (See also our recent post on the intersection between boxing, Los Angeles, and the Philippines: "From Villa to Pacquiao: Filipino Boxing in L.A. and the Power of the Transnational Punch") In our second excerpt, Chia Youyee Vang explores the intersection of Hmong American identity and sport in the United States. The December 12, 2011, edition of Sports Illustrated ran a story titled “How to Become an American.” … [Read more...]

Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao, the Transnational Fist, and the Southern California Ringside Community

For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, ToM is featuring two excerpts from the new anthology, Asian American Sporting Cultures from New York University Press. Here in a chapter excerpt, Constancio Arnoldo Jr. examines Filipino ideas about masculinity and identity through boxer Manny Pacquiao. See also our recent post on the intersection between boxing, Los Angeles, and the Philippines: "From Villa to Pacquiao: Filipino Boxing in L.A. and the Power of the Transnational Punch" One night in December 2009, after taking a five-hour flight from Illinois to California, I had just walked into my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Long Beach. My then two-year-old nephew, all thirty-six inches … [Read more...]

From Villa to Pacquiao: Filipino Boxing in L.A. and the Power of a Transnational Punch

Nearly one year ago last may, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. battled 12 rounds in what was billed as the "fight of the century." The two fighters carried a long history of antagonism into the ring, though perhaps much of this could be attributed to Mayweather, whose trolling of the Filipino boxer over the years sometimes veered into racism. Pacquiao's loss to Mayweather, a unanimous decision, seems unsurprising in retrospect, especially considering the latter's status as arguably the greatest defensive boxer of his generation. Don't cry for Manny though, the Las Vegas fight racked in $400 million. Granted, it's been a tough year for Pacquiao, his homophobic comments a couple … [Read more...]

A Law of Unintended Consequences: The Ironies, the Tragedies, and the Triumphs of the 1965 Immigration Act

On October 3, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed what became, in retrospect, one of the most influential pieces of legislation not only from his own administration, but in the post-1945 history of the nation. “This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power,” the President told an audience of dignitaries, politicians, and other on lookers at New York’s Liberty Island. “Yet it is still one of the most important acts of this Congress and of this administration.” Indeed, over the past decade or two, it has become … [Read more...]