Back-to-back California shootings reflect an American tragedy, not an ‘Asian issue,’ experts say
Asian actors and filmmakers dominate Oscar nominations
“Asian Americans recorded the fastest population growth rate among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, study finds.”
While this statistic may seem optimistic, there’s more to the story. The growth of the Asian American population in the U.S. has occurred in tandem with increased reports of discrimination and violence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
As our community grows, we are getting louder, we are telling our authentic stories…and we are making news headlines.
So welcome to Crushing the Myth, a weekly newsletter that breaks down the latest AAPI news & newsmakers.
Explore achievements from our community, videos to keep you on the edge of your seat, new Asian celebs to stan, and a whole lot more.
Trigger warning: please note, this week’s CTM has increased mentions of gun violence and mass shootings.
🏆 The Headlines — Wins & Heartbreak for the Community
Back-to-back California shootings reflect an American tragedy, not an ‘Asian issue,’ experts say — As more Asian Americans become acculturated to American society, more will also absorb the pathologies of the U.S., Pawan Dhingra, president of the Association for Asian American Studies, noted.
As Asian Americans attempt to make sense of two deadly shootings in California targeting the community within a matter of days, experts warn against drawing broad cultural conclusions from the gun violence.
Local officials say that Huu Can Tran, 72, who killed 11 people in Monterey Park on Saturday, may have been targeting his ex-wife in a personal dispute, while Chunli Zhao, 67, who the next day killed at least seven people and seriously injured one at two agricultural businesses in Half Moon Bay, engaged in an instance of “workplace violence.” Though both suspects are older Asian men, experts are making the point gun violence is pervasive and spans race, cultures and identities.
“The problem is, when an Asian American or Asian person does something in the United States, it feels like the whole weight of a community, whether that’s an ethnic community, or an entire race, gets placed on the bodies of people,” Jennifer Ho, professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told NBC News.
The violence, rather, is symptomatic of a “uniquely American phenomenon,” she said.
“Asian Americans aren’t exempt from mass killings,” Ho added.
So far this year, the U.S. has had 39 mass shootings in 24 days, according to the Gun Violence archive, which defines a mass shooting as a single incident in which at least four people — other than the shooter — are shot.
Gun violence, experts note, is not inherent in the Asian diaspora's culture. When looking at countries with comparable income levels to the U.S., several East Asian countries rank among the lowest incidence of gun violence, including Japan, Korea and Taiwan, which have some of the strictest gun laws in the world. And while China’s population is more than twice that of the U.S., it records a few dozen firearms-related crimes a year.
Asian Actors Make History in Nominations — Asian-led films were nominated in 16 categories, 11 of which were for “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
The 2023 Oscar nominations were a mixed bag in terms of diversity — with no Black actors nominated in the lead acting categories and women shut out for best director — but there was one particular milestone worth applauding. With nods for Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu (all for “Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and Hong Chau (“The Whale”), the number of Asian acting nominees reached the most recognized in a single year ever at four nominations.
This figure surpasses the lineup from 2004, which included Indian and Iranian actors Ben Kingsley and Shohreh Aghdashloo (both for “House of Sand and Fog”) and Japanese star Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai”).
“Everything Everywhere All At Once,” written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, was the top film with 11 nominations, many of which held historical significance. The Daniels are the fifth duo nominated for directing, with Kwan’s nominations for directing and original screenplay marking the 13th occurrence of Asian filmmakers recognized in each category. One of the rare times a filmmaker is nominated for a “hat trick” (picture, director and screenplay), Kwan is the third Asian person ever after Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”) and Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), who both won Oscars for directing and best picture.
Until Tuesday, Merle Oberon was the sole Asian woman nominated in the lead actress category — holding that title since “The Dark Angel” (1935). Now, Yeoh joins the list, as the Malaysian veteran actor earned her first career nod for her performance as laundromat owner Evelyn. Worth noting, Oberon’s South Asian and Māori heritage wasn’t known until after she died in 1979. At 60, Yeoh is the second oldest Asian acting nominee, behind Yuh-Jung Youn, who was 73 when she was nominated and eventually won best supporting actress for “Minari” (2020).
Other Asian talent recognized this year includes director Domee Shi, whose “Turning Red” was among the five nominated animated movies. It marks the 10th consecutive year that an Asian filmmaker was nominated in the category, the longest run of Asian representation in any category. With a nomination for best adapted screenplay, “Living” scribe Kazuo Ishiguro is the first Asian person and the sixth Nobel Prize winner to be an Oscar nominee.
A Coder Wrested a Pistol From the Gunman’s Hands, Preventing Greater Tragedy — Brandon Tsay, 26, is being credited with preventing further violence by subduing the gunman before he could kill more people.
Saturday night was winding down at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, with less than a half-hour to go until closing. There were three people left on the spacious dance floor.
Brandon Tsay, the third-generation operator of the family-run dance hall in Alhambra, was in the office off the lobby, watching the ballroom, when he heard the front doors swing closed and a strange clang that sounded like metallic objects hitting one another.
He turned around to see a semiautomatic assault pistol pointed at him. “He was looking at me and looking around, not hiding that he was trying to do harm. His eyes were menacing,” recalled Mr. Tsay, 26, at his family’s San Marino home Sunday, less than 24 hours after he stared down a gunman who, unbeknown to him, had opened fire at another nearby ballroom, killing 10 people and injuring several others in one of California’s worst mass shootings.
About 20 minutes after that massacre, the gunman, who authorities identified as Huu Can Tran, 72, arrived at Lai Lai, just about two miles to the north, officials said.
Mr. Tsay struggled with the gunman and eventually disarmed him, saving countless lives and averting another tragedy. It was an act that officials roundly praised as heroic. Mr. Tran was found dead Sunday afternoon of a self-inflicted gunshot in a van about 30 miles away, according to law enforcement officials.
Mr. Tsay, who stayed up all night assisting police with their investigation, said he felt traumatized and hadn’t quite been able to process what he had been through. He particularly felt heartbroken for the community of Monterey Park and surrounding areas where his family and their ballroom had become established as a beloved haven over three decades, he said.
🧧 The Year of the Rabbit
Not exactly for the Vietnamese — they celebrate the Year of the Cat and here’s why
And celebrities were ringing it in style — See how some of your favorite stars celebrated Lunar new Year
Welcomed in by some with a rap — San Francisco Chinatown seniors let the new year in with a rap
ft. Jeremy Lin’s personal news — he revealed he got married 'over a couple years ago'
ft. ex-Googlers (more like a blindside) — Nicole Tsai had just begun posting videos to TikTok highlighting the perks of working at Google a month before being laid off
ft. Lisa’s big $$$ offer — it was reported that BLACKPINK’s rapper and dancer Lisa was offered $81 million to leave YG Entertainment
🤍 More on Monterey Park & Half Moon Bay
Here's what we know about the Monterey Park shooting victims
Here are the resources available to the Asian American community following recent mass shootings
Here’s why Monterey Park Community Holds A Special Place In LA's Asian Community And Far Beyond
✍️, Lea @ Crushing the Myth