filling out scantrons and ballots are not that different

Featuring Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California CEO Crystal Strait.

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Midterm election roundup

Honestly every time someone says #BlueWave, I just think of Blue Crush, that mediocre AF surfing movie from 2002. You know what’s not mediocre AF? Making history during the midterm elections. 

The 2018 midterm elections were historic in that a record numbers of women (including women of color), Native American, Muslim American, and LGBTQ candidates ran for office. The Asian American community also racked up some important wins:

  • John Liu and Kevin Thomas made history as the first immigrants to be elected to the New York State Senate.

    • Liu, of Taiwanese descent, is no stranger to firsts—he was the first Asian American comptroller of NYC and the first Asian American serving in a citywide office when he was a city councilman.

    • Thomas, an attorney, represents a district on Long Island that has the fastest growing South Asian community in the state. He says, “I ran to represent everyone in my district and that is what I intend to do. But… I will certainly be bringing issues of the Asian-American community to the state legislature.”

  • In Minnesota, five Hmong lawmakers and two Hmong judges were elected. The Hmong community in Minnesota began growing roughly 40 years ago, with the first Hmong judge (Sophia Vuelo) being sworn in this past January.

  • The Vietnamese-American community made a strong showing—a record 24 candidates ran for public office in Orange County. Wins include Janet Nguyen who was re-elected to the California State Senate and currently serves as one of three Asian Americans in the State Senate.

All this is after the 2016 election where neither the Democratic nor the Republican party really engaged the “apolitical" Asian American community.

It ain’t over yet

  • We’re STILL watching out for Asians4Abrams. Kavi Vu and and Phi Nguyen started a web series known as Wake Up Atlanta, stepping in to engage the Asian American community in voting—because major political parties and politicians still aren’t investing money into doing Asian American outreach. And we hope their work continues as a possibility for a runoff election is high, since Kemp’s office suppressed over 50,000 voter registration attempts.

  • Filipino Americans in Congress—they make up 1% of the U.S. population and many Filipino Americans fought hard to take seats in Congress. Though the victory wasn’t theirs this time around, we want to applaud their achievements for making it such a tight race against their opponents:

    • In Texas, Filipina American Gina Ortiz James was less than 1% down to Republican Will Hurd.

    • In California’s 21st district in Fresno, Democrat TJ Cox pulled in a solid 46.2% of the votes.

We’re all in this together *High School Musical clap*

Finally, a shout out to other history-making folx because we are nowhere without solidarity and if we don’t understand the intricacies of how oppressive structures impact minority groups as a whole, we have messed up somewhere. We welcome and support:

  • Sharice Davids and Debra Haaland, the first Native American congresswomen,

  • Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim congresswomen,

  • Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar, the first Latina congresswomen,

  • And many more who are fighting the good fight.

Natalie Bui and Chery Sutjahjo, editors, who didn’t watch or can’t remember if they’ve watched Blue Crush

Learn more about waves sans Kate Bosworth

NOW PLAYING: When you put Emmy-nominated actress Michelle Ang, the late, great Elizabeth Sung, and writer-director Alex Chu together, you're bound to get something amazing. And For Izzy, a film about addiction, romance and friendship, is amazing.

Already decorated with numerous awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at LA Asian and Audience Awards at Ashland Independent, Frameline and the New York Asian American Film Festival, For Izzy tells the story of photojournalist Dede, a recovering addict, who moves next door to Laura, a young woman with autism. Dede and Laura start co-developing a documentary using animation and found footage, and the result showcases the untold lives of immigrant women who are far from the model minority. 

But this isn't a Lifetime movie. For Izzy is neither over-saccharine nor overdramatic, and Ang and Jennifer Soo portray Dede and Laura with grace. The film's got heart and humor in spades, and with its portrayal of immigrant parent/children relationships, it's a film that I'm planning on rewatching with my own parents.

For Izzy is available on video on demand on Amazon, iTunes and Google on November 15. You can learn more at the film's website.

— Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who watched For Izzy this week and needs y'all to watch it too

Crystal Strait on de-stigmatizing Planned Parenthood and serving the Asian American Community


A seasoned Democratic political aide, strategist, and former President of the Young Democrats of America, Crystal Strait assumed leadership as Chief Executive Officer of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California in 2017. Growing up as the daughter of a local union president and post-World War II Japanese American has shaped every aspect of her progressive values and dedication to serving others. Inspired by her background, story, and vision we spoke with Crystal about where Planned Parenthood is heading, the obstacles it faces, and how it is serving the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community.

As always, you can find the full transcript on Medium.

What are some stigmas about Planned Parenthood that you hope to dispel?

The biggest thing is that we are proud of the abortion services we provide, however, there is such a variety of services. We’re really there for the entire continuum or nexus of care when it comes to sexual or reproductive healthcare. From learning about sex and your reproductive system, to making sure that if you want to be intimate that you understand the different types of contraception and protection to guard yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. That you have opportunities for screening, or that we can help to think about fertility options. It runs the whole gamut.

Particularly for the Asian American community: I think back to friends’ stories and the stigma that comes with “Oh what will my family or parents think if they hear that I went to Planned Parenthood?” There is this belief that if you go to Planned Parenthood, then you are active in risky behavior, or are promiscuous, just from the fact that you walked through the doors. That’s probably a worry that a lot of people have. If I have anything to tell our Asian moms or family members out there is that it’s actually the opposite — your children are preparing themselves. They’re doing their best to “study” and gain full knowledge, arming themselves for whatever is to come. I wish there was a way to help think through, with the API community and their families, what they should be celebrating and encouraging. I don’t want to dismiss that we do have a lot of Asian parents who support and promote their children accessing services, but I wish it was more.

If you really think about it, this is where you want your kids to start. You want your kids to understand healthy relationships. In the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that 70% of boys learned about sex from pornography. That is the LAST place we want young men to be learning about sex — it’s completely fake and not real. We shouldn’t be shocked when we see toxic relationships, domestic violence, harassment, and assault because young people aren’t even learning. One of the things that Planned Parenthood has done, and is really proud of, is how active we’ve been in legislation around the “California Healthy Youth Act.” A lot of Planned Parenthood Affiliates around the country are also actively working with our education system to provide curriculum and frameworks to teach healthy relationships, which yes, includes the proverbial “putting the condom on the banana,” but also teaches “What is intimacy? What is not?” We are trying to empower and prepare our young people to make complicated decisions. We shouldn’t be a provider of last resort — we really should be the first provider that you go to when you want to learn about your body and make decisions that will affect you for many decades to come.

Many members of the API community are eager to get involved with advocacy and outreach, but may not know where to begin. What advice do you have for them?

It’s simple advice that is hard to put into practice sometimes, but just start! Everyone has a gift, everyone has something to contribute. It could be something as simple as making a post on social media, or talking about your feelings or views on politics. There are a lot of us in “politics” that are Asian. The number is growing, but we are still proportionally a minority in comparison to where we should be because there is still this stigma that we aren’t supposed to be vocal. I’m a post WWII Japanese American, I grew up in a very big assimilation culture. We have to remember that we came here and we’ve been here for a long time, so we can partake in the “American Dream” just as much as everyone else. That is founded in our right to free speech and the right to speak up.

There are so many organizations out there — we just joined forces with the Texas Civil Rights Project to help separated families at the border. We have a broad coalition at Planned Parenthood working on the Public Charge. There are also volunteer opportunities at Planned Parenthood Centers all around the country, and we’d love to have you come. Show up. Make sure that an Asian face is there. Remember the power of your voice. It is countercultural, and I don’t think people understand how many of us are raised with a certain structure of how to speak up, and we don’t really give ourselves a lot of room to make mistakes. I just hope that we can get to a stronger place, and voice our opinions without worry.
Read the transcript on Medium

This weekend ... 📅

  • CAMPAIGN. For the LGBTQ community in Taiwan. In just a couple weeks, Taiwanese voters will answer five questions regarding marriage equality. (The island’s legislature has a May deadline to amend marriage laws and the results of these referendums could have a big impact). Three of those questions are posed by anti-gay groups, and LGBTQ groups in New York are fighting back by fundraising ahead of the election.

  • HAVE A LAUGH. With Chinese Canadian trio CantoMando. The group has more than 61,000 subscribers on their YouTube page where they do challenges, poke fun and churn out #relatable content all about being the children of Chinese immigrants.

  • SWOON. Over the newer, sexier update to Oddjob. The character first appeared in the James Bond novel Goldfinger and later its film adaptation as a Korean manservant/assassin who is physically imposing and very deadly. In the upcoming comic series James Bond 007, writer and friend of The Slant Greg Pak kept those qualities and added depth.

This week's stories are curated by Jessica Yi, editor, who has seen Blue Crush several times and will vigorously defend it. Got a tip, or just want to share? E-mail us at

The Slant is brought to you by:

Brian Hsieh, Marina Cheung, Billy Huang, Kevin Lin, Delwin Lau, AJ Grey, Michelle Pal, Mandy Diec, Lloyd Lee, Patrick Trinh, Emily Chi, Naomi Iwata, Kyla Hsia, Gloria Lin, Matt Young, Cat Xia, Crystal Shei, Sooyun Choi, Yi Cao, Meher Kohli, Ryan Ikeda, Jerome Finuliar, Abby Wang, Curtis Leung, Tracey Mantilla, Mika Kennedy, James Boo, Chris Moe, Eve Asher, Alexander Quion, Diane Lee, Angela Yang, Katherine Chin, Paul Kerr, Talisa Chang and Claire Tran, who are like a perfectly put together ensemble that's too good for a corporate holiday party.

Join them in supporting The Slant on Patreon.

When you think about how stories get told, I did think of my own family. When my great-grandma recited stories to me, I thought, “How do I put it on the page?” I started thinking about rhythm. The text needed musicality. At the same time, I wanted readers to understand that the stories needed each other—they needed to talk with each other. I could make the case for a piece to be in the book that was technically flawed but that would be of value to the book if the others pieces propped it up. I started seeing and envisioning the book that way.

—Deepak Unnikrishnan, from his interview with AAWW

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