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News from the front

Updates on stories we've reported on

Actually, Spam’s not good forever

It’s emergency food in your pantry and *chef’s kiss* in Hawai’i.

But Spam is probably most celebrated in Guam, where the annual consumption is about 16 cans per person: the world’s highest per capita.

That’s what troubles the Department of Public Health in Guam, where heart disease causes 33.7% of all deaths. And with 16 grams of fat and 40 milligrams of cholesterol per 2 ounce serving, Spam isn’t exactly blameless.

The invasive species of food

Developed in 1937, Spam achieved ubiquity as a meat substitute for U.S. soldiers in World War II. When the U.S. recaptured Guam, its Spam remained, fueling soldiers who built military structures on two-thirds of the island.

That displaced families and villages who depended on agriculture, and without crops, Guam’s indigenous CHamoru and other Pacific Islander cultures relied on the Spam soldiers left behind.

75 years later, Spam’s become a gourmet food in Guam. But lower-income residents, particularly CHamoru or other Pacific Islanders, still lack the funds for healthier food choices, and turn to canned food.

The results: 30 percent of high school students and 64 percent of adults are obese, and the youngest person with type-II diabetes is 5 years old.

Farms vs. Spam

With Spam becoming what CHamoru poet Craig Santos Perez calls “an invasive settler food,” Guam residents are taking the initiative to stem disease.

Farms like the University of Guam Triton Farm offer community programs that teach natural farming—and according to the farm’s manager, prospective farmers actually skew younger.

“Our community has suffered greatly because of emergency foods,” food sovereignty advocate Jessica Nangauta told the Pacific Daily News. “Spam may have been introduced to our culture. But culture is constantly changing, and we can change too.”

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, eyeing the Spam on his shelf more suspiciously

BTW, here’s why we capitalize the “CH” in “CHamoru”

NOW PLAYING: If you’re like me, you spend a couple minutes before driving just picking a podcast to listen to. But thanks to the folx at Snap Judgment, I know what I’m listening to tonight: their latest episode exploring January 13, 2018, when one misclick alerted Hawaiians to a false ballistic missile threat that caused “38 minutes of panic and fear, acceptance and joy.”

Featuring stories from a Native Hawaiian activist, a Pearl Harbor tourist, a Hiroshima survivor and a father forced to choose which child to save, “This is Not a Drill” is That Podcast: the one you’ll pull over for because you’ve long since stopped paying attention to the road. (HI MOM, THIS IS A JOKE.)

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, awaiting your podcast recommendations and fake disaster alerts at

When Japanese Americans and the Beat Generation clashed

One of the many contributions that Japanese immigrants brought with them to the US was religion—and in particular, Buddhism.

According to historian Michael K. Masatsugu, Japanese laborers began establishing Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism in the US as early as the late 1800s, and began to adapt religious practices to the US as a form of assimilation.

A fusion form of Buddhism

The initial changes were mostly superficial and highly visible, like building temples that resembled Christian churches, and sitting in pews instead of on floor mats. Other changes included calling priests “reverends,” enforcing English-language policies and forming community groups and youth basketball leagues.

While these practices were adopted to help worshipers resist racial discrimination and pressure to convert to Christianity, they became embedded as time went on and the Japanese American community coalesced around the temples.

Following WWII, as the Japanese American community started to recover from the trauma of internment, disillusioned white Americans searched for answers outside of “western society.” And some found their answer in Zen Buddhism.

Whitesplaining Buddhism

Beatniks and white Buddhists gathered in the Bay Area and tried to bring their services together with those of Japanese Americans. But Zen Buddhist converts soon realized that Japanese American Jōdo Shinshū Buddhists had embraced the very trappings of American Christianity they’d left behind.

The converts criticized Japanese Americans as practicing non-traditional and inauthentic forms of Buddhism. But while converts sought a rigid and ancient tradition against the horrors of WWII and a rapidly changing world, they failed to recognize a new branch of Buddhism that provided solace and community to its followers.

Jessica Yi, editor, has finally hopped on the sparkling water bandwagon and is now approximately 57% La Croix

If you're looking for more academic papers on Orientalized monks

This weekend ... 📅

  • BE A STAR if you happen to have a non-Chinese face, and see how those conspicuous foreign villains in Chinese movies got their start: by heading to China, putting yourself out there, and scoring auditions based on, well, not being Chinese. Although you’ll probably never be the hero.

  • LEARN TO GET ELECTED with the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, which has helped Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders get involved in government for almost 25 years. More than 90 current and former officials have been part of the group. And you could be another!

  • CELEBRATE friend of The Slant Karen Chee, whose interview with Variety on writing for the Golden Globes is just another bright, happy bullet point in her illustrious resume. Then make plans for one of her upcoming shows because Karen Chee is very very very funny.

  • SAVOR. Sandra Oh winning her second Golden Globe, the first Asian actress to ever do so, especially when she thanks her parents in Korean before bowing. Cap it off with her opening the show with Andy Samberg, featuring a joke about “Asian flush” that she pointedly tells Andy is not for him, a spontaneous apology from Emma Stone for whitewashing an Asian American role and a beautiful shout-out to representation.

  • START 2020 EARLY by meeting Andrew Yang, a Schenectady native who’s looking to become the first Asian American president. A serial entrepreneur, Yang’s a fan of universal basic income: giving adult Americans $1,000 a month. Hey, campaigns start early these days.

Got a tip, or just want to share? E-mail us at

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