Because it was walking the dog HAhAhaHa HA AH Aha

From the tweets of fellow newsletter writer Lulu Cheng, featured this week.

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The ups and downs of the yo-yo inventor

Around the world! The Sleeper! Rock the baby! Yo-yos were basically America's quintessential toy before it got beat out by Beyblades.

And thanks to a Filipino man named Pedro Flores, practically almost every kid had a chance to walk the dog.

How it all began

Flores immigrated to the United States in 1915 from Vintar, Llocos Norte, in the Philippines. A Berkeley graduate and a Hastings College of Law dropout, Flores worked a series of odd jobs. While working as a bellboy, Flores found a newspaper featuring a millionaire who capitalized on selling a ball attached to a rubber band (wow).

This reminded him of the bandalore, an old Filipino toy from back in the 1800s, and Flores promptly filed a patent for his version: a yo-yo that used a bandalore-style loop instead of a knot around its axle, which made it easier to do tricks.

Flores began mass manufacturing yo-yos in California, popularized it in the U.S, and started some of the first yo-yo competitions.

(Yo-yo means “come and go” in Tagalog)

Unfortunately, Flores ended up selling the company and trademark to a white man named Donald F. Duncan. Duncan had connections to media mogul William Hearst, got free ad placements, and was able to take the yo-yo’s popularity to the next level.

Flores still stayed heavily involved in the business and got a fortune from his sale to Duncan—but let’s never forget who really got the yo-yo spinning.

Natalie Bui, editor, who never mastered walking the dog
100 years of Filipino American achievements

NOW PLAYING: The first episode of “Long Distance” starts with a question: where are you really from? For many Asian Americans it’s a loaded question, and journalist Paola Mardo intends to take that question as far as she can to find stories that add depth to the present day experience of Filipino Americans.

“Little Manila” tells the story of a vandalism (allegedly a hate crime) against a Filipino community group in Stockton, which kicks off Mardo’s further exploration of Filipino history, heritage, and culture. She traces the history of Filipino colonization and eventual immigration to America, exploring the connections between the ancestral experiences and how Filipino Americans now understand and negotiate their identity.

Dylan Delvo, a member of the community center in Stockton, looks past the slurs and destruction of the vandalism and sees it as a kind of message and rallying point for his community. “I thought it was important that the Filipino community understand that they are not exempt from the issues of race that our nation is facing today. Are we going to continue and try to appropriate white privilege, or are we going to stand with our brothers and sisters who we stood with during the formation of the United Farm Workers for social justice and equality? Because that’s really our heritage and what defines us as a people.”

Chery Sutjahjo, editor, who’s got another podcast to add to her queue

Get informed on domestic violence in AAPI communities

Before today, I couldn't tell you how prevalent domestic violence is, much less domestic violence in the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

I couldn't tell you that 40-60% of Asian American women, including 47% of Cambodian American women, 50% of Korean American women, and 60% of South Asian American women, reported violence or abuse in their domestic partnerships.

And I couldn't tell you that while many domestic violence hotlines claim they're multilingual, translators are often off-duty, unavailable in a moment of need, or worse—don't even work there.

So I'm learning now

From fear of deportation when reporting violence to difficulties communicating with dismissive policemen, immigrant women face additional barriers when escaping domestic violence.

Cultural stigmas, for instance, cause concerns for losing face or bringing shame on the family. Which may be why Asian American women acclimated to the U.S. were 2x more likely to report domestic violence.

Keeping the education going

This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I'm checking my privilege as a straight, cis dude who, statistically, doesn't have to worry about being a victim of sexual assault or domestic abuse.

So I'm reading this thorough article by Jenn Fang at Reappropriate, and going through AAPI Data's disaggregated stats on domestic violence.

And I'm thinking of ways for The Slant to help raise awareness of domestic violence in our communities, too. Got an idea? Send it our way at Let's take action every way we can.

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief

More resources for POC survivors of gender-based violence

Lulu Cheng wants to write you touchy-feely emails

Lulu Cheng is taking a touchy-feely class. The touchy-feely class, in fact, with an Inc article, business school pieces and plenty of anecdotes from touchy-feely graduates who learn leadership skills, forge relationships, and pretty much get group therapy.

“The kind of adjective that people use to talk about it is transformative, which is a really interesting word,” Cheng tells me over the phone. “You get a lot of feedback on first impressions and how you come off to other people. It’s kind of intense.”

Which makes sense, because this is an emotional boot camp if there ever was one. “There are so few opportunities to stop and think about the impact that you have on other people and vice-versa,” says Cheng. “There’s an emotional resonance and an emotional residue. And this is an opportunity to just sit and accept that.”

Cheng’s writing exemplifies that line of thinking. In her email newsletter, /tell it slant/, Cheng authors emails chock-full of that emotional resonance, telling personal stories about her grandmother’s dementia, or going to therapy, or her relationship with her mother.

It’s the kind of writing that fully realizes the fever dreams of whoever invented email: missives plunging into emotional depths and yet delivered instantly to your phone, three scrolls long.

Last week, we talked about everything from writing for the email medium to being a 1.5 generation immigrant to how overrated boba might be. And before you read, you might check out her email newsletter archive. We’ll wait.

We’ve featured a few highlights here. See the full transcript on Medium.

On writing for email vs blogging

"I think people have been predicting the demise of email every year for the past 20 years. Email has stuck around so long because at the end of the day, it’s really hard to beat this direct personal communication.

I think the asynchronous nature of it is really nice, where you get an email, you open it, there’s no pressure to respond right away. It’s not unusual to let something sit, where sometimes you’ll get responses a month or so after you send the thing. And I think that’s totally fine.

And I still think there’s really no more direct way to get to people, especially nowadays when attention is so fragmented and there’s so many pulls on your attention. Email is kinda the universal thing that you know everyone from your mom to your little cousin is gonna have."

On using Chinese in her writing

"It’s actually stylistically something that you see more and more in works of literature. I recently finished The Wangs vs. the World, and one technique the author uses all the time is writing out sentences in pinyin. Entire paragraphs sometimes. And it was kinda crazy. It was hard to imagine someone reading it while knowing pinyin, ‘cos I’m doing translations in my head. And I remember seeing reviews on Goodreads complaining about these entire paragraphs of prose in another language. (laughs)

But honestly, I think we’re gonna see so much more of that going forward. Because that’s what we’re doing as people who are bilingual and communicating with family where fluency is at very different levels. You’re constantly doing this switching, this translating when you’re talking with them. And so I think it’s just a reflection of the reality of my experience, and what it’s like to talk with them."

On the most overrated Asian food

"Um, okay, so hot take. Maybe controversial. I honestly, I don’t understand the boba fascination. Like, I have a sweet tooth. And maybe I’m just pickier about how I spend my sweet allotment for the day. But I’d much rather eat … anything else. A moon cake. A mochi. On its own, not in boba. (laughs) Maybe it’s user error or faulty product. I don’t know."

Lulu is a product manager on the Discovery team at Pinterest, where she's building illuminating recommendation experiences. In her free time she writes a newsletter on Asian American identity, among other things, and tweets things that sometimes go viral. She's also a transformation coach and would love to connect via Twitter if there's an area of life where you'd like some change or are feeling stuck.

Read the whole interview on Medium

Dear Abby is terrible, actually

Recently, advice columnist Jeanne Phillips, a.k.a. Dear Abby, was asked if a father-to-be should give his child an “unusual” Indian name after the mother’s heritage, or an easier “Western” name. Abby’s replied the child should not be “saddled” with a difficult name that could cause headaches and teasing.

This is marginalizing on several levels. It treats Indians as perpetual foreigners who should assimilate to the dominant (white) culture and absolves Americans of any responsibility to learn about the cultures that make up our community.

Maybe it’s time for Dear Abhay

Advice columns can be a valuable public form for society to work out issues; but standards of respectability should reinforce what we value as a society and change with the times.

We live in a diverse world; if Americans can learn to pronounce “Siobhan” and “Hermione” then “Vijay” and “Kamala” will be a breeze. And if the writer is looking for a compromise, there are plenty of Indian names that are not difficult for native English speakers. All that AND a sense of heritage.

Jessica Yi, editor, has spent a shocking amount of time on Ask A Manager, the Emily Post Institute and r/relationships

Where are the advice columnists of color?

This weekend ... 📅

  • READ. The Cut’s comprehensive collection on stories of power and powerlessness from the fearless women today. It’s not a series about women empowerment, but about women’s relationship to power - the good and bad. It’s broken by chapters and covers folks like Lena Waite, Stormy Daniels, Ai-Jen Poo, and more.

  • BELIEVE. Sri Preston Kulkarni's congressional campaign in Texas considered a “radical” approach in talking to Asian Americans in 13 different languages to get out the vote. Lack of in-language access is one of the biggest barriers facing immigrant communities to voting, and politicians typically never have tried to engage the comprehensive community of AA groups to vote.

  • SET SAIL FOR LOVE. For decades the Taiwanese government held a travel program for Taiwanese and Chinese American youths which was intended to shore up support for the island’s independence. But the teens weren’t looking for their roots as much as a summer romance. Filmmaker Valerie Soe is fundraising to complete her film on the program exploring the delicate balance between those motivations.

  • CRY IN ANGUISH. For kdramas past. DramaFever, the streaming service that was home to Korean, Chinese and Japanese dramas and entertainment suddenly shut down this week. But the silver lining is that part of the reason for the shutdown was increased competition from Amazon and Netflix, which have been bulking up their libraries.

  • WATCH. The third season of the Disney Channel’s show “Andi Mack”, about a mixed race Asian American family. With all the focus on Asian American media representation this summer, it’s nice to see a show that’s been quietly breaking the mold for years.

This week's stories are curated by Natalie Bui and Jessica Yi, editors, or can you just call us Nat and Jess. We love nicknames. Got a tip, or just want to share? E-mail us at

The Slant is brought to you by:

Brian Hsieh, Kevin Lin, Billy Huang, Delwin Lau, AJ Grey, Marina Cheung, Michelle Pal, Mandy Diec, Lloyd Lee, Patrick Trinh, Emily Chi, Naomi Iwata, 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, Diane Lee, Angela Yang, Katherine Chin, Paul Kerr, Talisa Chang and Claire Tran, who are all master bakers in the Great British Baking Show.

Join them in supporting The Slant on Patreon.

“Being a person of color, that character Rufio, as a person of color in a leadership role in a major film, for a lot of the Asian American community, that was the first cool Asian American character they’d seen in their lifetime. And that impacted even a movie today. Jon Chu, [director of] Crazy Rich Asians, he’s become a good friend. And talking about representation in film and him going “That was the first time I felt represented” and how he felt he could be a part of Hollywood because of that character. Those are the kinds of things that you don’t even know until later on in life, the impact you had. These roles we do in our career are like pebbles on the pond, we never know what ripples they make.” 

— Dante Basco,  actor, from his interview with io9

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