Trailblazing Japanese-American ballet dancer Sono Osato died this past week at the age of 99. She was born in Omaha to a Japanese father and a white mother whose marriage had taken place in Iowa, given that such an interracial union was illegal in Nebraska at the time. As a 14 year old she was the first American to join the famed Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and after returning to the States, she became a key performer for American Ballet Theatre. But the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, her immigrant father was incarcerated in Chicago and, shortly after, branded by the authorities an enemy alien. She herself began to go by her mother’s maiden name, Fitzpatrick, under pressure from ABT management, and she was not permitted to enter the state of California or travel outside the U.S. when the company went on tour. (Her brother Tim, however, was able to travel abroad, serving in Europe as a member of the famous all-Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit of its size in American military history.)Continue reading
This is a sad post for me to write, one that I’ve been putting off for awhile.Continue Reading
This autumn, if all goes well1, I’ll take charge of my own classroom of high schoolers for the first time in 25 years! That’s how long it’s been since I last served as a full-time teacher, though I’ve worked closely with young people ever since, in my stints as a minister and a women’s rights activist.
I’m going back to the classroom with a much greater sense of purpose than last time. 25 years ago, I was mostly just happy to get started in my first job after finishing college. But now, I’m diving back in, convinced that good social studies (or social science, if you prefer) teachers are needed as much as they’ve ever been, given the extraordinary challenges we Americans confront in the Age of Trump.
I don’t want to ignore the difficulties of the past year, of which there were many. But in celebration of Abba’s abundant love, here are several ways I’ve felt blessed in 2018. From the upper left and going clockwise, then ending in the center:
Some of you have seen this animated short already, but I had not until this morning. It’s made the short list of potential Academy Award nominees in its category as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences whittles down submissions to the final group that will be in the running for the Oscar. Without a single spoken word, TAIKO Studios‘ One Small Step says so very, very much about what being a feminist Asian dad means to me.
I never thought I’d be back in the classroom as a teacher.
But since I haven’t landed another position doing what I love most (being an advocate for women’s rights and a violence prevention educator) and since freelance writing and speaking doesn’t pay the bills, I’m “Mr. Hung” again – 24 years after I left the teaching profession! Yes, my first job out of college was being a public high school teacher back in Texas.
In late September, I had the privilege of being one of the featured speakers at Southern California Public Radio KPCC’s Unheard LA event in Long Beach. If you’ve ever wondered how I went from longtime evangelical pastor to women’s rights activist, today is your lucky day! My remarks run about six-and-a-half minutes: