My work has been published in a variety of newspapers, magazines and Web sites. Here is a selection of stories and columns available online and in PDF.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
I write in @sfchronicle about the Chinese vegetable farm that nurtured our family, a place that is now being sold after 50 years. https://t.co/2yZPnfl4j0 https://t.co/PxIswVW3E0 pic.twitter.com/C5mk4sByYM
— Harry Mok (@HarryMok) July 27, 2022
How park and street renamings honor a Chinese American grandmother and an African American grandmother, and the hope they inspire in Visitacion Valley, a place that’s often forgotten unless there’s a shooting or killing. https://t.co/e5QompkTaS pic.twitter.com/Eb7AFQhTQH
— Harry Mok (@HarryMok) June 20, 2022
Sasanna Yee’s 89-year-old grandmother, Yik Oi Huang, died after being beaten and left for dead in a park that is now named for her. A suspect is charged with murder in Huang’s death and is awaiting trial. He also happens to be Black.
Though the case predated the wave of anti-Asian hate during the pandemic, it carried the same racial overtones. Viral videos of attacks on Asians from the last two years have often shown Black assailants, fueling racist tropes.
Yee didn’t let herself fall into that trap.
My latest opinion column for @sfchronicle: 124 years ago, Wong Kim Ark’s lawsuit affirmed birthright citizenship. Wong may have won his case, but defining what being American means beyond the legalities hasn’t been settled. Link in bio. https://t.co/nfSMrgtpYx pic.twitter.com/rUUrgmicG0
— Harry Mok (@HarryMok) March 27, 2022
Cultural critic Jeff Yang traced a direct line between today’s tensions and those that date back to Wong Kim Ark’s lifetime.
“This whole thing where Asians are being blamed for pandemics or economic duress or loss of jobs,” Yang said. “This is something that’s happened cyclically over generations and generations.”
Where I write about Asian American firsts and history. https://t.co/kjrbSLbEX0
— Harry Mok (@HarryMok) November 9, 2021
Asian America celebrated a prominent array of political firsts across the country: the election wins of mayors Michelle Wu in Boston, Aftab Pureval in Cincinnati and Bruce Harrell in Seattle. In San Francisco, David Chiu was sworn in as city attorney. All against the backdrop of anti-Asian hate during the pandemic and the FBI’s release of revised hate crime data a few days earlier that is a reminder the American part of that dual identity is still not accepted by many no matter how many Asians are elected mayor.
— Harry Mok (@HarryMok) October 3, 2021
It wasn’t meant to be a race. A few years ago, before COVID, my wife and I left for our destinations at same the time from two different locations; she was driving home from Sacramento, I was taking the Muni N-Judah light rail to Oracle Park for a Giants game from my house in the Outer Sunset. It took my wife less time to drive 100 miles back to San Francisco than it took me to get across the city.
Growing up, I experienced my share of casual racism — certainly nothing like the violent assaults happening around the country now. But I dealt with enough calls of “ching chong” thrown in my direction to know that people saw me as different. It made me want to hide, to blend in, even though I knew I couldn’t.
Finding roots in China’s soil: Young Chinese Americans from the Bay Area visit the villages of their ancestors in China as part of a genealogy program that helps them reconcile their cultural identity as Asian Americans.
Getting teens, parents on the same wavelength: Radio program helps Chinese American teens bridge communication, cultural gap with parents.
Pan-Asian energy reviving Japantown: In some ways, Japantown is Japantown in name only. Most of the Japanese American (and many African American) residents were forced out by redevelopment during the 1960s and 1970s and never came back. Japantown’s Japanese community may never recover, but the area’s recent rebirth has a very pan-Asian mix.
Tears of sadness, relief over Mineta’s nomination: It was Norm Mineta’s smiling face on the front page of the newspaper that brought it out of me. He was picked by President Clinton to be commerce secretary, making him the first Asian American nominated for a Cabinet post. The first ever. I cried. Tears and everything, something I hadn’t done since my father died.
CENTER FOR ASIAN AMERICAN MEDIA
CAAMFest: I am the publications editor for CAAMFest, the Center for Asian American Media‘s film, food and music festival. I assign reviews to writers and edited stories for a festival guide and website that describes more than 50 movies and events.
It’s been an extraordinary election season, and not just because of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. For Asian and Pacific Islander Americans participating in politics, 2016 has been a banner year. More than 245 APIA candidates are running for federal, state and local offices, according to the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, the most in a year since the group started keeping track in 2012.
SAN FRANCISCO FOUNDATION, CALIFORNIA WELLNESS FOUNDATION
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
A monster is helping elementary school kids overcome one of their perennial fears: eating their vegetables. University of California Cooperative Extension nutrition educator Marc Sanchez brings the fearsome beast with him on school visits to classrooms in Merced and Stanislaus counties. Story and audio slide-show
Can a tomato change your life? For UC Santa Cruz’s Tim Galarneau, his first bite of a ripe heirloom tomato was an epiphany — one that put him on the path to becoming one of the chief architects and a champion of UC’s sustainable food movement.
To spark a conversation about climate change, a section of lawn at the University of California, Irvine, will be allowed to die as part of a student’s art installation.
The hype over the Hyperloop could soon give way to reality as designs for the superfast transportation system move off the drawing board, with some help from UC researchers and students.
Green building hits major milestone: A new lab on the UCLA campus is more than just a place for cutting-edge research into paraplegia and cancer: It is the 100th green-certified facility in the UC system. Story and audio slide show.
UC boosts emphasis on organic waste: Composting programs are key to achieving UC’s goal of sending zero waste to landfills.
Smarter power: As the nation’s power system ages and grows insufficient, UC researchers are building a smarter, greener electric grid for the future.
UC center explores race in 21st century: The Center for New Racial Studies connects researchers examining a wide variety of issues linked to race, including class, ethnicity, gender and immigration status.
Putting the crown on solar power: Someday, solar power will provide all our energy. Scientists at UC Solar are helping to make that day come true.
Building a green lab: Making research labs more sustainable can help UC campuses to cut energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Green crusader: A lab researcher’s campaign to reuse, recycle and reduce draws national acclaim.
Students inspire UC’s sustainability policies: Student activism is a driving force behind initiatives that make the UC system one of the greenest universities in the country.
Sex Education: Porn star Hung Lo wants to empower Asian American men: One man is taking the task of debunking these stereotypes head-on, one video at a time.
Race to Space: Asian Americans in ‘Star Trek’s’ final frontier: Science fiction classic’s reputation for diversity maybe suspect.
Growing up with gai lan Making a path to the American dream in the dirt (PDF): A first-person account of growing up on a Chinese vegetable farm.
Yellow porn (warning: rated R): In the U.S. adult film industry, Asian women are a sexual fetish and Asian men are almost completely absent. Professor Darrell Hamamoto wants to change that by producing skin flicks with Asian male stars.
On the streets of San Francisco, a personal crusade to outline tragedy (PDF): They look like the ghostly outlines of crime victims, and in a way they are. Wherever the city’s streets have been marked by tragedy, Ken Kelton marks them over again, spray painting the silhouettes of crumpled pedestrians who’ve been hit and killed by cars.
Chinese Americans’ journey to success: Fred Lau always wanted to be a San Francisco police officer. He wanted the job so badly he literally hung upside down to try and stretch to get past the 5-foot-7 height requirement. It didn’t work. What did work was pressure from civil rights groups to drop the height requirement. Lau became the city’s fifth Asian American officer in 1971. He rose to become chief, and his career reflects a century of change for Chinese Americans.
Angel Island station an endangered site (PDF): Li Keng Wong, then 7, remembers the bars on the windows and the locked doors of Angel Island. “I asked my mother, ‘Mommy, why are we in jail?’ ” said Wong, one of thousands of Chinese immigrants detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station, which was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation endangered list.
SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER
Hong Kong: City in Transition — The struggle to survive (PDF): Things were going well for Lee Lap Kee back in 1997. The 36-year-old father of three had just gotten a job as a real estate agent and was hoping to cash in on the territory’s red-hot property market. Just over a year later, Lee was out of a job as the Asian financial crisis swept through Hong Kong.
Hong Kong: City in Transition — A penchant for piracy (PDF): It took only a few days after its U.S. debut before “Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace” was on sale on the streets of Hong Kong. Pirated VCDs of the movie were selling for as little as $2.50.