The AACP Newsletter
Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages
Since 1970 February 2005
Editor's Notes
Event Schedule
Featured Books
Good Luck Life
A Book on Chinese Culture Reviewed

And Justice for All
An Editorial on the Bush Inauguration Speech

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Printable PDF Version
Good Luck Life
The Essential Guide to Chinese American Celebrations and Culture

A review by Philip Chin

Chinese traditions and customs may sometimes be as inscrutable and mysterious to those of us who are second or more generations raised in America as it is to those wide-eyes commenting about how exotic we are. Sometimes you (either as a child or as an adult) simply don't want to ask the questions that come to mind, either because you're embarrassed to be so ignorant, or you're afraid your mother might hit you for asking. So it was very refreshing to get the chance to review the new book, "Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide to Chinese American Celebrations and Culture" by Rosemary Gong, published by Harper Resources ($14.95).

This book can be read by adults or children with equal satisfaction. Every child and many adults have questions about Chinese celebrations such as the symbolism of red egg parties to celebrate the birth of a child (why red?) or why all the gold jewelry is given by the two families to the bride and groom to celebrate a wedding. Traditions such as fireworks at celebrations and especially during Chinese New Year (this February 2005) are explained. The cultural significance and identity of the guardian god seen in Chinese

restaurants across America (and some American police stations too), with offerings of incense and fruit in front of it, is explained. For those surprisingly simple but actually quite complicated questions that kids ask about celebrations and traditions there are very good answers in this book.

For adults, this book also answers more serious questions as to how one should conduct a traditional Chinese funeral and all the objects and symbolism involved. Silk blankets layered over the dead are in different colors to symbolize different things and are supposed to be laid in a fixed order. This was a surprise to me especially when I discovered that even Chinese people coming from Hong Kong or China generally don't know the symbolism or order of this tradition. This isn't very surprising because Chinese generally have a great reluctance to talk about death. That is one of the strengths of this book, to delve into matters of tradition that Chinese families don't usually cover.

So whatever questions you have about Chinese traditions and culture, "Good Luck Life" is a great place to start.

Editor's Message

Hello Everyone.

Happy New Year again. This time it's happy Lunar New Year! The Lunar New Year observed by many Asian cultures is on February 9th this year, and according to the Chinese zodiac, is the year of the Rooster.

There are a lot of events happening in the coming two months. Have a look at our event schedule. Please note that I have been getting your event notices, but unfortunately, I am deluged we so many that it's hard for me to keep track of all the things going on. In the near future, I hope to have a form on our website that will let us know of your events and will make the posting and announcing of these events much easier.

We are experimenting with having a printable version of our newsletter available to you and the general public. The link in our side bar above, right below the Newsletter Home Page Link, will allow you to download a PDF (Adobe Acrobat) version of the newsletter. We will monitor the number of downloads and if there is enough interest in this feature, we will continue to make printable versions of the newsletter available to you.

In remembrance of the signing of Executive Order 9066, please have a look at our list of Japanese American internment related books. This is only a partial list and I will be adding to it as time goes on.

Also, I will be making other upgrades to our website. I hope to be telling you all about them in the next newsletter.

Thank you to all the people that came to our New Year's poetry day event. Thank you Takahashi Market for supplying us with some of the food for the event. Thank you Mas (Hongo) for being so generous in giving out the free copies of Petals of the Vanda (for those that didn't come, see what you missed :). For those of you that got a free copy, we hope you spread the word about our great book. Thank you to Margo King Lenson, Hirose Kashiwagi, and all the other unnamed attendees that shared your works with us. It was great to have you all. I hope very much that we can do it again next year and that you'll all be able to attend again.

Thank you Sophie for your help and efforts to sell our surplus books. We'll have more chances, so don't feel bad about the results - it's the effort that counts.

If you're not sure what I was just saying to Sophie about surplus books, come to our store and check them out. AACP has a large number of Chinese cookbooks that we are selling at 50% or more below the retail cost. These are real bargains, so please come and take advantage of them before the supply is all gone.

That's it for now.

Leonard Chan
Executive Editor

February 2014
Thank you Jacob and his mentor Michelle Peng for giving me an updated link for the United States Constitution in my editorial below.

Up Coming Events

Here are some events that AACP will soon be attending.
Invite us to your events.
Feb. 19
Sacramento Day of Remembrance
Hiroshi Kashiwagi Book Signing
Sacramento, CA
Feb. 19
San Mateo Day of Remembrance San Mateo County History Museum
Redwood City, CA
Feb. 20
San Jose Day of Remembrance SJ Buddhist Church
San Jose, CA
Mar. 4-6 California Council for the Social Studies Conference Hyatt SF Airport
Burlingame, CA
Mar. 6
Chinese New Year's Celebration Stockton Civic Aud.
525 N. Center St.
Stockton, CA
Mar. 12 Academic Success Day Exhibit/Sales SC County
Office of Educ.

Santa Clara, CA
Mar. 12-13 Reading the World VII USF
2350 Turk Blvd.
San Francisco, CA
April 9
Hiroshi Kashiwagi Book Signing JCCCNC
San Francisco, CA
Other Event of Interest that AACP May Not Attend
Feb. 5-20 Chinese New Year
Celebration Events in SF
San Francisco, CA
Feb. 12-13
Tet Festival Santa Clara Co. Fairgrounds
San Jose, CA
Feb. 19
Chinese New Year Parade San Francisco, CA
Feb. 20
Day of Remembrance Exhibit/Sales Kabuki Theatre
1881 Post St.
San Francisco, CA
Mar. 12-13 Marysville
Bok Kai Festival
3rd & D St.
Marysville, CA
Mar. 10-20 22st San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose, CA
April 20-24 Association for Asian American Studies National Conference Marriott Los Angeles Downtown
Los Angeles, CA

Give Us Your Feedback

Please feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -

And Justice for All
An editorial by Leonard Chan

On February 19, 1942, sixty three years ago this month, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which effectively sanctioned the forced removal of Japanese Americans from the western states and eventually lead to their internment in concentration camps.

In preparations for this newsletter I began a search for books that I could feature in remembrance of this dark anniversary. One of the books that I decided to use, Executive Order 9066, has a wonderful introduction written by Edison Uno. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Edison Uno, he was a renowned educator and Japanese American activist during the 60s and 70s (he passed away in the late 70s). For us at AACP, we are proud to say that he was one of our founders too.

Edison Uno fought for many causes. One of his objectives was to make sure that people never forgot about the injustices done to Japanese Americans during World War II. Upon reading Edison's introduction, I began to imagine what he might have thought of President Bush's recent inaugural speech.

Like a mantra, President Bush drove the words freedom and liberty into our thoughts. In a speech that took less than 30 minutes, he used these words over 40 times. For me, I couldn't remember much else, so I had to find the speech online to read it. I must say, that it really reads quite well. Nothing in it was really objectionable and most everyone from all parts of the political spectrum could probably shake their head in agreement with much of the speech.

So what was wrong with the speech was not what it contained, but what it lacked. The inaugural address was probably not the right time for President Bush to be talking about America's historical and current struggles with freedom and liberty, but by not mentioning our imperfections, his eloquent speech came off as hypocritical and unfoundedly self-righteous.

The key word that was under used is "justice." Buried among all the uses of freedom and liberty, President Bush managed to use the word justice only a half dozen times. So why is this word so important that it was placed near the beginning of the Preamble of the United State Constitution? And let's not forget the pledge that I happily led my junior high homeroom class in saying everyday - "...liberty and justice for all."

The framers of the Constitution knew that in order to have a functioning national government, they had to have a functioning judicial system. Like the game "rock, paper, scissors," our government's various branches were designed to prevent any one branch from imposing tyrannical powers over the others. Even in a democracy, you can have tyranny imposed by the majority over minorities.

According to the PBS series Liberty! The American Revolution, James Madison, one of the authors of the US Constitution said, "The biggest danger to our rights today, is not from governments acting against the will of the majority, but from government which has become the mere instrument of this majority. Think about it. That's where the abuse of power comes from. Not the tyranny of the king, but the tyranny of the majority. Wrong will be done as much by an all powerful people as by an all powerful prince."

Part of our court system's duties is to evaluate the justness or fairness of laws and actions enacted by the legislative and executive branches of government. The bedrock by which the courts measure fairness is our constitution and the Bill of Rights contained within it. Armed with this foundation, our judicial system can keep in check the powers of the other branches. Keep this in mind the next time you hear someone complaining about the courts thwarting the will of the people (through the legislature or by referendum) or the executive branch. That's part of the courts' duty - making sure that there is "justice for all."

Sadly, even in our great country, there have been many many times when our governmental system failed to be just. The Japanese American internment during World War II is one example when even the judicial system failed to protect against tyranny. We must all constantly be aware, study, and remember this and other injustices so that we can prevent them from ever happening again.

In remembering, it is important to come to grips with the past. No nation can fully understand itself or find its place in the world if it does not look with clear eyes at all the glories and disgraces of its past. We in the United States acknowledge such an injustice in our history. The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry was a great injustice, and will never be repeated.
President George H. W. Bush
December 7, 1991

It may not have been appropriate for our current President Bush to talk about this in his inaugural speech. Inaugural speeches are usually meant to encourage and uplift. So it is left to us, those in education and the media, to pour the cold water on the idealist and to remind everyone that America is not perfect and that we must learn from our past.

Part of what makes our system great is that it can correct itself. We and governments of the world can only get better through the continued nourishment and support of the institutions that allow for this self-correction. And above even our governments, we must create a space within our own hearts and minds for justice, fairness, love, and compassion.

Those who cherish liberty may learn much, now that the racial hatred and fear of conquest of thirty years have passed. Let us determine to abide by the lessons that EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 (the book) teaches us - first, that the mere existence of a legal right is no more protection to individual liberty than the parchment upon which it is written, and second, that the mutual love, respect, and understanding of one another are stronger bonds than constitutions.
Tom C. Clark
Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Retired
From the epilogue of Executive Order 9066 - written in 1971 for 1st Ed.

Yes, let freedom and "justice" march on.

More links of interest
- NPR State of the Union articles
- NPR discussion on the meaning of freedom
- A biography on James Madison


The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end March 5, 2005.

Good Luck Life
The Essential Guide to Chinese American Celebrations and Culture

By Rosemary Gong
2005, 288 pages, paperback.

For any one interested in learning more about Chinese American culture and celebrations, this books is one of the most comprehensive works on the subject.

If you haven't already read the above review check it out.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3276, Price $14.95

Origins of Chinese Music and Art

Compiled by Li Xiaoxiang
Illustrated by Fu Chunjiang
Translated by Y N Han
2002, 148 pages, paperback.

Origins of Chinese Music and Art is an engaging introductory book to Chinese written language, calligraphy, music, games, and art. Told in comic book fashion and in regular text, this book will give readers a taste of the Chinese arts, feed their curiosity, and make them want for more.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3274, Price $14.95

Altered Lives, Enduring Community
Japanese Americans Remember Their World War II Incarceration

By Stephen S. Fugita and Marilyn Fernandez
2004, 253 pages, paperback.

Altered Lives, Enduring Community examines the long-term effects on Japanese Americans of their World War II experiences: forced removal from their Pacific Coast homes, incarceration in desolate government camps, and ultimate resettlement. The authors use data from the first-ever, representative survey of a community of Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II, conducted as part of Seattle's Densho: Japanese American Legacy Project. Their often poignant account presents the contemporary, post-redress perspectives of former incarcerees and reveals the incarceration's consequences for their lives.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3275, Price $24.95

Chang's Paper Pony and The Magic Paintbrush Bundle

Chang's Paper Pony

By Eleanor Coerr
Illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray
1988, 64 pages, paperback.
An old favorite that's back in stock.

Eleanor Coerr, author of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, tells the story of Chang, a Chinese immigrant boy living in 1850's California. Chang wants a pony, but cannot afford one until his friend Big Pete finds a solution.

The Magic Paintbrush

By Laurence Yep
Illustrated by Suling Wang
2000, 89 pages, paperback.

In this fanciful tale, Laurence Yep, author of Dragonwings, tells the story of Steve and his magic paintbrush. Reminiscent of Aladdin and his magic lamp, Steve is given a magic paintbrush, which turns almost anything he paints into reality. Find out what Steve does with his brush as he turns his grandfather's dreary Chinatown apartment into a portal to imaginary worlds.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3278, Price For the Two Books Combined $8.98

Executive Order 9066
The Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans

By Maisie & Richard Conrat
1992, 120 pages, paperback.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. With over 50 pictures, this classic photo essay, that was originally printed in the early 1970s, is a must have book for all those interested in knowing more about the Japanese American Internment during World War II.

The book includes an introduction written by Edison Uno and many photos by renowned photographer Dorothea Lange.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #1990, Price $14.95

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