State of the Union

The President of the United States said “South Korea” 6 times in his State of the Union address tonight ^^

“In South Korea, teachers are known as ‘nation builders.’ Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect.”

Booyeah. I want to be a nation builder…

“Our infrastructure used to be the best – but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do.”

South Korea has long had more computers and internet access per capita than the US.

“And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs… That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.”

Wait… as long as it’s not sending 70,000 American troops to Korea…

And finally: “And on the Korean peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.”

Inevitable to discuss the North Korean threat and America’s position against it.

I love my President, but I (and tons of other people) are really upset at the absence of libraries in his education budget. The press release from ALA is titled,

“President’s budget freezes library spending, omits school libraries from education increase.”

This is the press release from ALA:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama today released his FY2011 Budget Proposal to Congress, calling for a freeze to federal library funding under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), the primary source of federal funding for libraries.

Under the President’s plan, LSTA would be level-funded at $214 million.

As Americans deal with the weakened economy, they are using their libraries more than ever before, visiting them over 119 million times each month. American Library Association (ALA) President Camila Alire said freezing federal funding for libraries at this time of increased demand will hinder libraries from serving job-seekers, who are flocking to the library for help with online job searching and applications, resume writing, computer classes and much more.

“During this time of hoped-for economic recovery, public libraries are one of the greatest tools our nation has, and a lack of federal support jeopardizes this critical institution,” Alire said.

“President Obama often speaks about helping America get back to work, and libraries are critical access points to information and resources that are helping job-seekers every day. Unfortunately, countless libraries in our country are suffering from state budget cuts that have resulted in staff loss, reduced hours, or even closures. Many libraries have managed to efficiently use what little resources they have, but they are hanging on by a thread.

Federal funding may be a small percentage of the funding America’s libraries receive, but it is critical. The ALA calls on Congress to support America’s libraries by not only restoring the funding lost to libraries in the President’s budget proposal but by increasing the funding, which is desperately needed.”

The President’s budget also included a $400 billion investment into education but did not include specific funds for school libraries. Alire said the federal government should invest in school libraries to ensure every student graduates from high school with 21st century skills.

“It is alarming that the President did not recognize the value of school libraries in today’s schools and include them in this effort to improve education,” Alire said.

“Research repeatedly shows that a well-funded and fully staffed school library program with a state-licensed school librarian is an integral component of a student’s education.”

Read the press release here, and then write to your Congresspeople that this is NOT OKAY WITH YOU.

The Cost of Culture-Keeping

From an article in the Boston Globe:

Parents do these things to help instill in their children pride in who they are, and where they came from, but also to prepare them in case they want to return to their homeland and search for their birth family. What perplexes me is when parents say things like they are sorry for removing their children from “their culture.”

And yet the demand is still so high.

But focusing on a museum view of culture can ignore – or become a way to ignore – the reality of life as a racial minority in America.

Being Asian American is not about celebrating the lunar new year, wearing a hanbok, painting a mask, or banging a drum. Yeah, we do those sometimes, but there’s more to it than that. For example, today someone asked me if I was from the US. It was much nicer than asking “So what country are you from?” but the implication is there: I don’t look American. That is something you don’t get from the “museum view of culture” that Hopgood writes of.

This is a danger, I think, in presenting the birth country and family in an overly romantic way, and in raising a child’s expectations that they will and should fit in. Adoptees can end up feeling bad not only because they don’t fit in, but because they disappoint their parents.

There is also a danger, I think, in presenting the birth country and family in an overly romantic and unmodernized, backwards way; that the birth parents are poor farmers from rural areas and unable to raise a child. Unfortunately, I can name more than a few children’s books that do that. Likewise, I can name more than a few children’s books that romanticize adoption itself; the rescue, the colorblind love, the trivial misunderstandings from society that adoptees should brush off. Right.

I realize that adoptees will all come to their own view of culture and adoption, but I imagine many international adoptees and children in multiracial families share this wider, more global view of themselves. Our blended family backgrounds, beliefs, and practices – as diverse, complicated, and dissonant as they might seem – are as authentic as any. We are another version of the immigrant story, with a culture is just as rich as the one we might have had.

Read the rest of it here. Thanks to Ji-Yeon Yuh for the link.

Dr. Kang on Obama and Ozawa

Obama and Ozawa

Jerry Kang / Special to The National Law Journal
March 31, 2008

Next to his 2004 convention speech, Barack Obama’s speech on race was his most important. It was the most honest and complex analysis of race made by a candidate seeking political office I have ever heard. He did what he needed to do — meet head-on the hardest criticisms, with substance, context, humility and analytical clarity. 

As a legal academic who studies race, I was delighted to see Obama reject simplistic tales. He discussed both individual and structural causes of how things came to be. In other words, he spoke of individual choices (both good and bad) but reminded folks that they are always made within a historically and materially situated menu of options. He rejected demonizing one side as racists and making virtuous victims of the other, and instead identified core similarities and basic human needs. He spoke of the young white woman, Ashley, and the elderly black man who realized that he was working beside her on the campaign “because of Ashley.” 

The greatest challenge, of course, was addressing Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor who spewed fire and brimstone against American racism. Obama once again denounced these comments, but still refused to disown him. As Obama explained, it would be like disowning the black community or his white grandmother, in all their complexity and imperfection.

Read the rest of the article here.

Inspiration

When was the last time you were so inspired? I have Caroline Kennedy’s A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children within easy reach so I can enjoy a few poems before bed each night. It’s an absolute delight to read and really puts my mind at ease before I fall asleep. This morning I woke up to yet another delight: Caroline Kennedy’s op-ed piece likening Senator Obama to her father in the NY Times. I completely agree with her, as many do, that this country needs inspiration and hope; Senator Obama provides that for us. It’s not just a promise. He lives it.

He could truly be the best president since Kennedy. And that puts my mind at ease.

Op-Ed Contributor

A President Like My Father

By CAROLINE KENNEDY

Published: January 27, 2008


OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.


My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual. (emphasis mine)

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.”