442: The Woman at the Heart of Two Chinese American Food Empires

Communautés Asiatiques, Diaspora

Cecilia Chiang (1920-2020) was spent more than four decades shaping the Chinese American food landscape at a time when immigrant Asian female entrepreneurs were extremely rare and built a multimillion-dollar restaurant empire. Her youth spent with Shanghainese family in Wuxi, Chiang found herself on the run in 1937 owing to the Second Sino-Japanese War. Meeting and marrying her husband Chiang Liang during this time, they would settle in Shanghai after the war and had a son and daughter. During the Chinese Communist Revolution, the family would resettle in Tokyo, which was where Chiang opened Forbidden City, a 250-seat Chinese restaurant, her first hospitality experience. In 1959, she would found herself saddled with a restaurant lease in San Francisco, which would house The Mandarin in 1961. Bringing Beijing cuisine to America, and after initial hurdles, the restaurant would soon come to host dignitaries and celebrities like Mae West and John Lennon. The success of Mandarin would lead to Chiang’s permanent move to San Francisco, separation from her husband, who remained in Japan, and restaurant moving to a larger location in 1967. Chiang opened a second Mandarin in 1975. Chiang died at her San Francisco home at the age of 100 in 2020.

This article is published in JoySauce.

442: Bow Down to the Queen—of Chinese Food

Communautés Asiatiques, Diaspora

Today, Chinese restaurants are inescapable in the American culinary landscape. But it was not so when Sylvia Cheng (1915-2022), better known as Madame Wu, began her business. After moving to the USA during the Second World War, Cheng was disappointed with the quality of Cantonese food in the USA. After moving to Los Angeles with her husband King Yan Wu, she opened the 50-seat Madame Wu’s Garden in 1959. The restaurant would prove to be gathering point of many celebrities, from Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, to Mae West, Cary Grant, plus Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow. Madame Wu ran every part of the restaurant like a boss and eventually moved to a 300-seat location in 1968. She died on Sept. 19, at the age of 106.

This article is published in JoySauce.

Asian massage therapists targeted by ‘classist and racist’ crackdown in Newmarket

Communautés Asiatiques, Diaspora

In Newmarket, Asian-owned massage parlours and therapists are finding themselves targeted by surveillance and police harassment. Last year, Newmarket passed a bylaw that required all massage businesses to obtain a new type of license, and as of June, this bylaw requires them to prove all massage therapist employees are registered massage therapists (RMT). Between these requirements and police action, six businesses have closed down and every application submitted by an Asian-owned massage parlour has been rejected or labeled incomplete, with no explanation. Resistance against the bylaw has been growing, with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) saying the bylaw runs afoul of the Charter. Opponents of the bylaw point to false and disparaging claims of human trafficking, and association with sex work, as motivations behind the bylaw.

This article is published in ricochet.

Pakistan aid efforts in Canada call for solidarity, reparations

Communautés Asiatiques, Diaspora, Développement durable

Pakistanis living in Canada have watched the flooding of their homeland in horror, and worked to create solidarity initiatives to provide relief. Countless people have found themselves unable to contact family in Pakistan, amid electricity and telecommunications outages. Now questions have arisen over Canada’s contribution to climate change, as its CO2 emissions are more than 10 times that of Pakistan. Rich countries of the Global North, like Canada, should act to address their contribution to climate injustice. Damages from flooding are estimated at 30 billion dollars and Ottawa has pledged 30 million dollars in assistance. Among urgent concerns are the impacts to pregnant women and the lack of reproductive health products to those most impacted.

This article is published in The Breach.

Carleton University PhD candidate reunites with his husband after two years of detention in Turkey

Diaspora, Justice sociale

After 2 years of detention in Turkey, Carleton University PhD candidate Cihan Erdal is now reunited with his husband, Ömer Ongun, Erdal was initially imprisoned under on charges of inciting violent protests six years prior, before those being released on bail under constant watch when the charges were proven to be false. After walking hours to an undisclosed third country and seeking political asylum, Erdal was able to make his way back to Canada. Throughout his detention, Ongun led a tireless campaign to rally international support to bring Erdal back home. Turkish authorities have detained many individuals with alleged ties to political movements with questionable evidence and without due process.

This article is published in Xtra Magazine.

For queer Asians, community means family

Communautés Asiatiques, Diaspora

After more than two years of physical distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic many queer Asians feel that need to come together more urgently than ever before and are coming out in force. In Montreal, they gathered in July for the Lotus Festival, the city’s inaugural queer Asian art and culture celebration. In Toronto, they are running youth groups to help teenagers in the community go through the coming-out process. And, in Vancouver, they are having regular multi-generational Drag ’n’ Dim Sum events. Komodo, a Montreal-based burlesque and drag performer and co-organizer of Lotus, has spoken passionately and emotionally to the healing, validation, and support that events like Lotus bring to the community. Bringing people together after difficult years marked by violence, racism and illness was named as another motivation. Meanwhile, Toronto’s Asian Community AIDS Services and Vancouver’s Drag ’n’ Dim Sum events have been garnering increasing amounts of participants and interest.

This article is published in Xtra Magazine.

How having queer folks in power at non-queer media organizations can shift coverage

Communautés Asiatiques, Diaspora, Justice sociale

In 2020, Viet Tran launched the magazine Sticky Rice, which focuses on Asian Canadian issues, in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic and a rising wave of anti-Asian racism. A psychiatrist by training, Tran is the editor-in-chief of this successful publication, and we sat down with him to discuss how being a gay Asian man at the helm of a non-queer publication influences its coverage.

This article is published in the Poynter Institute.

Asian spa workers reflect on the Atlanta shootings, one year later

Communautés Asiatiques, Diaspora

On the first anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings which left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women and spa workers, massage work has been shoved in the spotlight. Despite the longstanding stigmatism of massage businesses due to their association with sex work, many spa workers don’t engage in sex work. Numerous spa workers continue to face various workplace related issues and harbor fears around undue police intervention.

This article is published in the Washington Post in the Lifestyle section.

Ruth Lor Malloy

Communautés Asiatiques, Diaspora, Justice sociale

Ruth Lor Malloy (née Lor), journalist, writer, activist (born 4 August 1932, in Brockville, ON). Malloy was a key figure in fighting against discrimination in Ontario in the 1950s (see Prejudice and Discrimination in Canada). She participated in the high profile Dresden restaurant sit-in of 1954. In 1973, she published the first English-language guidebook to China in North America. Throughout her decades-long career, Malloy worked tirelessly to foster intercultural dialogue and justice for marginalized groups.

This article is published in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

LGBTQ+ Asians Look to Michigan Rave Scene for Acceptance and Found Family

Communautés Asiatiques, Diaspora

The latest group driving the rave renaissance has been steadily full of Asian faces, including many queer Asians. These partygoers find community, joy and acceptance in the scene, which, for the queer Asian demographic, is a communal experience that harks back to collectivist cultures that highly value group gatherings. Many Asian ravers can be spotted in groups of “rave families” while the diversity of outfits and outlooks lend to a welcoming and inviting environment for queer Asians.

This article is published in Pride Source.