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Article on Suicide Rates in the Asian American community August 14, 2009

Posted by peterong in Asian American, Chinese American.


New American Media put out an article about the rise of Asian Americans and suicide rates and referred to recent happenings involving three students at Caltech who committed suicide.   As I read this and people are chiming in about the influence of pressure of achievement from family and also the overall environment at the university to excel. I think that some of the scholars are missing is that suicide narratives are such a part of the cultural narrative.

As I remember so much of our histories and stories in our family has always had one or another relative who found their only way of escape was to take one’s life. It was not glorified in any sense but more of a necessary reality of our family history. As I think through the analysis of some of the psychological issues which we as a culture forgo or dismiss, I think the deeper issue of transparency or creating space so we know how to speak into our individual and collective pain. (more…)

A Wok With Jesus: Saving Souls in Chinese Kitchens July 31, 2006

Posted by peterong in Chinese American, Immigrant Church.

“My friend Erika sent this to me…As I read this, my eyes were welling up with tears…because often times, we don’t really see these people as people of any worth outside of serving us our meals…and yet, here they are, on the margins. This was part of a ministry that I was involved in in my days at Chinese Christian Herald Crusades in NYC. Esther Louie is an amazing woman with vision and compassion for these “forgotten” Chinese Americans. Please read this article….it is an important one to remember the next time you are out getting Chinese…”

Thousands of Chinese kitchen workers live on the margins. A former restaurant owner tends to a subculture most Americans never see.

By John M. Glionna
Times Staff Writer

June 14, 2006

MILPITAS, Calif. — The dining room lights are dimmed at the A&J Restaurant, a tiny strip-mall eatery where a handful of Chinese kitchen workers relax at tables during the lull between the lunch and dinner rush.

The customers gone, the owner away running errands, the place is as quiet as a chapel. The only noise is the hum of the cooler chilling the green bottles of Tsingtao beer and slabs of brown tofu.

It’s time to pray with Esther Lou.

She breezes in saleswoman-friendly, a onetime Chinese restaurant owner turned religious crusader who knows her way around a professional kitchen and the exhausting lives endured by legions of low-paid food workers.

Pulling up a chair, she zeroes in on chef De Bin Hong, a thin man in a dirty white shirt and pants, a gold chain around his neck. She asks about his health and family. Then it’s down to business: How is he coping with his gambling addiction?

Over time, Hong says, he has lost enough money “to buy two Mercedes.” He has left work to gamble all night, returning just in time for the next day’s shift.

In a flash, Lou’s Bible is out, her glasses discarded onto the Formica table. Along with volunteer Li Xun, she lays her hand on Hong’s shoulder. The three clamp their eyes shut.

“Please, God,” Lou whispers, “when the urge to gamble comes again to this poor man, protect him from himself.” (more…)