Friday, August 15, 2008

Racism is Sex-Appeal

So I am following the Olympics sporadically--I'm just watching whatever event's on when I flip on the TV, and not really following. I was really surprised when I heard about an advertisement featuring the Spanish Olympic Basketball team. (You can read the original article about it here and here).

Basically, the ad depicts the basketball team pulling their eyes back into slits, and posing
over an asian dragon. It caused an international furor--even local politicians such as John Liu commented on the implired racism, and it was made worse when the Spanish team won 85-75 against China.

I have mixed feelings about the advertisement--besides noting that it is actually a really bad photo--but what really confuses me is what this has to do with the service being advertised. I've heard, and seen, that sex sells, but I don't understand what the company is trying to say here. It's a Spanish courier company, not related in any way to international events except by the team it chose to represent them. So then, is the implication that in Spain, racism is the newest form of sex-appeal?

As a world citizen, I refuse to believe that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why the Heck Am I Doing This Anyway?

This election is over a year away and already it's been hard. I have a young family, a young, rapidly growing business, and tons of responsibilities. My firm, theKbuzz, is doing great- so I stand to make a great deal more money working in the private sector than in the public sector. I already have 4 opponents and, according to rumors, will almost definitely have one more, extremely-difficult-to-beat opponent in Jack Friedman or Mark Weprin.

So why the heck do this?

The answer, as always, is simple:

I want to help. I want to serve my city. I want to make New York City a better place to live in, for my friends, family, and most important, my children.

Maybe it's selfless- maybe it's totally selfish. After all, I'll be the first to admit- I want to help millions of New Yorkers- but most of all, I'd like to help my 5 year old Charlotte and 1 year old Kate, 2 of millions of children to grow up in a community, borough, and city, with great access to public education, health care, clean, safe streets, and continued access to the greatest city in the world, N.Y.C.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Les problèmes de notre Couverture Maladie- Vous me comprendrez?

Healthcare, its availability and affordability, is a major concern for a good percentage of people, particularly here in New York. Despite working at a doctor's office for over a year, and sometimes as a translator for the patients, I didn't think about how hard it is for non-English immigrants to use our current healthcare system due to language barriers. The ones in real trouble are the senior citizens, who need the health services and cheaper medication, but are lost in all the paper shuffling. Medicare has a Spanish hotline, however, in a city with so many Asians, why isn't there a single one Korean, or Hindu, or Mandarin? Right now, it's mainly up to the discretion of private companies--and there are a few who basically hold niche positions within each community--as well as volunteers in local associations.
It happened to my grandmother. She tried to switch from Oxford to AARP because a representative convinced her that AARP had better dental, and that representative misfiled her information. She ended up losing her Medicare as well, and went without insurance for half a year while she was listed as participating with both plans, they were also both inactive. (Note, if an insurance company can hire representatives who speak other languages, then they should absolutely hire support staff who speak the same languages). She tried to take care of the issue herself, but all three spoke only English and Spanish. She had help writing letters, but she couldn't answer any of the resulting phone calls.
It took me only a day to take care of it.
Many immigrants have probably faced similar situations, but because they didn't know anyone who had the time and fluency to help, they gave up and went without insurance.
It's something to think about.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Partisan Politics, Peter Koo, and Facebook

I like Peter Koo. I've never met him,and don't know too much about him, but from what I've read and heard, he seems like a pretty admirable guy: Self made small business owner, (like I am) very active in the community (like I am)- and now running to be the first Asian American elected to the New York State Senate. (Ok, I'm not that.)

He is also a Republican. (Ok, I'm definitely not that.)

2 days ago, I received an invitation on Facebook to join a group in support of his candidacy. I hesitated for a moment, then joined. I knew he was running against longtime NYS Senator Toby Stavisky, whom I liked and admired. I just wanted to support an underdog, even if he was a Republican.

Within hours, I received a message on Facebook from a young Democrat warning me not to affiliate myself publicly with Koo, a Republican. I thought about it, discussed it with my wife, and, moments ago, left the Facebook group.

The truth is, both parties are riddled with corruption, "machine" politics, and a lot of old-school back-of-the-room deals, and both parties need serious reform. But I am a Democrat, and proud to be one.

I may also be a fiscally-conservative business owner, and a novice running for political office, and I may have a lot in common with Peter Koo. But ultimately, I probably have more in common with Toby Stavisky, a fellow graduate of a specialized public high school (she from Bronx Science, I from Hunter), former public school teacher, lifelong Democrat and champion of the underdog. Stavisky was actually the first woman elected to the NY State Senate!

I wish them both luck, and may the best person win. If Stavisky ever creates a facebook group, maybe I'll join that one.