Processing recent violence against Asian American seniors

Mural: A tiger and a panther, branches, and sparkles above the text “Asian Americans 4 Black power.”
Mural: A tiger and a panther, branches, and sparkles above the text “Asian Americans 4 Black power.”
A mural at a boarded-up East Bay Vision Center in Oakland’s Chinatown on February 16, 2021. Photo: Stephen Lam/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The latest wave of anti-Asian violence has lit my social circles and Asian American media sources on fire.

Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, was brutally knocked to the ground during his daily morning walk in San Francisco, and eventually died from his injuries. Multiple attacks have taken place on Asian seniors in Oakland’s Chinatown, including a 91-year-old man violently shoved headfirst into the pavement. An acquaintance’s mother was robbed in San Jose.

This is an incomplete listing of the assaults, and I don’t wish to name more.

After ingesting stories and watching graphic videos on loop, I started to skip paragraphs of…


How the tradition symbolizes the Chinatown community’s strength and resilience

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Dancers walking in the SF Chinese New Year Parade on February 24, 2018. Photo: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

I beamed a smile of straight, glistening teeth only a 16-year-old with freshly removed braces can have. My preschool best friend, Lauren, sat next to me on the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade float with equally enthusiastic energy.

After years of attending this annual tradition, this was our first time actually getting to be in the parade. We waved to the crowd below, who lined both sides of the street for miles. They waved back, bundled up and not minding the dark chill of February. We weren’t famous or decked out in festive costumes or beautiful dresses, yet the…


We have a greater chance to rethink our holiday’s traditions

Cropped version of a Norman Rockwell painting of a family Thanksgiving dinner. A red X is drawn over the image.
Cropped version of a Norman Rockwell painting of a family Thanksgiving dinner. A red X is drawn over the image.
Image source: ‘Freedom From Want’ (c. 1941–1945) by Norman Rockwell via Wikimedia Commons

Like many, my family isn’t gathering with extended relatives this Thanksgiving, as the pandemic rages on with higher case levels than ever in the United States. I’m definitely bummed, but the lack of falling into “normal” traditions has also got me thinking: Isn’t it time to revisit how we understand and celebrate this holiday anyway?

In a typical year, my family and I would meet up at an uncle’s house to enjoy traditional American foods, along with a ton of Chinese takeout, like crispy-skinned Peking turkey and roast pork. Boxed sticky rice would sit side by side with bread stuffing…


And where to order it in the Bay

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Peking turkeys hanging in a window of a restaurant in Chinatown. Photo: Mark Doliner via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Anyone connected to cultural roots outside of the U.S. most likely has an amazing Thanksgiving spread that goes well beyond dry turkey and limp canned-green-bean casserole. Maybe it’s spicy and marinated banchan for Korean Americans or huge trays of lumpia and pancit for Filipinx Americans. For my Chinese American family, it’s all about meats from Cantonese barbecue joints — usually specifically ordered from Cheung Hing in San Francisco.

This meat feast often includes roast pork belly (siu yuk) that has a thick crispy skin akin to chicharrones, honey-barbecued char siu (Chinese barbeque pork), and Chinese-style roasted turkey (fo gai). The…


Also — an unexpected kitchen dance

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A renewal of American pride. What a difference a day makes. (Photo: Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

I dropped an f-bomb when my radio alarm clock blared the news of President George W. Bush’s contentious victory in 2000. I cried alone when Trump was announced as president number 45 in 2016. During election week this year — I prepared myself for either deep soul-sobbing while collapsed on the floor, or a best-case scenario of cautious optimism with a tempered level of positive emotion.

This is a sentiment coming from someone whose family has been in the United States for more than a century. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to Indigenous and Black populations, but much…


Why did a progressive state reject a progressive proposal?

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Apryl Sims sets up a table of her juices to give out at a Proposition 16 rally at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles to urge the community to vote yes on the proposition on Saturday, October 24, 2020, during early voting in California. Photo: Allison Zaucha for The Washington Post/Getty Images

When my eyes popped open at 6:45 a.m. the morning after Election Day, I reached for my phone to check results. While heartening to see that Californians supported a slew of progressive measures like restoring voter rights to parolees, I was extremely disappointed in one outcome: 56% of voters opposed Proposition 16, which would have restored affirmative action in the state.

The point of affirmative action is to increase representation of individuals typically discriminated against or underrepresented in education and public jobs by giving consideration to their gender, race, creed, or nationality. The action stems back to President John F…


SF Throwbacks

Given how whitewashed the suffrage movement was, their accomplishments are even more remarkable

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Clara Chan Lee and friend, Emma Tom Leung, registering to vote at the Alameda County Courthouse on November 8, 1911. Photo: Oakland Tribune via Smithsonian APA Twitter

This article is part of SF Throwbacks, a feature series that tells the stories behind historic photos of San Francisco in order to learn more about our city’s past.

As we face an intense election this week, we need all the motivation we can get to keep fighting and stay hopeful for the future. One thing that helps me do that is taking a look at the past and paying homage to our communities’ pioneers.

August of this year marked the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage when Congress ratified the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

White…


SF Throwbacks

It all started when SF banned new burials in 1901

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Sunset at the Jewish Cemetery in Colma. Photo: WikiMike007 via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

This article is part of SF Throwbacks, a feature series that tells the stories behind historic photos of San Francisco in order to learn more about our city’s past.

Just south of San Francisco lies the little town of Colma, home to 1,800 living residents, plus an additional 1.5 million who are dead.

With such a dead-to-living ratio, it’s no wonder Colma has garnered nicknames like “Cemetery City,” “City of the Silent,” and the “City of Souls.”

Even the town slogan gets in on it with a tongue-in-cheek nod: “It’s great to be alive in Colma!”

Any San Franciscan with…


What a year it’s been to be a first-time mom to a feline

A black cat with yellow eyes hiding in a brown paper bag that’s been tipped on its side.
A black cat with yellow eyes hiding in a brown paper bag that’s been tipped on its side.
Photos: Margot Seeto

Cats are assholes, and I’ll never change my mind about that. They use their piercing eyes to see into your mind, purely to calculate ways to irritate you at the worst moment.

While I have always felt this way, my boyfriend comes from a cat family, through and through.

To give you a better idea of what I mean: While on a holiday hometown visit one year, his parents did a show-and-tell of their cremated cat closet. I think there were 10 boxes of ashes, but I lost count after the first few.

This is when I realized that there…


My attempt at making family food connections during the pandemic

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Does a lack of family recipes mean a loss of family history? (Image: Kara Eads/Unsplash)

It’s been more than six months of sheltering in place with no end in immediate sight, and my comfort eating is going strong. Evidenced by the 10 pounds and stretchy new wardrobe I’ve acquired, I still go whole hog on cheesy, crispy, carby things while fretting over when I’ll be employed again. Other cravings that have bubbled to the surface are colloquial Cantonese dishes from my childhood, mostly from the hands of old Chinese babysitters or no-frills restaurants. I’ve made creamed corn with chicken and egg drop over steaming white rice. I eat bowl after bowl of won ton mein…

Margot Seeto

Third-gen SF local. Writer who has lived in six countries & traveled to 40. Asian American media, food, travel, hoarding & dementia. https://linktr.ee/mseeto

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