Diane Tran, the 17-year-old honors student from Willis, Texas (one hour north of Houston) has received an outpouring of support from concerned individuals, activists and nonprofit groups around the nation. According to KHOU.com, Tran was ordered by Judge Lanny Moriarty to spend a night in jail and pay $100 fine after receiving too many unexcused absences due to exhaustion from working a full-time job and part-time job and studying for AP classes. Tran works both jobs to support her two siblings since their parents divorced and abandoned them.
HuffPo is now reporting that judge has set aside the contempt of court order, meaning that Tran will not have to report a criminal history to any future employers or college admissions offices. Additionally, Tran’s lawyers and many activists in support of her cause are pushing for a expunged record, and some are even calling for Judge Moriarty to be removed from office. It’s not hard to see why. The guy is kind of a dick.
Before you go sauntering down Devil’s Advocacy St. and saying to yourself “Well, Texas has truancy laws, and the judge is simply upholding the law,” I urge you to watch Moriarty’s response to the KHOU reporter (starts at 1:30)
Moriarty: If you let one [student] run loose, what are you gonna do with the rest of ‘em? Let them go too? A little stay in jail for a night is not a death sentence.
Reporter: Do you think it’s a case where justice can be tempered with mercy?
Moriarty: Probably so, yes.
Reporter: Can anything be done to revoke this?
Moriarty: It probably could.
Reporter: Will you [do something]?
Moriarty: I haven’t thought on that issue because it turns me really soft.
And there you have it, folks. That’s grade-A dickage right there. A person who is paid to deliberate on cases involving young people with care, taking into account extenuating factors, and dole out fair punishments revealed that he’d rather appear as a hardass than a namby-pamby, so he threw one of the shiniest examples of hardworking American youth in the slammer. And, so what? It’s not like it was the death sentence or anything. Be grateful for that. Congrats, Moriarty, you just made an example–of how the system continues to keep the optimistic and well-intentioned down.
We as a nation, and my home state of Texas in particular, keep trying to fix the education system by defaulting to the justice system, which tends to do irreparable damage to a young person’s social and economic future and effectively ensure that she will be denied the opportunities for further education, the escape of spectacularly crappy situations and the waning but inextinguishable hope of attaining something better than what you’ve got.
We keep explaining to young people the wonders of bootstrapping, and then when someone dares to try and fails at it, we decide she just hasn’t had enough negative reinforcement, throw her in with “the rest of them” losers, and proceed to force-feed them shit sandwiches. Mercy? Probably could, but it’s no big deal.
Yes, this appeared to be the only way: containment, appearances and the dollar-store Halloween costume of justice. But Diane Tran deserves more than what the school and government authorities have given her. And all the kids out there with their noses to the grindstone as well as the curbside kids who are watching–wondering if the hard work and the bullshit hurled their way is worth it–deserve to know that it is.
The University of Texas at Austin is my alma mater, so it thoroughly disappoints me when something like the racist Trayvon Martin cartoon is born in our hallowed halls, is published in The Daily Texan, is pulled off the site (not due to the public’s reaction but due to server issues), is put back on the site, continues to spread a crappy message and be a failed attempt to make the students and faculty of UT think about the media and racial issues.
What’s worse is that Daily Texan student adviser Doug Warren, who has spent 30+ years in journalism posted an “apology” on the site today that has been swiftly removed, though the page still pops up on the Interwebs if you search for it. I’ve taken the liberty of making some marginal notes. Just “take a deep breath” before you click on this thumbnail…
The newly minted journalists and self-appointed judges of racism might want to ask themselves what is more “yellow”–actual journalists using neutral language to relay facts, or cartoonists who use racial slurs that drive traffic to their online newspaper?
Tyson Cole and Austinites celebrating Paul Qui's win at Uchiko in Austin (Source: Statesmen.com)
Paul Quiwon Top Chef! Which I’m ECSTATIC about because he totally reps me as a Texan, a Filipino American, and general lover of Japanese and Southeast Asian cuisine.
I really hope that Paul not only challenged stereotypes about Asian Americans (especially in a field as competitive as the restaurant business), but also that he changed people’s perceptions of Texans and the food we cook and eat (it’s not chili and BBQ all the time!).
Arguably the most endearing thing about Paul is that he stayed humble throughout the entire competition. In these final episodes of the season, we saw him give shouts out to his grandfather, who emigrated to the Philippines from China, and his parents, who emigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines.
Many of us in the AAPI community are intimately familiar with his story, which makes Paul’s victory even sweeter for those of us who, y’know, enjoy living the American Dream vicariously through supertalented people…
You’re a badass, Qui. But how hard will it be to get a table at Uchiko these days? Ah, but there’s always East Side King. I just hope Bourdain–or anyone–won’t be filming wherever I’ve got a hankering for some eats.
It was an average Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m., and I’m on my way to Chick-fil-A to redeem my free breakfast coupon, when all of a sudden I see some flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. “Oh snap,” I say to myself, while simultaneously shutting off my iPod (which had been on blast in my car) and taking a right into a gas station parking lot.
An officer exits his popo-mobile and saunters up to my rolled-down window. And this is more or less the conversation:
Officer: Do you know you were speeding in a school zone, ma’m?
Me: No, sir, I didn’t realize that.
Officer: Yes, ma’m. Goin’ pretty fast too. Kids are back at school, y’know, so you’re gonna hav’ta be aware of that. Where were you headed this mornin’?
Me: Just gettin’ some Chick-fil-A breakfast before work. They’ve got this sweet free breakfast deal going on right now. You should check it out!
Officer: OK, ma’m, one second. Walks back to his car, comes back to my car, starts asking me for personal info to put on the ticket he’s begun to fill out.
Officer: Is this how you say your last name? He pronounces my last name the Texan way.
He looks me in the eye.
He looks up at my dyed blonde hair.
He looks at the ticket and pauses for a few seconds.
He circles something and hands me the ticket.
Officer: I put you down for a slower speed than you were goin’, but you were goin’ pretty fast. Please be careful next time.
After he walks away and I’m done cussin’ up a storm, I look at the ticket and let out a hearty laugh.
This has never happened to me on paper before. Sure, I’ve gotten speeding tickets in the past, but they’ve only ever had “Asian” circled. Granted, back then I had normal black hair and a much more palpable fear of authority figures, combined with a sharper ability to feign deference. And the majority of my past tickets were received in the DFW area, which has a much larger population of Asian Americans. But still…
A flurry of questions swirled in my mind, ranging from expectedly pessimistic:
Did he circle “Other” because I don’t look “Asian”?
Did he circle “Other” because he can’t recognize an Asian?
Did he circle “Other” because he’s unsure about whether Filipino Americans (and other groups) count as Asian? Does he even know what a Filipino person looks like?
Did he circle “Other” because he was too lazy to continue trying to figure out my ethnicity?
to wildly optimistic:
Did he circle “Other” in protest of racial profiling?
Did he circle “Other” because he’s a PoC (Latino, in fact) and doesn’t want my ethnicity recorded for statistical purposes, which would reflect badly on Asian Americans, his fellow PoCs, in general?
But I could learn the answers to just a couple of my endless questions, these are the ones I’d ask:
Why is Ethnicity on speeding tickets–or any tickets, for that matter?
What good does circling an ethnicity do for the Austin Police Dept., especially when they’re going to circle “Other” anyway in protest or because they just can’t figure a person like me out.
I think I’m going to copy and frame my ticket now. So I can show and tell my future adopted children all about the archaic and superfluous practices of our times.
When you assume you can mock an accent, you make an ass out of you and……just you.
A couple days ago, everyone was talking about the racist Fox Sports “comedy” bit involving Bob Oschack trolling the USC campus for Asian kids with accents to ask about their thoughts on Colorado and Utah joining the Pac-1012. The joke? Oschack wanted to give the newest members of the conference a “good, old-fashioned All-American welcome” from Asian kids whose first language is clearly not English. Not ROFL-ing yet? Apparently someone at Fox Sports did. Watch the video below–only if you want to end up with a firmly furrowed brow.
Well, at least no one outside the network approved. Apparently Fox Sports is now cancelling The College Experiment because of the above video, which shouldn’t really be news because, well, what did you really expect was gonna happen? Oschack opens up for Margaret Cho on tour?
It’s amazing to me that White people still think that White people making fun of foreign accents is a hoot. Actually, the people you’re mocking rarely even register that you’re being funny. Really. I tried to show my parents a hilarious HappySlip video (made by funnywoman and master of the Pilipino accent Christine Gambito) once, and they thought they were watching a reality show about Filipinos. My sister and I were literally doubled over on the couch, our bellies tight, tears streaming out of our eyes. And our mother and father sat perfectly still with stone faces, frozen lips, eyes and bellies. No offense, HappySlip. It’s just that Mom and Dad don’t really “get” why their normal, everyday way of speaking is side-splittingly hilare. (For the record, I do.)
So, if anyone wants to make the argument that I need to “lighten up” and “take a joke,” just know that I can. I only prefer it to be delivered by the right person in the right context. Not from some guy who wants to amble around the foreign students’ hangout spots like a creeper.