1990 Institute Newsletter

February 12, 2021

Dear Friends, 

Happy Lunar New Year from all of us here at 1990 Institute. We hope you and yours are well and staying safe this new year. As we look forward to the Year of the Ox, we want to introduce our new 1990 Institute Newsletter, which we will be sending you twice a month as a way for us to reflect on the issues and share the news from Asian America, as edited by writer Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, and to let you know the latest from 1990 Institute. Wang is a journalist, essayist, scholar, and poet who has been writing about Asian and Asian American issues for over twenty years. She currently teaches Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies at University of Michigan.

Thanks also for your continued support of 1990 Institute with your lunar new year charitable giving. You can make a secure tax-deductible online donation HERE, and you can subscribe to this newsletter HERE.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Lunar New Year, Pandemic Style

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Lunar New Year is a wonderful time of family, friends, and feasting. It is celebrated not only by Chinese people on the mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, but also by people all around Asia, the Chinese diaspora around the world, and of course, America. But not this year. So many Lunar New Year’s celebrations have been canceled this year and last because of COVID-19. But now, with a year of pandemic experience, we have lots of ideas about how to safely and creatively celebrate Lunar New Year without putting our elders and little ones at risk. 

  1. Zoom Dumpling party! Dumplings are not meant to be wrapped all by one’s lonesome. With Zoom, we can bring all our aunties, uncles, and cousins together to wrap dumplings or banh chung together. Elders can supervise, little ones can show off, and everyone can gossip, as usual. Or Aunties can compete with Zoom cooking lessons. 
  2. Lunar New Year Potluck Exchange! For those with family and friends living close by, have every family cook a big batch of their best dish and serve it into smaller containers. Then one person drives around to everyone’s house to contactless pick up and drop off the food. Everyone can still enjoy Big Auntie’s famous red cooked duck and sixth Auntie’s amazing roast pork, no one has to cook too much, and the Aunties can all still flex on each other.
  3. Ox papercut and read “Bringing in the New Year” with children’s book author and illustrator Grace Lin and all the little cousins together on Zoom.
  4. Chinese New Year’s LEGOs Zoom build! LEGO has created several Chinese and Lunar New Year themed LEGO sets. Buy and ship the same LEGO sets to all the little cousins and grandparents, to have a big Zoom build together.
  5. Doggie Lion Dancing! Lion Dancers scare away the old year and evil spirits. But this year, it is too risky for Lion Dancers to get so close inside their lion. Instead, purchase a Lion Dance costume for your dog. Bonus if you teach your dog some jumps, while your cat beats the drum.
  6. Lunar New Year’s Snail Mail with Stamps! If you have elders struggling with digital, send an old fashioned greeting card made by Asian American artists through the mail. Extra red envelopes for little ones who write a short greeting in heritage language. Support USPS by purchasing two new stamps celebrating the Year of the Ox and unsung hero, Chinese American woman nuclear physicist Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu.
  7. Digital Red Envelopes. The most important part! Overseas, WeChat and Line have digital red envelope functions, but in the US, Venmo and PayPal have cute red envelope stickers.
  8. Support your local Asian American businesses. In Oakland, Save Our Chinatowns and Good Good Eatz have teamed up to produce "Have You Eaten Yet?" a recipe zine and red envelope bundle to benefit Chinatown businesses. 

Remember, wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay far away from your friends and family (for now).


Curated News

Biden Holds 1st Call As President With China's Xi As Trade, Security Issues Loom | NPR

President Biden made his first call to China’s President Xi Jinping Thursday to exchange Lunar New Year greetings and to discuss human rights, trade policy, international security, COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change. Xi said, "China-U.S. confrontation will definitely be a disaster for both countries and the world."


Presidential Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States

On January 26, President Biden signed a memorandum condemning the xenophobic anti-Asian American rhetoric of the pandemic and calling for the collection of data and best practices on AAPI hate crimes and harassment.


Corky Lee’s Photographs Helped Generations of Asian-Americans See Themselves | New Yorker

In January, Asian America’s undisputed unofficial photographer laureate, Corky Lee, died of COVID-19. You have certainly seen his photographs, documenting everything Asian America from the Vincent Chin case to a restaging of the historic photograph documenting the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

Unpacking the Surge in Violence Against Asian Americans | NPR

Asian Americans are increasingly alarmed by a surge in violent hate crimes against Asian American elders, including an 84-year-old Thai American grandfather in San Francisco who died from his injuries, a 91-year-old Asian American man in Oakland Chinatown, and a 61-year-old Filipino American man in Manhattan who was slashed across the face. Many in Oakland say there have been more than twenty attacks leading up to Lunar New Year.


Committee of 100 Landmark Study on Chinese Americans Reveals Historic Contributions, Yet Ongoing Challenges and Stereotypes 

A new study, “From Foundations to Frontiers: Chinese American Contributions to the Fabric of America” examines how Chinese Americans have contributed to the economic success of the US as business owners, scientists, doctors, engineers, and in other fields, while facing continued barriers, stereotypes, systemic discrimination, and increasing anti-Chinese sentiment. 

Full report: From Foundations to Frontiers: Chinese American Contributions to the Fabric of America




  • Our new signature program is a video series. It will show the humanistic side of people in China, the diversity of Asian Americans, and relationships among the people and organizations of both countries. It will highlight real stories of U.S.-China interactions across many sectors of society and showcase life in China today. We will also explore important facets of life for Asian Americans to bring to light diverse stories of fellow Americans with an Asian heritage. We look forward to sharing our first video for 2021 this month. Our Program Manager, Lewis Liu, has managed educational and entertainment industry programs for nonprofit organizations, worked on multiple film and television projects for entertainment and media companies, and has an MFA in Film and Video Production.



  • We also celebrate Black History Month this February. We believe in solidarity with all people of color and encourage everyone to learn more about the history and contributions of Black Americans.


  • Our College Essay Contest for undergraduate and graduate students closes on February 21. This year, we partnered with the 21st Century China Center at the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China to co-sponsor the contest. 



  • It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the sad news that on January 30 our beloved co-founder Roz Koo died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 92. Roz will be remembered for her determined spirit as she established our Spring Bud program to help 1,000 young girls in Shaanxi province stay in school through graduation. She leaves a living legacy of young women in China who benefited from her philanthropy. 

Dim Sum - A little bit of heart

The San Francisco Symphony presents the Chinese New Year Virtual Celebration: Year of the Ox, a digital concert with Joan Chen and special guest artists, celebrating China’s vibrant music.

Sat, 2/20, 4pm PT FREE on SFSymphony+ & NBC Bay Area. 

San Francisco Symphony CNY Concert

We wish you good health, safety, and peace of mind in the new year.


1990 Institute
P.O. Box 383  | San Francisco, California 94104


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