Painting a Utility Box in Campbell – June 2018

This year I was one of six artists selected to paint a utility box in Campbell’s “Art Outside the Box” program. This program aims to transform common utility boxes into distinctive works of art.

If you want to see the utility box I painted, go to the City of Campbell near the corner of Bascom and Hamilton, near a bus stop.

You can see more of my art at

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Silicon Valley Open Studios – May 12 and 13, 2018

Here are some videos the Silicon Valley Open Studios group show that I participated in with Sunnyvale Art Club members Penny Nolan, Michelle Thomas, Denise Sils, Lavonne Carrick, Matthew Courtney, and Diana Yu Johnson.

It was a wonderful time to talk to artists, meet people who appreciate art and sell my cards, prints and paintings.

Here is a video of my art, prints and cards that I sold in the Silicon Valley Open Studios.

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Groupthink, Cults and the Republican Party

When it comes to political leaders, I’ll support them when I agree with them on an issue, oppose them when I disagree with them on an issue. I’m that way with a Democratic leader or a Republican leader. I don’t expect to agree with any person on every issue. Since I’m a liberal, I’m going to support a Democrat on more issues than I support a Republican. But I have disagreed with Democratic leaders on certain issues.

I like Obama. But I opposed Obama’s deportation policies, his use of drones in certain military operations. I generally liked Clinton. But I opposed Clinton’s welfare reform bill, opposed his Defense of Marriage law, opposed his efforts at cutting financial regulations, and thought he only had himself to blame for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I liked Carter as a person. But I didn’t think he was a good President.

Conversely, I will concede that leaders that I hate are good on certain issues. A perfect example of this is current Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. I do not like Duterte. I think Duterte’s policy of extrajudicial killings of people only suspected of crimes is evil. Duterte’s threats to reporters and his attempts to undermine journalist independence is dangerous to democracy. His attempts to jail or undermine his political opponents is also dangerous.

Even though I dislike the Duterte presidency, though, I do think Duterte’s attempts to curb the power of mining companies (which have been the source of much human rights abuses and pollution in the Mindanao region) is a good thing. His attempts to broker a peace agreement with the communist and the Muslim insurgencies is a good thing. His administration’s budget increase in social programs to help the poor is a positive. And his success in lobbying China and Japan for billions of dollars in investments for the Philippines is a positive thing.

I still think Duterte is a terrible leader whom I hope is voted out of power. But I acknowledge that he has done some good things.

I was motivated to write this when I read that Senator Corker describe the Republican Party as becoming more of a cult of personality. I think this rigid right wing ideological purity test has been a problem for the Republican Party for decades, starting with the Gingrich era in the 1990s. I remember in 2010 when the Tea Party targeted conservative Republicans like Bob Bennett for daring to collaborate with Democrats on certain issues. Things have only gotten worse since Donald Trump became president. A Republican can support Trump on 80% or 90% of the issues and still be attacked by Trump for not kowtowing with him 100% of the time.

In this Republican Party, loyalty to President Trump has become more important than loyalty to one’s personal conscience. This reminds me a lot of the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s, when radical students would punish anyone who deviated from the opinions of Chairman Mao. It’s similar to being a citizen who is afraid of expressing any sort of disagreement in Stalin’s Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany.

No one person or group has a monopoly on truth. We’re all right some of the time, wrong some of the time. This is why democracies, in the long run, are far superior to dictatorships. In a democracy, the Left, the Right, and the Center debate their ideas on how to solve society’s problems, and we get evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. This is why the freedom of speech and of expression are so important.

Whether you are liberal or conservative, religious or nonreligious, male or female, we are all vulnerable to the dangers of groupthink. It’s just a flaw of human nature. Right now the Republican Party is caught in the grips of a dangerous groupthink mentality when it comes to loyalty to President Trump.

I’m hoping that moderate and sane conservatives will fight and turn the Republican Party away from this crazy groupthink mentality. As a liberal Democrat, I think it’s important to be able to deal with a Republican Party that is interested in finding some common ground on the problems facing the nation. If this doesn’t happen, I am afraid we’re in for more gridlock and more disillusionment with democracy.

While responding to questions on Capitol Hill, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) spoke about the current environment in the Republican party, referring to the GOP as “cultish” for not pushing back on certain Trump administration policies

GOP Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) criticizes his own party on the Senate floor for failing to even vote on amendments because they may upset President Donald Trump

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) today spoke on the Senate floor to denounce the administration’s recent treatment of U.S. allies and trading partners. Flake repeated his condemnation of isolationism and urged his colleagues to speak out against the executive branch’s harmful rhetoric and actions

GOP Rep. Mark Sanford responds to President Trump calling him a “nasty guy” during a Capitol Hill meeting

For some Republicans, the rise of Donald Trump to the head of their party has been acutely painful. The New York Times asked them to share their anguish

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Silicon Valley Open Studios – May 12 and 13, 2018

On the weekend of May 12 and 13, I will be participating in the Silicon Valley Open Studios with Sunnyvale Art Club members Penny Nolan, Michelle Thomas, Denise Sils, Lavonne Carrick, Matthew Courtney, and Diana Yu Johnson.

It will take place on the weekend of May 12 and 13 2018 at 477 Fremont Road, Los Altos, California.

I will be selling Acrylic paintings, greeting cards and prints. Here are some of the items I will be selling in the Open Studios.

Here are videos of the Open Studios event:

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May Day March in San Jose, California – May 2018

On May 1, 2018, I went to the May Day march and rally in San Jose, California. I had a good time. My niece had come with me to last year’s May Day march in Mountain View, but she left late from school this year and was unable to attend.

In all the political marches and rallies that I have attended, I have always seen intersectional activism take place. I saw LGBTQ activists, feminists, peace and justice activists, Native Americans, unions, Green Party members, Catholic clergy, Muslim Americans, all speaking out for immigrant rights. I’m especially proud to see Filipino American activists play a leading role in the fight for all immigrants.

I was talking to a Filipina American activist and she mentioned to me that for some reason, May Day always seems to fall on a hot day. It was a warm day. But several groups had boxes of bottled water to hand out to marchers. And there were ice cream vendors following the marchers.

One of the things that many of the speakers are emphasizing is to register to vote. Elections matter.

Here is a video of the march.

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Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and the Progressivism of the Black Panther

A few weeks ago I watched The Black Panther and loved the movie. I watched the movie with a few friends in Oakland and it was fun to hear applause from the crowd when the first scene in the movie took place in Oakland. It is also gratifying to see how this movie has affected the African American community, as many have been inspired by the vision of a Black superhero and an African kingdom that has never been colonized and has both advanced technology and advanced views on social equality. This is in keeping with the original vision of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the co-creators of the Black Panther.

The Black Panther was created in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Many people assume that Lee and Kirby were inspired by Huey Newton’s Black Panther Party in the creation of the Black Panther character. In reality, the comic book Black Panther was created several months before the Oakland based Black Panther Party was formed. This is only a guess on my part, but I think Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were actually inspired by a different Black Panther Party that was founded by Stokely Carmichael. In 1965, as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Stokeley Carmichael went to Lowndes County in Alabama to lead a drive to register African Americans to vote. Skeptical of the Democratic Party (which in Alabama was dominated by segregationists) and the Republican Party to fairly represent African American voters, Carmichael founded the Lowndes County Freedom Organization or as it become known, the Black Panther Party.

Thomas Bacon wrote an article for Screen Rant about the revolutionary nature of Lee and Kirby’s creation of Black Panther:

Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige praises Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for having the courage to create Black Panther in the 1960s for Marvel Comics, and now, he plans to honor their creation (and their vision) as much as he possibly can.

Black Panther was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby way back in 1966. Not only did the character outshine many of the traditional comic book superheroes of the era, but the character came at a time in which the civil rights movement in the U.S. was still raging on…

…Screen Rant attended a recent press conferences for Black Panther, in which Marvel’s Kevin Feige stressed how important the character’s legacy is.

“…There are other things in the film that have been relevant for centuries, but the truth of the matter is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the whole Marvel bullpen created Wakanda and created T’Challa and created Black Panther and made him a smarter, more accomplished character than any of the other white characters in the mid-1960s. So they had the guts to do that in the mid-1960s. The least we can do is live up to that and allow this story to be told the way it needed to be told and not shy away from things that the Marvel founders didn’t shy away from in the height of the civil rights era.”

Ryan Parker wrote an article for the Hollywood Reporter about how thrilled the Kirby family was about the reception of the Black Panther movie. Parker wrote:

Created in 1966 by Lee and Kirby, Black Panther was revolutionary as the first African superhero in mainstream comics. Considered by Kirby as one of his most important creations for its message, T’Challa (Black Panther) was a black man with brawn, brains, wealth and advanced technology introduced in the middle of the civil rights movement.

Neal Kirby, a high school senior when Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four No. 52 in summer 1966, remembers his father talking to him about introducing the character.

“I recall during the winter or early spring he asked me what I would think of a black superhero in the comics. Of course he was very much for it, as we all were at the time,” Kirby says. “My father was a very social liberal person. He would have been the Bernie Sanders of his day. He very much believed in social justice and equality, so he honestly thought it was time. Why shouldn’t African-Americans have their own superhero?”

Joshua Ostroff wrote for The Huffington Post about the strain of social commentary in Stan Lee comic books like the Black Panther:

The 1960s was an era of social and political upheaval, and that bled into Lee’s work, though he demurs somewhat.

“You were always aware of all those social issues, but I wasn’t writing political stories or social stories. I was just trying to write stories that people of all ages and sexes would enjoy reading. If we touched on any issue, I did it very lightly,” he says. But when he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2008, the dedication cited that “these new stories provided a medium for social commentary. In 1972, when he became the publisher, he used his editorial page, ‘Stan’s Soapbox,’ to speak to the comic book reader about social justice issues such as discrimination, intolerance, and prejudice.”

And it wasn’t just on the back pages.

The X-Men — a team made up of mutants who endured terrible racism (speciesism?) — were inspired by the civil rights movement, including the philosophical dichotomy of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X influencing pacifist Professor X and militant Holocaust survivor Magneto…

…”A lot of people are just too narrow-minded and a little bit bigoted. And there are a lot of people who feel that if somebody is not just like me, he’s a bad guy. I could see the day come when all of the people with black hair hate the blonds or tall people hate the short ones. I mean, it’s ridiculous. It’s as though some people feel you just have to hate anyone who is different than you.

“And if my books and my stories can change that, can make people realize that everybody should be equal, and treated that way, then I think it would be a better world.”

Jeet Heer wrote an article for The New Republic about Jack Kirby that describes the importance of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby collaboration in the history of comic books. Heer wrote:

The great Kirby and Lee comics of the 1960s were pivotal in remaking superhero comics into something more than children’s fables, and one fundamental addition was the concept of a super-hero team. Earlier superhero comics brought together characters in an ad hoc way. There’s really no reason Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman should have formed the Justice League other than the fact that they were all popular. But Kirby’s teams, as scholar Charles Hatfield notes, were different. They were united by a common experience, whether the trauma of radiation (the Fantastic Four) or of all being mutants (the X-Men) or outsiders (the Inhumans).

Rare among American artists, Kirby was not an individualist. That position was taken to an extreme by his Marvel colleague Steve Ditko, a follower of Ayn Rand. But Kirby himself was formed by groups: the kids’ gangs he grew up with, the Boys Brotherhood Republic (a youth group that steered him away from gangs), the army, and even the Simon and Kirby studio. He had a profound belief that human destiny lies in groups, even if those groups are made up of misfits and freaks. If there is one overriding message in Kirby’s work, it’s a communitarian one: to triumph over evil, we have to come together. Forming such a collectivity is never easy (Kirby’s groups were full of internal strife) but always necessary.

Movies like The Black Panther and last year’s Wonder Woman are important for how they represent groups of people that are not usually shown in Hollywood movies. For little children growing up, these super hero movies will be an early model for how women, African Americans and people of all races can be treated as equals with equal opportunities to accomplish great things. Kirby’s philosophy that we need to come together to fight prejudice and evil is more relevant than ever in the era of the Alt Right. Jamil Smith wrote an insightful article for Time Magazine describing the importance of the Black Panther comic book. Smith wrote:

Those of us who are not white have considerably more trouble not only finding representation of ourselves in mass media and other arenas of public life, but also finding representation that indicates that our humanity is multi­faceted. Relating to characters onscreen is necessary not merely for us to feel seen and understood, but also for others who need to see and understand us. When it doesn’t happen, we are all the poorer for it.

This is one of the many reasons Black Panther is significant. What seems like just another entry in an endless parade of super­hero movies is actually something much bigger. It hasn’t even hit theaters yet and its cultural footprint is already enormous. It’s a movie about what it means to be black in both America and Africa—and, more broadly, in the world. Rather than dodge complicated themes about race and identity, the film grapples head-on with the issues affecting modern-day black life. It is also incredibly entertaining, filled with timely comedy, sharply choreographed action and gorgeously lit people of all colors. “You have superhero films that are gritty dramas or action comedies,” director Ryan Coogler tells TIME. But this movie, he says, tackles another important genre: “Superhero films that deal with issues of being of African descent”…

…In the midst of a regressive cultural and political moment fueled in part by the white-nativist movement, the very existence of Black Panther feels like resistance. Its themes challenge institutional bias, its characters take unsubtle digs at oppressors, and its narrative includes prismatic perspectives on black life and tradition. The fact that Black Panther is excellent only helps.

Tayo Rockson does a video essay on why Wonder Woman and Black Panther are important movies

The buzz around the Black Panther movie release should come as no surprise to anyone keeping tabs on representation in media these days. People want movies that feature people of color and their stories. But there is a dearth in the supply of films produced that do that. Vox spoke with the UCLA sociology professor Darnell Hunt about how Hollywood has progressed to diversify its characters and stories to reflect the demographics of the US. Watch this video to understand how America’s changing makeup is key to Black Panther’s early dominance at the box office.

Black Panther fans filmed a video message sharing what the movie means to them – what they didn’t know was that Chadwick Boseman was right behind the curtain, waiting to surprise them.

A BBC video of the reaction of the Black Panther movie across Africa

Rushing to the theater to see Marvel’s “Black Panther” is more than just a weekend activity. Many fans are using the movie to celebrate a shift toward a more positive, empowering portrayal of people from the continent of Africa.

Marvel’s Black Panther has arrived to critical acclaim, but artistic merit aside, for lots of black youth it’s much more than a superhero movie. CBC News followed a group of teenagers who won a screening to Black Panther to find out what the movie means to them and the lessons they learned from seeing the groundbreaking film.

Global Opinions Editor Karen Attiah says, sure, Wakanda doesn’t exist, but neither does the myth of black inferiority. Attiah believes Black Panther is just as important for white people as it is important for Black Panther. “Black Panther” fights fantasy with fantasy.

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Arby’s Protest in Sunnyvale, California – January 26, 2018

On January 26, 2018 I saw a post in Facebook about a protest taking place in Arby’s in Sunnyvale. Several workers accuse the management of the store of wage theft and sexual harassment.

When I was there, a large crowd of activists were there. I saw a few familiar faces and asked them how their holidays went. Because I am Filipino American, I always get a thrill when I see Filipino American activists participating in protests. There is a long and proud history of Filipino Americans fighting for labor rights and human rights.

Several of the speakers had suffered sexual harassment in the workplace themselves. They are determined to fight for the rights of all workers, which I deeply admire.

Here is a video of the protest.

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