All posts by Zhloar

Regular Competitions Help Kenyan Marathon Runners Win Medals

Kenya’s reputation as a producer of world-class marathon runners was further boosted this month when Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei broke world records on the same weekend.  Running is a big thing for the East African nation, where regular competitions give Kenyans a chance to prepare for greater glory. Mohammed Yusuf has more from Nairobi.

Paris Zoo Unveils Mysterious Bright Yellow ‘Blob’

The Paris Zoo is welcoming a new occupant — the “blob.”  This bright yellow, unicellular, brainless organism, exists all over the world and can move, eat, and even solve problems. This is the first time in the world that it has been presented to the public. VOA’s Jim Randle has our story.

New York’s Central Park to Get First Statue Honoring Women

Women will finally join men in New York’s iconic Central Park after a city commission voted Monday to erect a monument depicting women.Central Park has 23 statues honoring men who have contributed to history but none honoring real women. There are plenty of statues depicting female fantasy and fictional characters.The monument, to be unveiled in August 2020, will feature three civil rights pioneers: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth.The work by artist Meredith Bergmann will break what some call the “bronze ceiling” in the 166-year-old park.Bergmann’s original design for the monument came under criticism because it only showed Anthony and Stanton. Critics pointed out that African American women also played an important role in women’s suffrage in America, prompting Bergmann to redesign the statue and add Truth.
 

Female Boxers Fight to Survive in Ugandan Capital Slum

In African slums, boxing clubs are seen as a good way to keep young men off the streets, let them take out their frustrations through sport rather than crime, and provide a way out of poverty. In Uganda, though, one woman has stepped into the ring to not only win medals on the continent, but also empower young women to stay off the streets and defend themselves. Hellen Baleke was walking one night in Katanga slum, her Kampala neighborhood, when a young man approached her and started touching her.She says she didn’t like boys touching her because, if they did, the end result would be pregnancy and HIV. So, when he groped me, says Baleke, I wanted to fight.  But he beat me up.Hellen Baleke and other women warming up at Rhino boxing Club in Katanga slum, Kampala-Uganda.Baleke returned home with a bloody nose.She did not tell her mother about the attack or how she planned to deal with it.    Baleke began sneaking out of the house early in the morning to train – as a boxer.Her mother, Sarah Bagoole, noticed Baleke’s disappearance acts and confronted her.She says she waited for Baleke and when she returned, she told her, ‘Mama, I have knocked out a girl.’ Bagoole said, ‘What?! You have knocked out a girl?!’ And told her, ‘You will be beaten, but never come here crying. The day they beat your eye and pluck it out, it will be on you.’ Bagoole says she wasn’t happy at all.Baleke’s mother warmed up to her daughter’s boxing, though, as she kept training, competing, and winning.In August at the African Games in Rabat, Morocco, she won a bronze medal, becoming Uganda’s first medal-winning female boxer in 18 years.Two women in a boxing training session in Katanga Slum as Hellen Baleke outside the ring looks on.   Baleke also trains other women, such as hairdresser Moureen Ajambo, to box for self-defense and to help young women stay off the streets.  I see so many girls, says Ajambo. They are young, they drink booze, they get pregnant, some get (HIV) the virus that causes AIDS. They can’t take care of their child or themselves, she says. They take drugs, they take everything that gets them high, says Ajambo. It hurts me.Kampala’s Katanga slum is home to 20,000 urban poor, who live in crowded conditions and where women are often victims of crime.The coach at Katanga’s Rhino Boxing Club, Innocent Kapalata, says more and more young women in the slum are joining the club.Most of those who come to train do it to seek revenge, he says. But I strive to take it out of them, says Kapalata, telling them we don’t train boxers for revenge but to stay fit and healthy. Something else, he says, boxing is a business. You could get lucky and make some money.To help the women earn money quickly and so they can keep boxing, Baleke set up a tailoring workshop.Whether teaching how to punch a needle through cloth or an opponent in the ring, Baleke is empowering young women in Uganda’s Katanga slum.

Ugandan Women Empowered with Boxing

In African slums, boxing clubs are seen as a good way to keep young men off the streets, let them take out their frustrations through sport rather than crime, and provide a way out of poverty. In Uganda, though, one woman has stepped into the ring to not only win medals on the continent, but also empower young women to stay off the streets and defend themselves.  Halima Athumani reports from Kampala. 

The Evolution of Chinese and Asian Faces in Hollywood

One of the first stops for a tourist in Los Angeles is the TCL Chinese Theatre next to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Originally called Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, it opened in 1927 and is a remnant of Hollywood’s fascination with the Orient in the early days of the U.S. film industry.“When film was first invented — and we’re talking about the late 1800s, early 1900s — it expanded the visual minds of its audiences,” said Chinese American filmmaker and author Arthur Dong. He added, “Audiences were given this exotic glimpse of a land unknown to them, and I think that it started there.”Dong curated old photos of Chinese American actors for the newly restored Formosa Café, an iconic Hollywood nightclub and bar that opened in 1939. With red leather booth chairs and tables surrounded by old photos on the walls, the back room of the Formosa Café looks like a museum commemorating the work of Chinese Americans and their role in Hollywood.The Formosa Cafe in Los Angeles first opened its doors in 1939 and was a frequent watering hole for people in the movie industry. It was renovated, restored and opened on June 28, 2019 serving Chinese food. (E. Lee/VOA)“I was always curious about the Chinese or Asian actress I saw on screen, whether films from the early part of cinema history up to today,” Dong said, “especially the ’20s and ’30s and ’40s, where I saw Chinese characters on screen. But they were always playing servants, coolies, laundry man. And if they were women, they were prostitutes or servants.”Chinese stereotypesIn his new book, “Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films,” Dong looked at Hollywood’s portrayal of Chinese characters and the Chinese culture. Stereotypes of the Chinese in America were perpetuated by the otherness of U.S. Chinatowns in the late 1800s and early 1900s, where people had different customs.During that time in history, political tensions between the West and China climaxed with the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, an uprising against the spread of Western influences in China.WATCH: Hollywood Movies Reflecting Changes in How Asians are Portrayed
Hollywood Movies Reflecting Changes in How Asians are Portrayed video player.
“With all of this history came a perception of the Chinese as the ‘yellow peril,’ the sinister Chinese, the Chinese that you couldn’t trust. And that resulted in the character called Fu Manchu,” Dong explained.Fu Manchu, a villain who wanted to destroy the Western world, ended up on the big screen and in a television series.In 1926, Charlie Chan, a Chinese detective from Hawaii, appeared on the big screen. It was a role that created a different, yet still problematic Asian stereotype.FILE – Author Kevin Kwan, right, and cast members Henry Golding and Constance Wu pose at the premiere for “Crazy Rich Asians” in Los Angeles, Aug. 7, 2018.Asian actors in modern-day HollywoodOver the decades, Asian and Chinese Americans did find work in Hollywood, and a few earned a star on the Hollywood Walk for Fame, such as Anna Mae Wong, Keye Luke, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu.  However, some movie fans have recently been critical on social media about movies where white actors are cast in leading roles that they believe should have gone to Asian actors. The movies include “Aloha,” the 2015 film where Emma Stone played Allison Ng, a character of Asian descent, and the 2017 film “Ghost in the Shell,” where Scarlett Johansson played a leading role based on a Japanese anime character.The 2018 movie “Crazy Rich Asians” hit the big screen with a majority Asian cast, an Asian American director and an Asian as one of the writers. The movie became a milestone for many Asian Americans.“The sensation of “Crazy Rich Asians,” both in its critical and box office success, is a sign that things are changing,” Dong said. “What is different is that the Asian American community won’t sit back. Filmmakers are being nurtured. Attitudes are being nurtured and strengthened where we won’t take that yellow-face casting anymore, where we won’t take that kind of whitewashing attitude of making an Asian character white.”People on social media are not only holding Hollywood accountable for its portrayal of Asians, technology is also opening doors for Asian Americans to tell stories on their own terms.“We have so many more platforms. There’s the Netflix. There is the Amazon Primes and the Hulus. And we have streaming platforms. We have YouTube,” Yuen said.With Asian Americans being the fastest-growing racial group in the U.S., a new generation of Asian American artists can use the different digital platforms to tell stories without being boxed in a stereotype.The Grauman’s Chinese Theatre opened in 1927 in Hollywood. It has also been named Mann’s Chinese Theatre and in 2013, it was renamed the TCL Chinese Theatre after a Chinese electronics manufacturer who has 10-year naming rights to the building.The China factorHollywood is also changing its portrayal of Chinese and the Chinese culture because of the China factor.As the biggest consumer market outside the U.S., Hollywood has been making movies that would not offend Chinese audiences. The industry has been careful not to portray the Chinese as villains.Joint productions between Hollywood and Chinese production companies, such as the animated feature film “Abominable,” put Chinese characters and China in a favorable light. “That’s where I would like to see the future of Chinese-U.S. collaborations, is that there is more space for both. So that both countries can feel like there’s something familiar to them. And I think that would open up more roles for Chinese Americans and Asian Americans, in general,” Yuen said.

Hollywood Movies Reflecting Changes in How Asians are Portrayed

East Asian characters have been a part of Hollywood since the silent film era. But the portrayal of Asian and especially Chinese characters in the history of U.S. movies has been described as problematic by many film scholars. This is changing — not only have Asian characters evolved over time, so have movie-going audiences.  VOA’s Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
 

Netflix Releases Panama Papers Movie Despite Lawsuit

Netflix has released a movie based on the so-called Panama Papers despite an attempt by two lawyers to stop the streaming premiere.”The Laundromat,” starring Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep, debuted Friday on Netflix after a limited release in theaters.Two Panamanian lawyers, Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, sued Netflix in federal court in Connecticut this week, saying the movie defamed them and could prejudice criminal cases against them. Netflix asked a judge to dismiss the suit but did not address the allegations.The Panama Papers were more than 11 million documents leaked from the two lawyers’ firm that shed light on how the rich hide their money.A judge ruled there was no valid reason to file the case in Connecticut and ordered it transferred to the Los Angeles-area federal court district.