If You Had to Donate $2,000 Every Month...

Let me tell you, I'm not a big charity guy. I'm also the most apolitical person you'll run into. I don't watch the news at all. I get my news from Angry Asian Man, but even then, I skip over most of his stuff. Which probably explains why I'm such a happy-go-lucky person.

It's not that I don't care about social issues, but I'm selective as to which issues to be active about and how to be active about them. Otherwise I'd spread myself thin worrying about everything. Asian American issues mean a lot to me, but I focus on self-improvement as the way to enrich our communities. Money runs out, time is limited, but idea viruses spread like, well... viruses!

But if you're blessed with a lot of disposable income to donate $2,000 to a cause every month, then consider donating to the following:

1) The Asian Law Caucus- These guys do a lot of great work for the Asian American community, but unfortunately, they're located in a really sh!tty part of town. Just outside the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, the ALC is in an area with a lot of bums, crazy people and drug addicts. The front of their building, the inside of their lobby and the elevator smells like urine, because there used to be a psychiatric clinic in the building. If any organization needs more money, then the ALC is it, because they need to move out to a better office.

2) The 80-20 Initiative- "80-20 is a national, nonpartisan, Political Action Committee dedicated to winning equal opportunity and justice for all Asian Americans through a SWING bloc vote, ideally directing 80% of our community's votes and money to the presidential candidate endorsed by the 80-20, who better represents the interests of all APAs. Hence, the name '80-20' was created."

3) Produce an Asian American indie film- Let's face it: there ain't too many Asian faces on American TV and in the theatres. And when we do see Asian faces, they don't get much air time, and they don't get choice roles. They're supporting characters in the stories of white people. I have people that I admire and follow of all different ethnicities, but it's nice to follow one who looks like you. It's nice to follow their story, because it parallels your story as an Asian American.

If you've got the time and the money, and you want to see more Asian Americans telling entertaining stories, then why not produce an indie film? Seriously, making a short film and showing it to viewers is so much easier and cheaper than ever before. You can shoot your film on a camera and audio equipment bought from Best Buy, edit your film on Movie Maker and then upload it to YouTube. It's so easy and cheap, that you really have no excuse.

The keys problems most people run into are:

a) Stupid ass stories- Finding an entertaining story with good dialog and a tight plot that's devoid of cliches is hard to find and harder to come up with.

b) Flaky ass people- If you have a volunteer crew and actors, then they better be on the same page as you. Otherwise you'll have a lot of flakes. Better to get professionals and pay them.

c) Horrible actors- Some people sound the same no matter what emotion they're trying to convey, so cast appropriately.

d) Marketing- Some people produce great films, but their films never see the light of day. You have to know how to generate buzz about your film, because what's the point of telling a great story if no one is there is listen?

4) Sponsor an Asian American mentorship program- Visualizasian.com had a good interview with Yul Kwon. During the interview, Yul touched upon an interesting concept: mentorships for Asian Americans to break the glass ceiling. People who've risen to the top ranks have had mentors. They've had people to guide them and to help them in their career path. Many Asian American career organizations have this sort of thing. Asian professionals, lawyers, peace officers and journalists all have associations that they can turn to when they need to rely on a social network.

But whereas a social network is a supportive group, a mentor provides that extra individualized guidance. You can always seek guidance on your own from many different mentors of any ethnicity. But a formal Asian American mentorship program, that is not limited to career, is something that the Asian American communities need.

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