Jessica Ma

Journalist. Poet. Hopefully, city-bound.

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You Are What You Eat

I’ve been told that I’m “not really Asian.” Sure, I have monolid eyes and black hair and both my parents and all my grandparents were born in China to Chinese parents — but, like, I’m “basically white.” The only thing Chinese about me, apparently, is my appetite for “exotic” cuts of meat: chicken feet, jellyfish, shark (yes, I know about the ecological devastation this causes; no, I don’t eat shark anymore).20161213_170131

So following that logic, of course I would visit MoCA’s exhibit on Chinese food in America (“Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America“). That was last month; it’s taken me a while to write this post, despite having already written two essays on food, because I’m still trying to figure out how to creatively write yet another think-piece on food and identity. So here’s me, trying yet again.

I grew up with a complicated connection to my culture. I spoke pidgin Cantonese with my parents and nanny. I attended Chinese school every Saturday morning for four years, learning to speak, read, and write my mother tongue. I wound up dropping out after third grade to play rec soccer (I lasted one season — a girl on the opposing team pushed me, I fell dangerously close to a pile of goose poop, and that was the end of my budding sports career).

We exchange lai see and feast on Chinese New Year but don’t eat mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival or visit our relatives’ resting places for Tomb-Sweeping Day.

I don’t know how to speak Chinese.

So when I watched the interviews with all those Chinese and Asian-American chefs — when I listened to Grace Young, who wrote the cookbook I immediately recognized from my childhood; and Danny Bowien, who connected to a culture lost to him through food — in the heart of Chinatown, where I so often keep my typically too-loud mouth shut so no one knows I can’t speak Chinese… I felt like I understood for once.20161213_160107

This is a wannabe think-piece, so of course it’s not just about food. It never is. It’s about who you make food with and eat food with and experience food with. I can’t necessarily speak with my grandma, but I can watch her make jook and lo bak go. I don’t know if I have jade jewelry to inherit, but I will get my grandfather’s pure cast-iron wok.

I read a post once which noted that Chinese people don’t really have recipes — not in the traditional sense. You don’t use a teaspoon of soy sauce or a tablespoon of white pepper powder. You do it all to taste. My mom makes her steamed egg with a top coat of soy sauce for color and a bit of salt; my aunt throws in browned meat and scallions for texture and substance. To cook Chinese food is to know a person, to adapt their tastes with your own.

So I’m cooking a love letter to my parents, my grandmother, my family; folding in curiosity and good intentions into the rice along with lap cheung and scrambled egg; saying, “Here, try this. Did I get it right? Am I learning the forgotten parts of myself correctly?”



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Long Island Welcome Center Features Taste NY Market

The Long Island Welcome Center opened in Dix Hills five weeks ago; it aims to promote tourism on Long Island and features a Taste NY Market.

The market is part of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Taste NY Initiative, which aims to promote local products throughout the state. Just last week, Cuomo announced that gross sales of NY-based products more than doubled over the past year.

This video story was created through Snapchat.

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Mineola in Top Six LI Neighborhoods for Young Commuters

Home is where the heart — and sometimes, train — is.

Many Long Island communities struggle today in attracting young professionals. One problem is a lack of affordable housing options. A recent Long Island Index (LII) report maps out all existing and proposed rental, condominium, and co-op properties on the island. The study found that of the existing 83,000 rental units, only 30% — or 24,900 — are within a half-mile of a Long Island Railroad Station. The LII argues rental units in close proximity to commuter transportation hubs are essential to keeping young people on Long Island.

One village where young professionals could consider living is Mineola: the Mineola station ranks in the top six LIRR stations with rental units within a half-mile radius.

Mineola has long been a rental-friendly community. From 2009 to 2014, the village saw the number of its renter-occupied housing units go from about a quarter to a little over a third of overall occupied housing, according to American FactFinder, a searchable public database provided by the United States Census Bureau.

The village has also seen its number of residents between 15 and 34 years old who live alone in a rental increase since 2011, from 5.3% to 8.4%. Mineola’s peak in young people renting their own apartments was in 2012, at 9.9%.

According to the LII’s Multifamily Housing Map, all 23 buildings with rental units within a half-mile radius of Mineola station are located in areas with 20 to 30% of residents who are between the ages of 18 and 34. The downtown area currently has four rental properties constructed since 2000 that are available to young professionals. Another proposed property (the Mineola Village Green) is in the works.

Village officials are optimistic these more recent properties, along with the proposed Village Green, will attract new residents of all ages. Mineola Village Clerk Joseph Scalero says the main benefit of the recently-constructed properties is “putting more residential units in the downtown area” with the ultimate goal being “more foot traffic and nightlife” in the village.

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Martins, Suozzi Face Off in AARP Debate for Senior Citizens Issues

Candidates for the 3rd Congressional District of New York Senator Jack Martins (R) and former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D) took to the stage in an AARP-sponsored debate to discuss senior citizens’ concerns on October 24, 2016 in Albertson, NY.

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When a Woman’s Choice Comes Down to Her Presidential Choice: 2016 Presidential Candidates on Reproductive Rights

Hillary Clinton
The Democratic presidential nominee has a long history of supporting women’s reproductive rights and she’s made no change to her tune in her latest campaign for the presidency. In April, Clinton appeared on ABC’s The View, where host Paula Faris asked if she would allow abortions even “on [a fetus’] due date.” The former Secretary of State said she would, because she has seen “the impact that a government can have when it tries to substitute its judgment for the individual women,” whether that be pro- or anti-abortion.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Planned Parenthood — a nonprofit women’s health organization — has endorsed Clinton for the presidency. The former New York Senator has also received support from groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC.

Clinton’s stance on abortion has evolved over the years. When she first ran for president in 2008, she supported abortions but believed they should be “safe and rare,” and advocated for alternatives such as adoption, foster care, and measures to prevent teen pregnancy.


Donald Trump
Most recently, the Republican presidential nominee seems to have taken a strong pro-life stance, going so far as to add a “Pro-Life Coalition” to his campaign with Marjorie Dannenfelser — a prolific anti-abortion activist — at the helm. He also released a letter (hosted on the website of Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization) delineating his plans to “advance the rights of unborn children and their mothers.”

However, the real estate mogul hasn’t always been in the “fetus first” camp: back in 1999, he called himself “very pro-choice” in an interview with Meet the Press, though he did assert that the “hates the concept of abortion.” (In this same interview, Trump said he would not ban partial-birth abortions; in his book The America We Deserve, the Don reversed his opinion — “I consulted two doctors I respect and, upon learning more about this procedure, I have concluded that I would support a ban.”)

Trump publicly changed his stance to pro-life at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011, when he first floated the idea of running for President, though the Republican presidential hopeful would not call for an end to all abortions.

However, the The Apprentice personality has spoken in favor of Planned Parenthood as recently as February of this year during a Republican presidential candidate debate, citing the “millions and millions of women” who visit centers for health services.

The Plan

Hillary Clinton Donald Trump
 Allow abortions? Yes, no matter the circumstance, because that is the law  No, unless in cases of rape, incest, and risk to the mother
Allow late-term abortions?  In favor of late-term regulations, so long as there are exceptions for certain cases No, not after 20 weeks
 Stance on Hyde Amendment?  Repeal it as it is unfair to disadvantaged women Sign it into permanent law
 Fund Planned Parenthood?  Yes, fully, it provides “critical health care services” No, not while they still perform abortions

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Power Through Poetry

Hofstra’s spoken word group SP!T celebrates National Poetry Month with its second annual showcase, featuring a slam poem competition and an open mic session.

For some, poetry is a tool to promote activism or help cope with struggles they face. Three members of SP!T talk about how they see poetry as a means of empowerment.

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University Club Sports Keep Passions Alive

Jazmine Gonzalez has no doubts about her lacrosse skills. “I knew I wasn’t good enough for a D1 [Division 1] team,” she says. But that didn’t deter her.

The junior radio production major is a goalie for Hofstra University’s women’s club lacrosse team. In this video, she explains how her love for the sport couldn’t be stifled.