May 24, 2021


Constructors: Hoang-Kim Vu & Erica Hsiung Wojcik

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
WONG KIM ARK (16A: Person in an 1898 case affirming birthright citizenship)
FRED KOREMATSU (37A: Person in a 1944 case contesting the internment of Japanese Americans)
BHAGAT (56A: With 62-Across, person in a 1923 case challenging citizenship eligibility)
SINGH THIND (62A: See 56-Across)
USA (22A: Country of citizenship for 16-, 37- and 56/62-Across, for short)
EMMA (31D: ___ Gee, cofounder of the AAPA, which popularized the term "Asian American")

Theme synopsis: The first three theme answers are people who have played important roles in the establishment of U.S. citizenship rights for Asian Americans. 

And now a word from our constructors:
Erica: This is my first crossword to go out into the world! Woohoo! Thank you to Kim for coming up with this powerful theme idea and bringing me on board. We had the challenge of making sure we had extra clean fill so that folks who were unfamiliar with the theme names could still complete the puzzle. Hopefully some folks learned about these important figures in US history.
I am passionate about expanding diversity in crossword grids, and last year I started the Expanded Crossword Name Database, which is a crowd-sourced, free, public, and semi-regularly updated database filled with names of women, non-binary, trans, and/or people of color, as well as "places and things" (organizations, works of art, monuments etc) that represent groups/identities/people that are often excluded from crossword grids. Please check it out if you haven't already, and keep contributing new entries. Oh, and I love crossword friends and collaborations, so come find me on twitter @ewojcik!
Kim: Crosswords are primarily a pastime, of course, but as many in Crossworld have said more eloquently than me - including my co-constructor Erica - crosswords also represent a shared culture and understanding, an explicit choice about who and what is important and worth knowing. So while most of the puzzles I have a hand in constructing are a little lighthearted or tricky, every once in a while, it's nice to have a puzzle that speaks to something a little bit more.
For API Heritage Month, I'm happy to be part of the team to bring you this puzzle, titled after Dorothea Lange's iconic photo from 1942 Oakland. For me, this puzzle was, in part, an attempt to sublimate my feelings about the last year. Specifically, that while the fight to say that API folks belong in this country is old and hard, our elders have paved the way; their stories are important and worth knowing. Special thanks to my fabulous co-constructor Erica Hsiung Wojcik for helping bring this into the world, and Erik Agard for lending us his platform to make it happen.
As for the construction bits, this was a great lesson in what to do when your good themeset is not automatically symmetrical, and does not fit into a 15x15. Kudos to Erica for the brilliant idea of offset-stacking BHAGAT across SINGH THIND so that it reads really naturally (my original inelegant suggestion was a corner vertical 6 in the SW in a different configuration). I will also say that normally, one might try to construct your way out of those big open corners that the center 13 creates, but the possibilities that Erica came up with during the constructing process (including a truly fire I CONFESS/TRADE YOU stack in the NE that had to make way to make the N less clunky) convinced me this was the grid for us.

Things I learned:
  • WONG KIM ARK (16A: Person in an 1898 case affirming birthright citizenship) WONG KIM ARK was born in San Francisco in 1873. His parents were merchants in San Francisco's Chinatown. In 1894, at the age of 21, as he was returning to the U.S. from visiting his parents in China, WONG KIM ARK was denied entry based on a law restricting Chinese immigration. He challenged the decision, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Opponents of birthright citizenship were hoping the Supreme Court would overturn that provision of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. In its response to the United States v. WONG KIM ARK, the court affirmed the right of citizenship for children of immigrants born in the United States.
  • FRED KOREMATSU (37A: Person in a 1944 case contesting the internment of Japanese Americans) FRED KOREMATSU was the one person featured in this puzzle I was previously familiar with, as I learned about him from the November 20, 2020 puzzle. I've included him in this section, though, to keep this information together. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an Executive Order authorizing the removal of people of Japanese ancestry from military areas and surrounding communities in the United States. More than 120,000 Japanese people were interred in detention camps as a result of the order. Two-thirds of the people who were relocated were American citizens. FRED KOREMATSU, 23 years old at the time, was a Japanese-American citizen who refused to comply with the order to leave his home and job. He was subsequently arrested for failure to report to a relocation center. The ACLU represented FRED KOREMATSU in a case that went to the Supreme Court. In the 1944 case, KOREMATSU v. U.S., the Supreme Court upheld the arrest as a "military necessity." In 1983, the conviction of FRED KOREMATSU was officially overturned when the case was reopened based on evidence of government misconduct. The FRED KOREMATSU Institute carries on his legacy as a civil rights advocate.
  • BHAGAT SINGH THIND (56-/62A: Person in a 1923 case challenging citizenship eligibility) BHAGAT SINGH THIND was born in India, and moved to the United States at the age of 20 to study at the University of California. He served in the United States Army during World War I. In 1918, BHAGAT SINGH THIND applied for citizenship, which was granted by a U.S. District Court, but revoked by the Bureau of Naturalization four days later. BHAGAT SINGH THIND applied for and was granted U.S. citizenship for a second time in 1919, this time by the U.S. District Court of Oregon. However, the Bureau of Naturalization fought the decision to grant citizenship in a case that went to the Supreme Court. In the United States v. BHAGAT SINGH THIND, the Supreme Court ruled that people born in India were not "white," and thus not eligible for citizenship. In 1935, after Congress enacted a LAW making World War I veterans eligible for citizenship regardless of race, BHAGAT SINGH THIND applied for U.S. citizenship for a third time, which was granted. 
  • EMMA (31D: ___ Gee, cofounder of the AAPA, which popularized the term "Asian American") EMMA Gee and Yuji Ichioka were graduate students at the University of Berkeley in 1968 when they co-founded an organization aimed at increasing the visibility of activists of Asian descent. They named their group the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA). It's believed the organization's name was the first public use of the phrase "Asian American."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • OREO (13A: Cookie with limited editions) The sad thing about limited edition OREOs is that if you really like them, you're out of luck once they're gone. I still miss the Cookie Dough OREO from 2014. On further reflection, maybe it's a good thing they don't make those anymore...
  • HE'S (33A: "___ Just Not That Into You") HE'S Just Not That Into You is a 2004 book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. The book was adapted into a 2009 movie of the same name.
  • EMO (42A: Screamo is a subgenera of it) Screamo emerged in the late 1990s, and is strongly influenced by hardcore punk and screamed vocals (thus the name!) 
  • MEOW (61A: Cat's comment) As you can see, Willow is a fan
    of crosswords (or at least my crossword scarf). Her comment on this answer, "MEOW!" 
  • FERN (64A: Plant with spores) A FERN has neither seeds nor flowers. It reproduces via spores.
  • NUGGET (46D: Piece of wisdom or chicken) I enjoyed this fun clue.
  • SHE'S (60D: "___ Gotta Have It") SHE'S Gotta Have It is a 1986 movie written, produced, and directed by Spike Lee. The film was selected in 2019 for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. I liked that the puzzle featured both HE'S and SHE'S.
Geography review:
  • ERIE (66A: New York canal) Our crossword friend ERIE is trying to make a few more appearances this month. Will we see it again before May ends? Stay tuned...
  • IDA (6D: State next to Ore.) IDAho is also next to Washington, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and British Columbia, Canada.
  • TET (26D: Hanoi holiday) Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. TET, also known as the Vietnamese New Year, celebrates the arrival of spring based on the Vietnamese calendar.
Sometimes when you solve a crossword, you end up getting a bonus history lesson! As I mentioned earlier this month, May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI, or API) Heritage Month. Today we have another puzzle recognizing AAPI heritage. I appreciated that Kim and Erica took care to make crossing answers fair for solvers unfamiliar with the names in the puzzle. As I mentioned above, only one of the names was familiar to me, but I was able to fill in all of them without problems using crossing answers. I liked the consistency of the theme, that all of the theme answers were persons involved in Supreme Court cases concerning citizenship of Asian Americans. I appreciated learning about these people. I tried to include multiple links in my summaries above, so if you're interested in learning more, you'll have a place to start. Oh, and if you aren't familiar with Dorothea Lange's photo that inspired the title of the puzzle, I encourage you to take a look at that as well. Also, congratulations to Erica on her first published crossword! This puzzle was an informative and enjoyable way to begin my Monday!


  1. I don't understand how 28D "That person" could be "Them". Isn't that wrong?

    1. Them can be used to refer to a single person, if the person's gender is unknown, or if the person's pronouns are they/them. In the case of this clue, I took it to be referring to an unknown person, in which case one could refer to that person as THEM.


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