BREAKING: September 9th will be officially an entire month since the murder of Ferguson African-American unarmed teenage Michael Brown, at the hands of racist Ferguson PD Officer Darren Wilson. In this entire month, Officer Darren Wilson hasn't been heard from, he has literally disappeared. He still has not been arrested, charged, or indicted in the murder of Michael Brown.
Episode 6 of Reappropriate: The Podcast is now live! This episode features a great conversation between myself and Cayden Mak (@Cayden) of 18MillionRising. We talk identity formation in an increasingly digital age, as well as digital tools as one of several tools in an activist toolbox. We briefly touch on the Stephen Salaita controversy in relation to the perils of when digital activism crosses over into the real-world.
Next episode: Please join me in two weeks’ time when I hope to have a conversation about the third rail in AAPI politics: interracial dating. Guests are still being scheduled, so episode time and link are TBA.
Check out my next adventure with Reapprorpiate as my partner and I talk with Jenn about interracial dating!
Thank you for taking time to be with us, Sir. We are Filipino American writers. We have come home to the islands where our ancestors still inhabit the land, the province, the war-torn city of their childhoods. We are in search of our origin stories, looking for the details of where we come from. We have heard stories from our parents and our lolas and lolas. We have been imagining the tables where they sat to eat their meals, the paths they walked to and from their schools, and the mother nation they call “back home.” We have been wondering where the stories were lived. We have come home and we have been invited to this stage to share our written works.
Our experience is different than your own to be sure. Our writing concerns and reasons to write will be different. But let me ask you this: Have you ever imagined what life might be like if you were raised to be a Filipino far from these islands? Have you ever imagined what it might be like to grow up and read the stories of the people around you and never see your own? To be writing in a nation that has traditionally washed the walls white and made our own stories invisible not only to the culture at large but to ourselves? Of course we have a longing to be back home, even as we have never lived here.
What a complicated identity we have. Unlike you, a National Treasure in a nation where you are part of the dominant mainstream culture, our stories and poems in the United States are not and might never be mainstream. We write from the space of the Other. We write our stories because no one else will. No one else can. We document our existence so there is a record. And for whom? Probably ourselves first. Then like-minded readers after us. And if the whole world wants to read us, then they too. Do we think of audience? If you mean you, sitting there thumping your nails on a desk top as my friend reads, if you mean you, then probably not.
I grew up in a smallish town in the middle of Massachusetts. Ok, technically it was a city, but it had the feel of a small town. Fairly suburban, cars everywhere and everyone knew each other through at least six degrees of separation.
And boy was it white.
I’m not saying it was as white-washed as the middle of North Dakota. There were definitely other Asian kids growing up that I knew. But for some reason, no one really talked about the fact that my face looked different from the 23 others in the yearly class picture. No one acknowledged the elephant in the room. I grew up fairly unaware of my racial identity.
Then I moved to New York City and suddenly, I was Asian.
It seemed that everyone in New York wanted to know where I was “from.” Barest acquaintances would start speaking in Japanese, Chinese or any other language they thought was appropriate to my ethnicity. Instead of people describing me as the “short girl with the glasses,” it was now the “short Asian girl with the glasses.” One of my exes used to joke that he had “yellow fever.”
At first I was confused. Then I thought, “Wow, New York is really racist.” Then, I tried to go along with the joke of “I’m Asian/but not/I’m a twinkie” (twinkie=white on the inside, yellow on the outside). Then I got annoyed, especially when one person said, when learning my history, “Oh, so you’re like, fresh off the boat,” casually dismissing the fact I’m an American citizen who has lived here for most of my life. Most of my life in this case is 26 years and six months. I’m 27.
What is up with New Yorkers? I used to think. Why can’t they just live and let live?Why do insist on pinpointing my ethnicity via geographical location? Sometimes, I felt like wearing a GPS sign around my neck that said, “Was born here” with the appropriate coordinates so the teller at the corner bodega wouldn’t start playing the “let me guess what kind of Asian you are” game when I was just trying to buy my morning coffee.
But then I realized: The difference between New Yorkers and everyone else is that they say out loud what everyone else is thinking. Most of the rest of the country, including my hometown, need to catch up.
There’s nothing to me more insidious than silent racism. Racism that is shoved underneath the bed or whispered behind closed doors is lethal. Nothing is more dangerous and debilitating to a person (or a society) than choosing to willfully ignore the fact that yes, there is a big difference between you and other people that stares you in the face when you look in the mirror. That doesn’t make it better or worse. As Jane Elliott, activist and originator of the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes exercise says:
We don’t need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables — the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers — to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.
When I look at what’s going on in Ferguson, I wonder: Was silence what made the city explode? If the people of Ferguson were as vocal as New Yorkers are when it comes to “where we come from” would the situation have escalated like it has?
Now I by no means am claiming that New York is a haven of equality. It isn’t, by far, and I only have to look at the recent "stop and frisk" policy to know that. I only have to have one more person at a party ask me, “Where are you from-no, where are youfrom?” or “Do you know karate?” to acknowledge ruefully to myself that we still have a long way to go. "Quiet bias" is alive and thriving in NYC. Just go to 116th street and then walk 20 blocks down and it’s evident inequality isn’t just tied to economics in this city — it’s tied very much still to race.
But at least in New York, we talk about it. If we’re talking about it, if we’re laughing about it, if we’re pointing at the elephant in the room, that means we can dispel the stereotypes that separate us. I like to think it’s a major step in the right direction.
The Organization for Black Struggle is teaming with ColorOfChange.org on Thursday to deliver a petition to the White House demanding a federal investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, whose officer shot and killed Brown. Simmons said the groups expect to meet with an administration official.
"What you see is a deepening of the movement," said Barber.
Yong Kim, owner of Mary’s Fabulous Chicken and Fish, was leaving the restaurant and walking his to his car when someone attacked him from behind, knocking him to the ground and beating him in the head, neck and face. The suspect then took Kim’s wallet and ran away.
Kim suffered several large gashes on his head, extensive swelling and bruising on his face and neck. His glasses and dentures were also broken during the attack.
An unknown person attacked Yong Kim, the owner of Mary’s Fabulous Chicken and Fish at 3220 Packard Road, from behind as Kim walked to his car around 9:55 p.m. Tuesday.
Doo Kim said her husband did not see anyone around before the attack took place.
He was closing the restaurant alone when the attack occurred.
Doo Kim said her husband did not know anyone was behind the restaurant.
"They didn’t say nothing," she said. "They just started beating."
Thankfully, Kim didn’t suffer any brain injuries in the attack, and has been moved out of intensive care.
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call the Ann Arbor police anonymous tip line at 734-794-6939 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).
There’s been a dangerous sentiment by national press that Asian folks in the U.S. do not stand with Ferguson. Media has falsely perpetuated myths and misconceptions about Asian Americans and have formed inaccurate stories.
Looting stories of Asian Markets in St. Louis vilifying black men. Stories that stereotype all Asian Americans as the “model” minority. That all Asian Americans are geniuses, work hard, are great at math, and dominate universities. That if Asian Americans can achieve the American dream, why can’t other minorities?
Statistics and facts can be backed up by reports and data by the Census, government agencies, non-profit organizations*. “Good” and “Bad” stereotypes are merely fantasy, yet can be dangerously manipulated.
As a self-identified Asian American and Southeast Asian man, I stand firmly against false generalizations and speak upon my own experiences.
I created this video to show that just like in the past, today, there are Asian American allies to social justice and humanitarian causes.
I strongly support the people of Ferguson. May Michael Brown and the countless men dying in our American streets Rest In Power.
Kenny K. Hoang,
*For more information: Check out APIASF’s most recent “Care Report” and AAJC’s “A Community of Contrast”
“When Gap changed its Twitter background to the picture of Sikh model Waris Ahluwalia, many commentators claimed a victory not only for social media, but for South Asians and Muslims as well. One blogger claimed the change was “to show solidarity and support” with those who were offended by the racist graffiti. But if solidarity simply means changing a Twitter background, then we have not only failed in some fundamental way in understanding the politics of that term, but we have also relegated our identity to merely that of a consumer. Gap has purposefully chosen to demonstrate solidarity with its brown consumers, but not with its brown factory workers. We have compromised our sense of racial solidarity for consumer solidarity, a solidarity between a corporation and its consumers that invites a racialized minority community to become rightful customers. Yet this image of inclusivity means little when the actual practices of the company continue to exclude Bangladeshi workers from having basic human rights. Changing a Twitter background is easy. Seeing through the smoke and mirrors, organizing to put pressure on Gap and policymakers, and demanding better working conditions for sweatshop laborers in Bangladesh–that is hard work.”—
Join me and Reappropriate tonight at 9pm EST/6pm PST as we talk about #AAPI feminism, what Asian American feminism means, and what it’s like to be a voice for AAPI feminism online!
The podcast will start recording at 9pm EST / 6pm PST tonight through this link and you are invited to live-stream the episode as we record! As always, the podcast encourages user discussion. Please submit your questions and comments either before the recording through Twitter to @reappropriate, or during the recording both through Twitter or on the Google+ Hangout.
“If Asian men are the vassals for white men’s domination fantasies, black men are the tools required for white male submissive fantasies. As Frantz Fanon explains, the black ‘man’ no longer exists in the white sexual imagination. Instead, ‘one is no longer aware of the negro, but only of a penis. The Negro is eclipsed. He is turned into a penis. He is a penis.’ Rather than existing as individuals, black men exist as sexual tools, ready to fulfill, or violate, white male sexual fetishes.”—Chong-suk Han, They Don’t Want To Cruise Your Type: Gay Men of Color and the Racial Politics of Exclusion (via rniguelangel)
Ryo Oyamada, a 24 year old student from Japan, was struck and killed by an NYPD vehicle in a hit & run. Witnesses say the police car had no lights or sirens on and was going over 70 mph. The released footage by NYPDwas proven to be heavily altered in a cover-up, showing “lights” on the vehicle, when compared to footage from the NY Housing Authority on the same street with the same timestamp.
On a personal note: I know that this will probably not be shared or reblogged very much, because Asians are not very prominent in American culture. I understand this, because Asians (like me) are partially at fault for being so passive. But I am begging you to please consider signing this petition out of human decency. Ryo was just a student walking home, then struck by a nearly silent police cruiser going at excess speed, and the NYPD covered it up.
Here is the side-by-side comparison of the released video footage, including updates from the case. *Edit* This article contains a link to a graphic video moments after the crash, showing the body of Ryo Oyamada and NY citizens yelling at the police. Please advise, it is highly disturbing.
And the following is an excerpt from the petition, which as of now only has 286 signatures.
On February 21st, 2013, Ryo Oyamada was struck and killed by a police cruiser while crossing the street. NYPD claimed that the cruiser’s lights and sirens were on before the collision, but multiple eyewitnesses stated otherwise, that the lights and sirens were only turned on afterwards, and that the cruiser was speeding in excess of 70 mph down a residential street. None of these eyewitnesses were interviewed for the police report.
Hey! A few of us in Black Tumblr are trying to start a #IWillNotSmile tag on August 26 against street harassment - targeting the demand of women to look happy/cute for the benefit of men, and we would like to ask our sisters in the Tumblr community to join in on the convo. There is a post on my blog with more info, would you be willing to reblog it to spread the word?
"I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world." - Tupac Shakur
This is the mission and vision that this project stands on. The Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy and Leadership (CAPITAL) is forming a new project called the CAPITAL CAL Mini-Grant program. CAL standing for Collaboration, Advocacy and Leadership!
CAPITAL is looking to encourage the community HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Grants will be focused on empowering youth to serve as catalysts in their communities and create impactful project. Projects could include but not limited to neighborhood revitalization, arts education, college access and preparation and more. Grants will be awarded through a application and committee screening process. Potential grantees will also receive training to to develop their planning and implementation skills, networks and overall leadership.
If you would like to also learn more about the organization, project and individuals involved please come to the second all CelebrASIAN dinner.
Attend the CelebrASIAN dinner!
Come to : CelebrASIAN of CAPITAL Unity
Place : Happy Garden Restaurant
Date: Thursday, August 21, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Sponsorship Levels ( Thinkers in History )
Socrates - $5,000
Aristotle - $2,000
Confucius - $1,000
Galileo - $650 – One Table of 10
All sponsors will get “ stage recognition” at the event and an Ad in our program.
"White feminism" does not mean every white woman, everywhere, who happens to identify as feminist. It also doesn’t mean that every "white feminist" identifies as white. I see "white feminism" as a specific set of single-issue, non-intersectional, superficial feminist practices. It is the feminism we understand as mainstream; the feminism obsessed with body hair, and high heels and makeup, and changing your married name. It is the feminism you probably first learned. "White feminism" is the feminism that doesn’t understand western privilege, or cultural context. It is the feminism that doesn’t consider race as a factor in the struggle for equality.
White feminism is a set of beliefs that allows for the exclusion of issues that specifically affect women of colour. It is “one size-fits all” feminism, where middle class white women are the mould that others must fit. It is a method of practicing feminism, not an indictment of every individual white feminist, everywhere, always.
The truth is, no one really knows what a society that does not privilege whiteness would look like in the U.S.; we haven’t seen it yet. How might we build such an alternative structure?
Asian-Americans — and all those desirous of a more just society — could fight the sort of one-way racial osmosis that permits only some groups to pass. For me and other biracial Americans, that can involve choosing to identify with our nonwhite halves. More broadly, it involves recognizing that big-picture issues (the criminalization of black bodies by the police and the media that we’ve witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri, the case for reparations, the surveillance of Muslim Americans, the racist roots of felon disenfranchisement and a host of other inequities) are not just problems for social justice advocates to fix. They are everyone’s battles to wage.
Perhaps part of the answer lies in redefining our perimeters. In her book “Boundaries of Obligation,” political scientist Cara Wong argues that self-defined membership in a community — one that is based on a sense of similarity, belonging or fellowship — “can lead to an interest in, and a commitment to, the well-being of all community members … regardless of one’s own interests, values and ideology.” Finding points of solidarity, regardless of what issues one is directly affected by, is crucial to erasing the historic lines that continue to divide our society.
The choice to reject white inclusion in favor of the less defined alternative is a gamble on an uncertain national community to be. But considering the racist origins of today’s social structure — and the possibility of a more just future one — it’s a leap worth taking.
I’ve got multiracial coalition on the mind today and so, clearly, do others. As Deepa Iyer wrote for The Nation, non-black people of color have a stake in the search for justice for Michael Brown.
But, efforts to move non-black people of color by reminding them of their own horrid experiences with the cops only have so much power. As Soya Jung, a Korean-American activist, writes for Race Files,
I do not move through the world in the crosshairs of a policing system that has its roots in slave patrols, or in a nation that has used me as an “object of fear” to justify state repression and public disinvestment from the infrastructure on which my community relies. I am not public enemy number one in the ongoing U.S. domestic war over power and resources that has systematically denied black humanity.
Communities of color have unique experiences that should not be equated with one another. People of color in the U.S. all live amidst white supremacy, but not everyone lives as targets of anti-blackness. Jung argues that Asian Americans have three options: “invisibility, complicity, or resistance.”
Far from being an academic issue for race nerds to debate, Asian-American business owners in Ferguson are immersed in the conversation in a very real way, and have called for “unity,” reports The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak. Mak’s story was slapped with an inflammatory headline though, which described the looting of stores as “Ferguson’s Other Race Problem.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA executive director Stewart Kwoh took issue with that characterization, and released a statement saying so:
In the coming weeks, we will likely hear stories from Ferguson about ongoing protests by African American community members and allies, similar to the days following the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles. At that time, the media pitted communities of color against one another. We cannot allow this to happen again. This is about dangerous, harmful law enforcement practices and the need to end racially-motivated police practices that target communities of color. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community stands in solidarity with the African American community in this fight.
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein spoke with U.S. mayors of cities where police have killed young men of color in high-profile case. Two said that looking back, heavy police repression in response to community outrage was a mistake which only further incited the community. Besides Ferguson’s aggressively militarized police response, what else was going on in the area before Michael Brown’s shooting set off his aggrieved, outraged community?
Everyone—or at least, every black person—can recall an incident. Everyone can attest to friends and relatives who have been harassed, assaulted, or worse by the police.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing cases was last year’s shooting of Cary Ball Jr., a 25-year-old black student at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park. The official police report is that Ball crashed his car after a high-speed chase, ran away, and aimed his weapon at officers after they confronted him. Witnesses say Ball had thrown his gun to the ground and was walking toward police—hands up—when he was shot and killed with 25 rounds. A federal investigation cleared the officers. Likewise, that February, surveillance video from a casino showed St. Louis police slamming a black man’s head into the bumper of a vehicle, after a dispute over gambling and trespassing. And in March of this year, a videoshowed St. Louis police officers beating a mentally disabled man in his home, after the family called police for help.
What are you reading today on Ferguson? Please share, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.