Over the years, I’ve been learning to love myself and realizing that beauty shouldn’t be held to a standard. I’ve met countless other Asian women that struggle with the concept of the Perfect Asian Woman, aka thigh gap, porcelain skin, and petite.
To be quite frank, there is no such thing as the Perfect Asian Woman/Man. We need to stop comparing ourselves to freaking KPOP stars or Asian celebrities that happen to fit this “perfect Asian” bill.
For the first time in a long time, I feel okay with myself. I’m tan, bridge-less nosed, and quite curvy Asian woman. Granted that I am a quarter Spanish, i still embrace all of me. I can honestly say that I love myself better now than I have before.
I am not perfect, but because I’m not I am so much happier and feel more freedom from stereotypes and preconceived notions of what an Asian person should look like.
Whenever I’m at family reunions and my aunt or uncle say to me,
"Hey you got a little chubbier!"
Now, I can proudly and boldly retort back,
"Hell yeah I did and you can go f**k yourselves because I am beautiful despite my weight. You are setting a disgusting example for your children and those around you. Stop body bashing and making weight take precedence over the other qualities your children and loved ones have to offer."
I am beautiful and I am more than the number on the scale. I know it has taken me a while but I want to shout it to the world that I am happy with who I am and that we as people should stop pointing out peoples’ flaws and magnify their strengths instead.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want every man and woman to be able to realize that they are so much more than what people say and how they feel.
I’ve chosen to be healthy, but more importantly happy.
I know it’s a hard road to follow but I know that everyone can choose to be happy.
WHAT:JACCC Awarded Getty Foundation Multicultural Undergraduate Summer Internship Grant
The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center is pleased to announce it has been awarded a Multicultural Undergraduate Summer Internship Grant from the Getty Foundation. The purpose of the grant is to increase the diversity in professions related to museums and visual arts. The internships are intended specifically for outstanding students who are members of groups currently underrepresented in these professions, including individuals of African American, Asian, Latino/Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Islander descent.
The Visual Arts Intern will work directly with the Visual Arts department, experiencing first-hand the work, organization and installation that goes into setting up this summer’s programs, including the 74th Annual Nisei Week exhibitions in August.
To be eligible for the Visual Arts Internship candidates must be a currently enrolled undergraduate, having completed at least one semester of college by June 2014 or will graduate by of before September 2014. Candidates must be a resident of or attend college in Los Angeles County. Intern candidates may come from any area of undergraduate study and are not required to have demonstrated a previous commitment to the visual arts.
The intern will receive a gross salary of $3,500 for a ten-week period at the JACCC. Internships are a full-time position running from Monday, June 16 through Saturday, August 23, 2014.
Those interested in applying for the position may submit the following no later than noon on Friday, May 2, 2014:
statement (no more than 500 words, double-spaced, typed)
First, middle & last name (if not on your CV)
Email, phone & address (if not on your CV)
College or university you are currently attending
Major/area(s) of study *
Anticipated graduation date
2 Letters of reference or contact info (email, phone) for 2 references: either a teacher, professor, or a former employer
Please note the dates of the JACCC’s 10 week program, as well as the requirements in the Getty link below, before submitting to make sure you are both eligible and available to participate in the program.
Preliminary candidates will be contacted to do an in person interview for the week of Monday, May 5, 2014. All applicants will be contacted by the week of May 12 with the final decisions.
Please note the following “Save The Dates” required intern events by the Getty Foundation:
Arts Summit (mandatory) The Getty Center, Los Angeles: Monday, June 30, 2014 (all day, exact times TBA) A day-long orientation for all interns participating in the Summer 2014 Multicultural Undergraduate Internship Program. Interns will be introduced to the program, meet with their Learning Community Hub Leaders, and attend panels highlighting career opportunities in the arts.
Learning Communities (two mandatory events) Regional Hub Events Dates, Times, and Locations are TBD. These activities are meant to enhance the internship experience and expose interns to other organizations, arts professionals, and career opportunities in their area. Dates and times of hub meetings will vary, though interns must notify supervisors of scheduled activities in advance. Supervisors must allow interns to attend the two required events in their Learning Community.
We’re thrilled to invite you to Wikipedia APA, an editing event for improving and increasing the presence of cultural, historic, and artistic information on Wikipedia pertaining to Asian Pacific American (APA) experiences.
The first Wikipedia edit-a-thon dedicated to APA content, this project will occur as physical events on May 10, 2014 in New York City and Washington DC, as well as by proxy – with participants taking part from all throughout the world.
Wikipedia is one of the most widely-used resources in the world for general information, but its Asian Pacific American field could use some expansion.
How to join
Whether you’re a seasoned Wikipedian, an APA studies scholar, or completely new to all of this, your voice is needed! There are a few ways to participate.
Remember, Wikipedia is a tool for and by the people – all levels of experiences are vital.
Attend an edit-a-thon on May 10, 2014
Join us in person or log in from home! Especially if you’ve never tried your hand at editing Wikipedia, our live events will be a great place to get your bearings. You might find a new passion!
Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum, McMillan Education Center
New York City: Location TBA
Wherever you are: The cool thing about a Wikipedia edit-a-thon? You can do it at home in your jammies!
More details to come, but let us know if you’re interested so we can update you!
Click through to the link to register and find out more! Hat tip to ECAASU.
Please join the Asian American / Asian Research Institute for a book talk, A Matter of Rats, by Amitava Kumar, on Friday, April 25, 2014, from 6PM to 8PM, at 25 West 43rd Street, 10th Floor, Room 1000, between 5th & 6th Avenues, Manhattan. This talk is free and open to the general public.
Amitava Kumar will read from his new non-fiction work, A Matter of Rats (Duke University Press, Spring 2013).
It is not only the past that lies in ruins in Patna, it is also the present. But that is not the only truth about the city that Amitava Kumar explores in this vivid, entertaining account of his home town. We accompany him on journeys and memories through many Patnas, the myriad cities locked within the city-the shabby reality of the present-day capital of Bihar; Pataliputra, the storied city of emperors; the dreamlike embodiment of the city in the minds and hearts of those who have escaped contemporary Patna’s confines. Full of fascinating observations and impressions, A Matter of Rats reveals a challenging and enduring city that exerts a lasting pull on all those who drift into its orbit.
Part memoir, part travelogue, Kumar’s ruminations on one of the world’s oldest cities, the capital of India’s poorest province, is also a meditation on how to write about place.
Amitava Kumar is a novelist, poet, journalist, filmmaker, and Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English at Vassar College. He is the author of A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomband Nobody Does the Right Thing: A Novel, both also published by Duke University Press; Husband of a Fanatic: A Personal Journey through India, Pakistan, Love, and Hate, a New York Times “Editors’ Choice” selection; Bombay-London-New York, a New Statesman (UK) “Book of the Year” selection; and Passport Photos.
For those unable to attend, watch the live webcast of the talk on our website homepage, beginning at 6:15PM EST, or catch the post-live video and audio podcast online the following week. For updates and to view videos from past events, please visit www.aaari.info.
As well as being an MC/DJ I dabble a bit in theater. This past year I was blessed to act in a play called “Tree City Legends” which ran at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco. The play was written by Dennis Kim aka emcee Denizen Kane of Typical Cats. The cast also featured another really talented emcee named Taiyo Na, and the beautiful vocals of Rachel Lastimosa and her band Dirty Boots.
Long story slightly shorter, being in this play was a life changing experience for me. The cast and crew all had a special connection with one another. As our run was coming to an end I decided to not take this connection for granted and suggested the emcees/vocalists involved work on a track together. All the verses and the chorus in this song are inspired by the play and (at least in my case) were written for our characters in the piece.
I reached out to my brother Ayentee (Secluded Journalists) to take on the role of producer not only making the beat, but structuring the order of verses and doing the final mix-down. Ant does a extraordinary job making the vocals sound like we were all in the same room when in fact they came from 3 different home studios in San Francisco, Oakland, and New York. Big shout to Dion Decibels as well who took time out to record Denizen’s & my vocals at his studio.
The success of the play in SF has given us the opportunity to tour as we’ll be heading to Philadelphia, PA in December 2012 to showcase it at the National Performance Network’s Annual Meeting (http://npnweb.org/site/annualmeeting2012). The release of this song is a celebration of our upcoming travels and return to the stage together while also hopefully getting some of you folks on the east hyped to come out and see this amazing piece of work.
Thank you to my friends/castmates for your great contributions to this song and your great contribution to my life in general.
Along with a petition to send to Marvel, supporters of an Asian American Iron Fist are sharing posts from sites like Nerds of Color and Comics Alliance, explaining why casting an Asian American actor would be a good idea for the new Netflix show.
Nerds of Color makes a good case:
“My call for an Asian American Iron Fist is not meant to displace Danny Rand from the story,” wrote Keith Chow, a contributor to the site. “It is, in fact, the opposite. In my mind, casting a young Asian American in the lead role does nothing to change his classic origin: He can still be the son of a wealthy businessman. He can still accompany his family on an expedition to seek out K’un L’un. He can still train under Lei Kung, the Thunderer. He can still seek revenge against the man who killed his father. Danny being Asian American precludes none of these things.
What does change, however, in making Danny non-white is that it removes the white savior syndrome of the original story.”
Chow goes on to add, “if Danny is Asian American, the scenes of him embracing the ways of K’un-L’un can be viewed through the lens of cultural reconnection.”
Not only TOMS, but also Starbucks and even Lockheed Martin and Wal-Mart have learned that linking their products to charitable causes makes for good business. We no longer buy only what we need, or even what broadcasts our identity. We buy what makes us feel like good people, and what makes us feel like members of a good, global community. The easy way to look at TOMS is to praise their charitable work. The harder, more troubling way to look at TOMS is to acknowledge it as an example of how corporations have assumed work most often associated with self-identified religious organizations: building community, engaging in charity, and cultivating morals.
TOMS is not alone in its willingness to link progressive social action with consumer spending. In fact, it exemplifies a broader corporate embrace of “conscious capitalism.” Coined by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, this business model assumes that “the best way to maximize profits over the long-term” is to orient business toward a “higher purpose.” So Starbucks sells coffee to “Put America Back to Work,” the (RED) campaign raises money to fight AIDS, and—in the best example yet—Sir Richard’s Condom Company sends a condom to Haiti for each one it sells (“doing good never felt better”). Meanwhile, Bank of America logos decorate PRIDE banners and Lockheed Martin brags that it is a “champion of diversity.”
The globalization of neoliberal capitalism, and particularly the popularity of “conscious capitalism” as a practice and a discourse, signals a change in the landscape of U.S. religion and politics. “Neoliberalism” most often refers to a loosely cohering set of economic, social, and political policies that (1) seek to secure human flourishing through the imposition of free markets and (2) locate “freedom” in individual autonomy, expressed through consumer choice. But it is also a mode of belonging, where ritual acts of consumption initiate individuals into a global community of consumer agents. Within neoliberal logics of religious and political action, consumer transactions and corporate expansion are recast as forms of spiritual purification and missionary practice. And within conscious capitalism, the “higher purpose” is a world in which all people have a chance (or obligation) to participate in free markets—understood as a multicultural community of consumers.
For Mycoskie—whose title is “Chief Shoe Giver”—building this multicultural community is a theological mandate. He frames his Christian faith as a component of his personal relationship to the company. At the evangelical Global Leadership Conference, keynote speaker Mycoskie answered a question about whether TOMS represents any “biblical principles”: “TOMS represents a lot of different biblical principles. But the one I go back to again and again is the one in Proverbs. Give your first fruits and your vats will be full. … Because we did that and stayed true to our one-to-one model [even amidst financial strain], we’ve been incredibly blessed. We really did give our first fruits.”
In non-confessional settings, TOMS proffers a humanistic version of this prosperity gospel, recast for a neoliberal age. Losing the Bible quotes, the company emphasizes that the “fruits of faith”—in this case, economic success—abound for those who embody the ideals of authenticity, good intentions, and service. Or, “higher purpose” is profitable. TOMS is successful because it creates opportunities for people to live into their own “purpose” through a simple transaction: buying a pair of shoes.
Hello everyone, I hope you’ve all enjoyed the fantastic panels and speakers today. I know I’ve certainly learned a lot, let’s have a round of applause for the students who put this conference together!
Now just to give you all some context. I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. I think it was on a list of least diverse cities in the United States at one time. And growing up in a white suburb in Arizona…well, it definitely led to some very interesting identity formation. I remember, I knew I was Chinese. I also knew I was American. But at the same time, I remember not quite understanding why my school put me in English as a Second Language classes, or why people asked if I knew how to make sushi. Or why I got weird looks for the lunches I brought from home. I also remember writing “I wish I was American” on my bedroom wall over and over and over again because even though I knew I was American, my classmates and peers never once let me forget that I was also Asian. Because at the time, I didn’t know that to them — American meant white.
I want to share a story about my mother. She came to the United States in 1986 with just a small suitcase of clothes and photographs. She met up with my father, and for the next ten years they lived off of what they could find on street corners, the generosity of friends, and pure resilience in pursuit of the American Dream. I didn’t know any of my parents immigrant story until I got to high school. Then little by little, my mom started telling me about her life, as if suddenly realizing that if she didn’t tell someone, those stories would be lost forever. She talked to me about how scared she was one night when the man living next door banged on my parents door screaming at them to go back to where they came from, that America didn’t want them. She told me about how one winter, she and my father lived in a small room above a slaughterhouse where the walls were sheet metal. We would sit in the car together and she’d twist her wedding ring while telling me how different life in America was from the dreams she had as a teenager.
I remember one of the first things she taught me was how to say no. She said to me when I was around 6 that “people were going to try to take advantage of us because they think we’re weak. We have to be loud and we have to be strong when we say no”. I also learned how to handle the age old question of “but where are you really from?” From her. She would always answer Phoenix, Arizona. Or Louisville, Kentucky. Or Binghamton, New York. She never gave an inch. My mothers stories live on in me through my life. Her influence shines through me.
I feel the same way about the rich, beautiful, colorful history that I became aware of after high school. An impulsive google search of “what does Asian American” mean led to open door after open door, my blinders had been taken off and I started to see the world as it really was. With every new face, name, and date that I read about, I felt more alive than I ever had before. It felt like coming home. There was no turning back. The stories of the people who came before me live on in me and thrive in the work that I do online and on the ground.
One thing I’ve always believed is that in order for us to move forward and grow, we have to know where we came from and where our roots are. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. How much of our own history as Asian Americans do we not know? Are we not aware of?
Our stories have been erased, whether it was by negligence or intent. But they will never be forgotten. We carry their legacies in our hearts and their work on our backs. We keep the fight going because they built the blueprints we rely on, we could not be here without them. And that’s why storytelling is so important. I use my blog and my privilege of having a microphone and a platform to tell my stories, my mothers stories, and to bring awareness to others stories. With every life experience that we share, we archive it in our minds, on paper, online, everywhere. They will never die.
But they do have to be accessible. Now, I’ll be honest — I have never been the “smart Asian”. Just as Mee Moua talked about earlier, I felt a way about some of my Asian American classmates. I actually ended up working at a nonprofit with one classmate, and I was shocked to learn that she felt that there wasn’t that much racism or discrimination in our hometown. And then I started thinking, wow either I’m over sensitive or she’s delusional. But what was the difference? She was in the cocoon of the international baccalaureate program, in all honors classes, etc. I was on academic probation and getting detention for truancy. I go to a lower tier public school where I’m pretty sure very few of the students know what the words schema or oppression mean. We as activists, or as academics who have a passion for social justice, have to remember where we came from. We have to remember our communities and our roots and be able to use our privilege as politicized and educated individuals to go back to our communities and keep fighting.
In my journey of identity and social consciousness, I’ve gone through a few phases. I remember when I first started Fascinasians there was so much anger. I felt so much hatred and bitterness because I felt like the peaceful childhood and adolescence I remembered had been a lie. All the microaggressions, the racism the sexism, the classism, it had all built up inside me because I didn’t have the words or perspective to talk about it and process it. I was so angry that my history had been kept from me, and I was bitter that I went through everything seemingly alone. Coincidentally, this was around the time my mother and I started sharing our stories with each other. So I eventually could learn from her resilience and her strength and her endurance. I found my voice through blogging and writing about my experiences as an Asian American woman, an Asian American feminist. Words are our weapons: they are our shields and our swords and we have to yield it deliberately and with consideration.
I think that we, as activists, have to remember one important thing in all that we do. We don’t have to be the first to do something, we don’t have to be the pioneers. What matters is that we take action. Period. We are privileged to have access to the history and information that’s led to our social and political consciousness. Privileged to be surrounded by mentors and elders who can guide us. Privileged to be able to learn about what identity formation even means. And especially privileged to be in higher education institutions. Build off of that foundation, so we can grow bigger and stronger and taller than ever before. So that in the future, our community can keep feeding off of these legacies. With a hope like that, who knows what we’re capable of.
I’ll never forget the urgency in her voice when my mother told me these stories. I wanted to tell her that these stories wouldn’t fade away or disappear, they live on in my memory and in my life. One day I’ll tell my own family about where we came from and what we went through. Oppressors can try to erase us from history to keep us down, but we will never forget where our roots are. We will never forget the sacrifices it took to reach where we are today.
I was lucky to hear Mee Moua speak at ECAASU 2014. She said, “we must never let the activist in all of us die. We must never let that fire go out”. Our shared history resurfaces in the way we live our lives. I intend to live well, and to do my mother, and the many many Asian Americans who’ve inspired me, justice.
“When I stopped speaking Vietnamese, It took me years to be comfortable With calling any elder “you.” How a language could be so simple Was beyond my comprehension; There was no understanding Of respect.
In Vietnamese, honorifics are law. You are to address someone In relationship with their age to yours— An older man of the same generation: Anh, older brother. An older womxn of the same generation: Chị, older sister. Cậu or dì, Mother’s brother or sister, For someone as old as Mother. And for someone as old as Father, Chú or cô, Father’s brother or sister. And a person older than both parents Is bác, a parent’s older sibling. And even older, an elderly person, Like Grandpa or Grandma, Is ông or bà, grandpa or grandma.
To separate the non-kinship From the familial is then impossible For we, Vietnamese, are family. To pay homage in any other way Is unacceptable, Because “you” is impersonal—“You” Can be any stranger on the street.”—Cát-Phương Nguyễn “You” (via no-dickpix)
Suey Park is the Bitcoin of activism. Her hashtag movements are a digital phenomenon. Her value is determined by how much others buy into her. The lack of institutional backing allows her to disrupt the status quo. And just like digital currencies, hashtag activism is vulnerable to shadowy intrigues and corrupting influences.
When Park sent out a 115-character tweet at 7:55 p.m. on March 27, “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals has decided to call for#CancelColbert. Trend it,” she ignited a media firestorm. She was playing on a skit by The Colbert Report mocking the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, accusing the faux news show of racism.
The #CancelColbert was all spectacle with colorful characters, outrageous conduct, and lessons in the power and peril of new media. Pundits needed only to generate a new round of controversy to propel the outrage machine, thereby allowing them to ruminate on three of their favorite topics at once: the news, television and Twitter. Park was engulfed by controversy and vitriol, and many people flocked to defend her, supporting her position that the media mocks Asians because they are an easy target and opposing the loathsome death and rape threats aimed at Park.
Park, a 23-year-old “activist and writer,” became a Twitter star in December 2013 with#NotYourAsianSidekick, which encouraged Asian-American youth to use social media to tell empowering stories and challenge stifling stereotypes. Park rapidly built a powerful following, but the site also facilitated the aggression against her. The ability to mask oneself on Twitter has spawned a bestiary of trolls, hackers,doppelgangers, bots, pranksters, and real-life sociopaths who punch down outspoken women of color because that’s how America works.
The openness of platforms like Bitcoin and Twitter is also their weakness, allowing dark recesses to be carved out for malevolent ends. Digital money entices crooks whopilfer strings of code that comprise the currency as a path to fabulous riches, while social media attracts those looking for a shortcut to power and prestige. It’s what led Park into the orbit of Michelle Malkin, the radical right’s Asian sidekick.
Hashtag activism is ancient history for the web, but Malkin, a new-media controversialist, has adopted Park’s language, tactics, and social media skills, and it appears she is influencing Park to target “liberal racists.” Malkin hybridized hashtag activism with reactionary politics by creating #MyRightWingBiracialFamily in January 2014. Accusing MSNBC of racism, her campaign swiftly went viral and elicited an apology from the news network. Evidence shows Malkin came into contact with Park at this point. So when Park started #CancelColbert, Malkin charged in with her huge network and ample resources primed to skewer liberal racism.
Less than two hours after Park initiated #CancelColbert, Malkin enthusiastically backed it. Park was immediately bombarded with tweets warning of the dangers of allying with Malkin, but she said very little despite Malkin writing an Islamophobic defense of Park that used #CancelColbert to argue liberals were the real racists, not conservatives. Park has also been silent about the fact Malkin wrote a book justifying the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, called Asian campaign donors to Hillary Clinton “limited-English-proficient and smellier than stinky tofu,” and once dismissed campaigns against anti-Asian racism as “self-pitying and grievance-mongering.”
Park has become a sensation with just 23,000 Twitter followers, a scattering compared with Malkin’s 693,000 fans. What sets Park apart is her savvy use of Twitter, flowing from her metaphysical vision that “Digital lives will shape history.” Park and her followers float in digital ether where avatars, buzzwords and representations are terra firma. It’s similar to Bitcoin enthusiasts who proselytize that monetary algorithms, online wallets and virtual keys will reshape the global economy, but fall prey to classic con-man scams. It’s a shame because Park is right that liberal racism is real. Democrats are as complicit as the right in locking up brown people at home and blowing up brown people abroad. But when a young anti-racist activist who writes about “imperial timelines,” anti-capitalism and decolonization finds herself in cahoots with an extremist like Malkin, it reveals Twitter is more useful for political manipulation than collective revolution.
The #NotYourAsianSidekick landed Park on The Guardian’s list of “Top 30 young people in digital media.” One detail left out of the story is that the movement was shepherded collectively by Park and by co-creator and feminist Juliet Shen, facilitators for specific topics, and organizations like 18 Million Rising. In January, Park took sole credit in a bit of humblebragging, writing, “The viral success of #NotYourAsianSidekick after I first tweeted the tag on December 15, 2013, wasn’t about me, but all of us.” By February, Shen and 18 Million Rising had fallen out with Park.
Park’s next triumph came on Jan. 14 when she scorched the CBS sitcom, “How I Met Your Mother,” accusing it of yellowface in an episode satirizing Kung Fu movies.Tweeting ”My race is not a costume,”with the hashtag #HowIMetYourRacism, Park elicited an apology from the show’s co-creator after the controversy was covered byCNN, Time magazine, and Cosmopolitan.
It seems Malkin was watching. Sounding like an activist immersed in cultural theory, Malkin tweeted on Jan. 20, “Great thing about Twitter is that it allows those excluded from official MSM narratives to break down the barriers.”
Then, on Jan. 29, Malkin came into her own as a hashtag activist. MSNBC tweaked the right by tweeting, ”Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family. http://on.msnbc.com/1dPgQEU.”
A first responder in fabricating outrage, Malkin linked the Cheerios tweet to an incident a month earlier when an MSNBC panel belittled Mitt Romney’s extended family, which includes an adopted black grandchild. Then Malkin tweeted, “Hey @msnbc jerks: This is #MyRightwingBiracialFamily. We love #cheerios. Enough with your race card crap==> pic.twitter.com/DZikmrD0PK.” The crowds went wild, retweeting the hashtag and accompanying photo of Malkin’s two biracial children more than 500 times.
Two minutes later Malkin exhorted her followers to make it a movement, tweeting “Counter the Left’s evil narrative. Use social media to expose & crush it. Flood @msnbc w/YOUR pics ==> #MyRightWingBiracialFamily.”
As more than 100 photos of right-wing biracial families poured in, Malkin gushed, “Gorgeous!”, “BEAUTIFUL!”, “LOVE!!!” She played empowerment coach and bare-knuckled brawler, tweeting, “‘Rightwing’ families responded to @msnbc w/love, pride & joy. This, ultimately, is how we will end poisonous, libelous race-card smears.” Her fans played victims of a bigoted liberal media and basked in the Instagram glow of diversity, family and tolerance.
Twitchy, a Twitter aggregation and curation website founded by Malkin in March 2012 (and sold to a Christian media company last December), churned out posts to keep the outrage fresh. The next day, Jan. 30, Twitchy crowed, “Michelle Malkin leads crushing social media win against MSNBC smear,” after the news networkapologized and reportedly fired the tweeter responsible.
What’s this have to do with Suey Park? Well, on Jan. 30, Park weighed in on a Twitter discussion that included Malkin. After Park derided another woman as “hysterical,” “unreasonable,” and “immature,” she declared Malkin was “reasonable.”
Why would Park call Malkin reasonable given her noxious politics?
Perhaps Park was enthused by Malkin’s victorious hashtag campaign that mimicked her own, celebrating diversity against racist media depictions. Given the fact they were familiar with each other, it’s distinctly possible they were talking in the internet’s dark alleys, and Malkin was trying to convince Park they had the same enemy. Park’s fixation on the digital world over the material may have led her to conclude that Twitter Malkin was reasonable.
On March 17, Park published a hashtag manifesto with her frequent collaborator,Eunsong Kim, a PhD candidate in literature. The two imagine Twitter as the new vanguard party uniting revolutionaries. Twitter is subversive, a tool to “defy the limitations of time and space,” a means to build intentional communities, and “part of a collective struggle … to end capitalism and abandon the replication of oppressive exclusionary tactics within ethnic confines.” This reveals a disconnect with reality. That the revolution is riding in on a $25 billion company gentrifying a patch of earth called the Bay Area and displacing people of color in the process goes unmentioned in the manifesto. If you can think Twitter is making a revolution possible, then you can believe Malkin is on your side.
A few days later, on Feb. 2, Park smacked “Saturday Night Live” with charges ofyellowface. Her complaints were retweeted only by a few dozen people, but Jeff Yang, whom one source said was a mentor of Park, criticized SNL as well in his Wall Street Journal column and linked it to the “How I Met Your Mother” episode.
In neither episode did Park raise the issue of liberal racism. Certainly Colbert, with his bloviating right-wing alter ego, delights liberals and displeases conservatives. But one can easily make the argument that Park’s initial campaigns exposed the racism of liberal Hollywood as well. It was with #CancelColbert that liberal racism suddenly became Park’s target.
The supercells of Park and Malkin collided the night of Thursday, March 27, 2014, generating a perfect media storm. Park fired off at least three tweets in four minutes. The first was a “Fuck you" Colbert. The second was the infamous “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation,” which was retweeted a respectable 144 times, a mild breeze compared to a Twittersphere hurricane like Justin Bieber, whose feckless grunts are retweeted 100,000 times or more. In the third tweet, Park accused white liberals of being “just as complicit in making Asian Americans into punchlines.” Presumably she meant as complicit as conservatives.
In the next two hours, Park rained directives, exhortations, jargon, and rebukes on her followers while skirmishing with others on the side. Park was Asian-America: “there are 19 million of us,” “We are waiting for an apology and explanation,” and “we aren’t amused.”
Park commanded, “White people—please keep #CancelColbert trending until there’s an apology. This is NOT the burden of people of color. Fix it. Do something,” orderedthose who aren’t “structurally subordinated [to] please shut up and help #CancelColbert,” and sneered, “Still waiting for white allies to make themselves useful, but they probably enjoy the show too much.” (She changed her opinion about the utility of white people the following week, telling Salon, “I don’t want them on our side.”)
Park later claimed #CancelColbert was a provocative way to expose liberal racism, but that night she chided, “White people … I know y’all are used to having structural power, but losing one show isn’t oppression #CancelColbert.” Additionally, the headline for her and Eunsong Kim’s article for Time magazine read, “We Want to #CancelColbert.”
An hour into the campaign, at 8:52 p.m., Twitchy swung into action. In February, I felt the heat from a Twitchy-led mob, including a thinly veiled death threat, after sarcastically tweeting that Republicans were guilty of economic terrorism by threatening to cut aid to a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee if workers there unionized. But for #CancelColbert, Twitchy became as earnest as an Occupy Wall Street general assembly, curating Tweets about racist “othering,” transphobia, fat shaming, cis privilege, bullying, and triggering. Garnering more than 1,200 mentions on Facebook and Twitter, the Twitchy post praised Park’s persistence, framed the issue as one of liberal racism, and noted the campaign was going viral fast.
MALKIN IT FOR ALL IT’S WORTH
At 9:34 p.m. Park announced the first victory. The Colbert Report deleted the originaloffending tweet that had gone out at 6:02 p.m.: “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”
Malkin piled on seven minutes later by tweeting, “Coward just deleted the tweet!” She also referred to the tweet from Twitchy the previous hour.
Warming up, Malkin tweeted at 9:44 p.m., “Co-sign! RT @suey_park I’m sick of liberals hiding behind assumed ‘progressiveness’ #CancelColbert.” Malkin was retweeted 152 times, nosing past the first Cancel Colbert tweet. Park retweeted or favorited both missives.
That minute Malkin tweeted at Park, “@suey_park I know we don’t agree on much, but you are TENACIOUS & I respect that greatly. Hats off to you. #cancelcolbert.” Also at 9:44 p.m. Park tweeted, sounding like Malkin, “I’m sick of liberals hiding behind assumed ‘progressiveness’ #CancelColbert.” Given their contact in January, the tweets suggest the two had been in communication. At minimum the two were now joined in battle against the specter of liberal racism. Park did not comment on Malkin, but she retweeted her yet again.
Others alerted Park she was making common cause with someone who commits every political sin Park preaches against. At 9:48 p.m. on March 27, only four minutes after Malkin backed Park, noted anti-racist and feminist blogger Mia McKenzie, aka Black Girl Dangerous, expressed her displeasure, tweeting “@suey_park ew michelle malkin, though? ew.” Park didn’t respond, but she favorited this tweet soon after.
At 9:54 p.m., two hours after #CancelColbert was born, Malkin explained the goal was not to cancel Colbert, it was to “#ExposeColbert & it’s working very effectively. Luv the smell of hypocrisy toast.” Park favorited the tweet.
Cancel Colbert rapidly went stratospheric. At 10:33 p.m. Park tweeted, “Fun! We are the #1 trending hashtag in the US right now … Keep it up! Park’s mood understandably soured a few hours later as Twitter interactions hit 200 per minute, many of them oozing racist and sexist vitriol, including rape and death threats.
The next morning Twitchy published another post defending Park that made it seem as if she and Malkin were united on the issue. At no point did Park publicly distance herself from Malkin, reject her politics, or at least express concern that Malkin’s vicious real-world racism might harm the campaign to address racism in the fictional world. Park’s only comment the night of March 27 to Malkin was to declare, “I’m Christian, too,” at 8:56 p.m.
While Malkin and Twitchy supported Park, Park concluded that Colbert fans were behind the torrent of abuse directed at her. Park tweeted that night to Colbert’s personal account, “Dear @StephenAtHome—your years of satire have failed when your fans send rape/death threats to an asian woman for critiquing your work.” From the Twitter feeds of abusers calling her "chink" and "rice nigger,” nearly all look to beright-wingtrolls.
By March 28, #CancelColbert burned through the media. Park’s article in Time indicated that Cancel Colbert was the goal. But in an interview with The New Yorkerthe same day, Park sounded like Malkin, saying she didn’t really want to cancel Colbert, despite the hashtag. Park said of Colbert’s sketch, “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.” Malkin completed the Freaky Friday switch, sounding like Park when she tweetedthat afternoon, “For all you CLWM’s [clueless white males] lecturing brown & yellow women about how we don’t get the ‘satire’ …”
Park obviously is not responsible for Malkin trying to co-opt her message. But given the number of times she retweets or favorites Malkin, and acknowledges criticism but is silent about it, this suggests she is keeping quiet about Malkin’s politics so as to benefit from her support.
Three anti-racist feminists who have been in touch with Park say “she might be in over her head” in tangoing with Malkin. Juliet Shen, who calls Park a “former friend,” says she was “shocked” to see Malkin and Park “were talking to each other, and in a way supporting each other.” Another source says Malkin “doesn’t support Park, she is just eager to use her to slam liberals.”
Shen thinks Malkin is using Park to “change people’s opinions about her, and in that way help loop Asian-Americans into right-wing politics.” She suggests both Park and Malkin may be “using each other for an opportunity to get more visibility in communities neither of them had a lot of presence in.”
Shen says, “It is confusing to see why Park wouldn’t denounce Malkin of all people,” especially when Park is quick to fling around insults such as “anti-blackness, racism, sexism, homophobia [against]other organizers in the Asian-American community.” She says Park might be afraid “if she did publicly criticize Malkin, she has this huge following that could easily turn on Suey.”
One source who asked Park about Malkin’s support for Cancel Colbert claimed Park expressed her distaste for Malkin but then did not respond when asked if she would repudiate Malkin publicly.
Park’s first comment about Malkin came on March 30. The previous day Jeff Yangslammed #CancelColbert and the limits of Twitter as a social justice tool in the Wall Street Journal. Park broke with Yang that evening, calling him “a gaslighting self-promoting patriarch.” Shen wrote in a blog post that it’s common practice among Park’s followers to accuse others of gaslighting, that is, trying to deliberately twist someone’s memory. At 3:42 a.m. Park tweeted at Yang, “@michellemalkin has been a better friend than you.”
On April 1, Malkin threw down in support of Park, making no bones of her intentionto use Park to sanitize right-wing racism. "Question: Who are the most prominent, public purveyors of Asian stereotypes and ethnic language-mocking in America? "The right answer is liberal Hollywood and Democrats. "The wrong and slanderous answer is conservatives…"
After denigrating Colbert as an “illegal alien amnesty lobbyist,” Malkin applauded Park for leading a group of “diehard liberals” to “tenaciously” question Colbert and his defenders as “race-baiting liberals who hid behind their self-professed progressivism.” Malkin also took the opportunity to bash Muslims and defend her internment book.
Finally on April 1 Park offered some ambiguous criticism, tweeting, “Michelle Malkin cosigning my work means my message sucks, but white supremacists threatening rape cosigning Angry Asian Man means…what?”
Just as Park has shied away from criticizing a demagogue who boosted her, Park’s defenders have ignored how she and her supporters engage in abusive behavior, outrageous claims, and odious alliances. This is not equivalent to the threats of violence directed at Park, who has shown real courage to face down internet predators.
But Park and her followers use the digital medium as a cudgel to silence opposition and to erase histories, which serves to promote her brand. Park says the revolutioninvolves building bridges “across difference in our Twitter neighborhoods" to understand "how slavery, genocide, and orientalism are the three pillars of white supremacy." Twitter’s 140-character limit, however, also selects for cliques that build gated ideologies out of code words. The medium is hostile to analyzing the quality of an idea, the logic of an argument, or the nuance of history.
If you are an ally, your social genotype takes precedence as long as you can correctly assemble the jargon: decolonial, intersectional, queer, anti-racist, imperial timelines, trans, white supremacy, heteropatriarchical. If you are a critic, which is a polite term for enemy, then your phenotype is all that matters.
Thus, if you are an Asian-American man Park disagrees with, that’s because “Asian men [throw] women of color under the bus.” If you are an Asian woman critic, you sound like “a white feminist.” If you are a white feminist, that really means “White (Supremacy) Feminism.” And if you are a hetero cis white male, nothing more needs be said.
There is no institutional memory on Twitter, just a stream of directives and pronouncements that wash away the past. If Twitter is the revolution, then Park can actually believe ”my tweet” of #NotYourAsianSidekick was “the point of origin for Asian American feminism.” That’s right. Suey Park invented Asian-American feminism. Additionally, Park can simultaneously speak for 19 million Asian Americans, tell them to “decenter" their identity, and berate them for "gaslighting,” “sidekicking" whites, and ignoring their internalized racism.
Her enablers include the swarm of leftists on Twitter so intoxicated by identity politic buzzwords they couldn’t walk the line between defending someone against vile threats, and challenging the conduct and ideas of Park and her supporters. The media is even more complicit as it made her into a national figure, but is so incurious about Asian-America that Park can act as its voice and the founder of Asian-American feminism without raising an eyebrow.
Then there’s the matter of how #CancelColbert “Drowned out the Native Voice,” as Indian Country Today Media Network bluntly stated. Native American journalist Jacqueline Keeler criticized Park for shifting discussion away from the Redskins name, and for not promoting hashtags to protest racist sports team names. Keelerclaims, “We kept Suey Park in the loop regarding our hashtag #Not4Sale, she was just not moved to act on it.” Native activist Jennie Stockle, who works with Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, wrote: “… like a tornado, Suey Park’s tweet calling to cancel Colbert Report came through and pushed all of our efforts into a storm shelter.”
Park admitted the adverse effect of #CancelColbert the next day, “The almighty@andrea366 has reminded me of an important point—can’t ignore anti-Native racism—let’s address issues simultaneously.”
Ironically, Park is right that digital lives do bleed into reality, just as drug traffickers and the IRS alike realize Bitcoin is more than fictitious capital. Park and her allies sparked a national controversy and sent the media all atwitter. They proved a point that Asians are an easy punchline for television comedy, even as their claim Asian-Americans is one monolithic marginalized community is as fictional as the shows they critique.
But in the offline world, says Shen, they’ve “burned bridges, hurt many people in our community, and by throwing buzzwords around they’ve diminished real organizing against sexism, racism and other forms of bigotry.”
Shen adds Park’s appropriation of grand roles and achievements shows a lack of “recognition for those who’ve done so much before us. … This is not the origin for Asian-American feminism. This is one blip in the long timeline of fighting for racial, sexual and gender justice.”
The only one who gained from the dust-up is Colbert with more attention and ashow’s worth of material. Park built a national platform out of hashtags, but her standing has likely peaked. After Colbert was tapped for the coveted spot of host on “The Late Show,” Park and Kim took to Time magazine once more to vow they’re not going to stop “until it ends.” It, presumably, is how the “entertainment industry has perfected the development of white, cis, straight, male characters,” and marginalized “other voices.” It’s a worthy goal, but they are trying to empty an ocean with a thimble by using Twitter to change historical consciousness.
Bitcoin paved the way for a slew of digital currencies, and #CancelColbert will inspire others to replicate Park. There will be more hashtag activists inventing history 140 characters at time, erasing allies and achievements, positioning themselves at the head of movements and communities, and influencing national conversations. Lurking in Twitter’s shadows will be other opportunists like Malkin ready to divert that energy for twisted ends. But 140-character harangues in the dark won’t change anything. Real change happens in the real world.
What would you say are the 3 greatest problems facing Asian Americans in the US currently that are specific to the Asian American community and what are some ways they could be addressed? By which I mean Asian Americans in general, rather than specific Asian American groups (Arab Americans obviously have unique problems from say Japanese Americans). Thanks alot
Many children grow up hearing fantastical tales and listening to nursery rhymes. A magical forest here and furry talking creatures there. I grew up listening to the nightmares of chaos and terror as tragedy consumed Cambodia.
On April 17th, 1975, Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge. Like many Khmer Americans, my family came to the United States as refugees from Cambodia in 1982. My grandparents reflect back on the day the Khmer Rouge scoured the city and announced over their loud speakers that the Americans were going to begin dropping their bombs. Greeting the citizens with smiles, they expressed that safety was their priority and all those living within the city should evacuate to the countryside. They promised that the invasion would be over and they would be able to return to the city. Yet, it would be four years of terror before any lucky survivors would be able to return to the remains of their homes. My family had no choice but to abandon all of their belongings and at that precise moment, their entire lives.
Soon after they began to lose sight of the city, they were met with the smell of death. Piles of dead bodies, of former doctors, teachers, lawyers, business people, and other intellectuals lined the streets. The rotting flesh was cooked by the sun and empty eyes stared at the travelers. When I was younger, my mom used to wake up in the middle of the night after she replayed this scene over and over again in her nightmares. You can find her story [here].
From labor camps to pseudo-refugee camps, my family never had the security of knowing that they would wake up the next morning. Their very lives were dependent on being invisible. Children over the age of 10 were separated from their parents. My mother, the oldest sibling, was forced to leave my family behind and live in a separate labor camp. She worked 9-10 hours a day, 7 days a week under the hot sun, surviving on small portions of rice soup and salt. Countless citizens were so malnourished that they died of starvation, diseases, and exhaustion. Yet, no matter how sick they were, my family dragged themselves out of their makeshift huts because they feared being executed. The Khmer Rouge believed that if you were unable to contribute, then you were useless and it would be a waste of food to feed you.
On one fateful night, my family was met with the sounds of gunshots and the blares of an explosion. They found cover in the bomb shelter and continued to listen to the whirring of bullets throughout the night. When daylight broke and the shooting sounds subsided, they tried to move on to another town and abruptly the shooting sounds were close by again. They found refuge in barn house hid anywhere out of sight. My grandparents later heard that there was a Khmer Rouge soldier who wanted to enter the house, but his comrade said that he had seen my family with the rest of the Khmer Rouge already. If he had not made that mistake, a simple grenade would have decided the fate of my family.
Fortunately, my family made their way to a refugee camp in Thailand. My grandpa filed for sponsorship to come to the United States, as we had no relatives living in the U.S. that could sponsor us. After he applied for sponsorship, my grandpa went to the refugee bureau every day where they posted name of families that were sponsored to leave the camp. With each passing day, my family began to lose hope, as their name did not appear on the board. Finally, in May of 1981, after a year and a half in the refugee camp, my family’s names were posted among the last ones in the list. They were transferred to the Philippines, flown to Columbus, Ohio, and eventually made their way by bus to Denver, Colorado.
Life has a funny way of coming full circle when you least expect it. Here I am, sitting in a Starbucks in Columbus writing this blog and reflecting upon how close I came to living here instead of Denver. As I began to get older and my family began to acculturate into America, I began to hear less and less about their previous life in Cambodia and the discrimination they experienced in the United States. I forgot these stories and I forgot the struggle that my family underwent. The above stories are so surreal that they almost seem like fiction.
It must be recognized that history is often written by its victors. Growing up, much of my narrative of the Khmer Rouge were small excerpts in my history book written by American historians. In many ways, America was painted as a safe haven for refugees, and while I am not denying that, it seemed as though my family traded in one form of cultural genocide for another. It was Washington’s intention in the early 1970s to strengthen the Khmer Republic and to help defeat the revolutionary Khmer Rouge movement. However, it is heavily argued that American intervention widened the war and served as a catalyst for driving Cambodia into conflict. Furthermore, evidence suggests that foreign intervention produced negative results in the end, as it gave rise to the revolutionary force and weakened the Khmer Republic, making the power transition and societal levels more volatile and dangerous.
President Nixon and his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, began to discuss the North Vietnamese sanctuaries and supply routes in the then neutral country of Cambodia. Despite the fact that military strikes against locations in a neutral country would be flagrant violations of international laws and treaties, it was soon decided that the areas be bombed in order to clean out “the communist sanctuaries.” Codenamed Operation Menu, on March 18th, 1969 the US Strategic Air Command began the bombing of Eastern Cambodia under the Nixon Administration. The primary goal was to destroy supply lines and camps used by the North Vietnamese to wage attacks into South Vietnam. In 1969, these secret missions more than doubled and over a thousand missions were initiated. And in the same fourteenth month period, over 3,600 B-52 raids were conducted against targets in Kampuchea. However, these bombings were kept secret – not only from the public but also within the Air Force command. The first bombing raids were called Breakfast. Later raids that were deeper in Cambodia were referred to as Lunch. Eventually, the raids reached beyond Dinner and into Snacks and Dessert. At a great loss of Cambodian civilian lives, the operation proved unsuccessful in decreasing North Vietnam offensives. Indirectly, the bombings led to the downfall of the Cambodian government and the rise of the Khmer Rouge.
Yet… I was never taught any of this until I studied abroad in Southeast Asia. I remember being placed in an English as a Second Language track during elementary school (even though, let me be clear, I spoke perfect English) and having the word refugee thrown at me. I had no idea what that meant. I never understood how lucky I was to be sitting within the safe confines of a classroom, with the reassurance of three meals a day. I knew I was Cambodian, but did not realize how much weight and history that identity held…. nor did I realize how much of my identity was authored by American history. Why must we illustrate heroes at the expense of so many? It makes me think of how much of what I know is constructed, rather than authentic.
Recently, I have had the privilege of traveling all over the nation to speak with fellow Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (A/PIA) college students about the importance of community organizing and A/PIA activism. I realize more and more how my family’s history has shaped my passion for activism, equity, and authentic representation of communities. Since becoming involved in the social justice realm, I have had many internal conflicts about the American Dream. Despite coming to the United States with every possible disadvantage, my family made it. My mother was the first in our family to graduate from college. My family is littered with Student Body Presidents, Valedictorians, Salutatorians, full ride scholars, Daniels Fund Scholars, and Gates Millennium Scholars. Coincidentally, many of us found ourselves in fields of education and made West High School, the Denver Center for International Studies, and the University of Denver our home, including myself. But, they are only a single story. Cambodian Americans still have some of the highest high school drop out rates, are victims of the school to prison pipeline, and face numerous deportation cases.
In providing me with these opportunities and the need to assimilate to survive, I grew up not truly understanding who I was or where I came from. It was not until recently that I began to realize more and more the need and impact of storytelling. My family realized this long before I did and published their own personal memoir (of which many excerpts have been included in this blog). Storytelling allows us to preserve our roots. It allows us to share our experiences in ways that are real and authentic. Stories give us the ability challenge what we learn in our history books and gives us the power to advocate for visibility and representation. Stories give us the right to WRITE our OWN histories. They can move systems and transform institutions. Storytelling is resistance. Stories start (r)evolutions.
For the past year, I have carried an Audre Lorde quote that states, “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you,” with me wherever I go. It serves as a powerful reminder that choosing to be visible and to speak powerfully will help to ensure that fewer communities will have to experience the types of silencing that my family had to endure. Although I was born 16 years after the fall of Phnom Penh on April 17th, 1975, I choose to remember it every single day. Why? Because it is evidence that I come from a legacy of warriors, of survivors. Resiliency is on our blood. My name is Vanessa. I am a daughter of refugees. I am a feminist. I am an activist. And most importantly, I am Khmer.
**Thank you to Gao Chia-Ren for his unwavering support, encouragement, AND editorial and creative title skills. ***To support Project Ava and our vision of sharing stories that inspire meaningful change, visit our store.
In honor of this day of remembrance: April 17, 1975
Is the change I seek revolutionary? Is every revolution going to require bloodshed? When “The Revolution” comes will I be able to take my mother and father with me? And what about my children? The Revolution did come to us. On April 17, 1975 the revolution marched into Phnom Penh. It emptied out the city. Nearly every single family in Cambodia suffered losses during the time of the Khmer Rouge. An estimated 2 million Cambodians died. There is no exact body count.
I was too young to be recruited as a child soldier. In 1975, The People’s Revolutionary Party instead enlisted me in the fields where I would pick up cow dung. The unrelenting sun scorched my hair a shiny amber.1978 my mother almost died giving birth to my brother. There were no doctors or nurses in their commune. Professionals, intellectuals, former government officials, and religious figures were targeted for torture and execution. Kindness spared my father who would have otherwise been executed for being a teacher and a Muslim. The oppressive Khmer Rouge regime lasted 3 years, 8 months and 20 days. In 1979 when the borders reopened, my family was forced to leave Cambodia for the nearest Thai refugee camp. Survival is an instinct the body remembers well. On June 30, 1979, my family left the Thai camps for America. I do not need to have memories of violence to know that the experience of genocide has never left my body.
My parents never left me behind even when the Revolution left us with nothing. The change I seek has to include my family even if their politics differ from mine. The change I seek must be rooted in love. I believe that you can’t serve your people if you don’t love your people. Acts of violence can never be acts of love.”
”—Artist and activist, Anida Yoeu Ali. Anida is also the producer of the award-winning documentary, Cambodian Son. It screens today at 3:30pm at East Bay Media Center in Berkeley, CA.
With Asian Pacific American Heritage Month approaching, we are proud to announce the launch of a new platform that will develop and feature data-inspired feature writing and provocative short pieces relating to AAPI communities and AAPI experiences. The goal is to harness both the power of compelling data and the storytelling talent of the vibrant AAPI journalist, blogger and academic communities, to inspire more news coverage and public understanding of key aspects and features of our rapidly growing and changing AAPI populations.
To this end, we are openly soliciting pitches for contributions on the following themes for APA Heritage Month in 2014. While the contributions we’re seeking should be anchored in data and explore trends, patterns, nuances or exceptions to conventional wisdom that these data reveal, the style in which the pieces are written can range from analytic to creative, and from sober to humorous, and can range from short pieces (300-500 words) to longer-form, feature-length articles (1000 words+). Whatever the style or format, storytelling counts: Above all, we want to these contributions to be compelling, inviting — and provocative.
any cuties in new york city this summer wanting to intern for the asian american writers workshop, they’re looking for summer interns! i spent the past couple of months with them and learned a lot about myself, what i want out of a job, and got to meet and mingle with a lot of incredible authors and poets, including ocean vuong, ruth ozeki, chang-rae lee, and natalie diaz, yo! plus, i met some incredible people throughout the program, and made some awesome friends that just warm my heart just thinking about them.
the applications are due on may 1! i don’t know man. it was a warm, loving place to work in. the hours are lenient, and you get to attend all there are quite a lot of perks that come with it. i’m just saaayin.
Kari and Chuks, with special guest Cynthia, discuss anti-blackness in K-pop. From racism early on to the now-ubiquitous appropriation of Black culture while disparaging Black people, from what the artists do to the fans’ reactions, we trace the history and analyze anti-blackness in K-Pop. We also answer an anonymous ask about Nicki Minaj’s sexuality, an ask from ithinkimgettingthefear about racial politics on a university campus, and an anonymous ask about dealing with a friend who’s coping with trauma.
Hey folks! The Association for Asian American Studies Conferencebegins this Wednesday, April 16. I will be sitting on a panel on Saturday, April 19 called, "Teaching the Forbidden Book: The Philippine-American War in Political Cartoons” with Abe Ignacio, Jorge Emmanuel, Eric Pido, and Harvey Dong. The Forbidden Book is a collection of political cartoons (such as the one above) produced during the Philippine-American War, which marked the beginning of American colonialism in the Philippines.
Broaching the topic of “White Privilege” is not synonymous with “All white people are evil and, I hate them all.” Chill out.
Want to watch a white person rush away from a dinner party? Just bust out phrases like “institutionalized racism,” “white supremacy,” and the oldie but goodie “residual effects of slavery that are still with us today,” and watch a room of white people clear itself out, or, at least, have them stammer out the names of all the black people they are friends with, and then offer another unsolicited list off all the good they’ve done for people of color.
When I talk about systemic racism and historical racial inequalities as it ties into white privilege and modern-day racism, I think I must sound like this to white people: “Hey Whitey! I am going to kill you.” I know this is a lot to ask of white people, but could you please STOP FLIPPING OUT when the topic of white privilege comes up? I’m talking about being defensive, blabbing about how there is no such thing as race (just one human race, which is actually made up of different races), and how you are so gifted as a white person that you “don’t see race.” Ooh, that last one, ouch.
That’s why we need to have this conversation — because the inability to “see” racism and privilege is exactly what white privilege is. Talking about race is not a trap. It’s not a game of “Gotcha with your Klan Hood Down.” Talking about white privilege is not about asking white people to leave their race. Nor is it about declaring genocide on the white race. (Besides, looks like we’re already going to outnumber you by 2050, so you might as well sit back, relax and enjoy being Wong-splained.)
Talking about white privilege is not even about trying to make you feel like shit for being white. Surprising, I know. But the conversation on white privilege concerns you and yet is not about YOU. And when you make it about how you feel personally attacked, we really don’t progress further into talking about how we’re going to fix racism. Really.
If you are a white person who gets nervous when white privilege gets brought up, imagine having to navigating racism in every day life as a person of color who must live with it. Imagine systemically being locked out of better education or healthcare, job opportunities or the mainstream American narrative.
There are moments as an Asian American when I’ve been regarded as an “honorary white.” (There are also many other moments when I am reminded that I will always be a perpetual foreigner despite the fact that my family has been in the United States for three generations.) But rather than take whatever privilege I can and run with it, I’m interested in talking with people who benefit from white privilege -– how and if they can recognize it and use their positions of privilege to dismantle the systems that oppress other people.
Believe it or not, I’d love for the world to be more equitable for EVERYONE. And when I ask you to recognize your white privilege, it’s not because I’m trying to place blame. It’s about asking white people to consider the moments where they are able to “pass” in certain situations. Where they are afforded privileges that they never earned. It’s about finding ways to cede privilege, space, and comfort to allow others to live in a more equitable world.
So white people, the conversation about race can’t happen without you. We can’t get things better if we aren’t all talking. If racism were an easy problem to fix, we would have fixed it already. Ending racism starts with recognizing privilege, systemic control over society at large, and when you are dismissing issues of racism then you have the privilege of being oblivious to.
Don’t get me wrong there are people of color who proclaim to drink the tears of white people. There are anti-racism activists who will never organize with the most “down” of white people. I don’t want to drink your white tears, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t enjoy watching you squirm a little.
I don’t know if what I’m about to rattle on about actually does involve cognitive dissonance, because I think the “contradictions” I have in mind may not be contradictory in a true sense.
I’ve been actively, genuinely participating in the ongoing diversity dialogue for the first time, and this morning my attention was captured by a Twitter exchange between Kelly Jensen, Elizabeth Burns, Justina Ireland, and a number of other people. That exchange appeared to be sparked by Kelly’s Book Riot post about the need for bigger megaphones in kidlit diversity, and both the post and the ensuing Twitter conversation touched on the idea of being able to hold two very different, conflicting feelings about a book in one’s heart and mind.
I love Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. It moved me tremendously, and there were moments when I was flabbergasted by the existence of a character whose inner life so closely resembled mine, in ways I’d never found in a book before. I’m not mixed-race (although both my children are), but I spent my middle school and high school years as one of the very few Asian kids in an overwhelmingly white community. I was, and in many ways remain, deeply alienated from my Korean ancestry, and I became as thoroughly assimilated into the privileged culture of white suburban America as I probably could have been.I was confused, and I grew more psychologically distanced from my extended family by the day.
My feelings of self-loathing weren’t rooted solely in my disengagement from my racial and ethnic heritage, but they weren’t separate from it either. I think Park is a character with more than a little self-hatred, a deep sense of alienation from his own racial and ethnic roots, and a very compartmentalized, incomplete understanding of himself. And some part of me fell back and sang out in relief that a book had captured those old feelings of mine so truly and so well.
Then I started seeing the critical response to the book’s depiction of Korean characters, starting with Wendy Xu’s blazingly smart assertion that Eleanor & Park is a racist work (I won’t link to the other posts I’ve read since Kelly did a very thorough job of doing so in the Book Riot post). I read more, I opened a halting dialogue among my Facebook friends, and I realized with more than a little dismay that my perception of the book was becoming a much more complicated and difficult thing.
The aforementioned Twitter conversation really made me think about the issue of loving a book, really loving it, while also feeling genuinely troubled by it. It’s always deflating to realize that I’m simply not any more human than anyone else when it comes to such things, but there you have it - a very large part of me simply wanted to dismiss the objections to E&P so I could just go on loving it in the relatively uncomplicated way I did after first reading it.
I’ve expended some time and energy learning how to unpack my feelings about such things, so I made that effort, and was both unsurprised and unhappy to realize that once again, my difficulty in really absorbing the criticisms of this book I love were rooted in defending my self-defined identity. Acknowledging the troubling aspects of Rowell’s Korean characters couldn’t be done without acknowledging the fact that I simply hadn’t perceived those aspects on my own, which made me feel:
All of the above
All of the above plus a bunch of stuff I don’t even really understand
It was (and remains) painful and exposing to realize that I completely whiffed on perceiving racially problematic aspects of a book that had become so important to me. It’d be easy to go spiraling down the emotional rabbit hole in a self-destructive way - believe me, I’ve done it before - but there’s no denying that seeing, hearing, and reading a viewpoint that so powerfully disrupted my psyche forced me to engage in a heavy round of self-examination.
I still love Eleanor & Park. I’m also increasingly troubled by it. Can those two feelings coexist inside of me? I think it’s possible, although the evidence thus far clearly shows that it’ll be an uneasy coexistence, at least for a while. And I’ve started thinking it’s not only possible for those two feelings to coexist - it might actually be vitally, desperately necessary.
I intend to keep engaging in the diversity dialogue, because I believe in its importance. We live in a world that’s bafflingly, messily, gloriously complex. The ongoing process of simply being alive in this world is endlessly multifaceted, and how can authors and publishers truly serve the needs and desires of all our readers without creating books that are equally complex? The fullness of that complexity can’t be addressed by each individual author or in each individual book, of course - that’s just not possible - but on a global scale, is there any other way?
But if I’m going to keep my commitment to being a part of that effort (and I intend to), I’ll have to contain a seemingly endless supply of contradictory feelings inside my harried brain. That includes respecting the intent of authors who confront matters of diversity in their work, but honestly addressing their shortcomings, if only in the recesses of my mind; supporting dissent, critical analysis, and necessary confrontation by people who are my allies, but also safeguarding and expressing my own feelings and opinions that might differ from theirs; honoring and valuing my own life experiences, creative intentions, and finished work, but accepting the reality that I will learn things that force me to examine my own biases and blind spots; and on and on and on.
I’m worried about being attacked by racist trolls who’ll hammer at me with all the same vile garbage I’ve heard all my life. I’m actually even more worried about being attacked by people who might perceive me as oblivious, witless, or actively complicit in acts of disrespect and disenfranchisement. I don’t know if I can continue engaging in this dialogue without feeling terrible about myself on a regular basis. I don’t know if I can refrain from engaging in this dialogue without feeling terrible about myself on a regular basis. So I guess I’ll do the latter, because despite my lack of a really colossal megaphone to speak through, I feel a spicule of hope that I can contribute to shoving our industry further along a more inclusive, equitable, reality-embracing track.
artemis from young justice > Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss
ALSO OMG SHE’S ASIAN YESSS
I was watching the show, and Robin mentions Artemis’s mom, Huntress, by name, and the fact that I heard cartoon Robin say “Nguyen” out loud made me feel like I could imagine myself in the same universe as Batman and Wonder Woman for the first time in my life, and I almost cried.
This was my favorite part of Young Justice, to be honest
This post is in celebration of Womxn’s Herstory Month! It is by no means a complete list, but here are 5 Pinay scholars who are interrogating, challenging, and decolonizing the world with their groundbreaking research and activism.
In 1993, I returned to Viet Nam for the very first time with you and your father. When the plane landed at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Saigon, everyone on the plane stood up and cheered. Some people were in tears. It probably seems a bit silly to you now. These days, travel is easy. Twenty-four hours and you’re on the other side of the world.
But back then, when we left—when we *fled*—we never thought we’d ever be able to return. Viet Nam was everything we have ever known and loved; it was our childhood, our family, our collective histories and blood. To leave was like having to rip our hearts from our chests. We were leaving a part of ourselves behind.
To this day, nearly forty years later, I can still remember my last day in Saigon. I walked around my neighborhood, looked at the street vendors, the children, the speeding motorcyclists, the way the sunshine hits the trees outside my window. I tried to soak in every single detail that I had previously taken for granted. I wanted to hug the country to my heart because I didn’t know I would be able to return.
There was also a sense of guilt for leaving, at least for me. I should stay and help rebuild with your aunts and uncles, with my neighbors, with the rest of the country. It was my responsibility as a Vietnamese. Why should I get to leave and have freedom and liberty while they had to stay in poverty and hardship? What made me so special? It was nothing but luck. I’ve been through a lot since that day, but nothing will ever compare to the sadness and pain of leaving Viet Nam.
I understand how you feel now, but Viet Nam will always be within your reach. It’s 2014. The world is a different place. And I am just so happy and proud to have a daughter, born and raised in America, who loves Viet Nam with all the heart and soul of a Vietnamese child who’s never left. Perhaps even more because you don’t take it for granted.
”—something my mother said to me last February as we boarded the plane to fly back to the States (via weetoiletpaperroll)
I strongly oppose the use of native imagery and racial slurs as team mascots and nicknames. These displays are in no way “honoring” any Native American, living or deceased.
We need your help to counter the weak and baseless statements of the Washington team owner and NFL Commissioner, they claim that Indian Country does not support the removal of these disrespectful emblems and nicknames that do not honor Native peoples and harm our Native youth.
We have been urged to continue to send copies of letters, resolutions, and statements that reflect the opposition of our councils, school boards, and communities to the NCAI in Washingotn D.C.
These messages and comments are being put to good use in an effort to combat Dan Snyder’s claims by the National Congress of American Indians in Washington D.C.
Now is the time to raise our collective voices. lets get this done!
##### PLEASE ##### If you are a native American please put in Parenthesis your tribal affiliation i.e. (Yurok) next to your last name. This is IMPORTANT to show how there is complete opposition to racist mascots from all tribes and non-native alike
Reappropriate has the full list of AAPI bloggers and journalists in solidarity with #NotYourMascot, along with this list of petitions to sign:
Send an email (Wylliet@redskins.com) or a snail mail letter (Dan Snyder c/o Redskin Park; 21300 Redskin Park Dr.; Ashburn, VA 20147) to the Washington R*dskins administration asking them to change the team name.
Participate in the #Not4Sale campaign to protest Dan Snyder’s offensive creation of a “philanthropic” organization to purchase the goodwill of Native people. Retweet photos shared to this hashtag to help send the message that Native people are not for sale.
Paul Lo will be the nation’s first Hmong American judge. (Photo credit: UCLA Daily Bruin)
Earlier this year, California Governor Jerry Brown made history when he appointed UCLA Law alumnus Paul Lo to the Merced County Superior Court Bench. Lo, who will be sworn in this Friday, will be the nation’s first Hmong American judge.
Lo was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1994 and has been a solo legal practitioner since 2003, according to State Bar records. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Davis and his law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.
Lo spoke no English when he came to the United States at the age of 11, but eventually mastered the language, working hard through school, college and law school.
He said he appreciates the appointment’s historic relevance, but said it wouldn’t change “the person I am now.”
“I think a lot of people in the Hmong community are very proud of it, but I’m equally excited for the opportunity to serve this community, this town,” Lo said.
Lo’s appointment not only contributes to increasing diversity on the bench in California but also elevates a dedicated community advocate, who has devoted his life towards improving legal rights for Hmong Americans, an often over-looked and marginalized ethnic group within the Asian American community. Although Asian Americans remain underrepresented in state and federal judiciaries, Lo’s appointment is an important step forward.
“(Lo) provides needed diversity for our bench. Our bench is starting to look like the population,” said Judge Brian McCabe of the Merced County Superior Court, who worked with Lo as partners in the same firm.
“My true passion to go into law was to be an advocate for the Hmong community,” he said.
The public is invited to attend Lo’s swearing-in ceremony this Friday, which will take place at 4pm at the Art Kamanger Centre at the Merced Theatre, 301 Main St.
The Brandeis community has recently seen the establishment of a new fraternity, Xi Kappa, an Asian-interest fraternity started by Brian Lee ’15, Eric Shen ’16, Brian Louis ’16, Justin Kwon ’16 and Darrell Hosford ’16. The idea of starting the fraternity began when Lee approached Shen and Hosford with an interest in starting an Asian-interest fraternity that would focus on Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues. Shen was the main point of contact for implementing the fraternity, and Hosford and Lee said that choosing which fraternity to establish was simple. Xi Kappa fit every criterion they were looking for in a fraternity.
“They are very involved in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, trying to raise awareness and break stereotypes, and for me personally that was what I was looking for,” Hosford said.
Xi Kappa’s focus on battling the stigma placed on mental health also made it an attractive choice to the members. The new chapter of Xi Kappa has many missions, including bridging gaps between organizations on campus, giving a voice to young men and spreading awareness through community involvement.
Hosford explained the goal of the fraternity’s existence on campus.
“Our goal is to create a presence where we are recognized for building character in young men who are interested in creating a Brotherhood that focuses on the AAPI community.”
Xi Kappa is not an exclusively Asian fraternity; anyone who is interested in AAPI issues is welcome to join. The process to start a fraternity at Brandeis is different than at many schools because Brandeis does not officially recognize the presence of Greek life on campus and therefore does not require administrative processes in creating a chapter. The fraternity thus began as an interest group that volunteered and held events to prove that they were a sustainable group.
Since Brandeis does not recognize Greek life on campus, the Xi Kappa members say they faced some difficulties in the process of beginning their chapter.
“We had a celebration event of our crossing where we invited different organizations to our revealing,” Hosford explained. “This proved difficult, because we had to find event spacing off campus where a lot of students did not have the transportation to get to.”
Despite setbacks such as this, their events were well attended and overall, the group has found that regardless of the fact that they are new, their chapter has been quite successful thus far.
“Though we lack the resources from Brandeis in receiving funding and reserving event spacing, we have already assimilated very well into the Greek community around the Boston area and on campus,” Hosford said.
Xi Kappa has also already supported many causes, including the Asian Pacific Annual Conferences (APAC) Conference at SUNY Albany and the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) Conference, which will be taking place next year in Boston.
The Xi Kappa members expressed confidence in their fraternity and motivation to meet their goals for the future. The fraternity aims to volunteer and foster community involvement to provide a voice and spread awareness. Hosford explained that the group hopes to remove the stigma attached to Greek life by proving the worth of all Greek life on campus through their philanthropic efforts.
“We are hoping to show Brandeis that fraternities and sororities are not the stereotypical ones that are shown in media but that they can improve the social and activism scene on campus,” Hosford said.
Why does this matter? Because fraternities (though institutionally privileged and oppressive) have historically excluded people of color, and because Boston especially lacks a strong unified Greeks of color community. Their focus on mental health issues is a much needed one in the community and they are Brandeis University’s first Asian-interest Greek organization.