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Call for Pitches: Asian America x LGBTQIA+

Several paper cranes organized into a rainbow

How does Asian American identity shape or complicate queer identity? Why is the intersection of LGBTQIA+ identity with the Asian American community so often overlooked? How do we find common language to talk about gender and sexuality across the distinct cultural contexts that make up the Asian diasporic experience?

Reappropriate is excited to solicit pitches for short- or long-form personal essays on the topic of Asian American x LGBTQIA+ identity. Experienced or novice essay writers are encouraged to submit a brief pitch or full-length draft here.  

Created in 2002, Reappropriate is one of the web’s oldest and most popular Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) race advocacy and feminism blogs. The blog’s writing focuses on race, gender, identity, Asian American history, and current events.

Asian American Cowboys and Native Erasure

Cowboy riding across grassland with moutains behind, early moring, British Colombia, B.C., Canada.

By Guest Contributor: Dr. Beenash Jafri

In 2021, a prominent billboard featuring the photos of three Asian cowboys was erected in Norwalk, Los Angeles, next to the busy Santa Ana I-5 freeway. It was emblazoned with the declaration: “Asians have been here longer than cowboys.” 

The image was created by the activist coalition Stop DiscriminAsian (SDA) in collaboration with artist Kenneth Tam, and commissioned by For Freedoms. The supplementary analysis by prolific artist Astria Suparak drew necessary attention to Asian migration in the context of larger and longer histories of labor, empire and trade. It concluded by stating that: 

Asians are more American than apple pie, which is derived from an English recipe featuring a fruit that originated in Central Asia. And the iconic cinnamon and nutmeg flavors? Courtesy of Sri Lanka and Indonesia. 

The billboard and text were powerful public reminders that Asians are wrongly perceived to be perpetual outsiders to the US. Yet, a crucial fact was left by the wayside: the billboard was erected on Tongva (Gabrieleno) land. As freeway drivers glanced up at the billboard, they were invited to reflect on Asian American history – but absent in that reflection was any discussion of how it relates to Native peoples and their sovereignty. 

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When I worked security for a brothel in upstate New York

A colorful pile of shoes. (Photo credit: DepositPhotos)

By Guest Contributor: Kathryn Clemensts

A moment of indecision can have life-altering consequences. I already knew that and I knew I had to act when I heard the growl and muffled whimpering. 

I was fed up hearing about the girls taking punches. Few of them used the alarm buttons because they were afraid of losing trade, id est of being told to leave and don’t come back. Accusations of violence were a matter of a hooker’s word against a punter’s. Guys can be clever enough to not leave visible marks. The internal marks of degradation are harder to bandage up and their cumulative effect can be devastating. 

Why is it then, that when a john has gotten what he wanted, he feels the need to assert superiority by striking the woman who took his money? By beating her he punishes her for an act that took two to carry out. It’s his way of letting her know “You shouldn’t have done that but I’ll be back in a couple days to get more, if not with you then with someone else.” Picture a backwater town in upstate New York kept alive by traffic on the way to a state-maintained castle, a popular spot with tourists. There are seasonal highs and lows. 

What keeps people going during the lows? Well, if you’re not an agrarian or connected to that, there are two other options open to you: sex or drugs. Take your pick; they’re not mutually exclusive. 

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Find your Place in the Revolution: Grace Lee Boggs’ Final Message to Asian Americans

By Guest Contributor: Scott Kurashige

Eight years ago amid the heat of a Detroit summer, legendary Chinese American scholar-activist Grace Lee Boggs sat in her Eastside home with a small group of Black, white, and Asian American activists to discuss the changing racial dynamics in the city and the nation. At the age of 99, she had a lifetime of experience to reflect upon. For most of her life, Grace had established her reputation as a movement organizer in the Black community, in partnership with her husband, Jimmy Boggs, a Black autoworker from the Jim Crow South. 

By her eighties and nineties, however, Grace began to speak more directly to and about Asian Americans, as she did in her home on that day in the summer of 2014. “I think when you’re an Asian American, you’re not regarded as very significant,” she said. “But I think we have to change our thinking about that.”

This was, to the best of my knowledge, the final recorded address Grace made to any grouping of people before she entered hospice care. Today—June 27th, 2022, and 107 years to the day Grace Lee Boggs was born above her family’s restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island—I want to reflect on the dual challenge she presented to us in that address in 2014. Why did she choose this moment to condemn the dismissive attitude toward Asian Americans? How was she calling for us—Asian and non-Asian alike—to “change our thinking”?

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American Citizens for Justice Releases Educational Guide Commemorating 40th Anniversary of Justice for Vincent Chin

Journalist Helen Zia speaks at a protest seeking justice for Vincent Chin in the 1980's. (Photo credit: Corky Lee)

This year marks 40 years following the death of Vincent Chin, whose brutal hate crime killing in Detroit, Michigan in June 1982 sparked a nation-wide movement that galvanized the Asian American community. To mark the occasion, American Citizens for Justice (ACJ) released a 64-page Legacy Guide that they hope can be used by middle- and high-school educators to teach about Chin’s impact on Asian American history and contemporary politics.

Importantly, the Guide is published in partnership with the Vincent and Lily Chin Estate: Helen Zia, a journalist who raised early awareness about Chin’s murder and who serves as executor of the Vincent and Lily Chin estate is a co-founder of ACJ, which created the Guide. Last year, a podcast about the Vincent Chin case was pulled after it was revealed that Zia had never been contacted by the podcast’s producers.

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