Stop Ignoring Our Pain. Stop Discounting Our Trauma.

Photo by Adam Krypel on Pexels.com

Nothing stings quite like the pain of erasure. Nothing hurts quite like the onslaught of racial violence rendered invisible in the public eye. Nothing dehumanizes quite like the cavalier dismissal of the racism, the misogyny, the attacks, the murders.

Nothing demoralizes quite like the insistence that everything is alright because it is all happening just over there – just out of sight.

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REVIEW: The Loneliest Americans is an incoherent rejection of Asian American identity

Cover of "The Loneliest Americans" by Jay Caspian Kang

By Guest Contributor: Sudip Bhattacharya

In The Loneliest Americans, Jay Caspian Kang attempts to argue that mainstream “Asian American” politics is a fabrication: a smokescreen behind which some of us hide, or from which we try to glean some superficial meaning.

Asian Americans are too diverse for one singular pan-ethnic label, argues Kang, and so the class divide within our group continues to fester and grow. According to Kang, some of us choose to manufacture an Asian American community through the trite, with social media postings about boba tea or Lunar New Year celebrations scattered across our Instagram. He writes:

How do you create a people out of such silly connections? And why do we, the children of immigrants, feel the need to fulfill some hyphenated identity when our parents seemed perfectly content to live as either Koreans or Chinese or Indians or Vietnamese in America — or, if they felt particularly optimistic, insisted that they, too, were Americans? (The Loneliest Americans, p. 16)

Kang suggests that contemporary mainstream Asian American politics has been preoccupied with the concerns of upwardly mobile Asian Americans. As such, he argues, the Asian American activist class – overtly English-fluent, second-generation, highly-educated progressives – ignore the issues of “real” Asian Americans – first-generation working-class immigrants who categorically reject their own racialization as “Asian American”.

“The stuff that you generally hear is about that — it’s about the bamboo ceiling, it’s about Hollywood representation, it’s about Scarlett Johansson stealing a bunch of roles,” Kang stated in a recent interview.

Notwithstanding the fact that I do enjoy boba, there is a level of truth to what Kang, now a staff writer at the New York Times, is writing about in The Loneliest Americans, his first non-fiction book in which he challenges the relevance of Asian American identity and politics in a neoliberal age. Obviously, The Loneliest Americans is neither the first nor the only text to discuss Asian American identity politics. Over the years, we’ve seen a growth in research and writings that confront some of the major issues impacting Asian American identity, from Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings to Desis Divided by the political scientist, Sangay Mishra to others. Asian American stories and perspectives are enjoying new interest from mainstream readers, and Asian Americans writers now have greater opportunity to write books that seek some understanding of themselves and the politics they’re surrounded by. Kang’s The Loneliest Americans is the latest contribution to this increasingly popular genre.

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Phở, fuh, and the secrets of Vietnamese noodles

A bowl of phở with chopsticks on a wooden table.

By Guest Contributor: Nam Le

“It’s pronounced phở, not fuh.” 

It is a joyless sentence to say, if I am ever saying it at all.

My first language is a rusty hand-me-down — the kind of thing I am shy to show in public, because it always has to be wrangled out of my pockets awkwardly. But it does work; and on this occasion, it strains and reaches for the last inflection —a balloon rising out of the throat —then sticks the landing.

The distinction does not register.

“I don’t get it. I’m saying what you’re saying. Fuh.”

“You know what? It’s fine. Let’s just go eat.”  

I leave the rest of what I am thinking unsaid—because it has to be.

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Want to Stop Asian Hate? Start by Passing the Build Back Better Act

A family draws images of money, house, clothing, and games on a chalkboard.

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

Last year, on the campaign trail, our first Asian American vice presidential candidate spoke about her mom. She recalled how Shyamala Gopalan Harris — a proud, Indian-American immigrant and single mother — would “work around the clock,” “pack lunches before we woke up” and “pay bills after we went to bed.” 

It’s a struggle Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) mothers know too well: Can I get a good job? Can I afford to pay my bills before the cost of childcare eats everything up? Will my aging parents get the care they need? Will my kids have a better future than my own?

With Washington deep in negotiations on President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, AAPI mothers across America are asking themselves the same questions. 

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Asian American Organizations Issue Joint Statement in Support of Haitian and Black Immigrants

A migrant encampment at the southern US border, near Texas. (Photo credit: Julio Cortez / AP)

By Guest Contributor: GAPIMNY – Empowering Queer & Trans Asian Pacific Islanders

As Asian American organizations and communities, we express our unrelenting solidarity for Haitian and Black immigrants under attack at the Southern Border. We demand the Biden Administration immediately end the mass deportations of Haitian and Black immigrants. As we write this, the Biden Administration is forcibly returning over 10,000 Haitian asylum-seekers fleeing political destabilization, natural disaster, and severe poverty.

As Asian American and immigrant communities, we recognize the many complex drivers of migration. Many of us are here due to war, colonization, imperialism, poverty, and unsafe conditions in our nations of origin. We recognize the U.S. immigration system is rooted in white supremacy, benefits immigrants with wealth and education, and targets low-income immigrants who too often are migrating for survival. This reflection of white supremacy has led to the current humanitarian crisis at the Southern Border, and the deportation of Vietnamese refugees this spring who had lived in the United States for decades. We denounce both actions as racist and classist, and call on all Asian communities to recognize how these actions interconnect Black and Asian liberation.

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