Unsent Letters: Dear Ah Ma

The author writing at a younger age. (Photo Credit: Victoria Mai Huỳnh)

Unsent Letters is a new limited-run series at Reappropriate. Writers are invited to contribute a letter, poem, or other work that reflects on their relationship to a powerful figure who embodies or challenges them to (re)define Asian (diasporic) feminism. If you would like to contribute your own Letter, please submit here.

By Guest Contributor: Victoria Mai Huỳnh

This letter is adapted from personal diary entries written while the author traveled to Cambodia for the first time last summer. 

Dear Ah Ma,

Our family does not cry often. Today, they do. Mom and auntie hold your quaking body and tell you that you can go, “a ma muai lieu oh. my gek siem. Yuan liang oh ah um.” (Mom, you finished everything. Don’t strain your heart anymore. Forgive, Mom.) Why do they speak to you, if you cannot hear us anymore? 

I trace your heartbeat on the heart rate monitor to remember your heart still beats, but it does not tell me you are alive. Can your heart receive us, even if our words cannot reach you? 

My words are stuck in this silence. They become my unspokens: 

Ah ma, ah buoi oo gek siem. Buoi tha m thie, ah ma. (Grandma, ah Buoi (author) has “strained heart.” Su Buoi cannot speak. Ah Ma.)

I cannot speak, Ah Ma.  I do not know how. They took away the languages our people’s tongues knew, to take us away.

Ah ma, jia bue? Ah ma muoi mi gai? Tai diang si ha? Ah ma ai ku ka buoi boh? (Grandma, have you eaten? Grandma, what are you doing now? Watching TV? Grandma, do you want to go with me?)

And now, the oceans you fled guide you away. They took you before my words knew how to reach you. 

Continue reading “Unsent Letters: Dear Ah Ma”

“Parasite” Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest

The cover image of the Parasite DVD/Blu-Ray

By now, you might have heard of this little movie called Parasite which has taken the Hollywood awards season by storm. If not, you should check out guest contributor Claudia Vaughan’s review of Parasite for this site.

Directed by Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite has received widespread critical acclaim, and has already won Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Golden Globes, and the Outstanding Performance by a Cast at the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards. It is nominated for Best Picture at next month’s Oscars.

Parasite comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray next week on January 28th. In time for that release date, I am hosting a free giveaway of a Parasite Blu-Ray. Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Follow @reappropriate on Twitter.
  2. Write a tweet sharing a thought about how income inequality affects Asian Americans. Could be anything: the wealth gap, the gender pay gap, student loan debt, etc. Tag @Reappropriate and #ReParasiteGiveaway.
  3. That’s it! On January 28th, I’ll select a winner and send you your free copy of the Parasite Blu-Ray.

Get to tweeting!

Watchmen breaks the promise of Lady Trieu’s naming

Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) from HBO's Watchmen. (Photo Credit: HBO)

By Guest Contributor: Mai Nguyen Do

The reveal of Watchmen’s Lady Trieu began as a promise of innovative retelling and reinvention. The numerous tweets referencing this mysterious woman compelled me to start watching the show, and her enigmatic character led me to believe that perhaps she would, like her namesake, ride storms for the sake of liberation. Instead of working towards reclamation and freedom for others, however, Trieu seeks to conquer the world only for herself.

Note: This post contains spoilers for the first season of HBO’s Watchmen.

Continue reading “Watchmen breaks the promise of Lady Trieu’s naming”

#GivingTuesday 2019: Reappropriate’s Top 5, and a listing of AAPI non-profits

Every year, I publish a working list of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) non-profit groups for your consideration for #GivingTuesday. This year is no exception; below the fold, you’ll find a long list of AAPI organizations that could use some support. (Here’s last year’s list.)

This year, I will be donating to the following groups, all of whom do work that I really admire:

  • APIA Vote: dedicated to increasing civic and voter participation among APIAs
  • Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP): HIP is a California-based organization dedicated to the empowerment of the Hmong American community.
  • Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches (A3M): I am always a fan of A3M, and the work this group does to try and improve bone marrow donor registration from the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. I am a registered bone marrow donor, and registering yourself can save lives.
  • Asian Prisoner Support Committee: Oakland-based, provides support, advocacy, and education for and about Asian Americans in the prison system
  • East-West Players: telling the stories of Asian Americans on-stage

I invite you to contribute a few of your Giving Tuesday dollars to these groups as well, or to your favourite group in the list below.

Continue reading “#GivingTuesday 2019: Reappropriate’s Top 5, and a listing of AAPI non-profits”

Republican Senator Compares Trump Impeachment Hearing to Japanese American Incarceration

Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana.

Republican Senator John Kennedy’s statements earlier this week would be laughable if they weren’t so ahistorical and trivializing of racial trauma.

Earlier this week, the Democrat-turned-Republican junior senator from Louisiana told reporters that the impeachment inquiry was less fair than the forcible relocation and detainment of Japanese Americans at the height of World War II. (See JACL’s Power of Words for a discussion of the language used in this article).

Senator Kennedy’s absurd and ahistorical comments were first reported on by Huffington Post Politics reporter Igor Bobic:

Continue reading “Republican Senator Compares Trump Impeachment Hearing to Japanese American Incarceration”