Minari: Unsettling “Belonging” to Asian/Amerika

David (Alan S. Kim) and Soonja (Youn Yuh-jung) in a still from the film "Minari".

By: Victoria M. Huỳnh 

When Minari was omitted from the Golden Globes’ “main” categories for Best Picture, Asian diasporas came to its defense, arguing for its “all-Americanness” to make sense of their (un)placehood. But claims to Amerikanness are inherently predicated on settler-colonial logics of Indigenous and Black genocide, and on the dispossession of our own homelands.

Rather than claiming belonging to U.S. empire, I feel Minari serves a necessary and wholly different purpose: it powerfully unsettles Korean/American  — and potentially Asian/American — understandings of “belonging.” 

Note: This essay contains mild spoilers for the film ‘Minari’ which will be available for release on February 12, 2021.

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On The Urgency of Solidarity

Asian American protesters march in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in New York City in July 2016. (Photo Credit: Unknown / Twitter)

By Guest Contributor: Daniel Yu

Asian America is confronted at this moment with a grave responsibility: the responsibility and absolute moral obligation to speak out in support of black lives.

Asian Americans, particularly those of East Asian heritage, exist at an intersection of privilege and marginalization. A person like myself — a middle-class Chinese American and a son of educated immigrants — faces distinct challenges from structural racism. Acknowledging this does not relinquish the validity of our own struggle nor does it dismiss the injuries we endure from white supremacy. Instead, it recognizes that the project to dismantle white supremacy requires us to stand against white supremacy, which threatens us as well as the very existence of our Black and Brown brethren.

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The Ghost of Carlos Bulosan

A placard featuring an artist's portrait of Carlos Bulosan along with a quote.

By Guest Contributor: Billy Yates

Editor’s Note: Carlos Bulosan’s birthday was November 24.

The ghost of Carlos Bulosan lives in the Los Angeles Public Library. I have no way to prove it, but I trust in coincidence. 

In 2018, the New Americans Initiative center opened, offering citizenship and ESL classes along with multilingual resources for immigrants from the over 140 countries that call LA home. It was launched on the first floor’s International Languages Department, where many enter with hopes of constructing their own America Dream; it is one of the floors that radical Filipino writer, organizer, and dreamer Carlos Bulosan frequented in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Here, Bulosan explored the world’s stories through books, absorbing authors that would influence his own reflections of the immigrant experience at the peak of the Great Depression. Rereading a worn copy of Bulosan’s America is in the Heart, sitting next to a stack of N-400 citizenship applications and multilingual Know Your Rights! Pamphlets, I am torn by the prophetic poignancy of it all. In a time when official policy is to “Make America Great Again,” Bulosan begs the question: What is America, and who is it great for?

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#GivingTuesday 2020: 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:

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

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The US Immigration System is Failing a Crucial Voice: International Adoptees

An infographic by Adoptees for Justice on the Adoptee Citizenship Act. (Photo credit: Adoptees for Justice)

By Guest Contributor: Olivia Zalecki

It is 2 am and, like the reasonable young person I am, I’ve traded sleep for the almost too close for comfort act of scrolling aimlessly through my Instagram page. Dispersed between the typical photos of food and friends, I came across a post by an adoption organization. The post featured an image of a young Chinese child. My thumb hovered over the image. In the photo the sweet child was captured giggling in the arms of a white volunteer. The caption underneath read, “Help them find their loving forever family.”

I have seen images like this before. The messaging was hardly anything new. As a Chinese adoptee, I am well aware of the pervasiveness of such messaging.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM). This time of year my feed becomes saturated with adoption-related posts like the one mentioned. There is a crucial distinction to be made between adoption-related and adoptee-created posts. The former, in my experience, usually involves organizations promoting adoption as a “public good” and many adoptive parents virtue-signaling how adopting their child from [insert any foreign nation here] saved them.

However, the non-adopted community often doesn’t realize that these posts don’t tell the whole story. Adoption does not always come with a “forever family” or a happily ever after.

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