Activists Fight to Stop Deportation of Southeast Asian Americans in #KeepPJHome

By Reappropriate Intern: V. Huynh

“I remember it wasn’t firecrackers… it was the sound of gunfire. And I remember seeing the blood everywhere on these kids. I remember seeing my cousin… gunned down.”

“It was the first moment I was reminded of the refugee camps where I grew up,” said Peejay, looking into the audience.

“The soldiers and the bandits,” he shook his head remembering the violence in the camps, “[It was] something I left behind, something my family left behind.”

Borey Ai, also known as Peejay, has faced violence and discrimination from an early age. Fleeing war-torn Cambodia during the Vietnam War, the Ai family escaped to America as refugees. Upon their arrival in Stockton, California, however, Peejay struggled — as many Southeast Asian refugees did — in the face of racism, xenophobia, and local hate crimes. At the age of 14, Peejay was sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder. Immediately after his release, Peejay arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deportation proceedings were started against him. Now, Peejay faces the threat of deportation to a country he doesn’t know, even as Peejay is hoping his story will bring new awareness to the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline. With initiatives led by Nathaniel Tan and the Asian Prisoners Support Committee, the #BringPJHome and #KeepPJHome movements were born.

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Borderless: A Review of ‘We Have Not Stopped Trembling Yet: Letters to my Filipino-Athabascan Family’

By Guest Contributor: Jason Fong (@jasonfongwrites)

Ask the world’s largest search engine for the definition of “Asian American,” and Google will incorrectly tell its billion-plus users that “Asian Americans” are “chiefly” East Asian.    It’s no surprise, then, that when most people think of Asian Americans, they think of East Asian Americans who  live somewhere like California while practicing piano and drinking  a lot of boba . Others may think of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students who come to the U.S. each year to attend American schools while driving high-end sports cars. Still others might think of “hordes” and “waves” of people “flooding” the shores of America – all yellow and all the same.

In reality,    the majority of Asian Americans are from South and Southeast Asia, and in particular, Filipinos are the fourth-largest immigrant group after Mexicans, Asian Indians, and Chinese. Even Asian American activists and organizations forget these basic facts, as they sometimes select causes and organize events with only East Asian Americans in mind.

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This is What Marvel Executive Jeph Loeb Wore to the Iron Fist Panel at San Diego Comic-Con

Jeph Loeb at the Iron Fist panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2018. (Photo credit: Twitter / Charles Pulliam)

Marvel is quickly making a name for itself as the comic book company of unadulterated racial insensitivity and Orientalism.

While comic book fans from around the world gather in San Diego this weekend at the annual San Diego Comic-Con, attendees to the Marvel’s Iron Fist panel bore witness to a breath-takingly boorish stunt by Marvel Television head, Jeph Loeb. To kick off the panel, Loeb appeared to introduce the second season of the Netflix television show. In apparent reference to criticism of the show’s first season, Loeb came on stage dressed as Daniel-San from The Karate Kid — complete with karate gi and headband — and joked that he had trained with Mr. Miyagi in preparation for hostile fans at the panel. Shortly thereafter, actor Jessica Henwick (Colleen Wing) — who may or may not have been in on some sort of pre-scripted act with Loeb — demanded that Loeb remove the outfit, and Loeb obliged.

There is nothing that excuses the racial insensitivity of this pointless and ugly stunt.

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The Resurgence of Cassandra Cain

Currently, Marvel X-men’s Jubilee is the unofficial face of Reappropriate. At one time, it was DC’s Cassandra Cain — a neuroatypical, mute Asian American adoptee who was the first Asian American and woman of color to take on the mantle of the Batgirl. She is also undisputedly one of the best martial artists in the DC Universe, owing to her abusive childhood when she was deprived of auditory language (or any form of social contact) and instead immersed in deadly martial arts training.

I grew up on Jubilee through her appearance in the 1990’s X-Men cartoon series. Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl occupies a different space in my fandom: her journey of self-exploration and self-agency as the newest Batgirl entered my life when I was just setting out to discover my own budding political activism. Cassandra’s efforts to reconcile her troubled past with her new life as part of the Bat-family resonated with my own exploration of political and personal identity. I love Jubilee; but, in many ways, I identify with Cassandra Cain.

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The Lessons the Democratic Party Must Learn About Asian American Voters to Win in 2020

Kamala Harris (middle) pictured at a campaign event. (Photo credit: Ebony)

For over a decade, political strategists have contemplated tactics for winning over the Asian American electorate. Routinely noted as one of the fastest-growing electorates in the country, Asian Americans currently make up about 5% of the electorate and is projected to double to over 12 million voters by 2040. Because Asian Americans are geographically concentrated in a few states, their impact on state and local elections in these states is even higher: in California, for example, Asian American voters wield profound influence in the heavily-Asian American Orange County. In swing states like Virginia, the Asian American electorate is large enough to swing narrow elections; indeed, Senator Hillary Clinton narrowly won the state in 2016 by a margin smaller than the number of Asian American voters in the state.

Going forward, Democrats need to include Asian American voters as part of its core base, and as part of its fundamental electoral strategy.

As the Democratic party sets its sights on the presidential election in 2020 — and the first opportunity for voters to unseat President Trump at the ballot box — The New York Times reports that several early voices have emerged as potential candidates to take the Democratic presidential nomination. They include Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris as well as former Vice President Joe Biden.

The speculation around these rumored candidacies is fierce; but all of these candidates must implement the following lessons as they advance towards the 2020 election season, particularly when it comes to courting the “sleeping giant” of Asian American voters.

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