Solidarity is Love: Taking Asian Diasporic Feminists Back to Black and Asian Feminism in the ’60s

The cover of the Sept-Oct 1972 issue of 'Triple Jeopardy'.

By: Victoria M. Huỳnh

Nearly eight months into 2020, and there is so much to grieve. We are amidst a global pandemic leaving Black, Indigenous, incarcerated, and immigrant communities most vulnerable. Black-led uprisings in the imperial core enraged by the white supremacist murder of George Floyd should have shaken the world awake again: the US internally robs and exploits Black life in duty of its imperialist project that is the US empire. Worldwide, the US empire continues to manifest its devastation in crippling US economic sanctions amidst the bombing of Lebanon, ongoing US-backed Israeli occupation of Palestine, impending US imperialist aggression to China towards a Cold War 2.0, and more. 

To locate this moment, as non-Black Asian diasporas in the imperial core seeking solidarity with Black and other Third Worlded peoples, is to know this moment is fraught with deep struggle since times before ours. It is also yet a  urgency of committing to Black revolutionary praxis in their fight for a new world— knowing no Black life should have been lost to US empire in the first place. If we fall back on bell hooks’ reminder that, love is profoundly political. Our deepest revolution will come when we understand this truth,” we are forced to rethink what is so necessarily meant by “love” in and beyond these times. And if solidarity is love, we should be pushed to pursue a solidarity that is not just conscious of being against white supremacy, US imperialism, patriarchy, or global capitalism [wrongfully marketed] as separate systems– but a solidarity for an anti-imperialist, socialist, decolonized world that necessitates Black liberation– and which knows we must take down the US empire in its entirety to achieve so. 

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AAPIs Need to be Part of the Equal Pay Conversation

A protest sign demanding equal pay. (Photo credit: Steve Rappaport / Creative Commons)

Today is AAPI Equal Pay Day, the day in 2020 when an Asian American or Pacific Islander woman would — on average — finally earn as much money as a typical white man if both worked through all of 2019.

In the aggregate, AAPI women make about 90 cents to the dollar of white men, a statistic that is both troubling and that still overlooks disaggregated data showing an even starker gender wage gap for many AAPI ethnic subgroups. Many Southeast Asian American and Pacific Islander women, for example, earn less than 70 cents to the dollar a white man earns, but this fact is lost when only aggregated income statistics about the AAPI community are reported.

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What we’re not talking about when we talk about equal pay

Screen capture of video for AAPI Equal Pay Day from 2017. (Photo credit: NAPAWF)

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow (Executive Director, NAPAWF)

The gender pay gap is the difference between what men and women earn for doing the same work, and it varies for different sub-groups of women. In 2019, Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) women earned 90 cents for every dollar that white, non-Hispanic men made. Today marks the symbolic day in 2020 when we “catch up” to white men’s earnings from the previous year. The wage gap exists in every state and every occupation, regardless of education—but there’s so much more to the story hidden by the averages. 

The term AAPI includes more than 50 ethnic subgroups, some of which experience much wider pay gaps. Vietnamese American women, for example, made 67 cents for every dollar white men made last year and Cambodian American women made 57 cents. These women will have to work for several more months for their paychecks to catch up while the lost wages compound. 

Asian Americans have long been depicted as “model minorities” in this country. It’s a persistent myth that all Asians are the same and we’re all high-achieving with stable incomes. By failing to recognize our lived experiences, the myth makes it easier to dismiss our struggles and reinforces the misconception that Asian people don’t need resources or support. 

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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. 

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How Chanel Miller’s Story Inspires Me To Tell Mine

Author Chanel Miller reveals her identity as Emily Doe in an interview for her book "Know My Name".

By Guest Contributor: Frankie Huang

In the summer of 2016, I was one of millions around the world to read Chanel Miller’s statement to Brock Turner, her rapist. The pain and power in her words shook me then. I was still coming into my feminism, and I was still learning that every victim is imperfect, and that this does not make their suffering any more deserved. Yet, I still struggled with the question: is dignity claimed or earned? 

Back when she was still Emily Doe, I wondered if she’s a woman of color like me. I wondered if I deserved to wield the same righteous fury that she did.

Content warning: rape, sexual assault

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