Category Archives: Guest Contributors

Beyond Hope: Fighting Within a Fascist America

February 10, 2017
Aerial view of the Women’s March in DC on January 21, 2017. (Photo credit: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)

By Guest Contributor: Sudip Bhattacharya

“Sudip, what’s going to happen to us? Can he really create a registry…?”

The words stuck to my ribs as nausea gripped me.

It was meant to be a typical Friday night. My friends and I met at the local IHOP, as we often did, with plans to crack jokes about Nicholas Cage or perform impressions of Batman ordering pancakes. Instead, we sat, staring at our plates. I was the one studying politics in grad school, so my two friends — who are Muslim and South Asian American — asked me about what was next. We had grown up together in central New Jersey, where we had spent carefree weekends at shopping malls and exploring random towns along Route 1. Yet, that evening, I saw the lines on their faces deepen with anxious creases.

I would’ve been lying if I encouraged them to sense a light at the end of the tunnel, when clearly, everything we believed was collapsing before our eyes. I shifted the conversation, asking them about a trip they were planning. I tried listening, while realizing that since the election of Trump, my capacity for hope was extinguished.

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Senator Hirono, Will You Join Our Resistance? | #DearMyAAPIRep

January 27, 2017
Photo credit: Twitter

By Guest Contributor: Mark Tseng Putterman (@tsengputterman)

Dear Senator Hirono (@mazieforhawaii),

On inauguration day, you promised your commitment to “resist any attempt the President makes to dismantle the progress we’ve made” on issues of health care, immigrant rights, civil rights, and economic justice. The next day, you joined hundreds of thousands of women and supporters at the Women’s March in D.C. — tweeting: “Aloha trumps hate & we will not back down”.

These admirable sentiments are all the more powerful coming from you, our first Asian American woman senator, and a longtime advocate for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. But in these times of political crisis, we know that every single vote counts.

That’s why I was so disappointed to see that on January 20, the same day you promised to resist Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, you used your vote to help confirm his nominee, John Kelly, as Secretary of Homeland Security.   

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The Power of Deconstructive Politics: Moving Beyond “Asian American”

January 19, 2017

By Guest Contributor: Sudip Bhattacharya

As we devolve into a modern incarnation of white establishment politics, one that has merged the sensibilities of 1950s-era America with the advent of social media, the easiest and most natural response for us would be to counter through uniting around familiar concepts such as “Asian American” rights and empowerment. However, by doing so without a critical eye, I fear we will lapse into a politics that is neither revolutionary nor liberating.

Only by pursuing a path of deconstructive politics — one that takes apart ideas and identities we take for granted among ourselves — can we truly form an agenda that benefits all classes, all genders, and all those who will be further marginalized by this new and dangerous administration.

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Watching “The ‘Other’ Love Story” Was The Perfect Way To Kick Off 2017

January 5, 2017

By Guest Contributors: Lakshmi Gandhi (@lakshmigandhi) and Asha Sundararaman (@mixedtck)

As soon as we saw this Autostraddle’s article about Roopa Rao’s web series “The ‘Other’ Love Story” we knew we had to binge watch it and devote a newsletter to it immediately. The twelve short episodes follow the lives of two teenage college students who meet and fall in love in late 1990s Bangalore.

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Against a Deracinated Discourse

December 30, 2016
Trump supporters at a campaign even in Fort Dodge, Iowa, November 12, 2015. (Photo credit: Scott Olson / Getty)

By Guest Contributor: Sudip Bhattacharya

At a post-election event in Boston, Senator Bernie Sanders uttered the following: “It’s not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’” No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”

Since the victory of Trump over Clinton, comments like those have echoed across the political spectrum, including from several Democrats (or those claiming to be). Those who hail from the political left fear that the Democratic party has lost its way with the “working class” — which is a problematic frame that I’ll explain later — or that Democrats are more invested in diversity than in dismantling class oppression. These are both valid points. However, those of us who are underrepresented and politically insecure — especially those of us who are people of color — have reason to worry: this framing portrays us and our issues as mere distractions from the “real” concerns of American people. Evidently, the soul of the Democrat Party is a site of struggle. I hope to push back against the forces that would marginalize racial justice on the Left, and which would leave POC like ourselves stranded and more powerless than before.

There are valid critiques of “identity politics,” including some raised by other folks of color. We might, for example, confuse a person’s background for  their politics. When we elect Bobby Jindal or Nikki Haley, some of us can make the mistake of believing that they’ll stand up for us, or that their wins should be celebrated. Similar sentiments might also apply to Margaret Thatcher or other so-called “change” candidates, even when these figures are revealed to only serve the interests of the wealthy elite. However, the argument turns bitter and dangerous when the person advocating against “identity” politics invokes a sort of “neoliberal” agenda to divide and rule the people while neglecting working class politics.

The critiques of “identity politics” are problematic in three ways. First, it marginalizes the experiences of African Americans and other groups of color who are part of the working class. Second, it distorts the image of who is the typical reactionary voter. Most importantly, it consistently negates the power of race and racism in the U.S., both past and present.

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