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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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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OCA Staff and Interns Demand Accountability in Open Letter

The title of a blog post published in 2013 by @changeOCA, a Tumblr account created by former OCA interns documenting their termination from the organization that year. The 2013 incident is referenced by the author of this post, but ChangeOCA is not directly affiliated with the writing of this post. (Source: Tumblr / ChangeOCA)

By Guest Contributor: Anonymous

For recent college graduates with a passion for social justice, non-profit civil rights organizations make a compelling offer: work for us, make the world a better place, and receive a salary and an office in the bustling heart of downtown Washington, D.C. What better way to apply your bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science than to spend a year working to advance Asian American civil rights in our nation’s capital?

The pitfalls of non-profit work are, of course, well known. Non-profit employees — typically the young and idealistic — are expected to compromise themselves to benefit the ‘greater good’. They are asked to accept poorer salary and workplace mistreatment, and are warned that to do otherwise indicates insufficient commitment to the cause. At some prominent civil rights organizations in the Capital, problems run even deeper than that.

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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 testimony to the 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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Lifting the veil on conditional whiteness: A wake-up call to Asian Americans still holding on to the Model Minority Myth

An image of Trump's notes at a press conference wherein the word "corona" is crossed out and replaced with the word "Chinese". (Photo credit: Getty)

By Guest Contributor: Dorothy He

Over the past few months, many non-Black Asian Americans across the country watched as our racial status began shifting, after years of living within and sometimes even openly accepting the confines of the Model Minority Myth. Several of these “positive” stereotypes have long been passively or even actively accepted by many in the Asian American community, such as the ones perpetuated by Andrew Yang during his presidential campaign — for instance, the idea that all Asians are doctors, are smart and like math, and won’t speak out or cause trouble. Such stereotypes have not only caused untold damage to the well-being of Asian Americans and stymied attempts at solidarity within our communities and in relation to other communities of color, but they never offered any genuine protection of our status or proof of our “Americanness” to begin with.

Those who trusted in the power of conditional whiteness to protect Asian Americans harbored a belief that a stable income, a respectable profession, and a low profile could somehow protect us from racist and completely unfounded attacks. They are wrong. Conditional whiteness is dangerous precisely because of its roots in white supremacy vis-à-vis capitalism; ultimately, it weaponizes people of color against their own communities by making individuals complicit in perpetuating racism and exhibiting dominance over other nonwhite bodies — in particular, Black and Brown bodies — in their journey to reach the American Dream.

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