Faces of Asian America: Being a Comic Reviewer | #APAHM2014

loudlysilent

loudlysilent is a comic book reviewer for the website Geeked Out Nation — possibly the only Asian American comics reviewer in the Midwest — and a passionate advocate for the ongoing push to diversify comic books.

How do you see your role as a Comics Reviewer?

As a comics reviewer for Geeked Out Nation with a background in sociology, I’m a front-line observer of the ethnic diversity of characters in Marvel comics and movies (quick: name a Latino Avenger?).

I wish more comics had Asian American protagonists. I currently review X-Men (by Brian Wood) and Catwoman. I appreciate that X-Men’s cast has several characters who are connected with Asian identity, including Psylocke, Jubilee, and a baby named Shogo.

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Faces of Asian America: Being a Queer Artivist | #APAHM2014

Celeste Chan by Paul Von Bex

Celeste Chan is a queer artivist who has been writing, making films, performing, curating, and collaborating in art-organizing projects for 10+ years.

How do you see yourself as a queer artivist?

In collaboration with my partner KB Boyce, I co-direct Queer Rebels, a queer and trans people of color arts project.

I see myself as part of a creative constellation in the Bay Area. We are making art as activism, as homage, as irreverence, to subvert, to queer, to challenge, as people who were told that our voices didn’t matter. We are non-mainstream.

As a queer artivist, I’m schooled by DIY and immigrant parents from Malaysia and the Bronx, NY. In my film and writing, I’m obsessed with hidden histories, queerness as lens, race and representation, experimental form and aesthetics. One of my newest collaborations is MOON RAY RA, a performative experiment with KB Boyce.

As an artivist, I find balance between focusing on my own work and building up a platform for queer/trans artists of color. With Queer Rebels, there’s urgency in our work. There are so many vital voices that need to be heard.

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Faces of Asian America: Being A Roller Derby Rockstar | #APAHM2014

Faces-thu-vivaglam

Thu Ngo is a former roller derbyist who goes by the name Viva Glam. Since the writing of this post, she has retired from active skating due to a knee injury but still actively volunteers for her league.

What is Viva Glam?

My name is Thu, but when I strap on my skates, I’m known as Viva Glam. I’m a derby girl – I play women’s flat-track roller derby.

Unlike the roller derby of the 70’s, there is no elbowing, tripping, or fighting – modern-day roller derby is full-contact and it is the real deal; the women who play it are true athletes. It’s the fastest growing sport in the world right now, but derby is still considered underground/alt, and we constantly fight to be seen as a legitimate sport. We do everything ourselves: skaters not only train intensely to compete in bouts, but they also take care of the business of running their leagues, handling finances, publicity, sponsorship, and recruitment themselves, in addition to whatever their lives entail outside of the sport (school, career, children, etc). We don’t get paid for it either – everyone involved in derby, from the skaters to the referees to the non-skating officials, is there out of love for the sport and the community.

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Faces of Asian America: Being Disabled and Proud | #APAHM2014

Alice Wong is a proud disabled woman.

Alice Wong is a member of the Asian American disability rights advocacy community. To learn more about this community, check out my interview yesterday with Jean Lin of Asians & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities Coalition.

How do you see yourself as Disabled and Proud?

I see myself as a proud disabled Asian-American woman. Note, I added the word ‘proud’ because I believe that there are many people who may have a disability (invisible or visible) who do not claim this identity at all.

Like the LGBTQ community and many other communities, being open about who you are sends a message that it’s not something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Language matters. I used to use ‘person-first’ language when describing myself, (e.g., person with a disability), because it was a response to historic dehumanizing labels such as ‘the handicapped,’ ‘the disabled,’ and ‘the feeble-minded.’  There’s a growing usage of ‘disabled person’ by many people to indicate that one cannot separate one’s disability from one’s socio-cultural identity. It would be impossible to separate my race from my identity and shouldn’t it be the same for my disability?

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The Underappreciated Advocates of Asian Americans with Disabilities | #APAHM2014

Photo credit: APIDC
Photo credit: APIDC

The U.S. Census estimated in 2000 that as many as 20% — or 1 in 5 — of Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are living with some form of chronic disability, a number that may only have increased in the subsequent 14 years since this report was published. While the rates of AAPIs with disabilities mirror rates in the national population, rarely are AAPIs with disabilities visible either in AAPI advocacy or in disability rights advocacy.

Asian & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California (APIDC) has roots as a grassroots California advocacy group that received federal non-profit status in 2008, and it remains the country’s only disability rights and education non-profit focused on the Asian American disabled community. According to Jean Lin, Outreach Coordinator for APIDC, APIDC originated in 1998 through the work of community activist and employment attorney Patty Kanaga. According to Lin, Kanaga, who was serving at the time on a committee appointed by the California Governor’s committee to address the employment of disabled persons, organized the state’s first conference to address the AAPI community with disabilities “after she realized that AAPI with disabilities are not addressed in any way”.

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