This post is part of a week of solidarity between Asian American and Pacific Islander bloggers and Native writers who have spear-headed the #NotYourMascot campaign. For a full list of posts included in the week of solidarity, please check this post.
I’ve been maintaining this blog — a personal and political blog dedicated to Asian American feminism and race activism — for over 12 years. And, in that time, I’ve dedicated my time to try and bring awareness to issues I feel are underaddressed within the Asian American community: mental health, unemployment, reproductive choice, under-education and more. My part-time activism, balanced against a full-time career, has been focused on the goal of challenging racism by dismantling stereotypes of Asian Americans and encouraging my (predominantly Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI)) readers to get more politically involved themselves.
Every day, it feels as if there is a new story that could benefit from some air. Every day, I come across a new post yearning to be written — like the distressingly high rates of suicide among Bhutanese Americans — and I feel compelled to write because no one else seems to be talking about it. Every morning, I find myself sifting through a pile of stories to pick the one that could most use some attention; and, when this becomes your daily routine, it’s easy to forget that every story is deserving of attention.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, as someone who has dedicated the last decade to this unique form of “digital journalism as activism”, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. My Twitter timeline has become a litany of worthy goals and hash-tags, each focused around a despicable example of racism, or sexism, or other kind of discrimination — a depressing deluge of anti-racist action clamouring for visibility, and the details start to bleed into one another. These days, I feel less like I’m pushing back against racism, and more like I’m just treading water.
And, sadly, it is far too easy to become desensitized to it all, and to start to see this list of anti-racist campaigns like just another pile to be sifted through, and to tune out the the individual cries of racial pain, anger, and sadness that echo through the headlines. In short, there is far greater capacity for humanity to treat one another with hatred and intolerance than there is capacity for anti-racist activists to work against it.
So, last week, when a Twitter user asked me why I had thus far been silent on #NotYourMascot — an ongoing multi-year fight to advocate to the NFL the changing of the name of the Washington R*dskins (and associated mascot) — and why it had taken Stephen Colbert’s much-discussed segment likening the team name to the archaic anti-Asian slurs “Oriental” and “Ching Chong Ding Dong”, I responded with a list of reasons. I talked about how the project of the Asian American blogging community is the important one of trying to give air to Asian American issues, and to try and keep together a political identity at constant risk of fracturing. I talked about how I felt over-worked and underpaid (which is to say, I’m still over a thousand dollars in the hole on this blog), how even within a blogosphere of several voices there are still more otherwise unheard Asian American stories to be told than there are people to tell them. I talked about how I felt like I was treading water, even while trying to cover the stories that intersect the very narrow focus of my blog. I talked about how although I supported the #NotYourMascot campaign, I felt obligated to devote my blogging hours to campaigns that didn’t even have the benefit of a hash-tag. I talked also about how, not being Native American, I felt like I didn’t want to subvert another community’s issue with my own clumsy (and potentially ill-informed) thoughts. Finally, I talked about how I’m a boxing fan and not a professional football fan, how I don’t watch Sunday afternoon football, and how until two weeks ago, I thought the Dan Snyder’s team hailed from the state of Washington (guess what, it doesn’t).
And y’know what? All of these reasons are shitty-ass reasons. They’re all human reasons. But they’re also all shitty-ass reasons.
Recent events have allowed mainstream media to paint a picture of Asian American and Native American communities as being at odds in #NotYourMascot: the fight to call on Washington R*dskins owner Dan Snyder to change the name and mascot of his NFL team, both of which are deplorable examples of redface stereotypes against Native peoples. Sadly, in the aftermath of the last two weeks and the attention placed on Asian American advocacy, Native peoples have been functionally “edited out” of their own campaign.
Yet, anti-racist work is a work that should bring together people of colour, not divide us. This week, the AAPI blogging community is dedicating a week of posts in solidarity with our Native brothers and sisters to try and raise awareness for #NotYourMascot and the R*dskins controversy. Many AAPI blogs have committed to writing posts in support of #NotYourMascot, and we will also be re-tweeting the powerful and compelling writing of Native writers.
Please check out all the blogs participating in this week of solidarity and bookmark this post, which will be aggregating all the writing done this week.
Please also check back for updates.
This post was last updated April 17th 12:00PM EST.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!