Minari: Unsettling “Belonging” to Asian/Amerika

David (Alan S. Kim) and Soonja (Youn Yuh-jung) in a still from the film "Minari".

By: Victoria M. Huỳnh 

When Minari was omitted from the Golden Globes’ “main” categories for Best Picture, Asian diasporas came to its defense, arguing for its “all-Americanness” to make sense of their (un)placehood. But claims to Amerikanness are inherently predicated on settler-colonial logics of Indigenous and Black genocide, and on the dispossession of our own homelands.

Rather than claiming belonging to U.S. empire, I feel Minari serves a necessary and wholly different purpose: it powerfully unsettles Korean/American  — and potentially Asian/American — understandings of “belonging.” 

Note: This essay contains mild spoilers for the film ‘Minari’ which will be available for release on February 12, 2021.

Continue reading “Minari: Unsettling “Belonging” to Asian/Amerika”

On The Urgency of Solidarity

Asian American protesters march in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in New York City in July 2016. (Photo Credit: Unknown / Twitter)

By Guest Contributor: Daniel Yu

Asian America is confronted at this moment with a grave responsibility: the responsibility and absolute moral obligation to speak out in support of black lives.

Asian Americans, particularly those of East Asian heritage, exist at an intersection of privilege and marginalization. A person like myself — a middle-class Chinese American and a son of educated immigrants — faces distinct challenges from structural racism. Acknowledging this does not relinquish the validity of our own struggle nor does it dismiss the injuries we endure from white supremacy. Instead, it recognizes that the project to dismantle white supremacy requires us to stand against white supremacy, which threatens us as well as the very existence of our Black and Brown brethren.

Continue reading “On The Urgency of Solidarity”

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?

Continue reading “The Ghost of Carlos Bulosan”

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.

Continue reading “The US Immigration System is Failing a Crucial Voice: International Adoptees”

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.

Continue reading “OCA Staff and Interns Demand Accountability in Open Letter”