American Asian

An abstract mosaic comprised of numerous triangle shapes.

A version of this post was originally published on Seven Yrs Later.

By Guest Contributor: Nicole Rapatan

I nudge my laptop and stretch my legs along the backseat. Working from home has lost its charm and extra effort needs space, so journals litter 4 sq. ft. floor mats and hide a college application essay from 11 years ago. I refresh for updates and realize that another person was shot, that he survived what eight people at two spas did not. I graze posts by women who look like me and ingest each one that I can. There is anger articulate and dismay indefinite while I flip through my papers blankly. I’m looking for the throughline of something wrong, how I’m at a loss to feel something so obvious. I’ve been American for as long as I could remember. It’s taken weeks to see who I am before that.

Mom and Dad came through JFK, closer to Ellis Island than Angel. I’m a city slicker by birth, cowkid by youth, Pinoy by milk and blood. Lola tended to her first grandchild as Mom and Dad worked when and where they had to. Memories overwritten, I imagine sewing machine laughs and strong whiffs of my forehead until Lola was pulled back to her homeland. A scattered village took place and I slept over at every Tita’s I wasn’t related to. Decor and playmates changed, but the lumpia still crunched, loganisa sizzled, fish bubbled, and rice plopped. I traded them for Lunchables at school as I liked the Reese’s and ham, water added.

Lesser tastes rhymed and stretched eyes to deem me Chinese, but I’d retort I was Filipino, even if the best movie was Mulan. When I started Spanish in first grade, the grown-ups proclaimed its shared base with Tagalog, the Philippines’ national language, yet that was an ocean away from Arizona; I wasn’t Mexican though we were the same crayons. I browned with glee on family visits and classmates would notice, often with envy as Dad confirmed. Donning my “Filipina with a Brain” shirt, I still heard “Chinese,” less insult than mislabel, but it didn’t stop me from tackling assholes. Otherwise, I was reputably high-achieving and polite, which are supposedly Asian qualities, but I’m my parents’ daughter. I remained so after the divorce, new schools and addresses, but some things had to give way.

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Was Elliot Rodger Asian American?

Shooter Elliot Rodger in an undated photo.
Shooter Elliot Rodger in an undated photo.

For weeks following the Isla Vista shooting, killer Elliot Rodger was described in mainstream media as a young White man. This was a convenient narrative: Rodger was seen as yet another example of the maligned young vengeance-seeking White male outcast (like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Adam Lanza): so twisted by violent first-person shooters and sexual-social frustration that he resorted to unthinkable violence.

Yet, for Elliot Rodger, this narrative is complicated by Rodger’s own tangled and confusing relationship with his racial identity: one that defies simple categorization as Rodger being straightforwardly White, or otherwise.

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LA play explores mother-daughter relationships & stigma of mental illness among AAPI

99-histories

Artists at Play is a relatively new Asian American theatre collective in Los Angeles, and they are proud to announce the opening of their production of 99 Histories next week.

99 Histories is a play written by Julia Cho in the early 2000’s, and focuses on a young Korean American woman named Eunice — a former cello prodigy and now unmarried and pregnant — returning home to her estranged family. Upon her homecoming, Eunice sets out to mend her relationship with her own mother, Sah-Jin, an emotional process that raises issues of identity and the stigma of mental illness in the AAPI community.

Video after the jump.

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Reappropriate: The Podcast – Ep. 5 | What is #AAPI #feminism?

I’m really excited to present the newest episode of Reappropriate: The Podcast, wherein guest Juliet Shen (@juliet_shen) of Fascinasians and I tackle the question “what is AAPI feminism?” It’s a great conversation that talks about identity, movement-building, gender & sexuality (including interracial relationships), and our role models. I hope you will take an hour to watch the podcast through YouTube above, listen to the audio only version using the mp3 player below, or download the podcast through the iTunes store.

Note: In this podcast, I use the word “crazy” a couple of times in a manner that could easily be seen as reinforcing the ableist stigma of the word as negative. I want to draw attention to this because I first want to apologize to any listeners who are offended by my use, and also to underscore that this is a personal language habit I have been actively working on for many months. In the podcast, we talk about always being self-reflective and aware of our internalized -isms as well as conscious and deliberate about everything we do; I think this is a perfect example of what we were talking about and am disappointed in myself for the usage of this word. I think activism and advocacy is always a learning process, and I am certainly not perfect when it comes to challenging my own issues. So, yes, you will hear me slip-up a couple of times in this podcast and use an ableist term, and for that I apologize.

Next episode: Please join me for the next episode of the podcast which will be recording on September 8th at 7pm EST (subject to change). The topic will be “Is digital or hashtag activism ‘real’ activism?”, and to discuss this I’ve invited Cayden Mak (@cayden) of 18MillionRising onto the podcast. You will be able to watch the podcast as it records through this link, and you can tweet your questions or comments now to @reappropriate to have them included on air!

Audio only:

Chinese editorial calls departing US ambassador Gary Locke a “rotting… banana”

Outgoing Ambassador to China Gary Locke greets Chinese residents. Photo credit: Washington Post.
Outgoing Ambassador to China Gary Locke greets Chinese residents. Photo credit: Washington Post.

By most accounts, Gary Locke — former governor of Washington (and the first Asian American to do so), and later Secretary of Commerce for the Obama administration in its first term — has excelled in his most recent position, which he has held since 2011: that of America’s Ambassador to China.

The first Chinese American to hold the position (his predecessors have all been White), Locke has earned himself the reputation of being a fair and unassuming ambassador (a virtual prerequisite for this specific type of position); one whose low-key nature has helped ease relationships between America and one of its largest economic and militaristic peers on the global stage. Although his position requires Locke to firmly but diplomatically represent American positions to the Chinese government — positions that aren’t by definition always going to be popular with China’s top officials — Locke has reportedly performed this task effectively.

And, it is precisely this firm but low-key persona that has made him something of a superstar with street-level Chinese residents, a tactic he might have learned from his train-riding, man-of-the-people compatriot, Vice President Joe Biden.

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