Why the street protests in #HongKong should matter to #AAPI (and to all Americans)

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Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong this week to participate in a mass act of non-violent civil disobedience against the Chinese government. For days, protesters — many of them college-aged students and teenagers — have gathered near the city’s government buildings; they are chanting, marching, raising their fists, sleeping on the street, and wielding umbrellas against tear gas — all in defiance of a political and economic ruling class that threatens to revoke a democratic process promised to Hong Kong voters since the city’s 1997 handover from British rule to the Chinese government.

Most of us have been enthralled with the events in Hong Kong right now. We are following the events in Hong Kong with anticipation through mainstream news and social media. But, we must do more than offer just our support for the events taking place on the streets of Hong Kong right now; we should be getting inspired. Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protests are not just another demonstration happening somewhere halfway around the world; they have become an international symbol of freedom against political and economic tyranny that is informed by, and is informing, the experiences of AAPI and Americans alike.

Those of us in the West should be taking note.

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The price of our silence in the deadly occupation of Gaza is too high

Protesters in the Phillipines protest in solidarity with Palestinians. Photo credit: Facebook.
Protesters in the Phillipines march in solidarity with Palestinians. (Photo credit: Facebook)

There is a scene in And The Band Played On where Matthew Modine’s character explains the origins of the phrase “The Butchers’ Bill”: a phrase coined by British Admiral Lord Nelson when asking for the daily casualty reports of soldiers lost in the Napoleonic wars. In the film, Modine’s character creates his own Butchers’ Bill for the AIDS epidemic, and it remains one of pop culture’s most poignant visual reminders of the devastating cost of the disease in human lives.

The Butchers’ Bill in the ongoing violence on the Gaza Strip is equally heart-breaking. In less than two weeks time, Israel has launched airstrikes against Palestinian residents of Gaza targeting over 1500 sites; Hamas has also launched over a thousand rockets into Israel that have all been largely ineffective. As of today, the Butchers’ Bill for Palestinian residents of Gaza nears 350 after 11 days of fighting, nearly fifty of those dying in the last 72 hours at the hands of invading Israeli ground troops. The United Nations estimates that three-fourths of Palestinians killed in Gaza by Israeli offensive actions this month were non-militants, and approximately 50 — a third of them killed since Thursday — have been children. An additional 2000 Palestinians have sustained serious injuries in the attacks. The UN reports that yesterday the number of Palestinians displaced by the violence has nearly doubled to 40,000 — all seeking refugee status in one of 34 UN shelters.

There are no words to describe the rage and grief I feel in watching this senseless killing unfold. But the price of my silence — and the silence of too many of us in America — is also far too high.

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Guest-Post: Racially Related | #NotYourMascot #Solidarity #AAPI #Native #NDN

This is a guest post by writer Jennie Stockle (@IndigeniusIdeas, Indigenius Ideas) as part of this week’s series of posts written in solidarity with #NotYourMascot. Jennie Stockle has been passionately fighting to change the Washington R*dskins team name through multiple online campaigns.

Racially Related

I often talk with my children about different aspects of life, without bringing up being Native American, as they grow into adults. Honestly, it had been a while since I asked them about what being Cherokee is like outside our home. What their views on identity has meant to them? Have I helped them navigate the confusing Native American waters?

A deep coversation is what followed that I want to share bits of with you. I hope after reading this you can have similar conversations with others. Being able to vocalize how we feel about our place in the world is an important topic. It can give a sense of validation and understanding between people, be it a parent to child or friend to friend.

My daughter told me that once she had watched Peter Pan without me there. “I guess you were at work or something. I don’t remember,”she said. It left her confused. She didn’t talk to me about it. She just didn’t know what to make of it. After all, none of the “Indians” in the movie resemble us. “The pickaninnies” don’t resemble the Natives we meet at pow-wows or stomp dances either.  The “singing Indian’s music” doesn’t sound like the Cherokee children’s music I play for my kids in the car. Being so immature, she was unable to describe what she felt. So, she didn’t say anything to us.

Of course, I felt bad for not having prevented her watching those clips. I felt guilty that I had no idea at all about it happening. I asked her if she felt I had let her down? “No, mom. I am not confused about being Cherokee. You should see some of the Native American kids at school. Sometimes they make “Indian” jokes just to fit in. When they act like that, I just walk away.”I understood what she meant. Sometimes, when your a kid, it’s easier to leave a conversation. It shouldn’t be up to kids to explain that embracing Native American stereotypes for the amusement of non-Natives isn’t healthy for a person’s mentality. Plus, confronting a Native child in front of the peers she/he is trying to impress can embarrass a Native kid with self-esteem issues to begin with.

“Mom, do you remember when I came home with a coloring page of Pilgrims I had to do in class,” my other daughter chimed in. “I told the teacher it was a lie. She made me color it anyways,” she said.

Continue reading at Indigenius Ideas

Act Now! Please take a minute to sign this petition demanding Dan Snyder change the name and mascot of the Washington R*dskins created by 18millionrising (@18millionrising) and check out the “central hub” post for our Week of Solidarity with #NotYourMascot for more writing to share and retweet, as well as other activism ideas.

How #NotYourMascot Passed Me By, and How I was Wrong For Letting It

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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.

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List of Posts in Week of #Solidarity with #NotYourMascot | #AAPI #Native #NDN

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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.

Continue reading “List of Posts in Week of #Solidarity with #NotYourMascot | #AAPI #Native #NDN”