The author's family, the Shojis, who were forcibly held at Minidoka during World War II. (Photo Credit: Joseph Lachman)
By Guest Contributor: Joseph Shoji Lachman
Kurt Suzuki, who is a yonsei (or, 4th generation Japanese American), wore a “Make America Great Again” hat — a disgusting white supremacist symbol — when visiting the White House last week. It was horrifying, and symbolic of larger issues of Asian American adjacency to white privilege.
The question I always want to pose to these Trump-supporting Japanese Americans is: How can you support a guy whose campaign and supporters have voiced support for the incarceration of Japanese Americans, and who have used that history as a justification for oppressing other minority groups?
A logo and an AOL-messenger-figure is pictured at the entrance of the AOL office in Hamburg on January 12, 2010. US Internet company AOL announced on January 12 that it intends to close its French and German offices as part of a worldwide round of job cuts. In Germany, AOL will close its offices in Hamburg, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich, cutting 140 jobs, a spokesman said. AFP PHOTO DDP / PHILIPP GUELLAND GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read PHILIPP GUELLAND/AFP/Getty Images)
By: Cayden Mak
In 1998, when I was 11, we got the internet at home. My mom, a public school teacher, thought it’d be useful for me and my little sister to do our homework. She has always been very forward-thinking about technology, and computers were a part of our home life for most of my memory, thanks in no small part to the deep discounts educators used to get on Apple machines.
I remember the first time I knew that the internet was going to change everything. A couple years after we first got online, I somehow found my way to an AOL message board about philosophy — I thought of myself as a serious intellectual even as a kid — and had my mind blown by a group of users discussing feminist theory. Although the ideas they discussed were fascinating, that’s not what really blew my mind.
The real game-changer was discovering that there were people out there in the world who wanted to talk about the things I so desperately wanted to discuss. Why did I feel so different from my peers? Is there anybody else out there who is like me? How can we live together as human beings?
The internet became a critical lifeline to the world outside my isolated, extremely white suburban surroundings. I learned about ideas and people I would never have encountered — and learned about people I had encountered in a new light. It was in communities online that I learned the language to describe my experience as a queer person of color; as an Asian American; as a mixed race person.
I accomplished nothing I’d intended to that morning. I called my mother and sister to talk about the news. I read and reread the declaration and watched whatever clips I could find. I celebrated and speculated over group chat with Korean friends. And, I cried. A lot.
The acquittal of police officer, Betty Shelby, in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher was preordained.
The narrative follows a familiar pattern: A White individual (Shelby) encounters an unarmed African American man, and with no evident motive, chooses to end the life of the Black person standing before them.
“Crutcher’s death is his fault,” she later said. It is hard to imagine how that could be the case. Dashcam video shows that Crutcher was shot and killed while unarmed and complying with police orders.
After my visit to Ferguson last summer, I referenced the writings of Simone Browne, Christina Sharpe, and Alexander G. Weheliye, to argue that unless we understand how Anti-Blackness/Whiteness operate in the U.S., we will consistently fail in creating a society that would treat everyone with dignity and respect. Without this understanding, we will never build a place that honors the hopes and dreams of someone like Terence Crutcher.
Episode 7 of Reappropriate: The Podcast is now live! In this episode, I’m joined by guests Juliet Shen (@juliet_shen, Fascinasians), KJ Park (@kyungjunpark), and Trungles (@trungles) to discuss how the interracial relationship issue within the AAPI community informs — and is informed by — notions of gender, sexuality and white supremacy. Definitely worth checking out!
You can stream the audio and video of the episode through YouTube (above) or just the audio version (below). Subscribe to the podcast through the iTunes store or through YouTube.
Next episode: Please join me next week (October 6th, 9pm EST / 6pm PST) for part two of my conversation with Cayden Mak (@cayden) of 18MillionRising on digital activism as decolonial tools of social change. You can RSVP to watch here!