There are two things that most people don’t know (even I didn’t know until 2 years ago): 1) May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (which I found out, going to a meeting about Asian-American scholarships) 2) Vincent Chin’s death served as a flashpoint that ignited the modern Asian American political movement.
Here’s the story:
In 1982, a young Chinese-American man named Vincent Chin was brutally clubbed to death by two white men in Detroit, Michigan. The crime was motivated, in part, by anti-Asian sentiment stemming from widespread loss of auto manufacturing jobs to Japanese competitors; Ronald Ebens, one of the attackers, was heard saying “it’s because of you little motherfuckers that we’re out of work” to Chin moments before the attack. Despite pleading guilty to second-degree murder, Chin’s killers did not serve any jail time for Chin’s murder, and were only fined $3,000. Vincent Chin’s death served as a flashpoint that ignited the modern Asian-American political movement.
He would’ve turned 47 last Friday
I’m giving this woman flowers every single day that she is alive to let her know that cradling Malcolm X in her arms as he lay dying is the most powerful thing she could have done for him in that moment, in that historical moment in our lives.
You see because she
wasstill is an ardent social rights/social justice activist—on the behalf of Japanese Americans and for the causes of black people (diasporically and in the U.S.).
Their interracial friendship (a deep one) spoke volumes about Malcolm’s character and Yuri’s commitment. It was one that was not given due credit in Malcolm’s biopic. It is not often that her name is said along with his anymore. It is sad that people are forgetting just how down our Asian brothers and sisters were for us and we for them.
Born Mary Yuriko Nakahara in San Pedro, California, Kochiyama’s family was caught up in the racist dragnet that led her family to be imprisoned at an internment camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Even so, two of her brothers pledged their allegiance to the United States by joining the U.S. Army. She moved to New York City with her husband and became actively involved in the Harlem community. She was even a member of Malcolm’s organization, Organization of Afro-American Unity, a PAN AFRICANIST organization.
She marched with a Puerto Rican coalition (Puerto Ricans have alwayssss been the baddest at political upheaval and movement work, see: Young Lords) to the Statue of Liberty in a protest for Puerto Rican Independence. Puerto Rico is…not…independent..yet. Yes, that’s right…the United States is still a colonial power.
She wants reparations for Japanese American families who were interned in camps. She fights for the release of Mumia Abu Jamal. She fights for the rights of political prisoners. She deserves a Nobel Peace Prize (honestly) and was nominated for one in 2005.
Honestly, she’s a fucking boss. At 90 years old, she’s still a fucking boss. And as we remember Malcolm’s death and his importance to us, I will always remember Yuri Kochiyama as well.
Because really, we all face similar struggles (even though each is very different), and we’re all trying to do the same thing: gain fair treatment and respect from a society that marginalizes, stereotypes, and caricaturizes us.
i don’t really want to respond on this larger thread because i don’t really have the capacity to engage in a more rigorous conversation about this right now, but
http://fascinasians.tumblr.com/post/14222638000/color-blinding-call-for-bloggers-rethinking-race-in i don’t think this person got what we were trying to say…?
most asian american critiques of media representation of “desexualized” asian (male) and “hypersexualized” asian (female) = stuff that is kind of low on my priorities list tbh. i know these stereotypes are reality and i still don’t really care because of, uh, all the shit that people pointed out (including myself, titotibok, etc, like folks pointed out, most of the pushback against these stereotypes are rooted in trying to prove that asians are capable of participating fully in white cis heteropatriarchy. still waiting to see a good critique that isn’t about that or trying to attain whiteness or white masculinity or proper white femininity and womanhood…….
the “trust me, i’m not trying to be anti-trans” …rather than trying to reassure someone by telling them to trust you, maybe it’d be more useful to sit with some of the things that titotibok brought up instead of trying to rebut them. also if what was taken away from titotibok’s critique was simply “it’s anti-trans” and you think you can address that by saying something along the lines of “i don’t think you got my point,” that’s not cool. i’m pretty sure titotibok got the point. i’m not sure that you got theirs.
Furthermore, I would like to make it clear that it is slightly ridiculous to think that a virtual conference like this is “appropriating” previous racial relations (black/white). We’re re-thinking it because we’re approaching it from an often marginalized racial group that isn’t addressed when most people think about racism.
ok uh. wanting to create a safer space for queer and trans ppl and then totally dismissing a huge part of our critiques……. the racial analyses i was bringing forth are very much connected to my queer and woman of color politics, i think they might be for some of those who were also commenting as well
:\ maybe i’ll respond later… if anyone tries to start an argument with me on this post i’ll probably ignore you fyi. not trying to be rude or underhanded or run away from critique, just not reblogging on that thread specifically because i don’t feel like engaging w/ that person yet
also if that’s the attitude towards some of the critiques brought up (which i think were important, valid, and necessary), from one of the planners, then that’s …uncomfortable and alienating.
Given WHO is spearheading the conference, I’ve not really been comfortable with the idea from the get-go. I’ve seen more anti-black pushback from As-Ams with all sorts of weird deflections that refuse to take responsibility for the anti-black (and other kinds of oppressive) behaviour, especially right here on Tumblr.
So I think there are two of my biggest peeves here re: having an online conference:
1) UTTER LACK OF MODERATION! Tumblr is not a safe space. When I first blogged about the spatiality of Tumblr, I noted that people literally have no control over where and how a post is reblogged. This is how a post of mine pointing out racism degenerated down into a post encouraging prison rape. Same with another post about whiteness, cue me getting into fights with people who don’t understand what whiteness is, possible only because I was on the ball chasing problematic reblogs. BUT this doesn’t mean other people are spared the shitty reblogs. Even if the people you follow are safe, what they reblog may not be. And you probably will be able to see all the problematic reblogs on your dash ANYWAY.
2) Why a conference? Look, I’m not averse to doing and pulling in academic work onto Tumblr. I’ve met some brilliant academics on Tumblr, have had useful conversations with them. But this was under the tacit lack of formality that accompanies Tumblr, with all the fluidity of conversation that Tumblr allows. Imposing a conference format where people write papers and shit like that? Takes away from this kind of impromptu conversation.
Not to mention, given WHO is among the organizers? I am VERY LEERY of the adoption of a highly-formalized format and trying to insert Asians into an existing conversation about being POC in that manner. I straight out do not trust the organizers to create a space where marginalized peoples can speak and share and be addressed in return, not just because, see above, it’s impossible to create this space on Tumblr, but also because at least one of the organizers that I know of has outright dismissed arguments that don’t fall within her peculiarly formalized mode of engagement.
I’m sorry, if you say just ONCE “that person is not a faculty member of any institution” you can bet I’m going to SIDE-EYE YOU FOREVERRR.
Same goes for “sorry, I didn’t mean to”.
- Any standard that is unrealistic and homogenous is inherently damaging by creating inhuman expectations.
- This is especially true when Asian American socio-economic status, although higher on average than other non-white groups, can actually vary hugely between different populations. Hmong and Vietnamese communities are usually extremely poor, for example.
- The society around you has been socialized into thinking that you can automatically succeed— so when you inevitably fail at something, teachers, guidance counselors, and others are less likely to perceive that you need help.
- Obviously, if you’re broke, your parents have no time to help you out, and you have to face a language or cultural barrier, there will be problems. If no one thinks that people who look like you can even have said problems, then you’re basically stuck in the middle of an ocean without much help.
- Having classmates ask you for answers, and not knowing them.
- Or, if you do know the answer, but you refuse to tell them, they bring up the “model minority” thing and then you’re in a double bind— prove you’re intelligent and buy into the stereotype, or do what is honest and then be seen as not “authentic”, a liar, rude, etc.
- You are automatically seen as less likely for a sexual or romantic partner because you might a) intimidate people with your smarts, or b) be an antisocial “nerd”
- If you want to do something that is not math or science, like English, then people think it’s weird, because you aren’t supposed to be there.
- If you decide that math or science is right for you, then you have to deal with lots of jokes about being where you “belong”.
- Having to deal with the expectation that you are well-behaved, “well-adjusted” (whatever that means), and quiet. If you are loud, stand up for yourself, etc., it is more likely to be seen as offensive than if a person of another group acted that way.
- If you succeed in class, your successes are automatically discounted based on your race (“oh, he’s asian! that explains his good grades”), rather than being praised as evidence of your hard work.
- Rarely ever receiving praise, because it is expected of you and not seen as something exceptional.
- Feeling as if you cannot raise your hand to ask questions in class, because someone will immediately draw attention to how you do not fit the intelligent stereotype. This, of course, only contributes to feeling like you are not smart enough.
These are only a few examples.
I’m a Chinese/Filipino, Black/Mexican “mutt”. My mom is the Blaxican half, dad is the Asian half. Mom is very much what you would imagine her to be: short, fit, naturally tan, and a giant butt that she is very proud of. Her thighs are about the same, and it’s always been a source of insecurity for her. Growing up she would look in the mirror and complain about it, saying how she wished her naturally six packed waistline could effect her “arroz con pollo” thighs. Not a day went by that she didn’t hit the gym in an effort to kill off the cellulite she cursed and stood in the mirror swearing about while I watched.
Until puberty struck I had the average skinny Asian girl body most do as a child. Then with the force of a truck, it slammed me. I shot up to 5’7, sprouted a set of 32DD’s, and my hips hit a solid 36 inches in the span of 3 years. To say I was devastated is putting it gently. A 12 year old with the body of a grown woman is going to catch hell from her peers without question!
I started the binge and purge cycle at 13. My grandmother (Chinese) would buy me diet teas and whatever else she could bring me back from Hong Kong, not knowing that I was hardly keeping anything in as it was. The pounds dropped and she praised me for my effort, but always said it was too bad that I “got my mother’s legs.”
That started my self hatred for being mixed. Oh, how desperately I wanted to look more Chinese! If only I looked more Chinese, I would have a more Chinese body, I wouldn’t have these awful thighs and these awful breasts that made me look so dumpy. My hips wouldn’t be so fat. The athletic, hourglass body I inherited from my mother had been dieted down but I still wanted more.
After battling with myself throughout high school and my freshman year of college, I finally stopped. The end of a serious relationship and a new intense job drove me into the arms of food. I gained weight and my grandmother lost it. How could I be so sloppy? My mother mourned the loss of my perfect figure. I binged more.
Eventually I met someone who convinced me that pursuing healthy exercise in the form of biking and Capoeira was what I needed. I got myself to a healthy and strong weight, feeling on top of the world.
About a year ago I was assaulted and it resulted in the pregnancy of my now two month old son. When I went to tell my father? His response was that at least my son would be mostly Chinese. Back to not feeling good enough yet again.
I spent my whole pregnancy on a bad binge and purge cycle that towards the end landed me in the hospital. My son is healthy, happy, and that’s what matters…but I’m afraid that I’m not. I’m lumpy and shapeless. Scarred and saggy. Binge after binge and it’s an uphill battle every day, but I know that I will get better. The doctor has given me the green light to exercise and I’m shopping to replace my old bike. Next month I will be signing up for Mommy and Me swim classes, even though it kills me to wear a one piece for the first time.
Above all else? I will remember that I am good enough. No matter what I weigh, how Chinese I look or don’t look, or how thunderous my thighs my be.
At least until I have my meet my soon to be, ultra old fashioned Korean in laws. Hey, I’m a work in progress.