Category Archives: API-A

singing the mixed girl blues

he thinks my friend and i are blood
(she is near 6 feet tall. i am 4’9.)
i laugh politely
(she has blonde hair. my hair is red lacquer brown.)
hiding my disappointment
(she is white. do i look white?)

sometimes i can see how people could think we’re related
the only time my tongue is accentuated with ah-cham! and aihigoos is when in despair
my pale red-cheeked skin is only olive during the summer time
my thoughts are articulated through southern y’alls, random oh mys, and valley girl “totally like y’know, right?…!”
disappointed i leave the coffee shop
wondering if i should be wearing shit with dragons and cherry blossoms on it
throwing kung-fu kicks around
maybe being his asian american stereotype is better than this.

whenever i feel alone— like now, when people mistake me for white—
i bring my hands to my face
you are there, hidden in the crevices of my palms
whispering “remember me even when it is easy to forget”
yes. especially when it is easiest to forget.
i think about what struggle my ancestors have been through so i can sit here
and do silly things
like lament identity and perceived whiteness

whenever i am ashamed of my broken korean or misspelled hangul
i run my fingers through my hair,
hearing the plucking of gayageums and the sweep of hanboks brushing against the floor
the harmony of fans, drums, and people remind me that we share more than consonants and vowels
i smile, thankful for this heritage

whenever i feel lost in anti-racist work, wondering where my people fit into this black-white dichotomy that does not allow room for families being torn apart by ice raids,
leaves out colonization so we can focus on “issues at home”
and saves stolen land as a topic for later discussion
(while simultaneously wondering where all the non-black people of color are gonna represent)
i want to scream!
instead i think of my sisters and the amazing support system we’ve built for each other
not coalition building, no
but community building and community weaving
inspired by their work and love i keep on

i remember
i myself
am a mixed girl
who is loved
by other mixed girls
by negotiators of this body
lovers of this skin
other occupiers of fuzzy, seemingly conflicting
identities and space
i am loved
and this is enough.

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Filed under API-A, i love my people, identity, woc, writing/poetry

thoughts on the politics of independence

“the community is not great for anyone until it is great for everyone.”        –WIDU motto
Continue reading

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Filed under ableism, abolishing medical and charity models of thinking, API-A, community, disability, i love my people, race, woc

one last post on tropic thunder

I’ve been thinking a lot about the strategies the disability community has used in responding to the movie Tropic Thunder. I wanted to wait until the initial media coverage passed so this conversation could be held more internally and not distract from the message we were putting out there.

The amazing Jess Hoffman from Makeshift magazine was recently a guest blogger at Feministe (h/t to Sudy) and has been writing a lot about capitalism and feminism. In part of Jess’ last post, she built on the words of Sister Lorde, Moraga, Anzaldua, and others to talk about why intersectionality was needed in feminist communities. Jess pointed out that this intersectional analysis created by radical women of color has often been misinterpreted and stolen by feminists to say something along the lines of “because *some* women have multiple identities, we need to address their experience” instead of “all systems of power are linked and a multiple-issue analysis is the only way to defeat oppression”.

Excerpt:

So it’s not just that some individual people experience multiple forms of oppression, or even that all people have some kind of personal relationship with all systems of oppression… but also that the systems of power themselves—racism, economic hierarchy, sexism, heteronormativity, ableism, etc.—are working together.

Included in our activism against ableism and the use of the r-word in Tropic Thunder have been statements from disability organizations and disability activists along the lines of “People can’t say n*gger, w*tback, or other racial oppressive words but they can still say r*tard!”, “Disability is the last frontier!”, “When making Tropic Thunder, Dreamworks brought in African American consultants to make sure the movie wasn’t offensive—where were the disability consultants?”

Though I think I know what this feeling is based on—the frusteration of ableism not being addressed as oppression in activist communities and mainstream society—I believe this short-term strategy or sentiment absolutely cannot be a part of our activism. Not only does this strategy alienate disabled people who have multiple identities but it does nothing to address oppression. When we say these kinds of things, it says that we believe racism, heterosexism, sexism, etc are personal conflicts that happens between people (and that we’ve overcome!), not institutions in which our soicety is based upon. It ignores families being ripped apart by ICE raids, trans women of color being killed everyday, and the ever-growing prison industrial complex.

One leader in the disability community rightfully pointed out the need to stick with the issue of the r-word and not swamping it with 17 other disability issues. I agreed with him, afterall, our society and movement have a history of silencing people with intellectual disabilities. But still, why weren’t the other connections made? How come we chose not to talk about all of the other horrible imagery (particularly against Asian-Pacific Islander folks)? Some responses I’ve seen to this question have been that it is more strategic. Is it really strategic in the long run and if we decide that it is— strategic for who?

I believe our activism has to be bigger than our own oppression but if you want, let’s talk about strategies for our movement. I believe it IS strategic to talk about other systems of oppressions—how else can we expect to have the system of oppression we face as disabled people recognized? How can we even go into social justice work uwilling to talk about the privileges we have?

This can’t be done in a superficial, let’s-high-five-Dr.-King way. What good is our activism, anyways, if it’s based on the backs of others?

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Filed under ableism, activism, API-A, community, disability, feminism, homophobia/heterosexism, organizing

ask me

the radicalagitator tagged me in a meme that asked me to describe myself in a 6 words. I chose “i am tears, i am beauty” and worked it into this poem i’ve been playing around with for a while. i tag anyone that wants to play (cheating? yeah well this post isn’t exactly 6 words anyways). : ) Continue reading

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Filed under API-A, community, disability, i love my people, intersections, woc, writing/poetry

to all the grace lees

hat tip (h/t) to kimchi mamas:

from the grace lee project website: When Korean American filmmaker Grace Lee was growing up in Missouri, she was the only Grace Lee she knew. Once she left the Midwest however, everyone she met seemed to know “another Grace Lee.” But why did they assume that all Grace Lees were reserved, dutiful, piano-playing overachievers? The filmmaker plunges into a highly unscientific investigation into all those Grace Lees who break the mold — from a fiery social activist to a rebel who tried to burn down her high school. With wit and charm, THE GRACE LEE PROJECT puts a hilarious spin on the eternal question, “What’s in a name?”

i love it.

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Filed under API-A, links

faith

a postcard that says My pastor always talks about how if people would find God they wouldn’t need pills. I’m bipolar but I took his advice–my pastor is an idiot

The word idiot makes me uncomfortable in the same way that retard, dumb, and crazy do, but this card from this week’s postsecret collection really spoke to me. It reads: “My pastor always talks about how if people would find God they wouldn’t need pills. I’m bipolar but I took his advice–my pastor is an idiot!”

One of the defining moments in my life was when a particular revivalist was in town and my mom dragged me to go see him. During the service, the congregation got in this mode of deep prayer and speaking in tongues and he asked me to come up. When I went up to the pulpit, he started praying hard and telling me to get out of my wheelchair and walk. Of course I refused— at that point in time I couldn’t stand without support (and who wants to fall on their face in front of the whole church?) I had been getting this for years and normally the pastors back down. This guy didn’t. He yelled at me and told the congregation that I did not walk because I did not have enough faith. From then on, they whispered about me. Continue reading

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Filed under ableism, API-A, disability

Asia-America, Where have you gone?

“you are not in the tattoo parlors etching yourself on the shoulders of frat boys
your blood is not mixed in the corporate flavor of a chai tea latte
you are not in the Civics drag-racing down Chinatown
or the place I fucking do my laundry…
but instead, you are the life-giving river rippling up the crooked spine of my loving mother,
you are the farmer’s tan skin I rock like pride into the summer,
you are the ambition my father sewed into my body when he raised me so I could provide for my children what my parents never gave me—
asia-america, you’re more than your key words of hair, and skin, and eyes
but you’re the reason I give my life to poetry.
you’re the fire that I speak, this tapestry I’m trying to weave…”

                —Alvin Lau, spoken word poet

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Filed under API-A, spoken word