Category Archives: woc

for teish cannon

last week we mourned the passing of duanna johnson. a few days later, another trans woman of color has been killed. this wednesday thursday is trangender day of remembrance, i hope you will remember our lost and speak out.

even after death
they stuff our bodies into boxes
ironing out the creases of our complexities
they use blades, fists
violence
institutions
and blood-tinged spit
to fold us into the faceless other
the soulless

even after death,
they refuse to recognize our names,
our genders, our loved ones.

even after death.
have you no respect?

no i don’t expect anything from you
i know better than that
but if not for who we are
if not for our communities
if not for the mourning families,
at least for the dead?

at least for the dead?
who, with your mocking
your open hatred
your silence,
have taken part in killing?

have you no damn respect?

6 Comments

Filed under queer, violence, woc, writing/poetry

forgotten tongues

while transferring from my wheelchair, i look at the ceiling and scream dramatically
“i have forgotten p!!”
“blood? pi???” my mom asks worriedly in corean
“no umma! the letter p! p-ubt!”
i am quiet for a moment then ask
“…what does it look like?”

disregarding the grave nature of this situation, she shakes her head at me and leaves the room, telling me i need to spend less time on the computer.
(i love that she equates any lack of knowledge on my part to too much time in front of the computer.)
does she not know what losing language, letter by letter,
script by script, means to me?

i think back to middle school where i won an international writing contest sponsored by south korea’s national tourism agency
the local k-times newspaper interviewed me and put my picture on the front page
unraveling and ragged, my mom carried that folded, faded yellow picture with her for years

the writing prompt was something simple like “why do you ❤ korea?”
and while older americans australians and europeans wrote about delicious food, a culture of respect, and hiking geumgangsan, eighth grade me submitted an essay about king sejong’s work
the theme of the essay focused on hangul as the language of the people
now of course i didn’t know about globalization colonization assimilation
the struggle of people of color in this world
or resistance back then
but the power of language
as generator
for maintaining community
was obvious
to even my middle school half corean
broken-tongue self
sejong’s refusal to let language belong to the aristocracy brought writing and literature to the people
creating a new era for the joseon people

now i am left flailing my arms with a sense of loss
will future generations of my family
only know korea
through margaret cho comedy sound bytes?
mentions of the eradication of the dmz in history books
and store-bought kimchi they eat at their halmoni’s house?
has it really been 8 years since i have traveled to see my family?
did i really encourage my mother’s students to change their names from hankyul hanbyul youngkwang and myunghan
to heather ellen danny and kevin?

no. yes. no. yes. yes.
what to do with this,
where to go with this,
i don’t know.
for now i will start with the letter p.

Leave a comment

Filed under woc, writing/poetry

an open letter

Dear Wheelchair Dancer,

Hey sister— thanks for your blog post on the elections, racism, prop 8. I’ve been in such a funny place lately after all of this and your writing really helped me in naming why.

Sylvia posted a tweet the other day about wanting to wrap Obama in bubble wrap, Teflon, a condom, Fort Knox— anything— to keep him safe until January 20th. That’s kind of how I feel about my emotions. And I hate to sound cliché here, but also my hope. My head knows what this election means and what this election does not mean but I still want scream Yes We Can!, rock my Obama shirt in classes full of Republicans, and, well, just bask in the symbolism of it. I want to believe in what everyone else believes in for more than one night, even if a lot of it is compartmentalizing what I know and not thinking about things folks like Moya and so many others are sayin’. So I close my door, download all the free mixtapes people are producing for Obama, and bullshit around happily.

But then it changes, right? At least it did for me, couldn’t even last a week. I read a message from VivirLatino about another mass ICE raid where over 100 people are rounded up in Florida and separated from their families. I hear white racist gay folks getting time on the tv and then blame Prop 8 on communities of color! I get an email from someone I really care about saying someone she knows was being beaten to death from what seems like a hate crime. With tears in my eyes I read of Duanna Johnson’s death and then see talk show radio hosts trying to leave comments on my blog saying they’re advocates while simultaneously disrespecting who she was. All these things tear me right from that cloudy good place. These things come at me like a million lightening bolts, reminding me of all the work that needs to be done and more importantly, who will be the ones doing this work.

It will be us. We will do it cause there isn’t anyone else but us, the people, la gente. So like our dear friend asks in her blog— as organizers, as artists, as community-builders, as dreamers, how can we learn from his campaign? How can we get the folks on the ground, many who weren’t believers in power of people before, to keep dreaming and ready to pick up other tools? How do we stay focused? Clear-headed? How do we build this bigger than non-profits, projects, campaigning?

And what about when the evil, the hate, the bondage is internal— How do we combat these things when they come in the form of our communities, people we love? I mean I didn’t truly understand what racism and white privilege really meant until I got involved in social movements, you know? Is it possible to take these conversations happening post-Prop 8 and turn them into something that lasts? Will there be room to sew close our open wounds, our mistrust? And is it even worth it, trying to work it out with gays and lesbians who will always choose marriage, gentrification, assimilation and capital building as priorities, when so many fellow queers are homeless, forgotten, oppressed, closeted, beaten, denied their humanity?

I’m really hoping you have some answers, that someone has answers. In the meantime, thanks for being who you are, for our gchats, for the love…

In solidarity and w/ love,
cripchick

4 Comments

Filed under activism, community, homophobia/heterosexism, internal change, organizing, queer, violence, woc

for duanna johnson

a picture of duanna johnson

sister, i am angry
furious at your death
upset with my own foolishness in celebrating him
while you die in the streets

with beatings, with violence left on your beautiful brown skin
with the names, the silence, the mainstream media lies
they refuse to let us ever forget that
guns penetrating our backs, we are always standing at the cliff of our own mortality

sister, i am in mourning
lighting a candle, i read this poem into the glimmering light
my poem is a prayer for you,
for the others i will never have the opportunity of knowing, and for the friends who mourn your death today
we will not forget. we will speak your name.

you said no!, you would not let police brutality and violence against transgender women of color fade into an invisible cloud of silence
you said no…
and now you are gone.

you are gone
but we will not forget.
the anger, the connection, the injustice just cuts too deep.
instead we will carry your name on our tongue
your bravery in our own ribcage
your memory in our work
we will wear red everyday
remembering you
and countless of others

we will not forget, sister.

6 Comments

Filed under queer, race, violence, woc

on election night

two disabled girls
both of color,
both in their twenties,
both stuck at home,
sit together over the phone
waiting for president-elect
mr. barack hussein obama
to appear on stage

one girl tells her friend that tomorrow they have to go out and buy newspapers
“giiirl! we’ll be able to point at the framed headline—OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT and tell our kids that their potential knows no bounds!
that they can dream as big as they want
that the world,
this day, is theirs!
our children! my children! my future babies!
god is good. god is good”
she sighs happily

the other one, half listening, whispers “all the time.”
“god is good all the time.”
she is sitting close to the television— 8 inches away to be precise— and without realizing it, she is scanning the crowds looking for trouble, as though she has the power to reach out to chicago and protect this man from any harm
not believing it is really possible for this man, this black man, to be president,
she asks her friend again and again “is this real?”
“will we wake up tomorrow and know this only in our dreams?”
her friend assures her it is real.
a million times her friend assures her it is real.

the first girl, a surprisingly staunch believer in the american dream, cries
she thanks god, believing that this is nothing short of a miracle, something sent down from heaven for the people
a blessed provision that will get us all through hard times

the second girl, the one still scared to let go, continues asking her friend if this whole thing is real
she realizes that though she has spent hours, days, months, preparing herself for what will happen to communities of color if this man loses the elections,
she has not put any thought into what could happen if this man actually won
WON!
her world feels like it has grown bigger,
her lungs deeper
her dreams more possible
if a black man—actually any person of color— can be president, what else will she see in her lifetime?
what things can she, with community, envision, hold close, and build together?
the potential of it all burns brighter than even before
she lets go
the two girls cry together
both with happiness
hope
and for now, the axing of dreams deferred.

here’s to the future.
change we build.
hope we carry.
our dreams.
the dreams of our children.

4 Comments

Filed under community, i love my people, woc, writing/poetry

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.

8 Comments

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

i am wearing red today

red image of two women screaming out when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. but when we are silent, we are still afraid, so it is better to speak. (audre lorde)

click on the image above to learn more.

2 Comments

Filed under reproductive justice, violence, woc