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Solidarity: You are doing it wrong


I have been gone too long, tumblr-land. I have returned to discuss with you the stupidity of navel-gazing, antiquated racial nationalism and how white supremacy has bled into the brains and hearts of our people, so much so that they can’t even remember history correctly.

To prevent me from burying the lede, I will state this upfront: Asian American organizations, associations, and institutions, especially the professional ones and the ones with influence or power, need to stop being so goddamned self-absorbed and show solidarity with other communities of color. This post is about a tragic example of that not happening. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year, it’s that there’s no such thing as neutral. If AAPI groups aren’t standing against white supremacy, they are supporting it. Stop supporting white supremacy.

And now, for some rambling and ranting.

Once upon a time, I wrote a journal article that went something like this: Asian Americans cannot buy political empowerment. Some Asian American leaders have bought wholesale into the Model Minority Myth, and think they can buy political empowerment, but they are wrong. That road leads down only the crumbs of white supremacy and the gluttony of unreformed capitalism for a small elite, none of which do the smallest shit for the Asian Americans who are struggling the most, nor for all Asian Americans insofar as creating a society based on justice and free of white supremacy protects us from the sort of not-so-random acts of racist violence and discrimination that Asian Americans face daily, whether or not media and Asian American political elites choose to recognize it.

When I wrote that article, however, I didn’t imagine that something like what happened at at the Asian American Journalists Association national convention this week could happen. And what happened was this:


One would think that, in a gathering of all of the most prominent Asian Americans who have inherent in their job titles the responsibility to report the news, the convention organizers, or the speakers, or the panelists themselves would want to talk about the most important story of the day. Perhaps the most important story of the year. Namely, the dawning realization of non-Black America that police and vigilantes have and are killing unarmed Black women and men even yet now, in the 21st century, as seen now in Ferguson, where a teenager named Mike Brown, just about to start college, was shot six times by a police officer for jaywalking. Regardless of the specifics of what happened between Mike Brown and the police officer, regardless of what the teen was or was not doing before the encounter, the fact remains that there was an unarmed Black teen who said “don’t shoot” and raised his hands in surrender, for which he was shot and killed by a white police officer.

But if one thought that the AAJA, a group of journalists, would talk about the story that has dominated the 24-hour news cycle for the last week, one would be wrong. Gil Asakawa of Nisei Blog reported that he only heard Ferguson mentioned twice by panelists, and agreed with the Maynard Institute’s Richard Prince (to whose article he was responding) that there were, in fact, no official convention events or talks or opportunities to discuss the issue.

Here’s a general digression, for a moment: Look, folks, I realize a professional association convention is a very complicated thing to organize. My wife organized one recently for a professional science association, for an attendance of about the same size as AAJA, and that business is no joke. It takes a long time to find speakers, panelists, and to figure out all the topics to be covered. All these things are planned ahead of time. But if there was some discovery in that scientific field that happened at the same time as the conference, you can bet that every speaker and panelist would be trying  to figure out how to link that discovery to their work, and in any case, everyone at the convention would be buzzing about it. You wouldn’t be able to not talk about it.

And yet the exact opposite is exactly what happened at the AAJA conference. Huge news story, only two of many many speakers seem to care.

Oh yeah, they were in D.C., with tons of Ferguson solidarity activism happening immediately around them.

All this is to say, Gil Asakawa needs not not be defensive about Richard Prince calling out the AAJA for their major solidarity fail on this one. I’m not going to link Asakawa’s blog post here, because he doesn’t need to get more clicks, but it’s full of stupid historical untruths, and even worse analysis. Instead, I’ll just summarize and refute his nonsense excuses for you.

Gil’s first excuse is that the conference was planned months ago, to which I say, see above.

Gil’s second excuse is that Asian Americans just don’t protest. Seriously. What, you think my summary is inaccurate? Fine, this is what he says:

When I think about it, there haven’t been many instances of Asian Americans protesting and marching as a group. Individuals have been involved in political activism – some high-profile Japanese Americans were involved in the civil rights movement, for instance, and marched alongside black leaders (and even with the Black Panthers, though it turns out, as an FBI informant). There were protests during the era that established Asian American studies in universities. And there were protests after the Vincent Chin murder in 1982, arguably a pivotal moment when an “Asian American” identity came together.

But there weren’t mass protests when Japanese Americans were rounded up and sent to concentration camps during World War II.

Wow. Just wow. No Asian American protesting or marching as a group? He seems to have forgotten the 70s and 80s entirely. It wasn’t just college kids, dude. And way to go promoting those unproven potential jacketing of hero Richard Aoki. I guess if you can’t even show solidarity to your own folks, what hope is there for you? Sorry, this excuse is just too factually incorrect and nonsensical for me to continue any further with.

Gil’s third excuse, Asian American cultural values keep us from public displays of anger. Has this guy actually ever been around other Asian Americans? What is this Model Minority nonsense? Asian Americans get angry all the time. Individually, I could write all sorts of funny examples. But collectively, come on. No one would know who Cesar Chavez was if it wasn’t for Pilipino farmworkers organizing first, and then pushing the reluctant Chavez to strike Delano farms. Those farmworkers were some angry folks, and publicly. Asian American kids and elderly got into brawls with SFPD trying to stop them from evicting the residents of I Hotel. I’ve personally yelled my voice gone alongside other Asian Americans at living wage marches, rallies against racist ballot propositions, rallies against tuition hikes, protests against occupation and apartheid.

There is no excuse that Gil can give, no amount of hand-wringing and “I hope we aren’t as bad as we look” that he can pantomime that explains why Asian American journalists (journalists!) couldn’t even issue a statement in solidarity with those reporters in Ferguson who were being arrested for doing their jobs, as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists has done. Better yet would have been a statement supporting those residents of Ferguson who were also trying to exercise their own First Amendment rights (the assembly part; it’s not just about the press, you know).

There is no excuse.

This is not how AAPI build solidarity. This is not how anyone builds solidarity. Asian Americans, and especially our journalists, need to be telling these stories. First, because it is morally right, and justice demands it. White supremacy in America is white supremacy, and like Voldemort, must be called by its true name. But even for those who want to be selfish, who think they can get away with playing Model Minority and that racism will never catch up to them, even they must recognize that when something happens to AAPI, whether we have built actual and meaningful coalitions, whether we have stood with others when they needed us to, that will determine if anyone else covers our story, joins our cries for justice, stands with us.

This is a fail, and the Asian American journalists who have not been covering the story in Ferguson should all be ashamed. As for the rest of us, we should be pushing those who claim to represent us, in the media world, in other professional arenas, in the halls of money and power, to recognize the fact that white supremacy exists, and that we all suffer for it. We suffer from it now when it is strengthened by the attacks on the freedom of Black Americans, we suffer from it when our Black and Brown brothers and sisters are racially profiled, and we suffer from it when we, ourselves, with no one left to stand with us, become the ones facing down the sinister barrel that is racism in America.

(via emiliers)

Filed under Ferguson Mike Brown

307 notes

With Korra, we didn’t want her to be perfect or have everything figured out. She was awesome at this one skill or this set of skills, but still had a lot of growing up to do. She’s basically a girl who was secluded away for most of her life at the south pole, didn’t really have any friends or close friends - and was set off into the world to like, not only save the world, but then have these relationships with people her age and stuff. You’re bound to make some stupid decisions or not say the right thing all the time. But I think once people sees the full series arc she goes through… you know, she comes to a nice place.
 Michael Dante DiMartino (x)  (via shinyshiney)

Filed under yeeeeesssssss people who expect korra to be perfectly patient and never mess up need to understand how much she has to shoulder and how hard she's trying to handle it all with the limited preparation she was given korra

59,521 notes



[Image: a series of tweets by justified agitator (@Awkward_Duck) on August 19, 2014.

1:23 AM: We literally laid in someone’s backyard for what seemed like an eternity while tanks rolled down the streets #Ferguson

1:26 AM: I’m live tweeting because there’s a media blackout. #Ferguson

1:33 AM: I’m so shaken. They’re literally just rolling around throwing tear gas into neighborhoods-not aggressive crowds. #Ferguson

1:34 AM: I was pouring milk over one guys eyes when they came back around and threw another at us. #Ferguson

1:51 AM: Let me repeat, THEY ARE GASSING NEIGHBORHOODS not crowds of protestors.There was only a few of us walking. there is no curfew, so why?]

For the “Why would a child be at a rally? where are the parents?!” crowd: THEY ARE GASSING NEIGHBORHOODS, INDISCRIMINATELY. Reports of teargas being thrown into people’s BACKYARDS have been filed. People are being ARRESTED FOR TRYING TO LEAVE AN AREA AFTER TEAR GAS IS DEPLOYED.

Get the fuck over yourself.

(via crystalzelda)

Filed under ferguson mike brown police brutality

63,476 notes




BREAKING: Black Man Shot and Killed by Police in South L.A.

A 24-year-old man has died after being shot by police during an encounter in the Florence neighborhood of South Los Angeles, officials said Tuesday.

The incident began at 8:12 p.m. when officers responded to a report of a shooting at the intersection of West 65th Street and South Broadway, said Lt. Ellis Imaizumi of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Eight minutes later, at 8:20 p.m., the officers stopped a man who was walking in the 200 block of 65th, authorities said.

“A struggle ensued” and police opened fire, according to a statement from the Police Department.

The man was transported to a hospital where he underwent surgery, according to Officer Sara Faden, spokeswoman for the LAPD. He later succumbed to his injuries. No officers were hurt in the incident.

It is unknown if the suspect has any gang affiliations, police said.

A woman who said she was the deceased man’s mother identified him as Ezell Ford.

Tritobia Ford said her son was lying on the ground and complying with the officers’ commands when he was shot.

Yet another one…It’s always a “struggle.” And why bring it up if it’s unknown. They know exactly what they’re insinuating. Be fearful of black people and not the police… This is insanity. 

EZELL FORD WAS UNARMED. This happened just two days after Mike Brown’s murder. (8/11)

UPDATE: It has been reported that Ezell Ford was mentally disabled.


An eyewitness to the killing, Leroy Hill, describes what happened: “He wasn’t a gang banger at all. I was sitting across the street when it happened. So as he was walking down the street, the police approached him, whatever was said I couldn’t hear it, but the cops jumped out of the car and rushed him over here into this corner. They had him in the corner and were beating him, busted him up, for what reason I don’t know but he didn’t do nothing. The next thing I know I hear a ‘pow!’ while he’s on the ground. They got the knee on him. And then I hear another ‘pow!’ No hesitation. And then I hear another ‘pow!’ Three times.”

At one point while the police had Ford on the ground, but before the shooting took place, Hill said, he heard an officer yell, “Shoot him.”

Unrest has rocked the suburb in the days following Brown’s death. At least four people, including two police officers, have been hurt and 47 arrested in the aftermath of the shooting.


On Wednesday morning in South LA, a group of about 10 young and middle-aged men gathered at a makeshift sidewalk memorial lined with candles and signs that read “Police brutality must stop.”

The men at the memorial near the sight of the shooting were visibly shaken by the events that had unfolded there Monday night. They expressed anger toward the LAPD. They said that Ford wasn’t a gang member at all — that he was a “good guy,” a local man who was born and raised in the neighborhood, one whom everyone knew and liked, who routinely played basketball and who also suffered from some form of mental illness.

While all of the men said Ford suffered from some mental illness, they couldn’t confirm what it was. One young neighbor, who requested to not be identified, said that while “he wasn’t all there, he was there enough to follow orders and know to stop when the police tell him to stop. He did nothing wrong.”

Another eyewitness told KTLA that Ford’s mental state was well-known in the neighborhood and to the police.

"They laid him out and for whatever reason, they shot him in the back, knowing mentally, he has complications. Every officer in this area, from the Newton Division, knows that — that this child has mental problems," the man said in an interview with the local network. "The excessive force … there was no purpose for it. The multiple shootings in the back while he’s laying down? No. Then when the mom comes, they don’t try to console her … they pull the billy clubs out." The young neighbor described the incident as "racial bullshit."



(via emiliers)

Filed under ezell ford police brutality

8,229 notes

People aren’t talkin about the news, they’re talking about what they think the news is. There is no news channel saying “This is what happened, draw your own conclusions.” We have made this country so bereft of critical thinking, that now we have a problem where we have to teach them to think for themselves.

We have no unified authority, or problem solvers. We have congressman discussing environmentalism, when they don’t understand half the problems our earth is going through. We go to congress instead of going to people who have worked their whole LIFE trying to solve these problems. When it comes to racism, we’re asking a panel of white dudes, when it comes to sexism and woman’s rights we ask a panel of white priests on what they think. IT’S INSANITY! We ask people who are not in the arena they should be speaking in/for.

AND THAT’S WHY WE DON’T trust the media, it’s because they’re not in the arena of black experience, and they don’t care about the black experience, UNTIL something bad happens and they have the tools to paint us as destructive, ugly and evil!

The response of a Protester in Ferguson who was asked by a reporter as to why most of the protesters didn’t want their faces on tv.  (via sara-the-narco)

(via emiliers)

Filed under social issues