Where is your energy going towards?
If you’ve been following me on IG this past month, you have seen lots of things being discussed and explained. What I’m learning and noticing is WHERE PEOPLE’S ENERGY LOVE TO BE SPENT ON: centering and prioritizing whiteness and feelings. The thing that makes me angry is that of all the things that I have written and spoken about in celebration and expression of Asian Americans and POC, there isn’t the same energy usually. I have some people who understand and relate to the things I write in the most supportive way, but the moment that there are more people who are defending whiteness is the moment I realize that my space needs to have clearer boundaries. THIS SPACE online and offline is for brown and black voices. I have spent my whole life catering to white feelings and perspectives, and I am NOT going to spend another second doing that…to the best of my ability, because I’m still wired to bend to whiteness.
I went to this lecture featuring Hoda Katebi earlier in May, and I’m still thinking and reabsorbing so much of what she bought up. I’ll share a couple things I learned from her lecture:
Orientalism and its history. Watch this video she showed us.
“Islamophobia” should be replaced with “Anti Muslim Racism,” because “Islamophobia” insinuates that its something you’re born with and isn’t that harmful…like the fear of spiders/arachnophobia or the fear of small spaces/claustrophobia.
Representation isn’t always good. Hoda talked about how it seems like there’s more representation in media especially when it comes to seeing the hijab in mainstream spaces. For example, Nike created the first sports hijab, which seems great at first. Hoda taught that it is in face HARMFUL, because the manufacturing of the hijab exploits Muslim women who work in Nike sweatshops. READ HODA’S ARTICLE ABOUT THIS. Another point she made is that she made is that the focus on the hijab erases other Muslim women who don’t wear the hijab. This portrayal is a caricature and misidentifier of Muslim women.
There is no such thing as a VOICELESS COMMUNITY. All marginalized people have a voice and are screaming to be heard, but systemic racism keeps them from being heard. It’s not about giving people a voice, but it is dismantling white supremacy so that there is equal opportunity to speaking.
In a group conversation, Hoda expressed how she hates the word “empower.” She said that its mostly used when people in power aka white people “save” brown and black people. It furthers white saviorism, and also represents brown and black communities as unable to be respectable. When people use this word, it is centered on how they want “empower” someone who is lower than themselves.
“I had this dream the other night where there are all these bugs in my path, and at first I can only see the big sized bugs. The terrifying part were as my eyes adjusted there were millions of these tiny baby bugs. It’s this reoccurring theme where I feel the need to figure a way to get rid of them, but knowing it’s impossible.
I’m not sure what it indicates, but I think the dream expresses my anxiety. It’s the overwhelming feeling where there are all these things where some are big and a million of them are small.
If you feel the same, I invite you to entering back to your body and into the present. After you read this, put your phone away and just take a few deep breaths. Look around and notice lines in your view like the window sill and see how the lines form patterns and shapes with other lines. See how the pattern repeats or change into something else. Anything to get us into the present is crucial. Because anxiety (I'm not talking about hardships) lives in that overwhelming future place where we feel out of control. (I'm taking this exercise from something I heard from a podcast or meditation, but I can't remember where. Wish I could give it credit!)
Last thing, Intersectionality has everything to do with the experience of anxiety. If you are BIPOC, you are born into society with a set of overwhelming difficulties against you. So have self compassion and kindness for yourself today.”
I cannot recommend this book more!! It shows the complexity of trans racial adopting, and expresses so many human experiences and emotions of finding belonging. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned so much.
By race forward
by Lena Felton
I watched season 1 the second time around, because I saw that it was out on Netflix. This show is set in the late 80’s and is about the New York City ball culture. I highly recommend it!
Week 19 of #TWintersectionalfridays! Today's feature is incredible, and I'm excited to have @yenalynn as my guest for today! So much vulnerability and insight. Every week, I'm encouraged in this work of reclaiming our identities and dismantling white supremacy. Yena's perspective is powerful, and I'm so glad we all get to read about it.
#TWintersectionalfridays: Space to explore intersections of identity and systems of oppression. Space to tell your story. Space to listen. Every Friday of 2019. // Week 19/52. 'Yena' / 8x8 in. / mixed media on paper
I have learned SO MUCH from Aja. Here is a post she posted that spoke to me:
“Stop calling us #radicals. When you do, all you are doing is sensationalizing the work of activists like myself who ultimately want #peaceand #fairness of all of us and there is nothing radical about that idea.
I’ve noticed a trend with folks who call me radical when I talk about #race and give #whitesupremacy a name. The only folks who think that message radical are the ones which benefit the most from a super unhealthy balance of power and cannot stand the idea of losing that. This unevenly tipped scale is definitely the reason we’re in this mess, whether you’re looking at #climatechange or #colonization. These are not extreme views, they are FAIR views. The scale is tipped so far to one side that folks reason in their brains that any resemblance of balance is extreme.
I think there’s an initial fear that if people like myself had any power, we would do the same as those who have abused my ancestors and kinfolk. It’s disappointing because my value system would never allow me to treat any human that way. Ever. I will never have the drive for it because I simply don’t have the greed. The closer I get to having it all the less I want it all.
I don’t like being told that my work is radical because there’s nothing radical about wanting an even playing field for all. The work I present to you isn’t even controversial. It’s fair. It only seems controversial because you’ve been lead to believe that by the status quo. There’s nothing radical about believing that the wealth and power in this planet have been unfairly and unevenly distributed. There’s nothing radical about questioning why resource rich and labor rich countries are all poor while countries with few resources seem to have so much (hello America, what are you exporting these days? The answer is #colonization). There’s nothing radical about giving a name to the harmful systems which oppress us so we can move forward as better humans.
There is nothing radical about wanting a decent wage and clean drinking water for ALL HUMANS. There is nothing radical about believing that rich countries shouldn’t be allowed to rob poor countries blind.
My work is not radical. It is righteous.”
BONUS: Aja Barber shows up for Intersectional Fridays in June! READ IT HERE.
celeste ng in conversation with eve l. ewing
This event was a dream come true!!! To be in the presence of two LEGENDARY authors was really really special, and I got to get all my books signed by them too! It was also really special to experience with my dear friend, Brit. We talked about how refreshing it was to have two women on stage having conversations without a hint of competition or ego. They were honest, funny, insightful, and vulnerable. I was struck by how powerful to see my representation on stage - Celeste Ng is Chinese and her parents are from Hong Kong. It was so awesome to hear her background and relate it to it so much!
I appreciate you and your support!
If my work has impacted you positively, I would love for you to share my PATREON with your friends and family. Every little bit of support helps me immensely.