This was all meant to be a grand experiment.
I needed to write more, so I bought blogspace thinking that if I were paying for it I'd feel obligated to actually fill it with words, and fill it with words I did. For a time.
Meant to be a meditation on Asian American Los Angeles from the perspective of a busy Asian American Angeleno such as myself, inevitably my involvement in "the community" took up enough time that maintaining the blog became almost impossible.
At least, that's the excuse I give. In reality, I was finding it hard to mine words to fill this blog with.
On a national, local, and personal scale, this has been an incomprehensibly hard twelve months. Over the course of the past year, the city, the country, and the world have continued to change at an increasingly overwhelming rate. Normally I try to grasp at the heart of an issue, a happening, or the revolution of the cosmos as they happen but in the part six months it's been tough to find a handle. I have four or five draft posts in my queue that I never published because I didn't feel they fully communicated my headspace.
Even this post may sit in limbo for a few weeks.
In reality it was hard to continue writing about closing Little Tokyo businesses, the continued murders of Black folks, the strange position of Asian America right now in relation to the mainstream discussion of race, or even (cause it's really the topic of the moment) the state of our political system and a certain toupee we may end up with as POTUS.
So I stepped back, mostly out of fear and uncertainty. As I saw people sharing my posts or happily had conversations about my writing, I started to wonder if I was really fit to be putting thoughts out into the world when there was already so much being written. Why add my voice to the overwhelming cloud of thoughtpieces that already clog Facebook feeds everywhere?
We live in a world that continues to lament social media's impact on how we connect with each other's humanity while simultaneously feeding into a culture of reaction and further reaction to reaction. In a year where there has been so much to react to and a cycling tornado of this reaction without conversation, I calmly slowed my keyboard and stepped away from my devices. My voice, I understood, was not needed.
I was watching the Oscars a couple weeks back. Hanging at my parents' place and lazily checking Twitter on my phone, my curiousity piqued as I clicked through to the hashtag #NotYourMule, sparked partially by Chris Rock's failure to address the background and intent of #OscarsSoWhite and partially by an Asian American Twitter user who asked where the Asian American equivalent of #OscarsSoWhite was. A number of Black tweeters were quick to respond that a) #OscarsSoWhite was meant to include non-Black POC and b) even though they do it generally, why was it their duty as Black women to do everyone's liberation work? Agreed.
I scrolled through the tweets, wondering why this Asian American tweeter felt like they weren't included in that hashtag and why I so often see Asian Americans putting ourselves in opposition to the longstanding work of other POC organizers, work that we've benefitted from and participated in for generations.
Twenty minutes later, Chris Rock brought out two Asian American kids for the sole purpose of an accounting joke followed seconds later by a Chinese factory joke. I was floored.
What followed was a flood of conversation about Asian America, much of which was not guided by any understanding of that complex position we hold in America's discussion about race, but rather this gut feeling we experience and are unable to translate into the words we were never taught in school.
We were never taught about a history of oppression, uprising, or activism, let alone the dictionary that could help us (on a personal level) begin to explore that history. We have little to no movies about our civil rights leaders, our fights for survival, or our roles in social justice movements (though admittedly, the lack of mainstream representation around radical Asian American building has probably contributed to our ability to gain privilege when we inhabit White-adjacent spaces).
So when Peter Liang, a New York cop, is convicted for shooting an unarmed Akai Gurley and leaving him to die, our communities jump to Liang's defense in a way that we've never jumped during any other trial involving the murder of a Black man and a free White cop. We say that it's discrimination that he's the only cop to have been prosecuted; we mumble that the other cops should be prosecuted as well. Despite the work of generations of Asian American organizers who continue to work within, beside, and behind efforts to create a more perfect union, many of us can only find understanding within our direct context and not the century plus of work that has allowed that context to exist.
I've watched as a number of writers, thinkers, organizers, and artists have artfully addressed the nuances we're facing as a community and our need to elevate our discourse and our action. As I've watched it's becoming increasingly clear that as in film, music, literature, and policy, the more voices present the more round our stories become. Thus, we have a more rich library of words and understanding to pull from.
I am not an expert in Asian American history. I'm not always able to properly articulate what I mean. My understanding and opinions will change from day to day. I do not know all the things. I am in a constant state of second-guessing myself in the way I talk about the arbitrary "us." But after a decade of mentorship, organizing experience, and taking up space in meetings, it would be a slap in the face of everyone before me if I didn't try to at least throw my words into the pot and hope they can make impact.
So in short, I'm back. My posting cadence may be elongated and my posts may not be as thorough as they once were, but there are many more words to fill this blog with.
I have been finding it hard to pull forth words to talk about things on the national, local, or personal levels. But I can try. So here we go. Again.