Goodbye 2017: Naika Looks Back on A Year of Hatred, and a Year of Resistance

Hi folks.  Yes, it’s been a loooong while since I wrote anything, but to be fair, things have been uber busy for me.  I’m taking on a lot more responsibilities at work which more or less keep me there longer throughout the day.  The best thing about it however is that I am learning a ton of stuff related to research and will no doubt learn a lot more through trial and error.  It’s a lot of stress and anxiety, but I’m glad to be helping the team at a time when we’re short of staff (I’m sure you’ve ALL heard of that story before).  Bottom line is that it leaves me less time to write and study.

However, when I do get home, I basically shut off and hang out with my wife, and that’s the most important thing.  If there’s anything super duper good that I can say about myself in 2017 on a more personal level, then it’s about the two of us getting hitched.  Yeah, I know.  That’s a big deal, but yeah…I didn’t wanna write about it because that’s private.  Furthermore, we opted out of the big ceremony because in this economy, who could afford one?  We just got affordable rings and went to a courthouse.  We did the deed and boom, we were married.  That was my 2017.

Now I generally go super detailed in these end of year write-ups, but not this time.  As I mentioned, work has really enveloped my creative time, so I’ll just spout out some stuff that really hit me this year and you can take it or leave it.  Sounds like a plan, right?

So first off, me and the missus participated on our first protest, and that was the Women’s March in D.C.  after we witnessed the worst inauguration in modern history.  It was a lovely yet crowded event, but I can’t complain.  It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, and it was awesome to be a part of that (thanks Rachael!).

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I participated in another protest in September called the March for Racial Justice.  It was more or less a big fat rebuke of Trump and White Nationalism where there were die-ins in front of the Department of Justice, taking knees, Native American drumming, solidarity and lots of lots of cussing in front of Trump Tower.  That to me was the single greatest march that I’ve participated in thusfar, and it was my third protest of that year.  There was so much energy, anger and togetherness as we took over the streets of D.C. to have our voices heard, especially after something as harrowing and awful as Charlottesville.

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Who’s that asshole in the background there?

While we’re at it in regards to Charlottesville, this year for me, in a lot of ways, will no doubt be synonymous with violence and hate.  From what so many people experienced in the Las Vegas Shooting, to the utterly horrific attack in a Mosque in Egypt to the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar, this to me was a year where those in power who demanded that we all turn inward, away from out better selves, got the upper hand and used it to eliminate others with hatred. With violence.   If there was any year of my life thusfar that painted a sad and grim reminder of how horrible humanity can be when it succumbs to darkness, look no further than to 2017.

Violence alone doesn’t always destroy us.  Sometimes, it’s also disaster.  Puerto Rico, Texas, the Dominican Republic and other regions in and around the U.S. experienced widespread chaos with Hurricanes Maria and Harvey.  While Donald Trump was busy insulting the plight of fellow Americans (oh, I’m sorry, they’re Puerto Ricans), tossing paper towels and victim-blaming survivors, folks experienced the loss of electricity, flooding, re-flooding and sickness.  Oh, and if we didn’t have enough to contend with from storms, we have wildfires out west as well that haven’t stopped burning.  Climate change, bad infrastructure and nonsensical housing in flood prone land can all play a part in exacerbating these issues, and without sound policy to resolve them, shit like this will continue to happen and leave tons of people out in the cold.

And speaking of being left out in the cold, another big story that caught my attention unfortunately involved the forced eviction of hundreds of migrant workers from Beijing, China (really recommend y’all to read more about it because there’s so many details regarding hukou and other things that I won’t have the fortitude to flesh out or explain).  It all started as a ‘safety evacuation’ after a fire broke out in an area filled with migrant workers.  Since these folks have lots of obstacles to attain affordable housing within Beijing (and mind you, these folks ARE CHINESE TOO), they’re forced to live in lots of derelict buildings that haven’t been properly maintained in order to make ends meet.  So if something like a fire does happen (like it did around Thanksgiving time), people get hurt BAD (19 died that day).  Thus, the CCP came on by to save the day by forcing EVERYONE to evacuate for their own safety…..without providing ANY sort of alternative housing for them, even though IT’S WINTERTIME.  Couple that with the disgusting, derogatory term calling said migrant workers ‘the low-end population’ from official documentation, and you get yourself a potent cocktail of outrage and disappointment from all walks of life in China.  And by the way, these derelict homes are now DEMOLISHED, so these folks more or less have NO WHERE TO GO except back to their homes IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING WINTER!

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Hua Yong, a painter from Beijing, soon became another focus during the ‘low’end’ controversy by filming the devastation from these evacuations, interviewing migrant workers and uploading his stuff on YouTube, with one video being his impending arrest by authorities in Tianjin (he’s since been released on bail in December and is now in Sichuan).  If there was ANY story that really made it’s mark on me from China, especially on a personal level, it would have to be this.

And let’s not forget the #MeToo movement as well.  Dear God has it wrecked the reputations of men who seemed untouchable.  Assholes like Mario Batalli, Kevin Spacey and yes, the asshole-in-chief Harvey Weinstein, are all out of jobs, while respected folks like Charlie Rose, Al Franken, Louis C.K. and Matt Lauer (he was always a jerk) have shocked the country as they’ve been outed as abusers, cheaters and filthy perverts.  Furthermore, this movement underscores just how widespread workplace sexual abuse is, and how much fear women (especially women of color) experience once it happens to them.

And yes, despite how perverted and deplorable people in power can be in the workplace (and beyond), the #MeToo movement was, and is, a positive movement meant to unshackle and empower those who are preyed upon.  These reactions, these movements, and this fierce resistance has been, for me, the most moving thing for me to ever experience on a social level here in America.  We marched against an elected pussy-grabber in January after he was sworn in.  We kneeled when the NFL season began because Football is a business that doesn’t give a shit about anyone.  Signs and voices were held up when the White House banned people from coming into America simply because they’re MuslimDisabled voters invaded a Senate hearing when Rethuglicans wanted to gut Obamacare.  Migrant workers from China protested CCP Police as they were forced out of their homes even though they were, and are, instrumental to the lifeblood of Beijing.  Kids stood up to torch-wielding American Nazis in fucking Virginia while our President basically said, on live fucking television, that they were MORALLY EQUIVALENT.  Young children and adults, who have only known the U.S. as their home, risked arrest and deportation in order to fight for DACA.  So yeah, I’ll remember 2017 for death, disaster, famine, hatred and rape, and yet, I’ll also remember it for resistance.  I’ll remember it for sign waving.  I’ll remember it for how sad I felt when I would see a child in Yemen on YouTube as I ask myself “Why am I not doing more?”  I’ll remember it for taking a knee.  I’ll remember it for Hua Yong.  I’ll remember it so that we can all think twice about how American hubris affects other nations.  I’ll remember it for for my healthy, democratically guaranteed contempt for an elected leader.  And most of all, I’ll remember it for finally committing to someone I love.  For finally doing the one thing I never thought would ever happen to me.

And you know what?  She’s now a Ph.D. too motherfuckers (#WomeninScience).  Goodbye 2017.  I’ll never forget you.

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Happy Halloween Once Again!!!!

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This house in Alameda knows how to make decorations folks!  After a whirlwind Monday full of indictments, nothing caps off October like….uh, Halloween.  And since I’ll be passing out candy today (assuming folks actually show up), how about we get into the mood of the day with some goofy videos.

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Whose Side Are You On Asian-America?

Seriously Asian-America, whose side are you on?

Are you gonna get with the program and pound your feet on the pavement?  Are you gonna do what’s inconvenient and help call white supremacy out when it has its hands on minority throats?

Or are we gonna play the model minority card?

Or feign indifference?

Or point the finger at ‘those undeserving black people’ because ‘they didn’t work as hard as we do?’

This is the penultimate question that needs to be asked amongst all of us here in America.  After the violence that happened in Charlottesville earlier this month, I began to wonder if this will spur more of us in our community, including myself, to act and fight alongside other people of color when more of these hateful rallies roll into town in the near future.  However, folks like Chris Newman, a Charlottesville farmer and native, remind us that it isn’t always the tiki-torch bearing Alt-Right mongrel that dehumanizes us.  Sometimes, it’s that hipster asshat with his artisanal cookie shop and winery.  Sometimes, it’s that liberal white chick who’s really into exercise:

It isn’t Richard Spencer calling the cops on me for farming while Black. It’s nervous White women in yoga pants with “I’m with Her” and “Coexist” stickers on their German SUVs.

Newman also added that for Black people in general, places like Charlottesville are filled with business that use Blackness for their own gains without employing any Black Americans in the mix.  In addition, Black Americans’ lack of representation in the town pigeonholes them into tropes and symbols stripped of any depth, while its other citizens (da white pipo) occupy a variety of depictions that other POCs would friggin’ die for:

Check out C’Ville Weekly’s Instagram feed when you get a moment, and try not to notice that the few depictions of Black people are limited to sports, singing, criminal justice, or single parenthood. White people, meanwhile, are represented as political activists, chefs, cogs in the gig economy, musicians, dancers, people who get married, visual artists, songwriters, architects, landscapers, thespians, artistic directors, wedge-heel-wearing rugby players, dog lovers, farmers, firefighters, and people who play with their kids in cul de sacs.

Richard Spencer is not the editor of C’Ville Weekly.

Truth is, as a Black dude, I’m far less bothered by the flag wavers in this picture than this town’s progressives assuming its race problem has nothing to do with them. The former is a visual inconvenience. The latter could leave my daughters without a father.

I was shocked and angered about what I saw at Charlottesville.  Hell, I still am.  However, we can’t kid ourselves here and say that this was unprecedented.  We can’t keep acting like ‘Oh dear, this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.’  What I’m trying to get at is that none of this shit started with the Alt-Right steamroll of Charlottesville.  None of this started with Trump or with ‘Crooked Hilary’ or with the end of the Obama Presidency.

It starts when you give off that suspicious look to somebody darker than you on your Saturday morning jog.

It starts when you touch somebody else’s hair without permission, even though you have blonde hair and you wouldn’t dare let anyone else bump into you, let alone touch your hair.

It starts when you show amazement at how ‘articulate’ your ‘ethnic’ co-worker is when you finally have the gall to say hi after avoiding them in the office kitchen for six months.

It starts when you feel obligated to ‘save’ others, or pretend to want to learn about their ‘interesting’ culture in tone-deaf Facebook posts.

It starts when you follow Black kids around your store all the fucking time for no damn reason.

It starts when you give your darker customers wrinkled, furrowed looks but smile like you just discovered the goddamned sun when a white customer walks in.

It starts when you parade around New York to defend Peter Liang.  That’s right, Peter-fucking-Liang.

It starts when you do stupid shit like this:

Notice that what I wrote seems so interchangeable between white folks and Asians.  We talk about white oppression a LOT in this country but don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that we Asians in America don’t engage in that kind of shit either because these small and seemingly insignificant actions can add up into full-blown beliefs that dehumanize other people of color.  As a result, we are compelled to look at darker people with suspicion and prejudice.  This is why beauty shop patrons can get hurt or killed for nonsense in this country.  This is why our pals from the Old Country make insensitive skits and advertisements that denigrate people of African descent even though they have the resources to better inform themselves.  This is why we crave these Anglo-centric ideals of success that puts us AND other minorities on the backseat.  This is why we just don’t give a shit.  This is why we are silent.  We don’t want any trouble.  We just want to be left alone.  We just want to ‘live in peace.’

In response to this indifference, groups like Asian-Americans Advancing Justice or Letters for Black Lives  have emerged to bridge the chasm.  These groups are important because they realize that the battle against both racism and White Supremacy must begin by looking inward.  They know that the Asian-American community is not monolithic, but diverse.  However, they know all too well that no matter how many well-meaning members of our community show-up and do our part to help speak up or protest, we will still have the specter of Anti-Blackness hanging over us.  We will still be related to the family member that talks bad about Black folks in our restaurants.  We will still be the man that makes money off of Black beauty supplies in Black neighborhoods.  We will still be the assholes that have the nerve to sell you booze all day long while decrying that ‘you should stop being lazy and get a job.’  We still killed Akai Gurley.  We still defended Peter Liang.

Sebastian Whitaker from Affinity put it to us this way:

The idea that just because we are Asian and have our own history of oppression does not justify our anti-blackness. We are still partaking in and perpetuating harmful ideas which still oppress black people today. Depicting black people as “thugs” and “gangsters” is a tired trope which has led to many negative outcomes such as the hyper-incarceration of black men, as they are viewed as inherently being angry and guilty of crimes.

We also need to deprogram this mentality that “we’re not like them”. This model minority myth in which we’re “hard-working” and “successful” as Asian people is harmful in itself, but also should never be used as an attempt to dehumanize black people in order to please white supremacy. “We’re not like them” is saying we’re better than them, and stereotypes black people as being poor criminals while we’re the hard-working and successful Asians who overcame our oppression and essentially assimilated into whiteness. In reality, while we obviously have our differences, we’re not better or worse than each other, just different. We shouldn’t have to bring down black people in order to raise us up, especially to adhere to white supremacy.

So to sum it all up, we need to do more.  We SERIOUSLY need to do more.

I’m not here to stomp on the real progress Asian-American activism is doing.  I’m not an authority on this, and I’ve only started waving my signs this year.  However, I’m here to stomp on myself for not being on the streets sooner.  I’m mad at myself for not walking the beat to yell down bigots and I’m saddened to see us sulk in fear instead of marching with others.  What you saw in Charlottesville might just be the beginning, but for a lot of people in America, this shit ain’t new.  It’s time we call our people out and wake up.  It’s time to quit chasing that whiteness that so many of our people crave.  Put away your uber-hip Matcha cake, burn your collection of ugly-ass Abercrombie shirts and stop selling $14 Pad Thai.  Use that time you spend on Yelp to engage with Black, Muslim, Latino and LGBT people and start the healing process.  Use your ears to listen to others’ concerns about how we prey on other communities of color while rarely giving anything back in return.  Use that money from your oh-so-fly white-collar job to go make a sign so that you too can protest like so many others did before us.  Use that education (y’know, the education that your parents constantly talk to your relatives about?) to talk to your selfish, asshole parents about how racist they can fucking be, and tell them that you’re not okay with that bullshit.

Now, ask yourself one more time.  Whose side are you on?

What the Heck is Going On?

Police investigate a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria

This past month has been insane. Hell, even the start of this week featured Foghorn Leghorn as he testified in front of a Congressional Committee about Lyin’ Trump.  However, I was NOT prepared for Wednesday morning, where someone from my home state came to my current state to shoot up Republican lawmakers as they trained for a charity baseball event against their Democratic counterparts.

I saw the news pour in from the lobby TV before I made my way out of my apartment complex and the first thing I thought was how close this was to my proximity? Was it going to be like what happened to Gabby Giffords?  Was it by the hands of a liberal who went off the rails? Did it really need to come to this?

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that regardless of how you feel about the assailant’s politics or penchant for violence, it’s stunningly clear that in the midst of this Trump Presidency, we are losing ourselves. The Comey testimonies, along with Trump’s reaction to alleged ties with the Russian Government, have now revealed the disturbing possibility that Donny might have obstructed justice like a cheap dictator with aviators.  The fact that an investigation into this obstruction has surfaced is not surprising, but we all need to hope that Mueller doesn’t get the axe either in this case.

It’s harrowing stuff folks.  Really.  However, one’s outrage about these very disturbing allegations (or other issues in general) has to be tempered so that it’s channeled in the right way.  Go talk to your Reps.  Hash it out with your Conservative friends and co-workers.  Point it out to a fellow passenger on the Metro whose face is frowning just as much as yours when you both read the Express.  Get your pals together and run for office.  Do all those things.  Just don’t go out and hurt people.   Just don’t. We don’t need that shit right now.  We’ve got enough of it in front of the TV as is.

I’M NEVER FLYING UNITED AGAIN!

Words cannot describe my fury….my anger.  I’ll never fly this shitty airline again.  The utter horror at what unfolded in Chicago just to make things easier for some United employees under the guise of some bullshit random drawing is the kind of crap you’d obviously here from Trump’s America.  I hope this dude sues the shit out of them.  I hope he gets so much cash that he’ll burn it in front of United’s HQ.  I hope United’s stock crashes and that picket signs are unfurled all over the runways.  I hope that guy who got put on leave gets reprimanded to high hell and I hope United think twice before they screw over folks for peanuts in such a detestable manner.

But United are a horrible, capitalistic enterprise that only gives a damn about the bottom line.  Just like a lot of other companies in the Land of the Free (TM).  I’m looking at you Wells-Fargo.  I’m looking at you BOA Robocaller 3000.  United won’t care.  United will try to sweep this under the rug, but I’m wishing AND HOPING that it’s gonna rise right up and give this awful airline a nice kick in the ass.

What if this guy was my Dad, or my Grandpa?  What if this guy was your relative, or a friend, or maybe even the Doctor you depend on for your care in Louisville?

He doesn’t deserve this United.  Nobody does.

Ban Rant

We welcomed good ol’ Donny Trump with a gigantic middle finger of a march as the streets in D.C. turned hot pink.  He responded with falsehoods, namely something we now call alternative facts.  He shat on all sorts of things last week, but that fucking ban more or less broke the camel’s back.  It’s been less than a month and Donny Trump has already taken a huge shit on the Constitution.  He is wrecking lives.  He is putting innocent people in absolute danger.  He is caving into xenophobia and he is destroying the very thing that American’s greatness is built upon.

This whole migrant ban is a load of shit that can only come from a shoddy, deplorable administration like this.  Paul Ryan is even defending the move, explaining, like the rest of the soulless hacks you’d find in Congress, that it was done to protect the American people.  Well guess what Paul, NO ONE GIVES A RAT’S ASS about what you think.  No amount of backtracking, victim-blaming and alternative facts can clean up the mess this whole incident churned up.  This is why I’m thrilled to see so many people march all over the country against this shit.

However, as others have pointed out, what if this is all part of Bannon’s strategy?  What if this is all shock-and-awe?  Given how sneaky Trump’s cabinet is, I believe it’s time to be vocal and vigilant whenever unconstitutional crap like this comes storming our way.  Today’s rejoice in Washington state’s halt on this ban is welcome indeed, but let’s not forget the fact that there’s still a fight on our hands for the next four years.  Making this administration pay for its crimes is a longshot, but nothing ever gets done unless you get your feet wet and march.  No one up there ever gets afraid about their broken promises unless you shout and holler at them on the street.  And lastly, we will always take our liberties for granted unless we stand up to defend them together.  The U.S. is not without sin and has much to pay for in relation to the Third World, but if we can unite and use that guilt, that clarity of conscience to defend the only redeemable element of this country, then we can truly earn the respect of the world as being, irrefutably, the land of the free.

Happy Year of the Rooster!

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Year of the Rooster?  How about year of the Orange Clucker???  Here’s hoping that you’re ready to eat a ton of bird because this year will be so full of guano that the only comfort you’d have is knowing where all that shit came from.  It’s ONLY BEEN A WEEK and the Donald has shat on everything you could think of.  Please be merry, please enjoy dumplings or a hot pot and PLEASE think of positive things folks.  We’re in for a long one, so let’s celebrate now, and get ready to bring it to “Donny” in the coming year.