Apr 30, 2009

Attended the SAALT South Asian Summit in Washington D.C. last week, and I have much to share. Listening to folks who have worked in the community for a long time, as well as new folks from all over the nation either working or hoping to connect to community-based work was really helpful.

Inspired by Giles Li's "poem a day" postings for National Poetry Month, I am hoping to post at least once a day about community-based work, reflections, and thoughts for APA Heritage Month this year. So please tune in, chime in, and let's build again.

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Apr 22, 2009

Post #667: Building a Rep

Yeah, so this is one after 666. For a lifelong (well, 20 years or so) Maiden fan, that's gotta have some significance. Anyway, today's quick funny/surreal moment: when a friend told his boss in government that I should be part of the "secret effort" to save her worthless job, he read her extremely negative reaction to be an "indictment" on my "radical reputation."

Ha. That made my day. Live what you feel, ya'll. And break those uncomfortable conversations out of the small circles where people nod their head in agreement with all that we say. These messages have to get out further.

Be well, enjoy the rain or moon or mud, because living this life is a blessing. And sticking your foot up the ass of anyone who gets in the way of your movement is a joy worth repeating.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna look into this co-op idea with my man KC.

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Apr 13, 2009

More on Firm Associates Getting Paid Time Off

As a follow-up to my post, here's a piece in the NY Times about Skadden associates being offered $80K to "take a year off." And part of the "taking a year off" for the associate they interview entails "practicing non-profit law" where they can.

It's really hard for me not to say "fuck you, associates." Go coast on the capitalist system you help to prop up during your day jobs. Leave the breaking it down - or at least working with people that the same system is crushing - to those of us who make half of your time off, play money.

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Apr 7, 2009

More on Binghamton

This article on CNN.com actually gives us more about the victims, and the secretary who played dead and then dialed 911. I haven't had a chance to process the new information, but 8/13 at my count were folks of Asian or Arab descent. That's crushing: I didn't expect the numbers to be that high.

I'm surprised that there is no Russian or Central Asian casualty on the list, just given how much play the Kazakh survivor was getting in the beginning. More later, I guess.

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Apr 4, 2009

Burying the News

I woke up this morning to see what the updates were on Binghamton, only to spend about 5 minutes trying to find it on the CNN website. Nothing updated since last night at 10:42PM. The national venue had moved on: the senseless slaughter of "Kurds, Russians, Chinese, Arabs, Laotians, and others" (NY Times) was not of interest to the nation, I suppose.

The New York Post has a cover story that does some justice to the situation, at least giving us more information and refraining from the assault against immigrants that we expect in the days to come. Although again, I wonder if this had been a mall rather than a citizenship services organization, what the response would have been. Will we get the stories of all those lost and saved: whose people may not be here in the United States, whose English skills are not as polished, nor names as familiar to the general American public?

Or perhaps this will open up a dialogue of some kind, or the sense that there is a need to protect refugees and immigrants who come into our small cities, live on the periphery, make out their existence quietly and patiently, trying to build a life out of the fragments that many come from, or without the familiar elements of home that we are all bound to miss if we have to leave things behind. I feel for these families, I feel that their stories must be shared and their lives grieved and celebrated as our nation does with many different victims. This is a moment for people to show that they care about more than the familiar.

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Apr 3, 2009


Another shooting massacre, another brownyellow face that will make its way over every news channel. This time, the victims seem to all be immigrants, which makes this a different kind of tragedy from Virginia Tech, but quite related: there is an innocence with youth and an innocence that I connect with the long journey one must make to gain citizenship in this country.

Today is a chilling reminder that we're not safe, no matter where we are, and no matter who we think might be "one of us." But I'm wondering what the national mood will be: will people just move on from this, not taking the full tragedy to heart, or will they stand as firmly as everyone did with Virginia Tech? I was impressed by the Mayor of Binghamton, making it clear that these were residents and citizens of his city, and that together, they were a critical part of the fabric of that society.

While we don't know enough - or really anything - about the killer, I think that if the initial reports are true, and that this is a distraught or deranged man in his 40s, of Asian descent, there are a few things that I hope are talked about more. Mental health issues were paramount and discussed to some degree after Virginia Tech, but I haven't seen much movement. In addition, the cumulative effect of American wars in Asia: militarization, emasculation of males, and desensitization to violence of both the populations abroad and those here. It's not an excuse, of course, but a larger conversation that Asian Americans should be having within our communities, particularly those that have been war torn in past or present.

It's a sad day in upstate New York, and I feel an overwhelming heaviness about the whole thing. When they release the names and stories of the victims, suddenly the quick search through for immigrants / Asians that I inevitably do in any such tragedy will result in far more names than usual. It will become clear, as we can only imagine, that the victims' stories match those of people in our families, that we see every day, who have been making the time to learn what they needed to finally "become American" by naturalizing and looking back to the land of their birth no more as home. It is a sad day in America, where even a place where people go to become American is not safe.

I fear the wingnut commentators on this. If they even talk about it at all, or decide to just dismiss it all as third-world news from a small city no one will care about in a few weeks. I don't know what would be worse: their attention, or their disinterest.

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