The Plain of Jars in Laos are hundreds of giant stone jars scattered across the Xieng Khouang plains. Excavation by numerous archaeologists have supported the conclusion that these were funeral megaliths due to the human remains, burial goods and ceramics found in association with the stone jars. There are many local legends telling of their origins from giants who made them to a huge drinking party that was held on the plain after a victory, and these jars held their wine. The Plain of Jars are dated to the Iron Age (500 BCE to 500 CE) and represents a crucial site for the development of the SE Asia civilizations.
#OneLovePush - I Dare You
On 9/11 (9 September 2001), the world was stunned when four coordinated “terrorist attacks” reached the United States of America.
As a result of the impactful event, the world was told that the “terrorist” were Muslim, Middle-Eastern, Brown, Heterosexual Men.
Those who propagated this to the world told an “Inconvenient Lie”
Today on 9/11 (11 September 2014), over a decade later, the “terrorist” remain.
Who are these “terrorist”?
I am a “terrorist”. You are a “terrorist”
We are all “terrorist”.
If we all shift our perspectives, we’ll all find that we are all Lovers.
We all seek the Inconvenient Truth.
We all want to be Loved.
Reppin’ Yellow Bitches: Honey Cocaine
Since her debut with Tyga, who is of mixed Afro-Asian descent, she has released a mixtape “Fuck Yo Feelings” garnering much attention from a wide array of audiences across television screens, monitors, tablets and smartphones. Honey Cocaine is a 19 year old Cambodian Canadian. The majority of Cambodians living in Western countries fled the genocidal Pol Pot regime during the Vietnam War (or alternatively, the War in Southeast Asia). There hasn’t been any exposure of Southeast Asians—especially women—in hip hop music. However, her racial history has not been highlighted in interviews and articles written about her.
The only period I could think of that had a large Southeast Asian presence in hip hop music was the days of AznRaps when p2p sharing programs were becoming more accessible. Who had that Khmer Kid’s “Smoke Weed” song on their Sony Walkman? Since the ‘80s, many Southeast Asian Americans—Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese—have been resettling in largely Black and brown communities. Historically underexposed pop cultural figures like Honey Cocaine reflect the changing of times for what activists have deemed as the “white media.” As a result of the explosion of culture and media in cyberspace, “white media” is gradually becoming more accepting of talents from visually-marginalized groups like Asians.
“I’m Honey Cocaine. I’m from Canada. I don’t give a fuck. I’m not scared to be myself and to express myself.”—Honey Cocaine
Ever since Nicki Minaj’s debut, more women MCs and rappers have been surfacing in mainstream media and the digital mixtape scene (though both are much intertwined due to the rapid integration of new media). What distinguishes women rappers in mainstream media today is their performance of their feminity intertwined with political expression. Pioneering women MCs like MC Lyte, The Real Roxeanne, and Queen Latifah from Flava Unit Crew. During the ‘90s Golden Era of Hip Hop, women MCs, like their “machismo” male counterparts, dropped that knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. They touched on cutting subject matter that intertwined race, class, gender, and sexuality in educational ways. A fine example would be Queen Latifah’s (ft. Monie Love) “Ladies First” in which conveyed both afrocentric and feminist perspectives on the racism and sexism embedded in international and domestic affairs.
Today, the discussion on social inequality is coming back full circle with the rise to fame of new media underground groups like the Odd Future—whose paradoxical portrayal of social ills have often been chastised by sensitive critics—and Black Hippy—whose alamgation of street wit, new school swag, and social-political commentary have got both the young and older listening. Discussion around issues of race, gender, and sexuality are more relevant than ever. For instance, Frank Ocean expressed the complexity of his sexuality—a courageous move in a genre that has been traditionally conservative toward the LGBTQ movement. As the character of Hip Hop is gradually changing alongside the LGBTQ movement for equality, it is about time that the culture, like the “white media,” to change to be inclusive of other genders and sexualities.
Honey Cocaine is both an anomaly and a regularity. On many songs, notably Yellow Bitch, she proudly proclaims her identity as an Asian woman in street lingo around which YouTube or Tumblr praise. Had Honey Cocaine come out in the mid ‘90s, record labels would certainly not have her promoted such an image as the media would likely confine her in the box (like pornographic stars) of Anime girl, Geisha, China Doll, Concubine, etc. in order to sell to the white majority. Likewise, Jin’s first music video “Learn Chinese” with the Ruff Ryders played off many stereotypes and popular (mis)conceptions of Chinese Americans in a nicely packaged Orientalist montage. To date, Far East Movement has set records in sales and popularity for any Asian American Hip Hop group. And they haven’t relied on Asian stereotypes whatsoever to be successful.
Fuck the media, fuck the system
I never gave a fuck, so fuck bitchin’
Shit I always been the bitch broads dissin’
I take a bitch like now a group of broads missin’
Uh oh! Who would think about it?
Pretty yellow bitch
I rap now sing about it
The game ugly, homie I done been about it
T dot killa is a me, I done been around it
-“Yellow Bitch” by Honey Cocaine
It’s questionable how Honey Cocaine will perform down the road among this new generation of young and Asian American hip hoppers. She is also definitely shaking up grounds for Asian American Studies nerds like myself and how to rationalize such a phenomenon. Although she does not explicitly pack the political punch as her feminist Hip Hop predecessors, she is nonetheless inspiring other “yellow bitches” to get on the mic, and “not give a fuck.”
There’s been a dangerous sentiment by national press that Asian folks in the U.S. do not stand with Ferguson. Media has falsely perpetuated myths and misconceptions about Asian Americans and have formed inaccurate stories.
Looting stories of Asian Markets in St. Louis vilifying black men. Stories that stereotype all Asian Americans as the “model” minority. That all Asian Americans are geniuses, work hard, are great at math, and dominate universities. That if Asian Americans can achieve the American dream, why can’t other minorities?
Statistics and facts can be backed up by reports and data by the Census, government agencies, non-profit organizations*. “Good” and “Bad” stereotypes are merely fantasy, yet can be dangerously manipulated.
As a self-identified Asian American and Southeast Asian man, I stand firmly against false generalizations and speak upon my own experiences.
I composed this video to show that just like in the past, today, there are Asian American allies to social justice and humanitarian causes.
I strongly support the people of Ferguson. May Michael Brown and the countless men dying in our American streets Rest In Power.
*For more information: Check out APIASF’s most recent “APIASF and Care Peer Report"(April 2014), former "Care Report"(2011) and AAJC’s "A Community of Contrast"(2011)
As a late Asian Face Appreciation Day post, I’m sharing a speech I had to write for class:
There’s an author named Frank Wu who wrote about the triangularization of race and where Asian Americans fit into it exactly. Another author, Helen Zia, wrote about having to choose between “white” and “black” as a kid. Looking back on my life so far, I can only ask myself the same thing. During the first week of this class, we talked about whitesuasion and blacksuasion. As a young child and teenager in Arizona, I “chose whiteness” without a doubt, question, or hesitation. I embraced white supremacy and racist ideals like the very stereotypes that exist about my own identity because I thought that was what would help me fit in and make friends. My hometown is on a list of the least diverse places in America.
As an Asian American woman of color, I’ve spent the past three years exploring racial identity, power dynamics within racial hierarchies, and cycles of oppression that still exist in the crossroads of identity. There are certain things that I am dead certain of — I reject whiteness, or at least attempt to. I believe that community organizing is the key for real change to take place, as it heals not only the wounds in our individual hearts stemming from obstacles put in place by racist institutions, but also heals the larger wounds of our society by promoting unity and solidarity.
As Chris Ijima says, “The very birth of the term Asian American came from a rejection of white supremacy, institutional racism and in full support of Black Power. We stood together. Some of us still stand together. We must stand together again.
Asian American identity was originally meant to be a way to identify with each other and to share our experias to identify with the struggles of others, whether it was African Americans or Asians overseas, and it was less a marker of what one was and more a marker of what one believed. That it has now become synonymous with ‘pride in one’s ethnic heritage’ is a complete evisceration of what it was originally, and what it was meant to be.”
I am constantly reminded by society that to the average American I am not a person who has grown up here, I am always the invading foreign threat who speaks English so well. Where the phrase “me love you long time” becomes the bane of my existence, where I grew up making “sucky sucky 5 dolla” jokes because I was ingrained to think that it was normal and acceptable to mock my own culture in order to kiss the ass of the society that defines racism. I am reminded by everyone around me that as a woman of color, I am on the low rungs of the ladder of social hierarchies. The men in my own community will turn on me and call me a traitor if I date someone non-Asian. Domestic violence, sexual assault, patriarchal customs in our communities cannot be solely blamed on culture or tradition — white supremacy has poisoned the well that we drink from so deeply that I grew up with friends who looked like me and called themselves Twinkies or Bananas proudly because they thought that being white was an honor. I see activists pushing Asian women into domestic household roles as a servant and child-rearer, while not acknowledging the fact that men must fight along with women in the struggle for economic and social equality and must recognize that we make up over half of the movement. Hell, we are the sisters to the struggle and the mothers of the movement. Throughout the history of the Third World Liberation Front, the Black Panthers, and the Red Guard, women of color were neglected and taken credit from as we sat behind the scenes watching iconic moments take shape, watching our own blood sweat and tears flow into a river that washes away that which it flows from.
I think about the rampant anti-blackness and racism that exists in my own communities and families. I think about the way Asian and Black communities have waged war upon each other in LA, in Brooklyn, in D.C. and I believe that white supremacy succeeded in perpetuating a racist society by fooling all of us into thinking that racism is over. By turning it into a psychological war that takes roots in our own families and has us fighting over the shades of our melanin instead of banding together as yellow, black, red, and brown people fighting for and achieving equality in society. Their divide-and-conquer tactics turned us on each other and for that, my heart breaks. There is a lot of work to do but we have to start somewhere in order to bridge our divides and restitch our relationships.
Equality is marked in our society by our education and ability to gain access to education that is free and fair, and not only our education but our health, our food, our employment opportunities, and much more. Gentrification is a rolling plague that chokes our historic neighborhoods and resources to a quiet death while pushing all of us into more low-quality housing, more schools that have metal detectors that are on the to-be-shut-down list, more communities with highways as roofs, more blandness, and more cycles that keep us strangled by oppression.
Where we go from here determines the future of people of color in the United States. We can either work in our respective communities against racism towards each other and join forces to struggle against a common enemy, or we can sink into the apathy of staying in our own lanes and not seeing the potential that lies in collaboration.
Helen Zia, the author and activist I mentioned earlier, gave me a very important piece of advice when I met her. She said, “Juliet. Stop being so fucking polite!” and I hold that with me every day. It is not our jobs to debunk stereotypes and myths about our character other people have assigned to us because of our race, and it is not in the best interests of Asian Americans to stay quiet and obedient with our heads down accepting the discrimination we face daily. We must stand with our communities and with other communities as coalitions and brothers and sisters.
So like I said in the beginning, Helen Zia was asked by her friend if she was white or black. I still hear that question now, from my friends, my peers, and family. I can only answer by saying: Yellow Peril supports Black Power, Power to the oppressed peoples of the world and power to those who fight for freedom and equality. As Fred Hampton said, “We’re not gonna fight racism with racism, but with solidarity”. And as I say, I WILL NOT LOVE YOU LONG TIME.”
Young Artist Seeks to Empower - Jamilla Okubo Parsons Tuition Fundraiser
Jamilla Okubo is an expressive young artist with a much needed voice for people of the Diaspora/people of color. She is currently struggling to pay off her last year at Parsons the New School for Design in NY.
Would you consider contributing a $1 to Jamilla and her passions to empower and educate?
"My artwork mainly focuses on people of the Diaspora (people of color), whom I consider my community…It is my duty to remind people of color that we have such a rich culture, and that we should love ourselves and one another. I create artwork for my community, because I believe that my purpose as an artist of color is to empower and educate my community.” - Jamilla Okubo; Tumblr: vivaillajams
Beautiful photos from the 70s and 80s of “Hill Tribes” in Northern Thailand revealing the how-it-was of the homeland. For today in America, there are those who belong to ethnic minority groups familiar to these such as Hmong people and Mien people and are familiar with these traditions.
No History, No Self. Know History, Know Self.
Source: Daily Mail
A fellow brother and father of two, Tommy Xiong, is in need. He has been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor called Burkitts Lymphoma that’s indicated to be headed down a difficult road filled with costly medical expenses. If you can, any donations would help the Xiong and Thao family.
Sources: Go Fund Me
From Northern Laos, Lipo Chanthanasak has proudly served as a leader with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) for over a decade, working to reduce carbon pollution and ensure environmental justice. At sixteen years old, Lipo left school to support his family by farming, hunting, and fishing. The Vietnam War led him to join a Guerilla Unit of American forces. After fighting alongside Americans, Lipo and his family immigrated to Richmond, California. Fleeing persecution, Lipo came here as a refugee and was greeted with opportunity but also faced some challenges. His community was exposed to high levels of pollution and many suffer respiratory illnesses. Lipo led advocacy efforts to curb this pollution. He joined APEN to champion local renewable energy and good paying clean energy jobs. Today, at 70 years old, Lipo is as fearless a community leader as he was a soldier fighting for the US and Laos. He strives, as he says, “to fight for our rights, equal opportunity and to develop a better community for children and many generations to come.”
Source: The White House