Why I Didn’t Attend the Women’s March

Unless you’re living on a rock, or perhaps that rock is the burden of midterm exams (which is a more minor reason why I didn’t attend), you probably know what happened a few weekends ago.

I saw the several posts on Instagram, and I’m sure you did too — high school teenagers carrying signs that say “GIRLS JUST  WANT TO HAVE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTSdressed in all pink with an intense expression plastered on their face. Or perhaps…I am describing you?
And isn’t it odd, as a social justice advocate, that I did not attend the march?

Here’s the caustic truth: it absolutely is not.

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Respectability Politics: yes or no?

On the dreary morning of January 19th, several hundred high school students crowded on the gym bleachers for a break from their hectic schedules–to listen to the annual assembly in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. At first, some students took care of their streaks, gossiped about who broke up and who got together, or complained about the upcoming finals week, blanketing the audience in a light hum of chatter.

However, as soon as the sound of the microphone turning out rang throughout the room, the voices lowered to a hush whisper, and then gradually disappeared altogether. Everyone’s ears were perked up, listening intently as the guest speaker made her statement. As almost everyone was nodding along to the speech about bringing change through forgiveness, peace, and respect, I shot a glance at my friend and raised my eyebrows. Yikes, our expressions practically screamed.

Our conversation afterword went something along the lines of this:
“How do you think the assembly was?”
“Um, it was alright. But I liked last years spoken poetry better. It was more radical, you know?”
“Yeah, I get what you’re saying. This year’s guest speaker was qualified and all that, but I didn’t really feel anything.”
“And she was lowkey promoting respectability politics.”
“Lowkey? More like highkey.”

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The Settler Futurity

In the plight of xenophobia, racism, and populism that has made an aggressive comeback just when we were on the track of improvement ever since our dear POTUS entered the office, or any other nation where politics seems like a blood bath, sometimes we are so focused on current struggles that we forget a marginalization that has been occurring for centuries.

Although not every country can tangibly relate to anti-blackness, war on drugs, or child labor, there are two related system that have infected every corner of the earth: colonialism and imperialism; the conflict between the “savage” and the “civilized.” Yes, every continent, with perhaps the exception of Antarctica, has experienced these seemingly foreign concepts (shocker: it’s not always the Caucasian that is the “civilized”).

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Children are Made for Schools

Note: Although I may sound subjective, I am merely writing about an issue/theory, and I will not confirm any personal beliefs. 

There’s a hidden force with cold and brutal hands that suffocate us, and the danger is that we hardly notice it – corporations are literally investing in students in public schools in order to receive a financial gain. They increase competition and create an award system that determines a student’s value by their potential to earn money, to be a benefit to the economy. These students are given the best privileges, whereas those who are unproductive are bound for the school to prison pipeline that contains all the “failures” of society. But the key is that at birth, their class and race already determine their status in life.

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Broken on the Inside

Warnings: Mentions of mental illness and suicide.

“I was broken from the inside. The depression slowly chipped me away, finally devouring me. I could not beat the negativity. I detested myself. Even though I tried so hard demanding my memories that kept getting cut off to ‘wake up,’ all I got in return was silence. I‘d rather stop if I cannot breathe.”
– Kim Jonghyun

Kim Jonghyun (April 8, 1990 – December 18, 2017) was the lead vocal of KPOP group SHINee, as well as a distinguished composer/song-writer. He was a supporter of mental health awareness and the LGBT community.

Note: The statistics mentioned above are specific to the United States only. However, this post strives to apply to a world-wide audience.

If facts like these are new to you, then you are stuck in a bubble of oblivion that you need to pop right now (however, I do not blame you; I blame the institutions you engage in). But there is one thing in common that should apply for all: suicide statistics are alarmingly high, yet when asked about suicide, we either  (1) do not know anyone personally that has committed suicide (2) feel as though we do not have responsibility/power to prevent suicide.

But look around you. Hidden behind the façade of smiles, of forced bliss, carrying out the same routine over and over, is the deep-rooted loneliness, balancing on the thin edge of life–one side is suffering, the other death, but oblivious to which is which. People (and surprisingly youth) are so good at hiding their pain. And sometimes the happiest people are suffering the most: “I wanted someone to notice [my suffering], but no one knew. Of course, they wouldn’t. They never met me before” (Jonghyun).

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The Post-Millenial Era

Generation Z. iGeneration. Post-Millenials. Homeland Generation.

Yet again, another label that does not carry much meaning besides the time period that it refers to, yet at the same time,  is characterized by patterns so obvious that they practically scream “The Modern Era!” And although this label is not used in an everyday conversation, this is a reality that we live in–we are that reality.

Older generations seem to have a few stereotypes about this new generation: 1) We’re all lazy. Your typical “I had to walk 3 miles to school in 6 inches of snow!” story–our parents all have their own versions. 2) We’re masterminds at technology. 3) Life is just so, so much easier for us.

As if they’ve forgotten that mental illness is still a prevalent problem! As if they’ve pretended that bullying doesn’t exist, that discrimination still happens, that for some, school just isn’t a safe place. Just because they don’t see the same issues that they faced in high school, our parents automatically think that our lives are picture-perfect.
Please, I wish my iPhone could solve all my problems too.

It’s definitely true that not all high school students face the same stressors or have the same priorities, and therefore we must recognize that what may seem ridiculous to one person is causing a great burden on another. For me specifically, this blog post will be about the insane pressure that some parents place on their students. For some, I may sound privileged for this to be my biggest cause of stress, but I hope you’ll let me explain the true implications of parental pressure.

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Raising A Voice

An incident happened a few weeks ago regarding members of my community that left me outraged and shocked, questioning how truly “progressive” the 21st century is.
I’ll first give a background on this so-called community: ~85-90% Asian, upper-middle class, and academically high-achieving. It’s inevitable to form an image in your mind when you encounter these labels, and perhaps that’s the best way to understand the group I’m referencing. According to pure statistics and socio-economic status, we’re a pretty homogeneous cohort, and not many know what it’s like outside the bubble of this community.

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What does it Mean to be Asian-American?

​(also found on my studyblr)
“Growing up, I thought I was white. It didn’t occur to me I was Asian-American until I was studying abroad in Denmark and there was a little bit of prejudice.”
―Maya Lin
What does it mean to be Asian-American? is a question I often ask myself in the rare moments of spare time as a teenager still figuring out my identity. It used to just be a passing thought, a small part of myself that I didn’t care too much about. But the more mature I become, the less I can ignore this blatant label plastered onto my face. Everything I did became “Asian-American,” and I learned to embrace this identity, passion surging through my veins every time I heard the hyphenated word.
The first time I truly stopped to search “Asian-American” on Google Images was for a project in freshman year. We had to create a memoir, and I chose to draw a self-portrait, but ran out of ideas how to portray my “Asian-Americaness.” What I found was typical – the picture-perfect family, a few pictures of the legendary show Fresh Off the Boat, countless students with graduation caps and gear from prestigious universities, Whiz Kids, The Rise of Asian Americans – I know it all.

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