Culture appreciation…or appropriation?

If you’re an avid user of social media, you’ve probably seen this tweet pop around:

Yet again, another post of a non-POC wearing ethnically significant clothing. However, while most would agree an action like non-black folk wearing dreads is not acceptable, this issue witnesses a split in Asian-Americans. There is both a large support for Keziah’s actions as cultural appreciation, but also fervent opposition that deems the dress as cultural appropriation.

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Is Violence Justified?

** note: this was a speech I gave at a debate event so there may be some awkward writing **

When reflecting on the civil rights movement, modern society often praises the non-violent actions of Martin Luther King and fails to do justice on civil rights leaders with different methodologies. America has become obsessed with the notion that movements must be achieved peacefully, through words and not actions, through assimilation and not individuality. Consequently, Malcolm X is often overlooked as an uncivilized radical. And thus, the we must consider if Malcolm X’s violent approach to civil rights was appropriate at the time. The way we must approach the resolution is first to define what “violent” is, how and why Malcolm X advocated for this approach, and finally if it was justified for the time period.

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The Danger of the Model Minority

A teacher of mine this year once said that each generation battles different social issues, and the prime issues that “Generation Z” faces are immigration policy, and equality for black folks. “Don’t worry,” he immediately addressed our largely-Asian class when he finished. “The day for Asian-American representation will eventually come.”

While I have no doubts that the two issues mentioned above are the most attention-worthy in the status quo, I (as someone very interested in Asian-American identity theory) did quite some thinking about how the model minority myth perpetuates these two issues. It was actually one day when an Asian-American friend of mine approached me and asked “what exactly is so bad about the model minority stereotype?” and I ranted for twenty minutes, that I realized how many underlying dangers the myth perpetrates.

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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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