Understanding Timothy Caughman’s Murder

I think there’s an instinct to turn off the news in “Trump’s America” and hide from it now that the initial shock seems to have worn off, but it’s worth reminding that for a lot of people, that is not an option. There are people who want to be like they’re suddenly woke now, but remember Erykah Badu said to stay woke. Stay being the operative word.

The fact we are living in “Trump’s America” is an everyday reminder that some less than 26% of Americans voted to put in enforcers of racial caste, people who are ready to sell our country – quite literally to Russia and pawn off our national lands to companies who would cause environmental disasters, and make the lives of the vulnerable even more miserable.

As I climb up my career ladder, the more I see into the lives of people who literally have said to me “I’m just going to turn off the TV for four years.” I also won’t forget the absolute hypocrisy of so-called progressives giving these voters undeserved empathy and understanding. I have become even more sympathetic to disruptive protests and actions because people “on our side” (whatever that really means) but aren’t facing the consequences directly would prefer to hide in comfort instead, people who are actually able to actually change the outcome but would rather see incidents like Timothy Caughman’s murder as an unfortunate anomaly rather than for what it really is. Racial violence. Violence against trans people. Trumplandia. It’s more than simple hate.

Advertisements

Remixed Tribalism and Gomorrah

Weekend reading, passage from Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano. Living a life where I could easily unmoor myself from my different roots if I wanted to, I’m only fascinated more about how tribalism continues to permeate and remixed itself in our psyches despite our modern global lives. Maybe in the end we all have a desire to 落葉歸根, to return to the source. I’ve always lived in port cities and in a country where we’re rootless and encouraged to be so, to be Strangers on a Pier. Maybe it’s why Americans have a fascination with Joseph Campbell Mythologies, super heroes and Star Wars, especially because so many of us increasingly lack common tribes, stories, and kinship with each other. I won’t shake off the ones I belong to, and I realized a long time ago I can’t anyway and don’t have the patience for the respectability politics to accommodate discomforted others. It’s everyone’s unconscious obsession, on this part of my pretty closed life despite always being on the soc meds all the time, I am transparent about that.

Weekend reading, passage from Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano. Living a life where I could easily unmoor myself from my different roots if I wanted to, I'm only fascinated more about how tribalism continues to permeate and remixed itself in our psyches despite our modern global lives. Maybe in the end we all have a desire to 落葉歸根, to return to the source. I've always lived in port cities and in a country where we're rootless and encouraged to be so, to be Strangers on a Pier. Maybe it's why Americans have a fascination with Joseph Campbell Mythologies, super heroes and Star Wars, especially because so many of us increasingly lack common tribes, stories, and kinship with each other. I won't shake off the ones I belong to, and I realized a long time ago I can't anyway and don't have the patience for the respectability politics to accommodate discomforted others. It's everyone's unconscious obsession, on this part of my pretty closed life despite always being on the soc meds all the time, I am transparent about that.

A post shared by Bessie Chu (@bessie626) on

Trump and Daily Living: Can Americans Take It?

Charles M. Blow ‘First They Came For…

“This has come as a great shock and demoralizer to many Americans, not necessarily because they didn’t think Trump was capable of such depravity, but because they simply were unprepared for the daily reality of living a nightmare. There is an enduring expectation, particularly among American liberals, that progress in this society should move inexorably toward more openness, honesty and equality. But even the historical record doesn’t support that expectation.”

This is my fear about America, most people do not having a living or even a collective memory of what it’s like to live under a daily assault to your senses, dignity, and even for those that do, this is a different animal. There’s a belief things will turn out okay, and that’s just not true. I generally like being positive, but experience teaches me otherwise.

Why Women Aren’t CEOs… and Women of Color Though?

From NYT:

The Lean In survey shows a pervasive sense among women that they face structural disadvantages: They are less likely than men to believe they will be able to participate in meetings, receive challenging assignments or find their contributions valued. The bleakest perceptions are from minority women; only 29 percent of black women think the best opportunities at their companies go to the most deserving employees, compared with 47 percent of white women.

There’s also an interesting intersectionality bit here that’s been better explored in not brief NYT Sunday edition article. I would say a lot Women of Color in general have had to learn to fight and advocate for themselves, suffer no fools, because we always existed in innately hostile environments, even in our own communities. We’ve always known life is not fair.

It also highlights a point here about bleak assessments of meritocracy compared to White women, whose assessments are already pretty bleak, because your assertiveness and success combined with another layer of identity becomes a liability and a threat.

Let’s be real, people are not okay being lead by a White Woman (53% of White Women voted for Trump), let alone by an Asian Woman, a Latina Woman, or Black Woman. Work twice as hard for half as much. And it’s worse outside of US borders in many places. It also begs the question, when to bother with spaces that aren’t made for us for success? I’m asking a different question than quitting for less ambition, when does it become about building own capital and markets – and how?

Side note: It’s interesting on the East Coast because I love hanging out the follow transplanted West Coast tribe of Asian women out here we’re a bunch of aggressive non-assimilationists, and people have no idea what to do with us or what we are here (I’d say in business, life, and love). We do it for the culture.

A Dust of Life with a Crazy Rich Asians Budget?

Thinking on that Hundreds post, it would be great if after Crazy Rich Asians wraps, Jon M Chu or someone out there could shoot a high production value LA (or SJ or OC) film about 90s Asian American life in those places, because it was this different seminal time, especially given in many ways a lot of those stories would really relate and say a lot about 2017, particularly policing, refugees, immigration, and alienated youth.
 
A lot of this is just personal baggage, but sometimes now back in SGV, I like how it’s super nice now, but all these bobalife kids also don’t know nothing about when it was barred windows, pool halls, linoleum floor restaurants only, and how hated we were and how much we hated each other and others. It’s better now and for the best, but a lot of stories
deserve to be told.
 
I’d love to see a high budget Dust of Life, Bang Bang, or some of the other arthouse indies that have been made, but with a Crazy Rich Asians production scale with a female lead, but that’s quite possibly the most un-makable movie pitch ever.
 
But I hate how so much of the representation is the story about the banana Asian dudes with the same overplayed identity struggle that isn’t even that representative in my opinion (I feel a little this way about Hasan Minhaj or Aziz Ansari even though I love what they do, but they’re definitely being true to their stories) or run-of-the-mill immigration fitting in story or the throw in an already famous Chinese star to sell movies to China. Other stories out there that are just worthy, but I don’t think audiences are really ready for that level of play and acceptance yet. 

Resistance Art: Immigrants Getting the Job Done

 

*The mixtape video we all needed. It’s a hard time right now, can’t understate that. Philando Castile, the healthcare bill, the deportations, targeting of Muslims during Ramadan, the environment destruction, the list is so long it’s almost paralyzing. It seems like the politics posts on Facebook at least in my filter bubble have waned a bit, bc it’s like, we know it’s not gonna get better anytime soon, but I know that there are so many broken hearts with a dose of toxic anger all the same from all the offline conversations.

But one thing I’ve noticed though in NYC, since the election, it seems like immigrants have been kinder to each other. Going to stores, Lyft/Uber drivers, walking in these streets, going to work, there is a strange gentleness to each other that I don’t think was quite there before. We don’t speak the same languages, we don’t share the same skin colors or cultures, we don’t really even have the same struggles (I’m totally cognizant of the fact I’m a light-skinned Asian whose is a natural born American citizen with a White collar job and what that gets me – I walked through customs in under 3 minutes with Global Entry yesterday – which gives me a responsibility to do a damn thing), but it seems we’re in this reality where we need each other’s kindness because of Trumplandia and a lot of the White Liberals who quite frankly seem to be want to be there for their racist cousins than for us, I get that tribalism, but we’re responding in kind with our kindness to each other in response to what is effectively state-sanctioned violence.

For some of you out there, I know you don’t feel this, but feel me for a minute when I say this cruelty out here is undeserved, and it’s real, and if you’re not fighting it, you’re complicit. Let’s get on with it. Save your kindness for those who deserve it and need it. We’re America’s ghostriders, and the former colonized in Europe built those empires. The credit is only borrowed. We’re going to cash those checks, sooner or later, one way or another.

*One thing I do want to call out some friends pointed out on FB – the misogyny in the lyrics and in hip hop in general, :(. Also, let’s not forget in the American context, most Black Americans weren’t immigrants and were forced to build the country for free and Native Americans driven off on the land that was theirs.

Back in Taiwan

TBH part of me lowkey wants to stay in Taiwan and not go home to NYC, back to America, and back to the West. Over the last few days, it sank in how truly nightmarish it has been to live with so much hatred in the relative absence of it.

Taiwan is far from perfect and not free of divisions, but right now, like Gil Scott-Heron sang, home is where the hatred is. It hurts to live with so much constant unease and anger. We’re in for a long fight. Recoiling in horror has always been a constant for People of Color, but the collective fear level is amped even more now.

In a weird way, I can kind of see the false seductiveness of maybe what a lot of conservatives feel. It’s incredible to not feel your race, to walk amongst your own kind. There is something to be said about feeling your blood and history being connected to everyone and everything around you in a way that makes sense. To be connected to the land and see yourself in generations forwards and backwards. It’s beautiful. I can see the desire to not want to deal with anything more complicated than that. There are plenty of other folks like me here “back from” the US, Canada, Australia, and other such places here working, running bar & burger shops, living corporate, etc speaking funny versions of Chinese and Taiwanese, a simultaneously revered, reviled, and recognizable social category. It still feels like home though, especially in these sour times. The thing that’s mutually missed is Mexican food. I feel that draw and temptation as deeply as anyone else – that China problem is worth the risk. Maybe someday I’ll give into it.

In a way, Taiwan is a nation of leavers like Ireland. People coming and going. I couldn’t help but see a lot of what I already knew when I was there a few weeks ago, both in the sense that being American is to immediately recognize so much of what we know as American culture actually comes from Ireland, but also in the sense of being part of a people from a much hotter but also emerald-colored island with a history of similar struggles and with an equally if not more fanatically devoted diaspora.

Unlike in the West, your bloodline in this part of the world is inescapable. The Irish and other Europeans don’t seem to consider people who share their blood and distant heritage as brethren, but it doesn’t function that way in a lot of Asia, for better or worse. I get undeserved brownie points for being a natural born American that can read and speak the language and know how to code switch into the culture, which I really only know because really I am a fat woman who likes being able to eat everything. Other Asian Americans get seen with scorn for “forgetting who they really are.” Both of these are simplistic narratives that don’t fit the world we live in.

I’m an unabashed globalist. Maybe I’m a condescending liberal elitist. A loudmouth hip hop head in New York who holds it down for the California Republic but a polite and loyal Taiwanese-American when I’m back on the island. Theresa May would probably call me a Citizen of Nowhere and I’m truly part of what the Make America Great Again crowd hates. And I hate them too, no doubt. At a most basic, it’s just self-defense against people who condone multiple levers of violence.

But what’s obvious to me as a perpetual outsider, code switcher, and lucky (privileged) enough to move through borders and cultures is that problems we might think are singular are global and interconnected better or worse that can’t be solved alone. Climate change, racism, ethnic strife, gender inequality, the failure of global markets to provide prosperity and their ability to accelerate inequality, the darksides of technological transformation – can’t be solved only locally though that has to be where it starts.

As John Donne once said, No man is an island, entire of itself. Any man’s death diminishes me. Because I am involved in mankind. Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

I believe in liberalism: I believe in liberty, equality, social justice, free press, free markets (the Adam Smith definition), freedom of religion, minority rights, feminism, etc. Facts are real. There’s an America and a rest of the world worth fighting for, and I’ll be ready to re-join The Resistance when I’m back.