welcome to being native

5

Asian American Feminism Summit!

A couple days ago, Agnes recommended me to sign-up for this event held on Smith Campus. Her professor, Jennifer Guglielmo, teaches history (Agnes’ current class is about “Decolonizing US Women’s History”), and sent her an email about it! 

Personally, I had my reservations going to it because I do not identify as an Asian-American. I’m from Indonesia, and I do not hold any residency permit here in the US, just a student visa. It was an incredible conference and I’m so glad I could go!

What is AAPI feminisms?

AAPI stands for Asian Americans and Pacific-Islanders, and welcomes anyone who identifies with being of East, Southeast, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent. Feminism was defined in my small group as “fighting oppression on all fronts”, as we know that gender equality is linked to so many other forms of injustice (e.g. trans rights, the BLM movement), that we should advocate and support for many other causes alongside our own. It is also a recurring problem that people tend to equate Asian Americans as East Asians specifically, overlooking other identities such as Indian-Americans and Filipino-Americans.

Highlights:

  •  AAPI make up about 6% of the US population (to put it to size, Miriam Yeung, our Keynote speaker said LGBTQA+ community was about a growing 3% of the population), yet AAPI are largely “invisible” in activism. 
  • Some people brush off AAPI activism because a subgroup, the East Asian-Americans, form the “model minority”, and are not as stigmatized as other groups who are in “immediate danger”. Yet this pushes away the platform to discuss and advocate for AAPI rights. It does not mean we are taking the movement away from others who also fight for equality.
  • AAPI topics should be taught in college campuses. A diverse curriculum and education is one step to allowing people to understand AAPI history and current issues. It is also the doorway into AAPI activism, as many learned through oppression of their people and ways to fight in college classes. 
  • Representation matters. Asian Americans involve a huge group of 50 nations and over 100 languages, and though it’s impossible to have every person represented in activism, it is part of our job to also reach out to everyone possible. 
  • Prejudice/racism exists in many Asian American households, in which we perpetuate the “model minority” stereotype by diminishing people of other races. This should be realized and stopped. Sometimes, correcting parents that grew up with this lens is hard, and changing them is harder. Dr. Laura Fugikawa said fighting with parents is not a good solution, but gently and consistently pointing out to them how their statements could be prejudiced might work. Dr. Karen Cardozo also reminded us to be prepared for failure. 

My takeaway point? 

I came in feeling like a bystander, someone who didn’t quite fit the “Asian American” description, and might not belong to this cause. Through the summit I learned that we should not be restricted by our identity to be involved in activism. If we keep looking around for a group to join, then when will we act? It doesn’t mean we should erase our identities completely, but let it guide us to understand how we should act. And maybe someday, we can be the pioneers and start a group that would center around the social group we identify with. 

The forgotten School AUs!

I barely ever get enough sleep at night because of schoolwork and I’ve tried sleeping in class but it always ends with me being embarrassed as the teacher wakes me up. I heard from everyone else that you’re the expert at sleeping in class without getting caught so can you um, you know, teach me your ways? AU

You’re my younger sister’s elementary Math teacher and I’m going to confront you, pissed, because why the hell aren’t you teaching your students the new rule of MDAS?? Let me give you a piece of my mind- holy shit you’re actually pretty hot AU

We’re classmates who sit together and have this really annoying, new, young teacher that can’t even understand what she’s teaching and we secretly make fun of her. When she finally catches us, we humiliate her by showing how much we know about the current lesson - which we understand better than her, anyway. After all, we weren’t the top 2 for no reason AU

We’re assigned as partners for our college thesis. Yes, I can bullshit those ten paragraph explanations but suck at Math and guess what, you just happened to be a Math genius. We make a hell of a team AU

I have a problem child who tells me that the school counselor is scary and always angry but when we finally meet, you don’t seem like that at all. You blush a lot, though AU

We’re in a private high school and you’re my bully. Everyone including me is scared of you but one day when I went to the gas station I usually go to on Fridays and see you working there. Today isn’t a Friday, and it seems that now we have our own little secret AU

We’re rivals for a top spot in class because we’re both aiming for a scholarship and this is an exclusive school plus we’re both poor. Let’s just say we both really, really need that scholarship. All our classmates and teachers cheer either of us on but no matter whoever wins, we’ll still be friends right? AU

You’re the guest judge for a beauty pageant at my school so could you mind explaining wHY MY BEST FRIEND DIDN’T WIN?! AU

I always copy your answers during Math and you’re too lazy to cover your answers and just let me …or at least that’s what you said when I asked you why you let me copy AU

We ruined our Science projects we worked on for two weeks due today by bumping into each other and got into a fight. Now we’re both in detention, helping each other rebuild our projects. Maybe you’re not really that much of an asshole I thought you were AU

We absolutely love debating at lit about classic novels and Shakespeare and just when the arguments are starting to become personal, we suddenly find out that we have so many other things in common and things we agree on that we never mentioned to each other before. Holy shit, I never would have guessed we were actually this compatible AU

We met at an anime convention in summer- cosplaying, apparently, two characters a lot of people ship and they’re all chanting ‘kiss!’ right now so… We never saw each other again but skip to the end of the summer, you actually go to my school and your best friend just had to have multiple copies of that picture AU

I’m the school nurse and you’re the straight A student who never gets into fights but one day, one of your friends who’s a regular came in with a broken ankle and you helping him limp over to the bed. Ever since then, there’s always been a new excuse of how you fell down the stairs or how you tripped into a chair or how this person pissed you off and you lost control at least once a week AU

Our school’s basketball court doubles as a volleyball court. I wasn’t doing anything to you but was just waiting patiently for our turn so hOW DARE YOU SPIKE ME WITH A BALL RIGHT IN THE FACE?! Oh, you are gonna pay AU

You’re the new transfer student from another country who isn’t that good at English and I just happened to be the only one who also knows your native language. Welcome to my new job of being everyone’s translator for free. AU

I was your teacher in high school and now we’re together but why not let’s recall how we managed to not jump each other for four years and wait ‘till after your graduation before we confessed AU