Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

All the love

Been travelling, so I haven't been on top of blogging as much as I would like to be. Went to a family event, and it was great to have a roomfull of people who were happy, and the air was buzzing with warmth and appreciation. A room full of history and words, memories and stories.

It was so good to be wrapped up in that, and to sing along with everyone else.

The other night I had a dream about one of my childhood friends who I fell out of contact with. I dreamt I saw her on the street or at a gallery showing, and she looked just the same, but older, wiser, sharper, and so much more sophisticated. In my dream she had fulfilled her desire to be a model and her cheekbones could cut glass. She was wearing some devastating black dress but she still had the blonde and brown streaks in her bob. I was chasing after her, hoping that she would forgive me for letting our friendship wane. Abby, I cried, Abby! I tried to hold her aquamarine eyes, cold as glaciers. And she did a precise pirouette away, sauntering with the catlike grace that she lacked when we were eight.

So Norman Hsu has decided to plead guilty and to go serve his time. It is one act by one individual, please don't tar and feather the rest of the community. It's like the case of Cha Vang, aka the "Hmong hunter." The worry in northwestern Wisconsin/Minnesota was that all Hmongs were hunters and would seek retribution against the white man. I remember my friend told me he saw a "Save a deer, shoot a Hmong" bumper sticker and that tensions ran really high in both communities. A lot of that could have been avoided if people did not over-generalize.

It seems like a pretty simple, even elementary lesson, but here is it for the media, loud and clear: Asian American donations are not suspect. Please don't heap all this on our community now - there is a hell of a lot of China-bashing going on nowadays, because of trade, because of monetary exchange rates, because China holds a lot of the US's debt, and because of some faulty products. The economy is on the downturn, and I know that historically, the decision-makers of the US like to find a scrapegoat, a convenient narrative to pin the blame on.

Don't play into the xenophobia - it's too easy. Find a real story, talk to Asian Americans who are affected. Talk to the Chinese over there who are just as afraid of losing their jobs as the steelworker here. Make the human connection. Don't just turn us into the Other, or into some scary statistic.

Or conversely, look at how far we've come since 96 - celebrate our achievements. There's more than one way to tell a story, so don't choose the cheap shot.

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