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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Post MLK Tidbits, more gender and race

Day after Martin Luther King Jr's holiday in remembrance of his wisdom and his courage, I find myself missing Steve Gilliard's sharp and incisive commentary on issues. I miss having his voice around during the crazy Clinton-Obama race-fest, and I miss his overall spot-on political analysis. So I stopped by the Group News Blog to see if I couldn't get some Steve-style lovin' and I did, so I am adding it to my blogroll.

On the race versus gender thing, I don't think that people are race traitors or gender traitors by who they vote for. It's not as simple as all that. There's who you think is going to do the most to improve the economy, help immigrants, be a voice for the disenfranchised, end the war, and change so many of the things that have been going wrong for the past 8 years. There's the issue of being tired of being angry and wanting to go back to an America where we could talk to each other about issues and come to a common understanding. There's all our civil rights and civil liberties which Bush has just trampled on, lying in a broken heap on the floor, like toys that a 5 year old got sick of playing with, as opposed to our basic human freedoms.

I miss having a Martin Luther King Jr type figure in the African American community, not just for the betterment of my countrymen and countrywomen, but also for our global community. And yes, it might surprise John Aravosis that even Chinese artists are inspired by King's work and legacies. So what if a Chinese artists and not a Chinese American artist is building his statue? A lot of people from the establishment to the veterans to deans of architecture schools had frankly racist qualms about a Chinese American designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, because apparently China is the same as Vietnam, and well, all Chinese are communist, nevermind the ones who fought in the civil war and fled to Taiwan. Or that Maya Lin was also an American. What disturbs me is that Aravosis calls it "rather disgusting" that the MLK Memorial is to be "made-in-China." I know it's currently popular to China-bash because of our country's economic insecurity, but when a leading progressive blogger does it, that just makes me flat uneasy.

No one complains anymore about the Vietnam veterans memorial, instead, I think it's really one of the most beautiful and visionary memorials in DC. It's not an homage to the singular Great Man, but rather to great men and women, and a reminder of the deep rift and cleft that it caused in our nation. It is poetic justice in stone, living physical memory that transmits sorry and pride through touch. I rmeember visiting when I was young, really young, and not knowing that it was designed by Maya Lin, scarce having an understanding of the Vietnam War, and running my hand along all those names, names of military men and women who I did understand had died for us. Someone told me that I wasn't allowed to do it, but already, in the fog and mist, the sorrow and solemnity had been transmitted to me. And I stood aside and wept.

We don't have anyone who has the level of respect as Dr. King, who is as widely recognized. And I agree that leaders emerge from the community when we most need it, but sometimes, leaders fail to emerge despite the leadership vaccuum and the community gets razed over anyway. You could say that it's a symbol that the community didn't really care about the issue, but that community is still gone, and some new 25 story shiny metal behemoths are up in its place. Our African American community desperately needs a new generation of leadership, and so does our Asian Pacific American community. I don't just mean elected leadership, but leadership outside of the halls of power, unbent and unbowed.

Race versus gender, and the old pit you against him or her while I make off with the booty. It's just plain old not so simple. At least for me.



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