Here are a few organizations and causes I’ve seen in and around the web today.
“Our mission is to build collective power with AAPI women and girls to gain full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities.”
“The Asian American Federation’s mission is to raise the influence and well-being of the pan-Asian American community through research, policy advocacy, public awareness and organizational development.”
“Hyphen is a news and culture magazine, media outlet and community partner, that illuminates Asian America through hard-hitting investigative features on the cultural and political trends shaping the fastest-growing ethnic population in the country. We offer in-depth profiles of change-makers in our community and a window into the world of artists and writers who are re-envisioning and rewriting what it means to be Asian American. Through balanced and incisive reporting and sometimes irreverent commentary, we relate the enormous richness, contradiction, and vitality that defines the Asian American experience to stimulate debate, raise awareness, and build bridges within and beyond our own community.”
“Butterfly was formed by sex workers, social workers, legal and health professionals. It provides support to, and advocates for, the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers. The organization is founded upon the belief that sex workers are entitled to respect and basic human rights. Butterfly asserts that, regardless of their immigration status, Asian and migrant sex workers should be treated like all other workers.”
“Red Canary Song centers basebuilding with migrant workers through a labor rights framework and mutual aid. We believe that full decriminalization is necessary for labor organizing and anti-trafficking.”
“SWAN is one of only two organizations in Canada providing culturally-specialized supports and advocacy to im/migrant women engaged in indoor sex work. The diverse voices and ongoing resilience of these communities of women fuel SWAN’s mission to change the social and political narratives that racialize, misdefine, exclude and otherwise harm them.”
To be honest, I haven’t donated to any of these organizations. I’m posting this here to refer back to later. Beyond that, I’m not sure what to do or say. I mean, I know what not to say, at the very least, which is a call for more police [in New York, once-presidential-hopeful Andrew Yang, thank you]. From what I see so far, this is a cultural issue, not a systemic or institutional one. I’ve seen discussions about stereotypes and fetishization of Asian women — it shouldn’t take a spree killing to remind me these are extremely dangerous aspects of the American male psyche and of the utmost importance to a project like With Eyes East. I mean, it’s in the title — Eyes — and it ought to suggest my own complicity.
From the start of the most recent online chatter about anti-Asian violence in America, I’ve been preoccupied by complicating questions — did I do enough for other causes to suddenly shout about this one, is this even my cause? While the answer to both questions is “no,” the answer can’t then be “do nothing.” And it can’t be “ask for help on what to do” either because that’s awful dopey. I know better now than I did even last year, that deference to authoritative voices is always preferable than flailing speculation and editorializing, though the “blog” format invites it, and that those voices do exist and have been working all along. The above examples are only a few I’ve seen.
I can’t remember if I mentioned this on a podcast or in private conversation, but with all the crazy shit I’ve seen in K-pop, I wish Asian men thought of Asian women as “sisters,” the way Black people have the “brothers and sisters” thing. Not to say it would solve the problem, but I’m not detecting even a basic respect, speaking broadly, that might at least oil the gears forward. Asian women are consumed and designed — they become people’s business, they become imagery. And we just sit by and watch or even partake? This site is testament to my part in that, and while a lot of the subject matter for the videos last year was driven by fruitless appeals to SEO — Mulan came out — it would’ve happened anyway.
Instead of objectifying Asian actresses and idols under the transparent guise of “celebration,” I should be trying to introduce counter examples — imagery and narratives which challenge stereotypes and precepts. I should be promoting Asian movies and media that truly give foreign people a voice, not just cultural exports tailored for American consumption. That was the idea from the start! And I realize it’s awfully big to think I’ve failed a duty on this, you know, blog, but all this violence is about how we see each other in the world, and that is so influenced by media and storytelling. And because I’m part of the problem, anything I can positively contribute will be by nature repentant.
Not trying to make this about me, but here, have four paragraphs. Just trying to make sense of things. Also, this reads like one of those Internet apologies, and I suppose it is, but nobody asked. (Noted because that’s another creepy white guy thing to do).