CUNY Queens College students rally against the murders of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi on March 29th.
The naked historical legacy of the US has always been white supremacy. They let white vigilantes, who terrorize poor oppressed-nationalities, get away with murder. If these racist killings keep happening, oppressed peoples are going to defend themselves by any means necessary.
Putting things into perspective. Many Asians unwillingly come to imperialist countries because of the damage those bloodsuckers did to our lands and our peoples. We continue to be oppressed when we get to the US and other imperialist countries. Our experiences in imperialist countries will always be connected to what’s going on in our homelands.
On March 2011, in Vinita, Oklahoma, an ex-cop senselessly brutalized a Hmong man named Neng Yang, who accidently ran over and killed the ex-cop’s dog. Even though Mr. Yang apologized profusely and offered to pay for the dog, Mr. Yang was beaten until he was unrecognizable. He left with broken facial bones, broken ribs, and bruises.
The monster who attacked Mr. Yang claimed that he was only defending himself. This is an absurd lie. The ex-cop is 6’1” and 250lbs, who is seemingly double the size of Mr. Yang.
On October 3rd, there will be a 2nd hearing in the Vinita County Courthouse. However, the Courthouse has tried every way to stop the case from moving forward. It has denied Mr. Yang access to a translator. It has also denied his right to use his surgeons and doctors to testify in court as witnesses to his case. Their reason is that the medical evidence will cause “financial hardship” on the county.
In a town that is majority white, it is not surprising that such a racist attack would happen. Too many of these cases have happened to Asian people – Fong Lee being one. While bringing these issues to court is important, we should trust and rely on ourselves to build movements around problems such as police brutality to prevent these horrible crimes from happening again.
People often cite the Communists as the ones inciting violence during the Chinese Revolution. Those same people also say that things were good back then before the Communists were in power. However, if you reflect on how things were in feudal China, what was so good about it?
In Fanshen, William Hinton documents life in a Chinese village called Long Bow. Before the Revolution, instances such as these were common:
I and the children worked for others thinning millet. We got only half a quart of grain. For each meal we cooked only a fistful with some weeds in it. The children’s stomachs were swollen and every bone in their bodies stuck through their skin. After a while the little boy couldn’t get up. He just lay on the k’ang sick with dysentery and many, many worms, a whole basin full of worms crawled out from his behind. Even after he was dead the worms kept coming out. The little girl had no milk from me, for I had nothing to eat myself, so, of course, she died (43).
One Taihang peasant struck back at a landlord who raped his wife. He was hung by the hair of his head and beaten until his scalp separated from his skull. He fell to the ground and bled to death (52).
Peasants confronted oppressive forces on a daily basis. Landlords would make them work until they couldn’t anymore — or worse, until they died. Rich relatives (even brothers) would use and abuse them as they wished. To make things worse, the French sent over Catholic bishops. People were forced to join because this was the only way that they would get money and grain during a bad harvesting period.
Chinese girls were often given up to the Catholic church’s orphanage. These girls would become the orphange’s property. When the girls were old enough, they were tasked by the orphanage to clean, cook, sew, and various other forms of labor; they worked between 12 to 14 hours a day. The orphanage would sometimes lease these girls to other people so that both the orphanage and church would get a steady income. When the girls were old enough, they were sold off to men to become their “wives”.
A woman settling the score with a landlord.
If people had to live under those circumstances from the day that they were born, it is no wonder then that peasants reacted so violently towards their oppressors during the Chinese Revolution. As Hinton has similarly expressed:
When agrarian revolt flared in isolated parts of China after the suppression of the Great Revolution in 1927, neither the legitimate gangs of the village politicians nor the illegitimate gangs of the local despots were enough to suppress them (53).
No one, including the Communists, could hold the peasants back from their revolts. The peasants were unleashing years and years of anger that they were forced to keep suppressed.
Peasants only had bitter stories to tell when they reflected on the past. If things were good “back in the day”, it was only good for those who were the exploiters: the Catholic institution and the gentry. (According to Hinton, the word gentry describes: landlords, rich peasants, and person who made a career of serving them and their interests (such as bailiffs, public officials, village scholars) whose standard of living was comparable to that of the wealthy and came from the same source — the exploitation of the peasants.) The poor peasants had nothing to lose and everything to gain when feudal China was smashed.
We must all break down barriers and phobias; build working relationships; but also understanding, recognizing that each ethnic group has its own primary issues, and need ethnic privacy and leadership. However, as a united force, together, we can challenge the system where those with wealth and political power live high off the toil and desperation of the marginalized. We must see one another as friends and neighbors and sincerely be concerned of one another’s plights and problems. — Yuri Kochiyama.
A similar quote can be found in an essay entitled “A History of Linkage”.
Yuri speaks about how there is a lot of overlap in African/Asian and Black Amerikan/Asian Amerikan history, while mentioning Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X. Unfortunately, however, the historical interactions between oppressed peoples are often downplayed or not even taught at all.
For example, gentrification is happening across different communities today — Chinatown/Lower East Side, South Bronx (Mott Haven and Port Morris, in particular), and Harlem, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, just to name a few. Real estate capital is making moves and invading our communities, raising real estate values. When landlords realize that their property can be worth more, they hike up rent to kick tenants out of their homes so that the gentrifying middle/upper classes can move in. Oppressed peoples are gradually being pushed out to the suburbs as more and more white middle/upper class people move into cities. This phenomenon is similar to how Paris, France is structured: the middle/upper class live in the city while the so-called “others” (immigrants from neo- and colonial countries) live on the outskirts — in les banlieues (Paris suburbs). Out of sight, out of mind.
Police brutality is still a problem in our communities: Yong Xin Huang, a 16-year old honors student from Brooklyn, was shot in the head by a pig in Sheepshead Bay in 1995; Fong Lee, a 19-year old Hmong youth who was shot to death by the Minneapolis police in 2006; Wu Yi-Zhou, a 64-year old Chinese man who was nailed to the ground by several New York Pig Department officers about a week ago.
The economic crisis adds to this pile of problems. Many people are unemployed. Unemployment rates are disproportionately high in Latino and Black communities. Asian Amerikans who have bachelor degrees have a hard time finding jobs. But imagine how bad the situation is for Asians who don’t even have BA degrees.
Teachers are getting laid off as schools are closing and more prisons are opening. NYC is trying to shut down 22 public schools. CUNY is hiking up tuition, making higher education unaffordable for Blacks and Latinos. Students and teachers are rising up and protesting against school closures, budget cuts, and tuition hikes. However, those who are rising up tend to be Black and Latino students. Asian students, who attend CUNY schools, are missing in action.
As we celebrate the birthdays of Yuri Kochiyama, Malcolm X, and Ho Chi Minh, we must remember the commonalities we share as oppressed peoples. When we fight these common problems together, we fight for not just our own liberation, as Asians, but all other oppressed peoples’s liberation. As Malcolm X once said, “Study history. Learn about yourselves and others. There’s more commonality in all our lives than we think. It will help us understand one another.”
I’m a lot of days late… but thought it would be good to share it with you all!
A kinder, gentler kind of student activism. It’s great to see students protesting the fee hikes, but I can’t believe this is the first time in 125 years of Ewha Women’s University that the students refused, in…
They stripping ethnic studies
We gotta fight for it
We had to do it in the 60s
And even strike for it
We aim to change the education
Aim to change the culture
Fuck the white-centric education that they sold ya
One of the things that seems to be odd is that, here I am. I’m a Japanese American. This is an African American based organization. So meeting there the first night of the founding, Huey asked me to join the Party. I looked at him and I looked at Bobby and I said, “I know you two guys are crazy, ‘cuz we drafted the program together. Are you blind as well? I’m not Black.” Then Huey responded by saying, “That’s not the issue, Richard. The struggle for Freedom, Justice, and Equality transcends racial and ethnic barriers. As far as I’m concerned, you Black.”
In fact at one point I had the title of being the “toughest Oriental to come out of West Oakland.”
At first I looked over the other majors: rejected psychology for their subjective approach to the problems of the world, and philosophy as nothing but thought, mental masturbation. Political science, I couldn’t deal with that at Berkeley, because at the time the Poly-Sci department at Berkeley was politically conservative. In fact some of the professors worked for the CIA and that was public knowledge.
Richard Aoki’s the definition of putting your brain juices to good use!