*The mixtape video we all needed. It’s a hard time right now, can’t understate that. Philando Castile, the healthcare bill, the deportations, targeting of Muslims during Ramadan, the environment destruction, the list is so long it’s almost paralyzing. It seems like the politics posts on Facebook at least in my filter bubble have waned a bit, bc it’s like, we know it’s not gonna get better anytime soon, but I know that there are so many broken hearts with a dose of toxic anger all the same from all the offline conversations.
But one thing I’ve noticed though in NYC, since the election, it seems like immigrants have been kinder to each other. Going to stores, Lyft/Uber drivers, walking in these streets, going to work, there is a strange gentleness to each other that I don’t think was quite there before. We don’t speak the same languages, we don’t share the same skin colors or cultures, we don’t really even have the same struggles (I’m totally cognizant of the fact I’m a light-skinned Asian whose is a natural born American citizen with a White collar job and what that gets me – I walked through customs in under 3 minutes with Global Entry yesterday – which gives me a responsibility to do a damn thing), but it seems we’re in this reality where we need each other’s kindness because of Trumplandia and a lot of the White Liberals who quite frankly seem to be want to be there for their racist cousins than for us, I get that tribalism, but we’re responding in kind with our kindness to each other in response to what is effectively state-sanctioned violence.
For some of you out there, I know you don’t feel this, but feel me for a minute when I say this cruelty out here is undeserved, and it’s real, and if you’re not fighting it, you’re complicit. Let’s get on with it. Save your kindness for those who deserve it and need it. We’re America’s ghostriders, and the former colonized in Europe built those empires. The credit is only borrowed. We’re going to cash those checks, sooner or later, one way or another.
*One thing I do want to call out some friends pointed out on FB – the misogyny in the lyrics and in hip hop in general, :(. Also, let’s not forget in the American context, most Black Americans weren’t immigrants and were forced to build the country for free and Native Americans driven off on the land that was theirs.
What to Tell the Children tell them that this is the great awakening tell them that we humans have made some huge mistakes and that's how we now find ourselves in this tenuous place teach them that hate is the poison teach them that love is the remedy that is it better to be readied for what comes next even if the revelation is painful tell them that this is the paradigm shift, that the old is collapsing in on itself that this death rattle is simply a temper tantrum, the last gasp of a dying Goliath remind them of how they get wild when they are most tired and then pass out that this is what it's about that this is what is happening to a decrepit and ineffective empire tell them that everything is not OK and knowing that, is OK tell them that pretending that what is unacceptable is fine is what got us to this sick and dysfunctional spot on the time line apologize for any prior attempts to teach them denial tell them you were blinded by desire for comfortable numbness express that you had the best of intentions that you were working within a broken system where few benefited at the expense of many that you laid low, kept to the status quo, obediently played your role but those days are over because now you know better tell them that they have no responsibility to follow someone blindly based solely on a title teach them to practice discernment tell them authority and respect must be earned, and are not inherently deserved teach them that there are good people and bad people from every background, ethnicity and belief system that they must align themselves with kindness that there is no more room for divisiveness you tell them that just because something is legal that doesn't mean it's right you tell them to stand up, and fight remind them of all the lawful atrocities committed in the sick and twisted history of this violent country that Rosa Parks righteously broke a law, and the world took notice that Harriet Tubman is our modern day Moses that women would not be allowed to vote, and no one would have proposed another notion, if the blessed rebels hadn't taken a stand tell them love will win this war but only if we remember that love is not just one unending cuddle puddle but fierce, as a mother bear protecting her cubs tell them that although this existence is damaged beyond repair, they must not despair. there is possibility. and we will willingly and willfully open ourselves to new ways of being because the old way is not working, has never worked and the world deserves better, and we're worth it tell them they are not free while another suffers under enslavement teach them that we are all limbs on one body and we cannot chop off our own arm without deep suffering teach them humility, but also to relearn to trust their intuition and beg their forgiveness for unintentionally misleading them previously tell them their gifts are useful tell them they are beautiful tell them THEY ARE THE TRUTH
Poetry for reflecting today. I’m traveling to Taiwan tonight, my motherland, to see family and friends. I am fortunate for now for relatively unencumbered freedom of movement, something my Brown friends don’t have the privilege of doing. Something to ponder on and think of how you can weaponize your privilege in the struggle.
Autopsy Last night, I dreamed that my passport bled. I dreamed that my passport was a tombstone For our United States, recently dead. I dreamed that my passport was made of bone— That it was a canoe carved out of stone. “But I can’t swim,” I said. “I will drown If I can’t make the shore. I’ll die alone In the salt. No, my body will be found With millions of bodies, all of them brown.” I dreamed that my passport was a book of prayers, Unanswered by the gods, but written down By fact checkers in suits. “There are some errors In your papers,” they said. Then took me downstairs To a room with fingernails on the floor. I dreamed that my passport was my keyware, But soldiers had set fire to the doors, To all doors—a conflagration of doors. I dreamed that my passport was my priest: “Sherman, will you battle the carnivores Or will you turn and abandon the weak? Will you be shelter? Or will you concede?” Last night, I dreamed that my passport was alive When it entered the ICU. It breathed, it breathed, Then it sighed and closed its eyes. It did not survive. ©2017, Sherman Alexie
There are moments where some people begin to have where their politics and beliefs diverge vastly from those given to them from the environment they grew up in, the institutions around them, what have you.
People are rarely convinced by facts and figures, but rather by the expressions of stories, art, and culture.
A lot of where my consciousness and moral clarity came from when I was a undergrad at UC Davis during the pessimism of the post-9/11 Bush years (remember when we thought that was the worst?), and it was through a lot of music scene there are the time.
Blue Scholars, a hip hop duo out of Seattle whose music explores immigration, racism, challenging authority, socioeconomic displacement, and global conflict helped develop my consciousness. It feels timely again given MC Sabzi’s Iranian and MC Geologic’s Filipino ancestries.
I’ve never stopped loving this hook:
Because I, got your back even if you don't got mine Grind in the dark when the clock strikes hard times We ain't nothing if this bond ain't solidified
I’m posting 100 Days of “Resistance Art” – music, poems, etc. that I’m finding to be inspirational to switch up the news feed.
I’m inspired by 100 Days Action of Creative Resistance to create counternarratives to the Trump administration, this piece by Marc Bamuthi Joseph: My Art Is Not A Bridge—It’s a Battery, and the “Disdain for Intellectuals & the Arts” line in the Fascism Warning Signs poster from the Holocaust Museum that’s gone viral.
Day One is remake of This Land is Your Land by the group Chicano Batman. Johnny Walker, to their enterprising credit on sentiment, sponsored a video shoot for the song in East LA. I love the Spanish-language verse incorporated:
“No existe nadie Que pueda pararme Por el camino Del libertad No existe nadie Que pueda hacerme volver Esta tierra es para ti y para mi”
As a native Angeleno, I feel homesick for that sundrenched landscape on a snowy NYC day, and I loved that so many people have been singing this song at marches.
Full version below and also available on Spotify: