Thank you, officers & troops of the Women’s March. 

Yesterday in DC, I saw a number of officers wearing pink paraphernalia and chanting alongside us. I heard that NYPD and Atlanta PD were also joining in on chanting, cheering on marchers, and expressing their support in various ways (high fives, hugs, humor). People truly came together yesterday, and it was probably the first time in my life that I was able to be before law enforcement and troops (which, in NYC, is almost a daily occurrence) without feeling fear, anger, or any threat to my well-being; in fact, I felt a deep trust and sense of hope with them.

Thanks to all the officers who served yesterday, especially those who actively joined in on the activities to whatever capacity they were able to. Between these marches and the recent launch of an Open Society Foundations initiative to support police associations working on community building, I have been instilled with a renewed sense of hope and vision for a future in which communities are truly inclusive and safe…

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To my fellow Americans who feel scared & hurt: I love you deeply.

To my fellow Americans who are immigrants, people of color, women, Muslims, LGBTQ, and/or differently-abled — and who feel scared, saddened, angry, and/or attacked by tonight’s voting:

I love you deeply, and we will continue to rise together in the fight for a more whole community. Do not lose hope or step back in fear, even in the face of evil and adversity. We just have to keep persevering for a better future.

And for those of you who voted for Trump because you are worried for your economic future or are frustrated at elite establishments, I understand these reasons and fears, these feelings of disenfranchisement (even if I do not agree with your choice). I invite you to join the voices of those of us who fight against the systems of oppression, so that we can have a fuller and more holistic dialogue about the issues that affect our everyday lives.

Immediate reaction to Election 2016: deep sadness & pain

I am deeply saddened that we, the American people, not only allowed for a fascist to have an opportunity to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world, but half of us actively voted for racism (white supremacy), bigotry, fear, misogyny (and specifically manifested in rape and sexual assault), greed, neoliberalism, xenophobia, ableism, etc. to win tonight.

The fact that more than half of our nation could not say NO to these things makes my heart physically hurt.

And while I know that the president does not wield all the power in the United States, this election brings me deep shame and sadness. I know that our nation has made many mistakes in the course of our history, but I have never felt this ashamed of our nation, a country for which I have been so deeply grateful. I naively thought we were a progressing nation, but tonight has shown me that I live in a country that is more bigoted, racist, and misogynistic than I could have ever fathomed.

The fine line between supporting police officers and supporting “Blue Lives Matter”

I have a lot of [Facebook] friends who are very vocal and active in their support of police officers, especially the NYPD. Some of them are cops themselves, and others are married to someone or have family that are in the police force. While I have complicated emotions towards American policing generally, I deeply respect these friends’ posts that commemorate fallen officers or highlight the dangers of this chosen profession. After all, I’d like to believe that most people choose to serve as officers out of good intention (but as the field of humanitarianism knows, good intention is never enough and can even sometimes be more harmful that helpful). Even those who have maligned hearts and deep implicit prejudices are still people. A life lost is never to be celebrated or even shrugged at.

While I respect and even sympathize with my actively vocal pro-police friends, and while I care about the lives of police officers, I do not support “Blue Lives Matter.”It may sound anti-cop, but it’s not, because the phrase has much deeper implications. I care about the lives of cops; I care about their safety, their families, and their identities beyond the uniform. You can care about all these things and still refuse to use the racist term “Blue Lives Matter.”

This is where people roll their eyes and tell me “Blue Lives Matter” has nothing to do with race. As Trump would say: WRONG. This phrase was born out of a reaction to #BlackLivesMatter, a movement to draw attention at the deeply rooted institutional, cultural, and systemic racism our nation has created and bought into that disproportionately affects the lives of Black Americans. “Blue Lives Matter” did not exist before this movement. It arose and attempted to co-opt #BLM’s name when #BLM brought up systemic police violence, systemic police corruption, the injustices of our judicial systems, and the need to abolish our current incarceration system. First off, co-opting a name is already offensive and adversarial, so that’s not a great start. 

Secondly, if you follow this closely, those who most actively shout “Blue Lives Matter” are those who are usually responding to #BlackLivesMatter situations or highlighting crimes of POCs. Rarely do we see “Blue Lives Matter” galvanization when police lives are senselessly taken away by non-POCs, especially in situations unrelated to #BLM. There isn’t a rally or an uproar when a white shooter attacks officers. Most recently, “Blue Lives Matter” folks have been relatively quiet in reaction to the Iowa shooting last week. 

Lastly, “Blue Lives Matter” has taken on the rhetoric that cop killings have increased because of #BLM and cops are killed at the hands of POCs, especially black men. This is false, based on racial bias and not on statistics. If you’re going to categorize danger by race, then stats show that white men are the most threatening to police lives. Yet white men posing danger are treated with more restraint by officers and, despite attacking officers, tend to come out of an attempted arrest alive and unharmed (hence, the #BlackLivesMatter movement). Words matter and the rhetoric that “Blue Lives Matter” dishes out is harmful for public perception of POCs. 

So yes, “Blue Lives Matter” may on the surface seem to have nothing to do with race, but the history and background of it holds deep racist undertones. You may not use it out of racist intention, but it doesn’t change the truth behind it. If you care about and support the work and safety of police officers, it’s time to find a new catchphrase instead of a co-opted one with racist implications. 

I refuse to let Jesse Watters & Fox affect my progress.

I’m glad to see so many people, non-Chinese and non-Asian even, condemning the Fox News segment of Watters’ World in which Jesse Watters pulls out racist stereotypes to humiliate and dehumanize Asian residents and patrons of NYC’s Chinatown (which I actually did not watch & refuse to watch). Thank you for adding your voices.

I’ve been relatively silent on social media thus far about this for many reasons, including the fact that there is so much to be upset and angry about. That said, I want to say one thing, just to put some honesty out there.

What makes me the angriest about this is that it’s people like Jesse Watters and Bill O’Reilly, media like Fox News and MadTV, institutions that inform our social upbringing like Hollywood, that made me feel ashamed to be Asian when I was a child. I was acutely aware of my self-hate, even at a young age, but I had not yet learned why and what systemic racism was. But I knew that I hated the fact that I was the “weird Chinese kid” in a town that had a nearly 0% population of Asians. The struggle of identity and self-acceptance (that is, acceptance of oneself as an individual as well as acceptance of one’s culture, one’s family, etc.) as an Asian immigrant child growing up in White America is something that white Americans will never fully understand. The level of self-rejection is something that white Americans will never fully understand, no matter how woke you are (and trust me, I appreciate my woke white friends).

That self-rejection and the denial of a huge part of my identity was nurtured and ingrained by people like Jesse Watters, “news” like Fox, pop culture giants like MadTV, and cult classic movies like Sixteen Candles. I spent decades of my life unlearning this internalized racism (and continue to) and learning to accept my ethnic identity. And here is Jesse Watters trying to reinforce that shame. That is what makes me angry. How dare he undo the years of progress that we have collectively made to gain respect as Asian Americans and that some of us have individually made to accept ourselves.

Internalized racism is not just in others, it’s in ourselves too. Recognize it, address it, and don’t let scum like Watters and Fox push you backwards.

NYT: The Political Magic of C.S. Lewis

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I resonate deeply with so much of what C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite thinkers, has written and said over his lifetime. It’s not surprising we have overlapping views on State, politics, and “moral legislation.”

Small excerpt from this NYT piece by Peter Wehner about Lewis’ thoughts on faith and politics:

Lewis saw public matters, and indeed all of life, through a theological lens; his Christian belief had important public consequences because it provided him with insights into the human condition.

Like water that refracts light and changes the shape of things, politics can distort and invert Christianity, turning a faith that at its core is about grace, reconciliation and redemption into one that is characterized by bitterness, recriminations and lack of charity. There is a good deal of hating and dehumanization going on in the name of Christ.

Followers of Jesus aren’t doing a very good job of living faithfully in a broken world, perhaps because we’re looking inward instead of upward. “Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in,’ ” Lewis reminded us. “Aim at earth and you will get neither.”