Friday, August 29, 2014


Nothing gets me more upset than people like Bill O'Reilly trying to play Blacks/Latinos/andAsians against each other... If you haven't heard the segment, Buzzfeed has an ill recap. But, I just want to put a few FACTS out there for this mouth breather and anyone else who tries to dispel white privilege by playing Asians against Blacks. Without even addressing the fact that privilege can't be defined solely by median income, graduation rates, single parent homes, and unemployment. Privilege rears its head at the bar, at central booking, on OKCupid, etc. White privilege permeates every single layer of American life. I'm gonna spot this biscuit 10 points and assume that you can define it with these identifiers because... as a person of color in this country, that's how we do. We spot you 10 points and THEN yam it on you. If you never read Mcintosh or heard of the invisible knapsack, peep game.

But here we go, if O'Reilly is intent on playing the barbarians against themselves, here are my reasons why I refuse, why you can't, and why this isn't even a logical conversation to be having. To take certain aspects of Asian American "success" in the eyes of dominant culture and compare them to African American progress in those same fields has NOTHING to do with white privilege. It is actually further evidence of white privilege that the conversation is even framed this way on AMERICA'S NUMBER ONE CABLE NEWS SHOW.

1) Asians were never enslaved ... besides internment camps. Let's just get that out of the way, unpack that on your own time, you don't need me for that.

2) Asians have history. Many of us can trace our families back to China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Sanrio, etc. and we're connected. SLAVERY BROKE THE BRIDGE TO HISTORY. Imagine living without knowing your history, your language, your culture, and YOUR FAMILY. This is like comparing unseasoned chicken to brined chicken naw mean? Through SLAVERY, blacks were torn from their families, their homes, their countries, and forced to create new ones. Even when they did start new ones in America, they were still torn apart, re-sold, and forced back down to zero like they got tipped in playing Utah (21 in Brooklyn).

3) Asians are NEW SERFS to the matrix. Many asians are first and 2nd generation in this country and coming over daily. My parents faced hardships as adults, but they didn't get exposed to the systematic cultural conditioning and discrimination that you face as a person of color growing up in this country. They know who they are, they have their identities, and their self-confidence was fostered in an environment where being Chinese didn't automatically mean you were going to get dunked in the trash can after school.

When my Dad read my book, he had no idea that I had been forced to use my right hand, forced to eat soap for not believing in Jesus, held out of class until I let Jesus into my heart, and told to sit in the back of the class, be quiet, and do math like the other Asian kids. This all happened to me. This probably happens to all people of color in America in some way, shape or form. We are the other and it is made very clear to us early on.

If you compare fresh off the boat first generation Asians to 2nd or 3rd generation Asians that grew up in America like myself, Jin, Cory at MSC, or any other kid at the Polo Store, we kinda look like lost members of the Wu-Tang. Dudes that were on the Killa Bees album or feature on Cilvaringz tracks. We see how we are viewed in the American matrix and assimilate "downwards" because the other team never wanted us. We engage African America and its value system because it's the number one contender to THE MAN. It is the community that has laid the foundation for a lot of our issues and there is common ground. We are not the same, we won't ever be the same, nor would that be productive, but there is solidarity because we all get played. Being black and "blackness" are two different concepts and while this is again a concept that is too big to unpack for a Chinaman on blogspot, what I'm saying is that there is solidarity amongst 2nd/3rd generation Asians and African Americans who find themselves under the thumb of dominant culture. This is a result of conditioning and cultural scarcity (lack of communities to turn to) so when you try to compare Asians to Blacks look to 2nd and 3rd generation Asians, you'll find a lot of unemployed drop outs in single family homes.

Further, if you go watch any documentary about China such as Up the Yangtze or Heavyweight, you'll see Chinese families pulling their kids out of school to work the land, work construction jobs, and work on cruise ships. It's a necessity for poor Chinese families, poor Native American families on reservations, or poor black families. There is not a race or culture or gene that selects for and promotes being unemployed or uneducated. That's fucking ridiculous.

4) WE ALL WANT TO BE EDUCATED. Why do people like me or Dead Prez or the founders of Skillshare eschew "schools"? Are we against education? Absolutely not. But if you've gone through the American school system, read the MAN's history, then get hit upside the head with Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States of America in 10th grade, you feel lied to. When you see Michael Brown shot dead and then Bill O'Reilly on Fox 2 weeks later claiming that white privilege is a myth, you KNOW you are being lied to. So why would you go back to learn from these mother fuckers? Why would you trust them to educate you? You don't, so you try to learn on your own, but ain't nobody handing out GEDs for writing book reports on videos we watch on World Star even if I can break down all three acts and identify elements of Greek Tragedy in the YG "Bicken Back Bein Bool" video.

5) To make money, we usually have to sell our souls. To join the corporate white shoe world, we have to basically forgive the fact that we've woken up every day of our lives spotting the other side 10 points. I find it hard to do as an Asian American but IMAGINE how hard it is as an African American to go through high school, college, law school, get a job at a top 50 firm and then be told that you need to change your appearance, not shape up your hair, and be constantly reminded that you speak well? I have no idea. I will never know because I'm not black, but ALL of these things happened to me and I'M FUCKING CHINESE. Nobody watches the end of Braveheart wanting William Wallace to sell out and bow to England, so WHY do we expect people of color to do it in America EVERY DAY?

Lastly, this isn't to say that I agree with not going to school or not working corporate. I did it. I have a JD, I worked at a top 50 firm, and I'm glad I did. I learned a lot, but I swallowed my pride every day and felt like a sell out. Whether that's logical or not, it's how I felt. I went to school with people that walked, talked, and looked like the people who shit on me all through my adolescent years. I'd sit in class listening to them claim that we didn't need Affirmative Action... ESPECIALLY FOR ASIANS. I'd sit in class listening to them defend case law that denied equal opportunity for gay people seeking employment in Colorado. I did it so that I could learn because Kumon Math and Ranch Market 99 unfortunately do not offer courses on jurisprudence.

Bill O'Reilly, to be as privileged as you are and use your platform during this critical time in American history to kick black people when they're down is disgusting. And I know that if you were able to do to black people what you did to Native Americans, what you're doing to Mexicans, I know that Asians would be next. You're just going down the aisle, checking items off your grocery list, denting all the cans in the ethnic food aisle. I SEE YOU DOGGY. So FUCK YOU and FUCK FOX NEWS.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NY Portals

Well, this is how we started wasn't it?

For free.

On blogspot.

Web 1.0.

I owe a lot to the internet. I won my first March Madness pool as a kid reading The Sporting News for free online. I saw a photoshopped naked Daisy Fuentes in an AOL Chat Room thanks to the internet. And I bought my first plane ticket to New York using the internet...

But this week, I'm leaving. By 6pm Friday, I'll be living in Venice. I've been really fucking angry about leaving for a few weeks now but I woke up today and finally realized why...

I got an email from Kim's Video announcing a closing sale. For those that live in the city and run around downtown, you know that Kim's is one of the last remaining landmarks of the East Village. It is the CBGB's of video stores. The Mecca of Clerks. The Sultan of Cult. When I came to the city 109 months ago, I had no idea what Glenn O'Brien's TV Party or High School by Frederick Wiseman were, but Kim's put me on. I browsed the aisles, talked to the people, and got put on to sub culture I never knew existed. Most of my life, I'd been seeing things that the matrix allowed me to see. The things that studios had the money to put in front of a kid growing up in Orlando, Florida. Kim's was the antithesis and stood for every thing democracy should be but isn't.

At Kim's every film was represented. If you wanted Michael Bay films, they had a section, but so did Frederick Wiseman, Werner Herzog, and Maya Deren. There were signs pointing to employee favorites, cult films, German Cinema, East Asian Cinema, every thing screaming at you to get weird and give it a chance. I imagined each of these directors like neighborhoods being subsidized by Kim's. In the outside world, none of them had a chance in today's globalized capitalism, but at Kim's with the right curation, affirmative action, and cultural welfare they got the attention they deserved. I walked in as a kid that got lost after buying a hetzi-hetzi (half and half falafel/shwarma) at Mahmoun's down the street with no idea what I was walking into, but democracy in the form of Kim's worked. Every employee had a different opinion, they lobbied for different films, but inevitably with the wealth of information and guidance I made my own informed decisions. After much deliberation, the first film I ever bought at Kim's was Black Orientations starring Avena Lee and Nautica Thorn. Clearly, this choice was evidence that the education gap between Orlando and the East Village was a chasm one visit to Kim's couldn't cross.

But eventually, with a lot of hard work and several visits to Kim's a bridge was built. I actually listened to the clerks and paid attention to the signs and symbols. I resisted going past the red curtain and started buying films intended for viewing without a sock on your penis. The movies were just the beginning because a lot of the cultures and scenes depicted were right here in the city. As I walked around, I recognized certain landmarks, stores, restaurants, streets, and even people. The films opened up worlds to me that I dove into further and further until I forgot how I even got there. 9 years later, I look back and realize that Kim's was this portal into New York City I never came back from. Every thing in my life, I can somehow attribute to finding Kim's, but the saddest part is that this portal is closing.

I know that as one portal closes, another one opens and that the weirdos in the matrix will constantly create new rabbit holes, but we have to remember the things that got us here. I'm sure there are thousands of kids like me that stumbled into Kim's and never came back. That can't even remember who they were before encountering that store and the things that it represented. Whether it was Kim's or Amoeba or Burkina, these stores changed people's lives because they provided the first moments where things felt real. We saw works that were raw, irreverent, and untouched by the matrix. They were stores that dedicated themselves to representing the cultures forgotten by capitalism because most stores understand it's easier to sell you the high fructose nutrient vortex bull shit you already want. They preach to the choir and don't make it their job to educate you. They feed you the best marketed soma at the lowest possible price until it fucking kills you and every thing you care about. #Poison

What's most upsetting about leaving the city is that I won't be around to defend it. When you love something as much as I love the city, you want to be there when it needs you. And frankly the city needs all of us right now. (The only reason I agreed to leave is because hopefully I can do something by being on the other side debating the dominant culture that put us in this predicament, but I don't want to talk about my project. This post is all about the city.) It's constantly under attack and none of our blocks look the same day to day. Every where I look, scaffoldings stare at me like the plague descending on the city that made me who I am. I've thought about this a long time and there are three things that I believe we can do.

1) SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS - fuck internet business. I've been guilty of this as well and I have gone to Kim's, looked at videos, and bought them cheaper on the internet but I stopped years ago. You have to pay respects to the businesses that put you on and serve as ambassadors of culture and the neighborhood. Pay the extra couple bucks because once we give our neighborhoods up to the internet, we'll never get them back. Slowly, the internet has turned the entire world into one giant Walmart that sacrifices every thing for falling prices. Conscious consumption is one of our last tools because god knows $ spent at the right place counts more than a vote these days. Nothing is free and if you like something pay for it cause other wise it'll be gone.

2) BUILD YOUR OWN PORTALS - if you don't like the shit businesses in your neighborhood, do something about it. Represent for your culture through commerce. There is a difference between commodifying or appropriating a culture and making it viable. Being viable in the market place allows your culture to survive in 2014. You can absolutely make your voice valuable without compromising it. That's one of the biggest problems with counter culture is this belief that getting big is selling out. It's not. You can absolutely grow with the ideals you came with if you fight the vultures every single day. It's harder, but its necessary.

3) STOP BEING IRONIC NIHILISTS - If you walk around with your eyes open, there's a lot to be upset about, but we can't be nihilists about it forever. Yes, I feel like we are powerless at times and left with the proverbial bag here, but it's not over. THE JEDI WILL RETURN MOTHER FUCKERS. But it starts with us and it sounds cheesy but if you see wack mother fuckers supporting Walmart, AMC, or McDonald's say something. Support the independent theatres, shows, and venues. It's not fucking funny to eat McRibs even though I post it on my IG when it returns, I don't actually eat it but I promise this year to not ironically promote the return of the McRib because genetically engineered water added rib meat is going to kill all of us.

Don't cry for me Argentina. Just consider this my White Men Can't Jump moment where the city lent Rosie Perez to Venice. JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE UR BOY WILL COME BACK LIKE THE 18TH LETTER... BAOHAUS LIVES