Vacation and liberation
Some pre-flight thoughts on the SCOTUS rulings, privilege, and returning to Korea.
Happy July, y’all,
We’re back for another week — I hope last week and last month were everything you needed them to be. If you’re joining us again, thank you! If you’re joining the conversation for the first time, welcome!
While June saw a number of personal and professional wins for us, on the whole it felt like we lost a lot. The Supreme Court gutted Affirmative Action in college admissions, rolled back protections for the LGBTQIA2s+ community, and struck down student loan relief. These decisions pave the way for legalized discrimination and further marginalize people — specifically Black folks — trying to live and survive in a society whose systems have repeatedly been used against them.
I’m writing this as I sit in the airport waiting to board my plane to Korea. While I am very, very excited to be returning for the second time (on my own terms, no less), I also feel shame and guilt; the privilege I have to be able to make this trip is not lost on me. And in a moment when people far more marginalized than myself find themselves under attack, it feels off to be making this journey while so many struggle just to make it through today.
I realize this is not my fault, nor should I carry the weight of systemic inequity on my shoulders. I also recognize my proximity to whiteness via my adoption and the internalization of said whiteness I’ve been unlearning and dismantling over the past three years. The shame and guilt I feel is rooted in that internalization.
Something I’ve learned from educators and activists like Liz Kleinrock and Michelle MiJung Kim is the importance of naming these things. There is power in being specific; by doing so we are being intentional about who and what we’re advocating for. That intentionality is also very important. It is through intentionality that we find accountability and mindfulness — mindfulness for the folks who we do this work for (and the ones we don’t), accountability to the communities we serve (and to ourselves).
These SCOTUS decisions lack both mindfulness and accountability.
One of the best ways for us to resist right now is to educate ourselves on the history of these systems, how they came to be, and the folks who have been doing the work of resistance before today. In addition to Liz and Michelle, some other folks I learn a lot from on a daily basis are Bianca Mabute-Louie, Lisa Hurley, Sharon Hurley Hall, Paul Lapido, Simran Jeet Singh, Kim McKee, Aiko Bethea, and Sandy White Hawk. Following, learning from, and supporting their work is a great first step into the work of resistance.
It doesn’t stop at education, though. We have to take what we learn and apply it in our lives every moment we can. Are we going to be perfect? No. But the point of learning and practicing is not to achieve perfection; it is to ensure that we are developing the mindfulness and accountability required to resist white supremacy and white dominant culture.
In May we ran THE APAHM CONVERSATIONS series, of which Bianca was a guest. One of the many things she shared that’s stuck with me has been: “I’ve been thinking about what kind of communities and what kind of liberation do I want to invest in?” It’s such an important question because it’s a reminder to all of us that we have a choice when it comes to this work. Can we name who and what we want to invest in? Can we be specific about it? And can we identity how white supremacy culture operates to pit us (usually Asian diasporic communities) against other historically marginalized people, specifically Black folks, and resist it?
When we ask these questions, we get at the root. When we get at the root, we create change. As Bianca wrote in a recent post:
“Personally, I reject validation by Predominantly White Institutions as the precious thing to protect. Instead, coalitions w/POC to activate collective power, destabilize whiteness, and asset racial subjectivity on our own terms. Go after whiteness, not each other.”
This week on Conversation Piece…
On this week’s episode of Conversation Piece, The Backyard Series is back with part two: Back Inside. We’re back in the original office to recap our June conversations and the launch of our new website, give final thoughts on Joy Ride, elaborate more on ‘Adoptee’ as an identity, and to set the stage for July.
With all that being said, I am still going to be in Korea for two weeks; consider it my summer vacation! That doesn’t mean the conversation stops.
While I’m gone, new episodes will still release on Mondays along with the newsletter. I cannot WAIT for y’all to hear the conversations we have for you (hint: if you check out this week’s episode, you might learn who it’ll be!).
Additionally, I will not be writing the editorial piece for the 10th and the 17th. Instead, you’ll be be hearing from some friends who have graciously stepped in to fill this space while I’m away! That’s right — we’re doing even more amplification right here, right now!
Next week, you’ll be hearing from Leah Burns, a Chinese American Adoptee and overall incredible person. She’s got some great insights to share and it is my honor and privilege to be able to share that with you all.
Stay tuned next week to find out who will be sharing on the 17th 👀
We are currently working to secure a screening of Joy Ride this Thursday, July 6th! After the screening there will be an all-adoptee panel to discuss the film with some absolutely incredible folks from our community.
We need as many adoptees to show out for this screening as we possibly can!! This is an opportunity for us to show people we are to be taken seriously and that they can’t just ignore us while continuing to tell our stories without any input or consultation from us. The time is now.
I don’t have exact details yet, but as soon as I do I will share them with you! If you are interested in attending, please reply to this email or DM me on instagram asap!
This newsletter is kind of all over the place, with highs and lows and some in-between things tying it all together. I appreciate you reading, for being here in community with me, and for being who you are.
I’ll be in Korea soon, and will no doubt have much to share upon my return. I hope this week and this month will be everything you need them to be.
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