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If you haven't read a zine before, now's your chance

From issue #1 of the Asian American Feminist Collective's zine—read it now!

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The Freedom to Want More

During Filipino American History Month, we’re featuring stories from the rich history of Filipino Americans in America. Join us as we dig deep and learn plenty.

Two weeks ago we shared that UC Davis was opening a Filipino studies center named after poet and activist Carlos Bulosan. It’s a fitting tribute for a man who came to the US as a laborer and became the voice of the Filipino American community.

America is in the heart

Bulosan was born to a poor family in the countryside near Binalonan sometime between 1911-1913. US colonization had created a vast wealth gap between powerful elites and everyone else, so he did what many Filipinos did and migrated to the US in 1930 as a teenager.

But he faced many barriers, including limited English and racism, as he traveled the Western US working in Alaskan canneries, Northwest fisheries and Californian fields and hotels.

The horrific conditions and discrimination he experienced, coupled with the severe disparity in the Philippines, pushed Bulosan to organize his fellow immigrants and become a major figure in the labor movement in Seattle.

America will break your heart

Years of labor and poverty took its toll, and Bulosan turned to reading and writing during an extended hospital stay. He came to fame in 1943 with his essay “The Freedom From Want”, published in the Saturday Evening Post alongside the Norman Rockwell painting of a family having Thanksgiving dinner, meant to inspire Americans during WWII.

Bulosan’s writing was recognized during his life, but as an outspoken socialist he was targeted by Senator Joe McCarthy during the “Red Scare” and blacklisted. He spent his last years moving and looking for work, writing while living on friends’ couches, before dying in his early 40s of pneumonia.

His legacy lives on in his semi-autobiographical novel America is in the Heart, one of the first published works to tackle the Filipino American experience and the Asian American working class. It’s now a part of the literary canon and widely considered a seminal pieces of Filipino American literature.

Jessica Yi, editor, is one of the many literature students who have studied America is in the Heart
Read his essay, "The Freedom from Want"

NOW PLAYING: Listening to Tangerine takes you back to your extensive indie music playlist on iTunes you once Limewired—like revisiting old friends you haven’t seen in years. This week we tune into Tangerine. Comprised of Korean American sisters Marika and Miro Justad, alongside their best friend Toby, they bring west coast dream pop to Los Angeles all the way from Seattle.

They’ve toured with Bleachers (yes, the band with Jack Antonoff who just seems to have produced everything these days), and worked with other notable producers such like Michael Shuman (Queens of the Stone Age) and Zach Dawes (Mini Mansions). And they’ve got some notable mentions: Noisey magazine calls them “sunshine in a bag,” and The Guardian defines them as  “girl group grunge - gorgeous indie.” If you like Frankie Cosmos, Wild Ones, or TV Girl—you’d be into Tangerine with their mad Best Coast vibes.

With ethereal voices, dreamy harmonies, and delicate guitar strums (that hook you into catchy riffs), it’s like listening to the soundtrack to your indie budget—but Sundance worthy—coming of age movie. It feels like great company on night drive to San Diego, sunbathing in Echo Park, or being a hip video girl with your own dance montage. One thing is for sure—Tangerine makes you feel nostalgic for lighter, sunnier times. Watch for their EP, White Dove, on October 19 via AWAL.

Natalie Bui, editor who is now nostalgic for the beloved venue, The Casbah, in San Diego

Affirming affirmative action

The case against affirmative action at Harvard kicks off next Monday, and it ain’t just about Harvard.

To catch you up, in 2014, neoconservative Edward Blum filed suit against Harvard, alleging that Harvard discriminated against Asian Americans in the admissions process.

Then in August 2017, Harvard faced another suit, this time filed by a coalition of 60 Asian American groups, primarily first-generation Chinese Americans who continue to lead the anti-affirmative action effort.

And just last month, the president threw his support behind the lawsuit. Said Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department wanted to “protect the civil rights of the American people.”

Civil rights! That sounds good, right? HA HA HA HA HA HA

Not the best smokescreen

The vast majority of Asian Americans support affirmative action, because Asian Americans and other people of color have benefited enormously from it. As the slogan goes, Asian Americans are #NotYourWedge to be used to propagate anti-POC policies.

But unfortunately, the case against Harvard #HasBeenYourWedge. Emboldened by the case, a group based in Texas filed suit against the Harvard Law Review and the NYU Law Review, claiming the two journals discriminated against whites and men.

And that was just this week.

It’s Defend Diversity Week

Thing is, affirmative action isn’t arguing for racial quotas. It’s about taking a broader view—about rethinking what makes people qualified, and the external factors that led them there. It’s not about the “less-deserving” taking your spot.

Which is why we’re proud to throw our support behind the Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, and are joining their week of action to #DefendDiversity.

Jang Lee, one of the student amici that submitted a declaration in support of affirmative action, has a great blog post to read this week. And why not sign this open letter to the class of 2023?

The Slant Staff, who’s here to #DefendDiversity

Join the coalition

Read this zine: Building an Asian American Feminist Movement

CHERY SUTJAHJO, EDITOR

A few weeks ago someone asked me how, in such an interconnected and complicated world, women were supposed to decide what causes to stand for and what issues to support. I answered that in some cases it’s pretty clear, but with more nuanced cases things can get murky.

It’s often a question of what identity is under attack and how that interacts with the other ways I identify, but I struggle still with the murkiness. I’m not sure that I’ve grown my vocabulary or knowledge quite enough to name the factors that contribute to the murkiness. But I know how it feels.

It often feels like a question of whether or not I’ll be complicit in the power structures that put us here in the first place. I can’t say that I consistently answer in the way that I want to, but this is part of the journey, and I’m committed to learning.

This murkiness crops up every once in a while, a discomfort just beneath the surface that makes it impossible to feel 100% happy with real or perceived progress. I last felt this with the success of Crazy Rich Asians and the resounding message that representation matters, and we finally got (some of) the representation that we’ve been aching for.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to see the success of CRA. And as we all know I laughed and cried through the multiple times I watched the movie. But just underneath that was also a recognition that representation isn’t everything. Seeing more Asian faces in movies and TV shows isn’t going to further the Asian American cause. It’s not going to dismantle the model minority myth, eliminate complicit anti-Black action and thought, or empower our communities to fight for justice and equality. It’s definitely important, but it’s not the only thing.

What I think I lacked is historical context—something to ground my understanding and add dimension to the argument that representation matters (it does, but it’s more complex than just that).

Recently, the Asian American Feminist Collective was able to put some of my thoughts into words. Their manifesto (in the form of a very hip zine) articulated a few of the areas where I can continue to grow my knowledge. They build historical context and point to the structures, movements, and leaders who have brought us to the present day and enabled this work to continue. In their aim to practice true intersectionality, they name the ways that groups within Asian America are further marginalized, and understand that not all experiences are created equal.

Beyond that, they share important present-day cultural context. History is important in that it provides the foundation for the dialogues and dynamics we experience in 2018, but understanding how to navigate these dialogues and how our constantly changing social and political environment impacts these dynamics is a different story. The AAFC points to intersectional thought leaders who are creating the vocabulary for 2018 as they continue to push the conversation forward.

I have half a mind to treat their recommended reading the way I treated my high school summer reading list—take this list to the store to buy all the books, then plow through them with a bag of chips at my side. I unfortunately don’t have the luxury of empty summers anymore, but I’m grateful for the work put forth by the AAFC and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Get that zine!

This weekend ... 📅

  • LEARN HAWAIIAN. The language of Native Hawaiians has been undergoing a renaissance in recent years, from being approved as an official court language to now appearing on Duolingo. It’s a huge stride for ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, which had only 2,000 native speakers in 2007.
  • DOCUMENT YOUR ELDERS’ HISTORIES. 86-year-old Fay Hoh Yin began writing about three generations of her family over two decades ago. And if you’re in New York, you can hear about how she and others tell their elders’ stories and preserve oral histories that have never been written down. (And even if you’re not, Fay’s book was published last year!)
  • BUY ASIAN PEARS. This one is super actionable, which, admittedly, can be kind of rare in This Weekend! But Asian pears are IN SEASON and you know you love them and come on you know you’ve got to buy like a dozen so you can bring a couple every time you go to a friend’s place. Just remember to store Asian pears in the fridge, but leave Chinese pears on the counter.
  • WATCH THE GOOD PLACE. And then listen or read this interview with Jameela Jamil, who plays Tahani al Jamil. Unlike her character though, Jamil is a disability rights activist and an outspoken voice against the “diet of shame.” It’s almost hard to look at Tahani the same way. Almost.
  • SIGN THIS PETITION. Cambodian Americans continue to be at risk of deportation in California, and this petition is here to spread the word—especially to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has the power to pardon them. Read the story and sign the petition.

This week's stories are curated by Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who just murdered 24 clams in the name of clam chowder and he’s very sorry, tbh. Got a tip, or just want to share? E-mail us at news@slant.email.

The Slant is brought to you by:

Brian Hsieh, Kevin Lin, Billy Huang, Delwin Lau, AJ Grey, Marina Cheung, Michelle Pal, Mandy Diec, Lloyd Lee, Patrick Trinh, Emily Chi, Naomi Iwata, Gloria Lin, Matt Young, Cat Xia, Crystal Shei, Sooyun Choi, Yi Cao, Meher Kohli, Ryan Ikeda, Jerome Finuliar, Abby Wang, Curtis Leung, Tracey Mantilla, Mika Kennedy, James Boo, Chris Moe, Eve Asher, Diane Lee, Angela Yang, Katherine Chin, Paul Kerr, Talisa Chang and Claire Tran, who are a song that never ends and we love it.

Join them in supporting The Slant on Patreon.

“My feminism’s future is not 'female.' It exists beyond the Western patriarchal binary.” 

AC Dumlao

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