uNbound Staff Heidi Hong Tina Hsu Candace Kita Rachel Poutasse Junyan Wu
We’ve been absent for nearly two years, but we’ve gotten our act together and brought together a collection of pieces by AASU women. Throughout these pages, you’ll find poetry, short stories, artwork, collaborations, anger, happiness, questioning and most importantly, voices. The common theme within this issue is also the title of this publication. uNbound. Our words have no boundaries. The lines and squares that encompass each page and piece may seem finite, but these are merely standardized, print elements through which we convey our thoughts, feelings and opinions. Within ourselves and between each other, we continue past the edges of these pages and experience the world in ways that cannot always be expressed on paper. Allow us to communicate what we can here and allow us the opportunity to share with each other what we have learned about ourselves and the world around us.
She is happiness. But hard-earned happiness. The kind of happiness that comes after a long days work in the melon fields of Wapato, Washington. Her tiny hands covered in thick dirt, dirt that was not her own, but which she worked just the same along with five other brothers and sisters to pay for the very melons they brought to life. In Japanese, her name, my name doesn’t have the “e.” Her parents attached the “e” as a nod to a new life in America, a place of dreams come true through hard work, good spirit, and happiness. The “e” rests there, silently hanging on as a constant reminder of desperate assimilation, a desire to “whiten up,” and make good on the American promise. When the War came though the “e” didn’t matter, nor did the hard work or the happiness. Instead our lives were replaced by numbers—3 forced us home before dark, 6099 moved us to horse stalls and eventually incarceration camps, and 24907 named us, made us stay, chained to dried up expanses of places like Tule Lake, Heart Mountain, and Manzanar—places melons wouldn’t grow. In 1944 my grandmother received word that schools in the Midwest would allow Japanese American enrollment and she left camp and the farmland of her childhood for good. For her, and for many Nisei post camp life meant proving the “e” a sign of American allegiance. Not one of my grandmother’s children hold Japanese names, language was forgotten, traditions and communities interrupted, diffused, erased. We scattered and disappeared into the “American” landscape, as did our names. Sixty-seven years later however our name and that “e” mean something quite different. For my grandmother, it is the happiness of a large family, children, grandchildren, and countless memories. For me, it is responsibility, a truth that defines my life and the work I do for my Japanese American community and other communities of color. It is the knowledge that the American dream and the costumed “e” can never provide happiness the way community self determination and community organizing can. It is my mixed race background, my white Norwegian, Danish, English, and Cherokee mother and my Japanese American father. It is the fact that Sachie is not just a name but rather a history pieced together by immigration, war, community movement, tiny hands, granddaughters, and happiness, with or without the “e.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali stirs up Scripps College by Chantal Coudoux Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an advocate for the rights of women. Ms. Ali took from her experience as a Muslim woman in Somali and began a long journey of trying to bring a voice to violence towards Muslim women. She strongly believes that as a collective group, Muslim women are dangerously violated and silenced. She spoke very strongly against Islam itself, Islamic law, and Islamic states. To Ali, women’s brutal repression comes from Islamic states and law. The root of the violence comes from the teachings of the Prophet and the Qur’an. The freedom that women are allowed in Western or Non-Islamic states, to her, is an ideal. With Western ideology, and Western rule of law, women are much better off. Under colonial rule, in Muslim countries, women had more freedoms and had a space for their own agency. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s talk was both scary and sad to me. I thought she had some insightful things to say and many thoughts that came from a deep place of knowledge and experience, but I heard nothing that was really critical theory or introspection. I was also disappointed, as I was last year, that
Scripps chose a controversial speaker whose reputation was so well known to certain communities that productive dialogue was hard to have. Her deep-seated beliefs come from a place of pain, and silence and are real to her. Unfortunately, I think she confuses the idea of power and the violence that comes with that, and the idea of Islam and its teachings. Groups of people, elites and leaders create knowledge, laws, and customs, which have to do with power, not the teachings of Islam. Repression of women and deadly violence is not and never has been synonymous with the teachings of Islam. To say that her Western boss would never watch her be raped by four men, effectively silences the voices of women in Western cultures (the ones she speaks of as free from that) who are raped, killed, and abused. That seems, to me, to do more violence to women and to perpetuate a white-supremacist patriarchy (that she claims to want to fight). It pains me to see someone so strongly believe something and criticize others for not being critical, when she ignores the root of the problem and only finds truth in the superstructure.
Self Portrait by Rachel Wong
Agent Orange Two Vietnamese women, Dang Hong Nhut and Tran Thi Hoan, who were exposed to Agent Orange used by the U.S. military during the war, lectured at Scripps on October 27,2008.
What is Agent Orange ? Agent Orange is the code name for a powerful herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. military in its Herbicidal Warfare program during the Vietnam War. These herbicides were both developed as weed killers in the 1940’s, and were effective against broad leaf plants and several crops. Human exposed to Agent Orange tend to have an increased risk of various types of cancer and genetic defects and may bring birth defects.
“Why You” by Anita Yu Response by Junyan Wu Even though the war would end, the post-war impact on human society and environment could be everlasting. Generation by generation suffer from the agent orange. And agent orange is just one of the hundreds of toxic chemicals used in war. The damage brought by wars are far more beyond what we could imagine. No matter what motive starts the war, the war itself is the worst of any crime! Even when we think we are civilized today, people still commit this dirtiest crime. We don’t know what it would bring the people living near war field tomorrow. If the war declarer could live longer enough to see the future impact, he would know that the mistake he made today is never forgivable.
Why are you making my stomach churn Flashing images, red on red Why are you making my two ears deaf Wailing pleas, bang after bang Why do you spit chants of justice Selling, sneaking contradictions Why do you spray these fancy poisons Blinding, binding generations Why do you continue down the same dirt path Not satisfied with where we belong Why do you sit and squirm at the thought Another will sing the same old song Why, the common question we all share Why me Why me Why me
Kollaboration event empowers API Americans by Anna Cho
Photo by Anna Cho
On February 21, 2009 Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans from all over California came to support talented API dancers, musicians, magicians, and comedians within their communities at Kollaboration 9, the biggest API talent show in the world. Kollaboration was created in 2000 by a small group of API Americans who wanted to “celebrate the vast talents of their community and hopefully bring them into the mainstream,” according to their website. In a diverse country with such a large entertainment industry, it is interesting that there are very few well-known API entertainers. Historically, only the API entertainers who have played stereotypical Asian roles have attained the most success, such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Kollaboration gave the API community an opportunity to combat common stereotypes of Asian-Americans. While Kollaboration has an extremely important message to give to the API community, it was not well articulated because some performers drew upon stereotypes of Asian-Americans in order to make it more entertaining. Instead of contradicting stereotypes, it seemed that new and old stereotypes were being affirmed. This is a problem because the entertainment industry is the primary way in which stereotypes are disseminated and perpetuated. For example, the dancers who performed were mostly hip-hop dancers or break dancers. With the onset of MTV’s show, America’s Best Dance Crew, API American dancers have been categorized as good hip-hop and break dancers. It would have been nice to see some other styles along with the hip-hop and break dancing at the event. The comedian that performed, Jo Koy, did not help reinforce Kollaboration’s positive message. By imitating his mother’s Filipina accent and mocking his own race, Koy did little to empower the API community. The emcee helped the event digress from its goals as well. He made frequent offhand remarks that drew on the stereotypes of the API community. Although he made people laugh with his remarks, he did not help Kollaboration’s message. I hope that Kollaboration will continue to improve and keep sight of its goals. Even though Kollaboration could still make a few improvements, it is still a very exciting and empowering event. It has a lot of potential to help API Americans feel more comfortable with their identities. It is really important for a person to know that they are not alone in their experiences as API Americans. This event helps Asian-Americans support each other and gives the younger API generation role models – people who did not let their API identity stop them from attaining their goals. Anna Cho with Actor Justin Chon at Kollaboration.
Torpidity By Heidi Hong unraveling the Human Condition I have aroused a hundred souls clinging to the fog that drenches my Tuesday mornings Torpidity is mesmerizing swirling optical illusions is wading through sluggish days with dreams of puddles melting dreams the Self unraveled in spilt pools of greasy gasoline rainbows the threat of drowning I have lost track of the seasons in this life the weather once transformed again and again in some vicious cycle not now. how dangerously appealing it is to slide beneath the quicksand of cruel seconds past if we were not lifted by the lightness of a hundred souls the collective made perfect by its fractures
Artwork by Nicole Montojo
Art, Performance, Awkwardness at Traci Kato-Kiriyama’s Workshops by Candace Kita BOP. SMACK. SQUEAK. SHHH. BOP. SMACK. SQUEAK. SHHH. BOP. SMACK. SQUEAK. SHHH…… These are just some of the sounds that I heard—and helped make—last Wednesday night in a practice room next to Seaver Theater. Yes, I realize that these sorts of random noises aren’t usually made on a regular basis, especially in such a repetitive fashion. Yet as I participated in one of Traci Kato-Kiriyama’s infamous arts workshops, I realized that this venue is one where participants like myself can explore artistic forms not typically found in daily life. While this was not the first workshop I had attended—Traci, who is the artist-in-residence at Pomona’s Asian American Resource Center (AARC), had recently held a few specifically for AASU—her activities always prove creative, fresh, and provocative. Held in two-hour sessions with a group of typically five to ten people, Traci’s workshops incorporate various writing, movement, speaking, and performance exercises. She pushes her participants to liberate their voices and bodies to express freely, without embarrassment or restraint, and to focus on why we choose to express the way we do. On Wednesday, Traci’s workshop focused on physicality and sound, blending noise and movement in artistic performances. The source of the group’s BOP, SMACK, SQUEAK, SHHH sounds was an activity called “the apparatus.” One participant would start by performing a repetitive movement and accompanying sound—whatever she immediately thought of--- for the rest of the group. One by one, other participants would insert themselves into this performance, making their own movement and sound that somehow related to those of the first person. The goal was to transform the group into a living, breathing apparatus with its own individual parts—with its signature motions and specific noises—while at the same time building off each other and ultimately operating as a unified, cohesive whole. While our actions and sounds may seem silly at first, the beauty of Traci’s workshops for me stems from the very possibility of silliness. It is definitely a challenging experience—I am not afraid to admit that I’ve felt my share of discomfort in some of Traci’s exercises— but immensely rejuvenating as well. As the physical boundaries and social rules of daily life shape our movements and words, Traci creates a space in which we are encouraged to be physically and verbally free. As each individual’s opportunity for unrestrained expression becomes part of a group effort, however, the resulting performance also transforms into a collage of pure, interconnected, and powerful voices. Although I’ve only scratched the surface of Traci’s latest workshop here—I could write pages on her other exercises—I highly recommend them; they definitely provide a good break from the often-stressful routine of college life. So I invite you to experience their invigorating effects. And even embrace their occasional awkwardness.
by Kelsey Tanaka Western Ave If she focused further up Western Ave she wouldn’t have known the hour. But as it was, her eyes lingered on the traffic below, the 720 top marked in standard black, scooting indifferently onto an oncoming slush of cars. Horns blazed but mostly out of habit, adding to the symphony of urban everyday. From below, the city’s best chefs wrapped gleaming strips of bacon around Ballpark franks padding the bun with roasted yellow onions slicked in spicy sauce that threatened most of the New Year’s resolutions, hers included. Despite being 10 floors up, she could hear the man, “One dollar,” and she felt for the leafy bit of paper in her right pocket, pressed two fingers, reasoned, and sighed. It was getting later. Corners ballooned out with people on their way home from work, some arching off banged-up curbs looking like abruptly frozen fountains on an East Coast December. Lights clicked one shade, then another, competing with the headlights of a thousand tired motorists, a showdown of the quickest. The game lasted a while but even the tired got tired and soon the symphony calmed to an even haze. The air outside followed suit until the salty stick of pork, gasoline, bulgogi, and rotting drainage mushed into the familiar, a backdrop sketched “You made it, don’t forget.” Up Western Ave stuck between two important towers, she could make out only the sign’s last three letters, “O-O-D.” In her mind, someone was singing down below and most of the hot dogs had settled in the tummies of casual onlookers. It didn’t take long, though, before each letter vanished into the hillside and the speckle of vehicle lights smudged out anything beyond the tiny intersection. “Too bright now,” she thought and she flipped the lights on to find her long overcoat and matching purse.
Memories of a Future: An Intellectual Biography by Emi Sawada My fingers caress, only to reject, these lettered keys; my hands embrace, then attack, this delicate keyboard; and on the virtual screen of my laptop computer, I witness, external to my own consciousness, the ascendance of another story. Forever a student, inevitably a teacher, rarely a diarist, and as of today, an arbitrary winter afternoon, not quite an artist—I write. To reconfigure my autobiographical portrait upon the vacancy of this page, an expanse as cavernous as the depths of my forgotten memory, is to imagine anew a narrative I have never fully known. Because, as ever, I seek strength, not in the permanency of the past, but in the promise of future possibility. Yes: I concede sentimentality, even banality. For in all sincerity, every cliché, every human testament to the inspiration of change—personal, social, political, all ultimately universal—has revitalized my claim, not principally to my individual loss, but to our collective reconciliation. And, as I type these preliminary lines for a life’s chronicle abbreviated, I hold this collectivity in the palm of my hand, and pronounce myself Asian American. Perhaps in premature hope, I hazard to assume that one day, in the finality of my last words, I may
also call myself an Asian Americanist. But at this moment, I am a daughter. Often, sometimes, I recognize my privileged membership in the bourgeois nuclear family, augmented, in my father’s idealist fabrications, to Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s “ideal” spiritual collective. Because, in all my resistance to the history of my birth itself, I am a daughter to the Korean Unification Movement, a new global religion of the 1970’s—and the eternal backdrop before which I attempt to disassociate my present autonomy. Perhaps unlike many an immigrant’s child, I maintain but illusory emotional liaison to the parents of my childhood, those whose existence determined my own. In fact, I wonder now whether this assumption itself—that I am an immigrant’s child—is fallacy. My father, a Japanese man who has not inhabited his motherland in over thirty years, traversed the Pacific, not to find sanctuary in mythical meritocracy, but to disseminate, as if tangible, the words of his new Messiah. My mother, a third-generation Italian American and child to a diplomat, carried herself, a global scholar by the late 70’s, to Madison Square Garden for a mass marriage alongside thousands of other Moon disciples. And there, without thought to the economy of its spiritual need, my family was born. Continued on page 9
“As ever, I strength, not in the permanency of the past,
but in the future possibility.”
Continued from page 8 My mother, in response to my occasional question regarding her past involvement in “the faith,” an intentional community that aspired to salvage humanity with a mildly revolutionary pro-miscegenation doctrine, testifies to the family. “The family,” she recalls of the Unification movement, of the hordes of bright-eyed college students who once wordlessly abandoned higher education to save the world. Now, as I contemplate my gravitation toward the families of my own college existence, toward the familial and institutional communities that I now call home, I remember her words. While I once remained silent in the aftermath of my parents’ sporadic tributes to spirituality, I can no longer feign dumb to their memories of temporal passion. I have experienced the collective; what is more, I no longer dismember my identity in the name of individualism. For in the last three semesters, immersed in the family, in the community that is Asian American collegiate activism, I have transformed beyond recovery. As ever before, I follow; I lead; and I stand silent, cognizant of my own movement. But unlike my Self of the intimate past, my eyes are open to all that has moved before me, and all that moves beside me, and behind me. Yet I do not feel small. I flatter myself that, in retrospect, I have played the field. I am biracial, and I am of color—but to some, to a world that sees in binary, I am white. My phenotype is a privilege, a conduit for certain powers. Likewise, my access to Ivory’s education, to the socio-economic resources that have enabled my politicization, is not solely a privilege, but a responsibility. Despite all of this, all of this that I do not deserve to have, I am proud. For in the influx of my own blood stream, and in anticipation of what is yet unrealized, I still find urgency in the legacy of the Asian American movement, and all of its children: its scholars, its students, its workers, its activists, and especially its women. In the physically constrained but abstractly boundless space that defines college experience, I have encountered activists who—without claim, perhaps, to recognition beyond this humble sphere called Claremont—have bequeathed me with gifts beyond articulation, with words unspoken but heard regardless. These mentors, who might themselves identify as common, as inherently ordinary as the mundanity of their physical environment, have unconsciously crafted the foundation of what I will one day become. Their praise, their encouragement, has nurtured my transient uncertainty, my fragile confidence in the agency of “I” and the fortitude of “We.” It is their provision of my current social and political compass, and their generous commitment to our mutually informative learning process, that has moved me to sustain what is beautiful—and to learn how to love. For as my families have demonstrated in all tangibility, I have been loved; therefore, I may love. I do love. I must love. And within the apparent intellectual structuralism of Asian American Studies, I find medium to express theoretically what I have only ever experienced viscerally. I might articulate here a quantity of specific social “issues” I find relevant, or important, or even paramount to collective human liberation. “Issues,” such as gendered transnationalism and labor exportation, instruments of global American capitalism that sculpt the migratory pasts of my parents, of many of our parents. But, at least today, I feel that no words adequately epitomize a vision of all that might one day capture my capacity to love, and therefore work, for our collective. It is difficult to define what I can now honestly “know.” I can only imagine that Asian American Studies will, some day, allow me to live. As a citizen, as a partner, as a friend, as perhaps a mentor myself, I will, I imagine, engage. Forced to confront the future’s practical realities, I cling selfishly to my adoration for ambiguity, for uncertainty. I do not wish to define, even for others’ sake, what it is that I see as my own contribution to the abstraction of “liberation.” Asked how I conceptualize my future resistance, I thus cannot produce a concrete answer. Whether I will actively combat white supremacist patriarchy in the American job market, for instance, as part of an established non-profit organization, or simply as the voice of dissent in a demonized corporate world, I will not forecast. I can but live my expectations—as, not even my conscious heart, much less my mind, can definitively feel my future of praxis. And it is in the total vulnerability of this uncertainty that I ironically feel most assured. For in the enormity of what I still—and perhaps forever—do not know, I am free to continually reimagine the boundaries of what each of us, and all of us, might someday become.
Whenever you throw a piece of trash away, or flush the toilet, the material and water needs to be transported somewhere, but where, exactly is a mystery. Out of sight, out of mind, right? We consume, we throw out, and then start the cycle over again, but it’s easy to forget the fact that whatever we just consumed, is still out there. It could still be in its original form, it could be the remnants of its production processes, it could have changed forms, whatever it is now, it’s out there, continuing to affect the lives of people. I recently stumbled upon a video forum that is part of a Sundance Channel web series about environmental justice, The Good Fight. This clip, entitled “People of Color Don’t Care About the Environment,” illuminates a less frequently addressed facet of the environment that involves
the oppression of minority populations around the country. Current news often leaves the issue of race outside of the discussion, focusing more on the development of innovations and sustainable lifestyles. I’m not saying that electric cars and worm vermiculture aren’t productive solutions but there’s a certain privilege required to carry them out. As host of the series Simran Sethi said, “Environmental issues are not just a luxury, but a necessity.” There are ways that the environment is directly affecting communities of color and continuing the systemic oppression of these groups. This video explores the intersection between race and the environment with a panel discussion between five activists working within their communities to produce change through the people. One of the panelists, Omar Freilla, founder of a sustainable construction organization, discusses how the majority of petrochemical plants, waste transport facilities, sludge processing plants and power plants are located in the poorest areas of large cities. These are all vital assets of the city’s infrastructure, yet it is the poorest people who must deal with the burdens of the foundations of the city. He works in the South Bronx and describes it as, “The trashcan of the city.” These facilities pollute the area and degrade the
surrounding environment while taking away from the aesthetics of the locale. Predominantly people of color live in these low-income, working-class neighborhoods so they are the ones being exposed to pollutants, which increases their risk for asthma, lung cancer, toxicity to organs and other diseases. Another layer of the issue is that because of the limited landscape that communities experience when they primarily have factories and industrial plants surrounding them, they lack the opportunity to cherish nature. Sethi quotes another activist who said, “American children are suffering from nature deficit disorder,” which sheds light on the fact that people living in these environmentally degraded areas have no stake in the environment because they have little access to green and natural spaces. One of the solutions to this that I find most compelling is green/garden education. Panelist Sharon Levine runs an organization that works with youth to enrich their community with environmental work. Through their projects, such as cultivating a garden or setting up composting in an East Harlem housing project, young people learn their place in their ecosystem and the power they have to beautify their surroundings. If they can see what they can accomplish within their own community by promoting economical, sustainable practices, they recognize how important it is to live in a clean, non-polluted area. The environmental injustices that systematically affect many people of color is too often overlooked and not seen as something that also affects issues of poverty, racial oppression and social inequalities. We need to act now to improve the lives of people in these communities and ensure that everyone has access to a healthy, naturefilled life.
5 7 5
aasu haikus575 Glue
57 5 Fat cat sits near me He drools because I am sad Always comforts me
--- spacecat lover Dedicated to Toulouse
American Beau No beauty in tonight’s wind Plastic bags galore
Blue orange whiteness The Elmer’s cow winks and grins Sticky tacky school
Awake and reach up “Boing” up from your dirty grave And reach toward the light
Counting syllables Is much harder than it seems Haikus confound me
A midnight sun rises Black is not the night right now Frolic in suspense
My mom once told me “Don’t put plastic bags on head Or you’ll be sorry.”
Freshness and new life Or a really bouncy thing This is my haiku
The wind hits my face Water splashing high and low I am on a boat
The house is quiet Yet I feel safe here, content Here with my family
57Always complaining, sorry for herself, 5 feeling It's draining me. STOP.
--- tired of your selfishness
Yunnan Province by Alle and Tony Hsu
I sink into a plastic folding chair, finding relief from oppressive heat. The stranger across the table examines the glistening sweat on my forehead, his kind bronze face concerned. “You. Drink water.” He points at me and draws out the syllables in Mandarin, each sound slow and deliberate. I stare, bemused by his simplified words and awkward gesturing. At my apparent incomprehension, he mimes drinking, holding up a plastic cup. Astonished, I laugh. He assumes that I do not speak Chinese, that I am American born—a product of Western culture. At the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, among mountain songs, vibrant ethnic costumes and Shamanistic rituals, I am conspicuous despite my modern dress, as my neon green “VOLUNTEER” nametag brands me as an ideal target for curious tourists. The Festival this year celebrates the cultures of the Mekong River, Northern Ireland, and Virginia. I have volunteered in order to learn about global customs; my knowledge of my native culture is sparse. I had boxed up my past before moving to America eight years ago, when a new continent deemed my old-self foreign. I donned jeans, changed my name, embraced the fluid English language and read voraciously. Mandarin became sharp and discordant in comparison, yet I could not neglect the language of my childhood completely. I thought my two worlds irreconcilable, awkwardly connected by a string as ill placed as the hyphen in Chinese-American. Here on the National Mall, I am the only means of communication between the Americans and many of the artisans, who were invited from a myriad of small farming villages in Southern China to showcase their talents. They chuckle at my frantic hand gestures as I test my mother tongue, conversing in Mandarin and translating to English for visitors. I feel the gaps and creases in a language that I had long ago tucked away for the intimacy of family. The artisans possess exceptional skills. He Guoyao, a Dongba priest, can read thousands of pictographic characters and bears the duty of passing on a near-extinct religion. Li Changzheng splashes designs of brilliant colors on her daily dress, simply with needle and thread. Cheng Zhirong creates fantastical dragon and phoenix sculptures with a spoon and melted sugar in a matter of minutes. Standing among them, I wonder about the contributions a mere sixteen-year-old girl can make. “Ooh, it’s so pretty!” A young girl runs up and sticks her nose close to a sugar dragon. Zhirong, the candy-maker, motions for me, and I explain to the girl that the dragon is pure sugar. “Mommy, it’s candy!” She bounces. Her excitement is contagious. “Exquisite…Beautiful...” The crowd breathes in awe. One woman taps me on the shoulder, “Please, tell her that her work is surreal…a gift from another world. Tell her thank you.” I abandon my inhibitions. As Zhirong takes my hand and calls me “little sister,” I find my place in this group of extraordinary people who crossed oceans to melt barriers between ethnicities and nationalities through sugar sculptures and painted words. I, too, am a bearer of traditions. But more importantly, I am a student of the ways of the world, fascinated by these colorful traditions, backgrounds, and experiences that define the beauty of humanity. Coming here, I had struggled to balance the duality of my background, believing that one will inevitably outweigh the other. I know now that the choice is not necessary. I smile at Guoyao and his furrowed brow—no longer a stranger—as he phonetically paints in pictographic characters the English words I have taught him, “You’re welcome.” I see a miniature masterpiece and realize that culture is not shelved behind glass cases in D.C. museums. It is in the life that I once thought backwards and dull—the Chinese way of life that is a part of me.
Siddharth Kara: Sex Slavery by Chantal Coudoux
Siddharth Kara, who is trained in economics, researched the sex slave trade using data, personal narrative and personal interaction, and analyzed the economic basis of this hideous trade in female bodies and labor. His analysis was innovative in that it explained the proliferation of this type of slavery in the last 30 or so years in economic language of supply and demand, while recognizing the psychological warfare that is being waged on women particularly poor women and women of color. The data is so difficult to gather on this because the media, and officials hide the true numbers or have trouble gathering real data.He travelled extensively before writing his book Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. In it, he makes an argument for a supply
and demand argument for slavery in trying to shed light on why this is occurs without significant international attention or regulation. He believes that there is a large focus on the supply side and the movement of sex slaves across borders because borders are more concrete spaces of regulation for any government making an attempt. But, the focus needs to be, as he argues, on the demand side as well and why it is such a profitable business (second behind organized crime I think?). I thought his talk was very interesting. I did a factsheet this summer on sex slavery and it was extremely difficult to find any meaningful information. It was also painful and deeply disappointing to see the lack of response on any stage, the domestic or inter-
national, surrounding this heinous slave trade. There is a tendency to write off gross acts of violence and psychological warfare as mere history situated in a certain time period(the slave trade of Africans, the holocaust, lynching, Japanese internment etc.) or for the U.S. to claim that it does not happen on their soil. The violence, physical, emotional, and mental, done to women as women (and specifically women of color and poor women) is real not history, not an aberration. The use of female bodies as labor and profit is unfortunately not unthinkable in a globalized, profit-seeking market. Women are commodities and the focus on the movement, as Mr. Kara says, does not address the underlying structure that allows for a demand in female sex. The focus on one aspect gets the government and international community off the hook. Because it is so profitable it is not being addressed in any productive or effective manner.
Trippiness by Rachel Poutasse
During one of our meetings, AASU members were given a slip of paper with a few words and asked to complete the sentence. We then compiled the sentences and read them out loud, creating a collaborative poem of diverse voices. Here is our poem. Family is support and love, unconditional and uncompromising I am learning the politics of love. I am part of an indefinite quest to discover ourselves, the fragments but invisible to our own eyes, in each other. In the future, nothing is certain but I will continue to dream. My mind is greater than my body. I believe that unconditional friendships do exist, but they take mutual work. Someday I will do something I have never done before and it will be FANTASTIC! I value people’s stories and the forces that shape them, our ability to create and love, and the feelings that cannot be explained by anything of this world. Peace is something we should never take for granted, something that is not part of the everyday for all—peace is thanks. I hope that we can love, share, take risks, be vulnerable within AASU and beyond. I remember being scared silent of public speaking. I am grateful my friends like my bad habits, or are at least tolerating of them. I laughed when my friend thought the men’s bathroom was the exit door. I dreamed that I was hyperspace. I support living in peace. Together we are strong, intelligent, connected forever – friends and sisters. Freedom is when the soul and its surroundings are reconciled, the death of loneliness. Friendship is based on give and take. The best kind of friendship is an equal one, the basis of love. I love “big butts and I cannot lie, you other brothers can’t deny…” I wonder why I kept gaining weight since this semester began, even though I did more workout. I can change the way I view things on my side. Today I will take care of myself. Whatever happens in AASU stays in AASU.