( photographs on front cover credit to orig. owners ) from left top to right bottom: 9/5 Foley Sq. end of DACA Rally, 10/5 Asian American DREAMers rally, Justice for Akai Gurley rally, Flushing Library, “Stop Telling Women to Smile” wheatpasting, Flushing storefronts, Peter Yew police brutality rally 1975 (c) Corky Lee, Yellow Peril @ Black Panthers rally, Travel Ban resistance rally @ JFK 2017, Yoko Ono _______________________________________________________________
Life is short, though I keep this from my children. Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways, a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative estimate, though I keep this from my children. For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird. For every loved child, a child broken, bagged, sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world is at least half terrible, and for every kind stranger, there is one who would break you, though I keep this from my children. I am trying to sell them the world. Any decent realtor, walking you through a real shithole, chirps on about good bones: This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful. Good Bones Maggie Smith
“If you think you’re powerless, then you won’t have power. You give that away.”
-- Minji Kim, YEP 2017 member
Cover | Yuriko Zhang Jessica Jung | Diversity David Hong | Poetry Whitney Yu | The Flushing Commons! Yuriko Zhang | Illustration Amanda Cui | “Are You Thai?” Alexander Kim | Ode to Queens Leo Hyun | Humans of Flushing Tenzin Sherpa | The Boat of Dreams Andrew Kyung | What Home Means to Me Carrie Zhang | Illustration Truman Tse | Fresh Off to Vote Giyun Hong & Sabrina Pincay | Not An Asian Princess Connie Tsang | Moments That Remind Me of Why I Play Music Faith Ki | Mix & Match to Complete the Puzzle Abrar Rahman | Comic Jeremy Kim | Korean Food Bianca Sukhnandan & Madison Cortes | Human Rights & Equality for All Cai Lei | Prose Serena Yang | &Yellow Woman Heals Your Contribution This Place Could Be Beautiful | Playlist Back Cover - Assata Shakur quote | Serena Yang
6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21 22 24 26 27 29 30 31 32
I’ve come to the country Of freedom and dreams But one look at the people Tells me it’s not what it seems There’s racism everywhere And suffering here and there I need to learn the language of this country, In order to get comfy. I just wish my children would have a better opportunity.
December 2017 7
The Flushing Commons! Attention Flushing Commons! See that glossy billboard, there yonder, that’s bigger than the size of your current “apartment”? Well, the Flushing Commons has kindly opened its revolving pristine glass doors to you! Yes, you! “Modern living -” Much like the chicken-wire enclosed around your twin-sized bed, Staking your dingy corner of the 77 square feet enclosed space, Which was once a bedroom for two but Now houses you and five other slaves other laborers. “New appliances - “ Which won’t even compare to YOUR gas hotplate, That was recalled in 1988 for spontaneous combustion, That you share with your roommates. “Hardwood floors -” Similar to the cracked linoleum you and your son trapeze across, His little hands, clutching to the center vein of your neck, His little feet, Wounded across your emaciated waist, “Indoor, heated pool - “ While your what I can’t legally call a “bathroom” is its own pool, flooded with the leaking water from the rusted over toilet. “24/7 doorman - “ Much like the broken padlock Securing the box which contains all your cherishables, Like the work contract that The big man reminds you of, When you tell him that you are tired At 12 AM “Shared outdoor greenspace - “ 8
Like the TV, You Indulge in at 1 AM, The green static lulling you to Visions of a better, nay, different life. “Rooftop garden -” Similar to the garden of the colonizing green fuzz On your once white walls “Stunning views with floor-to-ceiling windows - ” As you stare at your currently vaulted in windows, Bars, rusted brown bars, caging you in, Preventing you from a tempting jump FUTURE FLUSHING TENANTS! Buy a condo from the Flushing Commons! Their 24-hour doorman will prevent robbers From entering your 20 square feet home And stealing your nonexistent valuables! Exercise in the 24-hour gym On the stationary bike After your 13 hour workday Where you pedal your Flushing Commons neighbors around the scenic city! To rent a luxury condo, Call 1-800-NEW-HOME On your disconnected landline!
Disclaimer: This is inspired by “Advertisement for the Waldorf Astoria” by the amazingly talented poet Langston Hughes. Fuck gentrification and capitalism.
“Are you Thai?”
We were taken aback and answered quickly with “no” hoping to end the conversation then and there. It was about two weeks ago, my friends and I were on the way to Flushing and an old caucasian man who seemed to be in his 60s 70s came up to us and instigated a conversation by asking us that question. He continued asking us about our heritage and started to fetishize asian culture. We were obviously uncomfortable and our initial reaction was to laugh and try to emulate the fact that we wanted the conversation to stop immediately. However, he wouldn’t shut his nasty mouth. The man continued telling us about his life story and how asians influenced and impacted his life. He talked about his wife and how he helped her immigrate to America, but his love for asian women led him to leave her and chase after her “Beautiful, young, luscious daughter.” I was surprised and had no words. I wanted to hide in a hole and stay there forever. In my 13 years of living in New York City, I have never felt so victimized and unsafe before. I have never talked to or experienced someone so disgusting and revolting. I knew that fetishization did exist and people did look upon other cultures and maybe loved it a little bit too much, but I never knew that it could have so much impact on me. This short interaction with this man will haunt me forever, it was such a small part of my day: 4 minutes. 4 minutes from 59th street to queensborough, but 4 minutes was all it took to make me realize that it’s possible for a 60 year old man to approach 3 freshmen on the train and explain to them what it was and is like to experience the asian culture. 4 minutes was all it took to rip out a piece of my asian culture and crush it into little tiny pieces. 4 minutes was all it took to be afraid of being chinese, of being asian, of being me. But don’t get me wrong, I love being asian. I get to enjoy things other people don’t have the chance to. I get to experience and pass on traditions that I am extremely proud of. I love the way I was born and I am so grateful that my parents, my family, and my neighborhood enforce this love of asian culture upon me. But I also wish that the culture I was born into was appreciated and loved by others, not in an “exotic and #kawaii” way, but in a appreciative and accepting way. I wish that asians will one day be able to feel accepted and comfortable in their own skin and not be judged based on their face, skin, or body. I wish that asian culture will one day be able to be shown and appreciated throughout the world and never again be disrespected or hidden. I wish that asians will learn to love each other and love themselves as much as that man loved asians; and I certainly wish that I will never again be afraid to be me or ever be afraid of him. 11
Ode to Queens Oh Queens, how I wish and long For you, when I am away on trips. Looking for the love and song, That come from your soft, beautiful lips. Your diverse and accepting complexion, Seems odd and foreign to many, But that is why I love your section, To me that which it is, is never uncanny. My love for you stretches far and wide, From the Long Island City to Little Neck, The beauty can be seen in a car ride, Like assorted birds take a little peck. To take you as my bride is my call, yet I must accept that you are for all.
I connect with people from diverse backgrounds through Humans of Flushing interviews, which have helped me to learn from people like Deborah (below) who have such powerful life experiences that are crucial to solving social issues in Flushing today. As I record their powerful stories, I embed each one into my memory, and understand how Iâ€™m going to impact the Flushing community and create smiles on the people who live in it.
The Boat of Dreams By Tenzin Sherpa A boat in the water Moves slowly, rocking along gently with the waves. It is full of all kinds of people, from the baby sleeping quietly on his mother’s lap, To the old men gathered around in a circle, passing some time by playing cards. Everyone on this ship, despite their differences, Is connected by their aspiration to come to a new country and change their lives. There is the mother with her baby on her lap, staying quiet as to not wake him up. Her husband is somewhere close, taking care of their 5 year old girl. The two of them are there for one reason; to ensure that their children have good lives. They want their children to grow up in a better place, to live a life where they never learn what it is like to struggle, And have a chance to be successful when they are older. There are sisters sitting alone, wrapped up in a cheap blanket worn from age, talking to no one but each other. Ever since they were deserted by their parents, the girls learned not to trust anyone else. Back in China the two had been living in a small house, no money spent on anything but necessities, Working difficult jobs for less than they should have made, but they never complained.. They couldn’t afford to. Time would pass and when one was fired from her job, they couldn’t afford their house either. So the two left, listening to the words of a coworker who had heard about all of the amazing jobs in America that would give them more money than anyone could even dream of. All they wish for is to be happy when calling a place “home”. There is the boy who looks a bit young to be on the boat by himself. The others see the way he carries himself, cautious, as if he’s ready to run at any time, And see the scars, smaller ones on his face, glimpses of larger ones hidden under his clothes. But they don’t ask. Any questions are answered when the boy is heard crying softly to sleep at night, clutching the locket around his neck tightly in his fist. 14
The locket itself is cheap, but it’s the only thing that matters to the boy, the smooth metal with his parents’ initials burning against the rough skin of his hands, a constant reminder of what he lost long ago, what he had to go through afterwords, and what he must do now in order to survive. He hopes this is the last time he has to run away. There is another man a bit different from the rest. He doesn’t plan to stay. He wants to open a business back home, a small shop he and his family could work at together. All he needs is some money, money he can’t find back at home. Money he was told is easy to make at America, where life is always better. So he leaves with the intention of returning, only after he has made enough money, only after he has ensured his family will be supported no matter what. There are the cousins who tell nearly everyone else on the boat what’s waiting for them in America. An uncle, who had left some time before, preparing for their arrival. He has a great job, they say, making more money than he knows what to do with. The two will live a good life, they tell others confidently. The truth is the two aren’t so sure of what to expect in America, broken bits of the story spread across the various letters their uncle had sent. But they hope for something good, hope it’s said enough times for it to be spoken into existence. There are these stories and more, one just as detailed as the next, too much to say in a short amount of time. All of them are connected in how desperately they cling onto the desire to better themselves, To make it amongst the millions of others just like them. No one knows if they are going to make it, traveling halfway across the world just to have a taste, a chance to experience life in what is said to be a better place. All they can do now is hope that they have made the right decision.
What Home Means to Me: Home for me is somewhere where I feel safe and relief. It is also where I can feel comfortable no matter what happens. It is where I can freely express my thoughts and feelings. Home to me is where I can be independent. To me, home is a stable foundation It is what I can rely on, if something occurs 16
Home is where I can be with my family and close friends. It is a place where I can make connections with others And make social interactions. All in all, home is where I feel safe, comfortable, and express my individuality. It is where there is no obstacles and no troubles can be found And most importantly it is the place where the people I can rely on is.
MIX AND MATCH TO COMPLETE THE PUZZLE Each and every year, about 34,000 people commit suicide. And in this South Korea is one of the top three suiciding countries. Everyone who makes this decision has their own reason and history to why they chose to end their life. This may be because they are depressed, bullied, judged by the society, and overwhelmed by the world. It would not be correct for us to justify if it was necessary for to make this decision because we’ve never been in their position. But we can justify that the society is so corrupt that the decision that they made has to do with us; the society. Many stereotypes include the negative connotations of all sort of race, but how can we prove that all of these stereotypes are valid and true? The answer is that it is impossible because everyone is made to be born with different talent and have their own imperfections and strengths. As we talk about Asian Americans, I would say the common stereotypes I hear amongst my friends are, “All Asians are smart.” or “Chinks cannot drive.” But do you think that is true? But what if we are all born with different IQ level and we only do well in school because we put in effort and the others just do not give a shit about their work? And what does the size of our eyes have to do with us driving? White, Black, Indian, and other people have bad visions and some don’t even have the skills to drive. Acceptance according to the oxford dictionary states, “The process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable.” The idea to this is that everyone waits for themselves to be accepted by groups of people and make themselves be wanted and appealing. As a Korean American who is of a stable class, my parents would always remind me that I need to study hard and work hard enough in order to gain all the things I want and be accepted by the society. One thing that my dad told me was, “If you have a lot of money, people would praise, love and follow you. But if you are poor as a homeless person, not even a friend of yours would want to help you or acknowledge you.” This puts a lot of pressure on people because they are expected to complete a specific task and are forced upon their parents to do something that is not appealing to them. Take a moment to think about this, how do you feel if someone tells you to do something that you do not want to do? Or if you’re forced to make a decision that your whole life is depending on. Never have I found anyone happy that is forced to do something. 22
Many Korean parents expect their child to have an occupation with the word, “사” [-sah] in which it may include: doctors, lawyers, professors and etc. In order to achieve this, they expect to be smart and study hard until they die. This won’t be the only societal acceptance, if you search k-pop idols in google or youtube, you would see double eyelid, v-line face, high nose, small waist, skinny, pale and pretty girls that are able to sing, dance, perform and act well. This makes them appealing and this is the basis to what makes them extraordinary; this is an ideal type to everyone and if you’re too pretty people infer that you’ve got plastic surgery, and if you’re ugly they judge you for being ugly. What has society become? People choose to get plastic surgery due to their insecurities, this results… JUDGEMENT. Someone has a massive weight loss this results… JUDGEMENT. Someone gets a tattoo… JUDGEMENT. Hair color changes… JUDGEMENT. If people are judged on everything they do and do not appreciate each other for everything they do then why do WE exist. Little by little, we need to bring our insecurities, imperfections and “ugliness” to create a beautiful image because “I” personally believe that there is no right or wrongs or standards based on our looks or actions because in the end we still breathe the same air and still live for the same purpose which is to please ourselves not the world. My advice is to not be bothered by the small things or the “imperfections” because it makes us beautiful and it makes us who we are. Do not be discouraged or be discriminated against, find yourself a better person who will accept you for who you are.
If you live in New York you’ve probably heard about the MTA. No I’m not talking about the subways, today I’ll be talking about the buses. The subway we can save for another time. This story starts off in the summer of 2013. My friends and I had just ended shsat prep which was an hour away from home by bus. Not only did we have to walk 10-15 minutes to get to the bus stop, the bus was like lottery. Some days we would arrive and it would be right there with no people on it. Other times it would be crowded or just simply skip us. Today my friends and I, let’s call them Zoe and Anna, had just gotten to the bus stop when the bus came. It was crowded but we were just happy to get on. After a few minutes, miraculously 3 seats opened up in the front so we sat down. Now if you don’t take the bus let me tell you something, the 2 front 3 seaters should never be taken unless you’re an elderly or disabled. The only times you can sit is if there’s other seats available for the elders or the bus is primarily empty. It’s an unwritten rule that I didn’t know until that day. As the bus drove further, more and more people would start piling in. My friends and I, had already sat for like 10 minutes and noticed elders standing around. I’ve decided I’ll give my seat up once the bus stopped because I wasn’t gonna push through the crowd of people and potentially fall and humiliate myself. The bus had just left a stop and my friend Anna tried getting up and asking someone if they wanted to sit but they couldn’t hear her and they didn’t move. So after seeing her struggle I told her to just sit down and wait until the bus stop. Right as I say that this old white lady who looked around 70 came trudging in and said, “Excuse me but can you get up? The sign says to please give up your seat to an elderly and I am a elder.” She was directing this towards Zoe so she got up and went towards the back. Right as she sat down, Anna tried getting up again but the lady started saying, “Why don’t you guys give your seats up too? Don’t you see the elders around you? Like excuse me sir? Sir? Would you like to sit down.” She gestured towards my seat while I was still sitting in it. I got up because I didn’t mind giving it up and I was already starting to feel uncomfortable. The man that she asked didn’t even take it in the end. He was an elderly asian man who just smiled and shook his head no at her offer. You would think after getting up and walking to the back that she would leave us alone but she was not having it. The lady was basically ranting about how we should’ve gave up our seats. By saying, “I’m disabled you should be getting up for me. My ankle hurts.” This was already embarrassing to be called out in front of the whole bus. But then she proceed to say, “Oh you chinks would only get up for other chinks.”
I remember the whole bus just silenced. Up until that point I had never experienced racism in public, being that I was only 12, and I didn’t know what to say or do. But luckily there was 2 ladies who chose to speak up for us and I will never forget this moment. This young women in the back was the first to respond with “WHAT DID YOU SAY?” It was loud and clear that the elder pissed her off. Then another lady in the front said, “Excuse me but you can’t say that. They’re only kids and that’s just racist to say.” I was so humiliated and hearing just 2 people speak up for us was so overwhelming. It’s embarrassing to say but I actually just started to break down on the bus as they started defending us. I don’t remember exactly what they were saying because I was bawling my eyes out but I remember the elder being stubborn and saying that it was true and she saw nothing wrong with her statement. But the 2 ladies just argued with her so loud that she shut up. It was amazing how just 2 people speaking up shut her down so quick. One of them wasn’t even asian but she chose to speak up because she knew it was wrong. This 70 year old white women was yelling at 3 12 year old asian kids with racial slurs. In the end the elder didn’t say anything and I got off at an earlier stop. I will always remember this to be the most overwhelming experience I’ve ever had. If I had the chance to go back though, I would, just to yell back but I would probably be inaudible because of my tears. I would also like to thanks the 2 ladies. Me and my friends were so uncomfortable that we just wanted to leave ASAP. But never got a chance to thank them for speaking up and teaching me that you don’t need a whole group to have a voice. So to those 2 ladies, whether you read this or not, thank you for teaching me that I have a voice.
& Yellow Woman heals Yellow Woman was not yet a woman when she spread herself open and scooped her insides into a canopic jar. her hands were so gentle she would later forget that she wasn’t born hollow. Yellow Woman was still a girl when she spread herself open and let white man fill her like her body was a balloon, skin stretching until the shape sharpened into something human. white man conqueror built his empire in Yellow Woman’s body, the outline of his hands a shadow beneath her skin. benevolent colonizer, pragmatic liar: you are safer this way. no, you feel safer this way, white man conqueror, so scared of Yellow Woman, how full she was without you. no, Yellow Woman doesn’t feel safer this way. she feels so empty she might float away. Yellow Woman won’t let white man melt her in his star-spangled pot where all colors turn gray. Yellow Woman has a knife in her hand, she cuts herself open again and lets the air escape. Yellow Woman will not be civilized, because Yellow Woman is no longer afraid to make white man afraid. Yellow Woman spills untamed back into herself & heals.
(c) Yumi Sakugawa
for a playlist that accompanied the making of this zine, scan here: OR visit: goo.gl/eKiiao
A zine created by the Youth Empowerment Program, 2017.