Category Archives: activism

happy birthday malcolm x

From Noura Erakat: Happy born day to the visionary who saw strength in our unity, who imagined us as an Afro-Asian collective, who never appealed for inclusion but insisted on liberation on our own terms. May our ongoing efforts do justice to your sacrifice. Today and everyday. #MalcolmX #Freedom

Artist: T. A. Charron, Malcolm X, 2007

COVID-19 is a practice run for climate change

great piece by my friend kate. a couple of sentences i would love to reframe:

‘It is a national security risk even when we ourselves don’t face famine. Droughts in one country displace refugees, who cause political disruption and a rise in nationalist violence in others.’

rather than look at a crisis in another country (climate change or pandemic related) as a ‘national security risk,’ we need to focus on/feel the cost of a catastrophe in terms of human suffering and the impact on our planet.

refugees are not the cause of disruptions, they are the effect of wars and climate change activated by rich countries. similarly, the cause of nationalist violence is not refugees, it’s white supremacy, which is an important part of this equation.

this is why i don’t believe in borders – because they allow us to separate and otherize based on geography and the economic privileges we aim to protect.



Kate Kressmann-Kehoe: …the pandemic and climate change are both threat multipliers: They amplify existing problems and bring previously hidden vulnerabilities to the surface. COVID-19 is wreaking havoc not just in the restaurant industry, but in the education system, pharmaceutical supply chains, global scientific research and more. It is highlighting economic inequities and racism, from the lack of the option to work from home, to higher death rates. More here.

Engaging the Oppressor Within

Nadia Ben Youssef (granddaughter of Tunisian revolutionary Salah Ben Youssef): Our own freedom is dependent on our capacity to rid ourselves of the imposed and internalized fear of the freedom of those we have criminalized, subjugated, dehumanized, and othered. This is the groundwork of social change, a constant undoing of our attachment to any manufactured elevation where we believe we come out on top. Only when we build upon this foundation can we rupture the systematized lie of human hierarchy, and ensure that our visions of liberation are not mere replicas of oppression.

[…] No oppressor can be reassured that when resources, power, and consequence are equitably allocated, they will not face profound loss and accountability. Because they must experience both. On the other side is healing and liberation, but if this truth is not enough to set you free, the fundamental work remains.

That the individual journey of dismantling internalized supremacy is fundamental and lifelong, however, can in no way be used to justify delay in justice or social transformation. Were we to wait for the critical reckoning by every member of every dominant group, the deadly, institutionalized status quo would persist into perpetuity. On the path towards justice, material conditions must be urgently altered, and harm must be immediately reduced. More here.

From Maternity Ward to Cemetery, a Morning of Murder in Afghanistan

no words. so much solidarity with the people of afghanistan.

Violent death here is so frequent, and so scattered, that an accurate count is an impossible task. But by dusk on Tuesday, when the reported deaths of the day from all sides had been tallied, the Afghan war had most likely taken 100 lives.

Of course, the night brings more death — and the next day more tallying.

What is crushing Afghans is not just the sheer brutality of the attacks with newborn babies soaked in blood and deprived of mothers before they have even gotten a name, but the failure of anything to bring a reprieve. More here.

Asian Pacific American Our Experience: Local Stories

Asian Americans is a sweeping 5-part historical series chronicling two centuries of evolving contributions and challenges experienced by Asian Americans in the United States. The series explores bold, new perspectives that recalibrate the way we look at those experiences, and reveals the vital role of Asian Americans in shaping American history and identity.’ [from Vivek Maddala who composed the music score for this series]

Episodes 1 & 2 premiered yesterday on PBS (broadcast and streaming), and Episodes 3, 4, & 5 premiere tonight (May 12) at 8 PM.

I was honored to be one of the local Asian Americans asked to share their stories and perspectives, as part of the collaboration between APAA (Asian/Pacific Islander/American Association of Greater Rochester) and WXXI. Thank you Mimi and Lily Lee for your continuing work in our community.

You can watch the spots, including my own, below. My only gripe is that, in my intro, I mentioned how I come from the Global South/colonized world and how that impacts my identity and work, which was edited out. But the rest is still here:)

Watch at this link.

The Pandemic Is the Time to Resurrect the Public University

Corey Robin: For decades, a handful of boutique colleges and powerhouse universities have served as emblems of our system of higher education. If they are not the focus of discussion, they are the subtext, shaping our assumptions about the typical campus experience. This has remained true during the pandemic. The question of reopening has produced dozens of proposals, but most of them are tenable only for schools like Brown; they don’t obtain in the context of Brooklyn College. The coronavirus has seeded a much-needed conversation about building a more equal society. It’s time for a similar conversation about the academy.

In academia, as in the rest of society, a combination of public and private actors directs wealth to those who need it least. While cuny struggles to survive decades of budget cuts—and faces, in the pandemic, the possibility of even more—donors lavish elite colleges and universities with gifts of millions, even billions, of dollars. Sometimes these donations fund opportunities for low-income students, but mostly they serve as tax-deductible transfers to rich, private institutions, depriving the public of much-needed revenue. What taxes federal and state governments do collect may be returned to those institutions in the form of hefty grants and contracts, which help fund operating budgets that Brooklyn College can only dream of. This is the song of culture in our society. The bass line is wealth and profit; the melody is diversity and opportunity.
The coronavirus has revealed to many the geography of class in America, showing that where we live and work shapes whether we live or die. Might it offer a similar lesson about where we learn? More here.

justice for Ahmaud Arbery

such rage. such heartbreak.

Adalah Justice Project: We demand justice for 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery who was killed because of the color of his skin while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood. He was murdered by a white father and son who took it upon themselves to end the life of this young black man because of racism and white supremacy. May he Rest In Peace, and may there be justice for him and all of the black lives who were stolen because of this anti-black world. Artwork by @shirien.creates on Instagram.

The Changemakers: Rochester Women Who Changed the World

Dear friends, I’m thrilled to share that I will be one of the women featured in a new exhibition, ‘The Changemakers: Rochester Women Who Changed the World,’ inspired by the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment and commemoration of the women’s suffrage movement.

The Changemakers will open on October 9, 2020 in the Riedman Gallery at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

It will be a community-curated exhibition that hopes to celebrate historical and contemporary women visionaries, trailblazers, inventors, social innovators, and entrepreneurs in western New York, through compelling, untold narratives. It will use Immersive, collections-rich spaces and hands-on experiences to give visitors new access to insights from the past, encourage gender equity in the present, and inspire a better future.

I will be there on Oct 8th! What a treat! #ChangemakersRoc

doing a tv spot for asian pacific american heritage month

working with #APAA (asian pacific islander american association of rochester) and #WXXI to celebrate asian pacific american heritage month. 

American Muslim Trailer

Excited about this upcoming documentary ‘American Muslim’ which reframes American history by making Muslims visible and telling their stories. For example, did you know about the Bilali Muhammad Document? It is a handwritten Arabic manuscript on West African Islamic law, written in the 19th century by Bilali Muhammad, an enslaved West African held on Sapelo Island, in Georgia.

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay: “It is not possible to decolonize the museum without decolonizing the world”

wow. how i love this.

Sabrina Alli: Potential History is a project spanning centuries and nations, from the mass expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain in 1492 to Palestine today. It is a critique of and intervention in imperial knowledge production and the technologies that make it possible—museums, national archives, the discipline of history, the discourse of human rights, and the camera, which “made visible and acceptable imperial world destruction and legitimated the world’s construction on empire’s terms.” Azoulay, who, in addition to being an author, is a filmmaker and professor of modern culture and media at Brown University, expands upon a theory from her seminal book, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography, by positioning the roots of photography in extraction and erasure.

With Potential History, Azoulay aims “to make non-imperial sense out of existing knowledge that imperialism has manipulated and relegated to different domains.” This includes reimagining everything from timelines to political sovereignty to interpretations of individual photographs.

Of course, this work is not for the imagination alone. Azoulay, who disavows her Israeli citizenship, calls for open borders and the fundamental right to migration. She argues that people whose worlds have been destroyed by centuries of imperialism have the right to live near the objects that have been plundered from their culture and now sit in the “neutralizing” space of Western-style museums. In fact, she suggests, those objects might constitute the very “documentation” the countries hosting those museums demand of migrants.

The political theorist argues that those whose worlds have been destroyed by five centuries of imperialism have the right to live near the objects that have been plundered from their culture. More here.