Politicization of Death

Funerals are for the living, never for the dead. I learned this at a young age, but I’m not sure if I actually understood it until this past year. I went to the funeral yesterday because I needed space to mourn. I needed space to mourn the countless unnoticed adoptees, and I needed a space to mourn for myself. As someone who has gotten quite used to the idea of asking is my life worth living, and as someone who is still terrified of the stigma surrounding mental illness, I feel like this has to be said. If I were to ever act on my ideation of suicide, please never politicize my death. Please never have cameras or reporters at a funeral. Do not use my death to further an agenda one way or another. Suicide and the decision to take one’s life is tragic, heartbreaking, but ultimately something that is caused by a multitude of factors and cannot be blamed on one single thing.

The politicization of death has become very common in recent years, especially with the advent of social media. Whether they become hashtags or used as examples for people to take action, I question the purpose of using names as taglines. I understand the significance of remembering names and not being forgotten but do we truly want to remember individuals in a moment, rather than who they were? I feel like I’m at an impasse. On the one hand, I think it’s so important that people are made aware of these events and that policy does move forward and provide the necessary services. I believe that adoption agencies should be held accountable and not treat adult adoptees as a burden when they have used our bodies to make a profit. People think of adoptees as babies, sometimes children, but they never realize that we grow up. Holt and every adoption agency have a responsibility to ensure that they children they place are placed in good homes and fight for adoptee rights, like ensuring that adoptees adopted pre-2000 are guaranteed citizenship and fight for the undocumented adults that were sent back to their countries of birth to return. The list can go on and on and on and on. However, Holt is not the only institutions to blame. There are other instances of people and organizations and government agencies to intervene. To blame one organization ignores all of the others that should be held accountable as well.

It pains me to know that we have to use people’s stories to push for these changes to happen. We have to politicize a death of a man or the death of anyone in order for our words to be heard. Not even heard. They’re used in exploitative ways for spectators, validation, views, and so many other things. We are all responsible for how a story is produced and consumed. We are all responsible for how we remember.

I hesitate to send this out into the world. I hesitate because I’m afraid it can be polarizing. I hesitate because it’s generally what I do when it comes to my thoughts and opinions. The politicization of death is how we get people to care, I just wish it never needs to come that far. And even then, whose death actually matters? Does it matter how the life ended? Does it matter if that life was a productive force within our society for it to matter? How many bodies do we need to have for people to care? Do we even need to have people care about these things before we change systems that are inherently wrong and destructive?

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First Week in Seoul

Well, I did it. I’ve made it one week without dying. Not that there is actually a possibility of that happening because Seoul is probably one of the safest cities you can travel to. Of course, you need to be aware of your surroundings and don’t extensively bad choices, but that’s anywhere you can go. Honestly, the only time I felt unsafe here was when I walked down a street in Itaewon and there were very loud, white American men walking and taking up the entire walkway. I think that it may just be residual panic to anytime I see a group of men back in the States. Anyways, here is a list of a few things that I have learned from the past week.

1. Seoul’s transportation system is amazing. Figuring out the subway system was a little overwhelming at first simply because Miami’s metro goes in a straight line, and I still manage to get on the wrong train. However, thanks to a little app called Subway Korea, navigating and getting directions is very easy AND you can do it offline. I recommend getting a reloadable Tmoney card to save time and money. What is also great about the public transport is the fact that I can stand and actually reach the handrail straps. A beautiful concept, really. Nothing will make you feel more independent than being able to transverse Seoul by Subway.

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2. I really enjoy traveling alone. It has given me the opportunity to set my own schedule and spend as much or as little time in a location. However, It’s also really lonely for me. I’ve never been alone for this much amount of time unless I’m choosing to be by myself. It’s sometimes hard to force myself to leave my apartment, although part of that was because I was still finishing finals, but I know I have to do it anyways. It’s nice to be amongst people in the Subway and interacting with them whenever I need to buy something, but generally, I haven’t been really able to have extensive conversations aside from a few people sporadically throughout the week. Of course, there is the internet connection and I’m able to speak to my friends, but the time difference is a huge killer. I just found out that while I like alone time, I also enjoy having the option to be with people whenever I want to.

3. On the flip side, I’ve rather enjoyed going to this dog cafe called Bau House. I’ve been here twice because at least I can cuddle with a dog. It’s truly amazing and I plan on going back very soon.

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4. Being Asian American in Asia is a wild experience. There are moments where I’m in a particularly touristy area and sales associates will speak to me in Chinese. Of course, I know about enough Chinese to say I don’t know Chinese and then they will speak to me in Korean, and then I know about enough Korean to tell them that I don’t speak Korean and then they look at me and realize that I only speak English fluently. Actually, I’ve learned enough Korean that I was able to go into a store and buy something without the Sales associate speaking English to me. Either my Korean is passable enough to buy stickers from a stationary store, or the guy didn’t know English. I guess I’ll never know. Additionally, I was sitting off to the side of a walkway filling out a form and tourists approached me and spoke very slow English to ask me if I spoke English. I looked at them briefly and let just enough silence pass before I spoke to them in my American accent. Needless to say, they were a little taken aback. It’s just been really funny.

5. Whiteness is a huge thing here. I look at some of the billboards and advertisements and people are blindingly almost impossibly white. I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself that dark, but sitting next to some of them women on the metro clearly demonstrates that I’m at least 10 shades darker than they are, and that’s an understatement. Additionally what I found interesting is that they use a lot of white Americans as advertisements. Seeing Western faces is a bit odd. One of which is Anne Hathaway and I’m still trying to figure out why.

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Overall, it’s been a great first week and I’ve done so many things that I can’t fit in this one blog post, so hopefully, I’ll be able to write more very soon!

Calling out Online Publications

I originally thought that I was going to post about South Korea on my post, instead, I’m going to post a think piece I wrote last night instead of sleeping before my trip. I submitted it to the Huffington Post, so we’ll see how that goes.

Where are the Asian Voices in the Huffington Post?

The past two years have been incredible for Asian Pacific Americans in regards to visibility. Now, more than ever, mainstream media has finally picked up on the discussions the community has been having for years. Whether it is white washing in Hollywood films, discussing the model minority myth, talking about hate crimes, or the murders of Muslim Americans and South Asian Americans, our voices are finally being heard, or are they?

The month of May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month, and usually, in my experience, it is rather lack luster. In fact, I didn’t even know that the Asian Pacific American community had a month until two years ago. To my surprise, when I opened my Spotify, they had created a page featuring music or curated playlists by Asian and Asian American artists. Looking through the playlists, I felt something that I cannot quite label yet; however, it is a feeling that I did not realize that I needed.
A few days ago, I saw an article circulating amongst some of my Asian friends on Facebook about how Asian Americans have the highest poverty rate in New York City, published by The Huffington Post. When I clicked the link, I noticed that the aesthetic had changed from since the last time I looked at the website, so I decided to take a look around. On the drop down menu, you have a ton of different categories to choose. One that piqued my interest wasScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 12.01.54 PM.png Voices. Within Voices, are a list of subcategories of groups, with links to pages that have various articles that have been cross-listed in one spot. It includes Black Voices, Women, Queer Voices, Latino Voices, Fifty, and Parents. Nowhere in this category lists Asian voices. In fact, Asian Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 12.02.01 PMvoices are not even listed anywhere on the navigation tool. Disgruntled, I was going to write this article to explain why there should be an Asian Voices page—it’s not like we don’t have activists, culture critics, and other means of expression. Ironically, all of the links above are articles directly from the Huffington post, and there are plenty more, so where is our page?

Funny enough, when I googled “Asian American Huffington post” to find articles to prove my point, I stumbled across an article explaining how the Huffington post acknowledges that there is a lack of space on the internet for Asian voices, so they created one. I was pleased to know that it existed, but then I questioned: If there’s a page that was established (in January of 2017), why is it not featured in the navigation menu? Part of me thought that maybe it was because the Huffington Post doesn’t have an active Asian reading population and they’re waiting for it to build. But, then I investigated more and discovered that their Facebook community, Brazen Asians, has over 15,000 followers.

My question remains: Where are the Asian voices in the Huffington Post? They publish countless articles about how the Model Minority erases the issues facing the Asian American community and other issues that render the community invisible, yet they have rendered the community even further by not featuring Asian Voices in their navigation bar. Am I petty? Perhaps. But, even the tiniest of slights can build and contribute to larger societal issues.