I don’t want to #StopAsianHate. I want to end U.S. imperialism.

Originally published by Wear Your Voice.

CW: anti-AANHPI violence, sexual violence, military and police violence against BIPOC

I don’t like the #StopAsianHate hashtag. First of all, Asians are not the ones doing the “hating.” And second, why are we calling it “hate” at all? Anti-Asian violence is systemic—it cannot be reduced to individual feelings.

Look—I don’t want to stop “hate.” I want to end U.S. imperialism. I want to end the white supremacist institutions that seek to dominate, control, rape, extract from, and dispose of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) people.

I don’t mean that we shouldn’t talk about the issues dominating the #StopAsianHate discourse. Everyone should know about the Chinese Exclusion Act and the incarceration of Japanese Americans. We should all keep talking about the 1871 Los Angeles lynchings, the 1885 Wyoming massacre, the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit, and the 2021 murders of six Asian women in Atlanta.

But anti-AANHPI violence isn’t just a few blips—it’s mundane and it’s everywhere. Police are twice as likely to target Pacific Islanders than white people. The FBI, CIA, and TSA routinely surveil, detain, and torture Muslims and South Asians. ICE has deported Southeast Asians for decades, including under Biden. Not to mention, (white) U.S. mainlanders are currently flocking to Hawaiʻi, ignoring repeated warnings that the islands cannot handle an influx of COVID cases.

The truth is that #StopAsianHate is incapable of reckoning with the historical and ongoing role of the U.S. government in perpetuating anti-AANHPI violence both within and outside its borders in its violent, insatiable quest for global hegemony. #StopAsianHate cannot articulate that the Atlanta shooter’s murderous hyper-sexualization of Asian women—which, incidentally, fell on the anniversary of the Mỹ Lai massacre—can be traced directly to white U.S. soldiers invading AANHPI countries, killing AANHPI people, raping AANHPI women, and bringing back new AANHPI wives and grotesque fetishes that are jokingly known today as “yellow fever.” The simplistic rhetoric of #StopAsianHate cannot express what Japanese American activist Mike Murase wrote in 1972: “The systematic dehumanization of ‘g–ks’ in the military affects Asians in America as well, because it is to America that trained killers of Asians return.”

Acknowledging U.S. imperialism would mean admitting that U.S. soldiers have been the baddies all along. We[1] would have to confess we were wrong for invading Vietnam and Korea, carpet-bombing Laos and Cambodia, and brutally suppressing the Filipino struggle for independence (Did you know the Korean War never ended, that Laos is the most bombed country in the history of the world, and that we seized the Philippines from Spain after starting a war to “free” it?). We would have to make amends for our nuclear annihilation of Japanese civilians and our dozens of nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall Islands (Did you know that our atomic bombs had “nothing to do with” ending World War II but were likely an opening salvo to the Cold War? That our nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall Islands created decades of horrifying cancers and birth defects?). We would have to pay reparations for our devastating drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan (Did you know that, at one point, 90% of U.S. drone casualties in Afghanistan were civilians? And that, because of us, Pakistani children are terrified of blue skies?). And we would have to end our ongoing occupation of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa (How can the “leader of the free world” still have colonies?).

In a 1967 speech condemning the Vietnam War, Dr. King said that the U.S. government was the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Are we ready to admit that this was true then? And is still true today?

When someone tells you who they are, you should believe them. The U.S. Department of “Defense” openly declared in 2019 that the Indo-Pacific is its “priority theater” of war. I believe the U.S. government. After the Atlanta shootings, U.S. officials claimed—from a “security” conference in Asia—that anti-Asian violence “has no place in America—or anywhere.”  And yet they think anti-Asian violence has a place in Asia? 

I want to live in a world where anti-AANHPI violence has no place anywhere in the world. #StopAsianHate is inadequate because it merely pleads with our oppressors to exempt us, the “good Asians”—the ones who live inside the empire and pledge to it our allegiance. But I reject the colonizer’s logic. The location of my birth, the enunciation of my English, and my contributions to the national GDP cannot be the arbiters of whether or not I deserve rights, protection, and safety. And I don’t seek assimilation—not when the U.S. military happily kills people on my ancestral continent. Not when my government labels people who look like me as political, economic, and cultural enemies of the U.S. And certainly not when there are AANHPI people within the empire who want sovereignty, not U.S. citizenship.

If I am to be painfully honest, the U.S. is not ready to stop killing AANHPI people. If it were, we would begin ending our innumerable methods of imperialist violence. Instead, our president is trying to increase our $740 billion military budget while fearmongering about China. Meanwhile, our Congress has already increased our $115 billion police budget—despite a momentous year of nationwide protests to defund police—under the guise of stopping anti-AAPI “hate crimes.” And look, this is not even surprising. The ruling class has a deeply bipartisan interest in preserving the existing social order. Enter our military and police, who do the same work outside and inside our borders: kill and suppress Black and brown people in order to uphold white supremacy and capitalism.

So where do we go from here? Well, we can start by letting #StopAsianHate go. There is so much more we must do to truly end anti-AANHPI violence. I hope that we can build a solidarity that is pan-AANHPI, cross-racial, cross-border, and cross-class. I dream that we will one day abolish imperialism and borders and police and prisons and capitalism and rape culture and all of the oppressive systems under which we live. I want us to believe that a better world is possible, and then, to build it together.

[1] I use “we” and “our” to describe U.S. violence against my own community, because I am a U.S. citizen, and I live in the imperial core.

“Resting bitch voice”

On honoring my anger as an Asian American woman and rejecting the fiction of respectability.

You have resting bitch voice.

Why are you so angry?


Being a woman of color in this world means enduring both racial and sexual objectification. Yet when we subjectify ourselves—and when we call for the subjectification of our fellow humans, we are often labeled as angry.

This label comes in different variations for different women of color. For me, as an Asian American woman, and specifically an East Asian woman, I am labeled an angry bitch because I challenge the stereotype of submissiveness.

When I speak out about social injustice, I am not docile. When I criticize oppressors, I am not nice (which is not the same as being kind). Because I am not docile or nice, I must be angry.

For example, being vocal about social injustice made me a polarizing figure in school. Depending on whom you spoke to, I was either an energizing pot-stirrer or an angry bitch. Perhaps more people believed the latter: in less than a year, I went from winning the election for class president to finishing in last place in the following election.

Even my then-partner became uncomfortable. He had once admired my outspokenness (who doesn’t love a “strong woman” … until she challenges you?). But now he asked, Why do you make everything so political?—oblivious to the utter privilege of being able to choose not to be political. I don’t want this kind of life, he said. So he left.

I was devastated. My own family had long warned me that I needed to make myself “softer” in order to be likeable (and marriageable!). And here, it seemed that they were right after all.

But I have never regretted my choices to speak the truth.

As women of color, we are taught to suppress our anger, or else it will incur their anger—i.e., [white] [male] anger.

That our anger (which is unreasonable) must be swallowed because it provokes their anger (which is reasonable).

That our tears (which are unsympathetic) must be quelled because they provoke their tears (which are sympathetic).

But I reject this fiction.

Not all anger is created equal.

They may be angry because I am angry. But while my anger seeks to secure justice, theirs seeks to preserve dominance. My anger embraces revolutionary hope; theirs reactionary fragility. They are not the same.

As Nayyirah Waheed has masterfully explained:

might make them angry.
it will make you free.
— if no one has ever told, your freedom is more important than their anger.

And so I choose to honor my anger. Because my freedom—and our collective freedom—will always be more important than their anger.

Anger can also be an act of self-love.

In a world where anger is still a privilege granted to some and a label weaponized against others, my anger is a self-affirming choice to preserve my values and my truth—to name the world as I see it—even if it is met with rejection.

The woman you’re becoming will cost you people, relationships, spaces, and material things. Choose her over everything. — Anonymous

I carry these words with me every day as a reminder to choose myself even if it is difficult, even if it comes with a cost.

And when the costs of anger seem too difficult to bear, I re-read the words of the inimitable Audre Lorde, who taught us that our silence cannot protect us:

What are the words you do not have yet? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day … ?

Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

So I continue to name tyrannies, it continues to irritate people, and they continue to call me a bitch. I continue to lose people, spaces, and material things. The people hurt the most—but less so each time.

Because the more I speak, the more women and people of all genders have come to me—in real life and online (“irl and url”)—to tell me how my anger has permitted them to be angry, how my speaking out has permitted them to speak out. Through them, I have learned to love my anger.

There is a beautiful freedom in locating the words that I once did not have, yet urgently needed to say:

Respectability is a white supremacist, patriarchal project.

Likeability is not the measure of a meaningful life.

Palatability is not a useful goal.

I reject them all.

I honor my anger.

I honor my freedom.

I honor us.

I honor me.

Originally published by the National Women’s Law Center

Sex is like boxing

See original Facebook post here. Republished at DailyO.

​There's a rape joke that goes like this: "Every woman has that one moment when you think -- ope, here’s my rape! This is it!"[1]

Well, this is mine. [CW: SEXUAL ASSAULT]

My hope is that it will help you understand how insidious and ubiquitous sexual assault actually is, and how crucial Title IX is. This morning, Betsy DeVos just rolled back Title IX, announcing that schools can use a higher standard of proof for sexual misconduct violations than for other violations like physical assault and plagiarism. In other words -- accused rapists get special rights.[2]

About two months ago while studying for the bar exam, I swiped right on the "perfect" match -- Harvard Law graduate, recent Democratic Party candidate, professor at a top law school, self-professed social justice advocate. We met up at a bar in Center City. As it turned out, we shared the same leftist political values and 30 mutual friends on fb.

The bar was emptying, so he suggested we go to the rooftop of his apartment complex. I'd been there many times to visit Wharton friends, so I said why not -- we were in the middle of a great conversation. But the rooftop turned out to be closed, so he suggested we go back to his apartment unit instead. I flagged this as a potential bait-and-switch, but I agreed because I wanted to keep talking. (But why does that even matter? Why am I already defending myself?)

After maybe an hour of talking in the living room, I decided I wasn't staying. So I announced: "I'm going home now." He looked at me and, without saying anything, kissed me. I kissed him back. Then I stood up and repeated more firmly, "OK, but I'm actually leaving now." He looked at me and, again without saying anything, picked me up, carried me into his bedroom, and pinned me to the bed.

It happened too fast for me to react. Women are conditioned to minimize their own discomfort, maintain social harmony, and avoid conflict. So I laughed. And then I said for the 3rd time, "I told you, I'm leaving right now. I'm not joking." I tried to push him off of me.

He didn't move. He continued lying on top of me without moving, kissing me as I tried to push him off. I extricated myself by peeling myself out from underneath him. He never moved. I stood up. "OK I'm leaving," I said for the 4th time. I walked back into the living room toward the door. When I reached the door, he grabbed my arm and dragged me back to the bed. He was laughing.

That's when I realized -- he didn't even realize that he was assaulting me. He thought he was being "sexy" and "manly." I wrenched my arm out of his grasp and went back into the living room to put on my shoes. I was still pretty calm on the exterior because it's really difficult to process that someone doesn't give a fuck about your consent when you were just talking about social justice advocacy a few minutes ago.

I told him, "I'm not playing hard to get with you. Maybe you think I am. I'm not." He finally stopped smiling. I left.

As I walked home, I called a close friend (thank you I love you) to process what had just happened. I have been a trained advocate for sexual assault survivors for 7 years -- I know what rape myths are. I know what victim blaming is. But still I felt the need to apologize repeatedly to my friend on the phone for being so upset -- I was "fine" and "nothing" happened and "it could have been worse."

But here's the thing -- my date could have raped me without even knowing it. Remember, he was laughing. And then, if I had reported him, he probably would have accused me of lying because I "regretted" it.

It took me 3 hours on the phone with my friend to finally fall asleep -- 1 hour of angry rehashing and 2 hours of listening mindlessly to him tell me about the detailed history of the British Empire (thank you that was amazing, please start a podcast).

The next morning, my almost-rapist texted me to ask why I had unmatched him on the dating app. He wanted to "talk." I said fine, call me. He was worried. "I get the feeling that you were upset at me last night. What happened?"

"I know what happened. What do you think happened?" I asked him.

He punted. "I think I have an idea, but I would rather hear it from you." Translation: He didn't want to admit to any more wrongdoing than what I was upset at him for. He didn't want to verbalize and confront the possibility that he wasn't a Good Person.

So I started talking/yelling at him about consent and what he did wrong each time I said I was leaving. He had so many excuses. "But it was late .... and you came to my place ... I thought you were just playing hard-to-get ... But most girls ..." It was your textbook Justin Bieber what-do-you-mean bullshit.

I was livid. Why would you ever want to have sex with someone who said no to you five times on the off-chance that they maybe meant yes?

And, how many other women have you done this to? Were any of them too drunk or afraid to push you away? (I don't drink because my alcohol allergy gives me heart palpitations, but my level of sobriety is absolutely irrelevant to his conduct.)

45 minutes later, I became tired of his non-apologies. I told him I had to hang up and start my day.

And then, the most magical thing happened. He asked me for a second date because he was "really disappointed" about how things turned out. Fuck out of here. You almost raped me and now you're "really disappointed" we won't go out again?

Rape culture is real. It teaches men that a woman who says no repeatedly and who is actively trying to push you off of her is just "flirting." It teaches men to believe that when she resists, she just wants you to overpower her -- i.e., rape her. Rape culture teaches us that men can't be raped (because men always want sex) and that sex workers can't be raped (because sex workers are always available to anyone and everyone). Rape culture teaches us that survivors lie.

But rape and assault happen all the time.

Maybe what happened to me has happened to you.

Maybe what my date did to me is something you have done to other people. Maybe this possibility makes you uncomfortable.

​Jon Oliver ​recently used this analogy: "Sex is like boxing. If both people didn't agree to participate, one of them is committing a crime."[3] If you want to box with someone, and they say "no," and you punch them anyways, that's not boxing -- that's physical assault. If you want to have sex with someone, and they say "no," and you touch/have sex with them anyways, that's not sex -- that's sexual assault.

If you disagree with me, or you think it was even partially my fault, I strongly urge you to reconsider. Not for me, but for the people you love. The "1 in 5" statistic is real.[4] Statistically, someone you love (statistically, a woman) has experienced some form of attempted or completed sexual assault at least once in their life.

When you engage in victim-blaming, you are telling that person whom you love, "You can't talk to me about your assault. I won't believe you. It was your fault. Your rapist is still my friend."

​Ending sexual violence is on all of us. It's on you -- especially men. Check yourself and go get your friends.


​​[1] Ever Mainard, a Chicago-based female comedian.​ The rest of her skit is racist as hell, so I'm not linking to it #whitefeminism. But speaking of rape jokes, if you want to tell one, make sure the punchline is the rapist, not the survivor. In other words, punch up, not down.

​​[2] All civil proceedings use the preponderance of the evidence standard. The Supreme Court has only ​ever ​applied a greater-than-preponderance standard in civil suits where deprivations akin to incarceration, like deportation and involuntary psychiatric confinement, were at stake.​ ​Title IX consequences do not come anywhere close to incarceration, involuntary confinement, or deportation. You can find the new guidance here: https://www2.ed.gov/…/fron…/faq/rr/policyguidance/index.html.

[3] I’m not sure if ​Oliver came up with it or merely popularized it. Sex Education: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver​, HBO​ (Aug. 9, 2015), available at ​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0jQz6jqQS0​.​​​

[4] In 2007, a Department of Justice research agency found that 1 in 5 women experience attempted or completed sexual assault during college, where sexual assault is defined as sexual battery or rape, not merely verbal harassment. The Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) Study, National Institute for Justice xiii, 3-14 (Oct. 2007), available at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/221153.pdf.

Stop white supremacy

A lot of Black and Brown and Muslim people were murdered recently.

Stop white supremacists. Stop anti-Blackness. Stop Islamophobia. Stop xenophobia. Stop the police. Don’t stop reading yet —

1. If you’re not an alt-right white supremacist, why are you upset? I wasn’t talking about you.

2. Wait no, I was talking about you. I was talking about all of us. This isn’t just about white people (even though it often is). Anti-Blackness is everywhere. The police officer and self-appointed vigilante who killed Philando Castile and Trayvon Martin, respectively, are Hispanic. The police officer who killed Akai Gurley is Asian American. Three of the six police officers who killed Freddie Gray are black.

3. We are all complicit.

When we talk about “bad/sketchy/ghetto” neighborhoods, but we just mean “not white.” When we “don’t see color” but all of our friends are white or light-skinned. When “some of our best friends” are Black/Brown/Muslim/gay/bi/trans, but we wouldn’t want to fuck them. When we would want to fuck them, but we wouldn’t want to marry them.

When we smoke pot on the weekends and take molly at Coachella but also think unarmed Black men are dangerous for selling pot or cigars. When everything in our IG and Snap is #lit, goals, bae, and YASSSS, but Black people who speak African American Vernacular English are “uneducated.”

When we change our Facebook photo to stand with Paris but not with Beirut or Baghdad. When we pull our #DicksOutForHarambe and want #JusticeforCecil but don’t know about #FinsburyPark or #NabraHassanen or #CharleenaLyles. When animal deaths make us sad but not human deaths.

When we love that new expensive white-owned “fusion” restaurant, but don’t want to pay more than $7 at an immigrant-owned Chinese/Mexican/Arab/etc. restaurant.

When we think Arab mass murderers are “terrorists,” but white mass murderers are “gunmen” and “van drivers” with “mental illnesses” in no way radicalized by fundamentalist Christianity / Reddit / Breitbart.

When we think it’s okay to bomb Syria to protect its children from chemical weapons but that’s definitely not the same thing as Syria hypothetically bombing us to protect our children from being chemically poisoned by elected officials in Flint, MI, or to protect Indigenous people from being gassed by police officers at Standing Rock.

When we say Islam oppresses women with the hijab and the driving ban, but we love celebrities who rape, beat, and sexually harass women like Kobe Bryant, Casey Affleck, and Bill Clinton (don’t fight me on this, just google it please).

When we talk about how Democrats have alienated the “working class,” when we really mean the “white working class,” as if Black and Brown people and immigrants aren’t part of the working class.

When we say we don’t like “identity politics” or “silly bathroom bills” and would rather focus on the “real issues,” like “the economy,” as if the white working class isn’t an “identity.” As if police brutality and vigilante violence aren’t “real issues.” As if safety for transgender people in bathrooms without fear of being murdered by transphobic people isn’t a “real issue.” As if loss of income and wealth from employment discrimination and housing discrimination aren’t “economic issues.”

When we heap praise on white / non-Black / non-Muslim, etc. people for allyship but don’t give the same credit to Black and Brown mostly women and LGBTQ folks who have been saying the same thing for decades and centuries.

When we say MLKJ would have wanted protesters to be “more peaceful,” even though Dr. King was considered a radical in his day. Even though he said the greatest threat to racial equality was not the KKK but “the white moderate” who agrees with your goals but not with your methods/tone. (The same Dr. King who called America the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”)

4. If you agree with my post but think I’m being “too aggressive,” I will refer you back to what MLKJ said about moderates. Don’t create a false equivalence between criticism of violence and actual violence.

You might think I’m an aggressive anti-white/anti-male bitch/etc. But as the brilliant Nayyirah Waheed wrote:

might make them angry,
it will make you free.
– if no one has ever told you, your freedom is more important than their anger.

5. If you want to learn more, I can recommend some great insta accounts to follow. DM me 🙂

If you would like to put your money where your hashtags are, consider donating to the families of Nabra Hassanen, Charleena Lyles, and Philando Castille.

If you would like the system to change, please VOTE in every election, not just the presidential one. Your state and local officials are often the ones legislating (and adjudicating) on policing, education, housing, etc.

6. Nothing I said here is original — thank you to the brilliant and tireless advocates (almost all of whom are Black women, NB women of color, and LGBTQ women of color) who educate and inspire me every day on FB and IG.

Yellow peril supports Black lives

As an Asian American, I am aware that my community does not engage nearly enough on issues of racial justice in America. We tend to embrace our status as the model minority and seek to dissociate ourselves from other communities of color. As immigrants and perpetual foreigners, we are constantly reaching for whiteness in the hopes that securing white privilege will signify that we have finally realized the American Dream.

And sometimes, America lets us in. We are praised for being hardworking and good at math. And we have been largely spared from the systemic violence faced by Black America for the past four centuries through slavery, segregation, redlining, mass incarceration, and police brutality.

But our access to white privilege is both temporary and conditional. The power to confer and revoke that privilege has never belonged to us. They can let us in, and they can shut us out. The U.S. once banned all Chinese immigrants from entering the country for more than 60 years and incarcerated more than 100,000 Japanese Americans during WWII (but not a single German American).

Our access to white privilege is incomplete. We are stereotyped as workers and middle managers, not CEOs (we’re just not natural leaders). Our women are hypersexualized (relax, it’s a compliment), and our men are desexualized (relax, it’s just a joke). Sometimes we even get to be sidekicks on TV shows.

Most critically, our access to white privilege is bounded by a zero-sum game that pits the Asian American community against other communities of color. Today, Asian Americans are a pawn in the campaign against affirmative action, a legal remedy that seeks to reverse the effects of institutional racism against Black and Brown America. We are told that affirmative action benefits underrepresented minorities at our expense. We are not told that affirmative action policies are designed to preserve the white majority (or plurality) at our expense — redistributing a minority of seats between Asian Americans and other people of color. This zero-sum game is critical because it keeps us occupied with hostility toward other communities of color, distracting us from challenging white supremacist institutions.

And so we use our political energies to protest the wrong things. It was shameful that thousands of Asian Americans protested the conviction of NYPD officer Peter Liang for killing Akai Gurley, an unarmed Black man. Instead of being angry at the fact that Liang was (rightfully) convicted of manslaughter, we should have been angry at the fact that almost no other police officers have been indicted — much less convicted — for killing unarmed Black people in this country.

Asian America has an important role to play in #BlackLivesMatter. But first we must decolonize our minds and reject the anti-Blackness we have internalized from our Asian and American cultures. We must learn to see ourselves as people of color (without reductively equating our experiences with those of all people of color). And we must acknowledge the many ways in which we are complicit in upholding the white supremacist structures of this country — in our selective sexual desires, our disdain for melanin, our antipathy toward affirmative action, and our fear of and contempt for low-income Black and Brown communities.

Asian Americans have so much power in our collective voice. We have the power to mobilize and advocate on issues that uniquely affect the Asian American community. And we have the power to stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown sisters and brothers to advocate on issues that matter to all people of color. We can join together to work toward our common goal of an American Dream that opens its doors for everyone.