Posts tagged azn ish
I find it weird to wish people happy new year in English around CNY unless they put ‘chinese’ before ‘new year’ because the gregorian calendar new year is usually a month or two ago by the time CNY rolls around?
Yeah, when I was living in Malaysia I was like that too…. but recently I’ve taken to saying “Happy New Gregorian” so I reserve “Happy New Year” for Lunar New Year instead!
Also the language/dialect part is an important part of the festival for me. And I like saying gung hei fat choy.
Dialect greetings used to be the most frustrating part of the holiday for me! But now I can’t deal without it. I find the Mandarin “xin nien kwai le” to be really boring. But even so, I still have trouble remembering the Hainanese and Hokkien! We had to learn all three dialects… my mom’s family mostly speaks Hokkien, my dad’s family mostly Hainanese, and of course everybody else speaks Cantonese by default.
And also today I figured that no one really says “gong xi fa cai”? I remember watching tons of advertisements in Malaysia going all GONG XI GONG XI GONG XI FA CAI! and wondering how come I never actually heard anybody saying it to each other. Then I came here and asked how Mandarin speakers say it and got “xin nien kwai le” and I was quite confused. I think it’s really only old-skool Overseas Cantonese who say “gong xi fa cai” XD
oh also we used to get angbao in school before actual cny, so i don’t find people wishing it early weird? idk. (filled with chocolate coins, of course.)
Same! Because you never know when you might see these people, after all! Could be way after CNY! So might as well wish them now!
Aaahhhh chocolate coins…. /nostalgia I never got ang pao with chocolate coins, just chocolate coins straight up.
Gosh, I didn’t see any at the Chinese grocery stores here…. D:
Hungry Ghosts, Jay Lake, White Supremacy, and Coolies
So in 2010 I was gifted a copy of Weird Tales’ steampunk special to read at my leisure. Cherie Priest was in it, and besides which, Stephen Segal was totally nice and was hoping that time that I would eventually write something for him for the magazine.
In it, Jay Lake had a short story.
I have many reasons to dislike Jay Lake. One of them is this heinous novel. Another is his generally assholic attitude about race..And then there is this hokey piece of shit. I would then like you to take a moment to reflect on the fact that said hokey piece of shit was supposedly written to feature a SEAsian-esque heroine, AND is dedicated to his adopted Chinese daughter.
So anyway, in this Weird Tales issue he has this short story. I don’t recall the exact details but I know it was about a Chinese exorcist. Exorcising ghosts. I recall that this ghost was malevolent. For no good reason that I could recall. And this story was set in America. And the whole story was really all about the exorcist finding out how to exorcise the ghost. And you know what the story was called? “Hungry Ghosts.”
And that was that.
Except that was, obviously, not just that. I object to a white whiny Westerner using such a term, a culturally specific, mythologically embedded term, to tell what is such a white-washed story about exorcism. I objected so much, I wrote a whole post in response.
Let me re-iterate the facts for you:
- white dude wrote a story about “hungry ghosts”
- set in 19th century America
- with a Chinese “protagonist” (little more than a cipher)
You know what I DON’T recall reading in that story?
- Recognition of Chinese labourers being exploited in that period
- Acknowledgement of how actual Chinese hungry ghosts are like
- A Chinese hero who’s actually a hero, rather than lacking in personality
- A Chinese exorcist who actually knows how to RESPECT THE DEAD
Let me tell you why I’m rambling on about this right now.
I am reading about Chinese coolies, and how they were kidnapped, tricked, conned, into signing contracts they couldn’t read, taken overseas away from friends and family, kinship ties and community, and then pretty much sold into bondage. (We know this melody; it is a variation on a theme.) These people had a “contract.” Which made them marginally more legal and acceptable than enslaved Africans, since the abolition movement was underway. Which didn’t stop them from being abused: beaten, whipped, chained, murdered.
They responded with poems and prose of resistance. When commissioners from China went to Cuba to investigate, they did what they could to present themselves and give their own testimonies. If they couldn’t, because their “employers” were trying to limit them, they wrote on whatever scrap they could.
“We hope your honor can control Macao, prohibit abductions, release our souls.” — Petition 15.
The 19th century. Chinese coolies replacing enslaved African peoples. Building the Trans-Continental Railroad (a story which the media would like to whitewash, too). Paper sons and distant families. Building new families and communities and ties and nationalities. (Because we are hua ren, and flowers bloom year after year despite bitter winters.)
And a white man gets to write about “hungry ghosts” and people will applaud how prolific he is and invite him to conventions and raise money for his cancer.
If I was peeved at Jay Lake before, I am livid now. Because how dare he. How dare he white-wash my culture and erase my kinsmen, however distant they are from me, their suffering and their pain, for the cheap thrill of exorcising ghosts?
The more I think about that story, the more I want to re-read it, just so I can be sure of what I recall: a faux mystery story trying to figure out how to get rid of a poltergeist, that failed to understand why it was behaving that way. Or perhaps it simply failed to help ME understand why it was behaving the way it was, because despite its Chinese hero, it was not a story for Chinese people. Not even remotely about Chinese people, even. Just about white people horror story anxieties wrapped up in yellow paper.
Oh but Jha, it was a long time ago. Asians are privileged now! They’re even white, sometimes. Why are you getting so worked up over something that happened so long ago?
I answer, if I cannot be allowed to feel for the community to which I belong, how can I hope to grow my heart large enough for the rest of the world? If I cannot feel for kinsmen of the past, how can I fight for the descendants of tomorrow? If I do not repay my debts to the people who died in the process of enabling me to be where I am, what can I give forward?
Ghosts are hungry for a reason.
And if white people want to whine about why PoC can’t let the past die—well, ghosts are hungry for a reason, and white violence adds to their numbers, day by day.
If you are not careful, gwailo, one day the hell money price will be your nation burning down to dust, returning lands to the people they belong and allowing your captured peoples the freedom they need to reach out and hold each other’s hands without you as obstacles.
And if we privileged bigoted white-identifying hua ren are not careful, one day our hell money price for the abuse of our fellow POC, especially the people enslaved before us, will be ourselves right alongside the gwailo.
We have ten courts of Hell, don’t forget that.
wow, coolies were NOT just comprised of lower-class people bamboozled into going abroad thru taukes preying on their lack of education
doctors, academics, shopkeepers, all got hoodwinked variously into become indentured servitude too
doctors asked to work on board a ship to tend coolies
then sold to plantations once they get to cuba
reading about the coolie system that basically made Chinese workers (and Indian workers) into indentured servants, a system worked out to replace the slavery system of capturing and making slaves of Africans after the abolition movement got underway. unlike the folks from the African continent, though, Chinese coolies did have the Chinese government looking into things and starting up investigations to find out wth was up with Chinese coolies in Cuba.
Only the second chapter in, and it’s pretty illustrate of how Chinese and African relations in bondage are deeply inter-connected only a couple of centuries ago.
Oh, I forgot to mention
So when he last called me I asked him about it, right?
And he was like OH RIGHT! HAIYA CANNOT REMEMBER ALREADY HAVE TO CALL TUA KIM TO FIND OUT
because apparently they are four different charms and I have to do something different for each one
the only one he could remember was “you have to burn one of them in a cup, then pour water into the cup and drink the ashes.”
And understandably I’m like “uh, what?”
And he was like “yeah, weird huh? that we’re still doing this even though science knows better.”
AH, TRADITION, IL UR CONTRADICTIONS
and the fact that my dad is going along with it anyway
thing is, HE CANNOT EVEN TELL ME WHICH ONE IT IS TO BURN AND DRINK
So like today I attended the Dickens Fest downtown right, mostly because I got pressganged into talking during the UU service (the UU handles the Dickens Fest organizing) (yeah the UUCR has its own steampunk group now) (they call themselves the Society of All Souls Steampunk of Yesteryear) (their symbol is a rainbow-flamed chalice) and I totally counted POC and whatnot (and totally hung out with a couple of Asian vendors, I shall post pics of what I bought from them in a bit) (one of them was a Cantonese speaker even) (it is so nice to be around someone who speaks a dialect I know, however marginally).
At noon or so they have this little parade where participants carry banners with the names of Charles DIckens novels, and then there is like a firing squad where they fire off some musket rifles and then a Gatling gun.
I got REALLY excited when they fired the Gatling gun.
It sounds just like those obnoxious Lunar New Year firecrackers, you know, those dangly ones which look like cylinders filled with gunpowder joy? Those ones. My parents hate them with a fiery passion (but they also hate lion dance drums so whatever) so we never had them but I’ve always really enjoyed being part of any crowd watching them go.
For real, the Gatling gunsmoke even SMELLS the same!
I’m feeling very festive now.
it’s been brought to my attention that the post i had submitted on chinese punk had an inappropriate reference to public enemy that is hurtful to black poc. for that, i sincerely apologize. instead of thinking of another analogy, i figured i’d give a brief history lesson of why wearing maoist shit is inappropriate at a chinese punk show:
mao was a ruthless dictator who murdered somewhere between 49 to 78 million people during his time in power. during this time, he instigated multiple programs that seriously distorted and disrupted chinese identity, culture, and economy. he spearheaded programs that nearly destroyed the chinese ecosystem. he imprisoned, murdered, or exiled all dissenting voices, including the scholars that could have advised him against such disastrous programs. many of his programs called of unrealistic and foolish activities, which were often mandated with the expectation of mass starvation. this all occurred while he seized control of all national resources. the chinese population was reduced to eating only a couple hundred calories a day under his programs.
every chinese person alive in china today knows someone who has been touched by these horrific programs. there are no exceptions. everyone knows someone who has suffered through this type of treatment, because the entire country suffered through this type of treatment. china continues to be a highly oppressive place to live. there is mass media censorship. there is propaganda. my colleagues had to hide out in their college dorm rooms to watch tiananmen square footage. people in china fear the government—and for good reason. police brutality is the norm. the death penalty is heavily used. and long-term labor camp incarceration is frequently used to ‘reeducate’ the religious and rebellious. there is a good reason why it only takes a few weeks to get an organ transplant in china, and it’s because the chinese government harvests organs from people who have been executed—both officially and unofficially.
so that is why it’s fucked up to wear mao to a punk show in china. a lot of those kids up on stage have to face censorship and harassment. some of them have been banned from major cities. and you can bet that they will never get into a graduate program or get hired for a high paying position because they have been blacklisted. and it’s because of mao’s legacy, which they continue to protest despite overwhelming oppression.
so very annoyed at Mandarin-speaking people who maintain that what they speak is “Chinese.”
because then what is Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, Hainanese etc? I know the Taiwanese have disavowed the mainland but damn the rest of the dialects are spoken by CHINESE PEOPLE, too.
granted it’s not a terribly serious problem but whatever.