Resources for the Churchless Christian

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important... courage, or any other virtue, would be, this process trains us in habits of the soul, which are more important still. It cures us of our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments; and on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection. 
C . S . L E W I S ,  M E R E  C H R I S T I A N I TY 

Happy Sunday! I've mentioned here and there that my most intense periods of personal transformation have always been accompanied - or rather, catalyzed - by profound spiritual growth. I've struggled a lot with religion my entire life despite spending most of my childhood in some sort of church. But I think that's what often precedes real faith - not certainty, but tides and tides of doubt. My testimony is premature and feels half-baked still, but I swear on all I know that the deepest grief I've ever felt was the shadow of the greatest love I'll ever feel, and I survived both only with God's grace. 

I'm unqualified to share any more than that, except to note that the most intense symptom of change is often nearly unbearable pain. I feel like parts of me - ego, especially - are dying and vehemently resisting death, all at once. There are times when I feel seventeen again, in that horrible, broken place, asked to quite literally destroy parts of myself that have become parasitic: 
The pain that you are feeling cannot compare to the joy that is coming.
R O M A N S  8 : 1 8 

I hope this post doesn't indicate at all that I've become a devout Christian and feel compelled to share the gospel. I haven't. But I am trying so hard to be better, and I've found so much clarity - not yet peace, and certainly not comfort - in the genesis of this "faith journey." This time around, it doesn't feel like the Sunday School I remember. I've been doing this "churchless" -- that is to say, searching for a personal spiritual relationship rather than an institutional one. So what I'm really trying to do is share the resources I've found. Yes, ladies, despite the winding introduction, this is, per LC brand standards, yet another roundup of interesting reads and podcasts. 

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity | C.S. Lewis
This was the book that affirmed I was heading in the right direction because it predicted all of the pain and grief I would feel. Intelligent and empathetic without the frustrating sentimentality I've come to resent in (bad) Christian literature.
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis
The Four Loves | C.S. Lewis
I read in another book of a character who scorned those who held 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ("Love is patient, love is kind") in highest regard because a Godless love is only superficial love. Anybody who centers the Scripture around this bit of comfort, according to him, was missing the point. "Love" feels easy when we conflate it with desire, with affection, with our raw need to be wanted. When we think the whole point of the verse is to teach others how to love us, how to meet our carnal and emotional needs. But that is so reductive of true, infallible love.
Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even to suffer for, God; Appreciative love says: 'We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.' Need-love says of a woman 'I cannot live without her'; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection - if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all.

At Home in Exile, by Russell Jeung
At Home In Exile: Finding Jesus among My Ancestors and Refugee Neighbors | Russell Jeung
I read this two years ago when I was feeling particularly agnostic but craving Asian American literature (this was the summer of the Asian American Book Club!). At Home in Exile weaves in narratives of longing and belonging as Jeung retraces the steps of his Chinese-Hakka family and his refugee neighbors. In the face of forced relocation and institutional discrimination, his family and friends resisted time and time again over six generations. This is a testimony that reflects the God and the faith I want to belong to: one sympathetic and wholly loving of refugees, one that protects the humanity of the disenfranchised and marginalized as an essential part of Christian duty.

Transformation Church: Relationship Goals | Pastor Mike Todd
I'm still working through these on an as-needed basis, but the first of the series, "Before the Person," really resonated and provided so much Scriptural clarity on why relationships become parasitic. To summarize, there are things we search for in other people (not just in significant others, but in mentors, advisers, friends) that only God can provide for us. Those things are (1) a sense of place, (2) a purpose, (3) identity and sense of self, (4) provisions, and (5) parameters. If we look for these in people, we inevitably punish them for our own disappointment in never finding them, or being dissatisfied with their lesser versions.

It's not like any of this is unfounded for the secular; Esther Perel writes in The State of Affairs (one of my favorite books on romantic relationships) that our expectations for our partners have expanded to include all that an entire, literal village was once tasked with providing: social status, success, children, companionship, "a best friend and trusted confidant and passionate lover to boot," for an unprecedentedly long lifetime.
Task yourself with the pursuit of purpose-driven personhood, with spiritual wholeness, with unshakable faith. Then find a partner whose only role is to help. Only that is sure to last.

Fiat lux,

The Catalogue: No. 35

Thursday, July 18, 2019

San Francisco, CA, USA

Things that lived in my mind this week: 
An interesting read at the intersection of literally everything - the public and private, the privileged and not, technology and tradition: 
The Messy Reality of Personalized Learning: Untangling the mixed record of the latest big-fix educational trend promoted by Silicon Valley | E. Tammy Kim for The New Yorker
But skeptics warn that underneath the language of “student-centered” pedagogy is a tech-intensive model that undermines communal values, accelerates privatization, and turns public schools into big-data siphons. Rhode Island’s experiment with personalized learning reveals a still more complicated picture: of overworked, undervalued public-school teachers who embrace reforms in order to get what they need.
My favorite source of tension as someone with no-money is that between old-money and new-money and this is everything I wanted and more in a juicy exposé: 
The Battle of Grace Church What happened when Brooklyn’s oldest nursery school decided to become less old-fashioned? A riot among the one percent. | Jessica Pressler for New York Magazine
But not this Brooklyn. “Real Brooklyn,” as Morgano would put it. She’d been born on the border of Canarsie and Flatbush, a world away from Brooklyn Heights, which in its contemporary iteration felt, to Morgano, almost like a parody of an upper-crust enclave. The women on the board — and it was almost all women — reminded her of some of the women she’d encountered at Bank Street, who had taught for a year, then gotten married. The “diamond-ring crowd,” she’d called them. They had names like Courtney and Blake and Hatsy, and their families sounded like they’d come straight off the Mayflower. Among them were Ashley Phyfe, married to a descendant of furniture-maker Duncan Phyfe; Vicky Schippers, whose family had been in the area since land was going for wampum; Christie Coolidge-Totman. As in President Coolidge.
On the hyphenated narratives:
The Stories We Tell, and Don’t Tell, About Asian-American Lives | Hua Hsu for The New Yorker
One isn’t melancholy simply because of the experience of racism, Cheng suggests; melancholy, and its dynamics of loss and recovery, are the foundations for racial identity.
These terms descend, in part, from Freud, who described mourning as a conscious process in which we deal with the grief of losing someone or something we can identify. Melancholy, for Freud, involves a kind of grieving, too, only we are at pains to identify what we have lost. Our inability to comprehend the reason for our melancholia pushes us further into our subconscious depths, and manifests as a kind of permanent mourning. To Eng and Han, this phenomenon seemed akin to the “interminable sadness” of many of their students. Perhaps the dislocations of immigration and assimilation had something to do with their inability to identify what they had lost.
A perfect segue into the next section on podcasts, the most obnoxious and ubiquitous of aspirational class signals: 
Friends of the Pod | n+1 Magazine
The more culture we consume and process alone, on our computers and phones, the more we appreciate the company of others who, in dishing about our common interests, can approximate the collectivity we crave.
Did we actually learn anything useful from these people, or just suffer through for a moment of company? Did we stay for that little high of accruing knowledge, however thin? At least now we’re armed with a collection of blithe anecdotes, prepped for retelling. At the next party we can all just talk about what we heard on this week’s podcasts. It doesn’t matter if we remember what they say, or if it’s all nonsense. This is friendship.
More nerdiness about self-improvement: 
To Be Better at Planning, Get to Know Your Future Self | Lesley Alderman
One strategy involves a visualization trick: Take a moment to imagine yourself 10 and 20 years from now. (The studies involved computer-aged renderings of participants’ faces, but your imagination works, too.) Make that image vivid, positive, and specific: What does this person like? Love? What drives then? What brings them joy?
Try writing a letter to the future you. Tell your new pen pal a bit about yourself now and who you hope to become, and imagine what they might write back.
Practice regularly, and eventually, you’ll start to feel a kinship to that person in your mind. The more you feel connected to that future you, the better able you will be to anticipate what that person will need and desire.
These exercises may feel silly, but they make the hypothetical more concrete. They give you an endpoint, a goal to work toward, a connection to grab onto: Here is the person you will become, and you want to make sure that person is happy when they finally materialize. Suddenly, the ripple effect of your decisions is clear.
It begins with "I'm a self-improvement junkie." Girl, same: 
Surrounding Yourself With Positive People Isn’t Always the Best Choice | Jamie Anderson for Human Parts
At a time when everyone is so hyper-focused on self-improvement (myself included), have we become so preoccupied with helping ourselves that we’re turning away from the people who need us the most, merely because they don’t provide us with any benefits?
Yes, it is obviously important to want to be happier and more successful, and we all deserve to be happier and more successful. But if we’re only surrounding ourselves with happy, positive, smart, thin, successful, beautiful people, where do the rest of us go? What about those of us who need a bit of a boost sometimes? What about those who need a boost from us?

This is not democracy - spreading lies in darkness. It's subversion. And it is not about left or right, or leave or remain, or Trump or not. It's about whether it's actually possible to have a free and fair election ever again. As it stands, I don't think it is. 
C A R O L E  C A D W A L L A D R x T E D 

Digital Manipulation | TED Radio Hour
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use.
The hardest thing for people is to give themselves permission to believe that there is no right answer to who they are and who they want to be; but there are many good answers.  
D A V E  E V A N S x T H E  G O O P  P O D C A S T

How to Prototype Your Life | The goop Podcast
Across the board, people tend to be terrible at answering the question “What do I want to do with my life?” Dave Evans, a coauthor of Designing Your Life, is one of the two masterminds behind the popular Stanford program that teaches students how to figure this out. With Bill Burnett, he’s created a playbook that anyone can follow to design a life that’s meaningful to them. Evans reminds us that there isn’t one best version of our life—there are a lot of good versions. He shows us how to prototype and pick from these different realities, and he convinces us not to bother with predictions. He tells us why the current career model is broken, why we sometimes get stuck in jobs we don’t like, and how we can more effectively navigate the hiring process. Get curious, talk to people, try stuff, tell your story, Evans says. And whatever you do: Start where you are.
We're repeating these behaviors despite adverse consequences; and often, we're not even aware of it. It's insidious. 
J U D S ON  B R E W E R x T H E  G O O P  P O D C A S T

Why We Crave | The good Podcast
We’re all addicts, according to Judson Brewer, author of The Craving Mind, director of research and innovation at the Mindfulness Center, and associate professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University. Consider our everyday habits—scrolling through Instagram, stress-eating, sugar, more sugar. Our habits, Brewer says, run our lives. And we get fooled into thinking we need just a little more willpower to make a change, quit smoking, drop an addiction. But willpower is finite and often not enough. Which is why Brewer is using research-based mindfulness techniques to help people understand and overcome their cravings. Part of this work is learning to bring curiosity to the roots of your cravings—and compassion to yourself.

I know that joy is a revolutionary act because it is how I survive.
B R I T T A N Y  P A C K N E T T x T H E  C U T  O N  T U E S D A Y S 

Brittany Packnett on Speaking the Truth | The Cut on Tuesdays
On this week’s How I Get It Done podcast episode, Stella Bugbee talks to Brittany Packnett, the prominent activist and co-founder of Campaign Zero, a policy platform to stop police violence. Brittany became a leader in the fight against police brutality in 2014, following the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and was appointed to the Task Force on 21st Century Policing by President Obama, who once said that her voice “is going to make a difference for years to come.” Stella and Brittany discussed the first protest she ever attended, how she deals mentally and physically with death threats, and what role grief has played in her life and work.

I'm trying really hard to focus my OCL posts on personal development/intellectual and spiritual growth and avoid the terrible blogger philosophy of rampant consumerism, buuut here are things on my radar: 

This 15-piece collection of teeny-tiny brushes for teeny-tiny details. You'll see why soon. Maybe. 

This Frederick Douglass print from Obvious State. I intend to cover my firstborn's nursery with their literary art prints (no such child exists or is in the pipeline at all, FYI). 


Imagine every day you wake up to wild commitment. Wild as in not the same place, but the moving place, playing place, changing place. When I write through my happiness, I commit to it again: I commit to feeling, deeply, not what happiness I have but how I came to orbit around it, attract it, cherish it. I fall asleep and wake up. If there's a thing I want to teach me, it's how I live my light. 
Yanyi, The Year of Blue Water

With love always,

The Catalogue: No. 32

Saturday, July 13, 2019

New York, NY, USA

I am super behind on blogging, but have no excuses for myself other than just general burn out from living life. Here are some articles on how to take time for yourself, something I'm still learning since I always turn to TV/sleep/food when stressed and tired. I could definitely learn something from LC do as she suggests in her blog post on taking productive personal days off.

The Case For Doing Nothing | Olga Mecking for The New York Times
Perhaps it’s time to stop all this busyness. Being busy — if we even are busy — is rarely the status indicator we’ve come to believe it is. Nonetheless, the impact is real, and instances of burnout, anxiety disorders and stress-related diseases are on the rise, not to mention millennial burnout.
Psychological Detachment From Work During Leisure Time: The Benefits of Mentally Disengaging From Work | Sabine Sonnentag in Association for Psychological Science
Psychological detachment from work during leisure time refers to a state in which people mentally disconnect from work and do not think about job-related issues when they are away from their job. Empirical research has shown that employees who experience more detachment from work during off-hours are more satisfied with their lives and experience fewer symptoms of psychological strain, without being less engaged while at work. Studies have demonstrated that fluctuations in individuals’ psychological detachment from work can explain fluctuations in their affective states, and have identified positive relations between detachment from work during off-hours and job performance. Trait negative affectivity, high involvement in one’s job, job stressors, and poor environmental conditions are negatively related to psychological detachment from work during off-job time. 
The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time | Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz for Harvard Business Review
Recent studies are showing that taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work, and lead. […] But cultivating silence isn’t just about getting respite from the distractions of office chatter or tweets. Real sustained silence, the kind that facilitates clear and creative thinking, quiets inner chatter as well as outer.
Why Doing Nothing Is One of the Most Important Things You Can Do | Brian O'Connor for Time
If we are lucky enough to accomplish one thing, another seemingly compelling challenge — or even just an after-hours email — steps in to give us a new worry. […] Great philosophers have argued that we have nothing to learn from ways of life that exists outside the busy world of western civilization. But if we have some hunch that the world we have today demands too much effort in return for too little happiness, we could do worse than to see what we can learn from those other forms of living. The potential in idleness for greater freedom seems worth the exploration.
With love and silence,

In Favor of Productive Personal Days Off

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

San Francisco, CA, USA

Sometime in my short professional career, I think my manager and I came to an implicit understanding that I would be the best little worker bee of all time on my days on, granted I'd get to take a millennial-y indulgent number of days off. A couple of luxuries make this possible: a fairly autonomous position; an unlimited/flex PTO corporate policy; an established personal brand that I am absolutely not a slacker and am probably doubly productive when out of office. No indications yet that being OOO so often will stunt my career in the long run, but for now these frequent personal days empower my most well-rounded, well-read, well-examined self.
Below, some snippets of one of my favorite days off ever and some tips on making the most of your days away from your desk.

01. Pregame your personal days

One day, somebody will tell me that pregaming an event does not, in fact, refer to the art of writing a to-do list ahead of time. But my idea of a good time is neurotic personal administrative tasks, so here we are. Whenever I anticipate taking a day off, I write an exhaustive list of everything that might be nice to get done - from my non-profit design work to a reformer Pilates class to writing OCL posts. Then I set deadlines and prioritize accordingly. Only 10% of what *could* get done probably should, so my final to-do list tends to be only 3-4 specific tasks from the dozens of options on my radar. For extra credit, highlight the absolutely-need-to-do tasks, but have a few secondary probably-better-to-do action items in case you're more efficient than you thought.

For me, the key to not wasting my days off napping and eating Hot Pockets is to just have absolutely no excuse to stay/go home. Pack a portable office with everything you'll need, from a gym kit to all of your chargers to snacks to that travel watercolor kit you bought in younger, more optimistic days. Because you never know when you might start bursting with the impulse to paint famous urban architecture, idk.

02. Have a go-to indulgence so that a productive day off still feels like a luxury
I honestly couldn't tell you whether I actually enjoy the taste of cold brew or the intellectual aesthetic of one, but my go-to aphrodisiac is an extremely expensive iced coffee that, for around $6, allows me to enjoy the air conditioning, wi-fi, and general energy of a bright, sunny cafe for a couple hours.

I also take the "personal" part of a "personal day" pretty seriously; as with most things, I'm a little *extra* when it comes to self-development and think that we should all take a proactive approach to sorting out our mental health and spiritual growth. On a good day, my AM cold brew is an opportunity for some earnest journaling (see: 4 Journaling Exercises for Self-Actualization), a bit of work on my faith journey - which is still very new - and some pleasure reading. On a less-good day, I probably order a muffin too and scroll through Reddit, which is honestly an okay alternative.

Today, I read Esmé Weijun Wang's The Collected Schizophrenias and re-studied some Scripture about anger management (lol, long story). I also debated getting a CBD Kombucha from Klatch before realizing I'm frankly not cool or interesting enough for that sort of thing.

The aforementioned to-do list can wait; take a couple hours for yourself, whatever that looks like.

03. Try something out of your comfort zone
I don't do this nearly as often as I'd like, though my comfort zone is honestly so tiny that ordering a latte instead of a cold brew is probably a wild move in and of itself. But once in a while, I try to engage in something that gets me excited about a life beyond the gray toil of the corporate world. Last week, I attempted a solo hike (attempted being the operative word because I have zero physical fortitude). Today, it was my first-ever modern calligraphy class with Brown Fox Calligraphy. And as I sit here, post-class, typing away in a library, I'm reminded that keeping art in my life requires a lot of work, but it's always worthwhile and brings me closer to being someone I'm proud of.
Other creative pursuits: Skillshare classes, urban sketching, reading children's books, volunteering/community service, this blog basically, and the vast world of Pinterest DIYs.

I guess what I'm trying to argue about personal days off is that, when taken intentionally, they've helped me combat a lot of burnout and creative restlessness. They have also been the singularly best thing for my most important project: taking care of myself emotionally so that others don't have to. I turn 23 this week, and my chief concern for this next phase of my life is ownership over my happiness, peace, and development. I'm deeply unhappy when I feel defined by a 9-to-5 career; I also can't live without the stability of one. Personal days feel like a happy compromise that have completely revitalized and enhanced every aspect of my career and life beyond it. I can work on myself so that the version of me that shows up to work is a smarter, more empathetic one. I can explore ancillary and random passions, none of which have ever led me to a dull or dark place. And I can inch towards the person I was meant to become -- arguably the most important of all pursuits.

I'll end with this thought from Rilke that resonated today:
Think of the world you carry within you, and call this thinking what you will; whether it be remembering your own childhood or yearning toward your own future – only be attentive to that which rises up in you and set it above everything that you observe about you. What goes on in your innermost being is worthy of your whole love; you must somehow keep working at it and not lose too much time and too much courage in clarifying your attitude toward people.

With love always,

Recapping Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Saturday, June 29, 2019

An embarrassingly delayed recap of May's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month -- though in my (pathetic, shoddy) defense, every month is Asian American Heritage Month when you're... you know, Asian American. I was sort of against doing diary-style personal/life update posts on OCL because (1) I had a Tumblr throughout middle/high school and I'm never being that open with the mundane details of my life again, (2) I don't really want to document anything that isn't a teachable moment. But APAHM is deeply important to me, and I think I've gathered just enough distance to have some insights/thoughts to share.

TACL: 2020 #CounTA Campaign
The Taiwanese American Citizen's League's 2020 Census Campaign to encourage Taiwanese Americans to check "Other Asian" and write in "Taiwanese" officially launched, and I'm so honored to be at its helm adjacent as Creative Director. Check out our Instagram to follow the campaign! APAHM Campaign
At the same time, I decided (a bit impulsively) to start an #APAHM series on the Instagram account, sharing ways to celebrate and honor Asian American and Taiwanese heritage throughout the month.
Some highlights:
- Sudden, passionate engagement about what Taiwanese identity meant to our readers; we turned these answers into a mini series about diasporic pride.
- We did a Mother's Day video featuring some sweet sentiments in some of the languages of Taiwan (Hokkien, Hakka, Mandarin, Amis, Japanese, English, etc.) CL's little brother stars in it!

Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage
After post-referendum speculation that the marriage equality bill would be completely shut down, I was feeling less than optimistic that Taiwan would make any sort of progressive statement this year, but WE. DID. THAT. On the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, Taiwan became the first nation in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

I'm so grateful to all the journalists and volunteers who provided live, English language coverage throughout this ordeal, from grassroots protests to legislative projections to local celebrations and wedding ceremonies. My heart is so full.

CAAMFest Opening Premiere & Gala
You know that Asian American heritage is of supreme and dear importance to me because I, introvert extraordinaire, went out this month. I saw two films during CAAMFest: Love Boat (more below) and Chinatown Rising.
CHINATOWN RISING, directed by Bay Area natives Harry and Josh Chuck, is a love letter to San Francisco’s vibrant Chinatown. Weaving together never-before-seen archival footage and photographs, the film chronicles key Chinatown community leaders who started an activist movement during the 1960s, and foregrounds today’s battles for social justice and equality.
You've probably already heard my prattling speech about turning my American Culture Studies minor into a years-long investigation into Chinatowns and my reverence for Chinese American history, but this documentary was so good and re-ignited my post-graduation obsession with extracurricular research. If anybody in the bay area wants to do a walking tour/archival deep dive/book club about Chinatown history -- like, actually -- let me know.

Photo by Anna Wu Photography
Taiwanese American Cultural Festival
I grew up attending and performing at this festival, so I don't have much to say that isn't dripping with nostalgia. I do think that an enormous privilege, among others, of growing up in the Bay Area is that events like this always felt obviously important and accessible to me. So many transplants who attend the festival for the first time are stunned to find the critical mass of Taiwanese Americans required for an event of this scale. This community is so vast, so concrete that I've even felt qualified to pick at and critique it, knowing its stability would never crumble under any pressure. I'm so lucky (oops, might get weepy again) to have been raised the way I did: knowing, above anything else, that I would forever find home and comfort in the diaspora.

Pictured below is the partial ensemble of the Shinergy Puppet Show. The budaixi (puppet show) tradition actually has an incredible history; during the martial law era, performances continued to be performed in Taiwanese, rather than the KMT-mandated Mandarin of literally everything else. During Japanese colonialism, when Taiwanese art and entertainment were discouraged from displaying any local identity, puppet troupes would dress their puppets in Japanese kimonos, only to remove these later in the performance after the colonial authorities had left. The puppets would be wearing traditional budaixi attire, and the dialogue would switch from Japanese back to Taiwanese.

Love Boat: Taiwan Screening
If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably already seen/skipped past my post-Love Boat social media tantrum (which I'll recap below).
For context, Love Boat is the unofficial, but widely used term, for the Overseas Compatriot Youth Formosa Study Tour to Taiwan, a government-sponsored program that recruited diasporic Chinese for a month-long immersion trip to Taiwan. Its truest purpose was to ensure overseas support for the Kuomintang (Chinese nationalist) party in cross-strait relations with China, and participants vaguely remember attending mandatory lectures that, in retrospect, were likely saturated with nationalist propaganda. More salient than all of that, though, was that this was every Chinese parent's dream: a month-long pool for their Han kid to find another Han kid to marry and procreate with -- hence the term "Love Boat."
I already have a stick-up-my-ass personality, and having attended an Overseas Affairs conference as an adult, I feel particularly sensitive to how the diaspora takes advantage of taxpayer money via these lavish programs. (I also don't like to party, and reserve scathing judgment for those who do when they're ~supposed~ to be doing exciting, sexy things like having deep conversations about duality, liminality, and post-colonial Taiwan. I know this sounds sarcastic, but it's not.) But I was so upset with this documentary (not at its artistry, at its insights) because the general state of diasporic engagement and state-sponsored cultural outreach is an abomination. Asian Americans (and other diasporic members, there was a cute Taiwanese French guy) need to do a much better job at resisting Western imperialism in our conversations about and interaction with heritage, culture, and identity. Taiwanese Americans need to stop speaking on behalf of Taiwanese people; we need to stop reducing this complex, rapidly evolving country to our own shallow perceptions of how a culture can be consumed and performed (AHEM, but also cc: myself). Aaaaand, specifically because of Taiwan's recent political history and the violent ways different groups arrived to the island, we need to stop relying solely on family histories for critique and analysis. I have a billion more thoughts on this, but I want them to be eloquent and well-examined, so I digress for now, and the only way forward is to lead by example.

Amber Collective: On Heritage
Ended the month with the incredible opportunity to speak on a panel with Melissa King and Lisa Solomon about how our Asian heritage has informed our creative work. I've literally never felt brave enough to identify as a creative, so I was stunned and so honored to have been invited. I realized mid-panel, pretty much mid-sentence, that as someone who was granted a fair bit of attention growing up for my work in the Taiwanese American community, my Goliath was never exactly tokenization, but its consequence of self-isolation, of believing that there is only space for one of your kind, and that you must compete for it. I wish that part of the conversation about creating spaces at the tables for ourselves - beyond creating our own tables entirely - was how to make room for others, too.

Photo by Robbie Gene Photography
With love always,

What LC Read: Vol. 16

Friday, June 28, 2019

San Francisco, CA, USA

Gingerbread | Helen Oyeyemi 
Notes: One of those "picked for the tantalizing cover books" that let me down. I'm not one to particularly enjoy the fantasy/magical realism genre to begin with, so I think this just wasn't a very good fit.
Synopsis: Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories--equal parts wholesome and uncanny, from the tantalizing witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel" to the man-shaped confection who one day decides to run as fast as he can--beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.
Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it's very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee's early youth. In fact, the world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread is Harriet's charismatic childhood friend, Gretel Kercheval--a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.

*R E C O M M E N D E D*
What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and ResistanceCarolyn Forché
Notes: Carolyn Forché's "The Country Between Us" (poetry) was one of the most formative books I read during college. One of the only publishable (according to my professor) poems I wrote during my senior year was after "What You Have Heard Is True," a piece in that collection that I guess evolved into a fuller-fledged memoir. Related, memoirs and fiction written by poets tend to be wildly evocative and extraordinary. Highly, highly recommend this one. 
Synopsis: What You Have Heard is True is a devastating, lyrical, and visionary memoir about a young woman's brave choice to engage with horror in order to help others. Written by one of the most gifted poets of her generation, this is the story of a woman's radical act of empathy, and her fateful encounter with an intriguing man who changes the course of her life.
Carolyn Forché is twenty-seven when the mysterious stranger appears on her doorstep. The relative of a friend, he is a charming polymath with a mind as seemingly disordered as it is brilliant. She's heard rumors from her friend about who he might be: a lone wolf, a communist, a CIA operative, a sharpshooter, a revolutionary, a small coffee farmer, but according to her, no one seemed to know for certain. He has driven from El Salvador to invite Forché to visit and learn about his country. Captivated for reasons she doesn't fully understand, she accepts and becomes enmeshed in something beyond her comprehension.
Together they meet with high-ranking military officers, impoverished farm workers, and clergy desperately trying to assist the poor and keep the peace. These encounters are a part of his plan to educate her, but also to learn for himself just how close the country is to war. As priests and farm-workers are murdered and protest marches attacked, he is determined to save his country, and Forché is swept up in his work and in the lives of his friends. Pursued by death squads and sheltering in safe houses, the two forge a rich friendship, as she attempts to make sense of what she's experiencing and establish a moral foothold amidst profound suffering. This is the powerful story of a poet's experience in a country on the verge of war, and a journey toward social conscience in a perilous time.

Andy Warhol: A Biography | Wayne Koestenbaum
Notes: Picked this up for context before I visited the Andy Warhol exhibit at SF MOMA this weekend. Some fun facts about Andy Warhol (Andrew Warhola):
1. Though speculated to be asexual and celibate, Warhol was also diagnosed with an STI and described as a generous lover by alleged lovers
2. His mother originally refused to marry his father; she changed her mind when he bribed her with candy
3. On his first day of school at age four, a girl hit Andy; he was so traumatized, he refused to return to school for two years
4. His original ambition was to be a tap dancer
The book is full of speculation, overreaching at times. Biographies, intimate as they might be, still imply several degrees of separation and these feel overwhelmingly present in this book. Still, this one is lovely, endearingly obsessive, and evocative. Recommended reading if you'll be popping into the exhibit.
Synopsis: A man who created portraits of the rich and powerful, Andy Warhol was one of the most incendiary figures in American culture, a celebrity whose star shone as brightly as those of the Marilyns and Jackies whose likenesses brought him renown. Images of his silvery wig and glasses are as famous as his renderings of soup cans and Brillo boxes--controversial works that elevated commerce to high art. Warhol was an enigma: a partygoer who lived with his mother, an inarticulate man who was a great aphorist, an artist whose body of work sizzles with sexuality but who considered his own body to be a source of shame.
In critic and poet Wayne Koestenbaum's dazzling look at Warhol's life, the author inspects the roots of Warhol's aesthetic vision, including the pain that informs his greatness, and reveals the hidden sublimity of Warhol's provocative films. By looking at many facets of the artist's oeuvre--films, paintings, books, "Happenings"--Koestenbaum delivers a thought-provoking picture of pop art's greatest icon.

New People: A NovelDanzy Senna
Notes: This one came highly recommended by a trusted source, so I think it's a case of "it's not you, it's me" that despite multiple attempts, I couldn't get into New People.
Synopsis: From the bestselling author of Caucasia, a subversive and engrossing novel of race, class and manners in contemporary America.
As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." Their skin is the same shade of beige. They live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn, where Khalil is riding the wave of the first dot-com boom and Maria is plugging away at her dissertation, on the Jonestown massacre. They've even landed a starring role in a documentary about "new people" like them, who are blurring the old boundaries as a brave new era dawns. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her--yet she can't stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows. As fantasy escalates to fixation, it dredges up secrets from the past and threatens to unravel not only Maria's perfect new life but her very persona.
Heartbreaking and darkly comic, New People is a bold and unfettered page-turner that challenges our every assumption about how we define one another, and ourselves.

Number One Chinese Restaurant | Lillian Li 
Notes: This book popped onto my radar several times, but I resisted reading it for reasons I can't remember anymore. Not particularly memorable, to be honest.
Synopsis: The popular Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland has been serving devoted regulars for decades, but behind the staff's professional smiles simmer tensions, heartaches and grudges from decades of bustling restaurant life.
Owner Jimmy Han has ambitions for a new high-end fusion place, hoping to eclipse his late father's homely establishment. Jimmy's older brother, Johnny, is more concerned with restoring the dignity of the family name than his faltering relationship with his own teenage daughter, Annie. Nan and Ah-Jack, longtime Duck House employees, yearn to turn their thirty-year friendship into something more, while Nan's son, Pat, struggles to stay out of trouble. When disaster strikes and Pat and Annie find themselves in a dangerous game that means tragedy for the Duck House, their families must finally confront the conflicts and loyalties simmering beneath the red and gold lanterns.

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The Scent of the Gods | Fiona Cheong
Notes: Recommended reading for fans of Crazy Rich Asians and Sarong Party Girls -- not because they're similar in tone (far from it, in fact) but because they lend essential context to the ethnic communities laying claim to Singaporean identity. A fascinating, gripping read.
Synopsis: The Scent of the Gods tells the enchanting, haunting story of a young girl's coming of age in Singapore during the tumultuous years of its formation as a nation. Eleven-year-old Su Yen bears witness to the secretive lives of "grown-ups" in her diasporic Chinese family and to the veiled threats in Southeast Asia during the Cold War years. From a child's limited perspective, the novel depicts the emerging awareness of sexuality in both its beauty and its consequences, especially for women. In the context of postcolonial politics, Fiona Cheong skillfully parallels the uncertainties of adolescence with the growing paranoia of a population kept on alert to communist infiltration. In luminous prose, the novel raises timely questions about safety, protection, and democracy--and what one has to give up to achieve them.

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Eating Chinese Food Naked | Mei Ng
Notes: SO good. Haunting, achy, tender in that very specific way of good Chinese American literature. Highly recommend to Asian American girls raised in the Confucian tradition. The plot isn't all that interesting, but I think Ng's ability to meditate on underrepresented experiences -- interracial relationships, mother-daughter dynamics, filial duty, class aspirations -- makes this an absolutely worthwhile read.
Synopsis: This poignant debut novel of Ng explores complexity of a mother-daughter relationship in two generations of an immigrant family and Ruby, the daughter's not-so-easy awakening as the young, gifted, female, sexually confused and hyphenated as Asian descent in the urban set of NYC and its suburb, Queens. Ruby's self-realization goes amiss when she reluctantly comes back to the tiny room above her immigrant parents' laundry business after finishing her fancy degree in women's studies from Ivy League, just an hour away by train, which now feels like a lifetime ago.
The journey Ruby sets out for is to find answers to all questions nobody helps to resolve-- loving yet powerless mother, domineering and good old misogynist father, unambitious and volatile brother, locally settled and church going sister or her non-committal and callous Caucasian boyfriend-- but herself, whether above her parents' laundromat, in her boyfriend's apartment or in a temping job until she finds her own room someday.

A Cruelty Special to Our Species | Emily Jungmin Yoon
Synopsis: In her arresting collection, urgently relevant for our times, poet Emily Jungmin Yoon confronts the histories of sexual violence against women, focusing in particular on Korean so-called “comfort women,” women who were forced into sexual labor in Japanese-occupied territories during World War II.
In wrenching language, A Cruelty Special to Our Species unforgettably describes the brutalities of war and the fear and sorrow of those whose lives and bodies were swept up by a colonizing power, bringing powerful voice to an oppressed group of people whose histories have often been erased and overlooked. “What is a body in a stolen country,” Yoon asks. “What is right in war.”
Moving readers through time, space, and different cultures, and bringing vivid life to the testimonies and confessions of the victims,Yoon takes possession of a painful and shameful history even while unearthing moments of rare beauty in acts of resistance and resilience, and in the instinct to survive and bear witness.

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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City | Matthew Desmond
Synopsis: Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.
Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

Wade in the Water: Poems | Tracy K. Smith
Synopsis: In Wade in the Water, Tracy K. Smith boldly ties America’s contemporary moment both to our nation’s fraught founding history and to a sense of the spirit, the everlasting. These are poems of sliding scale: some capture a flicker of song or memory; some collage an array of documents and voices; and some push past the known world into the haunted, the holy. Smith’s signature voice—inquisitive, lyrical, and wry—turns over what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men, and violence. Here, private utterance becomes part of a larger choral arrangement as the collection widens to include erasures of The Declaration of Independence and the correspondence between slave owners, a found poem comprised of evidence of corporate pollution and accounts of near-death experiences, a sequence of letters written by African Americans enlisted in the Civil War, and the survivors’ reports of recent immigrants and refugees. Wade in the Water is a potent and luminous book by one of America’s essential poets.

Of Rain and Nettles Wove | Gillian Parish
Notes: Gillian was the college professor that completely changed my life. She made me believe in (documentary) poetry as a political force, as a form of resistance, as a way to resolve epigenetic heartache. She also gave permission to and helped form my own Book of Cord; the title, in fact, was hers. I've never met someone who could teach the synesthetic properties of language, who could make me feel the gravities and alchemy of words the way I do now.  So delighted to have her book as a reminder of what poetry can do, what the right teacher in your life can do: save you.
Synopsis: Poetry. OF RAIN AND NETTLES WOVE is Gillian Parrish's first full-length book of poetry; it is; however, as Gillian Conoley notes, "a mature work, so wise in its playfulness and sudden depths. Haunted by the American West and Midwest (one thinks of Niedecker, Oppen, Eigner) and the Far East (Basho, the I-Ching)--though with a sure-footed, sprightly music all their own--come these painterly, filmic, gorgeously sounded lyrics of sturdy ground and flight." As Michael Heller contends, "the boldness of the book, its spiritual hunger, its stops and starts, its erasures and ongoings has the immediacy of the first transformative brush stroke on a canvas."

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The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays | Esmé Weijun Wang
Notes: One of my most anticipated non-fiction reads of the year, and I was not at all disappointed. Courageous, urgent, compassionate writing. (Wang is also Taiwanese American!)
Synopsis: An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the "collected schizophrenias" but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community's own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang's analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.

Indecency | Justin Phillip Reed
Synopsis: Indecency is boldly and carefully executed and perfectly ragged. In these poems, Justin Phillip Reed experiments with language to explore inequity and injustice and to critique and lament the culture of white supremacy and the dominant social order. Political and personal, tender, daring, and insightful―the author unpacks his intimacies, weaponizing poetry to take on masculinity, sexuality, exploitation, and the prison industrial complex and unmask all the failures of the structures into which society sorts us.

*H I G H L Y  R E C O M M E N D E D*
All That Work And Still No Boys | Kathryn Ma
Notes: This book put me in my feelings. The lifelong chip on my shoulder (more like staggering, crippling wound) is that I was not born a son to a family that absolutely reveres them. I don't typically enjoy short stories (or casual dating, or anything else that doesn't require much commitment) -- but this collection was incredible -- so much so that I've made my mom read it. Please, please, please read this -- the first short story, if nothing else (where a mother insists on sacrificing one of her daughters, rather than her only son, who by all measures was the better choice).
Synopsis: How do we survive our family, stay bound to our community, and keep from losing ourselves? In "All That Work and Still No Boys", Kathryn Ma exposes the deepest fears and longings that we mask in family life and observes the long shadows cast by history and displacement. Here are ten stories that wound and satisfy in equal measure. Ma probes the immigrant experience, most particularly among northern California's Chinese Americans, illuminating for us the confounding nature of duty, transformation, and loss. A boy exposed to racial hatred finds out the true difference between his mother and his father. Two old rivals briefly lay down their weapons, but loneliness and despair won't let them forget the past. A young Beijing tour guide with a terrible family secret must take an adopted Chinese girl and her American family to visit an orphanage. And in the prize-winning title story, a mother refuses to let her son save her life, insisting instead on a sacrifice by her daughter. Intimate in detail and universal in theme, these stories give us the compelling voice of an exciting new author whose intelligence, insight, and wit impart a sense of grace to the bitter resentments and enduring ties that comprise family love. Even through the tensions Ma creates so deftly, the peace and security that come from building and belonging to one's own community shine forth.

*H I G H L Y  R E C O M M E N D E D*
The Source of Self Regard: Essays | Toni Morrison
Notes: Needs absolutely no endorsement from me to be immediately recognized and lauded as one of the most important and well-written books you'll ever read. I mean, it's Morrison. Can you imagine having to speak after her? I'd die of fundamental and inescapable humiliation.
Synopsis: The Source of Self-Regard is brimming with all the elegance of mind and style, the literary prowess and moral compass that are Toni Morrison's inimitable hallmark. It is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. In the writings and speeches included here, Morrison takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, "black matter(s)," and human rights. She looks at enduring matters of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature, and in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. And here too is piercing commentary on her own work (including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, and Paradise) and that of others, among them, painter and collagist Romare Bearden, author Toni Cade Bambara, and theater director Peter Sellars. In all, The Source of Self-Regard is a luminous and essential addition to Toni Morrison's oeuvre.

Orphan of Asia | Wu Zhuoliu 
Notes: Part of my slow attempt to read through the translated Taiwanese canon. My mom and I read this together (her, in its original version) and I think she got much more out of it than I did.
Synopsis: First published in 1945 & now available in English for the first time, 'Orphan of Asia' describes the plight of a young Chinese man working for the Japanese colonial regime in 1930s Taiwan. Trapped between two cultures, the hero embarks on a journey in search of self-realization.

And finally, a poem I have to share because it captures so succinctly how I want to live my life. From US poet laureate Joy Harjo: The Creation Story

"I'm not afraid of love/ or its consequence of light"

With love always,

What We're Reading About Hong Kong and the Anti-Extradition Protests

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Murder Case That Lit the Fuse in Hong Kong | Daniel Victor and Tiffany May for The New York Times
There were two interrelated problems: China does not recognize the government of Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory. And Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, does not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.
Hong Kong had never allowed extraditions to mainland China before — a safeguard agreed upon when Britain returned the territory and Beijing promised it a high degree of autonomy. (The measure prohibits extradition to any part of China, which complicates any deal with Taiwan because of Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over the democratic, self-governing island.)
And yet Mrs. Lam sought to sidestep the legislature’s regular committee process and put the proposal on a fast track with an unusually short 20-day public review.
After The Tear Gas | Brian Hioe for Popula
In a serious demonstration it’s the same: Suddenly everyone is helping each other out. When the police fire tear gas, you suddenly have people handing out goggles and masks, and water for washing out one’s eyes and throat. You have people going around with inhalers to make sure nobody is having trouble breathing.
Strangers wordlessly handed me a set of goggles when I was standing alone in a corner typing away on my phone. Another time, someone abruptly came up to me while I was standing alone, again typing a news update, said something in Cantonese I couldn’t understand, handed me a card for legal services if I needed them, and walked away. As I was rooting through a supply bag looking for a new set of goggles after my first ones broke, someone tried to offer me their goggles, though that meant they would have none.
Demonstrators would hand forward helmets, umbrellas, and other supplies to deflect tear gas shells when it looked like the police were about to let loose. They’d leave bottles of water, goggles, and masks scattered around beforehand so that anyone running from tear gas could grab them.
Related: Hong Kong, Taiwan's Other | Brian Hioe for Popula
During the protests leading up to the Taiwanese Sunflower Movement in March 2014, a slogan frequently seen on signs read “Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow Taiwan” (今日香港,明日台灣), implying that Hong Kong’s fate would befall Taiwan under the terms of a proposed trade deal with China, which the protests succeeded in preventing.
I also sometimes saw the sign’s inverse, reading “Today Taiwan, Tomorrow Hong Kong,” (今日台灣,明日香港), particularly after the attempted storming of the Executive Yuan, Taiwan’s executive branch of government, resulted in a wave of police violence against student demonstrators, a group including myself. This sign suggested that open violence would eventually come to Hong Kong because of Chinese pressures, just as it had come to Taiwan.
Chinese Cyberattack Hits Telegram, App Used by Hong Kong Protesters | Paul Mozur and Alexandra Stevenson for The New York Times
Many of the protesters are college-aged and digitally savvy. They took pains to keep from being photographed or digitally tracked. To go to and from the protests, many stood in lines to buy single-ride subway tickets instead of using their digital payment cards, which can be tracked. Some confronting the police covered their faces with hats and masks, giving them anonymity as well as some protection from tear gas.
On Wednesday, several protesters shouted at bystanders taking photos and selfies, asking those who were not wearing press passes to take pictures only of people wearing masks. Later, a scuffle broke out between protesters and bystanders who were taking photos on a bridge over the main protest area.
Masks, cash and apps: How Hong Kong’s protesters find ways to outwit the surveillance state Shibani Mahtani for The Washington Post
“The Chinese government will do a lot of things to try to monitor their own people,” said Bonnie Leung, a leader of the Hong Kong-based Civil Human Rights Front.
Leung cited media coverage of China’s use of artificial intelligence to track individuals and its social-credit-score system.
“We believe that could happen to Hong Kong, too,” she said.
The core of the protests is over the belief that Beijing — which was handed back control of the former British colony more than 20 years ago — is increasingly stripping Hong Kong of its cherished freedoms and autonomy.
The identity-masking efforts by protesters also reflect deep suspicions that lines between China and Hong Kong no longer exist — including close cooperation between Hong Kong police and their mainland counterparts, who have among the most advanced and intrusive surveillance systems.
A Hong Kong Extradition Protester Who Fell to His Death Is Being Hailed as a 'Martyr' | Time Magazine
A 35-year-old man who died after unfurling a banner denouncing Hong Kong’s extradition bill on the side of a shopping mall is being hailed by protesters as a “martyr.”
Local media reports reports that the man plunged to his death after climbing up construction scaffolding on Saturday afternoon local time at the Pacific Place mall in the Admiralty district—scene of massive protests this week against legislation that would have allowed, for the first time, the extradition of fugitives to mainland China.
Police are treating the case as suicide, local media said, giving the man’s surname as Leung.
As Many as Two Million Protesters Hit Hong Kong Streets | By Annie Lee, Fion L , and Shawna Kwan for Bloomberg
The organizer’s estimate was again far larger than the official count. While the Civil Human Rights Front said more than a quarter of the island’s 7.5 million residents responded to its call to march, police said some 338,000 joined the protest’s main routes during the peak. Either way, the gathering was larger than the historic march on June 9, when organizers put the number at just more than 1 million and police said 240,000.
Exclusive: Hong Kong police 'trapped in the middle' by polarizing extradition bill | James Pomfret for Reuters
At the same press conference by Hong Kong’s police chief, a group of more than 20 photo-journalists donned hard hats and gas masks in a symbolic protest against what they considered to be the excessive use of force by police during the unrest.
“Some police were out of control,” said Leung Pang-wai, 28, a photographer for HK01 newspaper who wore a gas mask during the press conference. “They shot at us and they didn’t deal with the situation rationally.”
Senior police officers, however, defended the use of force to deal with much more violent protesters than during the 2014 demonstrations when tens of thousands occupied roads around the legislature and government headquarters for 79 days.
The protesters this time, unified for a very specific goal - to prevent a policy seen as an existential threat to Hong Kong’s unique global position - have pledged not to back down.
Hong Kong's Winding History | NPR (Podcast)
The one country, two systems model was to take effect in 1997. Foreign affairs and national defense would be guided by Beijing. Everything else about Hong Kong would be controlled by Hong Kong.

I'm currently struggling a bit with burnout and can't find the eloquence to say all I want/need to. But I can manage this: the fates of those in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and their diasporas are inextricably linked. We face the same headwinds: authoritarian and unrelenting pressure from the CCP; the threat of a surveillance state; the advancement of facial recognition technology; traumatic family histories that bleed into civic engagement. We must ask: how can we protect each other? How can we show up for each other? How we will resist together? 
To the people of Hong Kong: you are so brave and extraordinary. The whole world honors your resilience.
To their families and loved ones in the United States: how can we share their burdens? How can we extend our compassion and empathy for them to those within our own cities - black and brown communities especially - also resisting police brutality? Also protecting each other? Can we recognize this same fire in those that don't look like us? 

With love always,

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