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.

*R E C O M M E N D E D*
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.

*R E C O M M E N D E D*
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.

*R E C O M M E N D E D*
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."

*R E C O M M E N D E D*
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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