I first noticed the usage of the word ‘plantation’ from a UK food photographer I followed. I already found it strange and a little inconsiderate, but I thought she is from the UK so maybe there is less of a stigma.
Little did I know, the word ‘plantation’ is being widely used in the U.S food world, from whiskey to dessert to restaurant names. When I saw this podcast, I knew I need to listen to it and find out more.
The hosts put emphasize on learning why people would choose to use the world ‘plantation’ and what they want to accomplish with the word choice. It is less about forcing people to change their word choice. Hopefully curious questions would lead to some more awareness and more self education.
Almost all the white people who agreed to the interview talked about the plantation evokes warm and fuzzy feelings, the ideas of leisure, and plenty of food. This cultural image was manufactured in the 1930s in books, movies, and food advertisements when the Great Migration(a large number of Black people moved from the South to the North) happened. This marketing technique clearly sells and succeeds at selling for a long time proven by brands like ‘Aunt Jemima’ did not rebrand until very recently.
I especially loved the exchange between the host and a food historian. The host asked why he as a white male can spend 40+ years of his life not realizing that the word plantation has a negative connotation. The food historian asked where his ideas would be challenged anyways. It is not challenged in school. It is not challenged in society. If he is not particularly close to the African American community, he won’t have friends tell him otherwise about the plantation. It highlights the importance to have real history taught in school, discussed in society as well as have friends from different communities.
The show also emphasizes the importance of self-education and not relying on friends from marginalized communities to ‘hold our hands’ and teach us.
I absolutely loved the intersection of food, history, and American’s complicated past. Highly recommend!
A quick primer on this episode: this episode is aired in 2016. I am not sure how successful the radicalization prevention program is now in Denmark. Nonthless, it still presents a different way of handling radicalization.
People naturally mirror each other’s actions. This phenomenon is called complementary behavior in psychology. Governments meet radicalization of the youth with restrictions (like taking away their passport) and punishment (capture and try people who came back from Syria). This hostility is then mirrored by the youth who already feel discriminated against and unaccepted. They might actually seek radicalization as a response to the hostility from the general society.
What two policemen in Denmark, Link, and Aarslev, used their intuition to arrive at the non-complementary behavior, offer warmth and love in the face of hostility. They welcomed the youth who were returning back from Syria back to the community. They asked the youth (who already went to Syria or who are thinking about going) for a coffee chat, then get the youth medical treatments (if the youth needed), help them to finish school, find apartments. The police department pairs the youth with mentors who faced similar discriminations growing up yet find success and belonging now. This program was very successful at preventing youth from going to Syria while the other European countries were seeing continuous traffic of radical youth leaving.
It dawned on me that it is not so hard to understand those youth. People find meanings, friendships, identities, recognitions from religions and from many other places. We are all wired to ask ‘who am I, where do I come from, where am I going, what is my purpose in life.
If we are not even meeting people’s physiological and safety needs(personal security, employment, health, property), as well as completely ignoring their needs for love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization, on top of that we show hostility, what could they possibly give back?
In other words, if we want to help people, we can help them according to Maslow’s hierarchy needs. Help them get health care, help them to get employment, help them feel seen, loved, and belong, help them to create their own fate, etc.
Quotes:”They want identity. They want recognition. The youngsters are dying to belong. They are dying to belong.”
“There are still thousands of people who are drawn to the brotherhood or the narrative or the meaning or whatever it is they’re finding in ISIS and the caliphate.”
“Arie Kruglanski, a social psychologist at the University of Maryland who studies violent extremism, states that there are strong correlations between humiliation and the search for an extremist ideology,” he says. Organizations like ISIS take advantage of people who, because of racism or religious or political discrimination, have been pushed to the margins of society.”
This episode continues with the discussion of what safety means for different people and what is the future they are working for.
For Rachel Kuo, “one of the co-founders of the Asian American Feminist Collective”, safety does not mean more funding for the police departments and more police presence. She advocates for investing resources in community programs and looking for ways to manage conflicts without the police. She also emphasizes the importance of bearing witness and offering emotional comfort to our neighbors.
For Sammie Ablaza Wills, director of APIENC, “a community-based organization led by trans, non-binary, and queer Asian and Pacific Islanders”, safety means returning back to our community. The entire community can come together can lift the ones in need up. Safety means having people check in with you: how are you doing emotionally and spiritually. It means help people to acknowledge their real needs and ask for help. The future contains a system that we can have people close their shops for three months if they need to take a break.
For Iram, a junior at Virginia Tech, she and her mom Suja want the school to change the anti-Muslim curriculum and give teachers better resources to confront their own racism. I also can’t help but ask myself, can I be as awesome and brave as Suja, confront the teachers, to offer up resources if my future kids face racism in their school?
This quote stood out to me because it is all too familar.
“Suja: Our history continues to repeat this type of marginalization of communities by way of national security and it is, is a framework that continues to promote a very dangerous narrative because what ends up happening is these communities become targets, and they’re not safe and it continues to create a harm, particularly for children as they’re growing up in, you know, society.”
I LOVEEEEd this episode. They are able to capture that not all Asian Americans think the same, have the same language skills, or gravitate towards the same solutions about anti-Asian hate crime.
The episode emphasized that hate crime legislation is not a sufficient answer. Hate speech and racial slurs are not regulated by hate crimes. Hate crimes also depend on whether or not people choose to report them to the police or not.
This episode presented two different mindsets very well: support of more police force, vs against more police force in response to anti-Asian hate.
One neighborhood group in SF, San Francisco Peace Collective has an approach that they can help de-escalate conflicts through conversations without more police force. Often times the conflicts made worse by the language barrier.
Another neighborhood group in SF “United Peace Corps” however wants more police, more patrol. They want the police to be more representative of the people they are policing. Their approach is to get the police report number to reflect what they witness every day in Chinatown.
“When people talk about crime rates, they’re really talking about reports filed by police. If victims don’t report a crime, or if police don’t pursue an offense, then legally speaking, it’s like that crime never happened.”
This episode is able to present that younger generations might be more anti-police. However when conflicts happen and when they are not able to stop their elders, the only people they can turn to are the police.
There is also a divide between the attitude of SF Chinatown residents (in favor of more police force) and NY Chinatown residents (against more police force).
I loved how this episode presents nuanced approaches and opinions from the Asian American community on how to respond to increasing Asian hate. It is done through story telling which made me feel I was right there in Chinatown. We are not all the same and we do not all want the same thing. It highlights the importance of working with the local community and local politics. A grand national-level policy is probably not the answer.
You are in for a treat because NPR has a comic series accompanying this episode.
One of my new year resolution for 2021 is to learn how to be an engaged citizen. I know very little about it, but I trust my ability to learn. The recent hate crimes against AAPI made me want to learn more about how to participate in public life. Thus I googled ‘NPR engaged citizen’ and this episode jumped out. It was targeted towards parents teaching their kids about civics, but I loved it too.
A few points stood out to me. One is to practice tolerant disagreement, not to demonize people you disagree with. The other one is to take a neighborhood walk and see which buildings are public institutions and which are private ones (maybe what is the history of making some of it public).
Engage in public life with actions from volunteering, to writing letters to representatives, to go to a protest, to vote with your family.
Do not gloss over the hard history. Expose kids to different viewpoints and different communities so they can better build their empathy.
Finally balance the bad parts of the history with the good parts. Make it fun.
It has been an emotionally exhausting day for a lot of us. I listened to 4 different podcast episodes from Vox, NPR code switch, Washington Post, and ACLU trying to grapple with what just happened. This ACLU podcast definitely was the best. It was recorded before the horrifying Atlanta shooting on Mar.16th, so there was no discussion about the instance. I especially liked this podcast episode because it humanizes Amanda Nguyen, giving her time to tell her own story and interest. It also highlights one crucial aspect, law making, beyond any community responses or government funding request.
Amanda Nguyen talked about growing up facing the perpetual foreigner stereotype, ‘where are you really from’. Then she discussed the intentional erase/neglect of Asian Americans in history books (including lynching and being targeted by KKK), consistently left out of polling, looked over by political parties. Often times in progressive spaces, she found herself to be the only Asian American.
Amanda then discussed a key tool for oppression is using the model minority label: you work hard and you do not complain. Oftentimes Asian Americans don’t tell their stories because they don’t believe anyone would care/listen. Visibility needs to come in spaces of empathy where other communities standing in solidarity.
In the next segment, Amanda talked about a huge part of activism: law-making and coalition building. She founded Rise Justics Labs, using what she learned from the process of getting the sexual assault survivors’ Bill of Rights’ passed unanimously to help others ‘pen their own civil rights into existence’. She realized the method was repeatable and scalable. Her team has also gamified law-making, giving people smaller goals to start with to avoid burnout for activists. Different civil rights groups learn a lot from each other.
Finally Amanda talked her love for space, the whole idea that if you saw the earth from the space, your pespective completely changes. She re-visit the perspective, what is her space in the universe and what is her going to do about it.