Water pollution issue in Singapore

This is the original, unedited letter I emailed to Straits Time forum. It was published online on 8 September 2016, entitled “Don’t overlook rubbish in less-frequented areas“.

It has been said that Singapore is not so much a “clean” city as it is a “cleaned” city. I agree. On 23 August 2016, I saw lots of rubbish floating in the river next to Braddell bus depot. It must have been washed into the river from drains flowing through Bishan and Toa Payoh after a storm.
Polluted river canal
© Photographer: Jimmytst | Agency: Dreamstime.com

I highlighted the water pollution issue to PUB via OneService app, and three days later, I saw some workers cleaning up the river at Potong Pasir from the rubbish that we, as a society, have been littering or disposing of.

River cleaning
© Photographer: Jimmytst | Agency: Dreamstime.com

On 7 September, I revisited the river at Potong Pasir and noticed that the rubbish has reappeared after a pre-dawn downpour.

Polluted river
© Photographer: Jimmytst | Agency: Dreamstime.com

I think we tend to focus on having clean-looking waters in the more frequented areas such as Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Kallang Basin where residents and visitors hang out, but the less frequented areas are often neglected. Also, I doubt that the otters living in Kallang Basin would want to swim upstream back to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park when there is rubbish floating in Kallang River that flows through the high-density populated areas.

We must realise that everything that we throw indiscriminately in the drains will end up in the rivers that flow towards the sea. But we are so preoccupied with our own lives that we fail to see the impacts of our inconsiderate actions. It is usually when a storm occurs that all these accumulated rubbish in the drains are washed into the rivers that we notice the full impact of our actions – unsightly flotsam, stinking water and eutrophication caused by algal bloom, all of which affect aquatic life negatively.

Are we going to continue to ignore the root of the pollution problem in our country and shirk our responsibility in keeping the environment clean by distracting ourselves through our consumeristic lifestyles and not caring about how we dispose of rubbish in public places? Are we only concerned with keeping up an image of living in a supposedly “green and clean city” by focusing only on the appearance of the more frequented areas and neglecting the less frequented areas? When we do not think about how our actions affect the animals, plants and the environment, our actions will ultimately affect ourselves adversely because we are all interconnected in the ecosystem.

Two days after my letter was published in ST Forum Online, I noticed the river at Potong Pasir appeared to have been cleaned up by the national water agency PUB (Public Utilities Board) as it looked cleaner, but this morning (13 September), I noticed the water pollution has recurred, as the river had floating rubbish and debris, presumably washed into the river from nearby drains after a storm had occurred the day before.

“Water in the Kallang River flows into the Marina Reservoir.”

(From PUB says water pollution at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park “not likely to be kerosene”)

Enough is enough – something has to be done to deal with the persistent water pollution problem at its roots. We are all complicit in this violation against the environment, and ultimately against ourselves.

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Stubby squids and other mysteries

A National Geographic article shared by a colleague invites readers to watch a video of a googly-eyed sea creature that cracked up scientists. The purple stubby squid is intriguing indeed. I googled about it and found another video of this “muppet” swimming on the ocean floor.
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 The cartoon-like eyes of the squid make me wonder… who came up with the idea that big round eyes make for cute, cartoon-like creatures? Before the discovery of this squid with cartoon eyes, one would probably have thought that big round eyes are the invention of human cartoonists and muppeteers, which are often featured in cartoons ranging from Mickey Mouse to Dragonball to Sesame Street. But Mother Nature surprised us through this discovery, as if to proclaim that such big-eyed cartoon characters have always existed all along since time immemorial in real life – in the form of stubby squids and the like, way way WAY before such cartoons came on the scene through the invention of media like televisions and comic books in the modern world.
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Perhaps another mystery is… how did human beings conceive of big round eyes of a stubby squid when they first drew cute cartoon characters, long before they had ever seen such creatures in real life? Are we human beings an extension of the Universe such that we are all interconnected with all other living beings, and by some telepathy or mysterious soul imprints and mystical connections, we intuitively create works of art resembling some other creatures without knowing of their existence or seeing them before?
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Maybe there is something deeply profound in the imaginations of human beings, which may be a key to unravel the ancient mysteries such as pyramids, crop circles, UFOs, and so on…
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Meanwhile, life goes on… in a world where students are often told by the education system to not daydream and study hard so that they can work in a rank-and-file capitalistic system and live a nondescript life, while the mysteries of life continue to stay hidden in the deep recesses of human consciousness, unexplored and unexplained.

A visit to Lentor-Tagore forest 

Having been reading on Facebook about the impending development of Lentor area that will result in the destruction of forest and two natural streams, I decided to check out the area this afternoon in search of the elusive streams. 

But it turned out that I was a bit too late because when I arrived at Yio Chu Kang road via Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, I saw that the entrance to the forest, where the streams were supposed to be, has been fenced off, and a portion of the forest behind a bus stop along Yio Chu Kang road has already been cleared. 

I decided to cycle around Lentor private housing estate, hoping to find another way to Lentor forest. The nearest I could get to the forest is via a canal near the junction of Lentor avenue and Seletar Expressway (SLE).

From the end of the canal, I could see heavy machinery clearing the forest. I found a path through the forest fringe that led me closer to the clearing. 

I decided not to venture too close to the clearing and turned back. I later circled round the area via Springleaf nature park in the north to the other side of the forest, hoping to find an entrance to the forest from Tagore Industrial Avenue. 

I managed to find a small entrance along the avenue, and walked some distance along the fringe of the Tagore forest. I came to the point where forest clearing was taking place in the south beside a stagnant-looking water body. 

Is that part of a natural stream? I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to trespass the construction site, and decided to hike in another part of the forest. I followed a track through Tagore forest that led me to SLE in the north. 

Apart from some wildlife such as a wild boar, a jungle rooster and munias, I didn’t see much in this area. There seems no signs of any natural streams. I suppose they are only found in the part of the Lentor forest that has been fenced off, which I wasn’t able to access. (Or maybe there is another entrance to Lentor forest that leads to the streams that I am unaware of, as I am unfamiliar with the area.)

I decided to call it a day, as evening was approaching. I cycled via Teachers’ Estate back to Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, and took a lift up to the highest floor of a HDB block, and snapped some sunset pictures, showing an aerial view of the remaining forest next to Teachers’ Estate.

#BLM & #CLM: Being part of an oppressed group and standing in solidarity

#BlackLivesMatter and #CyclistsLivesMatter

I have come to realise that just as Black people, or darker-skinned people in general, are the most oppressed group of people on Earth when it comes to race and ethnicity, cyclists are the most oppressed group of people on Earth when it comes to the mode of transport or travel.

This realisation came to me recently while I was mulling over activism on social issues, particularly issues on anti-Black racism and anti-cyclist sentiments that have persisted for many years.

For a start, what do #BlackLivesMatter and #CyclistsLivesMatter have in common?

On the surface, both of these liberation movements seem unrelated and disparate because one has to do with race and the other has to do with the mode of transport or travel. But I would venture to say that both the Black community and cycling community have been subject to systemic oppression and inexplicable hatred from others for the longest time.

For the Black community, the age-old enemies have always been “micro-aggressions, white privilege and white supremacy“. Through centuries of white Euro-centric media propaganda as well as colorist traditions and mindsets in various parts of the world that favour white skin or fair skin over dark skin, the most sacred spaces in Black people are “often filled with stories of trauma, internalized racism and the struggle of self-love“.

Black Lives Matter Black Friday
Over the years, many of our Black brothers and sisters, though they were unarmed and innocent, have been subject to police brutality especially in USA. (Source: Wikipedia)

Similarly, for the cycling community, the enemies are usually prejudice, ignorance and classism. On pavements or sidewalks, cyclists are often unwelcome as they are seen as a menace or nuisance by many pedestrians. On roads, cyclists are also regularly harassed or bullied by many motorists who drive cars, taxis, buses or trucks.

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Cyclists often face hatred and resentment from motorists who do not care about sharing roads with those on bicycles (Source: Cyclists Lives Matter Facebook page)

Both the oppressed groups – the Black community and the cycling community – often feel like they don’t really belong to the societal system because they don’t fit into the perceived norms. They are also often subject to unfair or negative stereotypes.

For example, whenever the issue of anti-Black racism or police brutality on unarmed Black people is brought up on social media or discussion threads, someone would attempt to derail the conversation by mentioning some negative stereotypes such as Black-on-Black crime instead of acknowledging that the problem of racial discrimination and institutional oppression does exist. The irony is that Black-on-Black crime is a direct result of White supremacy and internalised racism. If not for White supremacy, would Black people (or people of colour in general) be struggling with internalised hatred towards themselves and towards one another?

Similarly, whenever the issue of anti-cyclist sentiments is brought up on social media or forums, someone would attempt to deflect from the issue by talking about errant cyclists who knock down pedestrians on sidewalks or who flout traffic rules on roads. While there will always be a handful of rude or inconsiderate cyclists who give the majority of cyclists a bad name, it doesn’t detract from the reality that cyclists in general are discriminated and not given equal space, whether on pavements or on roads.

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Standing in solidarity with the oppressed as one humanity, and as one family of brothers and sisters (Source: http://www.seattleglobalist.com)

Contrary to negative colonialist views of Black people, Africans and African Americans in general are some of the most amazingly warm, humane and hospitable people in their own right. They have contributed to many important inventions and shaped the American culture, and they excel in art, sports, music and entertainment, to name a few. Without Black musicians, for example, there would be no rap, R&B, rock and roll, and soul music as we know and hear them today.

Similarly, cyclists are changing the world for the better in a number of ways. They take up less space and help ease traffic congestion on roads. They are environmentally friendly, as compared to motorists driving greenhouse-gas-emitting vehicles. Many of them also advocate a healthy lifestyle.

It is time for the world to acknowledge that Black lives do matter and cyclists’ lives do matter. It is also time for the world to stop subscribing to negative stereotypes of Black or darker skinned people as well as of cyclists and stop harming or killing them, and start appreciating them for who they are and how they contribute to the betterment of the world in their own ways and start standing in solidarity with them.

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Being human in an ever-shifting landscape of thoughts and emotions

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Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_V:Warriors_of_Destiny

In a computer RPG (Role Playing Game) game such as Ultima, the character is always in the middle of the screen. It may appear to be moving when we press the direction arrow keys to move it around to explore the virtual world, but it is the landscape that is moving while the character remains stationary.

In a way, each of us is like the character. The scenery around us may change as we move from place to place going about our lives, but in a deeper reality, we remain stationary – only the circumstances around us change, and we feel compelled to react or respond to changing circumstances.

Maybe therein lies the secret of remaining grounded in inner peace and stability? Maybe what we need to do isn’t so much as to remain unperturbed and emotionless, but to observe with equanimity our thoughts and emotions that rise and ebb with each changing circumstance.

mapmyride 24 july 2016
Source: MapMyRide

On my way cycling to Waterway Point via the Northeast riverine PCN (Park Connector Network), I thought to myself it was one of the most scenic and enjoyable places to cycle. The nature scenery, the breeze, the relatively few people compared to the usually crowded East Coast Parkway.

But when I reached Waterway Point, my mood changed. The buildings in the vicinity looked rather opulent and soulless – they looked more like an extravagant display of affluence and grandeur at the expense of the migrant construction workers’ blood, sweat and tears who built those buildings. They reminded me of the Babylonian Hanging Gardens – once a symbol of material success and status, now a relic of a fallen kingdom that has been reduced to ruins. Maybe Singapore would be destined to such a fate if the relentless quest for materialism, capitalism and mass consumerism continues unabated, unchecked and unchallenged.

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Addressing the roots of violent injustice

“There’s certainly no quick and easy answers for how to address the violent injustice that’s just come to the forefront of our awareness, or the whole spectrum of violent injustice against the dark / the feminine / the other that the recent murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile belong to…

… and also I do sense that the collective efforts of many individuals taking deep self-responsibility and doing their own shadow integration work is one key piece of the puzzle that can lead our world to healing.

Why?

Because there’s not a single one of us alive who’s blameless in this.

As humans, we’re all implicated in the cycle of pain and violence that surrounds us, and until we meet our own internal violence, shamelessly and fearlessly, we just unconsciously perpetuate it in our personal and collective lives.

My strongest encouragement and my best wishes for you to do just that.”
Carolyn Elliott
WITCH magazine.

Yes, come to think of it, there is a deeper layer beneath the surface of violent injustice in this world, and doing shadow integration work can “lead our world to healing”. To me, the root cause is as ancient as the proverbial two trees in the garden in some mystical traditions, whether it be esoteric or gnostic Christianity, or kabbalah, or Buddhism, or as Thich Nhat Hanh’s words put it – “we are here to awake from the illusion of separateness”, which I interpret as the illusion that we are separate from the Source, or Divine Love, or our Higher Self, and consequently the illusion that we are all separate from our true self and from one another in this world.

lp-effective-brain-training-tree
Source: www.dynamicbrain.ca

 I learned from some resources that the two trees may symbolise two systems of thoughts, for the intricate network of the branches and roots of the trees resembles the complex network of neural pathways in the brain. The tree of knowledge of good and evil, to me, is a mindset that thinks we are separate from the Divine, causing us to lose sight of our true identity as Divine Love, and mistaking our actions or any outward things to determine if we are good or bad. Some fundamentalist religions, including evangelical christianity, went further and suggested that humans were so-called inherently evil or “originally sinful”, and this destructive mindset only fuels a sense of self-loathing and self-hatred, from which violent injustice arises – both towards oneself and towards others.

Healing comes, in my opinion, when we return to the Source of who we are, knowing intuitively and experientially, that we are t’shuvah – made in the image of Divine Love, born with the power to do good or bad, and these actions don’t change our true identity as a Beloved child of the Universe or Source or Divine Love. I love the story of the African tribe that demonstrates this truth or principle of how a person who had done something hurtful and wrong can be held up in truth and love by his brothers and sisters “to reconnect him with his true Nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected: “I AM GOOD” (or more specifically, “I am Love”).”

Whether the story of the tribe is historically true, as discussed in the above link, I believe it underlines the ancient and timeless truth that we are essentially Love, and the tree of life, or the system of thought that says we are One with Divine Love and with one another, frees us to be our true self, and to love and heal ourselves and one another from the inside out, as it is a transformation of the mind from within the heart and soul.

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Source: www.cluthmagonline.com

In fact, at this point of my understanding of how the world functions, I would venture to take one step further and surmise that as human civilisations move away from the Motherland or the birthplace of humanity, there is a risk of them losing sight of their original root or true identity, except perhaps in indigenous societies that retain their ancient way of life and cultures, such as the Aboriginals in Oceania, the tribes in Asia and South America and the native North American tribes. I believe much of the western civilisation (as well as other non-indigenous societies that have adopted a “modern”, urbanised way of life) have lost sight of the roots they had in Africa as their ancestors moved out from Africa to settle in Europe and other places thousands of years ago.

Somewhere along the way, the white Europeans started to think they were separate from their true self and from others, and started to hate themselves and others. The modern legal and criminal justice system probably came from the white people, which stems from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For instance, the western christianity teaches retributive justice through the concept of a literal hell as a place for punishment and the penal substitutionary theory that presupposes an angry God in the sky demanding a blood sacrifice to appease his wrath. So, the more legalistic the white Europeans became, the more they ended up hating themselves and others for not measuring up to their own perceived standards. When they lost sight of their true identity as Love, they became blinded by the illusion of separateness and sought to define their worth and identity by outward achievements and power and status. Hence, that is probably the reason the early European imperialists started competing with one another and went to other continents to invade and conquer the lands and the native peoples of Africa, Asia and America, destroying peoples, culture and the natural environment as a result, simply to prove they were so-called superior.

So in a nutshell, I see white supremacy (or any other kind of supremacy), capitalism and patriarchy as a manifestation of having lost sight of our true identity of Divine Love, and consequently, having internalised self-hatred and self-loathing. (At this point, I want to say that this malady affects everyone, not only the white Europeans, but because European colonialism and imperialism has such a huge impact around the globe, I want to use this example to make a point.) Hence, through integrative shadow work, I believe the systemic violence and injustice in this world can be addressed when each of us returns to the Source, as often as possible, whenever we forget or lose sight of who we originally are, and rediscovers and remembers all over again that we are in essence Divine Love, thereby experiencing a deep transformation from within, and awake and continue to awake from “the illusion of separateness”. I believe the result will be a deep, lasting peace and unity, which we can experience individually and collectively.

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I say “no” to nationalism

I am coming to realise that I am actually nothing to the society or the nation that I happen to be born and grow up in. The society or the country probably only cares about my existence if I happen to represent the country in a positive way; for example, if I were to do something so noteworthy or praiseworthy that other countries look at me and say “Wow”, this country will then use me and my “fame” to boast to the world, saying “See – this person belongs to us. He makes us proud”, when all the while, I am just one of the numerous denizens living here in relative obscurity except for having my biodata in their computer databases. It actually underlines a sense of insecurity that a nation typically has when it relies on parading its achievements in front of other nations to build its ego and identity. On the other hand, if I were to do something that reflects badly on the country in front of other countries, I can imagine that its national news media would work itself up in a frenzy to shame me and “pariah-ise” me. No, it is not me that they care about; rather, it is their reputation that they are concerned with as they want to keep up the public image of being so-called squeaky clean and untarnished and being number one in the global rat race or competition, which is nothing more than an illusion or delusion.

So, my point is: why should I care what the society or the country think of me when they don’t really care or take notice of my day-to-day existence? Why should I want to conform to the perceived norms in order to be accepted when everyone else is too busy trying to fit in in order to be accepted and recognised themselves?

If anything, I owe my existence and sustenance not so much to the country per se, but to the community that provides me with opportunities to grow and contribute my skills, knowledge and values to make the world a better place. I understand that everything is interconnected, but I would rather pay homage to those who have directly built me up than subscribe to some obscure notion called patriotism or nationalism. To me, nationalism is nothing more than some political agenda of indoctrination based on power and control, that divides and discriminates rather than unites and includes everyone in the world.

Instead of seeing myself as a citizen of a country, which has political implications and connotations, including those of systemic oppression and marginalisation of those who are considered “outsiders”, I would prefer to see myself as a citizen of the world (or cosmos) or a child of the Universe.

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Cycling is like flying

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Source: weheartit.com/entry/121942251

Cycling is the closest thing to flying I can ever get without developing wings or depending on an external engine to get moving.

It feels like flying because I am elevated above the ground (though ever so slightly) and I am moving without touching the ground and I feel the breeze against my face while moving.

It is different from riding on a motorcycle or travelling on a car or bus or train as cycling doesn’t depend on a motor. Also, the speed and direction at which I cycle can be controlled by how I move my legs and body, almost like how a bird moves its wings and body in flight.

Cycling is like a powerful drug – it can get addictive. The more I cycle, the more I want to cycle. The more I gain confidence in maneuvering the bicycle, the further and the more places I want to cycle to. Each new destination brings new satisfaction at the end of the day. And as a new day begins, another new destination becomes the next goal. Or sometimes I get a desire to try another route to cycle to the same destination and experience the thrill of exploring new routes.

Sometimes danger lurks when I cease to be alert momentarily, and I may stumble or fall or hit an obstacle or get hit by a car. I may get bruises or cuts or scratches, and I may spend the next few days nursing my wounds and go about my life in bandages and rest from cycling. But after recovering, I will start cycling again and rediscover the joy of cycling, this time with a little bit more caution and a little bit more wisdom.

Being a regular bike commuter is somewhat like being a pilot flying a plane. A typical day of “flight” begins when I board the “plane” (i.e. my bicycle) and roll along the “runway” (which may be a pavement or a corridor or a car park etc) before taking off into the air (usually a main road). I will cruise and soar and glide like a bird, and at times hit a “turbulence” when I travel along bumpy roads. I will feel the strain as I pedal uphill and also the relief as I coast downhill. Along familiar long roads, I usually lapse into an “auto-pilot” mode, and let my subconscious take over the navigation process. Finally, I will arrive at my destination, and touch down on the “runway” before coming to a stop (usually at a car park or bicycle bay etc). I will disembark from the “plane”, grateful for another successful “flight” and for arriving safe and sound.

 

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President Obama’s speech in Canada

Video information

President Barack Obama spoke to Parliament following the North American Leaders’ Summit. Obama spoke on wide range of topics including the close relationship with Canada, gay rights, equality for women, terrorism, climate change, immigration and the economy.

“When refugees escape barrel bombs and torture, and migrants cross deserts and seas seeking a better life, we cannot simply look the other way. We certainly can’t label as possible terrorists vulnerable people who are fleeing terrorists.

We can insist that the process is orderly. We can insist that our security is preserved. Borders mean something. But in moments like this, we are called upon to see ourselves in others, because we were all once strangers. If you weren’t a stranger, your grandparents were strangers. Your great-grandparents were strangers. They didn’t all have their papers ready. They fumbled with language faced discrimination, had cultural norms that didn’t fit. At some point, somewhere, your family was an outsider. So the mothers, the fathers, the children we see today — they’re us. We can’t forsake them.

So, as Americans and Canadians, we will continue to welcome refugees, and we can ensure that we’re doing so in a way that maintains our security. We can and we will do both.”

President Barack Obama

An open conversation on race and racial slurs

This post is an example of how we can have an open dialogue or conversation on race, in which we call out one another and hold one another accountable with regard to racial slurs, while standing together in solidarity to deal with racism as one united people.

LLAG:

Last week, I posted an article about the infamous anti-Asian slur “chink.”

To my surprise, 50% of the folks on this page didn’t even know it was a slur.

“OMG, ‘chink’ is a slur?”
“Wait, are you sure ‘chink’ is racist? I’ve been saying it for years!”
“Oh, please! ‘Chink’ isn’t even that bad!”

Since then, I’ve noticed just how ignorant and racist activists can be towards Asian-Americans — without even realizing it. The subtle xenophobia and back-handed compliments from activists is only getting worse.

I expect it from white supremacists, but I don’t expect this bullshit from activists, especially POC. Shit, I’ve been called everything from “Chinaman” and “chink,” to “yellow bastard” by self-identified “woke POC.”

As an Asian-American activist, the support I receive feels like an exception to the rule. I’m the “cool” Asian who gets it, who deserves respect from non-Asian POC, but the rest of my Asian-Americans don’t deserve equal recognition.

I feel like I’ll never be American enough for non-Asian POC support. And the minute someone disagrees with me, the minute someone finds my arguments or my writing style unsavory, I’m automatically associated with everything racist about Asian culture: the Chinese laundry commercial and Blackface in K-POP. I’m Kim Jong Un, Pearl Harbor, and a Korean Hair Shop, all rolled into one.

Xenophobia’s relationship with anti-Asian racism is rarely talked about in the activist community. No one wants to admit it, but there has always been an attitude of “you Asians came to this country after all of us, so you don’t know what social justice is. Your activism is appropriation.”

The only thing Asian-American activists can do is continue to speak, even if no one wants to listen…

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One commenter wrote:

I’m well versed in things that insult people. I have had that racial slur hurled at me by my own family members because of the shape of my eyes and my above average abilities in science, math and art. Because of that, I knew that the c word is an insult. Dehumanizing is the nature of these epithets. The reason, imho, why SJWs seem heavily burdened…is that when we say a sentence we do the work of making sure we don’t step on anyone in order to advance our causes. White supremacists don’t have to do that. They make asinine black and white statements. So, our movements are slow moving and solid.. while white supremacy is dominant but weak. If a SJW was to employ the same tactics as white supremacy…we would defeat out whole purpose. Our growth is slow and painful…conversations like these are VITAL. I don’t subscribe to a ‘privilege in oppression’ as some SJWs do. My oppression is not more valid than yours, but, if you don’t share that I can only feel my own pain and break my own yokes. I appreciate this post because it reminds me that we are a chorusof voices…different tones…different pitches…but our ultimate goal is to harness the energy of all of these voices and create a harmony that breaks the foundation of white supremacy and crumbles the ivory tower to rubble. But, we can’t do that until we loose the shackles in our minds. I understand that I can oppress people. I am careful not to. I will listen and ask questions to banish my ignorance. I hope my fellow SJWs are comitted to doing the same.

Another commenter wrote:

I call disingenuous willfully obtuse bullshit on people not knowing that this is slur. It’s been used in all media and said by well-known people in political power as a targeted insult towards Asian-Americans and Asian in this country. I’m Gen X and my mom is a Baby Boomer and m-fers from those generations and previous ones knew that word was an f-ing slur. So, yeah, I will point blank call anyone a liar to their faces that put on the Scarlett O’Hara act and pretend that they know nothing’ about nothin’. Pretend ignorance of slur doesn’t shield you from catching metaphorical or literal hands.

Another commenter wrote:

There is nothing wrong if you never heard the word chi*k used. I never heard anyone use it too. That is the main reason why I like this site. It allows me to learn about other POC’S plight in america and I love how it intercepts. I really never had any close Asians friends until I met my significant other 2 years ago. I kinda did live in a bubble for most of my life. Obviously, I was always aware about racism. Like I would typically just call my sister or friends about BLM topics or other injustices in America. But this has been the first year I have fully submerged myself to embraced SWJ activist pages.

I stand by LLAG’S post most of the time, but on occasion a topic typically regarding Asian people is posted and I respond and either misunderstood or condemned . In the case of Chin*y eyes I was guilty and took accountability that I used it when I was a teen . Trust me iam not the only person who said it without understanding it was a racial slur and never heard the word chink used especially as a result of my culture, neighborhood, upbringing and exposure to Asian people. I find it problematic that a POC can take accountability on their ignorance and be called a liar, stupid and many other negative comments. Everyone is acting like they never made an ignorant comment against another poc race. Maybe social media is the reason why so many people are aware, but generation x and above for POC did not have these privileges and I find a lot of these comments to be so judgenental, condescending, self righteous which I fear will hurt your message on ending white supremacy. I only share these comments because I deeply care about the work and message you bring to life on this page. I may not have been knowlegable, but iam wise and own up to my mistakes. We all weren’t raised the same, come from all walks if life and neighborhood or exposed to a specific POC or racial slurs

I commented on her comment, saying:

I can relate to this, and it is commendable and courageous of you to be open and honest about your experiences and observations. I believe we all, including myself, have been ignorant in some ways or other. I am a Singaporean Chinese (based on the social identity assigned to me by the society) growing up in Southeast Asia, and have never heard of “chink” or been called a “chink”, so I am also ignorant of this term or its origin and perceived connotation. While I don’t recall using racist terms myself, at least the overt or recognised ones, I was taught by my Indian neighbour to address his elder brother as “ah neh” when I was a young boy more than 30 years ago, which means elder brother in Tamil. Today, I became aware on social media that some Indians find “ah neh” racist and offensive, so I suppose perhaps the meaning of this word has changed or evolved, depending on how people use it and how the recipients receive it, and so on. I think it depends on who says the word, and how it is said, and so on. I am coming to realise that some words such as “ah neh” might have been used as terms of endearment or neutral ways of addressing others in the past, but are now used in a derogatory way by some other people, so it is understandable when those on the receiving end of the intended racial slurs want to vent about it, which invariably may make those who are ignorant of the implications of these terms feel uncomfortable and guilty and condemned, especially if we have used them before without knowing these terms are considered racist. Like you said, those comments that come across judgemental, condescending and self righteous may hurt LLAG’s message on ending white supremacy. Indeed, I think having such open dialogues is helpful, when we own up to our mistakes and give grace to each other instead of judging and condemning like some comments here, as it brings about greater awareness and understanding among one another, so that we can continue to hold ourselves and one another in accountability and stand in solidarity together in our advocacy for racial harmony and equality. May we all continue to stand united in our struggle for a better and more equitable world.

She replied to my comment, saying:

Thank you! I truly don’t take offense to anyone and hold no grudges. Life is too short and I rather empathize/love POC when I disagree with them. In all honesty, I love this page, the message, how much I have learned, grown, the solidarity amongst all POC is so beautiful. I think it is ok to sometime disagree, but why be so critical of other POC, especially when they admit to their transgressions.. Together in numbers we are much stronger and white supremacy wants to divide all poc. The reason why I had the urge to to share with so much conviction is because I believe in the message LLAG is spreading and admire his work dearly even if i might be called stupid, a fraud or dishonest. In many shape and form we all fall short to ignorance, like this case for me, for you the Indian word and for others it might be something else. But one of the best measure to eradicated white supremacy and call out our ignorance is accountability. Thank you for sharing I truly appreciated your sentiment as it aligns with mines.

Someone else commented:

I can only guess that people didn’t know that was a slur because, they are ‘woke’ when it comes to their own oppression and marginalization. Further, some ‘woke’ folks, as it has been said, are transphobic, queer-antagonistic, misogynior, misognistic, and bigotted themselves. It’s like if they don’t experience the oppression themselves then, it’s not a thing. Sound familiar? My being aware of how things systematically affect me, helps me understand how things MIGHT affect other groups of people. However, I have learned that different things affect people in different ways, so I have to listen to their experiences and don’t discount them. It’s what I want, just to be heard. For me, my pain from systematic oppression is not greater than anyone’s, I just feel like I can relate to another’s struggle. However, their struggle is their own, just as mine is my own. Maybe we can get together and walk a little ways a bit. One of the great things about the activist community is that we have used the term POC as a signifier of shared struggle. One of the bad things about using the term ‘POC’ is that there is some erasure. I realized that within the activist community I as an African American POC have privilege because black issues and how they impact the black community are the ones that are the most talked about. Often to the detriment of other POC communities. I try to either talk about those other issues affecting other POC communities or at least bring attention to them. However, I’m also conscious of staying in my line and not talking over people in that group. And just repeat those things that were told to me by members of that group. We, as African Americans, have a duty to help out other marginalized groups and give them space to talk. Activism is NOT a zero sum game. Helping another group with their issue will not set us back at all. Trust, we’ve been at it for at least a good 400 years. I am NOT woke. I’m not claiming that at all. I’m still learning, and getting things, learning how to stay in my lane, learning about nationalism, xenophobia, and how this stuff affects dark skinned Muslims from certain places and learning stuff. I’ve been called out on stuff lately, and instead of fighting against it, I just admitted I was wrong and learned from it. I think we have to help out our fellow people in the activist community, be conscious of how we sometimes erase others identity, give each other space, use our privilege, and listen to each other. Also admit when we are freaking wrong, don’t be afraid of being called out. That’s how we learn. Say thank you, and move on.

Being an activist doesn’t necessarily mean you’re conscious. For example, you may be well versed on women’s rights, but clueless on racial inequality. When your ignorance is called out, don’t get defensive. Learn from it and move on.

How in the world are people using that and not knowing it’s a slur? It even sounds like one! If the word is used to describe a race of people and it’s not used on government surveys, then there is a good chance that it’s a slur. Maybe growing up in the south gave me good exposure to racist crap so I would know not to repeat it. Asians have been here long enough for most Americans to know better. Especially now since you can literally google a list of racial slurs and which group it is used against.

So what I learned growing up some Jamaicans would refer to Chinese people as Ms. Chin or Mr. Chin in the marketplace in Jamaica short for Ms. China. Jamaica has a huge population of Chinese Jamaicans. I don’t think POC realized that the message could be or possibly is construed as racist.

I never heard these term, but most likely heard about the eyes comnents from a the Jamaican community. I like to also say Haitians directly call fair skin haitians grimo or grimelle. It means light skin male or light skin woman. However these words in Creole are not offensive to blacks in Haiti.