Still Steadily Fighting / by Thu Nguyen

I ended the election night at around 3:30AM, kind of in a daze, kind of just thinking "Well, deep down, you knew this would happen." Suddenly, my entire body was made of lead, and I could no longer justify my living being. Why was I making Rice Paper again? Why did I decide to take a gap year to pursue some alternative projects? How do we fight this fight now? I'm at loss for a plan. My parents, vehement supporters of the winning party, smirked at me this morning when sending me off to school (though we did not speak of the election) in place of telling me that 'they told me so.' So at 6:50AM, I further doubted my abilities and so-called 'accomplishments.' I began shoving aside my passions and my fighting spirit, began sliding down the dark abyss I was in 2-3 years ago. It was not the individual named Donald Trump who had made this second generation Asian-American Buddhist female feel like I had lost, but rather the cultural and social implication of his win. The bamboo ceiling, the model minority, the discrimination of POC in certain fields of work like media or academia... It's hard to explain my sinking-into-a-black-hole feeling, but maybe you get the gist. 

It is 3PM now. I'm still in a state of being easily triggered - I've had to hold my tongue and tears thrice so far and it is steadily more difficult to hold back while writing this - but my mentor and dear friend knew I would be in such a state sent me this:

"When artists experience great loss, devastation, we still retain the ability to create. It is a gift of great alchemic powers. We mine our deepest sorrows to create beauty, meaning, life. That's my cause as an artist and that's what I will do with my pain, how I will heal this heavy sick weight in my heart. Hold the hand of someone you love, be there with them and for them. Vow to make meaningful things from the pain. Listen to the stories and hearts of those around you. Make art for them too. Look at the things you made, are making. Share them with love and perfect courage. Know that those things you make are the cries of souls and honor how raw they are. Engage in the alchemy of pain into beauty. It is our gift and privilege and duty as artists." - Constance Wu

Thank you Constance. With this, I have remembered why I do what I do now, I have remembered that my abilities can be made into something, and that, though I may feel isolated and solitary in my efforts sometimes, there are others out there like my dear friends who are fighting with me and who give me the support that I lack from other sources. 

The results of this election were no surprise to me. Our country has made little to no progress whatsoever anyways - mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow is the new indentured servant is the new slavery - and the only thing that I can say really changed today from yesterday is that there are people who will now feel free to do and say whatever they want, wherever they want, however they please because Trump has lifted a taboo and legitimized a culture of public slander and assault. (Is slander the right word? I am in rant mode.)

So now, more clearly than ever, what we need is a cultural and societal change. No, it's not going to be easy. It wouldn't have been any easier even if Hillary had won. And now, though not more than yesterday, it is clearly important that I also pursue my academic interests in writing and doing sociology more, and pursue my creative interests and publish Rice Paper. Because there needs to be people keeping the fighting spirit alive, lighting one candle after the other, so that we can eventually make a bonfire. And after a tumultuous day of second-guessing myself, I have remembered that I truly believe my contribution to culture in this magazine form, and in other ways that I participate in society, will have an impact that is not to be discounted. 

So although I lost last night/earlier this morning, I think I have won today. And as I continue learning, creating content for the purpose of uniting the AAPI community and ideally eventually the minority community, struggling to have civic dialogue and to fight for literally everything to be right and moral again, continue to love and pray, continue to keep an open mind, to be more loving and vigilant than ever, because the physical and mental well-being of our Black, Muslim, Latino, and other marginalized brothers and sisters are quite at risk now, I will win tomorrow. And the tomorrow after that. And after that. And I urge anyone who is still reading to do the same. 

P.S. That was really lovey dovey and the conflict theorist in me is really just waiting for a third world war to kind of just reboot this shitty world but there is no room for pessimism right now so I shall just tuck that thought away and continue chugging along the path of advocacy and creating. 

P.P.S. And again, I cannot thank my friends enough, for providing me the support that I need and lack from others. Yall know who yall are, and I love you all very much.