Who You Callin' a "Gook," Gook!?

October 28, 2004

Highlights from SDAFF:
- Ran into a friend (and ex co-worker from NAATA/SFIAAF): Angry Asian Man.
- Met AJ Calomay of Xylophone Films. My best friend is friends with him, so I've heard his name a lot and heard nothing but good things about him.
- Finally saw the music video for "The APL Song"by the Black Eyed Peas (directed by Patricio Ginelsa).

On another note, I had a strange realization that to some people "activist" may be a "dirty word." Despite all my years of having done work in the Asian American community, sometimes I'm ashamed to label myself as an "activist" because of my sloppy politics and hesitancy to "preach."

I recently learned the term "stealth activist," and I think this description fits me to a tee. I don't wear my "politics" on my sleeve: I don't stand in picket lines, I don't generally sign petitions, I don't like to preach. I just do -- I serve (and have served) "my community" in other ways.

My cousins don't necessarily understand the politics behind what I do. I never really thought that choosing to be "Asian American" was a political choice; I have always thought of it as being cultural and personal. This weekend I finally realized what that saying "the personal is political" really means.

One of my cousins kept referring to all the non-Filipino Asians at the film festival as "gooks." That bothered me, but I didn't bother to correct her. In a previous conversation she revealed to me that she didn't consider herself (or other Filipinos, for that matter) to be "Asian American." She was like, "I've never hung out with Asian Americans before," and I thought this was a funny thing to say because all of her friends are (mostly) Filipino (and I consider myself, and other Filipinos, to be "Asian American").

"Asian America" is all I've known the past six years, so I thought it was an interesting contrast that my cousin and I had such different perceptions of identity. We're polar opposites. (I feign to say that she's the "Before" and I'm the "After" of an Asian American Studies Makeover.) However I didn't feel like schooling my cousin on Asian American Studies 101; I didn't want to "go activist" on her. This catch-all term/thing called Asian America is something that I'm both passionate about and tired of, and so I am sometimes apathetic about spouting off "rhetoric." (Maybe some of you can relate?)

I will admit that I don't know if I really will bother to get "preachy" on my cousin and "enlighten" her to my Asian American world. In the future I'll definitely ask my cousin to not call non-Filipino Asians "gooks." But as far as Asian America goes? I'm content to know that she's proud of being Filipina, without having to wear a bamboo backpack, sleep on a banig, or hit me over the head with a Carlos Bulosan book.




eh but a good smack with the walis ting-ting wouldn't hurt... :)on a serious tip though - maybe you should have said something without getting preachy, but then again she'll learn on her own. they almost, always do.
Ha! Palo-palo with the walis ting-ting! How about palo with a bakya? OUCH!