Hello all ye “Yellow people.” Are we yellow people? Or is it just the light?
When it comes to Christmas, I’m always moving toward the light if I want to get into that holiday mood.
That’s tough when the obstacles this year are lumps of coal from a senator of a certain coal producing state. Or another lump from a Georgia member of congress calling us “yellow.” Or The New York Times wondering aloud about solidarity among Asian and Black communities, raising doubt about the sincerity of both to work together
That’s been the rough journey to Christmas this year. And don’t get me started about Omicron. (You can listen to my show on www.amok.com for that.)
We’ve been hoping for that multi-trillion “Build Back Better” plan from the Biden administration. Social infrastructure for Christmas. Something for kids, families, immigrants, seniors. Just as Republicans gave tax breaks to the rich for Christmas in previous legislation, it was now time for the rest of us. But Sen. Joe Manchin’s “NO” means no deal in time for Christmas, meaning no answer for immigrants waiting for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
It’s not over. But we are forced to wait. For what? What does one-third of a multi-trillion dollar deal look like? Enough? But this should motivate all of us to register and vote. That is, if Democrats can stop Republicans from restricting our right to vote. One fight leads to another.
GREENE ISN’T YELLOW
Last Sunday, we saw how the rhetoric can be intentionally or unintentionally nasty and racist. Georgia’s shameless Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has been stripped of all committee assignments for her indiscretions, is doing about all she is able to do these days: whip up a political frenzy. In this case, it was a rally of young conservatives, where Greene was trying to prove Republicans weren’t the party of White Supremacy, but rather a party of diversity. Really.
But in doing so, she used a racial slur.
“I see white people, black people, brown people, yellow people, and then there’s talk of freedom and loving America,” Taylor Greene said.
Usually when a phrase like that is used, it’s with a touch of irony, as when people say, “I don’t care if you’re white, black, brown, or purple.” But she wasn’t being ironic, funny, or clear. She was, at best, earnestly ignorant. Or just ignorant.
It all adds up to more racist than not.
As we know, Asians aren’t even yellow. When was the last time you called yourself yellow? Describing Asian by color only divides Asians from ourselves and whites. But some of us are lighter than white. Some of us are much browner.
Historically, yellow was a word used to put us down. A slur.
The late New York columnist Jimmy Breslin was suspended for two weeks by Newsday for calling an Asian American woman a “yellow cur.”
There’s no love in the term as a descriptor. Only fear, as in “Yellow Peril.”
Now it’s different, of course, when Asians refer to ourselves as yellow. It’s a kind of pride. Like blacks reclaiming the “N” word.
Marjorie Taylor Greene is the wrong color to use “yellow.”
Even the media seemed to hit a false note. On Sunday, The New York Times published “In Fight Against Violence, Asian And Black Activists Struggle to Agree,” subtitled, “Calls for unity have ebbed over disagreement on one main issue: policing.”
That’s a lesson in how to put a fine point on nothing. Come up with a hypothesis. Talk to a selected group of historians, activists, commentators. Present the opinion that serves the thesis as fact. Present what you have with the sharpest point possible.
Truth? Partially, but magnified into something larger than it is. The truth is Blacks and Asians just haven’t done anything at the level the Times expected. But the truth is communities around the country, black and Asian, are working together because we all want the same thing– a sense of peace and safety in our communities. And a sense of justice when we are done wrong. Ask Angelo Quinto’s family. (See this first column and second column.)
Recently, there has been a rash of crimes committed by blacks on Asians, notably in San Jose, Calif. But when these crimes happen, they don’t generally reflect the sentiments of communities. Just criminals. You can’t use that to fan the narrative of “communities at war.”
In a Twitter thread, here’s the reaction of the group #StopAAPIHate, which has monitored crimes against Asians during the pandemic.
“By focusing on the divide between AAPIs and Black communities over policing, this [New York Times] article adds to an all-too common and often exaggerated narrative of tensions between AAPIs and other communities of color,” the group tweeted.
“According to our recent survey, AAPIs belieie the top three solutions to anti-AAPI hate are actually education, community-based initiatives and civil rights enforcement,” the thread added.
Policing? An issue. Sure. But not as significant a divide as the Times makes it sound. It’s a talking point. It’s not a thing.
And that has been the bumpy road to Christmas.
MERRY CHRISTMAS? MY THREE CHRISTMAS TREES
This year, we’re again in the dark, fighting a new variant, and seeking light.
So when I want to get into that Christmas mood, I look for it.
Like early in the morning, when the day is darkest and the sun is about to rise. I’m sitting with my coffee, and I plug in the only light in the room–a Christmas tree.
The light. It’s always about the light.
In the morning or the other end of the day, the p.m.
Especially in San Francisco, when a gray day in December goes from danky to dark. And the only light that will illuminate and immediately change the mood is the light of a well-lit Christmas tree.
It’s life by Christmas tree light. The only light needed this time of December.
Not to be confused with my fake tree, which some people might call “Christmas tree light,” like Bud Light.
But I love fake trees. I have one now. My love of the “artificial tree” runs deep. Why get hung up on real, when even the light is artificial. Until you see them all together. And there’s this glow, and things go from artificial to Xmas, just like that. You don’t need a tree to shed pine needles to be magical.
I try not to be a tree grump. You may insist on “real.” That’s fine.
But for me, I’ll stick with my unboxed, inorganic, perpetual evergreen.
Hard plastic. Soft lights. The feel of Christmas.
THE FIRST TREE
In my family, my dad was always in charge of this tree. And real tree? No way.
Our tree was plastic, special, modern, eternal.
The tree came in pieces, like a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
My dad didn’t even read the instructions. It was like the tree was its own Ouija board. The pieces found each other. And he had all these pieces. He just knew what it had to look like.
Like perfect triangles, stacked on one another. All from these pieces of plastic.
Every year this would be my dad’s challenge–to make the geometry work.
Two right triangles with a perfect hypotenuse and a common perpendicular spine from top to bottom.
Of course, he would swear and pull his hair when the branches didn’t fit in the proper holes. There were a lot of holes.
This was the ultimate tinker toy. Or Lincoln Logs. Not Lego. It was plastic but not Lego.
This would take the whole day, just like going out in the woods to cut a tree. Not really practical since the only trees were in Golden Gate Park. And that wouldn’t be right.
But after all that, and after taking a break to scrape the meat from fresh coconuts so that my mother could use them as snowflakes on the brown mochi pastry (cunchinta) we’d have for the holiday, we ended up with a tree.
And a string of lights.
And a small train around the tree.
And me in footie pajamas holding a Cowboy western six-gun, emulating my then hero, Hopalong Cassidy.
Under the tree, I was Hopalong Filipino. Happy? Just Hoppy.
THE REST OF THE STORY
There are two trees left of my “Three Christmas Trees” story. I will read it on Christmas Eve on my “Emil Amok’s Holiday Storytime,” live at 2 pm Pacific.
It will be on later at www.amok.com, as well as on my Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages. But catch it live if you can, as we defeat the virus digitally without masks!
Until then, thank you for reading the posts here on the AALDEF site, and have a safe, healthy, and Merry Christmas.