Speaking Event – Berkeley, CA

Well, this is a last minute annoucement, but tomorrow (Thursday, June 26th) I’ll be participating in a group reading at Berkeley City College (2050 Center Street, Berkeley), starting at 7 pm.  The event is free and open to the public, but get there early if you want a seat.  Authors will include Junot Diaz, Tananarive Due, David Mura, and many others.  I don’t know if there will be an official signing, but if you bring your books I’ll absolutely sign them.

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Happy Father’s Day!

When I was little my dad would take me fishing at the dock in LaConner (a little town in Washington State).  It was a small dock, at the end of a very busy main street (which I loved because of all the stores that had cats living inside), and he would very carefully string the hooks to my fishing rod, then stand there and teach me how to toss in the line.  We fished for smelt, which don’t bite as much as they just swim past the hooks and attach themselves.

I remember my first catch — amazing, that sharp, jerky tug on the line.  My dad helped me reel it in — and voila!  Dinner.  But it was the time spent with my dad that I remember more than the fish.  My dad, who was always there, always supportive, always the strong unmovable wall.  The best example of honesty, forthrightness, and determination that a child could ever want.  I love my dad very much.  We’ve had so many great adventures over the years (from fishing to walking the Great Wall), and here’s to many more.

Happy Father’s Day, to the best dad of all!

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Feminism is our Superpower

What can I add that hasn’t already been said?  Not much, I suppose. There’s been an amazing symphony of voices on the internet, keeping alive the reality, the truth, that so many would prefer to ignore: that misogyny continues to thrive in every corner of the world.  It is reflected back on us women every day, in a million different ways, and while it’s easy to point the finger at other countries and say, “Look at the way they treat women!” we all must know, deep down, that here in America we put into practice the same patterns of hate and ownership, and entitlement.

A pregnant woman was just stoned to death in Pakistan for marrying a man against her family’s wishes — but that happens here in America, all the time, with just slightly different players.  Google “boyfriend kills pregnant girlfriend” and you’ll see a list of unending deaths.  We read in horror about how rapists in other countries are let off easy by “corrupt authorities”, but what about our legal system?  It’s just as monstrous towards victims of sexual assault.  Check out this imagined, but very real, conversation – what if mugging were treated like rape is in the eyes of the law — found at the @femusingsteam twitter feed:

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No kidding, right?

I’ve made this point before, but I’ll say it again:  there is no line, no law, no border, no culture or religion that separates the women of this world from the horrors of misogyny and patriarchal ideologies.  That guy in Santa Barbara who posted his manifesto about revenge against women?  I’m sorry, but his voice, his message, his internalized belief of entitlement — it is everywhere.

I know, deep down, a very simple truth: that it would be easy for women to lose all their rights in this country, no matter how enlightened we tell ourselves that we are.  I’m sure there are plenty of people who will tell me I’m wrong, that it could never happen, but in this I’d rather be the sharp-eyed pragmatist.  Women only have the right to vote in this country because we fought like hell for it.  We only have what gender equality we have because we fought, and still fight for it.

We still need to fight.  That’s why #YesAllWomen matters. That’s why we can’t stop talking about this, why we can’t stop bearing witness, no matter how many would prefer that we don’t.  Because here, too, our silence equals our deaths.

That’s a hellish thing to say.  But what #YesAllWomen reveals is what we women confront every day.   Our bodies, like our rights, are constantly in jeopardy.  And we cannot ignore that.  We just can’t.  Feminism is not something we should run from or make excuses for.  Feminism is our only tool for saving ourselves and our societies.  Feminism is our superpower.  And we must use that superpower every day and every way we can.  We must always speak out, bearing witness, and in the process build solidarity, build courage, build community, build change — and yes, build hope.

Women are still going to treated like second-class citizens.  We’re still going to be attacked, harassed, violated, raped — but fuck it all, sisters.  I’m going to keep fighting it, and fighting it some more.  I’m going to use my invincible superpower.  Please feel free to do the same.

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Memorial Day

My grandparents, on both sides of the family, participated in World War II.  My maternal grandfather, Harold, was in the Navy, serving in the Pacific.  He survived a bomb attack that destroyed his ship, and was one of the first to touch ground in Okinawa.

My paternal grandfather, Ku Pan, was a pilot (eventually a Major General) in the Chinese Air Force.  He flew over 120 missions during the war, and spent some time training on a base in Pueblo, Colorado.  I’ve been looking at his graduation certificates this morning.  He loved America like crazy, and our food.  Especially hamburgers.

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My grandmother, on the far left of this photo.  During the war she worked at a factory that made bullets.  And there they are below, my grandparents: I love that shot of them.

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Here are some photos of my paternal grandfather, Ku Pan Liu.  In the second photograph, he’s the gentleman on the far left.

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My maternal grandmother didn’t fight in the war, but she survived it — which to me, is just as amazing an achievement.  She was in China during the invasion, and if there’s one story I’m going to write someday, it’ll be hers.  She’s the woman on the left in the photo below, along with her two friends, Wu Yi and Zhang Yi, both of whom were with her during the war.

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I suppose this is said a lot, but it bears repeating:  We owe so much to these people who lived and died for us.  The past feels far away, but it isn’t.  It is immediate, it is alive, and it must be remembered.  The present must be remembered, as well.  All the sacrifices those in service make for us now, and will make, must be honored with gratitude, compassion, and dedication.

Shame on us, if we don’t.