Tag Archives: apia

scarcity vs. sufficiency

As I was sifting through my inbox this morning, I came across this message from Rinku Sen, President and Executive Director of the Applied Research Center that really resonated with me. In her brief note, she speaks to sufficiency vs. scarcity and her evolution as a social justice warrior:

A couple of weeks ago I struck up a conversation with a man on the train from New York to Washington D.C. He asked me what I did, and I said it was racial justice work and described ARC. He asked me what I did before this and I told him I was a community organizer. He said, “you’ve taken a vow of poverty,” in a tone that was half admiring and half exasperated. I said that I wasn’t even close to suffering. This is an experience I often have.

Not only am I not suffering, but I’m happy. Consistently happy, every day. For the first time in my long career, and longer life, I feel like I have a clue about how to make racial justice and, more importantly, what I can contribute to that grand project. My coworkers and friends are a constant source of humor and sustaining wisdom. My family is lovely.

It turns out that it’s easy to be happy if I dwell in sufficiency. I used to feel the lack of things more than I felt their presence, which paradoxically brings more lack than anything else. I’m more likely to focus on solutions when I can see the assets, time, people, money and skills we do have, rather than only what we don’t. It takes some discipline not to slide into scarcity mode, but the notion of scarcity itself is so central to racial discrimination that living in it seems inconsistent with ARC’s, and my, mission. For me, happiness is different from complacency or triumphalism. The burn I feel for my work is more of a smolder now than the flame I had when I was younger. The fire has been tamped down some by compassion and loss. I’m okay with that. It’s less flashy, but lasts longer, and it fuels happiness instead of an ulcer. I’ll take it.



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beau sia.

last night, while searching for apia spoken word artists to possibly bring to school for asian american awareness month, i came across beau sia and his multiple guest spots on the def poetry jam [via youtube] on hbo.

i’d heard of him before via word-of-mouth and really liked the open letter he wrote to all the rosie o’donnells of the world during that whole idiotic ching-chong incident but wasn’t particularly aware of his other work.

anyway, while going through his youtube videos, i came across one that now holds a special place in my heart:

i think one of my most favorite parts has to be:

“…’cause we’re not just on the big screen, in the kung-fu flicks you adore. WE ARE EVERYWHERE. we are programming your websites, making your executives look smart, and getting into your schools for FREE. THAT’S RIGHT. RAISE THE BAR.”

hahaha. nice.

one of the things i think i like most about him is his intensity. he really gets into his pieces. you can tell that he really is passionate about the work he does. and i like the fact that his pieces are accessible [if you know me, accessibility is a huge issue for me] and easy to process.

apparently he also has youtube and mypace pages too. check ’em out.

“…’cause i got a chip on my shoulder the size of 25 years of being underrepresented, lumped into a group, and made to feel inadequate, and i’ve HAD ENOUGH. i currently have a nonspecific game plan though right now it’s just very very angry. but will be better thought out later. so until then, RIIIIIISE UP.”

you hear that? get ready for the ASIAN INVASIAAAAN MOTHERFUCKERRRSSS.

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