August 2018 Quote of the Month

“It is not that we have no heart or eyes for pain. We are all afraid. We all have our miseries. But to despair is to wish for something already lost. Or to prolong what is already unbearable.”

from the Joy Luck Club

Our Idiosyncratic Beliefs | July Study Piece Part 2: The “Orientals”

An Introduction

With an insight on major themes of the detachment of public opinion through a psychological lens, we now take a look at the same motifs prevalent on the Eastern Front of World War II, specifically Japan. In the general time span of half a century, Japan has undergone a physical, spiritual, and cultural metamorphosis. From the ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the country has since somewhat apologized for all of its actions during WWII and has maintained healthy economic and political relations with nations around the world. However, there are still tense undertones between the citizens of neighboring Asian countries and Japan. Their role in WWII has been downplayed or even denied; juxtaposed with the consistent badgering of Germany to pay reparations and make amends, some feel that Japan has gotten off easy, considering their role in WWII is arguably comparable to the likes of Hitler and the Holocaust. The interpretation and misinterpretation of histories, ideals, and communications on the Eastern Front of WWII blur the line of “righteous” and “evil” for not only the Japanese people but the general public perception, causing a mass polarization of nationalism and borderline supremacy.

Japanese Supremacy, “Land of the Rising Sun”
In the earliest time periods, the Japanese called themselves “wakoku”, or “Wa”, as designated by the Chinese [1]. The Wa tribe developed soon after the Chinese, gaining much of their influence from the neighboring Chinese and Korean (Paekche) cultures. The name, “Nihon” (Land of the Rising Sun), was first seen in Chinese transcripts designating Japan’s place east of China; however, the Japanese liked it so much that they requested to be known as Japan/Nihon/Nippon, Land of the Rising Sun. Around 500 AD, Buddhism was spread from India to China to Korea, and consequently, Japan, who based their religion on this influence. Their early expansion and development as a civilization came after they infused their government and politics with a conglomeration of Confucian ideals and Bushido philosophy (see Nanking Massacre, Topping Off China’s “Century of Humiliation”) [2]. The growth of Japan was now unstoppable.
So how did Japan, a country that started off running on borrowed culture, become the international superpower that it did by the 20th century, rampaging and conquering lands of Manchuria and Korea? Confidence from the Russo-Japanese War (1905) could be a factor. The Great White Fleet (1906) negotiating Japan into industrialization and westernization could also be a factor. However, in Hitler’s works such as Mein Kampf (1925) [3] and the Political Testament of Adolf Hitler (1945) [4], Hitler elaborates on what it means to be Ehrenarier, the “Honorary Aryan”. Hitler’s idea of the “Honorary Aryan” did not simply imply the “blonde-hair, blue-eyes” stereotype. To be Aryan meant to have pride in one’s race. It was in the blood. Hitler regarded both the Chinese and Japanese as held in high respects, and this, too, could have prompted the Japanese to embrace the title of “superior race” (albeit, Hitler still referred to the Japanese as Kulturträger in Mein Kampf, “culture carriers”, and recognized Western influence as the driving factor for Japan’s expansion). The only defining factor separating the Chinese and Japanese was their purpose in life.

“We (Japanese) were taught that we were a superior race
— since we lived only for the sake of a human god — our
Emperor. But the Chinese were not. So we held nothing
But contempt for them… the Imperial Army was consumed
With a prejudice so intense that the killing became easy.”
— Shiro Azuma, former Japanese soldier, (CNN 1998) [5]

As mentioned previously, the basis on which Japan was founded on religiously and politically came from other Asian cultures. The pedestal that the Western world held the Japanese at originated from (debatably) friendly negotiations between U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry and his gigantic, shining, threatening naval ships behind him. And so, how could an entire country be mass mobilized to believe that they are superior to those that assisted their development as a nation?

Nanking Massacre, Topping Off China’s “Century of Humiliation”
From the first Opium War (1842) to the end of WWII (1945), China has been at the mercy of the hands of various nations such as Britain, the US, France, Germany, Japan, and others (officially called the Eight-Nation Alliance by the time the Boxer Rebellion rolled around). After the Russo-Japanese War led Russia and Japan to fight for regions of Northern China (Manchuria) and Korea to conquer, tensions between China and Japan began to rise, culminating in the Sino-Japanese Wars. China was ultimately at a disadvantage, as they were undergoing a domestic divide between Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists led by Mao Zedong, leaving the Japanese with the opportunity to attack in 1937.
In 1937, Japanese troops were led to invade China, led by three generals:

“Nakajima has been described as a cruel violent man, a specialist in thought control, intimidation, and torture. Matsui was a Buddhist from a scholarly family. Yanagawa was a serious man who focused on the importance of military discipline and control. Their forces had reached the outskirts of Nanking by December. On December 7, General Matsui, of a generally weak constitution, grew very ill on the field and was replaced by Prince Asaka Yasuhiko, a member of the royal family, who brought the authority of the emperor’s crown to the front line in Nanking. On December 9 the Japanese launched a massive attack on Nanking.” [6]

From the gruesome events that followed, there are multiple accounts of horrendous rapes, disembowelments, and murders plaguing Nanking. Definitively, what is the difference between the events that occurred in Nanking alone and those that occurred during the Holocaust? And why, if they are both such gruesome crimes against humanity, has Japan not been shamed as much as Germany has? Is it because of the fragile political and economic relations that other nations need to have with a powerful Japan? Or is it because of the philosophy that each event was politically governed by? And why does that mere difference make it okay for the general public to hold one event to a higher memorial than another?
The Western Front and Hitler’s governing political philosophy was indeed Nazism. The general public opinion was raised on anti-Nazi propaganda; the usage of Social Darwinism to dictate a nation was absolutely wrong and needed to be stopped (see July Study Piece Part 3). However, Japanese political sentiment was arguably based on the honorable Bushido philosophy.

“It argues a sad defect of information concerning the Far East, when so erudite a scholar as Dr. George Miller did not hesitate to affirm that chivalry, or any other similar institution, has never existed either among the nations of antiquity or among the modern Orientals. Such ignorance, however, is amply excusable, as the third edition of the good Doctor’s work appeared the same year that Commodore Perry was knocking at the portals of our exclusivism.”
-Inazo Nitobe, Bushido: The Soul of Japan [7]

In Nitobe’s Bushido: The Soul of Japan, Nitobe details the loyal and benevolent spirit of the Bushido. The Eight Virtues are:

      1. Rectitude or Justice
      2. Courage, the Spirit of Daring and Bearing
      3. Benevolence, the Feeling of Distress
      4. Politeness
      5. Veracity or Truthfulness
      6. Honor
      7. The Duty of Loyalty
      8. Self-Control

The key to being a good soldier, leader, and strategist is to keep these virtues in mind for they dictate how one treat others. However, an individual mustn’t forget that as a descendant of the loyal Japanese samurai, one must serve his master well above all else. Recall the three generals leading troops into Nanking. General Matsui, the most benevolent and scholarly of them all, had given an order for his troops to invade Nanking with the utmost moral dignity to earn the Chinese people’s respect as their new rulers. He demanded the Eight Virtues to be enforced; however, he fell sick only to be replaced by Prince Asaka, one of royal blood. Thus, in dutifully serving Japan’s one “human god”—the Emperor—by adopting Prince Asaka as their master, ruthlessness, and bloodshed had fully taken its place in Nanking. Loyalty and obedience of the Japanese samurai took precedent, before all else… and just like that, the honorable Bushido code had, arguably, gravely and widely contributed to the Japanese soldiers’ mindset to wreak havoc in China.

An Interjection from LtDemonLord, “No Conceptual Scapegoats”
For one, the Japanese army had little means to provide for themselves once they’ve made landfall and resorted to pillaging the locals. The conflict that ensued automatically brought Chinese civilians and Japanese soldiers into direct contact, often resulting in murders of households and the “taking” of women. The death toll from the murders were then joined by ranks of the starving as the survivors faced empty food stores and ruined fields. The fact that the army at the time were made up of mostly civilians themselves (Japan being a country with a relatively small population) who are fed a propaganda-rich diet of self-righteousness and disdain for China’s resistance to their rule meant that they were far more willing to treat the Chinese as less than living beings than their more well-educated and well-trained counterparts in the navy and air force (as evidenced with their treatment of the Russian POW during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) although cultural changes could have also been the reason). Another reason for their brutality may also have resulted from the unexpectedly strong resistance they faced as they advanced further inland. Their generals, who believed that their campaign would be quick and the Chinese would surrender, grew increasingly frustrated as the war dragged on and their campaign in Nanking may have been the direct result of an attempt to frighten and subjugate the Chinese citizens into surrendering as many of the officers either “failed” to keep discipline or actively encouraged their men to act out their base desires. Keep in mind that this sort of senseless violence wasn’t the first time the Japanese had forced onto the people they’ve tried to conquer — in fact, Koreans who were colonised by the Japanese earlier in the century experienced the same dismissal of human rights and lack of humane treatment.
Among a people who you were destined to conquer and with divine judgement on your side, crushing those in the way of your Manifest Destiny becomes nothing.

Hirohito, Tojo, or the Japanese Common Man?, “A Diffusion of Responsibility”
The ruling figure of World War II was none other than Emperor Hirohito, Japan’s longest-ruling emperor. However, Hirohito’s role in the vicious actions of Japan during World War II is largely debated among historians. Some say he had absolute control over the events that Japan executed, but others say that his Prime Minister, General Hideki Tojo, was the true villain. Indeed, although Tojo was powerful, he could never amount to a ruling dictatorship like Hitler or Stalin. Thus, although both played a part, Hirohito and Tojo only worked to polarize each other’s corruption but never amounting to full power as others have succeeded to do so on the Western Front. For the most part, Hirohito and Tojo were only so successful in obtaining what they desired because of the mass indoctrination occurring decades before in the education system. Emperor Hirohito’s status as Divine Emperor and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo’s accomplishments as a militarist spurred the Japanese concept of being the “superior race”.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 9.15.39 PMRiseofAsiaLeaf

         (The Advertiser, Aug 12, 1929)                               (“Rise of Asia”, 1943)

Even prior to the beginnings of WWII, Japanese education largely revolved around their “superior race” teachings. Those sentiments only grew stronger, however, with Japan bombing Pearl Harbor. Education then shifted to indoctrinate young students into becoming “children of the Emperor”, creating a mass production of young minds believing that they are a race of celestial divinity and immortality [8]. They were to remain loyal to the Emperor, to bring honor to their country, and to succeed in fulfilling “superior race” status. This certain upbringing, a common one for the Japanese citizen, proliferated progressively, forcing an entire nation into a “mob-mentality” type of society. Their whole beliefs centered on the idea to take back Asia from the Westernized civilizations (disregarding two-thirds of the Axis Powers as westernized), to lead the other Orientals into independence—under Japanese rule. Obviously, to post-WWII society, the idea sounds almost presumptuous. However, at the time (and even now in present-day Japanese society, see The Country Holds No Liability, “国家無答責”), it made perfect sense to the loyal and obedient Japanese citizens who were indoctrinated into believing that they worshipped divine blood, the Emperor, and for that, their blood also held some divinity.

RooseveltFeastBones

(Churchill and Roosevelt: “Their true character is that of devils and beasts.”)

The Country Holds No Liability, “国家無答責”
Throughout the years following, it can be observed time and time again that Japan refuses to issue a full, heartfelt apology concerning their role in World War II [9].

Not only World War II, the country cannot even seem to acknowledge its wrongful acts against its fellow Asian countries [10]. After the addition of the “Comfort Women” statue release in San Francisco, Osaka had cut ties with its sister city, claiming that the citizens feel as though they are being criticized for the controversial past of their nation [11]. Many Japanese have since believed that their role in WWII was not as extreme as depicted, or even, fully nonexistent.
This can be illustrated with denial of the Nanking Massacre ever occurring [12]. The Japanese believe that there is no official proof or record that the events in Nanking were so gruesome [13], and yet, even though they admitted to invading Nanking, they claimed it was a bloodless invasion. One website is full of photos that show peace and laughter between the Chinese citizens and the Japanese soldiers, and there is even a section on how the soldiers were not, in fact, violent due to General Matsui’s orders. However, the website fails to mention anything about General Matsui’s illness and consequently his replacement, Prince Asaka [14]. On another website, obtained pictures of the event displays the public horror of rapes, decapitations, and murders, contrary to the popular belief that “no documented proof exists” [15].
Here is an example of the muddled truth during what really happened at Nanking. The following is a famous photograph known as, “Shanghai Baby”.

shanghaibaby.jpg

(“Shanghai Baby”, 1938)

Japanese historian, Mr. Shudo Higashinakano, is convinced that the Nanking Massacre was a fabrication. He appears on a Japanese show to prove that every single horrific photo is edited by the Propaganda Department of the China National Party on July 1938. Higashinakano claims that the “Shanghai Baby” was taken by a Chinese photographer named H.S. Wong (王小亭) who worked for the Documentary Film Team of the Propaganda Department and that the baby was actually placed there for dramatic effect.

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 11.13.19 PM.png

(unknown, 1938)

Here you can see someone picking up the Shanghai Baby. Higashinakano believes that this is the man who placed the baby in the scene, but according to another source,

“Moments later, an adult male, presumably the child’s father, arrived on scene. Emergency responders tended to the youngster as best they could before the man and child disappeared into the crowd. Wong never learned the infant’s name or fate.” [16]

Is this man working for the Chinese National Party? Or is he the Shanghai Baby’s father? The issue with this distortion of truth is that we may never get an answer… And that is the problem.

 

 

A Conclusion
With Japan’s strong connections and pride in their own country and government, the nation has made itself liable to distort the truth of its own past. In an even broader context, the online resources provided to a curious inquisitor like myself make it hard to understand what really happened at Nanking. Both sides appear to be extremely biased with no nations intervening with their own narrative of what went down. The Chinese government-funded Youtube channel uploading “extremely rare footage” of the events of Nanking filmed by an American pastor, the former Japanese soldiers admitting to the crimes while others are placing the blame on Chinese soldiers, and the power shift between Hirohito, Tojo, and the indoctrinated Japanese people… In an era where our idiosyncratic beliefs allow us to selectively put certain history behind us, one can only imagine what truly occurred to drive the Land of the Rising Sun to be in the dark about its past… and what our own governments are leading ourselves to believe.

Additional Video:


Sources Cited

((TRIGGER WARNING))

[1] Spacey, John. “Why Japan Is Called Land Of The Rising Sun.” Japan Talk, Japan Talk, 27 Aug. 2012, http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/why-japan-is-called-land-of-the-rising-sun.

[2] Watanabe, Akira, and G. Cameron Hurst. “The Meiji Restoration.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 July 2018, http://www.britannica.com/place/Japan/History.

[3] Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. 1925.

[4] Hitler, Adolf. The Political Testament of Adolf Hitler. 1945.

[5] Kamimura, Marina. “A Japanese Veteran Attempts to Make Peace with Haunting Memories.” CNN, Cable News Network, 16 Aug. 1998, http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/asiapcf/9808/16/japan.war.crimes/.
[6] Cook, Karen. The Rape of Nanking: Analyzing Events From a Sociological Perspective. Stanford University, web.stanford.edu/~kcook/history.html.
[7] Nitobe, Inazo. Bushido: The Soul of Japan. 1900.
[8] Friedman, Herbert A. “JAPANESE PSYOP DURING WWII.” Psychological Operations (PSYOP), Psywarrior, http://www.psywarrior.com/JapanPSYOPWW2.html.
[9] McCurry, Justin. “Japanese PM Shinzo Abe Stops Short of New Apology in War Anniversary Speech.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 14 Aug. 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/14/shinzo-abe-japan-no-new-apology-second-world-war-anniversary-speech.
[10] Baird, J. Kevin. “War Crimes in Japan-Occupied Indonesia: Unraveling the Persecution of Achmad Mochtar | The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, The Asia-Pacific Journal, 1 Jan. 2016, apjjf.org/2016/01/4-Baird.html.
[11] Fortin, Jacey. “’Comfort Women’ Statue in San Francisco Leads a Japanese City to Cut Ties.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Nov. 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/world/asia/comfort-women-statue.html.
[12] “Japan Hotelier’s Nanjing Massacre Denial Angers China.” BBC News, BBC, 19 Jan. 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38673407.
[13] “Nanjing Survivor Sues Japanese Authors.” BBC News, BBC, 29 Nov. 2000, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1047188.stm.
“‘The Shanghai Baby’ – The True Story Behind One of History’s Most Dramatic Photos.” Military History Now, 8 Nov. 2017, militaryhistorynow.com/2016/04/15/the-shanghai-baby-the-true-story-behind-one-of-historys-most-dramatic-photos/.
[14] Kubo, Arimasa. “The So-Called Nanking Massacre Was a Fabrication.” Remnant, http://www2.biglobe.ne.jp/~remnant/nankingm.htm
[15] Cook, Karen. The Rape of Nanking: Analyzing Events From a Sociological Perspective. Stanford University, web.stanford.edu/~kcook/.
[16]  “‘The Shanghai Baby’ – The True Story Behind One of History’s Most Dramatic Photos.” Military History Now, 8 Nov. 2017, militaryhistorynow.com/2016/04/15/the-shanghai-baby-the-true-story-behind-one-of-historys-most-dramatic-photos/.
Additional Readings:
Japanese Imperialistic Effects on Korea: Black Flower by Young-ha Kim (fiction)

[Poem] Bound

An extension of the June Quote of the Month.

Xiao Mei lives to see the dawn of the day.
The hues of brisk yellow match her skin like Chardonnay.
“Be a doctor or lawyer,” both of her parents say.
“It’s not like artists make money anyway.”
Michael is Michael because Mwenye was too hard to pronounce.
But “DeShawn” and “Tyrone” were his names thrown around.
“I bet your dad left you!” his classmates tease and flounce.
But they were the ones who left him feeling broken down.
Fahima always wore her hijab proud.
“It’s not that fashionable. You’re like, wrapped in a shroud.
But this doesn’t affect our friendship,” her friends vowed.
Though when they made plans, she was never invited out.
Jesus strives to uphold the legacy of his name.
His strong arms lift the burden of disdain.
He takes on the jobs no privileged man would claim.
But you know the privileged man doesn’t feel the same.
What constitutes as the American Dream?
Success and wealth and the idea of being free?
Maybe what it is, is what it is indeed.
The meeting of high standards of an oppressing society.
Whether goal-bound, homebound, or career-bound,
Their opportunities are limited to what their surroundings allowed.
Bound? More like boundaries, clearly marked on the ground
Of the caged individuals in the lost, stray pound.
Bound by their parents, their school, their friends.
Bound by their jobs, and never-ending dead ends.
Bound by this dream neither yours nor theirs.
Bound by a system where nobody cares.
To achieve the Dream, a lot more has to be done
Than just sitting around thinking, “One day, we shall overcome”.

Dedicated to an acquaintance of mine, M, and every other POC who feels bound by the restrictions of this seemingly “free” country.

To the Class of 2018: A Conceit

I remember the very first time I met the Future. I was six years old, and he made his presence known to me when he approached me to ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I told him, “A princess.” And then I changed my answer to, “An archaeologist.” But now, I’m for sure, very certain the answer to that question is, “A doctor.” I was an indecisive mess back then. But that’s how the Future and I connected. Back in the day, he was wild, unkempt, recalcitrant. At times he was dimmer than usual, more depressing than usual, and sometimes, I lost my grasp on what he looked like… what I remembered him to look like. Throughout the years the Future has inspired me to do bigger, better, and greater things… he’s like my best friend, and I can never imagine life without him.

Now enter You, yes, You! The beautiful, intelligent, hopeful bride. You’ve worked so hard to be right here where you are today. When I first met you, you’ve been in the education system for a good thirteen years, and, if you ask me, you rightfully deserve your M-R-S degree, if you get what I’m saying. You have taken hold of the Future and shaped him into the biggest and best version of himself for you that I have ever seen. You’ve transformed him into someone bright, promising, and golden. You are so very different from anyone the Future has ever laid his eyes on, as, when he first met you, he was smitten by your iridescence, your grit, your confidence.

We’re all gathered here today to celebrate the consolidation of You and your dear Future. I remember the first time the Future met you, and then he approached you, just as he did to me, asking what /you/ wanted to be when you grew up. You replied, “Happy”, an answer so peculiar, so whimsical that the Future just couldn’t help but fall in love with you. So, here you are, joined hand in hand as you, the bride, fulfill the very promises and goals you’ve made towards your Future, while in return your Future, the groom, grants you your deepest wish of happiness.

And don’t get me wrong, not all days will be glowing with perfection as the Future still has that bit of spontaneity in him that you can just never quite get rid of. And there will be some days where you just want to quit everything, to stop trying to please your beloved husband… to drop him and run away from his powerful grasp. And should you ever go through those times, I urge you to take a deep breath and reconsider. For the Future is yours, and you have the true power to control your relationship with him, not vice versa. You indeed wear the pants in the relationship.

And after you’ve utilized your alpha dominance trousers and belittled dear Mr. Future into conceding his grip on you, you shall then guilt him into taking you out to dinner. There, you will then find what you were yearning for. A medium-rare steak. Which basically equates to your desire for happiness. And your sweet significant other, dear Mr. Future, would pay the bill with the riches he’s gained from your goals and promises, making him the wealthiest man in the world… and the luckiest man as well.

And so I end my speech with an anecdote… a brief conversation I’ve had with your dear Future. I turned the tables on him, asked him what /he/ wanted to be when he grew up.

And he replied, quite simply, “Yours.”

A toast to the beautiful bride and groom, to you and your Future.

Casually Suicidal | A TedTalk: A focus on Asian-Americans across the nation

My inspiration stems from this TEDTalk by Sarah Liberti. Her awkward yet compelling stance on discomfort in the mind blossoms from the idea that mental instability is just masked by a facade of “casually suicidal” humor. Liberti transitions from mild posts of humor such as, “I tomato-tally want to kill myself” to the deeper, darker aspects of the suicidal mind: “I’m not even dropping hints that I want to die anymore”. What resonates with me, however, is her willingness to force her audience into an uncomfortable position. Her straightforwardness when discussing suicide catches the audience off-guard, leaving a thought, even for a split second, that you being uncomfortable perpetuates her points even further as the truth.

Focus

It is because of this TEDTalk that I wish to shift my focus to a topic arguably even less discussed than suicide: the Asian-American struggle. I was presented with an argument from my friend a couple of days ago depicting how “good” it was to be stereotyped as smart or successful while he, an Iraqi, is always having bomb jokes or terrorist jokes directed at him, “but you don’t see me complaining!” Definitively, it is a fact that Asian-American stereotypes are for the most part positive rather than negative; however, it sets an irrational standard for them to fulfill specifically just for the purpose of upholding the idealistic view of others around them. It is my choice to utilize my freedom of speech to discuss these stereotypes as an issue, while it was indeed his choice to not complain about the injustice that settles upon him.

History

One of the prominent taboos of Asian-American culture (or even Asian culture in general) is definitely mental health. I have never been clinically depressed nor have I ever contemplated suicide due to any criterion other than the pure curiosity of what lies on the other side. I can never begin to fathom placing myself in the mind of a depressed Asian-American who can never quite fully discuss their issues with anyone else for fear of being misunderstood and ridiculed.

So,

here you are,

too foreign for home,

too foreign for here.

Never enough for both.

Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Diaspora Blues

This excerpt from Diaspora Blues suggests the struggle of an individual who seemingly cannot fit in anywhere while dealing with a double identity. Delving into the Asian-American topic, we are often coined as the “model minority”, the one that does better than other minorities. While this is true, an everlasting effect is this: Asian-Americans are not considered among the minorities because they are better off. However, they also do not have the privilege or the advantage of the majority, namely the white people. And as history is being taught in classrooms and textbooks, I frequently came across the question of, “Well, where are the Asian-Americans in this narrative?”

As my teacher taught about segregation, the Little Rock Nine, Plessy v. Ferguson, the separation of whites and colors, I raised my hand.

“What about the Asians? Do they go with the whites or the colors?”

“Well… there weren’t a lot of Asians in America at this time.”

“But surely, there were some. And where did they go?”

Silence.

“Asians were usually located on the West Coast due to the 1949 Gold Rush.”

But what did that mean? We’ve rewritten history into black and white, but in fact, there a lot more underneath the surface. My educators weren’t even educated on a topic so near and dear to me because they were not me.

They were not Asian-American.

Mentally Ill

How does this relate to being casually suicidal? Asians have been underrepresented on the spectrum for a long time. We’ve been taught to silence ourselves, our stance, our opinions. This can be seen in the consistently low voter turnout for Asian-Americans and specifically highlighted through a scene in The Joy Luck Club (1993) by Amy Tan.

Ying-ying, as a young girl, told that she should never tell anybody her wishes for then, they become desires. And so, a girl with much to say was automatically silenced against her will. Forever.

As our minds slowly lack the stability we so rightfully showcase in our academics and involvement in the community around us, we lose balance as well as ourselves. Rosy retrospection is the theory that for some reason, we, as humans, are able to recall the good and positive memories more vividly than the bad ones. But how come, once depression hits, it renders individuals to be physically incapable of the notion altogether? And so, here, we are… physically incapable of letting others know for fear of invalidation. For fear that our parents coming from the last generation don’t understand us, because not only is there a generational barrier, there is a cultural barrier. There is a language barrier. And there is an inexperience factor. Because we are not manually doing work, it is not considered work. And because a white-collar job involves a lot less manual labor than a blue-collar job, it is magically considered to be easier. No matter how bilingual an individual is growing up in America, they are always better at one language than the other. That language most of the time? English. And so, we reach this point where… no matter how close we are to each other, we will never fully understand one another.

And that leads us to believe we are alone.

So we cope with our stance the only way human beings know how: humor. We laugh things off, hide our sorrows, fake it until we make it. After all, if we laugh at ourselves, then we take the power away from whomever was tormenting us in the first place.

Conclusion

I’ve heard of mutuals who have committed suicide in the most atrocious ways, mirroring the level of horror that their demons have obsessed to haunt them over. Not only the Asian American race, but individuals of all backgrounds and ethnicities struggle to make themselves heard and wish for the topic of depression to be less taboo and uncomfortable.

So, perhaps that should get you wondering.

How serious is that ‘kms’?

The Origin of All Human Issues

There are two root causes of all the problems in the world: greed and miscommunication. Human greed can never be eliminated; it is human nature to desire any material that will aid in one’s survival and happiness—power, money, lust. Despite how good of a person one thinks he/she is, there is some small amount of greed in him/her. That is how we were designed to operate. Although we cannot do anything about greed, we can do something about miscommunication. We can try a whole lot harder to understand other people. Call me an optimist, but I believe that everything can be solved with a thorough, effective conversation. Sometimes, people aren’t listening to what we have to offer, but rather, waiting for their turn to speak. They formulate ideas in their mind—arguments, counterarguments—anything to try to prove why they are correct. An effective conversation does not have to mean persuading the other side to agree with you; an effective conversation occurs when you can get the other side to understand your perspective. Afterward, it can be agreed to disagree.

War was always a foreign concept. The casualties of men become the basis on which side is the correct side. No one’s life should ever be reduced to a statistic in which a disagreement is settled. In the time it takes to fight the long, violent, destructive wars, disagreeing sides could always sit with each other to come to an agreement. If this very simple situation seems intangible, we can start by learning languages. Literal communication skills. Understanding another culture or language signifies an effort to at least trying to understand the opposing stance’s argument. Again, the time it takes to simply learn a language would probably equate to the time spent fighting wars—except this solution has a whole lot less bloodshed. If communication is key to every relationship, it should be practiced to a point of mastery. A decent human being can not only empathize but be able to communicate that empathy to others.

AP Lang Essay Prep: How Your Essay Should Look

Welcome y’all.

So, as you all should know, there are three essays that you need to write for AP Lang.

  1. Synthesis
  2. Argumentative
  3. Rhetorical Analysis

 

Synthesis

If you’ve taken an AP history class, then you are in for an easy ride.

Synthesis is exactly like the DBQ except a whole lot easier because you’re only required to use three documents instead of the usual six. So your layout would look something similar to the DBQ, which is something like this:

  1. Intro (+2 points for contextualization)
  2. Thesis (+1 point for thesis/argument)
  3. Body
    1. Introduce/cite document (ex: [Doc A]) after summarizing
    2. HIPPO* (+1 point for HIPPO; required 4 out of 6 documents for full credit)
    3. Relate back to how document proves thesis (+1 point for cohesive argument)
    4. Repeat for however many docs you have
  4. Outside Knowledge (+1 point for knowledge not mentioned in text helping argument)
  5. Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis
    2. Restate each body paragraph into one sentence each

Except your synthesis should look something like this: (Keep in mind that there is no rubric for this so your essay is based on your rhetoric and organization more than a DBQ would be.)

  1. Intro
  2. Thesis
  3. Body
    1. Introduce/cite document
    2. Analyze and explain (kinda like HIPPO)
    3. Relate back to how document proves thesis
    4. Repeat for only 3 documents!!
  4.  Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis
    2. Restate each body paragraph into one sentence each
    3. End conclusion with broad and deep message that resonates throughout the audience

* Historical context, Intended audience, Purpose, Point of view, Outside information

 

Argumentative

Again, for argumentative essay, it’s exactly like the LEQ for AP US. You’re legit pulling knowledge out of your butt to argue for a claim. This is similar to synthesis except for the fact that you don’t have documents to facilitate your claim. This can be good or bad. Good because you’re not required to waste time on finding the documents that help your argument. Bad because you have to come up with your own evidence. There’s less structure for an argumentative essay, but the basic outline goes like this:

  1. Intro
  2. Thesis
  3. Body
    1. Clearly state the purpose of this body paragraph
    2. Analyze evidence you have provided
    3. Relate back to how evidence proves thesis
    4. Repeat for however much evidence you want to include, but remember the time limit!
  4. Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis
    2. Restate each body paragraph into one sentence each
    3. End conclusion with broad and deep message that resonates throughout the audience

Because an argumentative essay prompt can go in infinite directions based off of the evidence that you provide, this is a little vague, but an argumentative essay can easily be the most difficult one or a breeze depending on the prompt and how you want to structure your essay.

 

Rhetorical Analysis

This one is, in my opinion, the hardest one because I don’t have experience with this as I do with the other two in different classes. I ONLY FOUND OUT MUCH LATER THAT THIS IS YOUR USUAL SAT ESSAY. Done SAT before? Then no problem. Haven’t done SAT yet? You need this. My suggestion is that you should separate the analysis into beginning, middle, and end. What does the author do at the beginning of the passage to be persuasive? How does the author sound convincing in the middle of the passage? In what way does the author conclude his/her piece that’ll make the audience see his/her perspective? I usually outline my essay like this:

  1. Intro (SOAPS* it: introduce the document that you are analyzing)
  2. Thesis
  3. Body (analyze the most important persuasive tactics used—ask yourself, does that negligible metaphor used to persuade me more than the loaded words used to elicit some sort of feeling from me? Remember, you are on a time limit. Prioritize which rhetoric you want to go in-depth with.)
    1. Beginning
    2. Middle
    3. End
  4. Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis
    2. Restate each body paragraph into one sentence each
    3. End conclusion with broad and deep message that resonates throughout the audience

You can draw multiple parallels between many of the essays that I mentioned. Here are some pointers to always, always, ALWAYS remember when writing your essay.

  • You want to be flowery with your language a little. Show off. Throw a few words like “juxtaposition” or “plethora” or “effervescent” here and there. Utilize that vocabulary.
  • But don’t be too verbose. Do not overstep your boundaries. While you want to sound sophisticated, you also want to be succinct. Passive tone, being verbs, bland adjectives—all unnecessary. (NO “to be able to”!!)
  • Power of three. Reread the point above. “Passive tone, being verbs, bland adjectives”, it all just sounds so right. When listing items, don’t list two or four. Listing three gives a sort of unknown power that makes your writing sound… correct. There’s some sort of science behind this, I just don’t think it’s been figured out yet. This is an actual thing, though. Search it up.
  • Scaling along with being too wordy, try to avoid using the words “logos”, “pathos”, and “ethos” in your essay. While you are trying to show how an author uses these three points to persuade their audience, you can easily say how the author does so without explicitly saying it. Your grader will know what you’re talking about. Spend time analyzing what the author is doing rather than summarizing what the author is doing using these three terms. Show, not tell.
  • While these points seem counterintuitive and contradictory to each other, more practice will allow you to find that happy medium that will achieve all these points in no time! You just have to believe!!

*Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject

Thanks for taking your time to read my lecture to you. Good luck to you all on the exam!