Removing the Burden of Shame: Sexual Assault in Asian-American Communities

” Just because we do not share our experiences publicly does not mean that Asian Americans are immune to sexual violence. Just because we carry the burden for decades doesn’t make our experiences untrue. Just because we do not share our stories doesn’t mean that we need to continue to live in shame.” Read the Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim’s post on responding to sexual assault in Asian-American communities.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

This is my latest for Sojourners on sexual assault and the Asian American community.

Removing the Burden of Shame: Sexual Assault in Asian-American Communities

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Purple flowers, Whitestone 6

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11 October 2018
Whitestone, Queens

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Purple flowers, Whitestone 5

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11 October 2018
Whitestone, Queens

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The Pirates win it!

IMG_8394.jpgFifty-eight years ago, on October 13, 1960, my father, a music teacher in the Neville Island school district,  took a day off and took me out of my first-grade class.

From Neville Island we journeyed to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

There we watched the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the New York Yankees in Game 7 of that year’s World Series (an interesting name now, but even more so at that time when all the teams vying for the title were located in the United States).

The heavily favored Yankees had won 10 pennants in 12 years. They won three games in this series: 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0. The Pirates won the other three games by much closer scores: 6-4, 3-2, and 5-2.

Game 7 proved  a classic. The Pirates took the lead. The Yankees came back and went ahead. The Pirates regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Yankees tied it in the ninth.

Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth inning for the Pirates. He took the first pitch for a ball. Then he drove the second pitch over the left-field wall. And the Pirates were the champions.

How much do I remember because I saw the game in person? How much do I remember because I have seen the pictures and the film and heard the stories? I will never know.

On the anniversary of the game, Pirates fans gather in Pittsburgh to relieve, remember, and recreate.

In 2009, a kinescope of the telecast was discovered in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar. Crosby owned a portion of the Pirates. A DVD appeared with the game. Tricia gave me a copy as a gift. Tonight, after the football games ended, I celebrated the past in the present as I watched the game.

“There’s a drive into deep left field, look out now… that ball is going, going gone! And the World Series is over! Mazeroski… hits it over the left field fence, and the Pirates win it 10–9 and win the World Series!” Mel Allen on NBC TV

And as it happens every time I watch the video or see a clip of Mazeroski pumping his batting helmet as he rounds the bases, I remembered my father. And my spirit warmed. And the smile has not left my face or my heart.

See you along the Trail.

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Laundry night in NYC

Frodo walked into Mordor,
even though one does not simply do that,
to destroy a ring of power.

Dorothy followed the Yellow Brick Road
to find the wizard who could return her to Kansas.

A shepherd, left 99 sheep behind
to search for one that was lost.

With the knights of the table round,
Galahad sought the Holy Grail.

I’m looking for a lost sock.

13 October 2018
Manhattan, New York

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All people have voices

I posted the first version of this a bit over two years ago after I spoke about the work of advocacy at the orientation for the Presbyterians attending the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. This is edited a bit to reflect additional insights gleaned since then. The phenomena happens every day. Every day. I post this today, October 5, 2018, because in the public forum of the United States Senate, the voices of survivors of sexual assault – female, male, trans, people of every sexual orientation and gender identity were ignored, forced to the margins, oppressed, repressed, suppressed, and silenced. 

All people have voices.
There are no voiceless people
because
all people have voices.
Some people have voices we choose not to hear.
Some people have voices we ignore.
Some people have voices we force to the margins.
Some people have voices we oppress, repress, suppress.
Some people have voices we have silenced, sometimes for a long time,
but
all people have voices.

Our task is
to uncover the voices of people
whose voices we ignore, drive to the margins, suppress, or silence
to hear their voices
to listen, truly listen, passionately listen to their voices
to heed their voices
and then to work with the people whose voices we ignore, drive to the margins, suppress, or silence
to amplify their voices
to bring their voices to the halls of privilege and the tables of power
to invite and call and challenge all people,
particularly privileged and powerful people,
to hear the voices of those whose voices we ignore, drive to the margin, silence
and to demand that all people,
particularly privileged and powerful people,
listen, truly listen, passionately listen
and heed those whose voices we ignore, drive to the margins, or silence
because
all people have voices.

Yes. We can her and listen and truly seek to understand what someone says without agreeing with what that person says or doing what they ask. But to refer to someone as “credible” or “sincere, painful, and compelling” and then accept a truncated, orchestrated investigation, demonstrates, to me at least, a lack of hearing and listening.

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No matter who

No matter who you are:
It is not OK to mock a person who has reported a sexual assault.
It is reprehensible to mock a person who has reported a sexual assault.
It is sin to mock a person who has reported a sexual assault.
No matter who you are or who the speaker is: 
It is not OK to laugh and cheer when someone mocks a person who has reported a sexual assault.
It is reprehensible to laugh and cheer when someone mocks a person who has reported a sexual assault.
It is sin to laugh and cheer when someone mocks a person who has reported a sexual assault.
No matter who!

2 October 2018
Manhattan, New York

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