Wednesday, May 28, 2008

San Diego, Friday, May 30

Hey everyone,

In our usual late ways, we want to tell you that we'll be performing in San Diego this Friday. Here's the flyer followed by more info. Hope to see you if you're near UC San Diego!

AMPLIFY! an uprising of resistant voices
a night of spoken word hosted by the Ethnic Studies Collective
Friday, May 30th, 2008
6:00 p.m. to 9 p.m.

@ the Cross-Cultural Center (the old Financial Aid Bldg.)

featuring spoken word duo Yellow Rage, 9th grade poets/students of Lincoln High School's Social Justice School, Professor Sharon Elise and our very own Ethnic Studies undergraduate, Diana Cervera

***Together, our featured poets Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh of Yellow Rage are a dynamic duo of Philly-based Asian American female spoken word poets. Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh made their first appearance together as "Black Hair, Brown Eyes, Yellow Rage" in December 2000 at the Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Slam in Philadelphia, where the made the semi-finals.(They're coming to us in SD from Philly!) Through their AMPLIFIED voices, Catzie and Michelle hope to provide an awareness that is not often heard. By exploring topics from fetishes to cultural appropriation to ethnic pride, Yellow Rage challenges mainstream misconceptions of Asian-ness. For more info, go to: ***

***Sharon Elise is a professor of Sociology at CSU San Marcos where she teaches courses in race and ethnic relations, gender, social movements, critical race theories, and community and social theory. Elise is a visiting professor at UC San Diego and holds title of SLAM winner for the first city-wide slam held in San Diego (1998) and served on the first SLAM team representing San Diego.***

***Students from the Lincoln High School 9th grade School of Social Justice will be performing some of the poetry that they've created in their classrooms. The Ethnic Studies Collective hopes to build a foundation with Lincoln High in order to help create a consciousness around issues of social justice and help facilitate their process towards higher education by encouraging them to put theory in practice. What LHS students learn in their classes is very much the practice of what Ethnic Studies students hope to teach the communities from which they come. The space that we create for them at UCSD on May 30th is our wish that they will continue to write, create and continue on in their path towards higher education. Please join us as we welcome them to UCSD!**

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Race and I'm Running--New Anti-Racist Parent Post

So my new Anti-Racist Parent post went up Monday, May 19, and I didn't realize it would be so controversial. Anyway, here's the beginning and follow the link if want to read the rest (or go to


“Race and I’m Running”

“Yeah, it’s a race and I’m running,

but somewhere along the lines I lost you—

among the clueless browns,

the clueless blacks,

the clueless yellows—

and what’s worse,

the just-kickin-its,

the just bought-into-its.”

-I was Born with Two Tongues, “Race, and I’m Running,” Broken Speak CD

A few weeks ago while watching “Dancing with the Stars,” my husband tried to get me riled up over a routine that Kristi Yamaguchi and her dance partner were performing which had him dressed in a military uniform and she, his Asian lover, swooning on his shoulder. I had cringed inwardly when I saw the set-up, but I wanted to just enjoy the moment—just relish something for pure entertainment without the brooding presence of racial stereotypes and hegemonic ideologies. So when my husband whispered suggestively to me about the “soldier savior” and “What was she thinking?” I shushed him and said that I didn’t want to be Yellow Rage all the time. “She just happens to be Asian, not playing ‘Asian,’” I retorted. But when Bruno, one of the judges, referred to Kristi’s character portrayal in the routine as being a “Madame Butterfly”—which he meant as a compliment of the romantic qualities of their dance—my husband’s head snapped towards me, and said “See? You can’t give white people a pass.” And I could only sigh deeply. Bruno’s reference to the Puccini opera reminded me that really only white people could find romance in the story of a Japanese woman who gives birth to an American sailor’s baby and then commits suicide when he abandons them and marries a white American wife. But even then, I tried to excuse it. “He didn’t mean it that way”—meaning she wasn’t playing the passive, love-toy of a white man who sees himself as superior to her, her people, and her culture. “What’s happening to you?” my husband wanted to know.

Honestly, I’ve been getting tired. I’m tired of fighting against racism and injustice—it’s a never-ending, exhausting battle. And what’s worse for me is that after years and years of harping and exposing and teaching, I see very little to indicate that any of the work I’ve done has made a difference. Why the hell do our poems “Listen Asshole” and “I’m a Woman, Not a Flava” still resonate so strongly after eight years? Because nothing has changed. Asian and Asian American people still feel dehumanized, exoticized, demonized, invisible, misunderstood. It’s made me bone tired, and I’ve been going soft. A part of me just doesn’t want to be angry anymore. Read the rest.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

As many of us are aware of current natural disasters that have affected Asia in the last couple weeks - both the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in China - and are concerned about ways to help out with the relief effort for the victims, my friend Niki sent me an email regarding the company she works for Cultural Homestay Int'l, and what they're doing to help the situation in China.

CHI, which is an organization that helps students studying abroad find places to stay, also has partners in China situated very close to where the earthquake happened and is accepting donations to give to the Chinese Red Cross, between now and May 31st. Whatever amount of money is donated, the company will match. By sending in to CHI, you will be, in effect, doubling your donations.

Please mail checks payable to CHI and mail to:
c/o: Tina
Cultural Homestay International
104 Butterfield Rd., San Anselmo, CA 94960

Our prayers and thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Yellow Rage's Outtakes on Someone's Shuffled Playlist?

Yes. It turns out our mistakes from recording Volume 2 that became the "Outtakes" made it on to the BPR Shuffled Playlist of our dear friend Ed Lin. Eddie's an accomplished author of two published books, Waylaid and This is a Bust as well as a music man too - he's a bass player for Raven Steals the Light. Here's what he had to say about us:

"Could this really be Yellow Rage? Who are these giggly little girls? Was this recorded at a pajama party? Was there a bong? Is there any pizza left?"

To read the rest and see who else made it on to Ed's list click here.

Poems published in Speaking Truths: The Poetics of Defining Human Slavery

Among the many things we have forgotten to mention was that late last year Catzie and I each had one of our human slavery poems published in a chapbook titled Speaking Truths: The Poetics of Defining Human Slavery. We were invited to submit poems for this publication by Annie Fukushima, who was one of the organizers for Girl Fest Bay Area in 2006 when we performed there. Catzie's poem is "What Do We Really Know?". Mine is "Homeless Heart." Here is the introduction for the publication, written by Annie:

"Through language and art we bear witness to normalized violence of human trafficking/slavery that has made its way into the present. Through articulating how people survive pain, may we imagine a space of liberation, of freedom, through the language of speaking truth(s). In speaking truth we allow for a context of defining the spaces in which human slavery situates itself: in poverty, racism, gender, and the colonial legacies and ongoing reality that manifest in militarization. And, in these spaces, human trafficking crosses not only the fine lines of ideological structures that we define in our everyday, but the everyday of the global. We dedicate this to women, queers, and women of color who by their racialization and sexuality face lived realities of being raced and sexed, and resisting raced/sexed violence enacted on their bodies. This publication is in memory of the estimated 50,000 that are trafficked throughout the U.S. annually, and the estimated 800,000 plus globally trafficked survivors, who are not merely numbers, but a testament to violence at its extreme."

We are honored that our poems were chosen to be part of this important work. The chapbook was a joint project of Students and Artists Fighting to End Human Slavery (SAFE HS) and Achiote Press. The chapbook has sold out but you can find out more about it on their websites. The books also features poems by Agustín Palacios, Aida F. Santos, Brenda Kwon, Cawa Tran, Chong N. Kim, Christine Stark, Danielle Deadwyler, Elsa Orejudos Valmidiano, Gabriela Erandi Rico, and Keelikolani Lee. Cover art was created by Christine Stark

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I'm calling this one "outdates" since it's not really an update because its actually things that have happened already and you probably know about them by now. Nonetheless I shall recap what's been goin on in the last month because it's my blog and I can do what I want.

So part of the lack of updates on my part is because my laptop was broken yet again. This time I was watching a movie in the dark on my laptop and had managed to close the screen without realizing that the magnetic power cord had relocated itself onto the keyboard. (Note: If your laptop doesn't close all the way don't slam it again.) I didn't take a picture of it, but it was really horrific the first times I looked at it. It kinda looked like this:
And while I was searching the cracked screen images I came across this one:
Apparently it's a practical joke to download this and put it on your friend's screensaver when they're not looking. But what if the person had a really bad temper, and they figured since the laptop was broken anyway they were just gonna beat somebody over the head with it? Come on folks, I'm the only one who thought of this...

Moving on, April 13-15th was Lao New Year. I celebrated at the Wat Lao in North Philly with my mom of course, but I was also writing a little story for magazine about the Miss Lao New Year Pageant, or as they say back home, the Nangsoukhane Pageant. I'm probably gonna get in trouble for sharing these pictures before the article's been published but I couldnt' help it, they were soooooooo beautiful. Taken by the amazingly talented Ben Leuner.

To see the rest of the pictures and read the final article, well, you'll just have to wait until it comes out in July. I also have to mention that I have been featured in another magazine...
I didn't even know I was gonna be on the cover. I just got an email saying "we'd like to interview you, and by the way do you have pictures"? Since I didn't have any updated photos, I asked my friend and accomplished photographer Kelly Turso to shoot me and we sent them in. I didn't hear from them for a couple weeks so I figured they were behind schedule with publishing, understandable for a small self-published magazine company. But then one day, Michelle's checking our Myspace and she's sees that the new cover of Lao Roots has been changed and it's me! Thanks to Paul, Lucky and the entire staff at LR, you guys are great. Since my last name's not included on the cover, non-Laotian people keep asking if I'm like Madonna. Sigh... I wish. Nah, I have to chuckle to that one. So I waited a month to give a copy to my mom and I purposely gave it to her on her way out from visiting my house, because I didn't want to explain this picture:
She hasn't said anything to me yet, but I'm hoping the getting-featured-on-the-cover-of-a-Lao-magazine part will lessen the blow of her deciding to dis-own me upon seeing my tattoo for the first time. And plus it's an elephant!

Lastly, I received a special package in the mail from my good old friend Taiyo.
Unlike other artists, he sends his with love. Literally.
Well you've probably guessed already what it is, since it's featured on my Boston Progress Radio Shuffled Playlist. But here's what his newest CD Love Is Growth looks like in the flesh. Doesn't he looks so cute?
And on the back, more face time! I think he did this just for the ladies, hehe...
He's been busy on tour promoting his CD and his latest show will be this Saturday, May 10th at the 29th Annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival in New York City. The concert which goes on from 12noon to 6pm will also feature Soh Daiko, Hsunami, Misnomer(s) & More and will be hosted by Ti-Hua Chang, Elliot Chang, and Hot 97 DJ Miss Info. The event will be held at The United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, East 47th Street and 2nd Avenue and if you need more info go to If any of you are in the New York area, go support our APIA artists!

Well that's it folks, hope this outdate was worth your read. Until next time.


Catzie's been Shuffled on Boston Progress Radio!

Boston Progress Radio is a community-based online radio station and blog focusing on independent Asian American music and art. Their goal is to build a space for Asian American artists to share their work, to offer their perspectives and to reflect on what connects us, what moves us, what powers us.

Boston Progress Radio is a project of the Boston Progress Arts Collective. BPR only plays tracks that artists have given explicit permission to play.

Check out Catzie's post on Boston Progress Radio's Shuffled (posted last Thursday, 5/1--just in time for Asian/Pacific Islander American Heritage Month!) about her five most played songs. Also check out the main page at BPR for interviews and other cool posts.