I saw a video on Facebook of the Chinese Progressive Association doing "displacement skits."
In the video I saw people I worked with to get out the vote doing skits with elderly people to give them confidence to unite against their landlords for unfair rent hikes. Now before you say that hiking up the rent is just normal, there's nothing wrong with it, that's the market... we are talking about one month the rent is $600 and then the next it is like $1500. Stuff like that. Basic slumlord type stuff.
Americans watching this skit might just look at it and say that is nice.
Thing is, that type of skit was the same stuff that they did in the Cultural Revolution. I have spoken to activists from other communities outside of Chinatown. DSNI, JP, and when I say that a lot of people in Chinatown think that the CPA is Communist, they say, "No their just activist."
But when you look at a skit like this... culturally, it is Communist. In fact it is very much a product of th cultural revolution. Even the song at the end was straight from the Cultural Revolution and I am guessing the elderly know the words by heart because when they were Red Guards when they were in middle school. Even a lot of younger people from Hong Kong know those songs and sing them proudly.
Now I was raised pretty anti-Communist. My mom had a red Book at one point and my Dad was pretty upset about that and when enough people who had been through that stuff either in Vietnam or in China saw the book and said something about it... well my mom eventually tossed that shit so as not to offend anyone.
There is a strong Anti- Communist sentiment among the older Generation of Chinese and Taiwanese in America because before you could only come to this country if you were from the anti-communist stock, or if you some sort of special genius from China.
But times change right?
I remember helping a neighbor for their citizenship and there was a strong emphasis in questioning about whether you have ever been part of the Communist Party. Since in China, the party was something ou had to get into, most Chinese can honestly say no... And some dishonestly say no. After all, if you have money to get to the States, chances are you have connections. But most people were part of the Red Guards. It was like the Hitler Youth. If you are a certain age from Germany, you were a part of that... or you are some sort of survivor right?
Now, since moving to JP I have actually met and done Community work with people whose parents were Communist. American Communists. White Communists.
Tell the truth I have never had any ill feeling towards these types. White Communists and especially Black Communists get a pass. I mean if you are Paul Robeson and you want to be Communist because Capitalism meant that you father was capital because he was a slave... I can understand you being a Communist.
But when these old ladies used to come in for Chinese Treatment chanting people's Liberation Army shit while I was massaging their feet with Teet Da Jow I got into some shouting matches.. yeah with old ladies.
Kind of like, "What the Hell are you even doing in this country then? If Communism is so great Go back to China."
So part of me has a knee jerk reaction like that. While I simultaneously think the CPA is doing good work and I think I would probably work side by side anyone in that skit for the same causes.
Actually stumping for Diana Hwang I ended up having a conversation with someone about Housing. About how I wasn't 100% on board with rent control or even Section 8. I grew up in Section 8 and I realized that had I not, shit my parents probably would have bought a cheap house that would have been worth a million.
"Yeah but not everyone could ahve figured something out or moved in with relatives and if you owned that house you would probably rent to new immigrants and you would just be part of the system." Came an angry response from a very nice young woman but the heat was on and I just let it slide.
But the thing is... "Part of the system?" Yes. That is the American dream, to be part of the system. And not all landowners are evil. In fact most of them aren't. And Communism? We saw what that was about.
But nowadays "Communism" is not the threat. America doesn't care too much about skits like this. It's not going to get you into trouble to protest.
Terrorism is the new word of fear.
But it gets you thinking, 50 years ago doing a skit and singing a song like that would probably have gotten you locked up. 50 years from now, will the ISIS flag be accepted in America and there will be some other new thereat that is unaccepted?
You might say you can't do the comparison that I just did. But actually I think you can.
But a better comparison is probably the Confederate flag and a Confederate demonstration.
I actually watched the skit, and I just sort of recognized what it was and it didn't bother me. But because I could accept that.. I think I could probably accept the Confederate Flag more easily too.
Again you might want to say, Communism and the Cultural revolutions and its songs stood for Justice. Things just got out of hand. Those 80 million people dead, that wasn't supposed to happen.
Confederates have their apologists too. Read "Gone with the Wind."
It's just a sign that Chinatown is changing. The make up of the people living there are changing. Before the people living there were staunchly anti-communist. Now? They aren't and the U.S. Government is actually fine with it because they are fine with China's government. We trade with them. We owe them money.
And again, I'm not trying to rail on the CPA here. Hopefully I'll still be allowed to go in there after this post. In fact if anyone wants to write a response to this feel free.
Before the CPA was accused of having Communist leanings and I was assured over and over that it was all BS. But when I see a skit like that and a song like that.. if it walks and quacks like a duck.....
And I'm not necessarily against it, as long as there are no mobs grabbing Landlords out of their homes and beating them up.
I even participated in the City Hall celebration for the People's Republic of China's Independence day on October 1st. I make friends with new comer Chinese people that are proud of their country and the party that runs it. Fine. They play that new Chess game that's all about the PLA fighting. Cool.
But hey, there is a change here. A difference. And I just feel like I should say something about it.
If only to point out that something like that would have been unthinkable in the Chinatown I grew up in. Where Double 10 was a huge event. I mean it's still a huge event, but before there really were no Communist Sympathizers. Not out in the open like that anyway.
And though I accept it....and even recognize that the community needs that energy and organization....yeah I guess part of me still doesn't like it.
But people who do like it.. who maybe even love it.. their story is as important or maybe even more important than mine in this new Chinatown.