Suey Park (1990- ) is the pen name of an American writer, anti-racist activist and admitted feminist killjoy. She is best known for #CancelColbert, a Twitter campaign in 2014 to get Stephen Colbert to apologize for a racist joke he made at the expense of Asian Americans. In 2013 she did #POC4CulturalEnrichment, #BlackPowerYellowPeril and #NotYourAsianSidekick.
She grew up a token Asian girl in Lake Zurich, Illinois, a lily-white, upper-middle-class suburb of Chicago. Other children would pull up the corner of their eyes and laugh at her. Where did they learn that from? A teacher made a “ching chong” joke about her first name. Etc.
Girls at her Korean church were getting eyelid surgery. For years she suffered from an eating disorder because of unattainable White ideas of beauty common among Asian Americans. No matter what she wore or how she coloured hair, she could never be “white enough”.
She was expected to be quiet and well spoken. Not to rock the boat till she got her PhD. It was not just Whites who expected this, but Asians too.
Her father was a business man. One day, when he went golfing with some White men, they started shooting golf balls – at his head!
He stood there and said nothing.
The US mainstream media is made up of the newspapers, websites, television and radio shows and so on with the largest nationwide audiences.
On Twitter she has 24,000 followers. That is not enough to put her in the public eye, except:
The mainstream media watches Twitter, particularly the trending topics. If a topic, like #CancelColbert, gets enough tweets and is interesting enough, outlets like the BBC or the Washington Post will write about it.
She has been able to game Twitter – and White racism – to get her topics to trend, getting them into the public eye.
#NotYourAsianSidekick, like Karnythia’s #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, questioned how feminism has been hijacked by White women. It led to a discussion of issues facing Asian women which are generally silenced in public. Part of that meant criticism of Asian men.
Her model of racism is Andrea Smith’s Three Pillars of White Supremacy: the US is built on:
- slavery (anti-Black racism),
- genocide (anti-Native racism) and
- Orientalism (anti-Asian racism).
It sets people of colour in each pillar against each other for the greater good of Whites. She believes in making common cause with Black and Native Americans. The first anti-racist protest she took part in was against her university using a Native mascot, Chief Illiniwek.
She does not make common cause with Whites. “White ally” is an oxymoron. Just look at Tim Wise! Whites try to make you into a token, expect you to be grateful and tell you to watch your tone. You get tricked into the politics of respectability, valuing what White people think. Park:
We will not mute who we are in order to be accepted into the mainstream. If our liberation is dependent on getting our oppressors to humanize us, then we have already lost.
– Abagond, 2014.
- Suey Park on the Internet: @suey_park, criticalspontaneity.com
- The three pillars of American white supremacy
- Is the white anti-racist an oxymoron?
- Tim Wise
- ching chong
- Asian double eyelid surgery
- White beauty
- Important skills for tokens and sidekicks: