Just did this interview for maga/zine from Barcelona and Taipei

Translated version here

Hello thanx for helping to make this possible, i think this going to be interesting for people in taiwan/chinese speaking place…

1. You were in a band in Australia, can you tell something about it, was it just a punk group or it has an idea to speak about the problems in society?
I was in a few bands in Australia, but there was one that went for a longer time than others, and we got to tour South East Asia, which was important for me, to be around my own people.
It was called Crux, a hardcore punk/d-beat band. I joined it because I was invited to be in the band, and because I thought these three white males wanted to build a relationship or friendship with me, but that didn’t really end up happening. It was a way for me to sing about things that I couldn’t talk to anyone about in a white-dominated anarchist and queer scene in Australia.
The lyrics talked about rape, sexual assault, child abuse, racist beatings, racist “radical” communities, immigration and the Vietnam War and it’s effect on my family, experiences from my life as a non-white child of immigrants in a very racist country. The band was a way for me to talk about these things. Because no one would listen or try to understand if I talked to them directly in a conversation about that stuff. And instead of being heard, I got criticized a lot for being a “female frontperson” in a band by other feminists. It was a shitty time (10 years, 2000-2009) in my life. Things are much better now that I am away from all that bullshit in Australia🙂
2. you were also active there, what are the thing you have participated. Were you part of the anarchist book store? If yes, tell something about this bookstore and what they do.
I was involved in organizing events at one anarchist bookstore (Jura) and I worked at another (Black Rose). Both were very different collectives, with different communities, and also located in different neighbourhoods. One was more labour and union-focussed, and the other one was maybe more direct action focussed…
It’s difficult to talk about in a small paragraph – there were very obvious power structures, even in a non-hierarchical, anti-authoritarian environment. I think this happens very often in collectives and in organizing with groups. There are always dominant or controlling people… it’s weird and very uncomfortable, haha.
3. were you also of other political group, and what did they do?
In Australia? I think I was mostly studying fulltime and working 3 jobs, so I didn’t really involve myself in any other groups besides those two collectives. I put on workshops about feminism and racism and inclusion in community organizing. I organized some DIY fests. I put on some punk and noise shows, I ran my record label, I was involved in a political performance and dance group, that was meant to be fun and funny. In the last year I lived in Australia I got a spinal injury so I was not so active in the public any more, because I had to stay in bed almost 24 hours every day.
As soon as my spine healed, I moved to Berlin and London and definitely got more politically active. More autonomously, more creatively. My ideas had momentum, people were getting involved finally, it was really exciting. Around gentrification, housing, sexuality, community accountability and anti-violence mediation/transformative justice. Was very very involved in two social centres, Ratstar and Offmarket. They were located in neighbourhoods of colour and my main concern was being open and transparent (and free) for local families and residents. I also helped start SQUASH, a squatter’s housing organization that achieved a lot and I believe still exists. I am really proud of that time and the type of community inclusion that was achieved through those projects.
4. being an immigrant offspring do you face discrimination in the movement, do they give you this Orientalism that tell you what/how you are supposed to act/be? how do you find your position in this? you were born in Aus actually, so you didn’t really have the same culture/education system that your parents have, was it every get frustrated to self define? I am a chinese teacher now in spain, i spoke to alot of people who told me their chinese friend refused to learn chinese, and normally have a period of time in their teenage deny being part a chinese family. how do you look at these things?
Of course! Ever since I was 11 or 12 I was being told by white people how I should act, how I should talk to my family, how I should run away from home, reject my culture. When I got older and became an anarchist, I got criticised for helping my parents with accommodation, because they couldn’t really pay their own rent, and then when I was in a hardcore punk band, I got criticised for studying architecture, even though I was using that knowledge/education to work for free in Asia to build buildings for schools and orphanages (not getting rich!!!). I had people who grew up owning horses, telling me, someone who grew up in government apartments in gang territory in Sydney, that I was a capitalist. There was no understanding from my peers about what it was like growing up under the poverty line, just their shitty white middle-class opinions. People will always find a way to talk shit, and in Australia, it was a criticism of my culture and race and the choices I made, without anyone trying to understand why I might act in a certain way. It was like my being Vietnamese or Asian or working class was invisible, like it didn’t exist. Except when punks and anarchists and partners made racist and sexist jokes about me being an Asian girl. It was really fucked up and it is the reason I only talk to 3 people from Australia, even though I spent most of my life there. I feel like I gave a lot of my energy and time in that place, and it was a hostile, racist environment full of insecure, mean, and scared people.
On the question of self-definition – I now give lectures and workshops about internalised racism, the white gaze, etc. I think white supremacy is so strong, and the force of assimilation is so intense that people are full of shame or embarrassment with internalised racism for a long time, especially growing up. Especially if people around you are telling you you are inferior because you don’t have white values, white aesthetics, white habits and white opinions. It’s very complicated and I write and talk a lot about this, because it’s different for different people, and has different effects. I remember a time when I wanted to be white – my 14 year old sister now asks me why she isn’t white like her friends – but I am so happy that I am older now and am really proud of all the cool shit being Vietnamese gives me. And I don’t give a shit about the white gaze, and I don’t give a shit about assimilating, anywhere. I definitely am not changing how I act  just to make some spoiled white people comfortable.
(PS. I wasn’t born in Australia!)
5. I had read an article about the gender issue in Aus, that the people normally being rejected if you say you are feminist, the spanish comrade like to say “feminazi this and that…” to make joke also define that they are gender-aware but reject the feminist as the center of the idea. But really this can be another way to look at machista, do you see similar thing in Aus or Berlin, or in the states?
I don’t like to make general statements about the different places I’ve lived in (but I do and I will) – I think patriarchy and white supremacy exists everywhere, in different forms. I think power structures are very very strong and sometimes hard to break, especially in white or male dominated spaces/situations. I would say that in every place there are people that are suspicious of new ideas, or people that are different, and there are people that make no time to hear other perspectives. There are people who hold the power and do not want to give it up. As a result you get exclusion, elitism, and alienation. This can be around gender, race, ability, physical and mental health, and poverty/money. People in different countries/places admire and reward status and power, and exclude people they think are not “useful” or have social capital. People are stupid and fucked up everywhere. People can also be wonderful and kind everywhere. Those are the people I’m looking for to be around🙂
6. Can you describe the difference of the movement in these 3 places. and how is the sexist/ racial situation within the movement?
You can read the previous answer about the similarities in each movement. People and activists being protective about power and control.
With the race situation, it changes depending on how many immigrant communities are in each city/country; and what people are accustomed to historically. In the States the conversation around anti-blackness is almost synonymous with the word “racism” because of how fucked up the United States has been to African Americans, and also to Native Americans, whereas in Australia the conversation about Islamophobia and hate crimes around West Asian people is more common, because there has been so much violence against Muslim and West Asian people in Australia in the last 15 years. There is also dialogue around state violence against Indigenous Australians – Aboriginal people because of the fucked up way Australia was colonised.
Living in Berlin, there is less discussion about native people, and more about the history of Fascism, and current Fascists, locally. And there is a little bit of acknowledgement about anti-immigrant racism. But the main focus becomes about anti-Semitic and Nazi politics, because of local history, of course.
So, yes, all dialogue and analysis exist everywhere, but main focuses depend on the history of each place.
7. Being anarchist is really difficult to deal with the reality of capitalist world, we have to either get a real job or we would need to recycle and squat all life, it sounds almost impossible to continue living in such way, as to say outside of the system, but in a way living by surplus of the capitalism, do you also see the difference between the day to day life of anarchist in the place you had been. and how are yourself struggling in the system while be able to afford a basic living?

Hahahah this is a really really big question, and something I am always dancing around depending on what I can afford in each city/place. Right now (in the USA) I work 65 hours a week to pay rent and food, and am always broke for some reason. This is not an ideal life, I have no social life or relaxation time, but I also don’t have a choice because if I stop working then I won’t have a place to live. I don’t even know what “outside” of a system is – does that exist? Can that exist? Everything is connected, no?I think it’s possible to live without money, but only with trade and mutual aid. But you are still in some kind of a system.

To squat or live off the surplus of a system is not living “outside” of it. There is still dependence on it.

To boycott something implies that there is a consumer structure there to reject. It really depends on one’s priorities. Is the priority to REJECT something? Then, why? Why is the rejection of something a definition or reason for living?

Is the priority social justice? Is it mutual aid? Is it destroying government? Is it equal housing for all? Is it hedonism? Misanthropy? Survival? Is it principles, or people?
I think part of being an autonomous unit is deciding for oneself, or deciding for your “group”, your goal, and your most important priority.
And then live by it.

~ by annavo on xxx.

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