Tag Archives: women

Honoring our Past, Present, and Future


In honor of May being Asian Heritage Month, I thought I would share one way in which The Genki Spark honors our heritages.  For those of you that missed our Making Women’s History Event back in March, or you were so inspired and excited about it and can’t wait until next year’s event…here’s an “encore” of one of our new pieces debuted that weekend, “Honoring Past, Present, and Future.”

Below you will find the speaking parts of the piece and a video of our performance.  We at The Genki Spark honor and celebrate those that came before us as we continue their work for a happier, healthier, genki-er world.  We are excited for our future and the future we are creating for those yet to come.




Today we reflect on the experiences of our ancestors. As immigrants and minorities, the generations before us faced many challenges. Their stories of sacrifice and struggle include:

  1. Having to change their names because they were “too hard to pronounce.”
  2. Being forced to “speak good English,” abandoning the languages their families had spoken for generations.
  3. Being denied jobs or access to education.
  4. Working endlessly under exploitative conditions, building railroads, cleaning houses, picking crops.
  5. Forfeiting their professions or dreams in order to provide a better life for their families.
  6. Facing the burden of proving loyalty to a country that was at war with the homeland of their ancestors.
  7. Being expected to keep quiet and endure indignities because they were women.
  8. Being harassed or beaten for their skin color, race, religion, who they fell in love with.

Despite all this, the generations before us not only endured, they excelled. Their pride, strength, and courage enabled them to continue despite a society that tried to keep them down. They demonstrated resistance through organizing or simply trying their best to persevere day after day. Let’s honor the legacies of the men and especially the women who continue to inspire us.


Today we envision the future.  The future we want to leave for our children, grandchildren and generations to come.  A future that honors those who have come before us.

What is this future we see?

A future that is just, equitable; where there is equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, race or religion.

A future that provides places where each of us can flourish, celebrating our unique strengths and talents; including opportunity for any girl who dreams of being president to do so!

A future where the media portrays women & girls for their strengths, skill and ability, not their hairstyles, bodies or sexuality.

A future where we fight through numbness and dumbing down to act with courage and conviction.

A future where women and girls leave competition and judgment aside to fully support each other.

A future where in the presence of strong women and girls men and boys find their strength and compassion

A future where we ALL listen to the needs and experiences of one another to empower healing, liberation, and positive change.

A future where each of us contributes to a healthy, sustainable planet,

A future where we live lives of hope, love and peace.

How can we create this future and carry on the legacy that has been given to us?  What can we do to create this future?


Today, we are in the present. The history of our past and the progression of our future, meets today, right now. Because we are interconnected.

This is our time. What are we going to do now?

The efforts of our past have contributed to progress. Today we still take on challenges including inequity, discrimination, and other forms of injustice. Every moment is an opportunity for positive change. Everything we do, what we say, every interaction, is important because what we put into the world, is a ripple effect that leads to what will come.

Because we are interconnected.

What are the choices you’re making now? When you do something or say something, are you thinking about the impact? How it might make the other person feel? How it might impact our communities? How it impacts the world? What we put out, even the little moments, matter.

What we do now is going to not only impact us, but will be what we pass on to our children, and our children’s children, which will continue to be passed on to future generations.

We invite you to join us, in spreading respect and peace in the world, with fierceness, so that our positive vibrations will spread and heal our communities and world.

We are interconnected.

Join us in making positive change, NOW.


Thinking about Costumes

  • 404675_435075983204601_1505568680_n
    Seeing so many posts and articles about the importance of not wearing potentially offensive Halloween costumes (mainly, those that perpetuate stereotypes/myths linked to different ethnicities or cultures). Being so vigilant about the Halloween masks we wear is masking the real problem, isn’t it?I understand the good intentions behind it, but I’m wondering whether this means people shouldn’t dress as nuns any more, or as zombies or ghosts (which could offend someone who has just lost a loved one). Shouldn’t we extend this concern not to offend to cover not only certain ethnicities but to anyone who might be offended or hurt by a costume? Are witch costumes out, in deference to those who currently practice witchcraft? Nurse costumes? Is almost any costume – which often portrays something that the wearer is not usually identified with – potentially offensive to those who may identify with what is being caricaturized in the costume?

    Maybe so. Maybe we should rethink all these costumes. I’m also thinking that this frenzy of articles and posts may belie a misplaced focus on not having the *appearance* of offending or being insensitive to others, without a corresponding deep questioning or examination of our fundamental beliefs or prejudices. I don’t think the whole costume thing would be an issue if we didn’t all participate in a deep, underlying culture of prejudice and racism. That’s what we need to take a much closer, longer look at – starting with our own unconscious beliefs – and not only pointedly ask whether a particular costume that we might wear one day out of the year might be offensive or hurtful.

    Happy Halloween, everyone! : ) Just wanted to get that off my chest, wondering what other people think, realizing just now that this is just the consequence of fb and social media, and – oh, in case you hadn’t guessed – having a Mega-Fit of Procrastination…!


Seeking Asian Female: New Film about ‘Yellow Fever’


‘Yellow fever?’ Eww. Yuck. It’s happened countless times in the past. Men of all shades, stare a little too long – maybe nod and Seeking Asian Womensmile a goofy smile … then begin to try to communicate non-verbally at first … then try to say something as if I was mentally slow … ‘Hell–low … you? (point to me) from here? (point to ground) you from USA (start to speak louder)’

At this point, I roll my eyes – ugh not again. Yes, I speak English. Yes, I was born here. Yes, I’m my family roots are in Asia. No I’m not really interested in hearing about your trip to Asia or the fact that you love Asian things.  It’s not so odd that people are curious and want to connect and want to know information about each other but it’s completely odd when this is the very first thing that comes out of a strangers mouth.

Seeking Asian Female — a new documentary by Debbie Lum looks pretty interesting.

seeking asian female

a personal documentary by Debbie Lum / USA / 82 minutes / in English & Mandarin with English subtitles


seeking asian female is an eccentric modern love story about Steven and Sandy—an aging white man with “yellow fever” who is obsessed with marrying any Asian woman, and the young Chinese bride he finds online. Debbie, a Chinese American filmmaker, documents and narrates with skepticism and humor, from the early stages of Steven’s search, through the moment Sandy steps foot in America for the first time, to a year into their precarious union. Global migration, Sino-American relations and the perennial battle of the sexes, weigh in on the fate of their marriage in this intensely captivating personal documentary.

Too bad I missed the screening in Salem but it also premieres on PBS’ Independent Lens on May 6, 2013 at 10pm ET. Looks like it’s worth checking out! http://snapjudgment.org/seeking-asian-female


Times They Are A-Changing


A week ago, on the eve of Election day, I was both nervous and excited for what the following day would bring. I had no idea how many amazing ‘firsts’ would be accomplished in this year’s elections. Let’s take a moment to recognize some of them:

  • ImageWOMEN ARE GETTING IT DONE!!! Massachusetts elected Elizabeth Warren as their first female senator, and New Hampshire is the first state to have an all women delegation — Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, House Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster, and Governor Maggie Hassan, who will be the only female Democratic governor in 2013.
  • ASIAN AMERICANS REPRESENT!!! The largest delegation of Asian-Americans will be representing the United States in Congress. This includes the first Asian-American woman elected into the the US Senate, Mazie Hirono representing Hawaii. Hawaii also elected Tulsi Gabbard as the first ever practicing Hindu to the US House of Representatives. Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth Imageand New York’s Grace Meng are the first Asian Americans to represent their states in Congress.
  • HOORAY FOR THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY!!! For the first time, voters approved Marriage Equality in Washington, Maine and Maryland. Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment rejecting marriage equality. The largest openly gay delegation was also elected to the House of Representatives, including California’s Mark Takano, who is the first openly gay person of color in the House. Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin becomes the first openly gay senator, and let’s not forget that Barack Obama, the first sitting president to support marriage equality, was re-elected!

The government is beginning to reflect the population that they are representing, and these elections have made me more hopeful for the future of this country.


Lee Ann

Sports, Science, and Sexism


I’ve spent this past week trying to catch as much of the Olympics as possible.  I’ve been watching a lot of gymnastics and swimming since those sports are on later at night when I get home from work.  It’s been really exciting to watch these amazing athletes from all over the world compete.  I can’t even imagine what it’s like to participate in this global competition of athleticism.

There have been many things to analyze as well for someone who pays attention to systems of oppression.  Unfortunately the Olympics is filled with it, especially around gender.  Sometimes I feel that is shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the mere fact that men and womyn (because those are the only two genders recognized here) compete separately already perpetuates that they are unequal.  I could go on and on about the differences in gender expression (how you show if you’re a boy, girl, etc.), I mean come on, why is it that a lot of the female athletes are wearing so much less clothing than their male counterparts?  However, I’d like to focus on another aspect of the Olympics that has received some attention–the ability or inability of athletes based on their gender.

Ye Shiwen, a 16-year old swimmer from China has won two gold medals thus far, and instead of being recognized as the super athlete that she is, she is accused of cheating because apparently there’s no way all of her training and hard work could make her that good because she’s female.  According to science, she cannot be faster than Ryan Lochte, a White male swimmer representing the U.S. because she is inherently weaker.  The below articles question whether or not she is taking drugs or even altering her genetics (yes, really) to be a better swimmer.

Chinese swimmer stuns with Lochte-beating split 

Genetically modified athletes

Most of us really rely on science to make sense of the world.  We usually take it for granted and accept it as truth because there is some sort of “objective” evidence and proof.  After all, it is comforting know that if you jump up in the air, at some point, you will definitely land.  With newer technology giving us the ability to dive deeper into the how’s and why’s of the universe, even when contradictory information is found, we attribute this new truth as the correct one because scientists before didn’t have the capabilities to prove otherwise.  However, science is not always concrete.  There were many “scientific facts” that have since been disproved or considered utterly ridiculous.  I’ve listed several that I learned over the years either in school or otherwise. I’ve included the name of the person who is credited to have discovered or developed these facts.  I also included the year or time in which this information came about.  There are some social “scientific facts” because they often have roots or have been influenced by physical sciences.

  1. The earth is the center of the universe. (Claudius Ptolemy, 90 AD- 168 AD)
  2. Human emotions and personalities are determined by the color of one’s bile (bodily fluids). (Hippocrates, 460 B.C.-370 B.C.)
  3. White people are the superior race. (Louis Aggasiz, late 19th century)
  4. Men have higher levels of testosterone which make them able to build more muscle mass than womyn and therefore stronger (Charles-Edouard Brown-Sequard, 1889)
  5. Girls are jealous of boys because they have penises. (Sigmund Freud, early 20th century)
  6. Boys want to kill their fathers and sleep with their mothers. (Sigmund Freud, early 20th century)
  7. Womyn are crazy. (Sigmund Freud, early 20th century)
  8. Pluto is a planet. (Clyde W. Tombaugh, 1930)
  9. Homosexuality is a mental disorder. (American Psychiatric Association, 1950s-1960s)
  10. Pluto is not a planet. (Mike Brown, 2011)

Many of these “facts” have since been disproved, but some of them have had long-lasting and damaging effects, especially how we treat people.  The articles written about Ye Shiwen go on the scientific understanding that men are inherently and genetically faster, stronger, and better than womyn because men have more testosterone, the hormone that gives them the ability to build more muscle than womyn.  Womyn on the other hand, cannot build as much muscle because we have much less testosterone.  Who do we credit for this discovery?  A dude!  Where are all the women in this research?  Oh that’s right, we weren’t allowed to be scientists because it was previously determined that we lacked the abilities.

With the male-dominated field of science telling all of us girls, womyn, and females that we were born without the capability to be as strong as men, consequently, we will always be slower and weaker than them.  I grew up with this fact.  I even internalized this “scientific fact” so I never expected to be as fast, strong, or as good of an athlete as my male peers.  It even prevented me from participating in physical activity because I thought, “What was the point?  I’m never going to be better than boys because I’m a girl.”  Messages such as, “You throw like a girl,” and “Don’t run around too much, you’ll get dirty,” further solidified that I my being born a girl was an immediate disadvantage and there was nothing I could do about it.  I became even more disadvantaged because I did not take the opportunities to build my physical strength while the boys around me got to run, jump, and be physical because no one told them they couldn’t.  It took me years to finally realize that I could be physically strong.  Anyone who has seen The Genki Spark or other taiko players perform, knows it is NOT an easy thing to do.  Any taiko player can tell you it takes physical strength and stamina to do what we do.  In the last two years, taiko has helped me re-claim my physical strength.  I was an avid basketball player growing up but stopped because I thought I wasn’t strong or good enough to compete with the boys.  That’s all changed since I started playing taiko.  I am much stronger than I used to be.  I couldn’t even carry a drum by myself when I first started but I definitely can now!  I even discovered that I’m BETTER than some of the guys I play basketball with.

I am not a scientist so I understand that I may not have complete understanding of how biology works.  I also can’t prove or disprove that Ye Shiwen beating U.S.’s Ryan Lochte’s time is rigged or not .  However, I cannot ignore that womyn have historically been considered less than men, whether it be based on physical, mental, or emotional strength.  And much of the science we rely on is male-dominated and often rooted in prejudice.  I believe that if Ye Shiwen wasn’t a young Chinese womyn (who have been historically perceived as weaker than most people), but older, a man, or even a White womyn (Missy Franklin, is a 17-year old first-time Olympian who is representing the U.S. and has won three gold medals this year but no one is accusing her of doping), her athletic ability wouldn’t even be questioned.  We should be congratulating her on her accomplishments.  After all, she’s one of the best swimmers in the entire world.  And if she did cheat, let us recognize that sexism and other forms of oppression sometimes causes us to do the wrong thing because we have been told over and over again that we are not good enough the way we are (and the science to prove it!)  Ye Shiwen was not planning on being faster than Ryan Lochte, she just wanted to swim her best.  She’s a young womyn who has found something she is good at.  We should be celebrating her as another womyn who is not afraid to show herself and tell the world that, “Yes, I am good enough.”