thoughts on jail and other rants
i realize the moments i felt most alone, i was not. while i felt alienated from the women sitting across from me, i was actually sharing an experience with them.
i experienced a moment when you lose absolute control of your life. the inability to eat when you want, drink what you want, or to even piss privately.
my anger was focused yet scattered. i felt emotionally disconnected from my cellmates. at times i think i was projecting my own fear, my lack of control and attempting to impose them onto my cellmates. i was jealous that one woman was able to sleep so well, so easily. i was tired of hearing from another woman. i was angry about the fact i had to stay in my cell while my fellow english speaking dongjis got to go in and out. at least they were being productive, keeping busy. i felt powerless, paralyzed. and in that scattered anger, i did not take advantage of my privileges. i could have advocated on behalf of the whole group, but instead advocated for one or two.
i thought about what the differences would be if we were getting arrested in the u.s. it would be entirely different under what circumstance you were getting arrested for, but i still recognized the privileges i have as a small, asian woman here in the u.s.. i began to understand more fully the messages of prison activists’ writings. what i mean to say is that i don’t pretend my 12+ hour experience in hk compares anything to political prisoner legends such as george jackson, mumia, angela davis, etc., but that i got a mere sliver of a taste. i thought deeply about their writings and experiences and felt a newfound level of respect for them.
every time i closed my eyes, i saw the individual faces of the farmer dongji’s i got to know so well over the past week, and especially more so the previous night. i truly felt at home with them on that cold street, talking, chiding, singing and dancing with them. i saw the faces of dosa nim, kibal ajushi, kwigeori hwejangnim, my new kirok chingu, m.s. shi, and all the others who made an indelible mark on my life.
the self-sacrifice, the spirit of struggle, the willingness to give your own life for something you believe in. the discipline we so lack here in the u.s. i hate to romanticize the experience or the farmers. these are also crass, sexist, and alcoholic men. but it was during that week that i saw past that and understood them deeper, as they revealed their souls to me. i had a meaningful and full discussion on sexism with m.s. he didn’t try to make excuses for a pig brother who harassed me (it was the second time in two weeks that i was harassed by a man). he simply apologized, asked me for my forgiveness, and said they will definitely follow up when they got back to n.
this will sound cheesy and corny, but i will risk being seen as that. i read my horoscope before leaving for hk. it said that i could fall in love. i wondered who i could possibly fall in love with, but i now realize it was the entire n contingent of the korean peasants league. they have won my heart over, despite the male sexism, despite the huge cultural differences and language barriers.
it is on this and previous keep trips that i have been able to more fully develop myself as an activist in the u.s. it was on my 2003 trip that i got to speak publicly for the first time while feeling the power and depth from which i was speaking. and it was this trip that i got to lead chants in front of hundreds of farmers and supporters without feeling small and inadequate. i kept repeating the same chants over and over again because i felt that if we kept repeating enough, with enough power, that it was inevitably going to happen. that the power of the people on that street, on that night will absolutely will it to happen.
i think this has been a long enough rant for now. more than long enough, i suppose...