A Revolutionary’s Guide to Building it Back Again


A Revolutionary’s Guide to Building it Back Again
(Sequel to A Revolutionary’s Guide to Breaking (It) Up)

A very rough guide to learning about “the culture(s) of your people(s)” in order to resist assimilation and/or appropriating the cultures of others in the absence of knowing that you come from somewhere too. 

In no particular order.

1. Show up.
2. Ask your grandmother off-limits questions.
3. Screw up. Get scolded.
4. Keep asking questions.
5. Get scolded.
6. Call your mom.
7. Shut up and listen.
8. Listen.
9. Remember.
10. Share.
11. Repeat.
12. Hilarious and heartbreak go hand in hand. Want to cry but laugh instead. Get laughed at. Want to cry. Laugh at yourself until you cry. Cry until you laugh. Just cry. Laugh. A Lot.
13. Listen.
14. Remember.
15. Share.
16. Repeat.
17. Ask questions.
18. Screw up. Get over yourself.
19. Ask questions. Ask Google.
20. Give up.
21. Try again.
22. Practice.
23. Practice.
24. Practice.
25. Host a dinner for the biggest holiday of the year, though you have no idea how to cook any of the dishes, and it turns out the only Asian grocery store in town is closed because it’s the biggest holiday of the year. Luckily your friends have kitchen experience and can read cookbooks.
26. People will start to think you actually know how to order dim sum. Fake it til you make it.
27. People will think you know how to make dumplings. Those, you can figure out, with a little help from the internet.
28. People will ask you about the dried fungus in a Chinese herbalist shop, what ginseng is for, and where all those tiny seahorses come from. Distract them with White Rabbit candies and Haw Flakes.
29. Acknowledge and mourn all that you’ll never know.
30. Give up.
31. Feign nonchalance.
32. Actually care really hard.
33. Try again.
34. Connect with others who are trying to do the same thing. Inspire each other.
35. Ask questions. Crowd source the answers.
36. Ask questions. Question the answers.
37. People will think you are an expert. You know you are an imposter.
38. Endure conversations with Chinese guys quoting classical Chinese poetry at you.
39. Endure conversations with white guys quoting classical Chinese poetry at you.
40. Feel objectified.
41. Feel humiliated when white people tell you how many more Chinese characters they know than you. Bite your tongue. Let it go. Learning comes from all places.
42. Listen.
43. Remember.
44. Share.
45. Repeat.
46. Critique, and reject the oppressive parts.
47. Have white people tell you they wish they had a culture like you. Ask them, “where are you from, like where are you grandparents from?” Get into a real exchange of stories.
48. Realize you actually know something!
49. Write it down, dammit! Save all those scraps of papers and notebooks with all those brilliant scribbles, otherwise how will your grandchildren sift through the family archives in search of their stories.
50. Oh yeah, what about the Irish ancestors? Why don’t you honour their culture too?
51. Listen.
52. Remember.
53. Share.
54. Reinterpret.
55. Repeat.


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