Kristina Wong– the Choice of Northridge Filipinos Everywhere!
April 27th, 2007 → Leave a comment
Hey guys, still no response from Justin Tanthanasiridej about whether or not his club, CSUN’s Filipino American Student Association (FASA) will still be profiting off of or participating in tonight’s fundraiser. So it looks like they might be going ahead with it and using “We’re just dumb college kids who made a mistake, won’t do it again, we promise” as their excuse. The editor at the CSUN student paper asked me to go to the party tonight and write an article about my impressions of it.
Yeah, can you imagine me stepping into this pimp and ho party screaming, “Hey Everyone! I’m Kristina Wong! Who’s happy to see me?!”
Anyway, one member of FASA, Marc, was kind enough to send me an email. His text is in blue. My response is in black. Enjoy!
Dear Kristina Wong,
I applaud your efforts in trying to bring issues of sexism into the limelight of college students and the Asian American community. I have been apart of the student club you mention and hope that issues can be cleared up as soon as possible. As an Asian American studies major I have come across your website during classes used to serve as a tool to start discussions dealing with the communities mentioned. I have to say that I agree with most of your politics, but find that some of your tactics could be more civil as the president of the Filipino American Student Association has done in your reply.
I am a satirist. This is how I write and I am not sorry that you have a problem with it. I felt assaulted when I saw Justin’s email and felt it necessary to send that same sentiment back to him. Also, you have to understand that it’s not exactly the most easy thing to approach a student group where the men (presumably) have no issue being characterized as “pimps.” This is why I chose a more satirical tone.
Thank you for bringing this issue to us, but is there a reason to further attack and damage one person’s character?
How am I doing that? Honestly, anything I am writing of Justin couldn’t reflect more poorly than the fact that he has sent off a tasteless flyer for a “Pimp and Ho” fundraiser for the club he is president of.
I understand that you speak on your own opinion, and may also speak for those who are against the oppression of the sex trafficking and sex tourism industry. (I consider myself an ally to this particular cause.) What I have come to see, via myspace and the electronic world, is that you are actively pursuing to put pressure on one person when there are several parties involved in this “NIGHT CLUB event.”
Justin’s was the only email address I had access to. He is the club president, the person who sent the offending email, and who better to take the issue up with than him? I am not going to run after every group involved with the night club event.
Also, you misunderstand my intentions. While I have issues with “Pimp and Ho” parties, I don’t believe my time should be spent stopping club promoters from having them. It’s when a Filipino American organization (whose mission is “to promote justice and equality”) stands to profit off of such an event that I take issue.
From what I know, there was a decision to make fundraiser night in conjunction with a promoting company for night clubs. CSUN FASA has done this before just as well as other Filipino/ Asian American student orgs have done so. For those who live under a rock, many college organizations co-sponsor club events with some arranged agreement where the organization may receive a percentage of funds through cover charges or the bar tap based upon the number of people they bring. Please understand that no members of CSUN FASA designed the flier for the event, nor did any of them specifically plan to have a Pimp n Ho themed party with intent to harm others.
Believe me, most of the people who are not familiar with your group would see your flier and not know the intricacies of FASA’s involvement with the party. All they see is “Pimp and Ho” and “CSUN FASA Fundraiser” on the flier. The only intention that I see is that FASA/Justin was careless in recognizing the sexist nature of the flyer or responding to it. His attitude seems to be, “Oh well… Too late… We won’t do it next time.” Instead, he can rise to the occasion and publicly acknowledge that he and FASA made a mistake. But he hasn’t had the courage to do this.
I believe what happened is that a night club promoter contacted the organization to have a fundraiser and they took the opportunity with little hindsight. With budget cuts, rising tuition, debts owed, and the sake of financial stability of CSUN FASA judgment of the content of material was of course overlooked.
“We are a poor organization, so we had to pimp out Asian women to make money. We just had to.”
This is a really pathetic excuse for justifying sexism. You do realize that don’t you? I think very few people would feel sympathetic for FASA that they had “no choice but” to use distasteful material and participate in such an event. There are plenty of other ways to raise money that would more appropriately reflect your mission.
However, I am wondering how come you have not criticized organizations, fraternities, sororities, event organizers, and performers in their participation in events such as these? An example would be where Filipino American college students partake in an event known as Friendship Games. Organizers usually have some night-club after-party with fliers that are quite similar to one made for CSUN FASA.
If I had all the time in the world, I would write letters more often like the one to Justin. I’m usually quite busy and just happened to have the time this week to engage in these emails. When Justin’s email was forwarded to me, it hit an emotional nerve. This is why I felt compelled to respond the way I did.
Running around and screaming at everyone and every organization that has participated in events like this is a poor and exhausting strategy for activism and social change. I pick and choose my battles. I see this confrontation with FASA as a key moment to create important community dialogue on gender and sexism within the Asian American community. I also believe that if FASA chooses to act responsibly in the matter, this will generate social change that other student groups can learn from.
Have you tried to contact Barkada Modern, as performers, and asked them to not perform? Is it because the logo includes the word “Filipino” that you are deciding to target CSUN FASA? I’m assuming that you understand that Barkada is a tagolog word, which may indicate something related to Filipino Americans. What about the other parties mentioned in the flier?
I sent the email to Justin because his was the only email address on the email announcement and the flier clearly says that it is a “Fundraiser for CSUN FASA.” I also thought that as FASA president, he was the best person to direct my letter to since club presidents tend to be the key representatives for their organizations. I was not interested in writing the other parties on the flier. It was clear to me that FASA was actually PROFITING from the party and this was the conflict of interest.
I feel that your judgment has been made in a hasty manner. In my own opinion, I would initially try to find more about the issue by directly waiting for an email response from a representative from the club. Instead you preempted the issue by CCing your email to university officials, prompting for an immediate reaction. For the purpose of argument can you please state your motive is?
Again, I found it horrifying that CSUN would allow a student group to raise money through a “pimp and ho” party and if your president and (presumably) none of your members didn’t have a problem representing FASA this way publicly in cyberspace, then what was wrong with my sending an email to others? Once Justin sent that email out into public, it became public domain. If I didn’t cc school officials, someone else would have. I also noticed that a CSUN professor acquaintance was on Justin’s original email. If he didn’t have a problem sending it to her, then why should it matter that I cc’d others on the campus?
An unfair advantage exists here when you already have your own fame through your works and the Asian American community. You have nothing to lose here, where Justin has everything to lose when you publish his entire name with intent to harm his character, and try to construct a false image of who he is and who he is associated with.
It’s flattering that you think that I have “fame.” Not really, but thanks. Actually, I do have a lot to lose. Nothing is scarier than the idea of 200 angry Filipinos coming to my house for revenge and waking up with a Tinikling stick thrust through my heart.
And I don’t think that anything I am writing is defamatory of Justin. All references I’ve made to him on my site are questions I have of him, his character and his intentions. He is welcome to respond to or disagree with me. However, he has chosen to not respond to my last two emails. If he does write, I will repost his response on my blog for others to read.
Please TRY to get know him and find more about him before taking libelous actions. If it is to bring about REAL issues concerning the oppression of women, then let us create a dialogue about this and keep things civil.
Where is Justin? I haven’t heard from him all day. I only received a form email about how FASA would never “knowingly” demean women. I’ve opened the door for him to respond. Justin is also welcome to respond to all the recipients of my original email. That’s why I put all those emails there in the “cc” section. So that he can speak to his defense. In fact, I am “cc”ing him here and he is welcome to respond. I’m glad that you feel compelled to write (on his behalf?), but really, he’s the club president and should take the responsibility to address the matter.
In regards to the Filipino American Student Association at CSUN, please don’t generalize all the members by what few say.
I don’t have time to get to know all your members. I am sure they are all nice people. But really, you need to understand that when you put out a fundraising flyer like that, people aren’t reading between the lines and the flyer becomes a representative of your organization and what values they stand for.
One of the greatest things I have enjoyed as a member of four years in CSUN FASA is the diversity amongst its members. Many students with different ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual orientations, classes, and ages have come and gone through this club. A Filipino American student organization that has had a Thai president, African cultural coordinator, and a number of LGBTQ students is very rare to find.
That’s great to hear. Honestly, I think FASA’s flyer, FASA’s choice of this as a fundraising event, and FASA/Justin’s poor response in addressing the concerns of the community at large has done a lot of damage to represent and promote that diversity that you say exists.
Now that controversy has been started, what is the next step?
You tell me. I’m just a girl who had problems with your fundraiser. I’m not here to fix your problems for you. I, Kristina Wong, did not singlehandedly create “controversy” for you. Justin (and whoever else) invited conflict by choosing to go forward with this ridiculous “Pimp and Ho” party as your fundraiser. I’m barely sending around the emails on this event, others are reposting my emails because they feel the same way I, not because I forced them to repost emails about this event.
I do have a few ideas though on how to move forward. For starters you can urge your club president to withdraw FASA’s participation in tonight’s fundraiser. While this would cost you potential funds and create confusion, I think it’s the response that would reflect the most integrity. You can also urge Justin to offer a public apology on behalf of your club. And you can also engage in a dialogue about class, race, and gender issues stemming from this incident within your club and see what steps you can take so that future events (perhaps healthy women-centered events) reflect FASA’s mission.
I’d also suggest explaining to the Matador Involvement Center how hard it is for you to raise money, and that you are “forced” to put on “Pimp and Ho” parties to raise funds. I’m sure they would respond with some suggestions for better ways to fundraise.
Good luck to your group. I hope you will use this incident as a moment to grow from, grow stronger from, and be true to your mission.
Endure the Struggle.