More on: API prisoners

New Year at the Q

Feb 03, 2011
» Reflections

Different cultures have different superstitions. One of the superstitions in Asian culture is it’s bad luck to go visit a prison. It’s one thing if you have loved ones locked up and you’re visiting them. It’s all bad if you just go visit a prison.

In the past, I had encourage some youth to go visit San Quentin so they can get an ideal what life is like so they won’t do things that land them there. However, most of the Asian youth don’t want to go because of superstition. Their parents don’t approve of them going for the same reason.

For me, I would like to think that I transcend all superstition. Therefore, I went to visit San Quentin this afternoon to brainstorm on setting up a culture competent program to help the Asian and Pacific Islander prisoners. One of the prisoners showed me a “lai shi” he received from an older prisoner. “lai shi” is good luck money that married people or elders give to the youngsters in a red envelop during new year celebration. Since there’s no red envelop in prison, they guy use a paper towel and shaded with red color pencil to make the envelop. For money, he put a prison photo ducat (Photo ducat is used in the visiting room to take pictures with visitors. It’s sell through the Prison Canteen.,) which worth two dollars, inside the envelop. I asked the guys whether all the Asians are going to have a spread to celebrate the new year. They said everyone’s too busy working and going to self help programs. They may do something over the weekend.

Culture is important. For those who are incarcerated, they still observe their cultures as much as they can. Therefore, it’s important to have cultural specific programs cater to their needs to reduce recidivism.

Again, I’m grateful that I can walk out of the prison each time I visit. Each visit gives me perspective and makes me more appreciative of freedom.

Other: An Asian & Pacific Islander Prisoners’ Anthology

Apr 14, 2010
» Books

This anthology of work by Asian & Pacific Islander (API) prisoners is the first book to highlight the unique stories and perspectives of this growing prisoner population in the US. Through original poetry, vignettes, essays, first-hand narratives, interviews, and drawings, 22 contributors cover topics such as the factors that led to their incarceration, the cruelty that occurs in prisons and immigration detention jails, and the harsh reality of deportation that awaits many API prisoners. By offering readers a glimpse into their innermost fears, regrets, and dreams, these prisoners contribute an important voice to our society’s discussion around race, immigration, and prison issues.

OTHER includes a preface by Helen Zia. It is edited by Eddy Zheng and Ben Wang, designed by Joy Liu, and is a project of the Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC).  Available for purchase at Eastwind Books of Berkeley.

Preview below:

San Francisco State University, Guest Lecturer

Oct 19, 2009
» Engagements

San Francisco, CA
Spoke about deportation and the experience of API prisoners, at Professor Russell Jeung’s classes “Chinese American Personality”, “Social Class and Low Income Chinese Americans” and “Asian American Public Policy”, to a total of approximately 150 students

SF State University, Guest Speaker

Feb 13, 2009
» Engagements

San Francisco, CA
Spoke about the importance of community service, the API prison population, and struggles in the Prison Industrial Complex, to approximately 200 freshman students

Other: Voices of Asian Prisoners

Sep 27, 2008
» Videos

Part 1:

About the Event

“Other: Voices of Asian Prisoners”
Saturday, Sept. 27th, 2008
Critical Resistance Conference in Oakland, California

Panel workshop featuring Rico Riemedio, German Yambao, and Eddy Zheng. They discuss changes that have occurred in the Asian prison population over the past 20 years, concerns and struggles particular to Asian prisoners, and how Asian prisoners build community and resistance inside the Prison Industrial Complex. Organized by the Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC).

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The struggles of APA prisoners

Apr 25, 2003
» Articles, Reflections

One inmate’s call for APA community support

by Eddy Zheng, AsianWeek, VOICES FROM THE COMMUNITY

Asians do not go to prisons. When people mention the word prison they usually conjure up images of hard-core criminals — murderers, kidnappers, drug dealers, gang members and sexual predators. Prison also brings to mind the mass incarceration of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and poor whites. Rarely do people associate prison with Asian Pacific Americans.

I am an APA prisoner who has been incarcerated for over 17 years. If I have to write about all the struggles APA prisoners have to endure, I can write a book. Since I am writing an essay, I will share with you some of what it is like to be an APA in prison.

The first thing an APA prisoner is subjected to is the surrender of his ethnicity. The prison system promotes racial segregation by grouping prisoners as “Black,” “White,” “Mexican/Hispanic” and “Other.” It is a means of control by creating a separation of culture between races. As soon as an APA is processed into the prison he is categorized as an “Other.” He is no longer Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Japanese or any other ethnicity. Once he is labeled, for the rest of his stay in prison he will be living, showering, eating and hanging out with those who are in the same category.
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