Angry Reader of the Week: Narinda Heng

What's up, folks? Please gather 'round to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Narinda Heng.

Who are you?
Narinda. Long Cool Hallway. "Shin" on That's What She Said.

What are you?
Caffeinated. Khmer American. Queer. Female. An Aries. An Ox. Moo.

Where are you?
Oakland, CA. I moved here after five years in Los Angeles, when I spent much of my time running around with Tuesday Night Project.

Where are you from?
Geographically: Southern California. Garden Grove/Santa Ana, with some Bellflower sprinkled in. Four years in Irvine. Please, please don't call it "the" OC. "The" is reserved for freeways.
Ancestrally: Cambodia. Srok Khmer.
Spiritually: A long history of growing, laughing, surviving, celebrating people who have all gone through war of one kind or another. A long line of amazing women who have held it all together.

What do you do?
I can usually be found working part-time at a nonprofit, puttering around with seeds and dirt, posting sporadically on various blogs, repurposing jars and bottles, self-publishing chapbooks, and climbing.

What are you all about?
This song has been on loop for the last week. Lately, I've been excited about making my own lotion, lip balm, and granola. I like DIY projects. It feels good moving away from a materialistic, consumerist culture to one in that's more connected to the world around us, to the finiteness of resources, and to the power of our own hands to create.

Much of my last ten years was preoccupied with exploring my identity as an Asian American, then as a queer Asian American, then as a queer Asian American female, and then as queer Khmer American cis-woman. Through all of the exploring (which did, at some moments, feels a lot like navel-gazing), questions come up up: What does it mean to be Asian American beyond visibility? How do I fit in the greater struggle for racial/gender/economic/environmental justice? How do we get beyond the pain of history, the pain of rejection or perceived rejection, and beyond messages of race/sex/class division so that we can sit down and talk to each other and work together to find a more humane way of living on this planet?

What makes you angry?
That the last strawberry field in Garden Grove is gone. When random men give me unsolicited and unwelcome advice on how to climb something. The deeply misogynistic culture that played a big role in making me averse to femininity when I first began exploring my queer identity. The term "developing country" makes me angry because it's code for "a country that is exploitable and is somewhere you can go to spend your strong western currency and/or exercise your white-savior-complex muscle." Those who try to tell people they're not queer anymore because they're in a relationship that doesn't outwardly appear queer.

Our prison/injustice system which operates on the idea that certain people, usually men of color, are disposable. The devaluation of labor typically associated with women: supportive roles, care givers, domestic workers. The devaluation of labor in general. Shouldn't we have a something like a 30-hour work week by now, with all this technological "progress"? Shouldn't the federal minimum wage at least pretend to try to keep up with inflation?

Most of all: the idea that how things are is the way things are, and we might as well just deal with it. Nope. Not always. (Privilege-check: I'm college-educated, able-bodied, cisgender, I don't have children, and I had citizenship in this country from birth, which means there are quite a few things that I can change which others can't. All the more reason to do something.)

Photo credit: Grant Komjakraphan Allison Santos

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