36. a(nother) letter to my students + a "third world solidarity" syllabus

thinking about how to support my communities

Hi there! 👋 I’m Ida, and this is tiny driver, a newsletter about research, pedagogy, culture and their intersections. Thank you for being here. Reach out anytime by just hitting reply, I love hearing from you.

So much, it seems, has happened over last week.

Remember Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Sun Cha Kim and Yong Ae Yue.

The shooting in Georgia that killed 8 people—6 of whom were Asian women—has wreaked so much pain within my communities. It has been difficult on my students, on my colleagues, on my friends and on so many of my networks. While it has been heartening to see other folks that I follow and read share resources & places to donate in light of this tragedy, it is devastating to see the very real ways that this has affected the communities of which I consider myself a part. All I can say is show up for the members of your communities in the ways that serve them. Listen. Uplift their voices. Get trained to de-escalate anti-Asian/American harassment:

I've also been grappling with what's been going on at Substack. As most of you know, this newsletter is free—I don't ask subscriptions, and so Substack doesn't get any money from me. I am in a similar situation to Annalee Newitz, who also has a free newsletter but is way more famous than I am (lol). Other options like Ghost are very costly if I don't ask my readers to pay for subscriptions. However, I am not okay with using a platform that puts the safety of trans folks & other marginalized communities at risk and is also not being transparent about the ways in which they are creating this sort of dynamic through their business model.

I've been in conversations with other Substack writers about our collective future on the platform. We are trying to figure out what we are going to do and how we are going to move forward (or not) on Substack. Some folks (who are much, much more well-known that I am) are in conversation with the heads of the platform, and I am doing what I can to lend support, but that is really all I can say right now. I ask that you bear with me as I work to navigate the future of tiny driver. The newsletter will always be around, and you will always get it on Monday mornings, but it might come from a different place in due time! Who knows?! We're still figuring it out!

As I write this, it is the start of Northwestern's Spring Break. I have just finished ten weeks of zoom teaching 2 courses, and must now prepare for a second pair of courses that I'll be teaching from April to June. I do think it important to give myself a break and rest during this time, which is why this week's newsletter will be a bit shorter than usual. Thank you for your understanding as I try to be gentle to myself and give my mind the rest it needs. 😴

✨ I will be announcing details about the 📚 tiny driver book club 📚 next week, so please also stay tuned for that. I am very excited to share what I've been cooking up! ✨

What I teach.

Although last week I didn't have class with my students—it was exam week—I did communicate with them one last time over email. It is really a sign of the times that I began this quarter with a letter to them about the events of Jan. 6, and now must end the quarter by acknowledging another devastating event. Although I myself was still processing the Georgia shooting, I wanted to also let students know that their pain was recognized, and that I was there to support them in my capacity as their professor. I'm sharing with you all the letter I wrote to my classes in the hopes that it will resonate with some of you as well. Just because the quarter is over does not mean that our care for one another has disbanded—the class & class materials are still a way to collectively process. Thank you to my friend & fellow prof Sara A. for providing me with her own letter to students, which served as a helpful skeleton:

Hi all,

Whether you saw the news last night or are hearing of it this morning, I’m writing to acknowledge and recognize the white supremacist, anti-Asian violence in Atlanta.

A mental hug in the shape of an email—I know that things are heavy and hard, after a year of relentless, various forms of violence against our communities. I hope that you give yourself the space to process your thoughts & feelings. I encourage you all to take the time you need to intentionally do something kind for yourselves today.

Over the past quarter, our class has been our community, a space where we get to think, write, and dream up worlds worth fighting for. And our classroom served as a space to collectively process, emotionally and intellectually. Just because the quarter ended last week, however, does not mean that this community no longer exists and that I am no longer here. Please always feel free to reach out and I will try to help and support in my capacity as your professor.

You all have created such an amazing space where we have envisioned the possibilities and hopes of collective action and collective care. Carry this work forward--you all are doing amazing things. Please also don't forget to be kind to yourselves and proceed gently.

Wishing you all strength and resilience,
Prof. Yalzadeh

Next quarter, I am teaching two courses. Asian Americans & Third World Solidarity* and US Media Representations of the Middle East. While I am excited for both courses, I think that the former will have a particular resonance with my students in light of current events. The history of Third Worldism seems to be relegated to a time past, but I see this era of cross-coalitional solidarity as an ethos that has become increasingly renewed in the past decade.

Given my own investment in these forms of movement building, I'm sharing the readings of my "Asian Americans & Third World Solidarity" syllabus with you all. It is my hope that it'll give those of you who are interested a foundation for imagining new worlds & strategizing new ways of being that honor and are grounded in the movements of the past.

Access the Syllabus

*EDIT: The name for this course is credited to one of my mentors, Naoko Shibusawa, who taught a course by the same name at Brown University. Her syllabus inspired my own thoughts around this subject & my re-imagining of the readings assigned + assignments produced for students.
**A note: While I do not link out to the works (due to copyright infringement), if you're interested in any of the readings and can't access them on your own, feel free to reach out to me by replying to this email and I'll send you the PDF. We're all about accessibility here.

What I consume.

In the Bookshop:
Currently Reading: Juliet the Maniac by Juliet Escoria + Sins of the Father by Mia Counts Lynch
On Deck: The Weak Spot by Lucie Elven

Item(s) of note.

A pup-date.

Higgins as a little croissant baby. And yes, I did google "croissant illustration" to try to get this just right.

As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!


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