December Meeting Recap: Year of the Tiger by Alice Wong
Discussion topics, relevant themes & media recommendations to wrap up (or kickstart) your reading of Alice Wong's Year of the Tiger!
ID: (From left to right) Hotties Ally and Natalie are seated holding a copy of Alice Wong's Year of the Tiger. On the right, Hotties Kylie, Tali, and Bridget are seated reading a copy of Alice Wong's Year of the Tiger.
For our first meeting of 2023, we concluded our reading of Alice Wong’s Year of the Tiger with a fully virtual meeting. This book, along with our supplemental discussion, was an incredibly meaningful one for a number of reasons: it challenged assumptions, it approached sensitive topics with care & offered an intimate view into the life of disability justice activist Alice Wong.
With this book being particularly new (released September 2022) and relevant, there was so much that we were eager to discuss during our time together. Most of our conversation, however, was guided by Sandy Ho’s Official Year of the Tiger Discussion Guide. Here, Sandy Ho, a queer disabled Asian American woman, community organizer and activist, and close friend to Alice Wong, presents a beautiful list of questions, reflections, and activities for individuals hoping to deepen their engagement with the themes and ideas addressed in Wong’s collection of essays. Below, we have listed a number of Ho’s questions that we touched on throughout the meeting, but feel free to take a look at Ho’s discussion guide for a more exhaustive list of questions and opportunities for self-reflection.
We hope that our meeting recap can give you a little bit of insight into the fruitful conversation that was had, or encourage you to check out Alice Wong’s Year of the Tiger on your own time. You’ll find below a list of discussion topics and relevant themes, as well as relevant media recommendations.
What’s the soundtrack for the days when your body needs to “slow the fuck down”? What would you include in a playlist for the moments you need to get amped up by Big Cat Energy?
Hardcover Hotties’ MY BODY NEEDS TO SLOW THE FUCK DOWN Playlist
Cats, their features, and the tiger essence are present throughout the memoir. In what ways does the tone, voice, and flow of this memoir embody these cunning and majestic animals? What big cat practices and rituals resonate with you?
Undergirding her truths and stories is an air of fantasy, science-fiction, and insatiable curiosity for other worlds yet to be conjured and explored. How has leaning into science- fiction and fantasy guided her activism? In what ways has this also brought about unanswered questions?
There are so many moments of bold, flavorful, unapologetic, and cunning ways that joy emerges throughout this book. Experiencing and sharing joy is a ritual Alice lives by and lives for. Why is joy so important and in what ways can it be both life-giving and weaponized?
What, if any, activist wisdom surprised you or that you have more curiosities about? Were there any statements that resonate with you in particular?
How does storytelling differentiate and further ideas about representation, and visibility?
How does Alice’s relationship to time nourish, hydrate, and allow her storytelling to ferment? What are some of the falsehoods of capitalism that have harmed storytelling, and storytellers?
How does the idea of the “choreography of care” add to the ingenious artistry of crip living?
What are some of the other reasons that activists write? Why is it important for social justice movements to write as a form of self-preservation?
How might collective care and mutual aid bend time in ways that work for all of us?
How does Year of the Tiger differ from other memoirs in the way that it was formatted? Year of the Tiger’s novel structure offered readers an intimate look into her work, her personality, her passions, and her likes and dislikes. It was brimming with Big Cat Energy.
The essays were crafted over various periods in her life, taken from all sorts of media sources such as her Disability Visibility blog and podcast, Eater, and The New York Times. Her work granted visibility to a number of issues central to the disability justice movement, while offering insight into how language around these topics changes according to audiences and who is holding the microphone. She underwent the hard work of portraying all of the nuances as a disabled Asian American woman.
Wong is incredibly vulnerable in her writing in describing the role that anger plays in her life and in her activism. Anger has long been a meaningful tool for enacting change; however, there is no denying its emotionally exhausting, taxing nature. Wong touches on this briefly:
“Ableism conscripted me into activism … Being agitated and dissatisfied is an activist mood. Activism is undervalued, unsustainable, and unrelenting. … Finding the joy, pleasure, and generative possibilities of organizing is part of my long-term unlearning of what activism is supposed to look like. Unlearning and building anew is activism as well.” (“Introduction,” xiv)
Anger, particularly in individuals with marginalized intersecting identities, is deeply stigmatized, with negative feelings of shame or guilt often being associated with it.
Anger is valid, actionable, and devoid of value judgments (independently, it is neither good nor bad).
Book connection: Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly
In what ways can you channel positive emotion into your activism?
Access is Love
In many organizational or institutional contexts, accessibility has proven to be an afterthought leading to detrimental consequences for those affected. Instrumental changes to accessibility have been made as a result from the self-advocacy and activism of disabled folks everywhere – think about Wong’s experience attending college for the first time (“Why Disabled People Drop Out,” 102). What does access advocacy look like?
Interested in learning about alt text? Visit the Alt Text as Poetry project to learn more about alt text’s role in online accessibility and its applications, as well as opportunities for relevant writing exercises.
When traveling in public spaces, be conscious of obstructive objects in walking paths (large branches, trash, etc.) and try clearing the space if you are able.
Fuck your paper straws (if plastic straws aren’t equally accessible).
“Why Disabled People Need Plastic Straws” by Alice Wong
Are you a student? Hold your professors accountable to include closed captions on recorded lecture videos.
Community is love; access is love. At its core, accessibility strives to reach the most amount of people that it can, easing the lives of disabled and nondisabled people alike. Equal access is love – everyone can benefit.
Book connection: All About Love by bell hooks
Wong does a beautiful job of describing accessibility in both complex and simple terms. There are both easy and complex solutions, and activist spaces are full of problem solvers.
Technology & Social Media
How has social media influenced your own activism? For many of us, we have been privileged enough to grow up in an age with the internet as a tool for activism and for seeking community.
How can we promote technological education? Like anything, social media can be complicated.
The Disabled 1%
Disability looks different for everyone depending on monetary status, and conversations about the intersection of class and disability are becoming increasingly relevant.
Film connection: Joker (2019)
Arthur Fleck, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is a low-income man with a neurological disorder that causes him to laugh at “inappropriate” times (Re: Symphonic Disabled Voices, 232). Fleck depends on social services to receive his proper medication, but he encounters continuous obstacles due to government budget cuts.
In Year of the Tiger, Wong features a transcript from her conversation with W. Kamau Bell in the Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period podcast, regarding his 1999 film The Bone Collector. They dive into the implications of Washington playing a wheelchair user as a nondisabled person and the parts of his fictional experience that are similar or different to the lived disabled experience, particularly in regard to how his financial access impacts his level of care (“The 1 Percent Disabled Club,” 141)
Film connection: The Bone Collector (1999)
Culture & Food
In the memoir, Wong discusses her relationship to food on a number of occasions, including an interview with her mom, Bobby Wong, in which they discuss practices in traditions used during celebration of Chinese New Year (“Lunar New Year Memories,” 190).
Food is a community-builder; food is “I love you”. Oftentimes, food is one of the most obvious ways that we can nurture, nourish, and comfort the people that we love. Enjoyment (or non-enjoyment) of such sensations as taste and texture experiences are universally felt for the average eater; sharing meals with another person can be an incredibly special experience.
Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly
Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
All About Love by bell hooks
Films, Podcasts & Essays
Crip Camp (2020)
Alice Wong’s Disability Visibility Podcast
Ep 85: Fat Liberation
Ep 96: Art and Technology
Andrew Gurza’s Disability in the Dark Podcast
“Constant Cravings” by Alice Wong
Did we miss anything?
This is not an exhaustive list of the topics discussed during our meeting -- if we missed something, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Instagram @hardcoverhotties.
Keep an eye out for the full meeting recording and the January book of the month announcement. Head on over to our Instagram @hardcoverhotties for updates! XO