Victo Ngai
This piece is for today’s NYTimes op-ed about the “Great Famine” which killed 36million people in China from 1958-1962. ” The toll was more than twice the number of fallen in WWI, and about six times the number of Ukrainians starved by Stalin in 1932-33 or the number of Jews murdered by Hitler during WWII.” “After 50 years, the famine still cannot be freely discussed in the place where it happened…The reason is political: a full exposure of the Great Famine could undermine the legitimacy of a ruling part that clings to the political legacy of Mao, even though that legacy, a totalitarian Communist system, was the root cause of the famine.” You can read the full article here
It was a very heavy assignment and quite a challenge. My mother grew up during the famine and her best friend’s sister was starved to death. My uncle witnessed cannibalism happened after all the grass roots have been dug up and eaten. And yet, when I talked to them about it, instead of anger/hatred towards the government, they just looked very sad and said ” it’s very complicated.” Mao’s policies is definitely one of the indisputable causes of the Great Famine. However there were also many other factors : blockade from international world due the the fear of Communism; sudden withdrawal of aids and dunning of heavy debt of the USSR after the 2 countries’ friendly relationship fell apart; 3 years of natural disaster…
My grandmother was a highschool principal and fell victim during the Cultural revolution. Family members from my dad’s side who were members of the Kuomingtang were executed when the Communist party took over. All of these blood-stained history and mistakes should not be forgotten. However Is it worth it to revolt the government now in risk of a civil war when China has finally gotten back on her feet from a century of poverty, colonization and humiliation?  And when most older Chinese you meet would happily tell you how “life is good now”?  I really don’t know. 
Honestly, I don’t know what is right or wrong, just or unjust anymore. Maybe there’s no such things when it comes to politics. This piece is just about the deep sorrow and suffering of my people. 
Thank you AD Matt and Alexandra for this 6 hours adrenaline rush high! 
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    Thank you to remon-panko Jia for introducing me to the impeccable Victor Ngai. A very poignant and true perspective of...
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