Built by students, the 33′ high Goddess of Democracy was assembled in Tiananmen Square on the night of May 29-30. Shelley found this picture in a shoebox.
The words “惊天” (today) are blocked on Weibo right now. Because we all know what today is. If you’re on this blog, you know what today is. Even the least attentive have been counting down to it while going about our daily lives. And now, the time has finally come to take stock, 25 years later.
My entire life has been lived in the looming presence of the Tiananmen Massacre, but I didn’t understand that until I grew up. It’s not just my life, either. All of China lives there, in the shadow of it. The current regime constantly fights to censor it and keep it suppressed, but even where the Party line succeeds you can still see it from the emptiness: the space where it should be. Sometimes I feel like if I traced my finger back along the origins of any crackdown or power struggle in contemporary China I would end up in the Square on June 4th, 1989 every single time. Continue reading
For Ying’s fifth birthday, our parents bought her a Power Wheels Barbie Beach Patrol. It was a white jeep with bright pink wheels, a pink steering wheel, and a phone where you could press a button and talk to (and hear responses from) Barbie. It could seat two, if you were both five years old. It cost $250, so it was the only present she got that year. It was also the most money our parents had ever spent on a toy.
Ying couldn’t wait to take it home, drive it around the neighborhood, make a splash with the other little girls in her social set. The only problem was, the giant honking battery under the hood had to charge for 24 hours. So when we finally take it out of the garage for the first drive, anticipation is high. We drag it out to the street, Ying gets in, she’s playing around with the steering wheel, and then she puts her foot down on the pedal and with a jerky, high-pitched whine of the battery, she just takes off.
So we live on a cul-de-sac and mom and I are following Ying as she’s tooling down the street, taking a few tries to make the turn at the end, and coming back up. And she is having the time of her life, as only five-year-olds can. She’s posing for pictures, talking on the phone—I can see her smile from all the way down the street. And then mom turns to me and goes, “You should take it for a drive.” I look at her. I am 12 years old. I may still play Barbies with my sister, but I am not interested in driving a Barbie Power Wheels jeep down the street. In public. Continue reading