This is the blog I’ve dreaded having to write since I heard the news via bigWOWO a couple of days ago that Keon Enoy Muneduoang had passed away. Keon was a blogger better known as the Minority Militant.
I’m sure a lot of our readers may not be familiar with the Minority Militant as it’s been a few years since Keon has been active online, but I can’t think of anyone else who wrote with the raw and honest urgency that Keon did. This made for some great reading and, frankly, was refreshing as hell since Asian Americans (and I include myself in this) tend to sometimes be—well, not so raw and honest. This also got Keon into trouble occasionally.
Shortly after we started the YOMYOMF blog in 2009, Keon took issue with something I had written—I don’t even remember what it was—but he very clearly and in his “raw and honest” way stated that I was full of shit. When I say Keon was refreshing as hell, this is an example of that—he didn’t fucking care about the consequences, he just had to tell it like it was. This is also where our online friendship began. I wrote back letting him know that I appreciated his thoughts and that I welcomed the type of insightful criticism of my views that he had given. I told him he was free to contact me and that I’d be happy to have a dialogue with him on anything–especially anytime he thought I was full of shit again.
I think he was surprised and taken aback that I reacted that way—he was more used to having his raw opinions met with negativity. He emailed me to tell me I was one of his favorite bloggers and thought what we were doing at YOMYOMF was great, but explained why he disagreed with me on this particular topic. I told him I appreciated his pov and told him he should feel free to call me out on anything he had problems with. Although I never met Keon, we started our online correspondence shortly after. However, what soon became evident was that Keon wasn’t having an easy time in his life—there always seemed to be money and personal issues and he considered himself the black sheep of the Asian American online community which occasionally led to other conflicts.
What I remember most vividly is an email Keon sent me in June 2010. He said he had been backstabbed and blacklisted by some other Asian American blogs. I knew there had been some conflicts between him and others, but it was also hard to tell how much of it was really as bad as he thought it was. The irony is that Keon knew that he had made what he considered the “first mistake” by initially taking some shots at other bloggers–he had started it and recognized his culpability in his situation. He was especially apologetic about one particular blogger whom he felt he had taken a very “cheap personal shot” at. I said if he felt that way, he should reach out to her and let her know he was sorry. “I want to, I really do because I know (she) was devastated and she’s really a sweet person. But it’s too late.” He felt there wasn’t anything he could do to make things better; that he had fucked things up too badly.
Despite our virtual friendship, I wasn’t immune from his wrath. One day out of the blue, I received an email from him that read in part: “I don’t think you’re genuine and sincere in any of our correspondence. And when you email me, I need to know if you’re genuine or sincere. I know you can be a nice guy and probably a great person too, but you’re just not that person when you are emailing me. That might come off as a bit abrasive, I apologize if I am being rude, but that’s how I feel about it. M thoughts.”
I had no idea what he was referring to or talking about. When we had last corresponded a few weeks before this email, there was no sign of any problem. I responded with my confusion; letting him know that I genuinely had no idea what he was writing about. He didn’t explain but responded with a plea to put any issues behind us and move on: “You are one of my favorite bloggers, Phil. I respect your work. Don’t ever think otherwise. Hopefully we can at least be friends. I don’t mind your emails. What’s done is done. Let’s move on, please. I don’t care about the past.”
That was back in 2013 and although we did write a few more times after that, it wasn’t the same anymore. Keon seemed more distant and closed off and at some point, we lost contact. In all honesty, I hadn’t thought about him in a long time when I read the news of his passing. Unfortunately, it took his death at the young age of 35 to remind me of how talented he was.
I know Keon had been trying to write a book and very much wanted to make a positive impact through his work. And I think he could’ve done just that. It’s rare to find a voice like his—he was definitely an original–so to see that originality snuffed out so early…it’s a tragedy. Perhaps if anything positive comes out of this, it’s that hopefully more people will visit or revisit his work. Our friend Adam at SlantEyeForTheRoundEye shared an archive of his writing which can be accessed here. He also selected a few of his favorite Minority Militant pieces which is a great place to start if you’re not familiar with his writing. You can check those out here. And also check out bigWOWO’s original post about Keon’s passing here, he knew Keon much better than I did and is far more eloquent than I can ever be.
Finally, Keon’s family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to cover his funeral expenses. You can go there to show your support and learn more about who Keon was.
RIP Minority Militant. You’ll be missed.
UPDATE: Wanted to share more pieces about Keon that have been posted since I wrote this blog: