Screaming Monkeys’ voice becomes loud

A quiet presence on campus has emerged over the past year and a half, slowly raising its voice. It started with the three-day Screaming Monkeys symposium the Fall 2003 semester and continued with a number of events for Asian Pacific American Heritage (APAH) month. It became louder with the Tsunami Open Mic Marathon in February, where the entire UM community came together to raise money for the tragedy. Now, Screaming Monkeys is becoming an official organization on campus to serve as a means for all cultures to express themselves.

“What we want is more than Asian-American involvement,” Liz Dy, president of Screaming Monkeys, said. “We want it to be a club for social awareness, social activism and artistic expression.”

The Screaming Monkeys moniker and movement was initiated in 1998 by an article in Milwaukee Magazine.

An April 1998 food review referred to a Filipino-African American child as a “rambunctious little monkey,” which happens to be a racial slur dating back to the Spanish-American War. When the editors of the magazine virtually dismissed the error, it inadvertently sparked the Screaming Monkeys movement.

M. Evelina Galang, assistant professor in the Department of English, used this event to compile an anthology of Asian images in America.

“The reason why things like that happen is we don’t study a broad history when we study American history,” Galang said. “It’s pretty narrow.”

She brought the Screaming Monkeys symposium to UM, with workshops, discussions and notable figures from the Asian-American community.

“My mission was to introduce the ideas and topics to students at UM by having the symposium and by bringing in artists and by utilizing spoken word as a form of expression,” Galang said. “Students wanted to learn how to keep the spark burning and how to make it grow.”

The organization intends to work closely with Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) and be a part of COISO’s United Nations Day and International Week.

“We are trying to make it more organized and formalized,” Dy said. “I’m really excited to work with MSA because it will open more doors for us.”

Screaming Monkeys just wrapped up events for this year’s APAH month. Among them were a screening of Sanjeev Chatterjee’s documentary on tsunami damages, a lecture by Filipina activist Ninotchka Rosca and a forum discussion titled “I always wanted to be a…”, discussing cultural pressures and career paths.

The final event was a two-day series of spoken-word workshops, “Speak Out, Asia America,” culminating in an open mic performance last Sunday. Students sat in on various workshops about performance, poetry and expression.

“It gave me a perspective on poetry, something I’ve never really thought about. It’s not just about rhyming and words. It’s a lot more than that,” Phillip Tran, freshman, said.

Cyd Apellido, a graduate student who was a panelist for the forum and led a workshop, hopes that the Screaming Monkeys mission extends beyond the Asian-American community.

“I think it’s nice that students of color get together to network with each other, but that hopefully in the near future the larger UM community can participate and become more aware,” he said.

>> For more information on Screaming Monkeys, visit

Megha Garg can be contacted at