Asian American Studies Program Journal, Vol. 2: States of Emergence(y)

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St at esofEmergence( y )

Rupt ur e s ,Ent a ng l e me nt s ,Re i ma g i ni ng s As i a nAme r i c a nS t udi e sPr o g r a mJ o ur na l Vo l . 2 . No . 1| S pr i ng2 0 2 1


Asian American Studies Program Journal V.2 | No.1 | Spring 2021

States of Emergence(y): Ruptures, Entanglements, Reimaginings


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Asian American Studies Program Journal Volume 2 | Number 1 | Spring 2021

Editors: Tiffany Bui Meredith Song

Cover art by: Hayden Minh

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Table of Contents Letter from the Editors

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Selected Works Generosity

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Fun Fun Cheng Oceanic Radical Resistance

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Demiliza Sagaral Saramosing Are You Sisters?

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Eileen Jiang In and Around the Capital in a Time of Covid

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Patti Kameya After The Ending Credits of a Movie, We Arrive Into a Crowded Hmong Restaurant

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Keng Xiong I Wonder What My Grandparents Were Like

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Niki Ung FOR YUKO, A THING A GHOST after The Terror

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Emily Mitamura Father, Write My Name

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Keng Xiong obsessions

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Christina Lam Hoeng Haa

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Jenny Tam

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GET OUT

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Denise Hanh Huynh The Things We Carry

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Dawn Wing The Burnt Orange Afterglow

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Simran Chugani Acknowledgements

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Editor Bios

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Artist Bio & Statement

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Author Bios

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This journal honors all those resisting injustice, disrupting old narratives, and building anew.

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Letter from the Editors “The state of emergency is also always a state of emergence.” -

Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014)

The second edition of the Asian American Studies Program Journal was born in a time of great unrest, upheaval, and indeed, transformation, in the world. From the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in late 2019, to the murder of George Floyd in our home city, Minneapolis, and subsequent uprisings here and across the globe, we, as Asian American students, hoped to create a space to hold all that was emerging in these states of emergency. Through the virtual world of Zoom meetings, we landed on the journal title “States of Emergence(y): Ruptures, Entanglements, and Reimaginings” after stringing together words to somehow capture and portray this moment. All four of us were hearing alarm bells constantly – warning us to be safe, reminding us to look after one another. We pondered how to move from emergency to emergence, a phase of reckoning and re-understanding how we value each other. Perhaps the ruptures, entanglements and reimaginings in our lives can help to map a better way forward. As Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi Americans, we are always contending with the urgent, emergent, and transient experiences of war, migration, colonization, assimilation, and belonging. What flows forth from this struggle can be destabilizing, rupturing the fabric of what we once knew, ushering in new truths and collective futures. Within the vulnerability of catastrophe, we must reckon with and reach out to the entanglements that connect us to one another across history, geography, and generation; the fluid vectors of 5


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life spilling into life. And yet, the tides of emergency beat against the shores of tomorrow, bringing us closer to the worlds we are still imagining. Turning to our community, we asked you, as APIDA artists, activists, writers, creators, visionaries, and dreamers, to elaborate on what trickles, expands, and grows from (un)natural disaster. In the midst of multiple political and social crises that have propelled us into new forms of precarity and possibility, we hope this journal serves as a reminder of the life and light that is always emerging both from and in spite of these states of emergency.

With Hope and In Solidarity, Meredith and Tiffany

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Generosity Fun Fun Cheng “What happened?” I asked. My sister said, “I saw him sitting outside on a lawn chair. He was all alone. He looked really sick and sad. I walked over to him and asked him if he was all right. He told me he had cancer. That his wife had divorced him. That his buddies didn’t come around anymore. He was all alone. I sat next to him and listened. He started to cry and said I was the first person who had bothered to talk to him in a long time.” I was telling this story in class. You know how they make you break up into groups to do an activity. This was a listening exercise. The topic was what generosity meant to you. You listened to someone without interruption, then you could comment or ask questions when they were done talking. I chose to tell this story to my audience – a white woman, a white man, and an African-American man. When my parents bought their first house, they chose a three-bedroom bungalow in a small working class suburb in L.A. When we moved in, my dad threw a big open house party and invited everyone he knew and those he didn’t yet know, our new neighbors. The neighbor to our right was a retired white man with a beautiful Irish setter. He was friendly but kept to himself. The neighbors across the street was a Chinese American family with a girl about my age and two college-aged brothers. They were friendly and had that ease of American assimilation about them. The neighbors to our right was a white family. This family refused to come over. They didn’t want anything to do with the Chinks who had become their next door neighbors.

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Chink. Chink. Chink. The sound of pebbles hitting our patio door, our kitchen window, the side of our house. The harassment begins with their son throwing pebbles at our house. The flash of red hair, a face covered in freckles and a smirk, looking over the high wall to eye his target. A child in the throes of learning to be a bully and a racist. One evening, I look out our living room window and there are cop cars parked outside. The cops are hanging out with the redneck dad, sitting on lawn chairs in front of his garage. In our neighborhood, the garages are in front of the house. My dad comes home from work and I watch him pull in. He gets out of his car and the cops start in – Chink, Chink, Chink, ugly words thrown his way, ugly laughter at his expense. Dad walks from his parked car in front of our garage to our front door. Eyes straight ahead. No emotion. No reaction. A normal pace. Pretend nothing’s happening so he can get safely into his home. And so it goes. Our neighbors try hard to get a blast out of us. We know how to deal with bullies; we ignore them. They get bored and the harassment stops, then they start up again. It becomes part of the ebb and flow of time passing. I grow up and leave for college. It’s when I take a semester off and return home that I notice a missing pattern -- the absence of Chink, Chink, Chink. “What happened?” I ask. My sister says, “I saw him sitting outside on a lawn chair. He was all alone. He looked really sick and sad. I walked over to him and asked him if he was all right. He told me he had cancer. That his wife had divorced him. That his buddies didn’t come around anymore. He was all alone. I sat next to him and listened. He started to cry and said I was the first person who had bothered to talk to him in a long time.” 8


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At the end of the story, the white woman said, “It’s good that she forgave him.” The white man said, “It’s good that he apologized.” I did not recall the words “he apologized” in my story. My sister said, “He cried.” I did not recall the words “I forgave him” in my story. My sister said, “I listened.” The African-American man looked straight ahead and didn’t say a word.

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Oceanic Radical Resistance Demiliza Sagaral Saramosing I am the turbulent Mindanao sea Bisayan ocean ways flowing into nā wai ʻO Hawaiʻi o ke kānaka maoli Kalihi after-hours water running through alleyways McDonald’s roundtables, dirt sidewalks, high fences Tarp-grocery shop homes, choke rumbles Brown-ish, Black-ish Juvenile pleasures Urban repentance I am raging sea, eroding island concrete Escaping in haste To the Willamette River, Kalapuya Then Pacific water, Tongva nations I am steady streams merging into Brown, Black, Indigenous healing love Building on our ancestors’ struggles Fighting for the goal of collective liberation I am crystal droplets falling downwards into the ice and snow of Mni Sota Makoce A meeting place of multiple diasporas on Dakota homelands, Bdote Micronesian seafaring in the Plains Taught me that I, too, must learn Dakota lands, seas, skies building good relations To stop the sins of carceral and settler colonial pain The Minneapolis Uprisings for George Floyd Emerged amidst a global pandemic, 2020 10


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Vibrant radical traditions ignited this city Of the working-class, Indigenous, Black Immigrant, and the Refugee #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd murals colored boarded windows Crowds marching for justice music flooding the streets Church cook-outs, medical aid community groceries Stood in stark contrast to the ongoing legacy of militarized police Borders are no match for rising waves Voices shouting “Black Lives Matter” Reverberating across seas Shaking the pillars of global capitalist oppression And from my position as diasporic Bisayan daughter One born from ‘āina, urban, mobility, and struggle It is absolutely vital that I listen Mobilize lessons learned from diaspora For this is tradition Oceanic radical resistance

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Are You Sisters? Eileen Jiang

Digital Media

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Poem Credits: 相信未来,食指 (Believe in the Future, Shi Zhi)

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In and Around the Capital in a Time of Covid Patti Kameya March 11, 2020 6:10 PM After returning home from a long day in downtown Saint Paul, I stripped down head to toe from my parka and once-worn jeans to what my white Midwestern spouse quaintly calls “unmentionables.” As that fermented in the laundry basket, I disinfected in the shower, fingers digging into my scalp to release cigarette smoke, stray coughs, and other matter lodged into my straight dark hair. Although my skin was mostly covered all day, I felt germs drilled deep down into it, reached only by the hottest water I could bear. A stubborn scratchiness crept into my throat since I woke up that morning. I dressed afresh and shoved my still-warm clothing into the washing machine. I still felt germs on me. When my spouse came home, I held a napkin to my mouth while he gave me a coming-home kiss. You’re being silly, he said. We would have to maintain a 6-foot radius to keep coronavirus at bay. That was my last day outside roaming the city alone for the rest of the year. I knew my life would change since January 21, when the New York Times had announced the first detected US case of “Wuhan coronavirus.” Near the headline a map of China displayed an ominous vomit-tinted circle over Wuhan, overlapping daughter circles bulging with germs, spraying yellow tint inside the borders of Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, and Thailand to inform readers exactly from where and whom the disease might emanate. And then in early February Twitter spawned a “viral” video of a figure in a black parka being assaulted in a New York subway station. We see her face long enough to confirm that she’s masked, she’s Asian, and she knows no one will help her. 14


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11:04 AM A white gender-ambiguous hipster spit while perched on the back of the bus stop bench, canvas sneakers planted on the seat. Fine-lined tattoos stretched around their neck, writhing as spittle landed on the cold dirt. Again and again, between drags on their cigarette. Their lungs purged phlegm in a rhythm that alternated with cars backfiring on Snelling Avenue. Fluorescent paint pen screamed, “SUCKS. SUCKS. SUCKS.” on their backpack. The older white passengers stood still as if the spit and smoke could not harm them. I quickly stepped upwind out of range. The other nonwhite person was a wrinkled brown woman with tight racially ambiguous eyes. Her appearance whispered Asian: her shuffle in half-tied shoes, a 70s-goldenrod scarf wrapping her nose and mouth, her garish plastic tote bag patterned in gold cord draped over purple velvet blocks. She hid in the glass bus shelter a safe distance from the spitter and other passengers, and emerged only as the bus pulled up. I got off the Randolph Street bus at Landmark Center, a grand former post office that usually bustles with white people—suited fundraisers and conferencegoers, occasional wedding parties. As I entered the building I felt the silver-haired white woman at the reception desk look at me while not looking at me. When I told her where I was going she directed me toward the elevator, but I opted for a wide airy staircase lit by large windows winding up one side of the atrium. Outside the “Woman Warriors” lecture, I grew anxious as another woman fumbled with my name tag from the preprinted sheet that confirmed my registration. A hand sanitizer dispenser stood guard. The room brimmed with white women, over half of whom were fifty or older. Some younger women in officewear came in for lunch break. The nonwhite attendees consisted of me and a solitary fortysomething African American businesswoman seated far off by the window. She didn’t ask the speaker questions either. As we waited silent slides showcased the activities of the host, a nonprofit called Global Minnesota. White 15


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Minnesotans taking foreign guests to a giant mythical Viking statue. No slides of foreign visitors at the Native American Culture Corridor, the birthplace of the American Indian movement. Thanksgiving dinner with foreign guests who were probably not told what really happened between the Wampanoag and the English colonists. So far a limited global, lacking a clear-eyed view of US and Minnesota history. No one blinked when a woman with stringy blonde chin-length hair dry-coughed in the row ahead of me. Her suit soothed the eye with a subtle springtime hue that signaled frequent wardrobe refreshes. Her perfectly fitted shoulders barely wrinkled as she coughed again and again. I wished the central air would blow her spray away. I couldn’t change seats—none left with an empty space on either side. Across the aisle another blonde woman sneezed vigorously. Her dark suit announced distinction. No one seemed to care that neither woman covered her coughs or sneezes, or used any of the hand sanitizer around the room. After the lecture the spring-suited woman left her infected coffee cup and cookie plate for someone else to clean up. As the only Asian in the room, I gave a minority performance that no one emulated. I dabbed my drippy nose with my napkin, hoping that I wouldn’t need to blow it. When I finished my refreshments I immediately threw my cup and plate away and angled my body awkwardly so that all could see me sanitize my hands as I sat back down. Throughout the day I sanitized my hands at Afrodeli, the Minnesota History Center, and then again on the Green Line platform in full public view. Despite the hand sanitizer bottles everywhere, I saw no one else use them all day. As the “Women Warriors” talk commenced I found myself resenting the presenter, a middle-aged white woman with a PhD presenting her book before an admiring crowd. Although I never saw her before, she finished the same program three years before me. I sank countless hours into nonwestern history lectures for indifferent white undergrads, but I hoped this talk might inspire me to write my own book. For this audience the author assembled woman warrior stories that resembled Disney princesses—mostly white, and nearly free of historical context. She sprinkled in Lady Hao 16


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from China, Buffalo Calf Road Woman of the Cheyenne, and the Dahomey women from Benin. She closed on a triumphalist note describing a band of European women who fought for their communities, but never spelled out how Western empire affected the Cheyenne, the Dahomey, or any other peoples she mentioned. As often happens in Saint Paul, the lecture made attendees feel revolutionary while preserving the status quo. The author specialized in South Asian history, yet she failed to mention from her own book Lakshmi Bai, a leader in the 1857 Sepoy rebellion against British rule. She could have accessed millennia of texts outside the West and its frameworks. Her effortlessly global delivery did not anticipate my presence, and I lacked the attire and mood to mingle. On the way out I rushed through Wing Young Huie’s collaborative photography exhibit. I was hungry and needed to pee, but I knew I this was my last visit to Landmark Center before this exhibit went away. Huie is an Asian American artist whose work I found soon after I moved to Minnesota. His work made me think that Minnesota might have a place for me. His lens explored neighborhoods like Lake Street and Frogtown—Black, white, and neither—often quoting the people he photographed. His installations enlarged and displayed these images in areas where they were taken. People saw themselves. They felt seen. This exhibit “What Do You See?” was for Landmark Center’s Community Artist Resident Engagement program. Like Huie’s other work, it featured the lives of everyday people. Some of the photographs were taken by participants of community workshops that he led. The project gave people a voice they might not have had otherwise, the power to tell and share stories through photography. In some ways, these street photographs shared the same spirit as Huie’s solo work. On the other hand, the community collaboration layered questions: Do you see things as I see them? And, do you see me? Do you see us, members of your community? The voices blended together in the quiet gallery. Did the people depicted know that they would be on display for predominantly well-heeled white people? What happened in the community conversations 17


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afterwards? Perhaps there was more context provided, but I did not linger. The gallery stood up a flight of stairs, hidden from the entrance. The women in suits probably took the elevator as directed, right past this exhibition without knowing it was there. 1:30 PM As I walked through Saint Paul streets I felt the weight of being watched even when no one else was in sight. Watchers could pull up in a car, come out the door, appear from around the corner. In the mid-1990s my sister attended a summer wedding in Southern California with her soon-to-be husband. When she fainted from heat exhaustion another guest asked, “Does she have that bird flu?” We laughed it off then, but just now it occurred to me to ask: if they called an ambulance would they have helped my sister first, or would they have checked on the people standing closest to her? Tucked among the fiercely mediocre burgers, brats, and beer joints lies Afrodeli, a haven for falafel, vegetable dishes, and carefully marinated meats. After eating their japati wraps it’s hard to go back to overpriced downtown burgers with mushy buns and limp fries. I happily devoured my veggie rice dish and washed it down with hot spiced Somali tea. As a worker politely answered questions from white middle-aged customers, my gaze fell on the table behind me where yet another person left their cup for someone else to tidy up. This is one of the few businesses in the area where I always see Black people coming either by themselves or in groups. What if Global Minnesota brought foreign guests here for a new take on burgers and fries, to watch the multicolored clientele come and go? As I left Afrodeli, I passed the Park Square Theater where a few days earlier I saw “Face-To-Face,” five Hmong American women telling their stories of succeeding on their own terms. We heard their American story: their families arrived due to an illegal war hidden behind US foreign policy. I felt overwhelmed and grateful that they did not replay assimilation or upward mobility narratives to make white audiences comfortable. As I turned the corner, I saw my 18


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friend Houa and another performer waiting for their Lyft ride. Houa bravely gave me a hug, as I hesitated. I didn’t want to transmit germs from the spitting, coughing, and recirculated air washing over me all day. We were also three Asian women together on a major street in downtown Saint Paul. Her co-performer offered me my first pandemic elbow bump. Then their Lyft carried them off in the cold almost-spring sunshine. At the bus stop I silently clutched my cup of sweet Somali tea. When another non-Asian person spat I quietly wiped my nose and flashed my hand sanitizer after I threw out my cup. A teacher strike rumbled a few streets over. The teachers demanded to be seen, demanded language and mental health resources for their students’ success. In my 1970s elementary school only the one Jewish teacher Mrs. Fish really saw me. I did not need bilingual staff, but I did need teachers who knew that you can’t focus easily after riding on the bus where you are the only nonwhite kid. Although Mrs. Fish could not make those girls stop harassing me, it helped to know that she cared. Recently an educational equity nonprofit proclaimed on billboards and public transit throughout the metro, “Minnesota schools are the worst in the nation for children of color.” That school year I tutored at a local elementary school. When I walked into the lobby the receptionist ignored me as I signed in. I could have been a parent, as well over half of the students were not white. Perhaps she did not see color. People who “don’t see color” don’t have an eye problem. They have a frame problem, for their white frame sets off people of color as special interests. By striking the Saint Paul Public School teachers seemed to be reworking the frame to include children of color too. Police cars blocked the streets to let the strikers march through. I did not know that this would be the first of many times people would fill the streets that year. The bus would be delayed, so I walked a mile or so to the Minnesota History Center. 2:20 PM I arrived at the History Center library reception desk protected behind a glass door. A white woman scanned my 19


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blue researcher card. In the coat room, I shoved my coat and backpack into a locker and pulled out the essentials. Notebook. Phone. Wallet. Coin purse. Reading glasses and pouch that doubled as a pencil case. Everything except the notebook I bundled into tattered fleece jacket pockets because you can’t bring in a bag. I entered the microfilm room, a wide floor space squeezed tight with a low ceiling, institutional carpet, and particle board reading cubbies finished in synthetic wood patterns. Immediately an older white man approached to ask, “Are you finding what you want?” His question stood poised between assistance and interrogation, the chill you feel when the clerk decides that you can’t afford his merchandise. I replied, “I just got here, and I’m pretty sure I will find what I want in this drawer,” pointing at the cabinet I used last time. But as it happened, I didn’t. The microfilm I needed, January through May 1933 Minneapolis Tribune, was checked out until March 20, just before I was supposed to visit my parents in California. I felt like I was being watched every time I rubbed my nose or touched my face. In that room I alone had a nonwhite body. I struggled to coax sanitizer wipes through the dispenser while the young desk worker stared stoically at his screen. I envied the ease with which a young white library patron moved about. He spread out his laptop, notebook, phone, and headphones in the reading cubby as if he knew no one else would touch it. He probably did not have to wait for a special exhibition to see his ancestors in the History Center museum. I was surprised once to see a photo or two of Asian Americans tucked amidst the photos of white families and handful of Black families. I wanted to search the microfilm for Nobu Kitagawa, the oldest daughter of a Japanese immigrant who owned a Minneapolis kimono shop. In April 1933 she had a solo piano recital at the prestigious MacPhail School of Music. In his diaries her father described a standing room only concert hall and a reception where forty guests crowded their Lake Harriet home. She performed for churches and the Republican Club. As an elementary school student she played over live radio from the Minnesota State Fair. Later as Japan 20


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and the United States clashed over influence in China Nobu appeared again on the radio with her teacher to play Japanese music. My evidence lies mostly in her father’s diaries. Amidst the dry accounts of dwindling business, I sensed a father’s pride as he described young Nobu’s activities. Her high school yearbook caption concurred, “She is accomplishment.” I wanted more evidence, but that day it would not be. Instead I looked through the available microfilm for her state fair performance. I scoured state fair articles for the weekend Nobu performed. Hundreds of junior farmers from throughout Minnesota participated in a cheering contest, but no mention of a little Japanese girl playing the piano for WCCO. Surely in 1926 Japanese girls were not so common at Midwestern state fairs that they no longer merited attention. Perhaps this silence manifested the expectation that Nobu and others who looked like her may eventually disappear, for in those smudgy microfilm columns she vanished indeed. I wanted to find Nobu in a Minnesota newspaper to prove that I matter too. Over a century ago Nobu’s father opened shop at a prime shopping intersection in Minneapolis. And yet the man in the microfilm room seemed surprised to see an Asian American doing research there. This family arrived in Minneapolis from Japan, an empire that fought alongside the Americans against the Germans in the Great War. They stayed despite the nationalism and xenophobia after that war and during World War II. And for now I will stay too. 5:20 PM At the stop for my final bus a grizzled white man nursed a cigarette inside the bus shelter, trapping smoke for others to inhale. Across the street a young white guy wore a face mask, announcing times to come. Meanwhile, a Metrotransit worker wiped down a ticket machine ahead of the full rush-hour. I was exhausted watching it all. Safe at home, I waited for my white husband to return home from coworkers freshly returned from cruises or other trips where people probably did not cover their coughs. I was clean at last, yet I felt on edge. Throughout the day I felt the eyes of white people drilling germs into my skin. 21


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Or perhaps I drilled the germs into my own skin to preempt any judgments they may pass on me. March 16, 2020 The head of the Centers for Disease Control and others criticized President Trump for calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” on the grounds that it would incite more anti-Asian bigotry and violence. When the New York Times dubbed it the “Wuhan coronavirus,” Donald Trump did not cry fake news. The city shut down soon afterwards. I wrapped myself tightly inside my home. I no longer had to watch.

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After The Ending Credits of a Movie, We Arrive Into a Crowded Hmong Restaurant Keng Xiong where the server asks us about the occasion. We shake our heads, “just eating in,” but our midnight clothes with dangling silver coins and pendants reveal a different time. We’re seated next to a window that swallows us into the black rain. They give us ice-cold water and a basket of rice crackers we never touch. As you stare at the menu I gaze at the raindrops reflecting diamonds onto your face, your smile drenched in orange lamplight. I am reminded, [name], if I had met you three years ago, I would have told you you were always beautiful. That people like us were told dreams were oral folktales passed down from generations, lost in time. 23


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I would have told you the way you traced your name tattooed across your skin, where your veins turned into the Mekong River, is what kept you afloat for so long. I would have cupped your tears, for you never knew the sweetness you always had in every Man they told you to be [name], if I met you now tell them it’s impossible to love the Son of a Father, because who can love a Man after all the hellish exit wounds. a Man a boy so broken He lets you in softer than any prayer your ancestors could ever whisper in the dead of night Ban Vinai, 1976. For it was you, [name], who didn’t care if I was ever enough. You, the most beautiful, bloodied heart gracing this Earth. You and your curving rivers, jungle skin, and burnt hair. Features they told you were foreign, flaunt and give them your Name, your Homeland your skin and a body in an ocean Tell me I was always more than enough. Tell me how far I’ve gone never telling you I needed you. 24


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Tell me I’m still knee deep in rice paddies searching for your body. Tell me if remembering a field of Sunflowers is enough to keep you. Fuck, take my trembling hands with your scars and tell me to never close my eyes again— another season has passed. A photograph where every album before this story ends is the most violent person they want me to be— Looking past you towards the window reflecting my own. Looking past all your person your fingers comb your still wet hair where behind revealed to me your flesh to get Here because of all the choices you made I want to tell You this was always the right one. Because I’ve loved the Son of a Father because a Man with wounds reflecting your own is a broken story. a Man a boy so warm with light He lets you in like two heartbeats chest-to-chest softer than any whisper asleep in the silence of a Tuesday alone in an everlasting Dream.

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When your eyes reach mine (when this movie is over) I am reminded losing you was like losing your name (when you hand over the menu ordering too many bowls of rice) on my lips. Our Summer gone in secret wars we’ve been through. “I’ll take whatever you’re taking.” When we finish (when we stand) how I wish for once the credits was longer than the Movie. (When finally packing leftovers into plastic and leaving unwrapped fortune cookies on the table we should have read) I will always remember when taking a step into the shade of a different city— my eternal Hmong song. How I wish to dig you from a plunge of carnations wipe away the mud from your lips and bring you back to life with dirt ridden nails bruised lungs blurry eyes broken bones To remind you I will never forget, among stars, Your figure was the only light that mattered. Because home, home is all you ever wanted to be.

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I Wonder What My Grandparents Were Like Niki Ung

multi-media, including oil pastels, pen, and miscellaneous items

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FOR YUKO, A THING A GHOST after The Terror Emily Mitamura she’s playing you for a ghost, they say we try to protect our kin hold them close rabid and winded by turns your skin cracked with prayer to your line, be here alive with want for fever, fleshed & burning & too soon awake still splitting at the root moonwards through the earth above to paradise caught again before cage, before beating, having, whole cells

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FOR YUKO, A THING A GHOST after The Terror Emily Mitamura they say, it’s harassment but we let ourselves be directed by the dead taking them in their brutal ordering, of the wheel of generations, fast against a clock, pockets full black seeds palliative, a descent to plumb the grave an archive, a dead thing in motion. picture this: a war wife, bride burned, left alone & screaming at the split, clawing a grave is a door in the camp, her boys escape through it; her heart bitten – persimmon sloughing the size of a scar or a fence :: that’s the difference

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Father, Write My Name Keng Xiong “Breathe,” he says over the phone, “You’ll be alright.” This is where my story begins, in between late November to early December. Drive down the side of the street next to the railroad and you’ll find it. On a subtle slope of yellow prairie grass and naked trees, past the forest of pine and there on the corner of the intersection where snow has settled like dust: a building, nothing more than a community hall, barely big enough for two generations of family. It is here that my Father, the clan leader of my Xiong family, held Hmong New years. Stand close enough and you can almost hear the dangling coins, the laughter of children and song. And if you close your eyes you can almost imagine the colorful sewn clothes inscribed into the words of “Nyob zoo xyoo tshiab” (happy new years), men and women playing “Pov Pob” (Hmong tossing ball), and my little hand clutching onto my Fathers pants as he told me “Mus ua si” (go play). As a child I would smile and smoosh my face into his pants, wrapping my arms around his waist, then run out of the auditorium and into the morning of celebration, stealing chocolate coins off tables as I ran. It is there I would run into my Yawm (grandfather) who enters with age. He is slow, but he is strong. He smiles and waves, always confusing my name with my identical twin, Kong. Always, I would smile and run into his outstretched arms. * In cyclical times, Winter is the worst season. It is when snow compiles like the afterthought of campfire ashes—where everything has slowly burned away all year, yet memories remain. It is there at my Grandparents house my little cousins draw faces on the glass window, watching me and my Yawm shovel snow into mountains. Through the 30


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pictures of lines and dots, the lights of the inside kitchen reflect their open, giggling laughter. Outside there is a single streetlamp, the only light outlining Yawm as he takes a breath. After a while I notice he has stopped, and instead is staring at my bare hands. He shakes his head and takes his leather gloves off, handing them to me. I remember hesitating, but I took the gloves from him, feeling his calloused hands, rough and grown from all their usage. Being much younger then, I would realize this was the first time I grew to understand. How I would imagine him gripping the lever of a tank. A gun. A mop. Of the many pictures in which he is holding me as a child. The warmth of this gesture engraved into memory. Hurriedly, I shoved my hands into them, gripped the plastic handle and began to shovel the snow away from the small garage, my small boots stepping onto shriveled, frozen grass. I kept the gloves. As time moved through the years, I stayed at my Grandparents house not out of daycare, but for school. At this time it is midnight and my Father has come to work early in the morning. As the door of the house opens, a quiet exchange unfolds, a Mother and her son. Then, I can hear him, moving loudly across the floorboards, his boots tumbling onto the floor. The weight of his clothes falling like heavy rain. It is then as I pretend to sleep in the clutches of a blanket, when his footsteps tread down the basement steps I can only imagine him walking across to me the way you approach someone you love: tentative yet demanding. He mumbles under his breath words I will never understand, then kisses the top of my head. He walks back up the stairs. Again, it is moments like these I am reminded sometimes the love of Fathers arrive in secrecy the further away you are from them. That even through all the violence of the world, I’ll let a simple gesture be enough. How easy it is then, for me to forget, rather than forgive—how so much of him is in me. * 31


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During the past Hmong New Year, I wore clothes and jewelry you gave to me: a silver necklace, pendant, and a belt of coins. “To build your life in Hmong,” you would say as you smile writing my name in black sharpie, Keng, and you let me write, Xiong. When your hands tremble, and I for once understand what it is to be your son. For like the sky after rain you’ve become exhausted. How, already, my eyes have begun tracing every feature in your face in which I’ve started to fail you. Because, in every way I think I’m not like you, life takes its turn, Dad, to the world you carried me through. For as much as I want this story to be mine, you take it from me. So as you lie and tell me I can do everything you never got to, I can’t take it, because like Yawm, your Father, you’ll both cry in the silent napalms of your hands. You are no doubt kind, gentle, strong, and bold—you instilled this within me. But with my head buried in your shoulders like the child I’ve always been, home is something I’ve started to find in others—I must, then, leave quietly. And this time, running through the banquet halls, when I am finally able to wrap my arms around his shoulders and imagine the worlds you’ve left me, the stories you’ve given, I promise you I’ll never forget these days of walking under snowy skies, camping near streams, or the feeling of your hand in mine.

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obsessions Christina Lan im obsessed with new beginnings i have a spine that never ends the same way the sun crawls down and up it’s always my tail that trails off endlessly rooting itself in places that it doesn’t belong hoping to bear fruit but it’s never a seed never finding sanctuary in a grave it snakes around seeking a space where it can be swallowed whole but i never finish im obsessed with final endings i have a hole in my brain the same way gravity imprisons light it’s the force of guilt anchoring down everything i love a hole yearns to be filled but it’s never content never finding satisfaction in destruction it sucks and it screams till im withered at the seams but you always finish obsessions clang and they clatter sense unravels space time and matter until beginnings and endings lose their gravity in the sacredness of ourselves i find sanctuary in mutuality i find contentment in community We find healing in reciprocity it is in the middle and it is the only way out.

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Hoeng Haa Jenny Tam A photo journal of my first time to China with my grandmother, Mama

Two years ago, I went to China for the first time with Mama. It was beautiful. The air was vibrant. It was a color palette different from what I had ever seen before. There were no city greys nor artificial blues. There, I saw colors of brilliance; the colors my ancestors sacrificed for me to one day come back to admire. 34


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Mama thanked me again for taking her back to China. I don’t know how to respond so I smiled lightly. I am trying to grapple with the weight of those words. My first time to China will be her last. I took this picture of her Hoeng Haa on her relative’s balcony. She showed me her old home where spider webs have taken the place of shattered glass. I wonder if it hurts or heals to be back here, again. She smiles lightly, so I don’t know. 35


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Where is home, really? Is it the one we build or the one we carried? Is it with the people we find or the people we leave behind? When the America yells, “go back to your fucking home” where is that located? It could be on a boat, plane, refugee camp, or the jungle but it is buried so deep in the graves of my parents’ memory it is hard to rediscover it. 36


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Maybe it is just on the tip of my mother’s tongue or on the ridged palms of my father’s hands Maybe it is dusted onto the seeds we plant as we tend the vegetable garden in our backyard sprinkled in with the MSG in the recipes passed down by our great grandmothers Crushed with the herbs we boil in our pot as a medicine and remedy for the home sick And when it didn’t feel quite enough maybe we built homes in forms of temples, towns, and villages to resurrect some familiarity in this foreign place Maybe home is here, just as much as it is there and we made sure of it. I can smell it in the incense on my clothes detergent and assimilation couldn’t wash off. I hear it in my middle name even when you mispronounce it. and I see it in her.

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In honor of my 84-year-old grandmother living long enough to see me graduate soon.

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GET OUT* Denise Hanh Huynh You smash his blue car in with a baseball bat—paint GET OUT on his hood in yellow acrylics. We are not welcome here. But we haven’t been welcome here since the year 1875. My body still won’t be welcome after I bleach myself with skin products or make whiter children with taller men I’m unsettled about fucking. The white woman at the film shoot thrusts plastic orange cheddar in my hands. She tells me the snack table is running low on cheese— she’s scared to touch me. I may well be infected with chinavirus, but she’ll eat the squares of cheese she tells me to put out. Yellow hands must ferment raw milk better. I want to tell women like her: go and fool the others but I can see your bullshit from all the way 39


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across my vast river— only there’s cancer on my mind —I say nothing. Tumors won’t kill me before I eat violet grapes and shriveled blueberries on the couch with the Viet and Khmer men who don’t need to say a word to know loss. We still need to eat. I still chop up shallots, garlic and black oyster mushrooms for my brown eggs. You wipe paint off the hood but I won’t forget what you said or what you did to us.

*The title “GET OUT” is from a scene in George Takei’s graphic novel, They Called Us Enemy.

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The Things We Carry Dawn Wing

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Illustration/ Ink on paper

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The Burnt Orange Afterglow Simran Chugani No one would believe his kind face could hold desolate eyes. My brother’s sharp jawline juxtaposed with his inviting demeanor was collateral beauty. Pain comforted him in ways that I can’t even begin to understand, that I waited too long to notice. He walked in shadows even as he led his sophomore football team, became a compassionate tutor, and solved doctoral-level algorithms without blinking an eye. None of us knew his pain. None of us believed the illness that was slowly invading his mind. And the illness only fed off of an uncaring world. Our parents joke that my brother is a gift from Saraswathi, the Hindu goddess of knowledge. When we were young, my brother digested 500-page books in one day. He nearly achieved the title of chess grandmaster before entering third grade, opposing people ten times his age without letting his face show any signs of worry. Oftentimes, we bought him diapers to outlast the 6-hour chess matches. But the most remarkable thing about my brother is his unwavering gentleness. His mission was to not only get good grades, but to use the knowledge he attained for good. On walks around our neighborhood, my brother always stopped to pick up trash on the side of the road (sometimes even to my jeering). I recall one warm early summer walk in particular. He said, “We can’t let the animals get a hold of this…if we don’t pick it up, who will?” It was always his simple and kindred spirit that surprised me. Even on days he hurt the most, he offered himself to others. Our parents immigrated to the United States from India in the late 1990s. For a while, they traveled around the states: immersing themselves in the vibrant surf life of San Diego, exploring the depths of Times Square street food, and 44


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doing whatever the hell one does in South Carolina. Eventually, they found a two-story house in a quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood with a highly rated school district. Within four years, that house welcomed two obnoxious, deviant children, three gracious and adoring grandparents, and a pair of couponing-obsessed parents. My brother and I attend Chartiers Valley Schools, which I only remember as the school where you were either a Steelers fan or an outcast. I sported my pink jersey and Terrible Towel every Friday, and my brother, his black and gold Troy Polamalu gear. My brother often arrived home from school excited to demonstrate the song he and his class had learned in choir that day. He would sprint circles around the living room screaming the lyrics. I don’t think he ever outgrew that version of himself. As I look back on these memories now, I can’t help myself from balancing on the line between nostalgia and grief. Perhaps I simply miss the innocence of the scene, perhaps I yearn to travel back to before I knew what mental illness was. As we grew older, my brother and I separated from our shared path. We both found our own friend groups, developed our own interests, explored our own voices. Our parents had great expectations of us. They encouraged late-night study sessions by supplying us with endless peeled fruit while they enjoyed the latest Indian soap drama on ZEE-TV. They expected high grades, and for us to nurture dreams of becoming a doctor or a computer engineer that would one day go on to work at Google or Microsoft. For them, anything that got in the way of these expectations was trivial: it was our mindset, or our pubescent hormones that influenced our aberrant thinking, but never was it even considered to be a symptom of something larger. When my brother’s mental illness began to intensify, he expressed himself with angsty rebellion largely against our parents. His signature calm and warm demeanor became 45


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isolating. Conversations that were once abundant with his platitudes were short, mostly one word responses. Most nights, his habitual response to anything my parents or I would say was, “I hate you.” Anxiety and depression slowly permeated all aspects of his life in a way that he didn’t understand. So, he numbed himself with online games. For hours on end, he tired himself with “League of Legends” and “Madden.” For him, this was the only way to cope, to stay alive to see tomorrow. Our parents spent these days scolding him, blaming him for the burden he was to them. They told him to “just be happy,” to “get over it,” to pray. On the worst days, the days he couldn’t will himself to leave his bed, our parents slapped him, dragged him across his room, and accused him of “acting.” I harbor a lot of anger about this time (lest what my brother endured). Forgiveness was and, in many ways, still is a long road ahead. However, our parents weren’t the sole perpetrators of this trauma. To me, they were ignorant enablers of it. Our story is only one in a landscape of many that include abhorrent cultural stigma toward mental illness. Many of these stories are backed by vilifying systemic attitudes about people with mental illness. In India, many believe that mentally ill people are demonically possessed, that they’re supernatural. When people begin showing symptoms, they are often kicked out of their homes for fear that they would relinquish evil spirits to their families. If anything, families will flock to mosques or temples to rid their family member of their illness. At its core, many still believe that mental illness is untreatable, a sign of weakness and the end of a life. People with mental illness are dehumanized. Subsequently, the nation faces a crisis of a lack of mental health providers and mental health education, allowing these misconceptions to persist.1 While religion and spirituality can certainly impact mental health, using it as a 46


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replacement for the right treatments and the right medicine can have dangerous consequences. For women, this horrific reality is exacerbated. In the patriarchal Indian society, women with the slightest symptoms of mental illness, real or often defined by their male spouse, can be abandoned or institutionalized. Men in psychiatric facilities are released once they are treated, women are usually institutionalized for life.1 Men stand to gain from this. The easiest way for a man to file a divorce against his wife, even today, is to do so on the ground of mental illness. While his spouse is institutionalized, a man can get custody of their kids, receive alimony, and deny the right to share property. A man can so easily dispose of his wife under the guise of insanity.1 The institutions themselves are gravely overcrowded and underfunded. Less than 1% of India’s budget, or 0.06% of the country’s health care budget is attributed to mental health, among the lowest in the world. This budget has continuously declined since 2013.2 Thatched roofs are crumbling apart, rusted metal bars separate residents from fresh air, and patients sleep on hard cement floors because there’s not enough money to buy enough beds. On top of that, there are no laws or policies about what can happen inside treatment institutions, so patients are left with little to no voice at all. Cases of sexual abuse, forced drugging, forced shock treatment, and extensive solitary confinement is not new, and their impact on women is significant and disproportionate. Shock therapy and medications are administered without patient consent and, in some cases, residents rot in their cells alongside their urine and feces. Mental health policy reform in India has been lethargic. Policy began in 1858, modeled by the British colonizers. Under the 1858 Lunacy Acts, psychiatric asylums were established. However, the British were constrained by their inexperience with psychiatric facilities, so untrained staff were recruited to work there.3 Subsequently, patients 47


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were forced to live in poor living conditions, with little chance of substantive recovery and discharge. The Indian Lunacy Act of 1912 called for better living conditions in asylums and brought trained medical professionals to work and manage these facilities. The act, however, focused on instituting separation between the public and these “dangerous” patients. Therefore, psychiatric facilities were designed like prisons, further ostracizing the mentally ill.4 This is the act under which my parents grew up. The Indian Lunacy Act of 1912 led to the Mental Health Act of 1993 (the Act was drafted in 1950 and implemented only 43 years later). The Act defined mental illness in a more progressive way, focusing on treatment rather than custody. It also provided detailed procedures for hospital admissions. That said, the Act lacked adequate guidelines for the best mental health care delivery, and an emphasis on human rights. The act was also silent on rehabilitation and treatment of patients after discharge, as well as issues relating to provider shortages that placed additional physical and emotional burdens of care on families.5 This, then, catalyzed a new Mental Health Act, implemented in 2018. It allows all Indian citizens the right to seek mental health care, gives more agency to those seeking care, bans electrocumpulsive therapy, provides patients the right to confidentiality, punishes discrimination and harassment toward mentally ill individuals, and decriminalizes suicide. Even with such progressive strides, India continues to face a massive provider shortage, a lack of funding for supportive housing for mentally ill individuals, inaccessibility to mental health care services, and a lack of public knowledge and awareness about mental illness.6 And public stigma remains. After centuries of discrimination and dehumanization against those with mental illness, it’s no wonder why this pernicious stigma lingers. Many Indians are still hesitant to report or talk about their mental ailments. According to BMC Psychiatry, globally, 20% 48


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of young people report experiencing mental illness. In India, however, that number is 7.3%, in part due to severe underreporting of cases of mental illness due to fear of stigmatization, which prevents those with mental disorders from receiving treatment and counseling.7 When my brother’s primary care provider initially proposed that he seek therapy, our parents wanted to change his primary care provider. They refused to believe their son was “crazy” enough for therapy. I remember it was a frigid December day, I had just arrived home from my college campus for winter break. As they shook the fresh snow off the bottom of their boots my mom scoffed, “He doesn’t have depression or anxiety, he just doesn’t eat properly. He needs to eat more fruits and vegetables and, in no time, he will be better.” Our parents arranged for my brother to meet with a holistic medicine practitioner. Our parents fell in love with him. To them, “overmethylated DNA” sounded much sexier than “depression.” Immediately, my brother was put on a strict regimen of zinc, iron, and calcium pills. Much to my parents’ initial chagrin, I urged them to understand that this may not be enough. Stigma toward mental illness, for our parents, was deeply internalized. Anything that my brother or I said, and even any research that we put forth was immediately rejected by the overwhelming amount of barbarization they had seen and heard about mentally ill people while growing up. Helping them unlearn was a monumental task. Teaching them often felt like talking to a stubborn steel curtain. Cultural shame also ravaged my brother’s relationship with our parents. Asian-American therapist Sam Louie explains, “Asians come from traditional, collectivist societies that value interdependence over independence. Consequently, the need to preserve and perpetuate collective honor (family, ethnicity, society, etc.) is held in the highest 49


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esteem.” Our parents have dreams for my brother and I and, subsequently, they have expectations of how we carry ourselves. Any deviations from those strict expectations left us vulnerable to ostracization, gut-wrenching guilt, and disgrace from our own kin. Our needs came second to our family’s, and sacrificing our individual desires or happiness was a display of devotion to our family. My brother and I often arrived at conflict with our parents about whether our individual wants and needs were acceptable to our parents. A good friend once told me that, in many Asian families, loving oneself while also loving one’s family is a kind of hypocrisy. I think it’s something that hurt my brother more than I know. To give credit where it is due, our parents have since worked hard to change their preconceived notions and biases about mental illness. Eventually, our parents sought talk therapy for my brother. A few months later, they even agreed to begin Prozac. But by then, the disease had unforgivingly progressed much further than we had ever anticipated. My brother traveled farther and farther away from life itself. He was a black hole sun that was dimming, and he was left clinging onto its burnt orange afterglow. I often wonder about how things would have been different, better, if the U.S. mental health care system was able to reach my brother earlier. If his primary care provider was able to notice signs and symptoms in middle school rather than in high school. If primary care and behavioral care providers were integrated, and he could’ve seen both for an annual check-up at an earlier age. If it was easier to find more South Asian mental health providers. If more nurses and educators were provided adequate mental health training and were given more tools to respond to mental health crises. If more insurers achieved a type of mental health parity that worked to meet his individual needs. My brother’s mental illness resulted in three hospitalizations thus far. I add “thus far” because his illness 50


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remains unstable. I am constantly worried for his safety. To see someone whom you love so much feel so strongly about dying is devastating, to say the least. I can’t begin to understand my brother’s anguish. And he isn’t alone. In 2020 alone, 48,344 mortalities were a result of suicide.8 Among Asian Americans aged 20-24, suicide is the leading cause of death. In other words, 1 in every 3 deaths among Asian Americans aged 20-24 years can be attributed to suicide.9 This should be alarming. The stigmatization and shame of mental illness in Asian-American communities has persisted for decades, and the rates of suicide and suicidal ideation continue to increase. The U.S. mental health care system is severely lacking, and more so for underserved and marginalized communities. Behavioral health care access is sparse, payment systems are unaligned, and the quality of treatment is far from optimal. Government-led reform needs to reflect and prioritize this. That said, while my brother and I certainly experienced frustrating interactions with the mental health care system in the past year, there were also doctors and nurses that gave us empathy. There were doctors who were willing to talk with me for an hour or two every day that my brother was in the hospital, just to answer my questions and ease my anxiety. There were nurses who made sure my brother was fed even when he was having a bad day. There were staff members who, by sharing their stories, demonstrated that things really do get better. So while systemic gaps in mental health care in the U.S. and around the world remain and need to be addressed, there are also incredible people working to provide hope. 2020 was a year of bereavement, of protest, and of action. It challenged us, and sought us to reflect upon the lives we’ve lived thus far. And as we stand at a necessary social and political crossroads, we must cherish ourselves too. My call to action is for everyone reading this to take a 51


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deep breath in, and exhale. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the intergenerational trauma written in the lines of my palm. Specifically, about the gender violence and cultural toxicity that led my family and I to a distorted definition of normal, or feeling “good.” I’ve found that a lot of my oppression, and of my family’s oppression, is rooted in our silence and unduly sacrifice. I’ve realized, then, our radical resistance is reliant on loving ourselves. So join me. Take a deep breath in, and exhale. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are loved. You can do this. Some Culturally Specific Resources That Helped Us: ❖ SEWA-AIFW: South Asian Family Wellness ❖ NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness ➢ Mental Health Crisis Planning for Adults ➢ Asian American and Pacific Islander Mental Health Care ❖ SAMHIN: South Asian Mental Health Initiative & Network

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References 1. 2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8. 9.

Vice, “Locked Up and Forgotten: India’s Mental Health Crisis,” 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux14_DEw7Hs. International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research, “Mental healthcare Act 2017: Need to wait and watch,” 2018. https://www.ijabmr.org/article.asp?issn=2229-516X;year =2018;volume=8;issue=2;spage=67;epage=70;aulast=Mishr a. Anouska Bhattacharyya, “Indian Insanes: Lunacy in the ‘Native’ Asylums of Colonial India, 1858-1912,” 2013. https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/11181217/ Bhattacharyya_gsas.harvard_0084L_11204.pdf?sequenc e=3. BJPysch International, “Mental health law in India: origins and proposed reforms,” 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC56188 79/. BJPysch International, “Mental health law in India: origins and proposed reforms,” 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC56188 79/. International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research, “Mental healthcare Act 2017: Need to wait and watch,” 2018. https://www.ijabmr.org/article.asp?issn=2229-516X;year =2018;volume=8;issue=2;spage=67;epage=70;aulast=Mishr a. BMC Psychiatry, “Stigma associated with mental health problems among young people in India: a systematic review of magnitude, manifestations and recommendations,” 2020. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.11 86/s12888-020-02937-x. CDC, “Suicide and Self-Harm Injury,” 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm. National Alliance on Mental Illness, “How Asian Shame and Stigma Contribute to Suicide,” 2020. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/July-2020/H ow-Asian-Shame-and-Stigma-Contribute-to-Suicide.

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Acknowledgements First, we would like to thank all of our authors, artists, and contributors. Thank you for breathing life into this theme and for trusting us with your creative dreams. Special thanks to Hayden Minh for creating the beautiful cover art with such love and care, you have truly highlighted the revolutionary spirit of this journal. Thank you, also, to Kaelin Pham, whose visioning work was integral to the formation of the theme, and whose voice as an editor we continue to honor. Endless gratitude to the Asian American Studies minor program at the University of Minnesota, especially to program director Teresa Swartz, and our advisor, Michelle Lee. Thank you for reaching out to us, for believing in us, and for holding space for our aspirations. This journal would not have been able to exist without your support, mentorship, guidance, and accountability. Thank you to our relatives, chosen family, ancestors, and descendants. Thank you to our siblings in resistance and struggle, from Minneapolis to Myanmar, from Palestine to Turtle Island. We stand with you, we are here because of you, and we hope to make you proud. Finally, thank you, reader, for taking the time to sit with, absorb, and be transformed by each of these pieces. We hope this journal both catalyzes and reflects back your own desires for a future, reimagined.

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Editor Bios Tiffany Bui Tiffany Bui is mostly made up of sugary drinks and puts commas in weird places. She is a second generation Vietnamese American whose greatest dream is to go on a hero’s journey with her small dog. Her primary work is focused on reimagining the world of news media. She is majoring in journalism and sociology.

Meredith Song Meredith Song (she/hers) is a Chinese American feminist scholar, scientist, and emerging farmer. She is currently completing degrees in Genetics and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, with minors in Sustainable Agriculture and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is also involved in food sovereignty organizing and believes in the transformative power of food to usher in radical abolitionist futures.

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Artist Bio & Statement Hayden Minh Hayden Minh is an emerging Trans/Queer 2nd Generation Vietnamese-American visual artist based in Minneapolis, Mni Sota Makoce residing on Dakota Land. He is passionate about uplifting and creating art for LGBTQ people of color. Being queer and a child of Vietnamese refugees, he seeks to encompass displacement, home, and revolutionary love. His work endeavors to build and produce queering systems, expressed through paintings and sculptures that use color, movement, empowerment, and collectivity.

Artist Statement "The Revolution Must Win" is an 8.5x6 in. acrylic painting that highlights the ties of settler colonialism from the MPLS Uprisings, after the murder of George Floyd by police bruitality in May 2020, to the Civil Disobedience Movement against the Military Coup in Myanmar in Feb 2021. On one hand there's abolishing the police -- and on the other it's abolishing fascist nationalism and the military industrial complex.

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Author Bios Fun Fun Cheng Fun Fun Cheng is a writer with many stories to tell. She currently lives in St. Paul, MN.

Simran Chugani Hello there! Simran Chugani (she/her/hers) is a poet, speaker, and third-year student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities studying Neuroscience. Simran loves storytelling because, to her, it lays the foundation for human connection. She hopes that this story of hers is able to reach and resonate with all of you, and that you are able to feel even a bit of the clarity and gratitude she felt while writing it. If you have any questions/comments, or would like to have a cup of tea with her over Zoom, please feel free to reach out to her at chuga003@umn.edu.

Denise Hanh Huynh Denise Hanh Huynh is an artist, educator & scholar based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She comes from a long line of independent women with Vietnamese & Chinese ancestry. Denise is fond of poems; textual, lyrical & visual.

Eileen Jiang Eileen graduated from the University of Minnesota in the spring of 2020. She studied Management Information Systems and is now a consultant in Georgia. Growing up, Eileen would practice traditional Chinese painting with her grandpa, which led to exploring watercolor and digital art. She now draws when she has free time and continues to practice digital art as a hobby.

Patti Kameya Patti Kameya is a historian born in Newport Beach before it became "the OC." She forages wild plants and treats historical amnesia in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She received a Minnesota State Arts Board Cultural Community Partnership grant for her creative nonfiction project The Kimono Shop Off Nicollet, based on the story

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of a Japanese family who moved to Minneapolis in 1919. She performed in the Funny Asian Women Kollective Super Show in 2019.

Christina Lan Christina is a Taiwanese American who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019. She is passionate about education, youth work, and health equity.

Emily Mitamura Emily Mitamura is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota studying post-coloniality, knowledge production, and race. With an emphasis on the brutalities of the everyday, she engages questions of memorialization, aesthetics, social death, and the secret things people hide in archives when no one else is looking.

Demiliza Sagaral Saramosing Demiliza Sagaral Saramosing is of Bisayan descent with genealogies rooted in the seas shared between the Visayas and Mindanao of the Philippines archipelago. Her great grandparents were sakadas who worked in the Ewa Sugar Plantations and returned home at the height of WWII, only to come back to Hawaiʻi again to escape Ferdinand Marco’s 1970s state-sanctioned land-grab wars in Mindanao. She was born and raised in Kalihi, an ahupua‘a and urban neighborhood of Honolulu on the island of O‘ahu. Growing up in a largely working-class community, a place home to Kānaka Maoli and diasporic communities tied to ancestral places throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific, has shaped her commitment to the collective movement for social justice. Demiliza also attributes her scholar activism to her time studying, witnessing, and organizing in political movements in Hawaiʻi, Oregon, California, and Minnesota. She is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota’s American Studies program on occupied Dakota homelands where she is thinking about the radical politics of Oceanic feminisms.

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Jenny Tam Jenny Tam is a fourth year student studying Global Studies with minors in Asian American Studies, Psychology, Business Law, and Management.

Niki Ung Niki Ung is Canto-Viet born in Ho Chi Minh city and raised in Apple Valley, MN. She's currently in her final semester studying Bioproducts Engineering and interested in entering the field of sustainable polymers post-graduation. Niki's favorite joys in this life are eating meals with her parents, playing Tetris, and doing outdoor activities with her friends.

Dawn Wing Dawn Wing is a Chinese American multimedia artist originally from Queens, NY. She is working on completing historical graphic narratives about two Chinese American women, Tien Fu Wu and Tye Leung Schulze, who were translators for justice during the Chinese Exclusion Act era. Find more of Dawn's work at http://wingart.wixsite.com/wingart

Keng Xiong Keng Xiong is from Andover, Minnesota, and identifies as Queer, Male Hmong-American. Currently, he is a first-year at UMN-TC and is planning a BIS in Creative Writing, Leadership/Social Justice, and Asian-American Studies. He focuses his work within queer spaces and is in the pursuit of advocating and representing these marginalized identities. Along with this passion, he hopes to spread awareness and foster spaces of community and home. In his free time, he enjoys watching films, anime, hanging out with friends and family, as well as traveling. For future endeavors, he is excited to work within multicultural student organizations on campus and build lifelong connections, leadership skills, and experience.

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“Our respective racial containment isolates us from each other, enforcing our thoughts that our struggles are too specialized, unrelatable to anyone else except others in our group, which is why making myself, and by proxy other Asian Americans, more human is not enough for me. I want to destroy the universal. I want to rip it down.” – Minor Feelings, Cathy Park Hong (2020)

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