THE ASIAN AMERICAN ARTS ZINE
OCTOBER 2020 BY ASIANS IN THE ARTS
S OAR I NG DR E AMS BY CINDY ZHOU @CINDYZHOU2015
I draw cultural identity from the people around me and the culture embedded in my family. This particular piece was inspired by the environment around me and difference in cultures of my heritage and where I am now.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I MMI GR AT I ON 11
ZEITGEIST Jaime Mah
MIGRATION Christina Fusco
IFUGAO RICE TERRACES (MOTHER'S MEMORIES) Stella Advani
A BLOSSOM OF SUCCESS Arvilyn Ticano
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE Nicole Mairose Dizon
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CUI S I NE 27
COMING HOME Kim Sweeney
THE DINNER TABLE & SIMPLE RECIPES Grace Vo
SPOONFED John Paul Alejandro
FISHES FROM CHILDHOOD Yeji Kim
DISS TRACK: EAT RICE? GET SAVED! brit ko & annakai hayakawa geshlider
CHOCOLATE SOUP FOUNTAIN Nicole Mairose Dizon
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I DE NT I T Y 47
ASIAN AESTHETICS ON EUROPEAN FACES Misha Patel
3 PAINTINGS Mumuscape
EXOTIC EYES Jasmine Hui
GRANDMA'S WARNING Sydney Farey
ONCE (11) 2019 Edmund ArÃ©valo
THE PHOENIX AND THE SNAKE Rachel Hyland
CAN'T UNSEE Gina Takaoka
MABUHAY FILAM! Rigel Bergonio
TABLE OF CONTENTS
E NT E R T AI NME NT 67
BETWEEN CULTURES Hannah June
MY ASIAN AMERICAN TYPECAST Brian Kim
INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN KIM Sam Reidman
ORIGAMI & ARTIST FEATURE Nga Trinh
HIDALGO NO. 1 & ARTIST FEATURE Ethan Moll
D'YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? rtfclly_flvrd
FALL PLAYLIST Jaden Chee
REPRESENTATION SPOTLIGHT Grace Vo
MOVIES TO WATCH Sam Riedman
WITHIN HER Irene Kwan
TABLE OF CONTENTS
S OCI AL J US T I CE 93
ALL THAT APPLY Sarah Bargfrede
A PREFERENCE FOR BREATHING Sam Riedman
THE SACRIFICE Kim Sweeney
COLORBLIND // SPEAK Paloma Chen
105 FU Kiki Jia-Qi Zhen
107 REFRAMING THE PAST Jenna Nishimura
FROM THE EDITOR
F R OM
E DI T OR
When Grace, Misha, Baotran, Sammie,
different experiences growing up as an
Jayden, and I found ourselves at the first
Zine Team meeting in August 2020, we had no idea what to expect.
Over time, we found that there were more similarities than differences. We found that the struggle to learn and retain a native
All we were given was a copy of Volume I of
language is universal. We encounter micro-
The Asian American Arts Zine and endless
possibilities. The six editors are from various
discrimination for our ethnic looks and
fashion. We share trauma from immigration
Washington, Florida, Massachusetts), had
experiences and COVID-19. We find refuge in
never met one another, and had drastically
Asian-made music and film.e paint, write, and
FROM THE EDITOR
create, knowing white supremacy still dictates much of our field. This Zine is a celebration of how united we are in our experiences, yet how diverse the narratives are. There is not a single way to be an Asian-American in the arts, whether a found-object origami artist like Nga Trinh, a prolific yet often type-
THIS FLAG INDICATES THAT THE WORK WAS CREATED BY A FILIPINXIDENTIFYING ARTIST. WE ARE EXCITED TO CELEBRATE FILIPINXAMERICAN HERITAGE THIS OCTOBER.
casted actor like Brian Kim, or spoken word master like John Paul Alejandro. In this issue, we highlighted the works of Filipino American artists to celebrate the legacy
commemorate how enriched AAPI culture is because of their livelihood. I am excited to share this collection of curated works with all of you and hope you find a home in a shared experience, or that you encounter a work or artist that reminds you why you love who you are.
This Zine is a celebration of how united we are in our experiences, yet how diverse the narratives are.
I MMI G
R AT I ON
ZE I T GE I S T BY JAIME MAH Chapter One The birds chirp their incessant song. I shift in my bed, hoping foranother minute of solitude. I lie under the cool blanket, and like a tsunami, waves upon waves of nausea hit me as I anticipate Jonathan’s screams that would have, should have, pierced the air right now. Screaming, shouting, yelling, crying. All my life, I’ve been woken by either one, or an unfortunate combination of all four. As a child, I never understood what terrible, invisible demon possessed my father throughout the night. My wonderful, soft-spoken, strong kachan, reduced to yells and screeches every time the evil demon visited him, and in his later years, reduced to soiled pants and slit wrists. “Orokana igirisuhito,” tochan would always growl to herself, as she prepared wet cloths to put upon his shaking forehead. I always preferred hugging kachan until his screaming stopped. I did the same for Jonathan whenever he screamed. I used to run down the stairs to the soundtrack of chirping birds and Jonathan’s yells, steeling myself for another day, it’s just another day, it’s only one day, just one more day. I would silently open the double doors of the linen closet to reveal a pajama-clad Jonathan, stabbing the heel of his hands into his eyes. I would squat down to his level, and wait. Realizing my presence, he would unfold himself unto me, pajamas squishing pajamas, flesh gripping flesh, pain sharing pain. I would unfurl myself from him andembrace him tightly, as I’d rock back and forth, calmly humming a Radiohead song. I wonder what tochan would say, if he knew that the very same demon he struggled with since he returned from Malaysia, the same demon that came back in full force after Hiroshima, would again haunt my family, would again creep at the outskirts of my life, and would again, win. As Jonathan calmed down, I would give him a squeeze, then release him and stand up to go and make breakfast. At the kitchen door, I would look back at the man I loved, and I would tell myself that one day, we would get through this, together.
I hit the headboard with my bare fists, over and over again, until blood flowed. The birds cheerily twitter about outside. Chapter Two My parents moved from Japan to America in the 1950’s, after theMitsubishi Corporation expanded to New York. People like tachan, involved and affected both in the war and in the bombings, sealed their hibakusha status shut, as hibakushas were mocked by their disfigurements, and job prospects were almost entirely eliminated as the effects of radiation were feared intensely. As such, tachan was never given proper time off work to grieve, and so the demon grew. The demon followed my parents over the Pacific to America. It festered and multiplied, and eventually cost him his Mitsubishi job. After that, kachan became the sole breadwinner, by doing what work, she never said. I’ve tagged along the survivor group meetings for as long as I can remember, creatively connecting dots from each shiny patch of skin on a scarred person to the next. I remember giggling at the many-legged phantom limbs I drew with my imagination in place of the actual stumps that they were. I remember another woman telling us how she held the body of her faceless sister, recognised only by the inner part of her waistband string. “It had cartoon cats on it,” the woman said as tears filled her filmy eyes. They say that eyes are the windows to the soul. How do you fix a broken soul? The experience of gradually losing one’s innocence as childhood makes way for adolescence was lost on me, simply because I never had any innocence to lose in the first place. Over the years, through tachan’s half-asleep conversations and sobbing revelations, I slowly began to piece together the events that caused my father such misery. I know he left the military because he was too traumatised with the horrors he witnessed in Malaysia: the vehement Sook Ching massacres all over Malaya, which left an estimated 70, 000 Chinese people dead, women, young and old, raped, babies thrown into the air only to be impaled with spears as they fell. As if to punish him for his disobedience in living up to theJapanese status as puppets of tyranny, Little Boy was dropped the day tachan returned to Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. tachan left her family for kachan out of love, and out of love she stayed, spongebathing him every day for the next 4 years, paying for his multiple reconstructive surgeries for his heart, lungs and his back, sanitizing his shit-stained bed sheets, thoroughly cleaning the crimson bed sores crisscrossing the front of his body.
It was out of love when Jonathan, a volunteer nurse then that I barely knew, squeezed my hand for the first time when I exited kachanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s room in the hospice years later, after tachanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s suicide. It was out of love that our strange clinical friendship soon blossomed into heated 3am debates of The Matrix in my scholarship-funded dorm room. That room soon echoed the sorrows and pain of two souls laid bare, with solace eventually found in fingers intertwined, hot electric coursing through our veins. Chapter Three The day started off just like any other day. The alarm clock wasslapped into silence as we slowly got up, leaving the last vestiges of happiness pooling on the bed. We made faces at each other as we brushed our teeth, competing in a unanimous challenge of being the longest to withhold toothpaste froth from dripping on the sink. Finishing the last dredges of coffee, we said goodbye with distracted kisses and half-hearted I-love-yous, and went our separate ways to work. Our news van stopped as close to the Towers as we could, halted by a barricade of honking vehicles and people running the opposite way, a cacophony of agitated madness. Hearing their cries of anguish, their calls for help that could never be answered, shattered my heart eternally. Flames were shooting down, left and right, a holy display of liquid fireworks. Fallen angels, from afar resembling floating paper notes, were now hands held tight, diving brokenly into the billowing dust, choosing ground over fire. I experienced firsthand what the rest of America saw in my broadcast: the curving arc and massive crash of United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower, followed by the piercing screams of the people around me. The sights, sounds, and smells of that terrible day, was and still remains, indescribable, understood only by those present to the fear themselves. How do you put an adjective, a verb, a noun, on such unspeakable desolation? The ripping apart of whole families, communities, the permanent severing of morality and humanity, all under the ticking of 120 minute tocks. Was this gore what tachan lived through the day of the bombing, walking with blistered feet to a shelter filled with the dying scared and scarred? Was this savagery, this hallmark of what cruelty can do, what kachan had to live with every day, reminded every time she ran her fingers across his back? With what seemed like hours of the same monotonous, automated voice-mail on the phone, I felt like I atoned for every sin in my life; for keeping silent during History classes
when President Truman was praised, for the part of me that can never forgive tachan for participating in the killing of the Malaysian masses. Hell, I atoned for living the sin of being a Japanese in America. An hour after both towers fell, Jonathan finally called me back, silent tears muffling his beautiful voice. All I registered was that he was alright, and that he would come back home tomorrow night. The rest was lost in weeping and moaning. We wept for the loss of the lost, and we wept for the loss of ourselves. Our choking sobs formed an intangible thread that connected us to a higher plane of existence, in between the fuzzy static of the call. We were there, through the phone, with our pain and hurt coalescing and receding as one with each screech of white noise on the line. We were there, cruelly bonded forever by this event, hardened New Yorkers aged tenfold. Did tachan feel this same overwhelming connection with kachan? Did my parents feel like breaking apart to join the ones that were broken, too? The demon laughed. Chapter Four 2 months later when I was finally well enough to start work again, hewould call me at hourly intervals, sobbing on the line, asking me to comehome because he was afraid to be alone. It soon became impossible to deflect the piteous stares from my co-workers, and the condescending pats on my back from my boss, telling me that Jonathan “would get over it”. Eventually, I quit my job to take care of Jonathan at home, and took on freelance writing. Every day, Jonathan would silently pad around the house, listlessness teeming in his muscles, dead hopelessness in his eyes. I was numb, so numb, discovering Jonathan’s stiffened body hanging from our bedroom fan with a string. That fucking string, now the accused instrument in the single person trial of my husband’s suicide, whereby no amounts of weeping would change the fate executed by the judge, by the demon
Chapter Five I take a hot shower.
I miss you, Jonathan. I miss you screaming and cursing in the bedroom, reminding me again and again how the world let you down. I miss you telling me how I betrayed the people that died that day, by my moving on and living. I close my eyes, and you’re there beside me on the bed, breathing hysterically. We’re together again, you in my arms so beautiful and broken,angry and hurting me, and then smiling, crying, apologetic. Two disjointed lovers, loving out of tune. I almost think I see a glimpse of your shadow, but I know better as my eyes adjust. The water running down my skin feels like shards of glass, shredding unhealed scars open. Once upon a time, I thought progress was the one true zeitgeist, the omniscient power present in the turning of the infinite clock. I thought progress, the hope of a better future, would be the loop of silver lining in each century, making way for the next. I’ve decided today, that I’m wrong. I feel as I’ve been buried awake all these while, with the weight of the dead pressing on my shoulders. The dead. They pretend to be dead, but they live on through the living. I now suffer for those that suffered. What do I do with the dead? What do I do with the thousands of lynched African-Americans, the massacre of the Jewish people, the extermination of the Armenians? What of Hiroshima, what of 9/11? What can anyone do, knowing pain, torture, abuse and injustice occur in this world? Our lives are not our own. We are Staunton pawns, played by men in clown suits wielding briefcases, and we will always be condemned to whichever side of the board that suits them. Maybe, the actual zeitgeist is suffering, and pain, and violence. Maybe these horrors link each of us, each leaf of grass, to the same universal root system. Maybe, to be inhumane is really what humanity is all about. The capability to think, to reason, yet to decided to spill blood anyway. To think, therefore I am. I don’t want to live in a world like this. I smiled as I let the water wash down my face, and glide across my tanned skin. I laugh at how absurd the world is. I am still laughing with the demon as I sit on my bed, loading the bullet in place.
Just a bit of back story: this short story was written in 2016 for my Western Civilization class back in Malaysia, and hasn't been published anywhere else or really read by anyone else except me, my classroom, and my friends. I love this piece so much because I remember the raw emotion I had writing it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do too.
MI GR AT I ON Its part of a series of migratory birds, emphasizing the natural need to move when your homeland becomes inhabitable. For humans this can be due to climate change, war, political or religious conflict.
BY CHRISTINA FUSCO
Migration Christina Fusco tinafusco.com
I F U GAO
R I CE
T E R R ACE S BY STELLA ADVANI
Some of my paintings, such as this, are a tribute to my mother and our ethnic and cultural heritage. She was born in Bayombong, the capital of the province of Nueva Vizcaya in the Philippines, and immigrated to the California Bay Area in the 1960s. This portrait is based on a photograph taken of her during that time. I layered a landscape of the Ifugao Rice Terraces partially over her profile as if she were looking back at the memory of her ancestral home. Rice, the mountains, immigration, and stories of my mother's childhood in the Philippines are sources of inspiration for me as an Asian artist.
IFUGAO RICE TERRACES (MOTHER'S MEMORIES)
( MOT HE R ' S ME MOR I E S ) Ifugao Rice Terraces (Mother's Memories) Stella Advani www.stellaadvani.com
B L OS S OM S UCCE S S
BY ARVILYN TICANO
My submitted work is the first piece of my collection that focuses on the story of my second cousin and her path to success.
represents her gradual change from a poor, humble lifestyle in the Philippines to being successful media-wide. The intricate designs signify the difficult process of leaving the Philippines in order to pursue her aspirations and provide her family a better life.
A BLOSSOM OF SUCCESS
A Blossom of Success Arvilyn Ticano @arvxlyn
P L E DGE
AL L E GI ANCE BY NICOLE DIZON
Wipe star-spangled spit from slanted eyes. Let blind fury wane. How can we bow to this Flag of lies? 1
If Bruce heard these invisible cries, 2
he would fight this “Kung Flu” strain. Wipe star-spangled spit from slanted eyes. Some born from fiery Pinays, persistence pulsing through their veins. How can we bow to this Flag of lies?
Elders swam through the tides, greeted by a nation built on chains. Wipe star-spangled spit from slanted eyes.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Hidden from warm, velvet skies, our grace cannot be feigned. How can we bow to this Flag of lies? As seasons pass, rice stalks will rise. May our seeds not relive this pain. Wipe star-spangled spit from slanted eyes. How can we bow to this Flag of lies?
In 2020, Donald Trump referred to COVID-19 as the "Kung Flu"
CUI S I NE
COMI N G HOM E
A B O U T
A R T IS T:
S WE ENEY KIM SWEENEY IS A FIRST GENERATION KHMER AMERICAN.
"As the daughter of an immigrant, I wonder about the future of my culture in America. Beyond my lifetime, will my children carry on the traditions so dear to our cultural identity and ancestral heritage? This work is a prophecy that they will, and there will be a place at the table for my spirit to come back home for the holidays." www.kimswny.com
T HE DI NNE R
T AB L E
BY GRACE VO
Growing up, the dinner table at my
I longed for comfort food and found myself
parentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house always felt like a space
calling my mom multiple times a week asking
where most of the meals came from
how to make certain family recipes. Learning
family recipes, passed down. As an Asian
and making these family recipes help me feel
American kid, only eating from these
connected to my family and my roots. I felt
family recipes felt so restricting and
this sense of support, inspiration, and
ownership being able to sustain myself with recipes that have been passed down through
When I finally went to university, I had all
many generations. Eating from family recipes
this freedom to eat anything I wanted in the
when I was younger was something I took for
dining halls; the options were endless and
granted and now something I realize is an
immeasurable. But when I moved into my own
important part of my familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history and
apartment, the biggest challenge I faced was
cooking for myself.
THE DINNER TABLE
With that said, this column will be used to share not only my familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Vietnamese recipes but also from other Asian cultures as well. I believe it is so important for these recipes to be shared to those who cannot access them through their families directly. Recipe Accounts shared will be both traditional and nontraditional; we also want to highlight accounts that have taken the time and consideration of daily life, accessibility to resources, dietary needs, and allergies while also emanating nostalgia, family history and identity.
... we also want to highlight accounts that have taken the time and consideration of daily life, accessibility to resources, dietary needs, and allergies while also emanating nostalgia, family history and identity.
East Asian Korean: The Korean Vegan https://thekoreanvegan.com/ Korean: CafĂŠ Maddy https://www.cafemaddy.com/ Chinese: The Woks of Life https://thewoksoflife.com/
CHAR SIU (CHINESE BBQ PORK) FROM THE WOKS OF LIFE BLOG
UZBEK MANTI FROM VALENTINA'S CORNER
Central Asian Uzbekistan & Russian: Valentina’s Corner https://valentinascorner.com/cuisine/russianukrainian/ https://valentinascorner.com/cuisine/uzbekist an-mediterranean/
Southeast Asian Vietnamese: Recipes by Vicky Pham https://www.vickypham.com/ Vietnamese/Filipino/Chinese: Hungry Huy https://www.hungryhuy.com/
Manti is a classic dish served in several different parts of the world. It’s kind of like a mix between Vareniki with potatoes and pelmeni. The recipe may seem intimidating but don’t let it be. Yes, this is not a super quick recipe that you just throw together, but it’s worth every minute.
Malaysian: Woon Heng (Plant Based) https://woonheng.com/
- Valentina's Corner
S I MP L E R E CI P E S
BY GRACE VO
G O I ( S A V O R Y
P A P A Y A
S A L A D )
Ingredients: 1 Raw Papaya Shredded, washed and rinsed with water 2 Large handfuls of washed Vietnamese Coriander Herb or Rau Ram, roughly chopped Boiled Shrimp, pork or chicken sliced thin (optional) Nouc Mam Cham or Fish Sauce Combine shredded papaya in a bowl with the chopped Rau Rum herb and mix together evenly. Top with your choice of boiled shrimp, chicken or pork or all of them :) Spoon Nouc Mam Cham all over and enjoy!
N O U C
M A M
CH A M
( F I S H
S A U C E )
Mix equal parts filtered water, fish sauce, and lemon juice in a bowl. Add minced or crushed garlic (for a small batch of sauce, use 2-3 cloves and for a large use 4-6 cloves). Add sugar and mix everything together! I like to use about 4-6 tablespoons of sugar for a small batch. If you are making a larger batch, keep tasting the sauce and adjust accordingly if need be. You can also add a teaspoon of chili upon preference. The sauce should taste sweet, salty and lemony. The sauce should be refreshing so if it is too concentrated with fish sauce, sugar or lemon, add water and mix until dissolved.
N I C O L E
MA I RO S E
D I Z O N
“Chocolate Soup Fountain” comments on the accessibility of offal to other people even those of dual descent such as Filipino Americans and pays homage to the life-giving Filipina matriarchs who provide for their families. The dish from Dizon’s childhood may illicit reluctance due to its name. Dinuguan is a Filipino stew comprised of pork intestines, chili, garlic, vinegar, and pork’s blood. The artist used resin to recreate pork’s blood cubes. To encourage her to eat it at a young age, her grandmother, mother, and aunts playfully called it “chocolate soup.” Like water, it played a major role in sustaining her throughout life and opened her up to the beauty of Filipino cuisine.
CHOCOLATE SOUP FOUNTAIN
RESIN, IV BAG, ALUMINUM BOWL, WOOD, BANANA LEAVES, SUBMERSIBLE PUMP, WATER
Chocolate Soup Fountain Nicole Mairose Dizon www.nicoledizon.com
CHOCOL AT E S OUP F OUNT AI N
S P OONF E D Your hands will be fed, only if you know how to use them those brown palms of yours aren’t just for conforming when you are grasping something American learn how to release and open it towards your face look at what your ancestors gave you forget about forks spoons, knives we can’t be too capitalist when it comes to silver silverware that bang on china like war drums creating too much noise to listen to grandma’s home cooked meals
so use your hands to eat my hands are hungry too with a gut that yearns for cultivated roots eat with your hands feel the rice sticky, soft along the rims of your fingers where many Filipinos have journeyed across dinner plates
BY JOHN PAUL ALEJANDRO @ JP_BAYANI
to taste what home is like eat with your hands remember that your skin is also a flavor taste the seasoning imbedded within your hand lines eat lumpia sini gang adobo everything taste good with a little bit of your culture which your hands are a part of
"Spoonfed" is an excerpt of my one man show, In the Belly of the Iron Beast; I self produced and premiered the show at the Overture Center of the Arts in Madison, WI in 2015. In the Belly of the Iron Beast, is a re imagination of my immigration from the Philippines to USA via airplane. I explore the process of digestion and how it relates with the process of assimilation in the United States.
Fishes from Childhood Yeji Kim @yeji.zip
FISHES FROM CHILDHOOD
Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, I would often go to my grandmother’s fish restaurant, which specialized in
(Gulbi/Dried Yellow Croaker) to
“help” her out and to share a meal, deliciously prepared by her. After my family and I immigrated to the US when I was 8, my mom would often cook fish because the taste of fish made her feel at home in foreign, rural Michigan, surrounded with people who did not look like us. I appreciate this project for allowing me to work in Hangeul (
, the written form of
the Korean Language) in graphic design for the first time. Partly growing up in the American school system, surrounded by Latin letterforms, then proceeding to art school, surrounded by graphic design created by cis white male designers, I felt like I lost touch to the beauty of Hangeul Letterforms. Hangeul is very interesting and truly wonky in that each block of letter is a horizontal combination of vowels and consonants that progresses vertically and its multi-directional form allows for super fun manipulations. I have been hesitant to create works in my mother tongue and still am to some degree. I did not want to overestimate the amount of ownership I have over the Korean culture, being someone who has spent more than half of their life living in the US. I guess I am still working on the idea of ownership/claim over my heritage and culture, and working with Hangeul felt like a beginning, a reclamation of sorts.
YE J I
FISHES FROM CHILDHOOD
D I S S ( E A T
T R ACK
R I C E ?
G E T
S A V E D! )
BY BRIT KO & ANNAKAI HAYAKAWA GESHLIDER
we didn't order rice, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s simply our politics at the oriental market in Goleta we buy bok choy and blue plastic colander is it bpa free? toss a vegan kraft single into the pot slurp broth under the train tracks by the waves carry us into the moon rip the gyoza right where your gma's knuckle supposedly forged the heartfelt seam once you see the innards spill upon your lap maybe just maybe we'll begin to de-diasporate it's kind of asian! and no, it's not what you think.
DISS TRACK (EAT RICE? GET SAVED!)
i love pickled vegetables as much as the next
how did we get here?
guy but today i want key lime pie
we ask ourselves every day
why did you doxx us?
they told us to go back to china. we say,
when we brought
in what vehicle?
cheez fondue to the potluck
i went there once, to a protest
i'd rather have a salad
in high school.
fuck you! we came out the womb with a bone to pick.
we beg you, please leave your shoes at the door
bottle-fed on cheez whiz
do not track in your
(you tried to feed us plain rice?
your pyramid scheme is showing)
that's the thing, Shirley
you want an answer and there isn't one.
the korean seniors love hot pockets and
the pH of your tongue is basic.
frozen burritos susan says one can of spam per week's too
all evil stems from thinking there is only one
the air in our room isn't stale
we won't back down.
just unbalanced, like our parents warned us the fan bunches our qi in one corner.
how did we get here? we ask ourselves every day...
the way something looks gives clues to what's inside but sometimes a book cover's just a farce i'm sick of all this talk about capacities if you really cared, where were you? there is only one side to every story and that's the one on the eastern border which looks the same from outer space as Best Western. and forehead to forehead the only thing between us is a thin strip of bonito. they say to go back to my country but i just wanna eat some pizza. everywhere you go, it's the same. with different toppings, like chicken & corn kimchi & fresh durian the film festival claims asian families don't talk at the dinner table but waitâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; my dad's a reporter put a sockinnit! what is bonding anyway? since when is talk the main course? let's not say grace.
DISS TRACK (EAT RICE? GET SAVED!)
all our childhood friends fell off the deep end we call to them from even deeper you sound like you're underwater! they reroute us to their publicists.
since when do i have to make an appointment to talk to my grandma? all i ask for is a grain of rice and your name on it get off your slack channel and onto mine we beg you for the duration of this call: silence your boyfriend leave your personality at the door and shove your doodle poll up your
take a sledgehammer to your ego you have no edge chuck your handle to the bottom of the well take the universe inside your tomato back to the republic if your society has a caste system and butches are at the bottom it's time to think again.
@T I NKE L B I NKE L COR P
I D E N T I Y
AS I AN AE S T HE T I CS ON E UR OP E AN F ACE S BY MISHA PATEL In a world of evolving beauty standards, each generation creates a new narrative for what it means to be “professional.” More and more young adults are embracing their culture, and simultaneously searching for jobs. In South Asia, nose piercings have been a cultural norm for years— women get their noses pierced with either a stud or a hoop from ages as young as 2 years old. In America, however, piercings and “excessive” jewelry can end a job interview before it begins. , So where do the voices of Asian Americans fit during this time? Across various South Asian cultures, the use of piercings and an abundance of jewelry is a beauty standard that signifies one's culture and typically, femininity. However, notable piercings, even an abundance of ear piercings, can result in job discrimination for countless Asian Americans, the choice between their job or their culture becoming a choice they must make.
ASIAN AESTHETICS ON EUROPEAN FACES
"But why are rules only being changed as the dominant culture adopts various aesthetics that are typical to South Asians, rather than expectations being changed for South Asians themselves?"
When South Asian women are seen walking down the street with countless bangles adorning their arms, gold stacked on their ears, and of course, a so-called “flashy” nose ring, these women have been historically ridiculed, told to go back to their own countries, and subject to countless other microagressions, all due to their physical appearance. And when White women walk down the street in the same fashion, they are immediately praised by their peers, terms like “alternative” and “edgy” being thrown around like never before. Where is that praise for South Asians? The short answer is that typically, there isn’t any. Most of the time, South Asians aren’t even considered “real” Asians in the eyes of white people, yet we face the same ridicule toward appearance and heritage that “actual” Asians do. Since the start of European colonization in Asia, Asian voices have continuously been silenced. So what can we do to combat this? The simple answer is “use our voices.” As our natural features and culture are appropriated in the name of “embracing other cultures,” we must reclaim those same aesthetics in the name of embracing our own culture. By taking back our jewelry, skin, and we can combat appropriation and take back our identities, one nose ring at a time.
In the culture of India, my own culture, gold bangles, rings, ear piercings and eccentric nose hoops are symbols of a strong tie to one's heritage, and regarding some jewelry, femininity. Despite this, countless jobs still require faces to be jewelry free, in order to maintain a sense of professionalism when working with clientele. However, as society evolves, so do rules, and our idea of “professionalism” is no exception. But why are rules only being changed as the dominant culture adopts various aesthetics that are typical to South Asians, rather than expectations being changed for South Asians themselves? What has typically been seen as “fobby,” by the white majority and internalized by South Asian communities in itself, such as excessive jewelry, large earrings, and various pieces of gold adorning one’s features are now being praised; the beauty standard has now evolved past simple, minimalistic styles. This phenomenon further emphasizes the point of style evolution, where those with European faces have a monopoly on the beauty standard, leaving Asians at the foot of the totem pole, along with countless other BIPOC groups. The roots of colonization stem from European colonizers wanting to steal resources from Asia, in an attempt to further their own economies, and overall societies, leaving the people of Asia behind, many impoverished and now reliant on colonizers to keep their livelihoods afloat. As we analyze the impact of colonizers stealing resources and artifacts, we may also analyze in what ways that theft has made it;s way into our modern lifestyles. As Asian culture was brought back for colonizers to capitalize on, now, our features are undergoing the same treatment.
TO THE RHYTHMS OF DHAAK
A SONG FROM THE SOUL
CHOICES AND DILEMMA
BY MUMUSCAPE MUMUSCAPE.COM
E XOT I C E YE S
BY JASMINE HUI @JYUUTW
This piece was a response to the fox eye trend and the renewed attention of the mocking of "chinky" East Asian eyes during the summer of 2020 but was also intended to express the continued exotification and othering of East Asians in the West.
GR ANDMA' S WAR NI NG
Grandma's Warning Sydney Farey www.sydfarey.com
In this series Grandmaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Warning, you will find a recurring pear motif. As a homonym, the word pear in Chinese means both the fruit, and the idea of separation and divorce. The pear is imbued in my work as a reflection of my own identity and my relationship with the different cultures I am a part of. When initially sharing my work with my Chinese grandmother, I was cautioned not to depict halved pears because of its negative connotations, hence the title of this series.
BY SYDNEY FAREY WWW.SYDFAREY.COM
BY EDMUND ARÃ&#x2030;VALO EDMUNDAREVALO.COM @EDMUNDAREVALO
P HOE NI X AND
S NAKE BY RACHEL HYLAND RACHWENYING.COM @RACHWENYING
THE PHOENIX AND THE SNAKE
This project centers around rediscovering that part of myself. The drawing depicts a phoenix and a snake, representing my Chinese heritage and my Western upbringing respectively. My tattoo represents the inner conflict I feel between my two worlds.
Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s my surname given to me by the monks in China who saved my life in conflict with being raised in America, which is where I call home and shaped me into who I am today.
CAN' T UNS E E
BY GINA TAKAOKA @GINA_TAKAOKA
MAB UHAY F I L AM!
BY RIGEL BERGONIO @RIGELS.DESIGN
Being a second generation Asian American I make it an importance to still keep my heritage as close as possible by absorbing as much culture I can that my family has taught and exposed me throughout my life. I like to incorporate my Filipinx heritage in some of the work that I do to share my Filipinx culture with others in a fun and educational way.
E N T E R T A I N
M E N T
B E T WE E N CUL T UR E S
BY HANNAH JUNE
This is a poster for an imaginary movie about living between cultures as an Asian American woman.
Between Cultures Hannah June @vowcon
MY ASIAN AMERICAN TYPECAST BY BRIAN KIM @briiankiim
Auditions don’t scare me. But I know when I walk into that room there’s a possibility All they might see Is a history of one line scientists in movies And bullied antisocial school kids on TV But that’s not me. I was a kid who loved pretending, sword fighting and world creating. Imagination activating. Science is fun but it’s not what I’m meant for. Bullies got out of my way because I was aiming for more. Passion was telling me to leap and reach for Fortune’s door So that I could be a storyteller. You see, History tells me I’m nothing but a taxi driver, a gas station clerk, a laundry mat worker, a Chinese railroad builder. But there’s so much more to me. Because in this melting pot which looks more like a century old clam chowder, I’m bringing the Asian heat and the Kimchi spice and the Kpop power. Because I won’t let my diversity be a disability for you. Because it’s everything but, it tells me there’s nothing I can’t do. Persistence tells me I can be Alexander Hamilton, Peter Parker, and Hamlet. My range is like all the colors on an abstract painter’s palette Blending and mixing in gradients of me I’ll be your fashion model, Not your token model minority.
MY ASIAN AMERICAN TYPECAST
The question I’m now asking, Is if you’ll wake up and actually start casting, Based on who I am and not where it looks like I’m from Because I was born in the land of the free And step to the beat of a star spangled drum. My heart lives in the home of the brave No matter what my parent have done, No matter all this Corona virus prejudice bullshit stemmed from racism. No matter who tells me to go back to where I came from, Because I came from here. So I’ll try to get my name out there And lead the charge to ensure That other crazy Asian kids can see and believe that their future is more Than people telling them their American dream isn’t worth living for. Because it is. Because it is.
I want other people to see themselves represented on film and in theater, so that other Asian kids who have a flare for the dramatics don’t feel like black sheep in a sea of white.
BY SAM RIEDMAN
WITH BRIAN KIM Reviewing Brian Kim’s submission, "My Asian American Typecast," I found myself snapping my fingers at certain lines, laughing at others; and was left feeling inspired by the conviction and vulnerability present in his piece. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pick his brain four a couple hours. Our discussion touched on a lot of topics, ranging from his childhood, to theater history, to the limitations of academic institutions— explored through the lens of being Asian American actor. Brian Kim is a second generation Korean American who hails from Illinois. Growing up, Brian always loved playing pretend and participating in skits at his church. He discovered his interest in acting and performing arts when some of his friends were auditioning for their high school’s play, and convinced him to audition too. “I didn’t get a part as an actor, but I joined the crew and it allowed me to learn the ins and outs of performance [beyond being on stage].” He auditioned for his school’s next production (“Hairspray”) and landed a role. “From there, it snowballed into doing every musical and being the secretary for the drama club.
"I finally found something that I felt like I could do for the rest of my life.” Like many Asian Americans, when it came time to think about college, Brian started down a path of what he thought he should do, not what he necessarily wanted to do. He spent a semester studying psychology. “Growing up in a traditional immigrant family, it’s a risky business to go into the entertainment field.”
“When you are pursuing something that you’re passionate about, things seem to fall into place. During this time, Brian still took theater classes and watched plays, but he kept thinking: “‘Why am I in the audience? What am I doing in the audience when I’ve spent the past four years realizing how much fun this is.’” This drove him to audition for his college’s acting program, which he was accepted into. He realized that “when you are pursuing something that you’re passionate about, things seem to fall into place.”
INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN KIM
Recently, Brian has been vocal online about his experience as an Asian American attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign acting program. “My theatre department’s mission statement is ‘we stand for radical inclusion’ and throughout my four years, I've asked: What does that mean to this program? How can you be racially inclusive and yet have persistent inequities?” When he would question the Euro-centricity of the programs, and why the theater history program couldn’t include non-white histories, he was met with excuse after excuse from faculty claiming, “there’s no time, it’s hard to change the curriculum, university change takes time, there’s an elective you can take that’s Asian American theatre.”
"What does [racial inclusion] mean to this program?" However, he was required to take a “general” theatre class which only discussed Greek and western theater. Fed up with the contradictions and fallacies in the departments mission and execution, Brian wondered: “How do you have the audacity to tell me this is a general theater class— that I’m required to take— and tell me your excuse for not putting in more diverse theater in your curriculum is that ‘people have the option as an elective?’” The fallacies in their excuses became crystal clear
in the context of the pandemic, as he recognizes. “[They’re] telling me that curriculum change is tough and takes time, but then in three months you are able to get an acting class that is all physical, and move it to online because of COVID. You can’t tell me you can’t change your curriculum fast enough for the moving times, because you just did, for the pandemic.” Brian’s public discussion of his university experience is not meant to discount the program, but to highlight areas for growth and start a dialog about the limiting factors of being one of the few people of color and the only East Asian, in the program for his first two years. “I went into my acting studies not thinking about Asian representation and advocacy, but realized how much of a hole there is, I realize no one is going to step up to the plate, so I have to.”
"How can you be racially inclusive and yet have persistent inequities?" Like many PoC’s wishing to learn about our varying roles in history, he had to rely on self-inquiry and independent research— not just lectures and graded assignments. He made sure to note: “I think this is not an experience that is specific to me, I think this is something people from all marginalized groups relate to.” Centralizing the experiences of white people and making it the norm affects people of color across all backgrounds. It instills an internal belief that
we are intrinsically other. As Brian now recognizes, the barriers that limit Asian American representation in film are connected to a long history of racism in film and theater, from minstrel shows to the appropriation of Asian and Pacific Islanders. "[We must] talk about all the stepping stones of that and how white people have been able to use minorities to make money.” Through his studies, lived experiences, and by listening to the experiences of POC’s, Brian has realized that Asian American representation is not just about seeing more Asian people on film, but increasing the overall diversity of how POC’s are represented. “My Asian American Typecast,” was written for a cabaret night at the 2019 Illinois Shakespeare Festival. This was the first piece of poetry Brian wrote that was meant to be read aloud. In the words, you can hear his heart speak, allowing rhythm and rhyming and imagery to display his passion and talent. The following year, he used the same piece for the online showcase his graduating class produced. “I decided to use it for my showcase because it represents who I am. If you want to see something filmed that is me, this poem is me. It’s my frustration at feeling like there is an expectation of me to be something that I’ve never been.” Since then, this poem has become a sort of compass, reminding him of the direction he wants to take the industry: “It helps me understand why I’m doing all of this; it both inspires and humbles me and makes me proud
proud of myself. But also gets me fired up and reminds me there is so much more I can do. It’s not only a representation of me, but a promise to myself:
I will do these things, I will try to lead the charge, I want other people to see themselves represented on film and in theater, so that other Asian kids who have a flare for the dramatics don’t feel like black sheep in a sea of white.”
Brian doesn’t simply want to break the bamboo ceiling; he wants to hold that gap open to create a more diverse film industry that represents that diversity that defines America— not just the American that has been historically represented in film and theater. It's not just about Asians; it’s about all marginalized people being shifted to the center. Brian is a reminder to other Asian kids aspiring to see themselves on stage. He reminds them that it's possible. That even though you haven’t seen someone who looks like you, or a story that represents you— it doesn’t make your story invalid or nonexistent. That it probably means, your story is urgently needed. There are others who feel similarly to you, and through speaking up we will be able to find each other.
INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN KIM
I want other people to see themselves represented on film and in theater, so that other Asian kids who have a flare for the dramatics donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel like black sheep."
TWITTER: @BRIAANKIIM INSTAGRAM: @BRIIANKIIM YOUTUBE: BRIAN SEUNGHEON KIM
Hidalgo No. 1 Ethan Moll @molleesan
HIDALGO NO. 1
"My work is inspired by instrumental music. I create the forms and color palette based off what I hear."
ETHAN MOLL My work is inspired by instrumental music. I create the forms and color palette based off what I hear. Each genre or style of music creates different forms and different levels of saturation of color. I listen to a variety of music: Classical Orchestral Music, Disco, Cuban Jazz, Japanese City Pop, 80â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Remastered Remixes, Acid Rock, and Future Funk/Vaporwave. The condition of being able to interpret sounds as colors or shapes is known as synesthesia. While I have been told I might have this condition, I do not think I have it. I simply believe I paint what I interpret from these sounds.
ARTIST FEATURE: ETHAN MOLL
My paintings are a way to give identity to music and to spark conversation of the act of music and art making. One’s interpretation is not the absolute truth. I like listening to other people’s ideas about music and its effect in art making. I like to paint the patterns with portraits because portraiture is an art form that deals with identity. Painting a person helps reveal things we may overlook and opens others to how we interpret our peers and strangers. Some of the people in my work are close friends I’ve wanted to paint because I value their friendship.
KOMATSU LILAC DAYS
Another reason why I think I fuse the two concepts together is because I find the world visually boring. Everything I see is either concrete, asphalt, or beige plaster. I think if we incorporated more colors in our spaces, it would affect our communities and well beings in a positive way. Especially during these times, we need a splash of color.
Within Her Irene Kwan @reeny.reenz
WITHIN HER IRENE KWAN
Growing up listening to oral narratives of Mulan from relatives, I had always envisioned a young woman with a backbone as tough and rugged as the Eastern mountains and a fiery courage that was unrivaled even amongst the Confucian patriarchy of her times. Despite often being scolded to act more feminine and docile as a young girl, I could always point to her as a precedent of how behaving more submissive would never afford me the opportunity of being considered an equal amongst men nor elevate the status of girls during the early ‘90s when sons were still deemed prized treasures amongst Chinese families. The sanitized, misrepresentation of this legendary Chinese figure in the recent adaptation of her story by Hollywood compelled me to analyze the original “Ballad of Mulan” for the first time; and the poem reinforced the original conception of her in my mind as a warrior famed not for her magical use of "qi," but because of the brazen risks she took as a woman, the selfless sacrifice to disguise her femininity for a decade, and for her unwavering filial piety. While I had always prayed to see more people like me being represented on screen as a young child, I should have been more specific in my prayers and pinned an asterisk to the end whispering “But don’t let them spin our history though! And don’t just treat us as Marvel-like action heroes with superpowers! Ok, thanks God!” With a movie that feels exotic even to the Chinese audience, the West’s continued indifference towards advancing accurate Asian representation in the media and their inimical fictionalizing of our history reminds me that perhaps my fervent hopes as a child were simply far-flung fantasies that will never be fulfilled - at least not in my lifetime.
A R T I S T
F EA T U R E:
T R I NH WARRIORS
You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need fancy, new and expensive materials to make an interesting, unique and beautiful
TRINH USES ONLY RECYCLED AND DAMAGED COMIC BOOK PAPER TO MAKE THESE PIECES.
ARTIST FEATURE: NGA TRINH
How do you come up with an idea for each piece of art you create?
My idea for a piece would pop up when a combination of these come together: the fold and the available recycled paper with interesting colors. and patterns. How big the piece is would depend on how much recycled paper I have on hand.
How long have you been creating these origami pieces, and where do you come up with the idea for them?
Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been creating these origami pieces for about twenty four years since the days that I had to stay home to take care of my two young sons. At that time, many companies would often send catalogs to sell their products. Some of these were very colorful and pretty. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in my nature not to easily throw things away, so I saved and cut these pictures from the catalogs and started folding them. Some of the tenants in the building where I stayed would throw their unwanted picture frames away when they moved out, so I collected and used these as my canvas to arrange my origami folds. That is how it all began and ideas keep flowing out since then.
How has your Asian identity influenced your art?
As a child growing up in Sai Gon, Viet Nam, I learned how to fold from the neighborhood friends. We made our own toys out of recycled homework paper, flyers or available banana and bamboo leaves and stems. Folding was the way of life during my childhood in my very poor country at that time and it came naturally to me as breathing itself?
Do you ever feel like your art is not “Asian enough” If so, is there a way you combat these thoughts during the creative process?
No, I am an Asian so everything that I create comes from within. If you were an Asian and you dyed your hair blond, would that make you not Asian? Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your art? I
I'm very passionate about the use of recycled materials in my artwork, and I would love to spread this message to others, especially young people – that you don’t need fancy, new and expensive materials to make an interesting, unique and beautiful artwork; just look around your environment.
ARTIST FEATURE: ETHAN MOLL
HIDE & SEEK BEAST
I am an Asian so everything that I create comes from within.
D'You Know What I Mean? rtfclly_flvrd @rtfclly_flavrd
D'YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
"I created this piece during COVID-19 time. While we are confronting this crisis, we are experiencing the evolution as well."
D' Y OU KNOW I
F AL L
P L AYL I S T
CURATED BY JADEN CHEE
YOU LIE ALL THE TIME beebadoobee
DAYS No Vacation
KOMOREBI Craft Spells
LOVER BOY Phum Viphurit
EVIE Last Dinosaurs
GE NT L E R OADT R I P B ANGE R S
DAHIL SA'YO Inigo Pascual
LOVEFOOL No Vacation
KEEP UP Chitra
FEVER DREAM mxmtoom
MANIAC Conan Gray
R E P R E S E NT A T ION
S P OT L I GHT CURATED BY GRACE BO
Isabel Tan, Influencer/Blogger: Instagram- @prettyfrowns, www.prettyfrowns.com Maxine Bell, Artist: Instagram- @maxinearts, www.maxinearts.net/ Sandra Low, Artist: https://www.sandralow.com Ocean Vuong, Poet/Writer/Novelist: https://www.oceanvuong.com/ Rupi Kaur, Poet/Author/Illustrator: https://rupikaur.com/ Yan Yan Chan, Influencer/Model: Instagram: @_yanyanchan Chloe Ting, Youtuber/Fitness: https://www.chloeting.com/program/
MOVI E S CURATED BY SAM RIEDMAN
The Dragon Painter (1919) (Drama) Directed by William Worthington Haworth Picture Daughter of the Dragon (1931) (Mystery/Crime) Directed by Lloyd Corrigan Starring Anna May Wong Way of the Dragon (1972) (Action/Comedy) Directed by Bruce Lee Fists of Furry (1972) (Drama/Thriller) Directed by Lo Wei Enter the Dragon (1973) (Action/Adventure) Directed by Robert Clouse Game of Death (1978) (Martial Arts/Drama) Directed by Bruce Lee & Robert Clouse Kagemusha (1980) (War/Drama) Directed by Akira Kurosawa Ran (1985) (War/Drama) Directed by Akira Kurosawa Grave of the Fireflies (War/Animation) Directed by Isao Takahata (**saddest cartoon ever) Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) (Animation/Family) Directed by Hayao Miyazaki Dreams (1990) (Drama/Fantasy) Directed by Akira Kurosawa
MOVIES TO WATCH
Joy Luck Club (1993) (Drama) Directed by Wayne Wang Based on the book Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) (Romance/Drama) Directed by Ang Lee Pom Poko (1994) (Animation/Fantasy) Directed by Isao Takahata Shanghai Triad (1995) (Martial Arts) Directed by Zhang Yimou Princess Mononoke (1997) & Spirited Away (2001) (Animation/Fantasy) Directed by Hayao Miyazaki The Cat Returns (2002) (Animation/Adventure) Directed by Hiroyuki Morita
Cells Ethan Moll @molleesan
S O C I A L
J U S T I C E
AP P L Y BY SARAH BARGFREDE
“All that Apply“ is a painting that illustrates my frustrations surrounding the word “Asian“ and the injustices of reducing the multitude of diverse nationalities that it defines into a mere five letters. When we think of “Asian“ our thoughts automatically default to Chinese, Japanese, or one of the countries that we believe to posses the “typical Asian culture“ But truly, the word encompasses a litany of countries and traditions, so many-in fact- that when applied to a person, it has almost no meaning at all. As someone who is half Filipino, I often find myself checking off the Asian box on anything that possesses that infamous race question (college, standardized tests, applications, etc.) In doing so, I feel like I’m unintentionally forcing myself into other Asian cultures, lying about the traditions and heritages I align myself with while simultaneously neglecting the drastically different culture of the Philippines. “All that Apply“ demonstrates my belief that, rather than shoving the beautiful range of cultures that Asia possesses into one metaphorical box, we should create a more open-ended race question; one that allows all Asians to accept and embrace their individual backgrounds while emphasizing the true uniqueness behind Asia‘s many ethnicities.
ALL THAT APPLY
All That Apply Sarah Bargfrede @sarahbargfrede_art
P RE F E R E NCE
F OR B RE AT HI NG BY SAM RIEDMAN
I still catch myself seeking the approval of people who do not wish me to succeed. Whether it be unhealthy friendships, the “cool” kids on campus, or to be validated in Eurocentric spaces. It's exhausting, like swimming upstream to meet them at their understanding; but the current is strong and it feels like I’ll drown before I can reach them. It’s taken many years to realize that if I stop fighting against the current, they will eventually flow to me.
Being compassionate to myself is not something that comes naturally. I justified letting that critical voice in my head, telling myself that it pushes me to be better, to work harder, to keep my ego in check. As I’ve grown, I’ve noticed that I am not alone within the APIA community in being highly critical of oneself; and began to see that critical voice from a different perspective— as internalized racial oppression.
An important tactic in Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as Taiwan, was the construction of an extensive railway system. These railways did not connect the towns, they remained isolated from each other. Railways led to the sea, to ports, to take resources away from the land in which it was reaped. As an Asian American, I’ve noticed similar pathways of extraction— not of the land, but the mind, body and soul. I spent my teens holding myself to white standards of achievement, trying to convince the dominant (white) society of the only country I have known as home, that I belong here. As I stepped off the treadmill of production, I realized that even though I was moving my body, I wasn’t any closer to success, acceptance, community— the things I was urgently running toward. Once I stopped looking toward the horizon, I could see the things I searched for were already around me.
A PREFERENCE FOR BREATHING
Racial hierarchies that overvalue whiteness, tell us to drink the poison, to internalize racist ideologies, in order to ascend to a level so close to whiteness that you can see the table. Tell us to abandon our histories, our communities, our cultures and assimilate to the dominant culture. They tell us to do the dirty work of oppressing each other and other communities of color, so that their hands stay clean. You can sell your cultural identity and be that Asian face in a high place, only to realize that you are in the room to serve and not be seated. So, why try? Why try to convince a group that is willful or unable to empathize or understand us that our viewpoints are valid? Realizing that my desire to seek achievement in white dominant spaces is directly linked to my own internalized racial oppression, and a part of a mechanism of assimilation and the perpetuation of antiblackness; how could I justify staying in this thought pattern? During the many years in academia studying Subaltern American history, the histories of BIPOC communities in America, I found myself needing to tailor my work in a way that white people would be able to digest. This creates so much redundancy, so much explaining, so much time spent trying to explain to people who’ve been historically overvalued the effects of this power imbalance on the rest of us. Even when the content of class was about me, being in a white dominant space meant my perspective was undervalued and overlooked. The few other students of color and myself in class would pack-up, ready to back up each other’s point.
Or go get a cup of tea and vent after being yelled at by a white classmate for not feeling obligated to give a gentle explanation as to why their behavior was racist. The bonds I formed with my classmates of color were trauma bonds— connections as a means of survival. Reminding each other that we’re being gaslit by societal structures. Out of survival we created spaces in our own hearts to seek refuge from the ever-present toxicity of being a person of color in a majority white town/institution. We carved this pocket out of survival, and now I maintain that internal space out of compassion and closeness. The need for air to breath that was not steeped in white supremacy has grown into a preference for breathing. Stepping off the treadmill of production and into a community-based space with people who have shared experiences, feels like ripping up the road to the sea, and repurposing the supplies to build bridges to each other. Freeing my mind from the impossible task of trying to reach the same level of achievement (or have my achievement be valued) based on white standards, in a system that was rigged to favor whiteness, feels like walking away from an abusive relationship. Full of unknowns, but full of hope. What would it look like if we acknowledged that there is not a scarcity principle of APIA success, recognition, and representation is not actually based in scarcity, but in gatekeeping? What can it look like if we decentralize whiteness as “the norm”, and start to centralize ourselves?
THE SACRI F I C E
The Sacrifice Kim Sweeney www.kimswny.com
I made this painting in tribute to my favorite Cantonese restaurant that burned down last April. It was a mainstay of my local Chinese community, a place where families celebrated birthdays and graduations and weddings. The violent blaze was broadcasted live on the evening news.
COL ORB L I ND BY PALOMA CHEN
Today I met a White Guy He came up to my ear and sang
He has taken me to the best “this is an authentic Japanese, a real Japanese, you see? There are Japanese people eating” in the city I hear them speaking in Chinese but I keep
This White Guy thinks he is the king of his neo-Asian utopia
where he can pick nipples with chopsticks colonize bodies catch Madame Butterflies trade in opium and blood c all Eurocentrism science call vandalism entrepreneurship call occupation civilization today young white
a thousand times trodden by my ancestors You no longer TRICK us You are conquerors of others, under the nickname of citizens of the world.
You do not see your whiteness You don't see colors You don't see me
S P E AK
small sores oozing tongue I tried hard to speak
I’ve always had more
I tried hard
for words than for my parents
I tried hard to speak
I’ve always had more
for those bitches
that do pirouettes at odd hours than for my parents
I’ve always had more
dominate the words that dominate my parents
that are dominated by the words that I dominate
than for my parents
my voice no longer has color
because Pessoa found words
my voice no longer has history
and he had a good translator and a good editor And my parents found European scam, my parents found broken words that hurt small soresoozing tongue And since I didn´t want broken words that hurt
nobody knows where I'm from desolation
'causei n the clubs
where are you from?
where are you from?
on the border
where are you from?
When I speak in Spanish, where are you from? when I speak in Chinese, where are you from? when I speak in English, where are you from? And when my parents talk, where are you from? and when the streets talk, where are you from?
and where you're going?
With fractured language
Where will you live?
with broken words that hurt
Where are you from?
small sores oozing tongue
I'm from fake Japanese passports and family savings
So I speak, with broken language,
I'm from loans and letters that do not arrive
I'm from blood,
My parents are proud of me
I'm from faces like mine that whisper slowly
and Pessoa, too,
faces that hope that
even if they don't understand.
I don't understand
And even though Although
they don't understand
I only understand that my parents made me understand that I have to Speak Speak Speak It doesn't matter that we don't understand Speak
BY PALOMA CHEN
And so I speak.
www.palomachen.es https://www.instagram.com/chenpaloma/ Twitter: @chen_paloma
BY KIKI ZHEN WWW.KIKIZHEN.NET @QIFIED
Fú refers to the Chinese homophone for bat as it’s also pronounced the same as the word for good fortune and happiness. As we dive into 2020, COVID19 has stranded many in uncertainty of what is to come. With this country’s pandemic response, it has shown how ineffective it reacts to a national crisis. A pandemic should never be a political issue, yet it has shown the weak social net and guidance from the president. The clay pieces render water caltrops, a water chestnut that looks like a bat, others nickname it as bat nut or devil pod.
R E F R AMI NG BY JENNA NISHIMURA @Jnishimura What does being Asian in the arts mean? Reframing the past to lay new aspirations for the future The other night my husband and I pulled up Netflix and noticed Ratched trending as one of the top. This new psychological drama series centers on Nurse Ratched, a namesake to the menacing head nurse in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, who joins California’s premier psychiatric institution where unsettling human experiments parade as cutting edge research and compliment Ratched’s own twisted motives. Without much thought beyond bracing ourselves for America’s morbid history of institutional barbarism, we pressed play. The story is nestled into post-WWII idyllic California and boasts such impeccable castwide wardrobes that would even impress Mrs. Maisel. I was wholly immersed in the show, marveling at the flawless era settings and cringing at all the right moments as I follow the grippingly violent storyline. Early into episode one, we are introduced to the head of the psychiatric hospital, Dr. Richard Hanover, who happens to be of Asian
descent. Jon Jon Briones, a Filipino-American actor, embodies his role as the ambitious psychiatric lead physician conducting exploratory treatments that he believes will cement him, the hospital, and California itself in psychiatric history. As the episode continues, we see Dr. Hanover struggle to campaign for state sponsored funding for the hospital and repeatedly get pushed aside by the governor. I paused for a beat—was Dr. Hanover’s minority status paired with the stigma of mental health placing him at a disadvantage? As the show continues, I was given no reason to think that Dr. Hanover’s role, the storyline, or anything really has to do with being him being Asian. It’s like that Briones was simply cast for his talents and my inaccurate suppositions were a product of analyzing privilege in contexts of race. After episode 1 concluded, I pondered how a person of Asian lineage would never be in charge of a hospital in 1947 America. Just years after WWII ended, anti-Asian sentiments were still running high and an Asian Dr. Hanover would’ve found his white collar opportunities few and far in between
Does this historical reality have any bearing on a fictional television drama? No, and perhaps this is why many writers and producers are seeking to reframe new narratives set in history. We’ve seen this in a range of castings, such as Black actress Halle Bailey in the forthcoming Little Mermaid and Netflix’s Hollywood, a series where true Tinsletown stories are rewritten to give women as well as Black, Asian, and LGBTQ actors the opportunities they aspired to. After episode 1 concluded, I pondered how a person of Asian lineage would never be in charge of a hospital in 1947 America. Just years after WWII ended, anti-Asian sentiments were still running high and an Asian Dr. Hanover would’ve found his white collar opportunities few and far in between. Does this historical reality have any bearing on a fictional television drama? No, and perhaps this is why many writers and producers are seeking to reframe new narratives set in history. We’ve seen this in a range of castings, such as Black actress Halle Bailey in the forthcoming Little Mermaid and Netflix’s Hollywood, a series where true Tinsletown stories are rewritten to give women as well as Black, Asian, and LGBTQ actors the opportunities they aspired to. applaud the awareness to reconstruct a more inclusive past and I wholeheartedly roll my eyes at the racist naysayers who claim Ariel cannot be black (mermaids, people, are not real!), and yet a part of me wonders if these period dramas which take such care to accurately portray the past
The building of critical awareness is a new muscle being flexed in today’s wider society as constructs of race, inclusion, diversity, and equity are being investigated in new and nuanced ways.
through flawless fashion, sets, and verbiage run the risk of sugar coating the racism, misogyny, and inequity of our history. The other option, I suppose, is to constrict fictional stories to authentically depict past wrongdoings and in the name of accuracy, we denounce the capacity of using imagination as a tool to combat prevailing norms. The conclusion I’ve reached is that in this time of heightened awareness and selfinquiry into structures of systemic racism, it is worthwhile to question the types of representation displayed before us. The building of critical awareness is a new muscle being flexed in today’s wider society as constructs of race, inclusion, diversity, and equity are being investigated in new and nuanced ways. As for historical fiction and period dramas—I for one am thrilled to see diverse casting in new ways beyond ethnic niches and if it catches us off guard, even momentarily, we prove the necessity of reframing the past to imagine the future we desire.
K A T H E R I N E I'm Katherine and I'm an art teacher and artist in California. I curate two other zines - Canto Cutie and Dead Dads Club. My favorite places to in Asia are Kyzyl, Taipei, and of course Hong Kong! I could eat Hong Kong-style egg waffle for days. Canto Cutie zine: CantoCutie.com Dead Dads Club zine: DeadDads.Club Art: leungart.com
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Hey! I'm Grace and I am a working artist based in Massachusetts. I like to paint abstractly but I am also into mixed media. I also just launched my own scrunchie shop called Up&Down where I sell handmade vinatge/thirfted scrunchies! In my free time, I like to pay animal crossing and cook. I'm a big fan of a good rainbow roll and a crunchy banh xeo :) Art: gracenvo.net Art Insta: @gracevoart Scrunchie Shop: gracenvo.net/shop
M I S H A Hey there! I'm Misha and I'm a high-school student based in Tampa. I'm passionate about the humanities and I've picked up writing over the past few years! I'm also very passionate about music, and I play violin, along with snare drum for my school's pipe band. In my free time I love to write, bake, and play a few good video games. Instagram: @misha.0811
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E DI T OR S S A M I’m Sam and I’m a writer, farmer and social activist based in Seattle, WA. I graduated from The Evergreen State College in 2019 with a BAS in Ecological Agriculture and Sociology. My love language is leading seminar and gift giving; and I am permanently craving a taro milk tea. If you can’t tell, I’m a Taurus. Instagram: @scaldingwarm
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I'm Jaden and I'm a high school student based in Massachusetts. I'm a photographer and musician who occasionally writes poetry and feels strongly about too many humanitarian issues. I sell handmade earrings and knit hats when I have time to make them to raise money for various charities, and I read an alarming number of Webtoons and drink way too many matcha lattes. Photography Instagram: @jadenc.photos
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B A O T R A N hi i'm baotran and i am a linguistics major and film/tv minor at ucla! i am usually sipping milk tea that i made myself while watching a show or movie i've already seen 17 times. i can be found with my australian shepherd at dog parks throughout los angeles. i am always looking to consume more books, preferably while under a fuzzy blanket as one of my spotify playlists is on in the background.
TR U O N G
Asians in the Arts exists to encourage Asian diasporic representation in all artistic fields, by celebrating existing artists and narratives of the Asian diaspora.
FIND MORE INFORMATION AT ASIANSINTHEARTS.COM OR @ASIANS_IN_THE_ARTS ON INSTAGRAM