MEET THE FOUNDERS page 03
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S Lifestyle & Health Cultural Appropriation in Fashion......................................................6 Does the Name 'Glow and Lovely' Change Anything? .......................9 Circle Lenses in the East Asian Society ..................................................12 Children of Immigrants: 10 Common Mental Health Issues .................14
Arts & Pop Culture Variations on Lore ........................................................................................... 18 Unpacking Biases Through K-Pop ..................................................................... 20 On Being an Independent Singer/Songwriter
Rising Asian Artists ...................................................................................................24 Asian Authors & Film Recommendations ............................................................... 28 Social Media Activism .................................................................................................... 30
Activism & Youth LGBTQ Rights in Asia............................................................................................................ 34 Can Pakistan Ever Achieve Gender Equality?....................................................................... 36
Politics & Current Events Philippines War on Drugs.............................................................................................................. 39 Thae Ohu ........................................................................................................................................... 40 From Fallen Statue of Slave Traders to Spray-Painted Hatred Statues......................................... 42 What Does TikTok Have to Do With It?................................................................................................. 44
Personal Stories of Injustice & Opinion Pieces What Growing Up Asian American Means to Me...................................................................................... 48 The Fall of Saigon............................................................................................................................................. 52 Speaking Your "Native" Language ...................................................................................................................54 (I'm from T(here)).................................................................................................................................................. 57 For Varsha .................................................................................................................................................................60 Depression is a Big Word
How I still Connect to my Asian American Roots as an Adoptee............................................................................. 66 Translator ..........................................................................................................................................................................68 Growing Up ..........................................................................................................................................................................70 Asian American in Asia...........................................................................................................................................................72 Untangling Internalized Racism...............................................................................................................................................74 The Fox Eye Trend and Why It Is Problematic.......................................................................................................................... 75 Beyond the Stew............................................................................................................................................................................. 76
Fr om t he Foun der s Jul ia Ha r t l ep
Dear r ead er s ,
D a n iel l e Z h en g Five months ago, we created Miscalcul[Asian]. Just two young students living in Appleton, Wisconsin, we never thought anything big could come out of our small passion project. It was more a way to give back to our community, to pay homage for the strides the Asian community has had in fostering their own narrative and creating space for their own voices in media. Amidst the effects COVID-19 had on businesses, on racism, on families, on friends, on every facet of life, Miscalcul[Asian] was born. What first began as a response to the heightened xenophobia and bigotry Asians experienced in light of the pandemic, transformed into a celebration of the diverse voices within the Asian community. We hope to be a space for our fellow Asians to express themselves in the forms of art, literature, and other creative mediums. We hope that you will embark on this journey with us in discovering and highlighting the unique individuality of the experiences, cultures, and opinions of the Asian community. Our organization serves as a bridge between Asian diaspora and Asians in Asian countries. Not only this, but we serve to advocate for racial equality, to acknowledge our personal privileges as well and fight for our fellow brothers and sisters that have been victims of racism. Our Miscalcul[Asian] team has grown to over 80 members from around the globe, all connected through the networks of digital communication. No matter how much work either of us did, we would?ve ended up with nothing if it weren?t for them. Our writers, editors, creators, social media directors, web designers, and, of course, magazine designers. What you?re about to read is their work: their time, efforts, and ideas. This magazine was constructed by Asians from all over the world, and ended up being a collection of creations that are meant to represent the Asian and Asian-Pacific Islander narrative and identity. And collectively, we have come so far. Through your support and our team, we were able to take what was originally envisioned just a few months ago and not only bring it to life, but improve upon it as well. Without your support, we could not hope to be where we are today. We are incredibly grateful: to our team and you. Because without readers, without an audience, Miscalcul[Asian] serves no purpose. You, the readers, are our purpose. And we can?t thank you enough. So when you?re combing through the pieces of writing and artwork, consider how each bit of commentary fits into a bigger picture; consider how they fit into our world, either through immediate events, lasting impact, or ideologies. Or even consider why these pieces were created in the first place? and the people behind them.
Julia Hartlep Editor-in-Chief
Danielle Zheng Executive Director
Lifestyle & 4
& Health 5
Asian Cult ural Ap p rop r iat ion in Fashion By Cayli Yanagida Years ago, whenever a bad outfit caught her eye, Mariecar Mendoza of the San Francisco Chronicle would gesture to her friend. Years later, she recalls the question her friend would ask when referring to the distinguished stranger ?s objectively tasteless attire. ?What happened to that person?? Mendoza repeats. ?Does that person have no mama, no friends, no mirror?? Now co-director of the AAJA (Asian American Journalist Association) Features Forum Affinity Group, Mendoza says her friend?s phrase applies to her own outlook on cultural insensitivity exhibited by celebrities and designers. Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels
?It amazes me,? she says, ?when artists create something and put it out to the world, and it?s like, ?You have no mama, no friends, no mirror??No one is calling you out to say that?s probably not the most sensitive thing to do?? As a Filipino-American woman, Mendoza has strong feelings on the cultural appropriation of all Asian cultures. ?If there was a Filipino-American story and they didn?t even try to cast a Filipino-American,? she says, ?I?d be pretty pissed off.? Instances of cultural appropriation and erasure of Asian cultures are ever more common throughout society and pop culture. One of the most notable examples are celebrities clad in culturally significant attire from cultures they neither identify with nor understand. For example, Kim Kardashian faced backlash last summer for the name of her shapewear brand. This is only one example of cultural appropriation by the Kardashian-Jenner clan. The popular family has a long history of copying clothing ideas from Black women, trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement, and even changing their physical features to resemble Black women- all while staying quiet about racism Black people face in America. Taking the features of Black women while ignoring societal problems shows how people can praise fashion and physical appearance without truly understanding its cultural context. Inspired by her first name, Kim?s brand was originally dubbed ?Kimono?. The word belongs to the Japanese language, which is spoken by over 100 million people around the world. Thus, when Kardashian tried to patent the word as her own, she faced rightful backlash from the public. The Japanese government even dispatched patent officials to America. In response to the outrage, Kardashian released a statement saying she would change the name of her new brand and relaunch her shapewear under a new name, SKIMS. Even as the Kardashian controversy waned in the spotlight, Michelle Wei, a 17-year-old Chinese American, believes celebrities appropriating Asian cultures only encourages more of it.
?People care about what celebrities do,? Wei says. ?A white person is taking the surface layer of a community of color, and there is no deeper understanding than that. So, something that may be culturally significant to you is turned into an accessory, or a catchphrase, or a slang word.? Regarding fashion and clothing, an 18-year old Indian American woman Sophie Reisbord says appropriation of her Indian heritage is offensive on an intersectional level. Reisbord takes pride in wearing traditional Indian clothing and symbols such as the bindi, which is a frequent appearance in cases of Asian cultural appropriation. ?It holds a sense of unity,? she says. ?My grandma, my mom, and I all come from different generations, and we all have different views, but what our clothes symbolize is a middle ground; that?s what gets appropriated the most. At that point, it?s just hurtful.? Continuing the discussion on Indian heritage, Sachi Singh, 17, points out the stark contrast between the racist stereotypes people hold about her country and the constant appropriation of Indian culture. ?There are a lot of negative views people spread about the country and the people there,? Singh says, ?yet they then want to exploit the culture as their fashion.? This shows how those who participate in cultural appropriation try to separate the people or the country from the culture itself, which alienates Asian people from their own culture.
For many, the fine line between appropriation and appreciation of culture can be hard to discern. One such example of the confusion surrounding appropriation versus appreciation of Asian clothing occurred in 2018, when Keziah Daum, a white teen, sparked controversy when she posted a picture of herself wearing the traditional Chinese qipao as her prom dress. While one unnamed Chinese Twitter user compared Daum?s appropriation to colonial ideology, a cultural commentator in Hong Kong, Zhou Yijun, voiced her disagreement and said it was ridiculous to call Daum?s actions cultural appropriation. From her viewpoint, there was no problem if a ?foreign woman? (referring to Daum) wanted to wear a qipao and looked good doing so. Yijun used her Chinese heritage as justification for valid input. However, Reisbord says it isn?t that simple? Asians born and raised in Asia usually find appropriation to be flattering rather than offensive. As European countries and features hold a great share of influence throughout the world, Reisbord says any attention Asian culture receives is viewed as appreciation rather than appropriation. ?A lot of times, Asians are looking to be accepted by white people,? she says. At the 2015 Met Gala featuring the exhibit ?China: Through the Looking Glass?, celebrities like Rita Ora, Irina Shayk, and Karolina Kurkova wore sexualized versions of the qipao. This caught the attention of Chinese-American journalist Fawnia Soo Hoo. Soo Hoo wrote an article in Fashionista about the Gala, saying these renderings ?[perpetuate] the stereotype that Chinese women are ?exotic?, subservient sluts.? To Soo Hoo, sexualization of the dress by those ignorant to its cultural meaning shows a desire for aesthetics over understanding of culture and plays into the fetishization of Asian women in Western society.
Photo by Bhoopal M from Pexels
Soo Hoo?s use of the word ?subservient? relates to the stereotype that paints Asian women as submissive and docile, which most notably arose during 20th-century wars when American soldiers set foot in many Asian countries. Orientalism, which exaggerates the differences between the Asian world from the Western world and speaks of Asia in monolithic terms, is used to describe Asians as being ?inferior ? to Western powers. This paints Asians, especially Asian women, as being weak and submissive. Likewise, Singh pointed out that racism and cultural appropriation of Asian cultures is usually less noticeable because of the Model Minority myth, causing people to wrongly assume Asians don?t face struggles like other groups of people of color living in America. Colorism plays a large part in the treatment of Asians; Asia is a large continent full of different ethnicities, cultures, Photo by Ivan Siarbolin from Pexels religions, languages, and skin tones, but the word ?Asian? is a blanket term in society used to mainly describe East Asians. In European fashion industries and societies, lighter skin is deemed as more attractive, giving Eastern Asians more societal opportunities in predominantly white worlds. Thus, this can create a different, more privileged reality than those of other minority groups, but this does not mean Asians with light complexions cannot be targets of racism. ?This has allowed for more ignorance toward Asian people and has served as an excuse for people to be uneducated,? Singh says. As well, war has had a large impact on how Asians are viewed in America, and how Asian fashion was introduced to European societies. The sexual assault Asian women endured during 20th-century wars makes the sexualisation of traditional Asian clothing even more disrespectful. Created and appropriated by white ideals, sexualised versions of the kimono or qipao, which were never meant to be suggestive or provocative, shows great disrespect for Asian culture and highlights the sexualisation Asian women still face in European societies. Even as the public becomes more vigilant towards instances of Asian cultural appropriation, it is impossible to fully eradicate situations of ignorance. However, Mendoza notes that even though artists will always borrow from other cultures, people are starting to realize how to do so in the most culturally sensitive way. Whitewashing in movies is less common than before- facing backlash when it does appear- and Asian characters are more frequently being portrayed by Asian actors. Celebrities who appropriate Asian fashion are being called out more frequently for their insensitivity. As our country experiences a racial awakening, people are beginning to understand the differences between cultural appreciation and appropriation, which creates a more accepting, diverse place. Society is progressing every day in its understanding of the issues surrounding cultural appropriation and its underlying racism. ?We are getting way more ?woke?about what cultural appropriation is,? Mendoza says, ?and how to call it out.? Photo by TĂşn from Pexels
Does t he Name "Glow and Lovely" Change Anyt hing?
by Abonti Nur Ahmed
W at ch i n g Ben gal i T V h as alw ay s been a bi tt er sw eet ex p er i en ce. I t ti es m e t o m y cu l t u r e, an d keep s m e en gaged w i t h t h e Ben gal i l an gu age. I t teach es m e abou t t h e h i st or y of Ban gl ad esh th at ou r op p r essor s h i d f r om u s. D esp i te al l th i s, I cou l d n ?t h el p bu t n ot i ce h ow p al e al l th e actor s w er e. T h e ch ar m i n g h er oi n e w i th ?f ai r ? sk i n h ad t h e l i f e w e w an ted , w h i l e th e an t agon i st alw ay s seem ed to h ave d ar ker sk i n . I w ou l d on ly be abl e to see m y sel f as th e h er oi n e w h en t h e d i r ector of th e sh ow w as attem p ti n g t o be "p r ogr essi ve." H ow ever , I w as n ever abl e t o see m y si ster or m oth er as su ch . M y m ot h er w as con si d er ed a cl ose r esem bl an ce of a god d ess by th ose sh e m et, bu t on T V, I on ly saw a cl ose r esem bl an ce i n an t agon i sts.
A s I got ol d er , I n ot i ced h ow of t en p eop l e w ou l d com p l i m en t m y ?beau ti f u l ? com p l ex i on an d ask m y si st er w h y sh e d i d n ?t w ear m akeu p . M y f i r st i n t er acti on w i t h col ou r i sm w as w h en m y au n t ?jok i n gly ? su ggest ed m y si st er t r y Fair and Lovely, a br an d f ocu sed on w h i t en i n g p r od u ct s, t o ?even - ou t h er sk i n ?. A s an y on e v i si t i n g h om e f or a sh or t p er i od w ou l d d o, m y m om si m p ly ju st ch u ck l ed of f t h e com m en t , at t em p t i n g t o qu i ck ly ch an ge t h e t op i c. H ow ever , as a cu r i ou s f i f t h gr ad er , I cou l d n ?t h el p bu t l i n ger on Fair and Lovely. I soon r eal i zed w h at m y au n t con si d er ed a joke w as a gatew ay t o h or r i bl e d i scr i m i n at i on . O n e p r ev al en t or i gi n of col ou r i sm w as w h en n on - Eu r op ean con t i n en ts w er e col on i zed . W om en w er e h ar assed an d r ap ed , l ead i n g t o ch i l d r en w i t h si gn i f i can t ly l i gh t er sk i n . T h ese ch i l d r en w er e of t en gi ven m or e op p or t u n i t i es, t h ou gh t h ey st i l l en d u r ed l ot s of h ar d sh i p s. O ver t i m e, t h e op p r essed h ad i n gr ai n ed i n t o t h ei r m i n d s t h at th e l i gh t er y ou r sk i n i s, t h e m or e p r i v i l ege y ou w i l l h ave an d op p or t u n i t i es y ou can r ecei ve. T h ou gh t h ey ar e n ot w r on g, t h e i m p l i cat i on s becam e t ox i c w i t h i n t h e n on - Eu r op ean con t i n en t s. W e began t o cr eat e bi ases am on gst ou r ow n , op t i n g t o sh ow case t h ose w i t h l i gh ter sk i n an d h i d i n g t h ose w i t h ou t . T h i s bi as, w h i ch i s so p r ev al en t w i t h i n ou r com m u n i t i es, al l ow s
Accor din g t o Oxf or d Lan gu ages: col Âˇor Âˇi sm / ?k?l?r?iz?m/ n ou n (US) n ou n : colou r ism pr eju dice or discr im in at ion again st in dividu als w it h a dar k sk in t on e, t ypically am on g people of t h e sam e et h n ic or r acial gr ou p. 9
com p an i es l i ke Fair and Lovely to th r i ve. Fair and Lovely h as been ar ou n d si n ce 1975. T h e com p an y i t sel f , H i n d u stan U n i l ever L i m i t ed , say s i t ?f f er s i t s con su m er a h i gh d ef i n i t i on gl ow - w h i ch com p r i ses sk i n cl ar i t y, m or e r ad i an ce an d sk i n t h at i s f r ee f r om i m p er f ect i on s? (h t tp s:// w w w.h u l .co.i n / br an d s/ p er son al - car e / f ai r - an d - l ovely.h tm l ). T h i s con cep t i s n ot excl u si ve t o Fair and Lovely- m an y sk i n car e com p an i es h i gh l i gh t t h ei r d esi r e to h el p th ei r con su m er s ach i eve cl ear sk i n . W h at h as r ai sed r ed f l ags f or m an y i s h ow t h ese com p an i es ad ver ti se th em selves. I ?ll star t by ju st attach i n g som e of t h e ad ver ti sem en ts th ey h ave u sed to p r om ot e t h em selves over th e p ast at l east d ecad e. T h ese ad ver ti sem en ts ar e si m p ly t h e on es I cou l d f i n d on l i n e bu t th er e ar e so m an y m or e. I even r em em ber w atch i n g som e of th ese ad ver t i sem en t s p l ay bet w een th e sh ow s I w ou l d w at ch w i t h m y m om on Ben gal i ch an n el s. T h e ster eoty p es t h ey r ei n f or ced st ay ed w i t h m e f or al m ost tw o- th i r d s of m y l i f e. I r em em ber w h en I m ad e m y f i r st Ben gal i f r i en d i n Can ad a; sh e w as p r ai sed by f am i ly f r i en d s f or bei n g br eath t ak i n g. I t i sn ?t to say th at sh e w asn ?t beau t i f u l bu t r ath er th at th ey on ly v al u ed h er f or h er sk i n col or . Sh e p ossessed a m u l t i tu d e of tal en ts, bei n g abl e t o d i scu ss an y th i n g f r om m od er n ar t to l aw. H ow ever , w h en ot h er Sou t h A si an acqu ai n t an ces saw h er , t h ey on ly saw som eon e su i tabl e f or m ar r i age. T h at t h ou gh t al on e st i l l h or r i f i es m e. O u r sk i n i s seen as an i n d i cat i on f or h ow easi ly w e w i l l f i n d a p ar tn er . Fair and Lovely k n ew t h i s bi as ex i sted an d th r i ved on i t. T h ei r ad s t ar get ed t h ose w i t h th ese i n secu r i ti es an d easi ly d om i n at ed t h e m ar ket . N ow l i st en , I am n ot on e t o d em ean a si n gl e com p an y. Rest assu r ed , th er e ar e com p an i es w or l d w i d e t h at ad ver t i se th ese h ar m f u l ?sk i n l i gh t en i n g? t act i cs. T h i s i n d u st r y ex i st s becau se m u l t i p l e com p an i es ex i st , an d becau se m u l t i p l e p ar ti es p er p et u at e d i scr i m i n at i on . H ow ever , th e col ou r i sm I saw i n m y l oved on es' f aces w as alw ay s ti ed i n to Fair and Lovely. I n t h e m i d st of t h e r i si n g aw ar en ess of th e Bl ack L i ves M at t er m ovem en t , i n l ate Ju n e 20 20 Fair and Lovely an n ou n ced t h at i t w ou l d be r ebr an d i n g as Glow and Lovely. T h e p r esi d en t of U n i l ever ?s beau ty an d p er son al car e d i v i si on , Su n n y Jai n , st at ed , ?We recognize that the use of the words ?fair?, ?white?and ?light? suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don?t think is right, and we want to address this. As we?re evolving the way we communicate the skin benefits of our products that deliver radiant and even tone skin, it's also important to change the language we use. ?
I n th eor y, i t?s com m en d abl e th at t h ey h ave th e d esi r e to ch an ge. Com p an i es t h at ar e abl e to sh i f t th ei r p er sp ect i ve w i t h gen u i n e i n ter est to h el p ar e ap p r eci at ed . Bu t i n th i s case, w e m u st tal k abou t t h e basi s of th e w or d ?gl ow ? w h en d i scu ssi n g sk i n ton es. I r em em ber w h en bu y i n g f ace m ask s, I of ten f ou n d m ask s th at sai d th ey w ou l d l i gh ten y ou r f ace gi v i n g y ou a ?gl ow ?. T h e w or d gl ow i s u sed of t en i n ter ch an geably w i th oth er w or d s i n th e sk i n l i gh t en i n g i n d u st r y. T r u th f u l ly, at th e en d of t h e d ay, ?gl ow ? r eal ly m ean s to w h i ten y ou r sk i n . I t seem s as th ou gh th e ch an ge n ow r em oves th e d i r ect associ ati on , keep i n g i t at a su bt l e associ ati on . Su bt l e en ou gh to say th ey ar e ?w or k i n g p ast ? th ei r ex tr em ely con tr over si al p ast.
I h ave sp en t al m ost t w o d ecad es on t h i s Ear t h w at ch i n g m y d ar ker - sk i n n ed f r i en d s be t r eat ed u n f ai r ly f or an u n con t r ol l abl e asp ect of t h ei r l i ves. So of t en t h ey w er e t ol d p r od u ct s l i ke ?Fai r an d L ovely ? cou l d ch an ge i t al l f or t h em . I saw ad s t h at i n d i cat ed sk i n l i gh t en i n g cr eam cou l d h el p t h e gi r l ?get t h e job?, h el p h er get t h e ?d r eam l i f e? sh e w an t ed . ?Fai r an d L ovely ?ex p l oi t s t h e h ar m f u l i m p l i cat i on s of col ou r i sm t o p r of i t . N am e ch an gi n g d oesn ?t ch an ge t h e cou n t l ess h ou r s m y f r i en d s sp en t w i sh i n g t h ey w er e l i gh t er , w i sh i n g ?Fai r an d L ovely ? act u al ly w or ked .
T o cr eat e m ean i n gf u l ch an ge, I u r ge n o t o n l y a n am e ch an ge, b u t r em ov i n g p r o d u ct s l i k e t h ese al t o get h er . A s l o n g as t h ey ex i st , w e can n o t m ov e f o r w ar d .
N ow p eop l e h ave al so p oi n t ed ou t h ow th e act u al con t en t of th ei r p r od u ct s h as n ot been i n d i cated of ch an gi n g. T h e n am e i s h al f th e d am age, an d w h at i t d oes t o on e's sk i n i s th e oth er . I f th e p r od u ct r em ai n s ex act ly th e sam e w h at d oes th e ch an ge actu al ly m ean ? I n acti v i sm , th i s i s cal l ed p er f or m at i ve acti v i sm . T h e n am e ch an ge i s on ly to d i gn i f y th ei r ow n m or al s, bu t t h e ch an ge i tsel f d oes n ot d o an y t h i n g t o i m p r ove th e l i ves of th ose th at th ey sp en t d ecad es h ar m i n g. Ack n ow l ed ge th e m i stakes th ey m ad e i s m or e th an to si m p ly say th er e?s a p r obl em . I t i s th e step s t h at ar e taken to u n d o i t, step s th at en su r e i t i sn ?t r ep eat ed agai n , th at actu al ly m ake a d i f f er en ce.
" It is t h e st eps t h at ar e t ak en t o u n do it , st eps t h at en su r e it isn?t r epeat ed again , t h at act u ally m ak e a dif f er en ce. "
Images from: https://www.advertgallery.com/newspaper/fair-and-lovely-advanced-multi-vitamin-ad , https://youtu.be/-Aik4LKf8oM, https://youtu.be/KIUQ5hbRHXk, https://thewire.in/business/fair-and-lovely-hindustan-unilever
Circle Lenses in the East Asian Society written by Makayla Hsieh graphic by Leia Bulger It?s no doubt that eyes are the windows to the soul. Given face mask mandates during pandemic time nowadays, the eyes take on an even more essential role to express emotions to others. Let?s be honest, most people around the world prefer larger eyes. Larger eyes can make one look more neotenous, a characteristic of youth shared by babies and children. The preference of big eyes is also reflected in Disney and Japanese animations in which characters have excessively large eyes to convey their purity. Nowadays, Asian girls from the age of 15 have turned to circle lenses to enlarge their eyes and change their eye color with little to no knowledge on the consequences of the use.
Circle lenses are cosmetic contact lenses, which often don?t require a prescription, that cover the irises and the outer rims through colored rings, to create a doll-like effect. Invented in South Korea around 2010 and popularized through K-pop idols, circle lenses were quickly adopted by celebrities in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and China. In its first few years, girls used exaggerated diameters along with the blue
and green colors for a caucasian barbie doll look due to the presence of Eurocentric influence. However, recent circle lenses transitioned to a more suitable diameter with more brown and grey shades that matches the natural look of Asians. Though circle lenses have been around for a decade, most East Asian girls are still damaging their eyes with circle lenses. Wearing circle lenses for a long period of time can cause visual fatigue, eye soreness, dry eyes, burning eyes, and blurred vision. Moreover, circle lenses can paralyze nerve endings and cause decreased corneal perception, resulting in ulcerative keratitis without even noticing it. The majority of consumers of circle lenses are young adults with tight budgets, giving uncertified companies an easy opportunity to sell low-quality products. The typical dyeing technique for circle lenses is to ?sandwich? the color pigment between two transparent lenses to avoid direct contact with the eyeball. However, to reduce the cost, some companies print the color pigment directly on the inside of the lens, which can lead to an increased risk of eye infections and eye diseases.
Therefore, it?s important to buy circle lenses from credible retailers and seek professional advice from an optician.
period to save money, which eventually led to a bacterial infection of the cornea called microbial keratitis.
Beyond purchasing risky circle lenses, East Asian girls don?t take into consideration the side effects. For example, circle lenses block more oxygen in the cornea than normal contacts; therefore, specialists suggest to avoid wearing circle lenses for more than four hours. Also, if your eyes get easily bloodshot or tired, silicone hydrogel lenses are better for sensitive eyes because they have higher oxygen transmittance. Because these are foreign bodies that cover the cornea, all circle lenses carry the risk of hypoxia regardless of the material.
?The body, hair, and skin, all have been inherited from the parents, and so one doesn?t dare damage them? that is the beginning of xiao.? This is a wise saying from ancient China, where ?xiao? means to pay respect to the elderly in your family. No matter what, our bodies came from our parents, so we are responsible to love it and keep it safe. It?s not worth it to harm your eyes just to appeal to the preferences of others.
It?s important to remember that circle lenses are only a cosmetic product used to enhance the eyes for certain events rather than as daily ?masks? that cover up our normal eyes. Miscalcul[Asian] interviewed a Chinese girl that has been wearing circle lenses daily from the age of 15. She owns over five sets of color lenses with different colors and patterns to choose from depending on her mood. The only time she takes them off is before showering and sleeping, just to put them back on immediately afterward. She also has a habit of overusing her circle lenses over the disposal 13
Children of Immigrants: 10 Commo 1Aligning Your Values & Nor ms With Those Of Your Par ents?Cultur e Gr owing up, you may tr y to balance your per sonal values and nor ms between those of your par ents? countr y of or igin and those of your own. Ther ef or e, you may be judged or shamed f or making decisions that don?t align with or maintain the values and nor ms of your par ents. If you?r e pr aised when acting in accor dance with cultur al expectations, you may end up acting per f or matively f or love and attention.
5 When Par ents Don?t Under stand Or Initially Suppor t Your Decision, You?r e Questioned Making decisions that your par ents don?t under stand can be dif f icult, because you may be put under scr utiny and questioned until you?r e able to pr ove your self . In the long r un, you may str uggle to tr ust your self with making dif f icult choices even if they ar e r ight f or you.
Childr en of immigr ants bear many benef its and r esponsib r egions. Having lived this exper ience per sonally, I under st expectations. This ar ticle shar es 10 common mental health
2 Social Per ception Was Pr ior itized In Your Family & Community When making decisions, mistakes, or achievements, the per ception of other s may over shadow your own belief s, goals, values, and per spective. Ever yone has something to say about your decisions, and it may not always be nice, even if they?r e just tr ying to give advice on what they think is r ight. This can lead to developing people-pleasing behavior s with your f amily and community, no matter what it may cost you per sonally.
6Because You Watched Your Par ents Chase Saf ety & Secur ity In This Countr y, You Avoid Risk Taking r isks can be har d as it is, but especially so f or childr en of immigr ants. Your par ents sacr if iced and str uggled a lot to build a better lif e, and you may avoid taking chances or pur suing unconventional paths in f ear of disr upting that stability your par ents wor ked so har d to give you, even at the cost of your own happiness.
mon Identity Struggles
written by Benaifer Sepai illustrations by Seiji Igei
nsibilities, especially those f r om Asian/Pacif ic Islander er stand all too well the pr essur e of cultur al divides and alth str uggles that childr en of immigr ants may f ace.
3 Being ?For eign? Had A Bad Connotation Due to dif f er ences in cultur e, especially when it comes to Asian and Amer ican cultur es, ther e may of ten be conf licts. As a r esult, you may have been told that it wasn?t good f or you to be too ?Amer ican?, in association with r ecklessness. Ther ef or e, you may be shamed into r ejecting or hiding par ts of your self , big or small.
4 You Wer e/Ar e Constantly Compar ed To Your Peer s Because social per ception is a pr ior ity, you may also be compar ed to your peer s when they succeed and told that you should be mor e like them. This can make it dif f icult to f eel good about your self f or not constantly succeeding; even suppor ting other s?achievements can make you f eel like a f ailur e your self sometimes. Self -esteem may be compr omised in this case.
8 You Wer e Taught That
7 You May Feel Like You Don?t
Elder s Always Know Best
Belong To One Or Both Of Your Cultur es/Communities
Even though adults have had mor e exper iences in lif e, they may not always shar e the same ones as you and hence, can be wr ong sometimes when it comes to judging what?s best f or you. Ther ef or e when it comes to a conf lict between your judgement and that of your elder s, you may be insecur e about your own per spective and may r ef r ain f r om self -advocating, speaking up, or taking up space. A step f ur ther may have been if you wer e taught to not even have an opinion simply because you wer e a child.
Being multicultur al isn?t easy, and you may f eel like you need to hide par ts of your self based on the people ar ound you. You lear n to cur ate par ts of your image, your actions, and your wor ds based on dif f er ent cr owds f or f ear that your wholeness will be r ejected.
9 You May Have Been Discour aged Fr om Shar ing Your Emotions Being vulner able and shar ing emotions can be dif f icult as it is, but you may have been taught that being vulner able was synonymous with being weak and that it?s not okay if your f eelings ar e in conf lict with cultur al expectations. In this case, you may hide your f eelings and str uggle with honest communication in f utur e r elationships.
10 Compar ed To What Your Par ents Have Been Thr ough, Your Pr oblems Feel Tr ivial And Pr ivileged Seeing your par ents str uggle so much to cr eate a better lif e in another countr y, you may f eel as though your pr oblems pale in compar ison. Because of this, you may str uggle with asking f or help or seeking pr of essional mental health car e, which can be stigmatized in many Asian cultur es. But your pr oblems ar e completely valid and you deser ve to be car ed f or !
How many of these str uggles can you r elate to? How have you been af f ected, and which ar e most salient f or you cur r ently? Feel f r ee to email me your exper iences & questions at sepai.benaif er @gmail.com. 16
Ar t & Pop Cult ure 17
Var iat ions on 'Lore' How do we begin?
w r itten by Lucy Yao illustrat ions by Seiji Ig ei
Maybe we star t with the stor y of the moon lady- Huang e. She was so beautiful, so distant, so cold on one side. When you looked at her on the other, so br ight, so war m, She left men like tides and her husband was cr uel as time itself. One day, he sent his nine sons to take the moon down, and shot nine ar rows, taking her with it. She lived only to be cast into the shadows of the moon, she lived only to die. When the moon is the closest to ear th casting the longest shadow of the year, a thin br idge of blue jays gather- just over the hor izon- Tell her one wish and she will take it with her. There are many ver sions of this stor y. Some say that she meets her lover where moon and ear th break. Other s say that she felt love that could break her. Other s will say that she?s been on the moon for so long that no one can remember why. But it doesn?t matter how long she?s been there, Or if she was loved, Or who she meets where or the br idge of blue jays or the It doesn?t matter if we star ted from the beginning of the stor y, Or if she gets what she wants Or even knows what she wants Or that she ever leaves like the tide.
What matter s is your mother ?s voice as the words slip out of her breath, cr adling you to the new year, past mouths of nang gao full of lotus paste, sticky finger s with oil and sugar. That tastes full of walking from the parking lot in qi pao on hot after noons from sunday school and the collar poking at your neck, so tight when you only want to move, only wanting a hit of soft ser ve chocolate, only wanting to pull away from your mother ?s hand festivals, a childhood mixed with dumpling stands and shopping malls, susu and hong bao and aiyi and the blur of knowing and under standing that these
are not even the same days of the year What matter s is the fir st bite you take, this year, without her. How you google ?mooncake? and find that the moon is like sky, it comes just once a year. How you begin to for get what her voice sounds like, except for the patches of voicemails stuck to the roof of your phone. That this is not just a stor y. What matter s is not the stor y that she is telling you, but that she is telling you. That she says, or maybe just means, ?Bao bei?. ?Dearest, 'Treasure.? Let me tell you a stor y. - L.Y
Unpacking Biases Thr ough K- Pop Wr itten by Julia Panambo & Illustr ations by Jessica Song Until a couple of months ago, if anyone suggested a K-pop song, I would have given a half-hearted ?maybe I?ll give it a try?. This likely wouldn?t translate to any attempt to do so. K-pop isn?t a new form of entertainment; local radio stations in the Philippines have been promoting songs of idol boy and girl groups for as long as I can remember, and K-pop music video trends go viral on the weekly. But for some reason, I never got around to liking them? in fact, I tried to stay as far away as I could. No one could pay me to dance to PSY?s ?Gangnam Style?or convince me to pose with tiny finger hearts to look cute. I never really saw my apathy as an issue. I was adamant about my stance and didn?t feel the need to immerse myself in the Korean wave that had seemingly swept away everyone?s hearts (except mine). I felt content listening to my playlist filled with Original Pinoy Music (OPM) or Western music. But as the pandemic worsened, the days at home turned into weeks, and then into months. I was starting to run out of content when I came across a Facebook post of Red Velvet?s live rendition of ?Psycho?that was shared by one of my friends. I haven?t stopped listening to K-pop since.
I unconsciously subscr ibed to a har mful ster eotype.
Truthfully, I was embarrassed. How could I suddenly be so accepting of a music genre I used to purposely stay away from?
I felt uncomfortable. For the longest time, I prided myself for not being racist? or so I thought. I never said the n-word, appropriated different cultures, or mocked someone?s English. But these feelings of shame couldn?t be denied. Would I think and feel the same way if it was pop music sung in English, written by a western artist? That was when I realized the problem, one that I refused to acknowledge until recently. For years, I had been masking a subtly racist and xenophobic mindset under the guise of ?I don?t understand what they?re saying?and ?It?s just not my vibe?. I may not have been visibly or 20
consciously racist, but my aversion towards K-dramas and K-pop was racial discrimination. It would be irresponsible of me to claim that this aversion was rooted in nothing more than my music preference. Like most kids at my school, I grew up watching the likes of Hannah Montana, Big Time Rush, and One Direction. If I wanted to listen to R& B, I would put on Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas or Ne-Yo songs. The few students in my class who genuinely enjoyed listening to K-pop were seen as ?weird?. Back then, it wasn?t ?cool?to stan groups whose lyrics you couldn?t understand.
Racism and feminism, as I now under stand, ar e so much mor e than checklists of things I should and shouldn?t be doing.
Whenever I saw K-pop idols perform on the TV screen, I would scoff and think to myself, ?You can?t even tell them apart, how can I possibly enjoy the song??. Not to mention that I saw them as ?too feminine?for wearing makeup, undergoing plastic surgery, and lightweight builds. I unconsciously subscribed to a harmful stereotype. Looking back, I now realize that this mindset is a reflection of the prejudices of the environment I grew up in which, unfortunately, still exist today.
I grew up in the Philippines, where Western export can be found (and is preferred) everywhere: from shoes like Nike, to gadgets like Apple, and naturally, music. In fact, unlike most of our neighboring countries who teach in their native tongues, our language of instruction is English. This meant growing up thinking that Western culture is superior, despite K-Pop music being just as accessible as Western music. Moreover, while this isn?t a prejudice that exists solely in the Philippines, I also grew up in a society that heavily emphasized macho culture--that boys don?t cry, and ?real?men are never effeminate. As I reflect on it now, I now realize that It was not enough that I didn?t say the n-word, appropriated another?s culture, or mocked someone?s English, because there are problematic actions I did not hold myself accountable for. I have always prided myself for being a feminist ever since I learned what the word meant, but contributed and propagated to the idea that men must act and look a certain way. My experience has taught me two important things. First, to keep myself in check, but more importantly, that there are unconscious biases that I have to unlearn. Racism and feminism, as I now understand, are so much more than checklists of things I should and shouldn?t be doing. Even the smallest and subtlest of actions contribute largely to the systemic oppression of minorities. Second, these issues do not exist in a vacuum. My discrimination towards this certain culture is a result of both racist and sexist beliefs. Understanding these issues means unpacking several layers of bias, no matter how uncomfortable it gets.
On Bein g an In depen den t Sin ger / Son gw r it er by Katherine Jeng
K at i e C o , w h o goes by t h e ar t i st n am e EU CYX
(p r on ou n ced you- six), i s an ei gh t een - y ear - ol d V i etn am ese- A m er i can i n d i e p op si n ger an d son gw r i t er based i n Tex as. Sh e l au n ch ed h er f i r st EP ?St ar d u st Sou l ? i n 20 19 at t h e m er e age of seven t een an d h as gai n ed r ecogn i t i on f or h er u n i qu e, d r eam - l i ke sou n d . K ati e h as si n ce r el eased t w o m or e si n gl es an d ex p an d ed t o be a d i gi t al cr eator , w i t h i n ter est s su ch as d r aw i n g an d gr ap h i c d esi gn . Sh e al so i d en ti f i es as qu eer an d takes p r i d e i n bei n g p ar t of t h e L GBT Q + com m u n i t y. I n h er d ow n ti m e, K ati e l i kes t o p l ay v i d eo gam es an d w at ch an i m e. H ow ever , d esp i te h er bu sy sch ed u l e, K at i e agr eed t o si t d ow n w i t h M i scal cu l [A si an ] an d d i scu ss h er ex p er i en ce as a si n ger an d son gw r i t er .
W h en d i d y o u st ar t si n gi n g? H av e y o u al w ay s w an t ed t o m ak e m u si c p r o f essi o n al l y ? I 've alw ay s l i ked si n gi n g f or f u n at a r eal ly y ou n g age. I p r obably star ted to at tem p t son gw r i ti n g i n m i d d l e sch ool , bu t i t h on estly w asn 't good at al l . I t w asn 't u n ti l I p osted m y f i r st com p l et ed son g on to Sou n d Cl ou d m y ju n i or y ear th at I st ar t ed tak i n g m u si c ser i ou sly. T h e son g i s cal l ed ?W i l l You Be Col d ? an d I w r ote i t abou t a r eal ly d i f f i cu l t si tu at i on I w as i n w i t h som eon e sp eci al to m e. I f el t l i ke I cou l d n 't m ove f or w ar d or go back w i th h er . T h e son g gai n ed som e r ecogn i t i on w i th p eop l e at m y h i gh sch ool an d t h at en cou r aged m e to w r i te m or e son gs. I 22
r eal i ze[d ] t h at I can h el p a l ot of p eop l e by m ak i n g m u si c t h at t h ey can r el at e t o.
H ow d i d y o u j u ggl e go i n g t o sch o o l an d w r i t i n g m u si c? I p r i or i t i zed m y st u d i es over m y h obbi es, bu t i n t i m es w h en I w as st r essed f r om sch ool , I t u r n ed t o m u si c an d son gw r i ti n g t o f eel bet ter an d r ef ocu s. I act u al ly w r i t e son gs p r ett y f ast , esp eci al ly w h en I ?m i n sp i r ed by som et h i n g. A l l i n al l , ju st k n ow w h at y ou n eed f or y ou r sel f an d act accor d i n gly.
W h o ar e y o u r m u si cal i n sp i r at i o n s an d h ow d i d y o u f i n d t h em ?
A s an i n d ep en d en t ar t i st , y o u h an d l e ev er y t h i n g f r o m m ak i n g t h e m u si c t o t h e m ed i a an d p r o m o t i o n o f t h e so n g an d ev en t h e cov er ar t . W as i t d i f f i cu l t t o l ear n so m an y d i f f er en t asp ect s o f m u si c- m ak i n g w i t h o u t an y p r o f essi o n al h el p ?
Som e ar ti sts th at h ave gr eat ly i n f l u en ced m y sty l e i n m u si c ar e B eabad oobee, Con an Gr ay, an d T r oy e Si van . T h ey ?r e m ai n ly p op ar t i sts w h o k i n d of got th ei r f i r st star t ju st m ak i n g m u si c i n th ei r bed r oom by th em selves, ju st l i ke h ow I am n ow. I f ou n d T r oy e an d Con an f r om YouT u be an d B ea f r om Sou n d Cl ou d af t er I cam e acr oss h er cover of ?T h e M oon Son g?.
H on est ly, I w ou l d n ?t say i t ?s as ?d i f f i cu l t ? as i t i s t i m e con su m i n g. Ever y th i n g I ?ve l ear n ed h as been f r om t h e i n t er n et, m ai n ly YouT u be. I t ?s n ot h ar d . You ju st h ave t o w an t i t bad en ou gh t o t r y an d l ear n i t t o t h e best of y ou r cap abi l i t y. I w ou l d say i t ?s actu al ly r eal ly r ew ar d i n g t o see al l of y ou r h ar d w or k p ay of f an d evolve i n t o a p r od u ct t h at y ou ?r e p r ou d of .
Yo u r m o st r ecen t si n gl e ?Yo u ? w as r el eased i n A p r i l , an d y o u w r o t e i t ab o u t q u ar an t i n e? C o u l d y o u el ab o r at e a b i t o n t h at ? Yes, I w r ot e ?You ? abou t qu ar an ti n e; d u r i n g t h i s ti m e i t?s h ar d to m ai n tai n d i st an ce w h i l e stay i n g con n ected w i th t h e p eop l e y ou l ove. I w an ted to r em i n d p eop l e th at l ove tr an scen d s d i st an ce, ti m e, gen d er , r ace, etc.
K at i e
m u si c
u n d er
EU C YX i s av ai l ab l e o n al l av ai l ab l e m u si c
W h at w as y o u r w r i t i n g p r o cess l i k e? D i d y o u w r i t e t h e l y r i cs o r cr eat e t h e i n st r u m en t al s f i r st ?
st r eam i n g
p l at f o r m s an d Yo uT u b e. H er I n st agr am an d T i k T o k
Fi r st, I m ad e a ch or d p r ogr essi on on m y u k u l el e an d sl ow ly bu i l t u p ly r i cs f r om th er e. At th e ti m e I w as f eel i n g r eal ly l on ely an d sad becau se I h ad to be ap ar t f r om m y p ar tn er f or so l on g, so I w an t ed th i s son g to [n ot on ly ] ex p r ess th at bu t al so com f or t u s. A f ter I f i n i sh ed th e ly r i cs, I star ted p r od u ci n g an d w an ted to ex p er i m en t w i t h a sy n t h p op sty l e.
h an d l es
@k at i en i cco .
Rising Asian Artists written by Katherine Jeng & Julia Panambo
TALA EstĂŠe Evangeline EstĂŠe Evangeline has only released two songs, and yet she has over 40,000 monthly listeners. Her debut single, ?Fifth Time? has been streamed over 200,000 times and received a feature on Genius. Aside from writing music, she maintains an active YouTube channel where she posts covers from her bedroom.
Tala Gil is a 20-year-old singer and songwriter from Manila in the Philippines. She began releasing music in 2017, producing occasional singles, but it wasn?t until 2018 that she released her self-titled debut album ?TALA?. TALA has amassed over 50,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone and has signed with Universal Records.
Ashley Chiang is a 19-year-old Taiwanese singer who was discovered on TikTok, where she went viral for her original song titled ?Floating?. The video, which features Chiang and her friends, amassed 38K likes and 171K views. She is often noted for musical similarities to NIKI or 88rising.
EUCYX EUCYX (pronounced you-six), is the pseudonym of Katie Co, an 18-year-old
Kuwada ?Kuwada? is the pairing of Cameron and Jon Kuwada, two twins that produce music together. Although they grew up with a love of music, it wasn?t until they were in college that they decided to officially write music. Together, they produced ?Cherry Cola? in 2018, and the song skyrocketed in popularity, even being included in Spotify?s Teen Beats playlist. Since then, they?ve gained over one million monthly listeners and have gone on their first tour.
Vietnamese-American indie pop singer and songwriter based in Texas. She launched her first EP ?Stardust Soul? in 2019 at 17 and has gained recognition for her unique, dream-like sound.
Phum Viphurit 25
Viphurit Siritip, or Phum for short, is a Thai singer and songwriter. He first gained recognition for his single ?Lover Boy? in 2018, where he was praised for his neo soul style. Since then, he?s collaborated with notable Asian singers such as NIKI and 88rising.
Luke Chiang A Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter drawing inspiration from John Legend, Rex Orange County, and Daniel Caesar, Luke Chiang released his debut single ?May I Ask? in 2019. He would go on to release four more singles and gain over 200,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. His most popular song, ?Shouldn?t Be?, has gained over four million streams. 25
Mitski Mitski Miyawaki is a Japanese-American artist known for her uniquely candid approach to indie rock. Her first two records started off as school projects during her years as a music major. However, her later albums would soon land her on Billboard?s Top 20 debuts for independent and alternative charts. Mitski?s most recent and widely critically acclaimed album ?Be the Cowboy?ranked 11 on Billboard?s Best 50 Albums of 2018.
Tiffany Day Tiffany Day got her start on YouTube in 2016. A video of her singing ?Hallelujah? went viral in 2017, causing her to gain recognition for her voice. Since then, her YouTube channel has amassed over 1 million subscribers and she began to produce original music, and fans fell in love with her mix of indie and bedroom pop. Day is a strong proponent for Asian representation in the music and entertainment industry, often speaking out in hopes of inspiring future generations.
Raveena Tierra Umi Wilson is a half-Black, half-Japanese singer-song-writer most known for her lo-fi, R&B hit, ?Remember Me?. Much like her stage name, which translates to ?ocean? in Japanese, her music is soulful and enchanting. She sings about her own unique take on the universal theme of love through her skillful lyricism. UMI?s music is a tangible manifestation of her mixing and appreciating both parts of her identity.
New-York-based Indian-American Raveena Aurora has been breaking barriers and holding her own as an Asian woman in the music industry. Writing her own music since the age of 13, her R&B songs are largely influenced by the Indian ballads she grew up listening to. She strives to push for more Asian women to take up space in the music industry. Currently, she has over 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Mellow Fellow Ralph Lawrence ?Polo? Reyes , who describes himself as an ?internet artist?, is a music newcomer born and raised in the Philippines. While originally releasing music on SoundCloud with his identity concealed, he has been able to make a name for himself around the world, collaborating with the likes of Clairo and FLOOR CRY. Mellow Fellow is Polo?s outlet, through which he is able to express his personal experiences such as loneliness and heartbreak.
Jeff Bernat Slchld 27
Jeff Bernat is a singer, songwriter, and record producer born in the Philippines and raised in Reno, Nevada. He debuted with his first album, ?The Gentleman Approach? and has since produced two more albums (?Modern Renaissance? and ?Afterwords?). He is known for his intimate and soulful music.
Slchld (pronounced ?Seoul child?) is a hip-hop, R&B, and soul singer-songwriter born in South Korea but currently based in Canada. In an interview with Inspire Me Korea Blog, he revealed that Post Malone, Daniel Caesar, Travis Scott, and J.Cole are some of his music influences. His most streamed song on Spotify is titled ?she likes spring, I prefer winter?
Listen to them on Spotify through Miscalculasian?s playlist!
Asian Author & Film Recommendations The Poppy War Trilogy by R. F. Kuang The Poppy War is the first book in a trilogy by R.F. Kuang, a Chinese-American fantasy writer. It is an acclaimed dark historical fantasy novel following Fang Runin (Rin), an orphaned girl from a poor family who studies to gain acceptance into Sinegarde Academy, the best military school in the country. The Poppy War gets much of its inspiration from Chinese wars, history, and people. However, Kuangadds in surreal elements with gods, goddesses, and shamanic powers. Many of the characters, including Rin, exist in a morally grey area, and Kuang does not shy away from the morally ambiguous, complex aspects of war. This book is extremely dark, may be triggering to some, and contains many traumatic events, so potential readers should be careful.
by Ashling Lee & Hannah Braden
Int erpret er of Maladies and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of nine short stories written by Jhumpa Lahiri. Each story focuses on different characters and their experiences, which are all centered around Indian and Indian Americans as they experience a struggle between their cultural roots and their relationship with the ?New World.? Jhumpa Lahiri uses excellent language and imagery in conveying this common experience that many immigrants have; however her intimate and impassioned storytelling animates specifically the perspective of Indian Americans and their struggles between assimilation and cultural preservation. Jhumpa Lahiri?s novel The Namesake tells the story of the Ganguli family from the perspective of Gogol, the only child. The novel weaves in and out of Gogol?s life and his experiences as a first-generation Indian American immigrant, from before he was even born to his late adult years. Gogol begins to resent his Indian identity to better ?fit in?with his white friends, which leads to tension in the family. The 2006 film adaptation of this novel, directed by Mira Nair, is a must-watch for a satisfying Asian-American coming-of-age story.
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang How Much of These Hills Is Gold is the debut novel by C Pam Zhang, newly published in April of 2020. The story follows the lives of two siblings, Lucy and Sam, forced to run from a western mining town they called home after the death of their father. Zhang?s novel combines a re-imagined history with Chinese symbolism and creates an amazing adventure story that explores race and immigration in America?s western landscape during the Gold Rush. Within this historical lens, this novel encapsulates the Asian American experience through the lens of two first-generation immigrants. Zhang creates an intimate relationship with the characters and the reader that truly ties the story together.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko The Leavers is a standalone novel by Lisa Ko that tells the story of Deming Guo and his mother Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant who disappears after going to a nail salon in search of a job. Deming is 11 at the time of his mother?s disappearance and is adopted by a wealthy white family that changes his name to Daniel Wilkinson. The novel follows Daniel as he struggles with his identity and simultaneously tells the story of Polly during her pregnancy with Deming. This novel subtly addresses race, and particularly Asian American identity, as it centers around the feeling of being out of place. This is a great read for any Asian American teens that struggle with a feeling of being too white for Asia but too Asian for America.
Spa Night (2016) a drama by Andrew Ahn This film follows the life of David, an 18-year-old closeted Korean-American who works at a spa to help his parents who are struggling financially. This story reveals the limits of the American Dream and poses representation for the LGBTQIA+ Asian American community. This film is directed towards an older, 16+ ish, audience.
Everyt hing I Never Told You by Celest e Ng (same author asLittle FiresEverywhere) Everything I Never Told You is a standalone novel centered around a Chinese-American family in the 1970s. Nath is the eldest, a boy who is set to go to Harvard, and someone that Lydia depends on. Lydia is the seemingly-perfect daughter of Marilyn and James Lee, who has everything going for her. That is until her body is found in the lake. As her secrets are spilled, her parents try to figure out exactly who their daughter is?and grapple with the idea that everything is not as it seemed. Lydia?s sister, Hannah, is the youngest, quiet, and often overlooked, but she sees more than others think. This novel studies families, racism, prejudice, and pressure, and how despite all their differences, everyone is just trying to understand each other.
In Bet ween Days (2006) a coming-of-age drama by So Yong Kim So Yong Kim?s debut film follows the story of Aimie, a teenage Korean immigrant in love with her best friend Tran. A simple, raw and intimate film that brings us into Aimie?s life and relationships. This film is directed towards a 13+ audience.
Gook (2017) a drama direct ed by Just in Chon Set in 1992 during the first day of the LA riots, this film tells the story of two Korean-American brothers who help run their father?s shoe store as they form an unlikely friendship with an 11-year-old Black girl. This story closely examines the racial tensions between the Asian American and the African American populace during this time while also exploring the nuances within these two communities. This film is directed towards a 16+ audience.
below is a satire on per for mative activism. enjoy!
SOCI A L M EDI A A CTI V I SM
written by Egan Lai graphics by Seiji Igei
The following is a transcript of an interview that took place on the show What?s Up With Our Youth!
James[host]: Hello folks, and welcome to What?s Up With Our Youth. I?m your host James Cooper. Today we will be inter viewing Lauren Smith, a Beverly Hills resident who has recently gained fame as a ver y outspoken social media activist. Lauren, thanks for coming on the show!
Laur en: It?s great to be here, James!
James: Well Lauren, you know why we?re here. Tell us about what inspired you to become such a fier y Instagr am poster.
Laur en: Oh, come on, James. Ask me a real question. We all know silence is violence. To be silent is to be complicit. And I will not be complicit.
James: Amen to that! But Lauren, all our viewer s are dying to hear what led you to this point.
Laur en: Well, our countr y is in tur moil, James! After hear ing about the whole Geor ge Floyd tr agedy, I knew I had to do something. So I pulled out my phone to shed light on the issue! Metaphor ically of cour se, though my iPhone X does have a r ather power ful flashlight! [laughs]
James: A wonder ful stor y, Lauren! Absolutely revolutionar y! It seems many teenager s feel the same way as you do. Instagr am is absolutely flooded with calls for justice.
Laur en: Yes, of cour se! I opened up my Instagr am account, which has 2,098 follower s by the way, and I saw all the stor ies. If I saw something eye- catching, I just pressed on it and reposted it. Of cour se, I checked to make sure lots of people also posted it because it has to be trendy for my follower s! Activism in three seconds or less! Honestly, I wasn?t sure I?d have the cour age to do such a thing. I?m pretty scared about the backlash I?d get. I feel like I?m channeling Mar tin Luther King, Jr.
James: Wow, that?s power ful! You seem really passionate about fighting injustice. Besides the recent incidents of police br utality and protests, what else have you posted about?
Laur en: Oh James, nothing else. I?ve seen nothing else on my feed so I know for sure they are the only incidents of injustice happening.
James: Well Lauren, what about the massive r ise in hate cr imes against Asians since the beginning of the COVID- 19 pandemic? I?m sure you?ve heard or seen the videos. Asians are being assaulted, kicked, spit on, and robbed. A woman even had acid poured on her !
Laur en: But James? Actually, it?s better if I show you. [pulls out phone] See, look at my most recent post. Anti- blackness in the Asian community is the real problem we should be talking about here. I haven't actually gotten around to reading it but I think you should because you?re clearly speaking nonsense! And plus, by fighting against white supremacy through my posts, I?m helping the Asians, too. I?m sure all those assailants are the same sor ts of people who murdered Geor ge Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arber y.
James: Well actually Lauren, it tur ns out a lot of the attacks against Asians were committed by other minor ities. They?re not getting a lot of attention, and their cr ies of justice are going unheard. They need you, Lauren!
Laur en: James, I think you?re being r ather anti- Black Lives Matter r ight now. Don?t you know China is evicting blacks r ight now!
James: Wait Lauren, I don?t think you got my?
Laur en: No James, I don?t think you under stand! You are par t of the problem. How can you talk about Asian lives as if they matter more? You?re probably one of those all lives matter people. In fact, I?m willing to bet my snapscore that you voted for Tr ump. James: Wait no, Lauren, I just think that maybe you should tr y to shed light on all issues and not just the ones that are trendy.
James: Wait no, Lauren, I just think that maybe you should tr y to shed light on all issues and not just the ones that are trendy.
Laur en: How dare you say that to me! Look at my stor y. I liter ally reposted the post that said, ?my feed isn?t going back to nor mal just because blm isn?t trendy anymore.? I also posted that one thread that said, ?blm still matter s after it leaves your feed.? You?re just a bigot! You?re liter ally anti- blackness in the Asian community! I liter ally can?t with you. I?m going home to take a spa day to cool off. (stor ms off)
James: Well folks, seeing our guest has left, that wr aps up our show for today! Make sure to check out Lauren?s Instagr am account @wokewhitegur 1. Thanks for tuning in!
Acti vi sm & Youth 33
LGBTQ Rights in Asia Wr itten by Angela Claver ia & Illustr ations by Seiji Igei This article includes topics of homophobia, physical violence, and death. Reader discretion is advised. With Asia being the largest and most populous continent on Earth, there is no doubt that there is an extremely diverse set of cultures as well, with widely varied mindsets towards issues. As the world slowly progresses towards more liberal ideas, opposition towards the LGBTQ community is often emphasized. It is difficult to see much progress in the Asian community thanks to many conservative beliefs and values. While there have been major advancements regarding these rights, there is no doubt that many nations still harbor harsh punishments to this day. Even in countries where the LGBTQ community is openly recognized, the community is still relatively mistreated, whether it is through the lack of basic rights or the discrimination they face. There are only 29 countries that have legalized gay marriage, however, only one comes from Asia. In late May of 2017, the judicial branch of Taiwan, also known as the Judicial Yuan, ruled that same-sex couples should have the right to marry. The Judicial Yuan stated that the current marriage law in Taiwan was unconstitutional, and they gave the Legislative Yuan two years to modify the current law. If the branch failed to do so by May 24th of 2019, same-sex marriage would automatically become legal. In early May 2019, the marriage bill was signed into law by President Tsai Ing-Wen. The bill went into full effect May 24th of that same year, and Taiwan made history of being the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Along with Taiwan, same-sex marriage is recognized and recorded in Israel?s population registry. However, the actual process of getting married is illegal, as Israel only recognizes same-sex marriages that are 34
conducted abroad. This is mainly because of religious reasons as marriage is seen as a religious institution there. On the other side of this matter, there are multiple countries which have taken efforts to constitutionally ban same-sex marriages. In Kyrgyzstan, the Central Election Commission reported that 80% of voters backed the idea of amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The amendment was made in 2016, defining marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman; three other countries (Armenia, Georgia, and Cambodia) have also done the same. Although these countries have essentially banned marriage for same-sex partners, same-sex activity is still legal there, as well as in 24 other Asian countries. Despite over half of Asian countries legally allowing same-sex activities, only nine provide discrimination protections concerning sexuality. Georgia, Israel, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Thailand have banned all types of LGBTQ discrimination in their country. India, Hong Kong, and Mongolia have laws that ban only certain forms of LGBTQ discrimination. In India, discrimination in state and government bodies has been banned, while Hong Kong only bans government discrimination. Mongolia, on the other hand, adopted a new criminal code in 2014 covering hate crimes, including those related to sexual orientation and gender identity. The passing of these laws would provide protection for LGBTQ people from any sort of violence or hate crime. However, this did not go into full effect until 2017. In Asia, there are still 21 countries where all acts of homosexuality are criminalized. While most of these countries prescribe relatively mild punishments, such as fines or short imprisonment, seven use capital punishment. These include Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In most scenarios, the death penalty does not occur unless there have
been multiple convictions. Common punishments before execution include long imprisonment, torture, and flogging/whipping. Punishments in Brunei, Iran, and Yemen differ for men and women, usually being much harsher for the former. In Brunei, for example, homosexual men can be stoned to death or whipped 100 times. Women, on the other hand, can be whipped 40 times or face 10 years in jail.
In Hong Kong, only days after Taiwan?s legalization, the Equal Opportunities Commission chairman Ricky Chu Man-kin showed interest in following after their steps. He proposed starting with anti-discrimination laws, and then slowly working up to legalizing same-sex marriage. Similarly, the Philippines has been attempting to legalize civil unions for both opposite and same-sex couples. Although the bill kept getting pushed back, it was eventually reintroduced in May of 2019, following the 2019 general elections and the legalization in Taiwan. As of July 2020, Thailand?s cabinet approved of the drafted Civil Partnership Bill. Although this bill does not refer to these unions as ?marriages?, it gives same-sex couples the right to legally register their partnership, adopt children, and jointly own property. With the bill?s passing, Thailand will officially become the second Asian country to legalize same-sex unions.
When talking about the LGBTQ community in Asia, it is also important to look at gender identity. There are currently 27 Asian countries which have laws allowing individuals to legally change their name and sex on their birth certificate. A majority of these countries, such as China and Japan, do require sex reassignment surgery beforehand. Interesting enough, a few places which have laws to protect transgender people have still criminalised same-sex activity. In Bangladesh, for example, performing same-sex activities can lead to imprisonment ranging fromr 10 years to a lifetime. In 35 spite of this, they offer a third gender option for their citizens to use in official documents. This third gender, known as hijra, was first recognized in Nepal, which introduced the option in its 2011 census. Other countries which officially acknowledge this gender include India, Pakistan, and Thailand.
Although the topic of homosexuality and gender transitioning, especially in traditional countries, may be a difficult one, it is still something that needs to be talked about. A survey taken in 2019 by the Economist reported that 45% of respondents believed that same-sex marriage is ultimately inevitable. While that is still less than half, there is no doubt that there has already been a lot of progress made for the LGBTQ movement in Asia. Thanks to Taiwan?s same-sex marriage legalization, many other Asian countries have shown interest in going down the same path. The societal attitude towards the LGBTQ community has also improved over the past few years. As these Asian countries open up to the idea of the LGBTQ community and gay rights, there is no doubt that this will create a ripple effect and inspire other countries to consider following their steps.
With Asia?s long-instilled traditional beliefs and values, it is to no surprise that progress is much more difficult to push as compared to the Western world. In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 73% of Filipinos and 54% of Japanese people supported homosexuality being accepted in society. Out of the seven Asian countries surveyed, these were the only two with a supportive majority. However, this should not completely discourage the community. In 2007, when asked the same question, 77% of South Koreans believed that society should not accept homosexuality. By 2020, this number had decreased to 53%. Although it seems like a never ending fight, the LGBTQ movement in Asia is slowly progressing. After Taiwan?s legalization of same-sex marriage, many countries have been trying to follow suit.
Can Pakistan Ever Achieve Gender Equality? written by Aiysha Khan Illustration by Seiji Igei
Gender equality is a key component to any country?s social and economic development. Yet despite the rise in feminist movements around the world, Pakistan is still ranked as one of the lowest countries for gender equality, according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2020. The systemic patriarchal constructs are so deeply ingrained in the country?s political and social history, that even the possibility of a Pakistan where women have achieved the same rights as men can seem hard to fathom. Although recent years have shown that steps are being taken to tackle these archaic and outdated social norms, will it ever be enough for Pakistan to improve the quality of life for women and girls across the country? Truth be told, feminism, gender equality, women?s rights, are all political statements that are considered ?Western? ideas that threaten the very idea of a ?stable Islamic state?. But they are also statements that acknowledge women as human beings, with their own unique characteristics, identities, strengths, dreams and lives of their own. These ideas terrify the patriarchy and endanger the only existence
"The presence of women like these and the rise of feminist movementsin other countries, haslit a fire in the heartsof many ambitious young girls..." 36
"The obviouspoint stands that a society cannot thrive or progress without the presence of women." Pakistan has ever known. The belief of keeping girls out of the public sphere and denying them of their rights to vote, work or simply leave the house on their own, protects the status of the patriarchy and, in turn, the status of the family. But here?s the thing: a woman?s confinement to the house to fulfil her expected duties leaves the economy running on only 50% of its manpower. Surely, this means that husbands, brothers and fathers are acknowledging the need for women in industries such as health, politics, business and law. In a society where the respect and dignity of a woman is so heavily guarded, no one would expect a man to deliver another man?s baby, particularly when the husbands themselves are not allowed into the delivery room. Not to mention the beauty and fashion industry, which is always booming, and of which women are the heart of. The obvious point stands that a society cannot thrive or progress without the presence of women. But these girls are slowly waking up from this life of silence and conformity, unburdening themselves from the label of ?family honour?and ?shame?that the patriarchy has so violently thrust upon them. They are pushing for their rights to choose, whether that be for a husband of their choosing, an education, a career or simply a life full of opportunity and independence. Pioneers in the world of
politics and education, such as Fatima Jinnah, Malala Yousafzai and Benazir Bhutto, are creating a space for women to enter the public sphere and contribute to social developments.
The culprit isnot the West or feminism. The culprit ispatriarchy.
The presence of women like these and the rise of feminist movements in other countries, has lit a fire in the hearts of many ambitious young girls who are desperate to prove that being born with different genitalia is not a curse. As seen by the floods of young women who took to the streets in March, fighting for the ?My Body, My Choice?movement, the anger of being seen as physical symbol for sex or family honour is gaining momentum and putting Pakistan in the headlines for womens?rights. But when for centuries, girls have been born into a system where simply voicing an opinion is an act of rebellion, it is no wonder that the fight for equality is an uphill and sometimes impossible battle. The pushback from the government?s right-wing factions, religious institutions and years of institutional discrimination means that the progress will be slow and drawn out.
institutions refuse to acknowledge these events or deem sexual education ?un-Islamic?, ?European?or simply ?shameful?to talk about, it is more essential than ever that these topics are brought to light in the public sphere to increase people?s understanding and awareness and to liberate women from the stigma attached to their bodies. Slowly, society may begin to shed its patriarchal constructs to make way for a new, modernist Islamic era. An era where women are working, driving, voting and living with identities of their own. An era where it is not frowned upon for men to partake in household chores or know how to cook or clean. An era where the government doesn?t label feminism as a ?Western ideology?that is ?degrading motherhood?. The culprit is not the West or feminism. The culprit is patriarchy.And by small steps through education, a slow but deadly wave of social change is coming. And it is long overdue.
Changing these views can only be brought about by the one thing that forms the foundations of any country?s social development: education. Teaching both young girls and boys to challenge toxic ideas surrounding masculinity and sexism, such as sexual health, sexual harassment, equal opportunities, child marriage, female infanticide, domestic violence, honour killings and female genital mutilation, can bring about a change in sexist attitudes for generations to come. Although many religious and political
Politics & Current Events 38
Wr itten by Olivia Sour ivong Gr aphic by Seij i I gei
PHILIPPINE WAR ON DRUGS
The War on Drugs has been ongoing in the Philippines since 2016. During this time, many civilians have been deprived of their basic human rights due to the actions of the national government. Former Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte promised to execute 100,000 criminals in the first six months of his presidency. The administration has publicly claimed more than 8,600 deaths. However, the U.N. Human Rights Council concludes that the real number is at least triple that number. Due to Duterte?s refusal to face trial, the U.N. has not been permitted to conduct a complete investigation in the Philippines. They?ve only collected minimal amounts of evidence from the media. While Duterte?s campaign mainly targets the poor, drug users come
from all socioeconomic classes. Duterte?s popularity comes from middle/high-income classes that are given lower consequences. 78% of the low-income class still supports Duterte. The low-income class generally believes more law enforcement and security would help prevent the continued cycle of poverty. Duterte?s campaign also supports fascism, which is popular with the lower class because they see it as the right path to bridge the income gap. Unlike advanced liberal democracies, human rights are a privilege to have in the Philippines- if you can afford it. The near-impunity climate in the Philippines has led the police and other authorities to kill without consequence. Duterte even compares himself to Hitler saying, "I'd be happy to slaughter them. At
"... human rights are a privilege to have in the Philippines -- if you can afford it."
least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have (me).? Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippine government has become less transparent about the campaign?s death toll; the last record update only released numbers up to the end of May. On July 3, Duterte signed into law the ?Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020?, replacing the Human Security Act of 2007. The law vaguely defines ?terrorism?and can lead to an influx of human rights abuses. To illustrate, this law allows for suspects to be detained for up to 14 days or more without any judicial warrant of arrest. The outcome of Duterte signing this bill is a growing abyss between those against Duterte and the Philippine government.
THAE OHU content warning: sexual assault, MST (military sexual trauma) wr itten by Ashley K o
?My attacker should be in the brig instead of me.? W HAT HAPPENED? In June, active duty Marine Corporal Thae Ohu addressed this statement to Arizona Senator Martha McSally from her solitary confinement. She remains imprisoned at Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia, for pretrial confinement.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Military Sexual Trauma (MST) refers to ?sexual assault or harassment experienced during military service.? According to the Department of Defense, in 2018: Percentage of Active Duty Members who are sexually assaulted: 6.2% of women, 0.7% of men Percentage of Active Duty Members who are sexual harassed: 24.2% of women, 6.3% of men ? of those sexually assaulted filed a report
W HO IS THAE OHU? Thae was born in a Burmese refugee camp in Thailand before her family moved to the United States. According to her father, Ahr Yu, ?We criticized the Burmese military injustice system and praised the U.S. military. Now the U.S. Marine Corps is behaving as the Burmese army ... she has been denied her rights. At this time, she is not allowed to talk to her family, so I can't hear her voice. I can't see how she's doing. I am deeply worried for her safety and mental health?
Five years ago, a fellow Marine sexually assaulted Thae Ohu. After she reported the assault, her command mishandled the case and her mental health continued to deteriorate as she did not receive proper medical care for her PTSD related to her assault. Following a domestic incident with her boyfriend in April 2020, Thae was arrested and sent to an intensive military care unit, only to be transferred to the Brig, a military prison where she remains today. Following the incident, Thae?s boyfriend called for all charges against her to be dropped and for her to receive proper medical care instead. He and Thae?s family believe the incident in April was the result of Thae?s untreated PTSD related to her military sexual trauma. At the Brig, CPL Ohu remains in solitary confinement where she receives minimal support for her physical and mental health. Thae?s sister Pan Phyu, who is a Navy sailor, is calling for Thae?s immediate release. ?Whatever legal (charges) they want to do, they can do while she?s able to still get access to medical care.? Thae Ohu?s story is an example of the limited medical care provided to service members after reporting Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Veterans Affairs (VA) is more likely to deny medical care for Military Sexual Trauma PTSD as opposed to non-MST related PTSD. From 2016-2019, Veterans Affairs processed 12,000 claims for PTSD related to Military Sexual Trauma but denied benefits for 5,500, almost half, of the claims. In order to combat this issue, Congress proposed The Servicemember and Veterans? Empowerment and Support Act, a bipartisan bill that would expand medical care to Military Sexual Trauma Survivors. The bill would require Veterans Affairs to accept the diagnosis from a mental health professional as proof of a disability claim and make it easier
for survivors to qualify for medical care. However, the VA is strongly opposed to this bill, as it would cost the department $10 billion over 10 years.
report two years ago and is now fighting for justice for Vanessa Guillen, Thae Ohu, and all fellow Military Sexual Trauma survivors.
Pan Phyu also runs the Facebook page Justice For Thae Ohu, and is collecting stories of other service members who did not receive adequate medical care after reporting a sexual assault. Pan Phyu shared that after her own assault, she ?endured over a year of threats, deceptions, stalking, and defamation of my character? from her predator and senior women in her command. ?I proceeded to file [an] Investigator General report, I sent my 7 page detailed report (dates, times, witnesses). They come back and conclude findings that were not in my report.? She submitted her
HOW CAN I HELP? Sign The Petition
Who to Call/Email
(from the FB page Justice for Thae Ohu)
This Go Fund Me is organized by Thae?s sister, Pan Phyu. ?We want everyone to understand, that Thae Ohu; will have to fight a legal battle for her innocence. She wants a fair trial. There is a possibility of this case, going to General Court Martial. Depending on the discharge, she might be facing DEPORTATION. I?m pleading with all, please donate as much as you can! We need to pay for legal fees of $60,000.?
U.S Senate Ar med Ser vice?s Committee Phone: (202) 224-3871 Email: email@example.com U.S. House Ar med Ser vice?s Committee Phone: (202) 225-5141 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What to say ?I am calling to request a congressional investigation by the U.S. Senate and House Armed Service?s Committee on the Marine?s mishandling of MST (Military Sexual Trauma) Survivor, CPL Thae Ohu?s placement in the Brig and we demand her to be released from the Brig to receive proper medical care and justice she deserves.?
Write Thae A Letter Of Support Corporal Thae Ohu P.O. Box 800 Chesapeake, VA 23322
Follow I nstagram: @justiceforthaeohu Facebook: Justice For Thae Ohu
images via Justice for Thae Ohu Facebook Page 41
From the Fallen Statue of Slave Traders to Taiwan Spray-Painted Hatred Statues: Transitional Justice or Historical Defacement? written by Nicole Ling In July of Bristol, England, following the death of George Floyd, statues of slave traders were torn down and dumped with a splash by an angry crowd, rewriting how Britain?s anti-racist community confronts its racist history. How do citizens deal with racist history? Should historic monuments be preserved or removed? The controversial debate of racial differentiation in the past has resurfaced, bringing new challenges against the swiftness of law and order. In the wake of the 68th anniversary of the 228 Incident in 2015, an incredible number of political protesters in Taiwan targeting statues of former president Chiang Kai-shek had been reported nationwide. Headless and badly damaged statues of former president Chiang Kai-shek standing on plinths in parks were severely vandalized. This reflected the historical Taiwan anti-government uprising in 1947 called the February 28th massacre, also known as the 228 (or 2/ 28). Defaced statues were discovered with spray-painting of Chinese characters for ?murderer? on its base with nooses around its neck. Police claimed it was the second defacement of the stone statue in two days and local governments filed charges toward the incidents, as well as defacements of the memorial statues on university campuses. The statues on campuses existed for nearly three decades and carried historical significance to the universities, but were confirmed defaced by student activists.
?W hile the school respects students? opinions and is open to discussions regarding the hall?s renaming and the statue?s removal, they must be expressed in a rational manner,? the Chief Secretary of Tunghai University, Lu Ping-Kuan, stressed, adding that vandalism of historical memorials would be dealt with under school regulations. For years, the ethics of controversial statues and transitional justice for historic political victims have been debated. The bedrock principles of democracy, liberty, and inclusiveness as the gist of an institution's common values are often built upon the blood and tears of the saddest history. However, should historical statues be preserved as the means of education or should the statues be removed and legally defaced as a representative stage of revolution toward ethnicity peacefulness?
?These monuments are put up to revere these figures, and if we say we want a non-racist society, of course we have to get rid of them[.] [Statues] are not about history; statues are about a certain version of history,?maintained Kehinde Andrews, a professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University. The perspective behind abolishing troublesome statues is that it is symbolically acknowledging distasteful aspects of history and depicts our understanding of the present and reformations in our view of race in our communities.
On the other side, while the incidents had largely related to disputed historical figures of racial differentiation, the backfire of the protests were induced by opposite perspectives: 1. Irrational anti-racism protests trigger new racial division. 2. We desperately need our monuments to summon that side of history in the struggle against racial injustice today. ?Throughout history, destroying an image has been felt as attacking the person represented in that image. W hich we know because when people attack statues, they attack the parts that would be vulnerable on a human being,? said Art Historian Erin L. Thompson, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. ?Also, I wish that what is happening now with statues being torn down didn?t have to happen this way. But there have been decades of peaceful protest against many of these statues, in many cases before the statues were even erected? which have come to nothing. So if people lose hope in the possibility of a peaceful resolution, they?re going to find other means.?
Many monuments of controversial figures do not honor the historical figure but remind us of the unjust conditions from which it came. We are uncertain whether these statues should exist; the voice of abolition hasn?t stopped worldwide, and there are no answers to this question. The only issue we are sure of is that the anti-racist demonstrators advocate for us to re-examine our history and how we, as global citizens, must re-think human rights and tackle racism.
What Does Ti k Tok Have to Do Wi th It? Fashi on, COVID-19, and Anti -Asi an Raci sm written by Julie Chang graphic by Seiji Igei
Recently, there has been a new trend on TikTok. Somehow, in between its niche of dance videos and social justice advocacy, a new genre of viral video has popped up. You might have seen a few videos featuring the trademark figures of this trend-incredibly tall, excessively stoic, and surprisingly well-dressed Chinese individuals walking down the street in almost slow motion. Chinese street fashion TikToks have been taking off -so much so that even Vogue has taken time to write about them. With their bold colors, unique layering choices, and unbothered demeanor, it makes complete sense that these videos have captured the attention of millions across the internet. However, despite the virality of Chinese street fashion on social media, there might be broader political implications at hand. On July 21st, TikTok user @brittany.xavier posted her take on the Chinese street style trend as a fun mother-daughter moment. While the original video on TikTok gained over 2.4 million likes and 29.8k comments Twitter users didn't hesitate to jump in and ridicule the video on their platform. Users commented on how the "American girls really don't have it" as well as chipping in that the mother and daughter duo were "colonizing street fashion" in their video. Some users even followed up on the TikTok by sharing Chinese TikTok videos to ?cleanse the timeline? of Xavier's video. One could attribute these responses to the light-hearted internet humor of social justice advocates combating whiteness and white supremacy. But, the celebration of Chinese street style feels almost like fetishization when we consider its similarity to '90s Black fashion. Though some of the outfits feature traditional Chinese design, many others run along the lines of a '90s Naomi Campbell. Considering that Black people influenced Chinese fashion, it is puzzling as to why the internet has deemed Chinese people as the original blueprint. Let's consider a few things happening in China right now. Besides viral fashion videos, China has been gaining media
attention for two other reasons: human rights violations of Uyghur Muslims and the scapegoating COVID-19. Although both issues are a far cry from short videos of entertainment, they are all entangled with how the West has a habit for gate-keeping the East. First, let's turn to Xinjiang, China where the Chinese government is facing intense scrutiny for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities. Numerous major news outlets have written about China's horrific human rights abuses -- including, but not limited to -- cultural genocide, forced labor, and organ harvesting. Even rising Asian activism pages on Instagram like @thepeahceproject and @asian.actiivist have taken the task of identifying the issues in Xinjiang. While each platform has its articles, the consensus remains that China is mistreating its Muslim minorities. Still, we must be critically analyzing where these news outlets are getting their sources. While this is neither to prove nor to disprove what's happening, many continue to cite Falun Gong, a Chinese cult, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, a UN identified terrorist organization, as sources for the events in
COVID-19-related fear. Since March, there have been reports of a stabbing, an acid attack, and even being set on fire. The anti-China propaganda of Trump and others has dehumanized Asian Americans and increased the likelihood of hate crimes. Now, what does all this have to do with the Chinese street style trend on TikTok? Chinese culture, and more broadly, Asian cultures are no stranger to exoticization. The fast fashion industry perpetuates the cultural appropriation of traditional garments far too often: the sexualized qipao, the reduction of the bindi as a Coachella accessory. Likewise, the otherization of the model minority myth that paints Asians as untouchable contributes to this as well. Treated as an unrealistic aspiration as to what a ?good? person of color is, Asians are often cherry-picked to defend whiteness. Still, with TikTok, there's an added distinction to the traditional anti-Asian racism.
Coming as a form of gate-keeping, this nuance of anti-Asian racism allows the West to define what versions of being Asian and Asian American are acceptable. It reduces an entire nation of rich diversity solely into its government. Americans act like Chinese people are brainwashed, as if our government doesn't perpetrate violence against its own people through the prison industrial complex, voter suppression, or the blatant racism of the president. In this way, the West is allowed to decide how much "Asian" is okay. The teenage girl wearing a qipao to her prom is "acceptable" until she shows too much pride for her heritage. Japanese culture is trendy and cool but Japan's imperial and colonizing past is ignored. Why are countries like the United States given the power to decide for us, for Asians, what is or isn't acceptable? How much of our identities are allowed to be shared? Are we allowed to be seen as full people or only as the tolerable facets that the West pushes onto us.
"Are we allowed to be seen as full people or only as the tolerable facets that the West pushes onto us."
Xinjiang. Other sources have ties to the US-feds, such as CIA-backed sourcing. With all these ambiguous sources, it becomes pertinent to analyze the source for bias. Western society has no hesitation when it comes to blatant anti-China propaganda. Moreover, let's factor in how COVID-19 plays a role in furthering not only anti-Chinese but anti-Asian ideology. Since the first identified case of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, there has been no shortage of individuals blaming China for the global pandemic, with comments such as the "Kung flu" and "China virus" that scapegoat Chinese people as the cause for the pandemic. One such perpetrator of this rhetoric is President Donald Trump who tweeted about the "China virus" as recently as August 2nd, 2020.
The scapegoating of China isn't without consequence. A recent Pew Research Center study finds that racism directed towards Asian Americans has increased since the start of the pandemic, but that had become apparent before the study?s findings were released. Asian Americans, even those who aren't Chinese, are reporting increasing feelings of worry from others for wearing masks in public, fear for being attacked in public spaces, and have reported higher incidents of racism. While the rhetoric is directed at those of Chinese descent, the perpetrators of the hate crimes don't stop to ask if you're Chinese before acting out of45
Consider this about Chinese street style: the wearing of face masks is common across East Asia. Many reasons for wearing masks include: being sick, trying not to get sick, having allergies, covering facial imperfections, hiding, keeping a face warm, or even, just for the aesthetic. This was a common occurrence long before the rise of COVID-19. If you've Googled a picture of your favorite K-Pop idol, you might have seen them wearing a mask pre-pandemic too. While it is a good move for Western countries to begin adopting the wearing of face masks to stop the spread of COVID-19, it's ironic that Asians still receive mixed treatment for behaviors normalized in their culture. The viral street style videos could help to promote the wearing of masks as after seeing someone dressed head to toe in Balenciaga, it becomes fashionable to wear a mask. On the other hand, it doesn't dispute the fact that 36% of Asian Americans feel worried that others will treat them as suspicious for wearing one. The past six months have shown Asians and Asian Americans across many lights. While viewing a TikTok might be fun, what larger implications does it have for the treatment of Asian Americans? How far is the West and Western media allowed to gate-keep our identities and decide what aspects of them are permitted?
& Opini 46
Stor ies of I njustice nion Pieces 47
W hat grow ing up Asian-American means to me w r itten by Sop hie Cheng illustrat ions by J essica Song Asian Amer ican. What a funny word. It?s a little bit of an oxymoron to me. If you search it up on the inter net, it will tell you that Asian Amer ican is a ter m that refer s to an Amer ican of Asian descent. But there?s much more to it than that. Growing up Asian Amer ican, to me, meant that I did not belong. I stood out in a sea of lunchables and PB& J sandwiches with my Chinese food filled lunch that other kids in class considered to be weird looking and stinky smelling. ?Ew, what is that?? my fr iend in third gr ade once asked when I opened my lunch. I remember quickly telling her that it was a r andom Chinese dish my mom made. ?Cool, but it smells really weird!? was her reply. After that, I never brought lunch from home anymore out of
embar r assment. But on the other hand, I also stood out among my Asian relatives, because I could not speak their mother tongue fluently. ?? ? ? ...? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?? ?Sophie...do you under stand what we are saying?? ?? ? ? ? ? ? ?? ?Does she know how to speak Chinese?? were phr ases I heard repeatedly from them when we tr aveled back to China for visits. Growing up, I never knew what to call myself. Am I Chinese? I do not feel like I am since I speak fluent English and I was bor n in Amer ica. But, am I ?Amer ican?? I do not feel like I am since I eat Chinese food for dinner and I do not look like my White classmates.
Grow ing up Asian-American, to me,
Whenever my parents spoke Chinese to me in public, especially around my White fr iends, I would ignore them, pretending I did not know who they were or what they were saying. And if they spoke to me in Chinese at home, I would always respond in English. In elementar y school, I begged my mom not to volunteer as a field tr ip chaperone, ashamed and embar r assed of her because she had an accent when she spoke English and did not look like the other moms that usually chaperoned. I refused to wear my Qipao for Chinese New Year at all costs because I always thought it was just too weird. I always threw away the lunches she would pack me, filled with delicious, authentic Chinese food, in favor of bland school cafeter ia food, just so I could feel like I fit in with the rest.
m eant b eing asham ed of m y cult ure and her itag e.
I looked in the mir ror, and all I saw were my squinty, small eyes that disappeared when I smiled and a big, flat nose looking back at me. Those are my least favor ite features, and ironically enough, those are also the most Asian features on my face. Growing up, my mom always told me, ?Make sure to pinch your nose, Sophie.? ?Open your eyes as big as you can when you smile for the camer a, Sophie.? These are all mantr as I repeat in my head to this day. I was convinced that the way I looked was ugly, and that if I wanted to be pretty, I had to look like that White girl in class who all the boys liked, the one I saw on my Instagr am feed and TikTok For You page. They were all so beautiful, with their hooded eyelids and long eyelashes, and big eyes colored blue, green, and hazel brown. I wanted their high nose br idge and pretty light- colored hair. I did not want my ugly dark brown hair that pr actically looked black, my monolids and dark small eyes, or a big, flat ugly nose.49
Grow ing up Asian-American, to me,
m eant t hat I w as not p rett y enoug h.
Grow ing up Asian-American, m eant wishing I to me, w as w hite.
I wanted a white name, a white family, white parents, and a white face. If I were white, I would live in a big house like the ones I saw on Disney Channel, with the walls painted white. If I were white, my mom would bake cookies for the neighbor s and order pizza ever y night for dinner. If I were white, I would not have to deal with going to Chinese school ever y Sunday. If I were white, I would not have to speak for my parents to the cashier or explain to them what simple English words meant. If I were white, I would not need to pretend to laugh along at the ?ching chong? jokes my classmates made dur ing class or be told to eat bat soup. If I were white, I would not need to stress about being good at math and ever ything academic. If I were white, all my problems would go away. If I were white, life would be per fect.
Grow ing up Asian-American, m eant t hat I never to me, saw m yself rep resented in m ainstream m ed ia.
I wanted to be like the white main char acter, who lives a per fect life and always gets the hot white guy in the end. I was obsessed with char acter s and shows like Hannah Montana, Liv & Maddie, and Jessie. Never once did I see people who looked like me as the main char acter in these shows and movies; I usually saw them as the nerdy Asian sidekick in the background with the sole pur pose of helping and suppor ting the white main char acter.
BUT NOW, Grow ing up Asian-American, to me, m eans slowly lear ning how t o b e p roud of b eing an Asian Am er ican
After joining a platfor m such as Miscalculasian Magazine and getting to work within such an amazing Asian community, I know now that I do not need to eat PB& J sandwiches for lunch to feel like I fit in, have eurocentr ic features to feel pretty, or be ashamed of anything that has to do with being Asian. It is what makes me, me. And I wouldn?t tr ade it for anything else.
The Fall of Saigon Photos fr om & Wr itten by Vivian Ho
This tr auma is often passed down thr ough gener ations of Vietnamese r efugees. Tr auma manifests in people and societies in a multitude of ways.
On August 30, 1975, the North Vietnamese communists captured Saigon, and the South Vietnamese army was forced to surrender. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Vietnamese Americans became one of the largest refugee groups in the United States. According to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (U.S. INS), the United States admitted 4,561 Vietnamese persons between 1961 and 1970. By 1990, the refugee group had increased to over 615,000 Vietnamese persons. As a group, they were forced to escape the Communist regime under violent and traumatic circumstances. Most of them were resettled in the United States by government agencies and private organizations. Consequently, the fall of Saigon has left the parent generation with the difficulties and trauma of leaving their homeland and assimilating to a completely new environment and culture. This trauma is often passed down through generations of Vietnamese refugees. Trauma manifests in people and societies in a multitude of ways. Often, the children of this parent generation are especially protective of their parents. To compensate for the trauma their parents have experienced, they try to make amends, or repair the world, for their parents. It is common to hear refugee stories from Vietnamese Americans. My parents and their friends have had their own individual experiences as refugees, but they are connected by the same hardships. Five years after the Fall of Saigon in 1975, my father and his brothers escaped Vietnam and never looked back. Later, in 1985, my mom fled Vietnam. At different times, my parents took a boat to a refugee camp on an island in Malaysia called Pulau Bidong. This followed a journey from Vietnam that was harrowing to say the least. Often, the boats were loaded beyond maximum occupancy and preyed upon by pirates. Many did not make the journey. After a year of living under harsh conditions on the island in makeshift huts with meager portions of food, my parents were interviewed by immigration officials and sent abroad to immigrate to the United States. The story becomes cloudier once they arrive in the new land. As a child, I was curious about my parents' stories and where they came from. My elementary school embraced the diversity of our community and annually held the International Night Festival, which was undeniably the highlight of my childhood. Learning about other cultures and listening to my friends?stories about their family histories, I wanted to know more about mine. You see, I had a very privileged American childhood, living in a liberal bubble in northern Virginia that was often filled with swimming practice, Sailor Moon, and playdates with my cousins. My childhood was
devoid of my Vietnamese heritage except for the language I spoke with my family and the one holiday we celebrated: Lunar New Year. When I would ask my parents about their immigration stories, they would tell me, ?Wait ?till you're older?and that I was too young to hear about their stories.
As I grew older, I learned about the Vietnam War in textbooks, and my parents finally opened up about their experiences. I often wondered why they never spoke about their journey, but then I realized that we are often silent about our most painful experiences. When you lose something or someone that you cherished, you lose a part of yourself. Vietnamese refugees lost their country? their homeland? in addition to their livelihoods and their loved ones. The upheaval my parents experienced in emigrating and the suffering many other Vietnamese refugees experienced in their passage left I r ealized that we ar e me fearful of traveling to Vietnam. I had also heard stories about the often silent about our disproportionate wealth distribution, poverty, and corruption that marked the communist regime. However, when my parents took me most painful exper iences. to visit Vietnam for the first time, I saw the beauty of my heritage and the love Vietnamese people feel for their country. I felt more acutely, the cultural conflict between individualism and collectivism, the old and the new, that Vietnamese Americans often face. Our culture is filled with rich traditions and festivals, and I was finally able to fill in a void when I visited my motherland. The trip allowed me to see both sides of the war, the Fall of Saigon and the Liberation of Saigon. The alleviation of our country gave me peace, as I was no longer afraid of my country. From visiting my motherland, listening to my parent?s immigration stories, and learning about Vietnam?s history, I have learned that Vietnamese refugees are courageous. We manifest strength within our existence, and we have overcome every obstacle thrown into our lives.
One of my best friends is Maheen. We both love BTS, have a strong distaste for math, and thirst after aesthetically pleasing room decor. But more than these basic similarities, we are both caught between multiple languages and traditions. I am Korean-American, while Maheen is Pakistani, and we both attend an English-speaking American school in Japan. At our school, we?re surrounded by multilingual people who seem to switch effortlessly between their two, three, or even more native tongues. But for us, it?s a bit different. While I have improved greatly since then, four years ago, I could not understand nor speak Korean. Maheen grew up speaking Urdu at home, but when it came to reading and writing, she didn?t have much confidence doing it until recently.
Speaking Your "Native" Language Wr itten by Clar issa Kim Illustr ations by Seiji Igei
At times, this communication barrier can be isolating and discouraging. However, it?s more common than you might think. According to the Pew Research Center , only 14% of US-born Asians said they could converse in the language of their country of origin very well, while two-thirds rated their ability as ?just a little?or ?not at all?. While I had previously seen my inability to speak Korean as a strictly personal failure, there are actually larger reasons which also contribute to the two-thirds of Asian Americans who have difficulty speaking their ethnicity?s language:
REASON #1: RACISM In 1918, the United States banned all languages other than English in schools to boost patriotism, which simultaneously bolstered xenophobic thought. Speaking other languages was viewed with a disdain and stigma that permeated schools, heavily impacting many immigrants of my parent?s generation to America. In that sense, my Korean language learning journey started before I was even born. In the early 1980s, my father went to elementary school in the United States for the first time. His teacher warned his parents to completely stop speaking Korean to him, citing the fear that he would never properly speak English and ?be American?if he continued learning Korean at home. Subsequently, my father?s Korean education came to a screeching halt. As an adult, my father describes his proficiency as ?Kitchen Korean?--useful for anything you would discuss with your mother in the kitchen, but limited in any other scenario. On the macro level, these xenophobic sentiments can be felt through comments from public figures such as President Donald Trump, who remarked during a 2015 debate  that ?this is a country where we speak English, not Spanish?. The ?English-only movement?in the United States is unfortunately still very much alive. 54
"...you ar e valid no matter how many languages you speak or how well you speak them." REASON #2: LANGUAGE LEARNING IS A CHORE WHEN YOUNG Maheen grew up speaking Urdu with her parents and siblings. When it came to reading and writing however, it became drudgery every summer as her mother sat her down with a school textbook from Pakistan and tried to get her to digest the unfamiliar characters. Like any third grader, Maheen was confused about why learning how to read and write in Urdu was relevant to her life in Japan when she would have much rather been playing outside or watching cartoons. Like many Asian children who live in different cultures than their parents grew up in, since Maheen never had to read or write Urdu in her daily life, she saw spending her summer studying the language as unnecessary.
REASON #3: CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS THAT COME WITH SPEAKING IN YOUR LANGUAGE Language is more than just words. It interacts with culture-- it shapes how we view the world and how the world views us. For Maheen, visiting Pakistan means exchanging her ripped jeans and fitted shirts for trousers and a kurta. Her experience with Urdu changes from being the comfortable language that she speaks at home to a language that determines the validity of her Pakistani identity. She is expected to transform into the image of a typical Pakistani girl, with all of the cultural and social expectations that come with speaking the language. Having to fit into a new mold pushes you out of your comfort zone and sometimes contributes to the hesitation to speak, out of fear of saying something that will disrupt the social and cultural norms you?re expected to conform to.
"Language is a power ful tool for under standing cultur e, society, and ultimately the individual people who we know and love." However, at the end of the day, you are valid no matter how many languages you speak or how well you speak them. You get to decide what characteristics define you. Whether or not these include your languages is complete up to you! If you are interested in starting to learn or relearn your language, here are a few tips that Maheen and I have both used to find improvement in the past few 55years:
TIP #1: FIGURE OUT WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU AND HAVE FUN WITH IT For me, I wouldn?t have been nearly as successful with the process of learning Korean if I hadn?t tapped into a love of Korean music and other entertainment along the way. Don?t limit yourself to just textbooks if that?s not what you find interesting and engaging. Whether it be through movies, music, or books, it?s really helpful to find ways to incorporate the language and culture into your daily life. If you enjoy what you use to learn you?ll be much more likely to stay motivated and excited to continue learning!
TIP #2: STAY POSITIVE Encourage yourself and acknowledge every step forward that you make. Whether it?s your younger cousin who casually has complex conversations about politics in Urdu, or your friend whose parents raised them to be trilingual from birth, it?s really easy to compare yourself to others and become discouraged because you aren?t where you want to be. That?s why it?s extremely important not to gaslight yourself into believing that your accomplishments aren?t worth celebrating. Learning a new language, even if you?re already a bit familiar with it, is so difficult. Keep this in mind as you learn and remember to celebrate every step along the way!
TIP #3: GIVE YOURSELF TANGIBLE GOALS AND INCENTIVES Having small goals that you really find value in are what turn language learning from an academic pursuit to a full emotional experience. Personally, I find my motivation to learn Korean in that my grandparents either exclusively speak Korean or are way more comfortable speaking Korean than they are English. I want to be able to, at least once, converse with them in the language that they are most comfortable in and culturally connect with them on a deeper level than we?re able to through English. This goal gives me motivation to keep pushing forward with learning Korean, even though it?s so difficult at times. Along with goals, give yourself incentives to keep pushing towards those goals. When Maheen?s mom threw her a mini graduation party for passing a new grade in Urdu, it was a fun way for her to celebrate her accomplishments and feel fulfillment for what she achieved. Incentives don?t have to be anything grand or expensive to make an impact and encourage you! Language is a powerful tool for understanding culture, society, and ultimately the individual people who we know and love. Remember to keep that broader idea in mind whenever the learning process is slow or discouraging. Enjoy the journey and good luck! 56
(I 'm fr om T(her e)) written by Aayushi Agarwal graphic by Seiji Igei
When I fir st went to college, it was all anybody could ask: What is your name? Where are you from? My name was easy (you can call me Yush!) but the latter made me pause. Where was I from? I was bor n in the United States but I lear ned its national anthem only after moving away; my passpor t and fuzzy memor ies were all that tied me to the countr y. I looked Indian, I felt Indian, surely, India was my home. But my cousins br anded me as ?videshi?, a foreigner. I wanted to belong somewhere but I was neither from here nor there.
My decision to come back to the States was greeted with a slew of white girl jokes, but those were only funny until I didn?t know which accent to use when I video called my fr iends. Laughing was easier when I was sur rounded by people who looked and talked like me. I don?t feel the same as them anymore and I definitely don?t feel the same as anyone here. Being in the middle isn?t bad until you realize you?re basically alone. 57
Where are you from? The simple answer is New Hampshire, the more complicated one is India? the tr uth is both. Imposter syndrome but make it double: that?s the thing about being 50- 50, you?re never ever really something. I grew up here, I grew up there, call it multicultur al or a per petual identity cr isis. It?s funny how whichever answer I choose to give makes me feel like a liar.
I have more than one home but none which I can tr uly call my own and it makes me wonder about my roots. Different homes make different people. I?ve lear ned that if you code switch enough, you star t to lose your self along the way. How do you mesh two different identities? It?s easy. You don?t. You just do what you have to and hope you don?t slip out of the cr acks. 59
Where am I from? Home to me stopped being a place a long time ago. I am from the autumn leaves just as much as I am from the monsoon r ain, from my mother ?s hugs and my father ?s war mth. I car r y too many places in my hear t, it feels wrong to just claim one for myself. It?s supposed to be a one word answer, maybe two, but I?ll stick with. It sits heavily on my tongue, more uncomfor table than embar r assing, but that?s a burden I am, in a way happy to car r y, I suppose. 59
cw: suicide, mental illness
?I just w anted to say that I?m going to miss you al l so much. You guys made ever ything so much better . Thank you.? On Thur sday, Jul y 23, at 3:37 PM, Var sha w r ote these fateful w or ds that stil l haunt me today; it w as the l ast w e?d hear fr om her .
I w il l al w ays r emember the confusion and desper ation I fel t in the fol l ow ing hour s. New s came sl ow l y and questions sw ir l ed in my mind as I tr ied to find a w ay to ensur e her safety. Those hour s cr aw l ed by, the sun seemingl y pr otesting its descent. Five impossibl y l ong hour s l ater , w e found out that she w as in the hospital in cr itical condition fighting for her l ife.
The next day, w e found out that she had passed aw ay.
Never in my l ife did I think this w oul d happen to her . She w as al w ays so happy, al w ays smil ing; she had the most beautiful smil e - the one that made you w ant to k now w hy she w as smil ing so you coul d be as happy as her too. She l aughed at ever ything and cr ack ed so many jok es. I admir ed her confidence - how bol d she w as to adul ts, how casual l y she tal k ed to our bosses. Var sha w as al w ays so gener ous, br inging in donuts for ever yone or r emember ing w hat peopl e had shar ed w ith her . Ever y time I came to w or k , she compl imented me, saying she l ik ed my hair or my outfit, and I?d tr y to pay it back , but she just had that w ay of mak ing you feel good. Under neath that smil e w as just a young gir l that didn?t k now how to r each out. She had divul ged some of the battl es she w as fighting to us, but br ushed them off l ik e nothing. And unfor tunatel y, a l ot of w hat she w as deal ing w ith is common in other Asian Amer ican teenager s as w el l . 60
According to the CDC, suicide was the leading cause of death for Asian Americans aged 15 to 24 in 2017. However, this is a topic that Asian Americans often shy away from.
In many Asian families, mental health is rarely discussed, and when it is, it is in a negative light. Children are taught to suppress mental health issues, so as to not be the topic of gossip. There are cultural reasons, like language barriers or cultural differences, which are specifically mentally challenging for most immigrants. Another common struggle is the heavy emphasis of traditions in Asian culture. Traditional roles in families don?t allow for a lot of self-exploration or flexibility. Asian cultures place great value on the concept of family, where all family members have a clearly defined role and place in a set hierarchy; they are expected to place this hierarchy over their individualism and conform to the functions expected of them. As an extension, they pride themselves on their family?s perceived reputation as well. In many Asian families, there is an unspoken belief that individuals seeking mental health is a result of poor parenting, which could, henceforth, ruin a family?s reputation and lead to fear or shame for the entire family.
The stigma against mental illness and suicide is not exclusive to the Asian culture, but there is an underlying fear specific to communities of color. There have been multiple studies conducted to analyze the severity of the stigma surrounding mental health in Asian Americans. Scientific research shows overlapping causes: shame, fear, and avoidance. Unfortunately, these are largely due to roots in the culture and the model minority myth.
Asian Americans face pressure growing up in an Asian household through impossible expectations, keeping up appearances, and the toxic model minority stereotype. From an early age, children are taught to stand out for excellence in grades and/ or talents because of the wrong reasons, which is the influence of the model minority myth. Asians constantly feel the need to prove to others that they can belong and successfully assimilate into Western cultures.
W hether it?s internal pressures like parental expectations, or external ones like the model minority myth (or even a combination of both), Asian Americans are often in a silent struggle with mental health. Varsha was one of the victims who was overcome by that struggle. However, she - and so many others - shouldn?t have ever felt the need to take their own lives. By removing this mental health stigma in Asian culture, many Asian Americans will be able to receive the help they need and learn how to take care of their mental health.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineat 1-800-273-8255 or theSuicidePrevention Hotlineat 988.
written by Katherine Jeng graphic by Jessica Song
Dep ression is a Big Word : Sushant Sing h Ra jp ut and Mental Healt h in Ind ia One in every seven Indians is affected by a mental disorder, but India is a country that doesn?t really like to talk about it. It?s
dialogu e abou t m en t al
called the suicide capital of the world but
h ealt h t h at w as
you?ll still hear aunties claiming that ?this depression and all only happens in America.? The general Indian public has an extremely convoluted idea of what depression is and what it looks like, a misconception that comes to light every time suicide is remotely publicised.
His deat h in it iat ed a
im m ediat ely f or got t en .
Back in June, well known Bollywood actor
blown up nationwide and
Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his
many feel justified in their
home. It was ruled as a suicide and to say
beliefs that it couldn?t have been a
the least, the public didn?t know how to
suicide because he wasn?t ?that kind of
react. Rajput was a successful young man
person.? HI?m not saying it was a suicide
who seemed to have everything going for
and I?m not saying it was a murder, but his
him. But when it was revealed that he had
death initiated a dialogue about mental
been seeking treatment for depression for
health that was immediately forgotten. The
months, people were stumped. What
public reaction to even just the possibility of
reason could such a person have to be
it being a suicide tells us a lot about the
misrepresentation and stigma of mental illnesses in India.
People were quick to point fingers at the
Depr ession is a big w or d.
rampant nepotism in the film industry, with
actress Kangana Ranaut claiming in a video
Sushant Singh Rajput?s death has shown
statement that the ?Bollywood mafia? had
that people still don?t take depression
ganged up against Rajput and imposed an
seriously. His ex-girlfriend was quoted
unwritten ban on him. She called it a
saying, ?Sushant was not the kind of guy
?systematic dismantling of a fragile mind,? a
who will get into depression. He was not
sentiment that many others seemed to
somebody who will commit suicide because
share as well. Nepotism is a notorious
he is sad.? She said that it was
problem in Bollywood, with star kids always
?heartbreaking? when ?things like
being the next big thing, but there was
depression? were used after his name. ?He
never any evidence connecting it to Rajput
could be upset about a few things. We all
and his death. It was as if people were
get anxious, he could be anxious. But
willing to make anything except his own
depression is a big word.?
mind the killer. No one cared to address how his ?fragile mind? had actually become
Depression is a big word. It?s a serious
mental illness that affects and takes the lives of millions of Indians. It?s not
In the past few weeks, conspiracies have
heartbreaking for people to say others have
come out about the actor ?s abrupt death
depression, it?s heartbreaking that they
and many now believe that it was murder
have depression and nothing is done about
rather than a suicide, with a case being
it. Every hour, an Indian student commits
filed by his family against his
suicide but there?s still a shortage of mental
ex-girlfriend. #JusticeforSushant has
health professionals in the country. 63
Considering the prevalence of mental
like it is. It?s time we leave trivialisation of
health problems in Indian society, there is a
mental health struggles in the past and this
disproportionate lack of concern for the
includes all that Bollywood
same. How many lives must be lost before
misrepresentation (specifically directed at
we begin to take mental health seriously?
Anjaana Anjaani), which warrants a whole other article.
What ?kind of person? must one be to have
Public misrepresentation of mental
depression? Presumably, they mean
illnesses in general isn?t uncommon. The
someone who is struggling with everyday
other day, a friend sent me a tweet from an
life all alone. Little do they realise that
Indian politician of reasons he thought
depression makes someone into that kind
Rajput had been murdered. Apparently the
of person; there?s no characteristics that
actor had been playing video games that
qualify someone for depression.
morning, a sign that he ?surely was in a
Depression is a chemical imbalance in the
positive mood.? People seem to forget that
brain, an illness not an emotion. You could
people with depression are still people,
have the funniest and happiest job and still
people who eat and sleep and sometimes,
have depression, much like standup
even play video games. Who are we to
comedian Sahil Shah describes in his
police the behaviour of someone who is
depressed to suit our misconceptions? In the same way, people with depression can
Depr ession isn?t a jok e or a
still think about getting married or other
t r en d an d w e n eed t o st op
it?s disrespectful to assume so.
act in g lik e it is. Depression and sadness are vastly different things. That movie you watched didn?t make you ?depressed?- it made you sad. The
future plans, suicide isn?t an endgoal and
Isn?t it ou r r espon sibilit y t o car r y som e of t h at w eigh t if w e can ?
distinction between the two keeps getting blurred and all it does is more harm. If everyone around you is joking about being depressed, how are you going to be able to realise when someone is being serious? ?Dark humour ?and blatant disrespect are rarely mutually exclusive. Depression isn?t a joke or a trend and we need to stop acting
I don?t know the truth about Sushant Singh Rajput?s death and I don?t particularly care for it; all I hope is that he rests in peace. If he was struggling from depression, I?m sorry that he didn?t think there was another way. We may never know what happened to him, but we do know what is
happening right now to millions in our country and across the world. Shouldn?t we try and do something to help them instead of just mindlessly gossiping? Let?s use this as a sign for us to better ourselves as a society. Depression is a big word, only ten letters long, but carrying with it the misconceptions of some and the lives of others, it?s a heavy load. Isn?t it our responsibility to carry some of that weight if we can? Even a little can go a long way. Research about mental health. Educate others. Reach out to the people you care about. Normalise talking about your emotions. I?m sure that?s what he would want as well. 65
[If you?re ever feeling like there?s no hope, I once read somewhere that the night gets darkest right before the sun comes out. Here are some resources:
Argent ina Suicide Hot lines
Germany Suicide Hot lines
Sri Lanka Suicide Hot lines
Armenia Suicide Hot lines
Ghana Suicide Hot lines
St . Vincent Suicide Hot lines
Aust ralia Suicide Hot lines
Gibralt ar Suicide Hot lines
New Zealand Suicide Hot lines
Barbados Suicide Hot lines
Norway Suicide Hot lines
Hong Kong Suicide Hot lines
Belgium Suicide Hot lines
Hungary Suicide Hot lines
Bot swana Suicide Hot lines
India Suicide Hot lines
Brazil Suicide Hot lines
Ireland Suicide Hot lines
Canada Suicide Hot lines
Israel Suicide Hot lines
China Suicide Hot lines
It aly Suicide Hot lines
Croat ia Suicide Hot lines
Paupua New Guinea Suicide Hot lines Philippines Suicide Hot lines Poland Suicide Hot lines Port ugal Suicide Hot lines
Sudan Suicide Hot lines Sweden Suicide Hot lines Swit zerland Suicide Hot lines Taiwan Suicide Hot lines Thailand Suicide Hot lines Tobago Suicide Hot lines
Japan Suicide Hot lines
Russian Federat ion Suicide Hot lines
Tonga Suicide Hot lines
Cyprus Suicide Hot lines
Liberia Suicide Hot lines
Somoa Suicide Hot lines
Trinidad and Tobago Suicide Hot lines
Denmark Suicide Hot lines
Lit huania Suicide Hot lines
Serbia Suicide Hot lines
Egypt Suicide Hot lines
M alaysia Suicide Hot lines
Singapore Suicide Hot lines
Est onia Suicide Hot lines
M alt a Suicide Hot lines
Fiji Suicide Hot lines
M aurit ius Suicide Hot lines
Sout h Africa Suicide Hot lines
Finland Suicide Hot lines
Namibia Suicide Hot lines
France Suicide Hot lines
Net herlands Suicide
Sout h Korea Suicide Hot lines
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How I St ill Connect t o m y Asian Am er ican Root s as an Ad op tee By Alyse Campbell An old VCR tape from 1997 documents the first time I met my parents in Chongqing, China. I?m the baby in the yellow jumper whose wide-eyed gaze looks towards the strangers who would become my adoptive parents. I?m among a few other babies in the video who would be adopted by American families. The video shows the new families traveling around China spending time with their children in hotels and exploring markets in the city. This documents the first steps of my adoption journey and it makes me wonder what would have happened if I had grown up in Chongqing, and what it would be like if I returned to my hometown today as a foreigner. In elementary school, my mom took my sister and I to Chinese class at a local church so that we could try and learn the language and culture. However, we were both overwhelmed by the students who were speaking Mandarin in the class and didn?t want to return. I would later feel ashamed for not knowing my native tongue, especially when strangers would assume I could. Some of my earliest memories of interacting with Chinese culture are gifts intended to celebrate the day of our adoption such as paper scrolls and fans, which I still cherish today. Though I was not in touch with my culture for most of my life, I decided to start the process of reconnecting with my roots. As one of the 82,000 Chinese adoptees of diaspora, finding our roots is a life-long process in understanding our identity. Growing up in Washington state, I was raised in a predominantly white community with Caucasian parents. My parents were also older than most of my friends?parents and I was one of only a handful of Asian students who attended my high school. I realized early on that my family looked different. During middle school and high school, I spent a lot of time trying to ?blend in.? Later, I would realize I would realize that this is part of assimilation. As an adoptee I often felt ?in between?since I was seen as a ?banana? to some people and ?not Asian enough? to the Asians around me. While many Asian adoptees don?t feel ?Asian enough?, we are in a unique
position to be a bridge between two cultures and embrace ambiguity. My first exposure to deepening my roots was through a heritage trip to China when I was in high school. It was the first time where I was able to walk through the streets of Chongqing and see the huge LED billboards mixed with old temples along the Yangtze River. I even visited the area where my orphanage once stood. Furthermore, college was the first time I was surrounded by more people who looked like me, even though I was unfamiliar with their experiences growing up. On the outside, I looked like many of my classmates and was occasionally mistaken for an international student or someone who grew up in an
Asian American family. However, I was excited to meet other Chinese students who could teach me more about their culture and deepen my understanding of current events in Asia. While I was deemed ?basically white? by some of my friends, I found a group of Asian adoptees in my area that I regularly met up with and whose experiences I could relate to with identity, culture, and more. I remember celebrating my first Lunar New Year a few years back and visiting Chinatown in Seattle, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago for the first time. Celebrating this holiday was one small step towards understanding my homeland and connecting with my ancestry. I always feel a bit out of place in these environments, but I have learned to embrace it and to enjoy each time as a learning experience. When I try a new dish or go into a store, it sparks my curiosity and my desire to learn more. Although I didn?t spend a considerable time learning about China growing up, it is something that I strive to commit to now. As an adoptee, I have to be patient with myself while I?m learning Mandarin, tasting the food that connects me to my culture, and learning more about the regional culture. Although I?ve only been back once, connecting with people from my hometown, and using DNA testing to trace my lineage, and traveling back to Chongqing, are all steps that I will continue to take in the future. We are all going through the process of finding our roots and I hope that one day I can experience living in the city where I was born and help other adoptees connect to their roots as well. Whether it?s through food, language, the arts, or other avenues, I hope to share my culture as a Chinese American adoptee
with others so that more adoptee perspectives are shared in mainstream media.
Translat or by Charlene Cheng
Who knows Chinese?? Of cour se, I r aised my hand. At home, I would only speak Chinese, but at school, I would speak English. I was also a talkative child, I became good at English, which helped me become a tr anslator at age six. I would tr anslate English into Chinese or Chinese into English for my new classmate. By the end of the year, both my Chinese and English had improved and I became close fr iends with a girl I was helping. Fast for ward to the middle of second gr ade. I was still tr anslating for my fr iend, but a new student had come. I then felt a sense of deja vu when the teacher asked, ?Who knows Chinese?? Again, I r aised my hand. Many people would think that I was giving myself even more work by tr anslating for two classmates, but I really just enjoy helping people. And why not? I would gain new fr iends while tr anslating.
"I would gain new friends while t ranslat ing."
As the year s passed, a lot of my classmates viewed our tr io as the ?Asian kids? group. When we were younger, people didn?t seem to notice, but as soon as we became older, other classmates realized we were different. Our lunches were different, the way we looked and acted was different.
One day I brought tea eggs with r ice to school. I remember some kids were grossed out by the color of the eggs. They bombarded me with questions like ?Why is the color of your egg different??, ?Is the egg covered in poop??, and ?Why are there cr ack marks?? It was to the point where eight- year- old me thought the only way to avoid these questions was to throw away my food. Looking back now, I regret throwing away my food because my parents worked hard to make something that I loved, which only resulted in their hard work being thrown into the tr ash. I remember one day in fir st gr ade a tall girl walked into our classroom. The teacher asked, 68
Sometimes when I was tr anslating for my classmates, people would look at us weirdly. They would feel offended that we where speaking another language, but if I didn?t tr anslate for my fr iends, how would they get their education? My wor st gr ade school memor y was when a group of classmates came up to our tr io while we were sitting on the swings and one of the boys shouted, ?Hey tr anslator girl, tr anslate this.? (TW: r acism): The group of boys then snickered at his remark, and another boy said, ?Why can?t you guys open your eyes and see, this is Amer ica, not China, so speak English.? The way he said that cr uel comment was super slow, as if he thought we had trouble hear ing. I wanted to say something, but I couldn?t, so the group just walked away like nothing had happened. I wish I spoke up or took action because my fr iends were still lear ning English. It wasn?t their fault that they could not under stand a language unknown to them. I wish I told the group of older classmates to tr y to move to another countr y and lear n a new language. I wish I told them that I was proud of being Asian, and how I can speak two languages whereas they can only speak English.
Cur rently, our tr io is now a duo as one of our fr iends moved back to China. It was like she disappeared off the face of the Ear th. When I went to her house, there was already another family living in it, and when I asked my class where my fr iend had gone, they said she had moved away. However, I hope she is doing well wherever she is. Now, I am in the eighth gr ade, but I am still a tr anslator for many people. I help inter national exchange students who speak Chinese and I also help my gr andpa tr anslate menu items, tr affic signs, and more ever yday. I am happy that I took the oppor tunity of becoming a tr anslator because both my Chinese and English has improved. I hope that kids who exper ience a situation like me choose to speak up. They should be proud of who they are and should stand up for themselves and their identity. Please lear n from my mistakes and be proud of who you are!
"I wish I t old t hem t hat I was proud of being Asian, and how I can speak t wo languages whereas t hey can only speak English."
I am proud t o be a t ranslat or and being who I am.
Growing up by Ch ar len e Ch en g
I h ate gr ow i n g u p . W h en y ou gr ow u p , N obod y p l ay s p okem on car d s w i th y ou an y m or e? A l l th ey w an t t o d o i s l i ke, com m en t , take an oth er sel f i e. I t?s l i ke t h ey ar e tu r n i n g i n to zom bi es, W i th n o sen se of h u m an i t y. I h ate gr ow i n g u p Becau se y ou h ave m or e th i n gs to p i ck u p : ?Pi ck u p th e p ace!? ?M ove f aster !? ?H u r r y u p or y ou ?ll be l ef t beh i n d !? ?You ar e 13 n ow, w h y can ?t y ou ju st gr ow u p ?? I h ate h ow th e m or e I sp eak m y n ati ve l an gu age, th e m or e p eop l e get of f en d ed , L i ke I w as th e cau se of m an y w r on gd oi n gs. I h ate gr ow i n g u p Becau se w h en y ou gr ow u p , Peop l e n oti ce th i n gs. H ow w h en I say th e p h r ase ? ? (n ĂŠi ge) th ey th i n k I ?m say i n g a r aci st sl u r , Bu t I am n ot!
I ?m sor r y i f y ou th i n k th at w ay, I d on ?t m ean i t l i ke t h at . I d on ?t l i ke gr ow i n g u p B ecau se I am gi ven a l oad of p ap er s t h at sh ou l d be f i n i sh ed by W ed n esd ay. I w i sh th at I cou l d ju st stop t i m e an d En joy m y l i f e as a ch i l d w i t h ou t soci et y ey ei n g m e: W h er e I d on ?t n eed t o p er f or m t r i ck s, A n d I can be m e, W h er e I can sp eak m y n at i ve l an gu age w i t h ou t f eel i n g l i ke a ci r cu s cl ow n . M ay be I l i ke gr ow i n g u p , Becau se I get to l ear n m or e abou t soci et y, 71
A n d th e r i ots w e see. I can f i n al ly be i n volved i n t h i n gs. I can f i n al ly l ear n t o cook t h e d i sh es m y m oth er m ad e f or m e. M ay be, ju st m ay be, gr ow i n g u p i sn ?t as bad as I t h ou gh t i t w ou l d be. I get t o see d i f f er en t even t s, I get to l ear n th at p eop l e w i l l com e an d go, T h at y ou can sti l l p l ay p okem on car d s an d p r obably l ear n m or e. I l ove gr ow i n g u p Becau se I l ear n ed I cou l d ju st be m e. A n d m ay be gr ow i n g ol d er i s m an d ator y, bu t gr ow i n g u p i s u p t o m e...
Asian Am er ican in Asia By Clarissa Kim My brother is a secret. No one at my school knows his name, his age, or that he even exists. Except they actually do know my brother. My teachers know him as studious, dedicated, and intelligent. My classmates know him as the guy who organized TEDx. What they don?t know is that we?re siblings. And I don?t know why I would expect them to realize that we?re related. We rarely interact with each other at school. We have drastically different hobbies and interests. We don?t particularly resemble each other. Why do I expect them to automatically link us together? Because we?re both Asian. I expect people to link us together because we?re both Asian. In the suburbs of Pennsylvania they certainly did. But now that I live in Japan and go to a school that?s majority Asian by a huge margin, this connection holds little weight. I grew up in suburban Pennsylvania, where 3.3% of the population is Asian like me. When I look back at my journals from this time in my life, every other page is a woeful wish for a Korean American friend, or even the occasional desire that for just one day, I could be white like most of the people around me. This came on the heels of my first ever experience being in a Asian-majority environment, when in August before eighth grade, my family attended a week-long Korean-American church event in California. For one week, I was surrounded by 72
people who ate the same food that I ate at home, spoke the same mixed up Konglish with their families, and understood the difficult balancing act of being Asian and American at the same time. After that glorious week, I returned home to Pennsylvania and faced a different kind of culture shock. For weeks after that immersion, I was a brooding, jealous mess of emotions. My experience in California made me painfully aware of the absence of the natural camaraderie and rapport that can come as a result of shared culture and experiences. Even beyond the reality of not having many Asians around me, the stereotypes were a whole other issue. ?Coach Chang Fang is a horrible character! Can they get any more stereotypical???? I furiously scribbled in my journal. From overly exaggerated accents in my favorite radio drama, to ?jokes?about Koreans eating dogs and having squinty eyes, to more subtle stereotypes about intelligence that got brushed under the rug. The older I became, the more these instances stood out to me as wrong. I cherished the few places where I could see myself and my experiences positively portrayed in the media I enjoyed. I remember reading the story of my favorite American Girl doll, Ivy Ling, a Chinese-American gymnast who, like me, had a tumultuous journey navigating towards
finding a balance between the Asian and American sides of her life. In my eyes she shone bright as a star and main character of the American Girl Universe. In retrospect, Ivy was only a supporting character, yet with such little representation available, I clung to whatever I could get. Then suddenly, out of the blue, my dad switched jobs, and I was whisked from suburbia to the center of the most populated city in the world: Tokyo, Japan. It was in this city, while squeezing into crowded subway cars
and walking like a penguin through crowded streets, that I found myself in the majority. For the first time, I didn?t stick out like a sore thumb because of my physical appearance. For the first time, I saw myself represented through the photos of Asian models which populated the billboards and storefront advertisements in the areas that I frequented.
style. Living in a place where being Asian is the status quo freed me. It allowed me to see beyond my limited perception of what it meant to be Asian, built from the limited media representation and lack of Asian role models around me. It?s enabled me to realize that I don?t have to fit into one stereotypical mold in order to be Asian.
For the first time, I never had to correct a teacher who called me by the name of another Asian student. At my new school, people didn?t stand out for being Asian -- almost all of us were Asian -- instead, people stood out for their accomplishments, or their smile, or their sense of
Living in a place where being Asian is the status quo freed me. It allowed me to see beyond my limited perception of what it meant to be Asian. But that?s here in Japan. It?s easy to be confident in who I am when I can see myself in almost everyone around me and in the media. In one year, I?ll be back in the United States, ready to start the next phase of my life at college. And honestly, I?m nervous to be pulled out of my comfort zone back into a world where I?ll be seen through a lens of Asian stereotypes before being understood for who I truly am. However, this experience that I?ve had living in Japan has given me confidence in my Asian identity which I?m determined to wear proudly, no matter what life throws at me. 73
Un t an glin g In t er n alized Racism written by Rena Wei From kindergarten to fifth grade, I attended a private school where the majority of students were of East or Southeast Asian descent. Since I was mostly surrounded by kids I shared similarities with, physically and culturally, I never faced overt racism or teasing from anyone for the way I looked.
But for some reason, I found a way to hate my Chinese identity. I did not understand this disdain for the place I went to school, for the way I somehow believed only beautiful people existed on Disney Channel, and for this growing desire to not only be different from those around me, but to be entirely different from whatever I was. Hatred followed me around for years, and was beginning to stick to me like aged gum stuck under an old shoe. This hatred was not directed to anybody specifically, but stemmed from the fact that I had been born Chinese. I resented the fact that I had not been born white and pretty because it meant that I was by default, not a ?cool kid?that boys liked. Now, where did this all start? Well, let?s go back to the beginning. Growing up, my favorite shows were on Disney Channel, namely The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and Hannah Montana. My favorite singers may have f luctuated throughout my elementary school years, but what?s most notable is the fact that none of them were of Asian-descent. Actually, most of them were white. In the second grade, I asked for a Hannah Montana wig for Christmas, and it was a surprise to discover upon the wig?s arrival, that I neither looked good in blonde, nor anything like sixteen-year-old Miley Cyrus. I would ask my sister to braid my hair after I washed it so that I could have hair that looked like Taylor Swift?s, but I was always shocked that even after she tried her best to give me Taylor?s signature curls, I still looked nothing like Taylor. Come middle school, I began to fully realize that I really just hated being Chinese. The shape of my eyes were dramatically different from the girls on Tumblr and my nose felt like a sad, squashed fruit that was mistakenly slapped on my face. I vowed to never date an Asian guy and I even started catching myself thinking of specific stereotypes towards Asian women, accepting any that sounded even remotely positive (even if it was fetishization) and comparing myself to other Asian girls, hoping I would turn out looking better than them. I could not compare myself to any non-Asian girls because it would just serve as a harsh reminder that I would never be able to look like them. So instead of comparing myself to them, I began to daydream.
What if I was white? What if I was literally any other ethnicity besides Chinese? Oh, how much happier and prettier I would be. I dreaded being the stereotypical nerdy, unattractive Chinese girl that is shown in the media, if she was ever even shown. High school was finally the beginning of my unravelment of internalized racism. I should note that I didn?t just begin this journey by opening my mind and recognizing the racism I had internalized over the years. I only began feeling a little more comfortable in my own skin because of the rise of Asian culture within mainstream pop culture. A moment that stands out in my mind was when K-Pop became more and more known and loved, even by non-Asian people. Even though I am not a fan of K-Pop, I began to feel a sense of pride and a glimmer of hope that maybe somewhere in this big world, there is a place for Asians to be seen in a positive light. By the end of high school and beginning of my first year of college, I was deep in my journey of confronting and reversing all of the racism I had internalized over the past twelve years. During the summer before college, I went on a trip to China with my father to visit family for the first time in six years. I left with a deep sense of appreciation and, for the first time, I felt a sense of pride reflecting on who I was and where my family came from. Still, a deep sadness washed over me, remembering that for years and years, I never wanted to accept this side of me. I always wanted to push it away, to prove to people that I was a ?cool? Asian, not like the other ones, to just not be as Chinese as I possibly could.
Now every morning when I see myself in the mirror, I find myself appreciating who I am more and more. And though there are still days where I don?t feel great, it has virtually nothing to do with feeling shameful about my culture or who I am. I see the beauty in the shape of my eyes and the slope of my nose. There is so much to appreciate about the way every part of a person?s face fits together like a puzzle piece, coming together to form the picture it was always meant to be.
The Fox Eye Trend and Why It IsProblematic writ t en by Elise Park illust rat ion by Jessica Song
The Fox Eye trend is cultural appropriation of East Asian features at its very finest. This trend uses makeup and the deliberate pulling back of one?s eyes to achieve the coveted foxy and mysterious look, something that is all too reminiscent of the constant bullying East Asians have experienced. For years and years, our eyes have been subjected to normalized and conditioned racism, and this trend is no different. Many East Asians have expressed their discomfort at the all too familiar pose, and it needs to be addressed.
constant mocking that they were subjected to by others, simply for the shape of their eyes. Intention is not, in any way, important when the feelings of a group of people are being discussed. Our white classmates who taunted us with ?open your eyes? and ?ching chong? while pulling the corners of their eyes with their fingers to match our ?chinky? ones are the same people donning this trendy pose because it is now seen as desirable. Many argue that trends such as these help ?glorify?and ?celebrate?Asians, but the fact that our eyes can?t be seen as beautiful normally and are only deemed gorgeous when imitated by white girls defeats the whole purpose.
The problematic nature of this trend derives from the fetishization of non-Eurocentric features and the way white influencers are able to choose which features are beautiful when they feel it benefits them. Though there may not have been malicious intent behind this makeup trend and pose, it can?t help but remind East Asians of the
If East Asians are saying that the fox eye trend is inappropriate and offensive, then it is. No one has the right to tell a group of people how to feel about the appropriation of the features they were born with. Our culture is not your trend.
Beyond The Stew: The Casual Appropriation of Food written by Ashley Ko In May 2020, Alison Roman, a cookbook author and New York Times columnist, was ?canceled? for publicly criticizing two Asian women, Marie Kondo and Chrissy Teigen, for monetizing their success? all while discussing the future release of her own ?capsule collection? of cooking tools. In the interview, Roman said that Kondo ?just sold out immediately,? and Teigen had ?people running a content farm for her.? According to Roman, Kondo and Teigen contributed to creating ?too much stuff in the world? and exemplified the wrong way to create a line of products. W hen I first read about Roman getting canceled, I was annoyed at her comments, but initially brushed it off. However, I was surprised a few days later when she was still making headlines. It seems like a new celebrity gets canceled every day, so what made this case different? The more I read about Roman and the food industry, the more I understood Roman?s comments and the resulting national attention stemmed from the underlying issue of casual food appropriation, which uplifts white chefs while hindering chefs of color from success. Roman?s comments tore down two women of color for profiting off of their fame while giving a pass to white women such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachael Ray, and Martha Stewart, who did the same. Roman was not the first person to make such comments degrading the work of people of color in food media, but her subsequent cancellation allowed people and chefs of color to express their frustration with both Roman and the food industry, calling out the casual appropriation of food by white chefs and the age-old system that rewards this behavior. Before this interview, Roman?s name was in headlines for a recipe referred to as ?The Stew.? This ?stew? featured ingredients like chickpeas, coconut milk, and turmeric that are traditional features in curries of different cultures. Initially, Roman made no effort to honor the origins of her recipe. However, after criticism, the New York Times altered the description of the recipe to include it ?evokes stews found in South India and parts of the Caribbean.?As Roxana Hadadi, an Iranian American writer, said in an interview with The Lily, ?There?d been a lot of low-key disgruntlement about the fact that we?re seeing the word ?stew? instead of ?curry?...Or that we?re seeing her use ingredients like harissa or kimchi or all of these other
things that are very specifically tied to certain areas of the world ? harissa to North Africa, kimchi is Korean. To not give any sort of acknowledgment of that was beginning to grate on certain people.?cultures in the recipe for ?The T h e er asu r e o f v ar i o u s cu l t u r es i n t h e r eci p e f o r ?T h e St ew ? i s n o t an i so l at ed i n ci d en t , b u t o n e r ef l ect i n g t h e d eep er i ssu e o f h ow f o o d i s t r an sf o r m ed t o b e accep t ab l e an d ap p r o ach ab l e f o r w h i t e au d i en ces, o f w h at f o o d i s accep t ed an d ap p r o ach ab l e f o r w h i t e au d i en ces. Jenny Dorsey, an Asian American chef, describes her journey as an Asian American woman in the white-dominated food space in her essay, ?Yes, This Meal is Supposed to Make You Feel Uncomfortable.? W hen she was a child, she was ?[t]ired of being relegated to the bathroom to finish my smelly garlic chive dumplings without disturbing my classmates, tired of dumping my pigs?feet and pork belly over rice into the garbage because it had been called dog food.? And she says this shame carried over to adulthood for herself and many other Asian American chefs, writing: The only feeling that stayed was the helplessness of being stuck in the same cycle I?d come from: waiting for acceptance from some faceless deity. So I held my tongue as my Korean colleague told me that his future restaurant might feature small plates but surely ?something more elegant?than banchan, and when my Filipina colleague insisted that the food from those islands was strictly meant for lowbrow eating and family meals. I sat and waited, instead, for someone else to ?discover?the cuisine of my own community. A white knight to indemnify the ingredients I had always loved but was too embarrassed to bring onto a tasting menu. After years of adapting her food for acceptance, Dorsey broke through and discovered a way to share her story and vulnerability through her food. She designs her dishes to make her audience uncomfortable and feel her pain and trauma. At a pop-up dinner, Dorsey presented her dishes titled ?Privilege,??Ultra Cultured Super W oke Duck,??Fish That Tastes Like Fish,? ?You Make Asian Food, Right??,
and ?HELLO MY NAME IS: Disgusting!?. After her guests had finished the meal, she told them, ?I didn?t believe I deserved to be more, to have a say, but I do...My food is my story, and it?s complicated and imperfect, but it is just as worthy, and I am the right person to tell it.? According to an analysis by Intersectional Analyst, white chefs write a majority of Chinese, Vietnamese, Caribbean, African, and Indian online recipes published by the New York Times. Alison Roman didn?t just change the recipe from a curry to a stew; she contributed to a system that white-washes ethnic dishes and she erased the cultural struggles of non-white chefs who?ve tried to enter the white-dominated space of cooking.
A n d w h en sh e t ar get ed A si an w o m en f o r p r o f i t i n g f r o m t h ei r f am e, sh e p er p et u at ed t h e n ar r at i v e t h at o n l y w h i t e w o m en ar e al l ow ed t o f l o u r i sh i n o u r cap i t al i st i c so ci et y.
W hen Cathy Erway, a half-Taiwanese chef, was appealing to publishers to get her cookbook, ?The Food of Taiwan? published, publishers constantly told her that ?Asian cookbooks don?t sell.? Yet, when Alison Roman publishes an Asian and Caribbean influenced dish, she is praised and labeled as revolutionary to the food industry. As seen by these stories, the current system promotes white chefs who adapt traditionally Asian cuisine, while simultaneously holding back Asian chefs from success. W hile many like Dorsey have turned their cultural pain and trauma into unique and successful dishes, many others are left behind. Alison Roman is not unique in her casual and flippant appropriation of traditionally Asian and BIPOC cuisine; she?s the result of a system that rewards this behavior. However, this does not absolve her of her wrongs and her part in upholding this system. On June 25th, Roman was a guest on Ziwe?s Instagram Live show Baited, which focuses on uncomfortable questions about race. Here, she explained that she turned to her BIPOC friends for guidance following this incident. Her friends helped her craft her apology and taught her why her comments were so problematic. Roman compensated these friends with gift baskets for their emotional labor. W hile Chrissy Teigen accepted Roman?s apology, others in the Asian American community saw Roman?s statement as empty words. W hen asked about Marie Kondo?s response, Roman said, ?I feel like an absolute piece of garbage for dragging either of their names, and she [Kondo], we, I reached out to her. I sent her like a separate apology. We didn't hear back from her people which is fine either she's like I do not care or she's like fuck yourself. Either way is fine.? Since being canceled in May, Roman has been active on social media promoting local Asian and Black businesses and sharing resources to educate her audience. Before
graphic by Leia Bulger
being canceled, she was unaware of her privilege. She told Ziwe, ?I think what it's like to be a white woman is like born into a place of very obvious privilege that you might be unaware of until somebody or millions of people point it out to you on the internet.? She has made progress, but she still has a long way to go. W hen asked about her time at Bon Appétit, she said that there were zero Black people there when she worked there and that she ?did nothing?to change that. However, Doreen St. Félix, a Black woman, commented, ?[I] interned at bon app for three months and literally worked W ITH her when she was there.? Doreen St. Félix?s comment demonstrates there was at least one Black person who worked at Bon Appétit, but Roman further erased her in this interview. W hile being canceled allowed Roman to self-reflect and grow, there is a fear that, by singling Roman out, we ignore the greater system of injustice within the food industry. Cancel culture usually targets specific people. Alison Roman, Jimmy Fallon, Lana del Ray, and Ellen Degeneres are just a few of the celebrities who have been cancelled this year alone. Cancelled individuals often deserve to be C an cel l ed i n d i v i d u al s o f t en d eser v e t o b e cal l ed o u t f o r t h ei r w o r d s an d act i o n s. H ow ev er , w h en w e f o cu s t h e co n v er sat i o n ar o u n d t h e sp eci f i c n am e as o p p o sed t o t h e gr eat er sy st em o f i n j u st i ce, w e r em ai n d i st r act ed f r o m t h e r eal i ssu e.
W hen asked further about what Roman did to change the white-dominated culture at Bon Appétit, she responded with: I didn't do anything to change that. I was, I had started at like a very very low position and then kind of worked my way up and then like never thought that, I didn't, I never felt empowered to like make any decisions based on hiring or speaking up or like it was a pretty intense culture of like old-school media hierarchy, and um? I didn't do anything to better the situation for anyone. W hile this may have been true, it has been over five years since she left Bon Appétit. Since then, she has worked at Buzzfeed, published two cookbooks, and is a columnist for the New York Times. W ill she act any differently now there is no question she has the success and power she claims she lacked while at Bon Appétit? I?m interested to see who she collaborates with to create recipes, who she hires, and whose voices she amplifies in her work. Until then, I will focus on media and recipes that reflect me through chefs like Jenny Dorsey, Cathy Erway, Niki Nakayama, Padma Lakshmi, and Samin Nosrat. Cancel culture may have given Roman a chance to reflect on her privilege, but it will take honest conversations, deep introspection, learning and unlearning, and direct action to dismantle racism within the food industry to create long-lasting change. I want to see chefs who look like me featured in prominent food magazines, to be featured in a bestseller cookbook, or to go viral for a recipe with ingredients I grew up eating. I don't want kimchi, turmeric, or gochujang to be featured as an exotic addition to a dish, I want them to be presented as the culturally significant foods they are. I want room for us to exist in this industry without having to sacrifice a part of ourselves.
W hen Roman was canceled, did other white chefs take the time to reflect on their role in erasing different cultures from their food or examine who is given opportunities to succeed in their industry? Or did they believe they were free from judgment because they had never publicly criticized women of color? Once we cancel someone, the conversation should continue to the systems the person upholds through their actions. And once a person has apologized for their actions, we should continue to hold them accountable. I d o n 't w an t t o h ear A l i so n Ro m an say sh e w i l l d o b et t er ; I w an t t o see h er d o b et t er .
I w an t m o r e.
OUR TEA M EXECUTIVE BRANCH Execu t ive Dir ect or Danielle Zheng Edit or -in -Ch ief Julia Hartlep Sect ion M an ager s Aayushi Agarwal Katherine Jeng Sat ir e M an ager Egan Lai Com m u n icat ion s Dir ect or s
Andrew Duffey Selina Liu M ar ket in g M an ager Abigail Pugh Cr eat ive Dir ect or s Seiji Igei Nakaki Summer Ko-Szych Ar t M an ager Mathew Thomas Tech n ology Dir ect or Donglai Duan Fin an ce Dir ect or Zachary Joseph Spon sor an d Gr an t M an ager David Zhou
CONTRIBUTORS Wr it er s Aayushi Agarwal Abonti Nur Ahmed Aiysha Khan Alyse Campbell
Amanda Cui Amira Shimin Angela Claveria Anna Lee Annie Phan Anran Zhao Ashley Ko Ashling Lee Avia Weber Benaifer Sepai Brian Zhou Carolyne Im Cayli Yanagida Charlene Cheng Chenzhen Julio Hu Clarissa Kim Elise Park Esther Lee Fiona Ly Hannah Braden Hyewon Heaven Yoon Isabel Moon Julia Panambo Juliet Chang Katherine Jeng Lucy Yao Makayla Hsieh Natalie Wei Nicole Ling Ninev O'Brien Olivia Sourivong Preciosa Bulaunan Rena Wei Shaina Selvaraju Sienna Zheng Sophie Cheng Vivian Ho Copy Edit or s Aayushi Agarwal Abonti Nur Ahmed Afreen Khazi-Syed Cassie Lee
Christiana Guan Clarissa Garzon Emily Tang Isabelle Tran Jennifer Nguyen Julia Panambo Khue Tran Layla Khattak Lucy Li Mizuki Kai Nabeeha Anwar Olivia Tun Samantha Lee Samantha Tsang Tamara Win
COMMUNICATIONS Social Media Manager Lilia Dow-Yuzawa
CREATIVES Artists Afreen Khazi-Syed Isabelle Tran Jennifer Dai Jessica Song Natasha Telang Magazine Layout Designers Abigail Quinsay Alice Cai Ashling Lee Christiana Guan Sudy Qin
TECHNOLOGY Web Editor Benjamin Thong