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I am a warrior OAKLAND ASIAN CULTURAL CENTER’S SECOND ZINE


ARTISTIC STATEMENT Dear Reader, For our second zine, we deliberately chose the word “warrior” to push against the stereotype of Asian passiveness and explore the strengths, sacrifices, and achievements of Asians and Pacific Islanders. Through these pieces, we assert ourselves as a community of artists, writers, and more. We would like to thank all of the artists who submitted their works. Due to space constraints, we unfortunately could not include everyone. However, we found all the submitted pieces thoroughly moving and deeply personal. While laying out the works, it was exciting to see how they all spoke to one another. The works collectively revealed how history, family, and individual identity interconnect. They feature recurrent themes of diaspora, intergenerational tension, and social justice. The anthology shows how time and experiences are nonlinear—how history resonates in our day to day lives. We took great care to present these works with integrity, and we understand that some of the content may seem mature for younger audiences. When you read this collection of works, we hope these images and written words inspire you. We hope that they make you laugh, cry, and most importantly, reflect upon the diversity and vibrancy of our communities. Sincerely, Oakland Asian Cultural Center Zine Team Tiffany Chan Pauletta Chanco Tenzin Chomphel

Steven Cong Aleta Lee Dayoung Lee

Saly Lee Stacey Nguyen Tamiko Wong


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Stacey Nguyen Jay Do Emma Chin-Hong Nguyen Thuy Dan Ishtar-Lhotus Reiah Zeviar Minnie Phan Esther Kang Phuong Vuong Christine J. Hipolito Deepti Srivastava Lauren Lola Tanzila Ahmed Diana Li Tiffany Chan Sammay Dizon Christina Young Frances Kai-Hwa Wang Jessica Ko Tamiko Wong Melba Abela Flo Oy Wong Tenzin Chomphel Maurice Seaty Mission Statement Support the OACC Thank Yous

Cover artwork: Self Sufficiency by Lisa Sy Graphic design by Ha Duong


Công Cha, Nghĩa Mẹ Father, you are most lovely at sunrise Your face etched with soft curves Of kindness born from dark memories of Staccato gunfire Worn fingers weaving and rolling at the camp And still you gaze forward On a tightrope, believing love is great You do not fear the tears Flooding your face as you place the eye drops In your father’s casket. --Mother, your hands are rough Brandishing the sword that protects your child You are diaspora Never settling but always right here Your heart resilient Uprooted from its blood, its air, its home Your life of sacrifice Aches for sounds thousands of miles away A life precarious Like smoke drifting from a stick of incense Stacey Nguyen

Warrior What is a warrior without a war? Where is my battle and what is it for? Where is my shield and where is my sword? Where is my armor and where is my horse? My father, a knight who braved unspeakable horrors, His homeland a battlefield of ruin and terror. My mother, a maiden who defended her kin, Guarded her family from bringers of sin. Together they fought and together they survived, Dreaming of a land where they both would thrive. Together they crossed a merciless sea, To walk upon the land of opportunity. To ensure my first steps were on free soil, So I’d know not of their blood and toil. But with all their bravery and sacrifice, What legacy could I leave with my own life? What battle is left for me to fight? If all the glory went to the maiden and knight? What is a warrior without a war? A child with no need to fight anymore.

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Jay Do Oakland Asian Cultural Center


Untitled, Emma Chin-Hong

I am a Warrior

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夜遊宮 雨過危樓獨倚 漸日暮 東風千里 幾度征衫遍滴淚 空回想 阮王業 今已矣 復辟還無計 對殘陽 恨吞天地 千古忠良盡土子 愧男兒 壯心在 成何事 To the tune of “Yeh you gong“ Rain passes, precipitous tower, leaning alone Gradually darkening sky East wind across a thousand miles How many times have a wanderer’s robes been soaked with tears Remembering in vain the achievements of the Nguyen emperors Now vanished There is no way to restore the old order Facing the dying sun My rage swallows heaven and earth Loyal and virtuous men of ages past have all turned to dust I am ashamed to be a man Still with heroic aspirations Having achieved nothing Nguyen Thuy Dan

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Oakland Asian Cultural Center


From Worrier to Warrior They called us Generation X. Whaaaat? I was just an American Kid, doing plenty of the things that such kids did... Sometimes more, sometimes less; surviving the seasons and whatever situational stress or manifest day’s duress. Yes, God bless... America... or anyone who blessed God... and so onward we trod... ‘til the teenage trauma treadmill broke us down. Then they called us Slackers. Whaaaaat? And so on and so forth, etc etc etc, maybe even Lost Clowns... as we watched the mass media multiply and surreally spin all our senses around and around ‘til how can you be sure what’s actually whose ground? Then soon enough I was virtually on my own and now known as an Asian Woman. Whaaaaaat? What does that mean? Generation Ex-everything had become my interior scene. More culture shock for the eternal New Kid on everyone else’s block... or so it would seem. But I’m still a Human Being, right? Or is that yet another Singular Soul’s solitaire plight? Or another socially-endorsed, semi-acceptable, sometimes-popularized fight? Fight-Fight-Fight. As if Might always makes some majority more “right.” Oh to learn to appreciate us ALL, regardless of whaaaaaaaat the ??? I am called. Ishtar-Lhotus Reiah Zeviar

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Excerpt from They Call Us Viet Kieu, Minnie Phan

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Oakland Asian Cultural Center


손 (Hands) I remember your persimmon hands, smelling like sesame oil and earth from morning garden harvest. You fed me on autumn days, dipping soft spoon into ripened fruit. This is how you eat 감, you said, as you lifted my palm to your lips, 손녀 nom nom nom, branding warm words onto my hands: persimmons, food, halmoni. Halmoni. 할머니. Grandma, I chased you for stories that you refused to tell: about living in small towns, before South and North Koreas; about packing ancestry into two bags and racing down hills, with my daddy strapped on your back and aunties at your hands, past Pyongyang and towards a line—then shifting, now stuck. When you spoke, you spoke with your hands: callous-stained fingers braiding hair; running rosary beads for lost aunties; packing jars of kimchi to hold the family together. You are folded in these memories of quiet resistance. Lifting your palms together, the last words that you said to me were: I will pray for you. I will remember you. Esther Kang

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Days like these on days like these i am wax melting a fire putting itself out on days like these my kisses feel like failure my living, grey skies i wonder if i’m bound to this the wars carried out in the battlefield of my Vietnamese mind on days like these i wonder how the tightness in my chest translates to memory the lump in my throat could be silence screaming for a voice

daybreak to a dark heart shrinking in the abyss of so much history in textbooks and not enough feeling of this body’s wounds the balancing of stones on my shoulders on days like these i wonder how long is pain? how deep does it run? how far back does it connect? is it the length of the Mekong? wide and deep like the Pacific? blue like the color of blood waiting to spill? how much is mine? how much inherited? Phuong Vuong

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Oakland Asian Cultural Center


Town Down, Christine J. Hipolito From the artist: “The text originates from a hate letter by a racist group sent to the chief of police of Sunnyvale in the 1930s, referencing Filipino farm workers. After printing and wheat pasting this sign on a 3 x 4 feet canvas, I chose to apply real strawberries. Heart-shaped and sweet, the strawberries are a response to the hateful message, representing the hard work that goes into feeding Americans.� I am a Warrior

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These were taken in April before the big typhoon hit the island. A great day in the backyard of the sea. Leyte, Deepti Srivastava 9

Oakland Asian Cultural Center


2nd Division Hapa I run the trenches of our country’s racial divides In hopes of not being caught in the binaries I fight on the shores of my identity That everyone else tries to defy As I uphold my self-taught pride My camouflage holds up as the sweat begins to stream As looks come my way for my eyes import more Than a glance of who I am And the questions come spilling out About what I am Like being rained on by bullets, I dodge them through The empty, naïve-sounding questions I’ve been asked for many moons I stand my ground, and pierce my skin And looks refocus on the blood pouring out As it exposes my ties from two different continents I am of the Hapa Army, 2nd Division Going through the motions of monoracial assumptions and ignorant impressions These battles have been continuous like a storm But are so routine that they’re redundant As I swing my pride over my shoulder, in hopes of a brighter day Lauren Lola

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Collidescope I want to spray paint drones with a stenciled kufiya print, And henna pattern hand guns, And pixelate grenades, And calligraphy Bismillah onto bullets. I want to tile rainbow Skittles on black hoodies, And tattoo hijabi pin-up girls, And tie-dye a twisted turban, And sew old prayer rugs into superhero capes, And when that sh-t explodes, It will be like glass bangles glitter bombing the world, Life will whip through our mehndi stained hair As if we are ride or dying fast on skateboards spangled with Desi truck art, Bullseyes will be circled in the rings of light around the new moon, Pastel colored chalk outlines on the ground will be abundant and in the shape of shadows. This world, So imploded, Blood stained chaadhors will be used as white flags Of surrender no more. Tanzila Ahmed 11

Oakland Asian Cultural Center


RBF, Diana Li I am a Warrior

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Adventures on my Razor Scooter I went into the garage and unearthed the long forgotten Razor scooter. It has green foamy handles with matching green wheels. What I like best is when the sidewalks are smooth because if there’s a large crack, the wheels can catch onto it, plunging into the concrete and eating gravel sh-t. I like when there’s a slight downhill and I can hear the wind whooshing past my ear and everything is zipping by in a blur. Yeah it’s fun and all, but let’s talk about being a Woman of Color, an Asian woman, who is openly traveling up and down San Pablo Street on a Razor scooter. You’re suddenly public property, open for men to observe your mode of transportation as well as your body, your hair, your clothes, the way you draw your winged eyeliner, the intentional resting b-tch face. Stuff like, “D-mn baby, where are you going so fast?” or the less original whistles and unsubtle stares. And there’s the fun racist and sexist combo of comments of being a geisha and ching chong ching chong. But you got places to go and people to see so you scooter quickly to the BART station and try to avoid these men. I think, “How do I avoid that? Is he still following me? How busy is this street, are there people around in case anything happens? Please, oh please don’t be following me. Maybe I shouldn’t wear this shirt again since it shows my shoulders.” When men catcall and leer at women, it’s an attack on our bodies and personal safety. It’s the message that women, no matter what we’re doing, are public domain open for commentary. It puts responsibility on women to always be constantly conscious of their bodies instead of holding men accountable for their actions. So men, stop street harassing women and prevent your fellow bros from doing it. Women, you are superstars and ily. Tiffany Chan

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Oakland Asian Cultural Center


flying high

my god i almost touched the sky didn’t know how heavenly it would feel to almost die to step into the spiritual realm to feel the sky above me and the fire below to walk in the light of the sun whilst in the depths of the snow didn’t know that my last breath wasn’t yet meant to be that you would bring us SALVACION to last eternity i’m feeling real blessed to be where i am now i thank the ancestors the Creator as they tell me YOU GOTTA MAKE IT SOMEHOW and i’m tryin’ and i’m fightin’ ma knows i’ll never stop til i’m the face you see on that one hunnid bill now i am serious— you know i’m the girl who wears the most hats multi-faceted and independent (possibly with lives of 10 cats) nah i’m just playin’ that life ain’t gon be so cause i got the love of my people – L up attire yellow sacrifices made for our country LABAN para BAYAN the story of mrs. cory so deep into my roots the imprisonment of mr. ninoy his heartfelt letters – beautiful art and i’m so honored to be from the same province of this family of the free freedom peace and justice still fighting for equality EQUITY to the progressive babies crying for their pops’ papers to be recognized too acknowledgement from the government is really all some seek respect the poor the weak who they weaken with every institutional policy no idea how to build from the ground up— you gotta strengthen the foundation before wanting to RUN FREE Sammay Dizon I am a Warrior

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Intersections, Christina Young

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On the Volcano, Frances Kai-Hwa Wang Oakland Asian Cultural Center


Mommy’s Speech I’d like to start by thanking everyone for coming to pay their respects to my mother. I want you to take a moment to acknowledge that there are all walks of life and forms of people in this room to show their respects for her, which demonstrates what kind of person she was. I could try to pinpoint a moment in my childhood to describe how much she loved me, but there were so many. I could talk about how she fought bravely and fearlessly this past year, because she did, but the truth is, her sheer existence showed strength and love in all she did because she was a warrior. She was always loving and always fighting for her family. I hate to be cliché and I know everyone says this about their mothers, because mothers are great, but my mom was the best person, the best woman. She was the best because she was real and genuine; she was the best because she had flaws. Through her vulnerability, through her hopes, dreams, and desires, she showed her strength, her resilience, and her fearlessness. One moment that stands out to me in particular, was when I was in elementary school and a girl accidentally slammed a bathroom door on my toenail and it broke. I was sent home with a bloody toe and my mom threatened to sue her entire family and the school. ‘Til this day, that girl is still afraid of us. My mom was loud, outspoken, and unapologetically opinionated. I am proud that she was the sole influence to the development of my character. She helped create the baseline of all my values. She is the bridge between my American and Chinese identity. I am regretful that I did not always understand these acts of love, and that I did not always reciprocate it enough when I was younger. I now recognize the extreme sacrifices she had made, as many families here can relate to, because it was for the betterment of her children’s lives. She made it possible for my brother and I to attend universities. She is the reason we are living the American dream. I am so heartbroken that she will not be able to see me graduate this June, or be present at many other momentous moments I will have later in life. I owe all of my past, present, and future achievements to her. I know she wanted me to learn how to cook or how to be a good student, but through her, I learned strength, resilience, and courage. I hope that she gives me strength to get through this day, to get through tomorrow, and to get through many the days to come without her. Jessica Ko

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Tamiko Wong 17

Oakland Asian Cultural Center


Home is Settled with Heart I have traveled this road so long that Perhaps its flavor perfumes my dreams. Often now when I look upon it I taste joy and sorrow Ancestors sprinkled upon me A bit of rice here A bit of rice there. They, worn and tired, From labor in wet fields Whisper that home is settled with heart. I go on, carrying their sweat and toil, To embrace offspring whose journey Glows warm through a curtained window For which their lives are spent. Flo Oy Wong *Several phrases and lines of this poem are taken from Gordon Parks’s poem, “The Road.”

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The Warrior Within, Tenzin Chomphel Oakland Asian Cultural Center


durian cambodia is like durian scares off those too put off by their senses to sample durian looks like a landmine anxiously waiting to detonate with an aroma so resilient it lingers in kitchens & living rooms its stench is like pollution hovering over the head of vendors in phnom penh night markets its thorns can pierce like shrapnel drawing blood at the slightest of mishandlings. but inside the durian lies the flesh of a fruit that is as smooth as cocoa skin wrapped in the hugs of overwhelming humidity its meat is so rich and thick that the chew makes your palette bargain and tongue barter before you can earn its flavor in its aftertaste resides a sweetness of sugar cane so warm and inviting that your first bite is merely a teaser telling you that one serving will never be enough. Maurice Seaty

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OAKLAND ASIAN CULTURAL CENTER

The Oakland Asian Cultural 388 Ninth Street, Suite. 290, Oakland, CA 94607 Center (OACC) builds WWW.OACC.CC vibrant communities through Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) arts and culture programs that foster intergenerational and cross cultural dialogue, cultural identity, collaborations, and social justice.

SUPPORT OACC There are many ways to support OACC, and we hope you will consider sharing your time, talent, and treasure with us! You can help us by: - Collaborating on an event, project, or class - Advertising on our lobby screen - Sponsoring our upcoming events like Fall Gala, Lunar New Year, and APIA Heritage Month - Volunteering/Interning in our office and during our events - Making a tax-deductible donation of any size窶馬ew and used laptops, office supplies, and media equipment - Renting event space from us A special THANK YOU to our supporters. OACC would like to thank our sponsors Hewlett, the San Francisco Foundation, the City of Oakland, and the City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program, for their generous contributions and promotional assistance. In addition, we would like to thank the Asian Art Museum, Asian American Women Artists Association, and Kearny Street Workshop for their support in outreaching and sharing this zine. OACC would also like to thank you, the reader, for appreciating the works of these brilliant artists and supporting Asian and Pacific Islander (API) artists in continuing to shape our API cultural landscape with their creations.

I AM A WARRIOR  

Oakland Asian Cultural Center's Second Zine

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