Sparks Magazine Issue No. 19 | University of Florida

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Issue 19

At the University of Florida

Fall 2020

My Ethnicity is Not a Virus

Family Matters

Multiracial Identities

An Exploration of the Rise in Racism and Hate Crimes Against Asians

Discussing Black Lives Matter with Asian American Families

Exploring the stereotype and struggles of multiracial Asian Americans

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Emma Ross MANAGING EDITOR Alexandra Giang EDITORIAL CONTENT EDITOR Mumtaz Abdulhussein, Michelle Lee DESIGN EDITOR Brianne De Los Santos PHOTO EDITOR Laura San Juan FINANCE DIRECTOR Amanda Hoffman CONTENT WRITER Cherie Chick, Amanda Hoffman, Eileen Calub, Hanzhi Chen, Glenna Li, Karen Zhang, Cindy Duong, Marika Dumancas, Marium Abdulhussein, Michelle Lee PHOTOGRAPHER Daniyah Sheikh, Josie Cruz, Hanzhi Chen, Nidhi Bhide, Lexi Lutz, Tejasvi Dudipalla, Nima Goodman DESIGNER Rachalle Way, Maggie Dungey, Arun Jairam, Mercy Tsay, Kaela Marie Varias, Aryam Amar, Julia Guerrero, Rutval Patel PUBLIC RELATIONS PR DIRECTOR Xinni Chen, Stephanie Chang COVER PHOTO Laura San Juan, Amanda Hoffman DESIGN Brianne De Los Santos MODEL Saad Masud


letter from the editor Dear Reader, I’ve always been a person of few words. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t waste your breath. With what 2020 has turned out to be, that may be more difficult for me now than in the past. If you had told me last March that this is where we would be – that this is what our lives would look like – I would never have believed you. It’s unfathomable to me what our lives have become in under a year. We’ve seen one of the most fervent pushes for human rights through the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ve seen some of the most disgusting showings of intolerance and blatant racism towards minority communities. And we haven’t even looked at the mental health war being waged due to current circumstances. These issues, these struggles, these very necessary conversations are what my staff and I felt was necessary to include in issue 19 of Sparks. It is in no way enjoyable to debate human rights with family members, but it’s necessary for the progression of our society. It hurts when racism is thrown at us, our friends, or our family, but we must shed light on these events to hold others accountable. As our world changes and we are faced with new challenges (or even challenges just wearing a new mask), it is our job to continue to encourage the difficult conversations. If you take one thing away from this issue of Sparks, “I hope it’s the desire to continue fighting for everyone in our society to be able to live peaceful lives. I realize that’s a tall order, and I by no means want you to feel like it’s up to you alone to make gigantic steps in this fight. Simply continue to fight in whatever way you can. Hold on to your compassion for others and work towards it.” The last thing I would like to say is a sincere thank you to my staff this semester. From my editorial board to my copy, design, and photography staffers, you all have been an absolute pleasure to work with. This issue would not exist without the hard work you have given to this magazine. Thank you. So much. I’ve said what I mean, I’ve meant every word said. I don’t think a single breath has been wasted. At this point, all there’s left for you to do is read on.

Here’s to a better tomorrow, are

Emma Ross Editor-in-Chief

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Multiracial Identities Asian

Pacific Islander




Native American

ox Which b k? e do I ch c

Exploring the stereotype and struggles of Multiracial Asian Americans

The conversation becomes even more complicated when pared down to multiracial Asian Americans.

Through these kinds of interactions, reenwald feels people often want to overly categorize his racial identity.

With interracial marriage only becoming legalized federally in 1967, the multiracial population in the U.S. is fairly young. This phenomenon correlates to a societal lack of understanding of how multiracial people’s identities function.

A study conducted by Chen found that Asian Americans who perceive discrimination against Asians are more likely to question the racial loyalty of biracials than Black Americans are to question the loyalty of Black-White biracials. Chen believes this trend has an effect on multiracial Asian Americans.

“A lot of people think it’s very black and white. hey don’t understand it’s a mi between the two and that you can appreciate both races equally,” reenwald said.

The Greenwald Family

“What most people think of as ‘identity’ doesn’t account for multiracials’ complex “Discrimination has an impact on multiracials’ identities because they often report well being, especially identity denial the people saying things like, ‘What are you?’ idea that I could deny you an identity by

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Alec Arreche, a year old statistics ma or at UF, feels similarly about his cultural upbringing, as well as his peers’ treatment of his multiracial identity. Alec’s mother is from the Philippines and his father is halfSpanish and half-Ukrainian.

design /Maggie Dungey

hen said her professor, who has been in the social psychology field since the 1970s, paused for a second and responded, “I’ve never thought about that. I don’t know.

or, ‘Oh, you’re this and that? Which one do you choose ome on, what do you identify more as?’” Chen said.

“ here have been several times where I get stereotyped as a creepy White dude when I’m ust there to learn more about my culture, reenwald said. “ specially growing up in a biracial family, it’s hard to learn about your culture, because my parents are the type of parents who wanted to assimilate into American culture.”

photography/ Josie Cruz

uestions like this are how ac ueline M. Chen, an assistant professor in social psychology at the University of tah, became interested in her work. In hen’s first year of graduate school, her professor e plained how people form impressions they first categori e someone by race, gender, and age. Chen remembers asking, “What happens if you can’t choose someone’s race, if you don’t know what they are, because they’re racially ambiguous?”

Michael reenwald, a year old graduate journalism student at UF, has been subjected to this sort of rhetoric before. reenwald, who is half hinese and half ewish, specifically remembers one event at a hinese student organi ation where a girl came up to him and bluntly asked him why he was there. reenwald responded by going over to the whiteboard and writing in hinese.

by Amanda Hoffman


saying, ‘You’re not really Asian.’” Chen said. “That’s painful and stressful, and those interactions definitely have a detrimental impact on multiracials’ well being.

very year, a select group is asked to perform the same impossible task. It is the bane of every multiracial person’s existence: the dreaded race question on standardized tests. They can be found on AP exams, the SAT, and even at the doctor’s office. It seems a simple re uest at first glance, but when someone is multiracial, the uestion always becomes, “Which box do I check?”

“My mom immigrated to the .S. when she was nine, so she didn’t really live with her parents and didn’t have that traditional Filipino upbringing,” Arreche said. “When it came to me, there wasn’t that much culture passed down because a lot of it was basically washed out. It makes it hard to identify with the same things my Filipino friends are identifying with, because I didn’t grow up with that. Because of the racial ambiguity and mixed cultural upbringing many multiracial people experience, it becomes much more difficult to feel fully part of any one group. In Arreche’s case, he says he’s treated as more Asian with his hite friends, but more hite when he’s with his Filipino friends. His multiracial identity is never fully taken into consideration it always has to be one or the other. Multiracial contentions are also playing out on the political field in America today. Kamala Harris, Vice President elect, is a mi ed race Indian and lack woman who has faced criticism from Indian Americans for what they see as shying away from her Indian identity. n the other side, Harris has been accused of not being “Black enough” to effectively represent the Black community. Dr. Lance Gravlee, an associate professor at F who has taught the ace and acism course more times than he can recall, has a possible explanation for the discourse around Harris’s multiracial identity. “There’s already a place in the American racial worldview for people who have one Black and one White parent, and traditionally that’s been to categorize people as Black,” Gravlee said. “There isn’t a place in the American racial worldview

The Arreche Family that is ready to pigeonhole people who have one Indian and one amaican parent. That particular multiracial identity challenges some of the census box categories that people are used to thinking about in ways that shift the conversation and allow people to recogni e some of the complexity a little bit easier.” hile one’s race may be viewed as a given for most, many multiracial people don’t have the luxury of (1) having a large community that understands their racial struggles and can offer support and having their view of their racial identity match how others view them. In a society where race is such an integral part of one’s identity, how are multiracial people supposed to navigate these issues

without facing criticism from one side or another How do they become “enough Do they have to pick one race to identify with o they have to remove themselves from their other racial and cultural backgrounds in order to show they are loyal to one in particular? As the multiracial population grows and the conversations about these unique identities continue, there will hopefully be a shift in the tendency to treat multiracial Asian Americans as a monolith. ut until then, reenwald has one piece of advice “I know it’s harder for different people, and I’m pretty fortunate, but... veryone should ust try to accept who they are and just be happy.”

"His multiracial identity is never fully taken into consideration; it always has to be one or the other." fall 2020 | 7

Woke or Just for Show? How Mulan (2020) failed to bring honor to its Chinese roots

A beloved feminist story for every age, “Mulan” is a breakthrough for the Asian community. Finally, a diverse cast and a historical moment for the entertainment industry – or so one would think.

She pointed out the insensitive actions of the film’s location scouting team. Parts of the film were shot in the in iang province where 2 million Uighur Muslims have been detained in concentration camps by the Chinese government.

I just think they didn’t really learn about the culture.

Chung continued on with her disappointment in the almost absent involvement of the Great Wall of China. She expected a beautiful depiction of the largest man-made landmark in the world.

by Marika Dumancas


ousing colors drape over the screen. Arresting cinematography and carefully choreographed fight scenes flash before the audience. “Bring honor to us all” echoes from the speakers as a homage to the original Disney movie.

—Wen Chung, 20

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design/Arun Jairam

In her NBC News article, author Kimmy Yam talks about how “Mulan is my favorite Disney movie,” Zawahry said. “I was so costume designer ina aegeler did research for the film by excited about watching it, and I was posting about it. And then going to Europe where she visited “all the museums that had a for some reason I hadn’t heard about what the Asian American Chinese department and then traveled to China for three weeks.” community thought about it until the day of.” In Daegegler’s mind, thousands of sacred years of Chinese After watching the live-action, Zawahry took her social media culture could be fully understood by a few museum visits. posts about “Mulan” down. Wen Chung is a Chinese American student at the University of Zawahry was also surprised to learn that the New Zealander Florida. She provided her thoughts on the film. director was not Asian American like she had thought. “I believe they had good direction to introduce more of the cultural aspects [in the storyline] of Mulan, which I really respected, but She reiterated the importance in applying this to the classes I just think they didn’t really learn about the culture,” Chung said. she teaches.

photography/ Lexi Lutz

“They only showed parts of it, probably To an everyday audience, the live-action 10% of the Great Wall [was shown],” “Mulan” comes across as new and innovative, going as far as to relinquish the former love interest Chung said. “That’s how Mulan started, with the Great Wall and plot. he serious, gritty war film strays far from the musical, the drawing of the Great Wall.” comedic stylings of the animation. It is something that has onetheless, she was still drawn to the live action film because never been seen before in terms of bringing Chinese culture and tradition to the United States. However, the veil has been lifted she personally felt attached to the character Mulan. off the facade of this heavily publicized performance to reveal a “Mulan is my favorite Disney character,” Chung said. “I related to regression more telling than its progressive cast. her a lot since I’m Chinese American, so I felt very connected. That’s the reason why I wanted to watch the movie, because “Mulan is under fire for its behind the scenes whitewashing. I felt like my identity was finally being represented not only in None of the writers, producers or costume designers are of being Chinese but also being a woman.” Chinese descent. The director? White. The casting director? White. There is a startling and recurring theme where White For Iman awahry, acclaimed filmmaker and lecturer for the people in positions of power try to be experts on a culture rather University of Florida’s telecommunication department, the liveaction “Mulan” was the complete opposite of what she envisioned. than hire people who have lived these e periences firsthand.

“I say all the time to my students and to myself, you need to tell the story that’s your own. And if this woman from New Zealand, who’s also White, is not telling that story, it’s not going to be authentic. It’s not going to be real. I’m not going to attach to the story,” Zawahry said.

Whitewashing in the entertainment industry takes various forms. Multi-billion dollar companies need to hold themselves accountable by recognizing that it is not just about casting white actors in roles meant for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). It is about the complete disregard and knowledge deficiency of the team behind the actors.

Inclusivity must be all encompassing. It is a bare minimum effort to call something a Chinese story by throwing together Asian faces and calling it a day. While steps are being made to showcase differences in a positive light, the narrative is still being controlled by White people. Zawahry said the main cause of surface level representation is the decision making of head executives. She believes that it comes down to who is in control and who is going to bring in the most revenue. “It’s clear they’re trying to appease a certain narrative. The people that are our heads, they’re all majority White men and White people,” Zawahry said. “They’re trying to appease what the narrative is today and what the generations are thinking of today.” Whether it is an honest mistake or ignorance in itself, how can this be fi ed Zawahry went back and forth on this before ultimately responding, “I think that is by handing it [the movie] off to the person whose story needs to be told a hinese filmmaker or an Asian American filmmaker that’s honest to the story of Mulan.” It is inauthentic to preach that a company is diverse when they continue to take away opportunities from people of color who are just as talented and hardworking as their White peers. “It’s going to take time,” Zawahry said. “I feel like what the average audience is seeing is what’s on screen, which are these actors. They’re not realizing that really, the problem is the [head people on] top. Because we don’t see the top, and they don’t really know the intricacies of how Hollywood works, we’re not aware of where the actual problem needs to change.”

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my My ethnicity Ethnicity is not a virus An exploration and investigation of the rise in racism and hate crimes towards Asians during COVID-19


Between March and June, there were 2,120 reported attacks against Asian Americans according to CBS News. These attacks are not only verbal, but physical as well.

notice how these incidents only happened to them after the spread of COVID-19.

and a lot of Asians might be feeling – and doing – the same.

Their personal experiences, along with what they see on the news, have affected them emotionally and mentally.

“By referring to it as “the Chinese Virus,” it implies that the Chinese are to blame for the current situation that America faces, a defacto scapegoat which is very dangerous and has led to discriminatory acts towards Asian people with things like physical and verbal assaults we saw in March and April.” Chow said. He believes Trump’s name-calling further alienates the Asian population in America and makes them more vulnerable to racist attacks.

wok said that she feels terrified and started to hang out more frequently with her non Asian friends, specifically hite, ust to fit in with the population and show that she is a part of them.

This is not only an American issue. Asians around the world have been facing attacks daily. Venessa Kwok is a third-year university student from Hong Kong who has been living in London with her brother.

“Since then I have been seeing way more incidents of Asian students being bullied, cyberbullied and even beaten up on the streets because of being Asian,” Kwok said. Terrence Chow, a second-year who is studying at the University of California in Davis, said, “A couple times I would get glares and people would actively walk away from me in a store.” Both Kwok and Chow noted that they are not entirely sure if the subtle attacks that occurred were due to the fact that they are Asian. However, they cannot help but

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“It’s kind of sickening to see these backward and appalling actions still happening in places I call home, but it didn’t change the way I behave because I know I have a right to be here whether they like it or not.” Chow said. This problematic issue has been exacerbated by President Trump’s notorious racist labelling of the virus. By referring to the virus as “Kung Flu,” “the Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus,” President Trump is directly putting the blame on Chinese people. This reinforces stereotypes and puts Asians in a negative light. It gives Americans, or any non-Asian, an excuse to channel their anger and fear onto an entire race, and perform racist attacks against Asians. “My non-Asian friends would make fun of me by calling it ‘Wuhan Virus,’” Kwok said. “I cannot do much but just take it. I don’t want to lose them as friends.” The situation has caused Kwok to change her behaviours when she is around people,

Rosenberg mentioned the issue of political polarisation in America, which drives Americans to base their viewpoints solely on their political party. With President rump being the most visible figure of the Republican Party, he has gained tremendous popularity and political capital in taking on an anti-China position. He is continuing the momentum with his policies and words during the pandemic. “When the president of the so-called free world uses this rhetoric freely and openly, he's doing several things,” Rosenberg said. “When you are associating COVID-19 with China and are fomenting this conspiratorial view towards China, he's absolving himself of blame. Whether or not he would admit to doing so, he's encouraging people to take his word as [the] Gospel, to go out there and target what they see as the root cause of all of this, of all this pain and suffering of many [people] in this country.” Interestingly, to some Asians, the nicknaming of the virus seems reasonable and even creative. Regarding the name “Kung Flu,” Kelly Lai, a third-year from Hong Kong who is studying at the University of Nottingham, finds it “creative and uite funny.

design/ Aryam Amar

Kwok recalls a group of girls walking into a public restroom and giving Kwok judgemental looks when the group saw her. The event hurt Kwok, making her feel she was out of place.

Dr. Andrew Rosenberg is an assistant professor of political science who researches race and racism in international migration at the University of Florida.

photography/ Nima Goodman

Based on news reports by Buzzfeed and AJ+, an elderly man was robbed and attacked in San Francisco. An attempted murder of a family occurred while they were shopping at Sam’s Club in Austin, Texas. An elderly woman was set on fire in the streets of ew York while another woman was attacked with chemicals in the same city.

by Cherie Chick

hen the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the globe struggled and suffered from drastic changes in their lives. Asians, however, not only live in fear of catching the disease, but also of the daily attacks against them.


go home

To Chow, however, it’s seen as being racially insensitive to the Asian community. Chow feels insulted as it creates an idea that his identity is determined by stereotypes which are untrue. “Terms like ‘Kung Flu’ have helped in stereotyping Asians as it carries derogatory connotation which doesn’t help us achieve social equality in the long run,” Chow said. Nevertheless, there also seems to be nuances between arguments when it comes to the naming of the virus. Both Lai and Chow reference names of past pandemics and agree that some names are not actually racially insensitive or derogatory, but rather stemming from historical trends or are politically driven.

“When it comes down to naming things, I don’t see why we can’t call it ‘Wuhan Virus,’ when Spanish Flu is literally called Spanish Flu because it comes from Spain,” Lai said. “This whole debacle is partially political because we never saw a problem with people calling the 1918 pandemic ‘the Spanish Flu,’” Chow said. “Trump himself– with the hostile rhetoric he created towards China and the increased racial tension in America for the past decade– has made such a topic very volatile, and unfortunately, Asian Americans are caught up in the middle.” According to Dr. Jeffrey Adler, a history professor who specializes in race relations and violence in the United States, there

has been a trend of xenophobic attacks accompanying epidemics that can be traced back centuries. “There's a long tradition of scapegoating. [Coronavirus] certainly again wasn't unique, but it's flared in the United States. Recent efforts by President Trump and others to identify Covid-19 with China and South Asia have accelerated xenophobic currents in American society and one spin off of debts, it is likely to have been hate crimes,” Adler said. On the other hand, Rosenberg raised ideas of how anti-Asian sentiments stem back to the beginning of Chinese immigration to the United States, which started with the Burlingame Treaty in 1868. Since then,

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‘native born’ Americans have seen Asians as perpetual foreigners, dangerous, dirty, and economically threatening to wages.

training, and the second is by not tolerating any forms of racism. He stresses the importance of not ignoring racist comments.

“All of the rhetoric that you hear about immigrants today, in general, is what you were hearing about Asian immigrants to the United States from the 1860s on,” Rosenberg said. “A big part of that was the presumption that the Chinese immigrants that came particularly to the west coast, were somehow dirty or disease ridden, or threatening to the public welfare in some ways.”

“They have to be denounced, they have to be rejected,” Adler said. To avoid implicit biases from factoring into people’s subconscious and unconscious thinking, we have to call out on the people who act on these biases immediately when encountered. Rosenberg emphasised the importance of public education as a long term solution. “This is not going to be the type of thing that you can easily legislate away, or just have another politician say ‘Everybody should quit it with their racism or discrimination,’” Dr. Rosenberg said. “It's something that's going to have to be built slowly over time.” Rosenberg said there is no better way than cultural engagement for a person to enrich oneself. Through simple initiatives like trying food, listening to music, and talking to real human beings of other cultures, we can learn and obtain perspectives from people who are not like ourselves.

Due to COVID-19 it has become clear that a minority group will only be considered a model minority until there’s some crisis that leads to fear and insecurity among the majority population, Rosenberg said. Adler raises concerns on the role of implicit bias and how it will lead to potential negative long term effects on the conditions and experiences of Asian Americans. “I think implicit bias research demonstrates that it [racism] has not disappeared and that it persists in subtler forms and that's one of the many fears I have about hate crimes and discrimination against people of Asian descent,” Adler said. While he acknowledges this moment may pass, he’s also fearful that this implicit bias will persist in people’s minds in ways they aren’t aware of. From the increased attacks on Asians all over the world, to the inability to recognise the distinctive groups within Asian population. It all shows the lack of understanding towards the diverse Asian populations, cultures, and histories. However, this can be improved in many different ways. Adler mentioned two ways implicit bias could be addressed. he first is through

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It is important to remember this significant point brought up by Adler. The coronavirus epidemic has already killed over 200,000 people in the United States alone, but it is solely blamed on one ethnic group. This phenomenon and these attitudes have to be decried, denounced, rejected and not simply ignored.

W on to


n Today

If you search for wontons in China, you will be overwhelmed by the various kinds of names and shapes of wontons from the different regions of China.

Wontons are a common choice for breakfast and lunch in China. Many students – no matter how old they are – prefer wontons.

Wontons have a similar shape to that of dumplings. To distinguish them, many people like to describe that wontons are the dumplings in soups of various flavors.

“I remember in the junior high school, there were many restaurants that served Chaoshou,” recalled Olivia Teng, a 20-year-old Guizhou girl. “Usually, the restaurants were very small in scale and crowded with students at noon.”

design/Julia Guerrero

There is another saying of the origin. In the Han Dynasty, Xiongnu, who was from the northern part of China, harassed people from time to time, so they couldn’t live in peace. At that time, iongnu’s fierce leaders had the last name of “hun and “tun.” People hated them so much that they used the sound of “hun and “tun, put the fillings into a dough wrapper, and called it “hun tun.” And people ate them, hoping to live a peaceful life.

Variations There are three common names of wonton: wonton, Chaoshou, and Yuntun.

Teng has tried almost every restaurant that has Chaoshou near her school. She and her friends liked to compare which one had the best Chaoshou. They have their own ranks of Chaoshou in mind. Every time Teng went to their favorite restaurant, she ate more than she would usually eat. Up until now, she visited those restaurants to eat Chaoshou. “I came back to the restaurant, which I think serves the best Chaoshou, last week,” said Teng. “It is still amazing.”


u o h


photography/Hanzhi Chen

Wontons originated from China in the Han Dynasty and have more than 2,000 years in history. The ancient Chinese thought the wonton was a sealed bun, lacking “ i iao seven orifices . At that time, wontons were no different from dumplings. So it was called “hun tun,” which means chaos. Ever since the Tang Dynasty, people began to differentiate the term dumpling iao i and the term wonton.


by Hanzhi Chen


They are pretty similar to each other but varied in their shapes and ingredients due to the different regions. People in Guangdong and Guangxi called it wonton or Yuntun because it has a similar pronunciation to “gulp it down at once” in Cantonese. Sometimes, Guangdong people like to add noodles in wonton soup and call it “wonton noodles.” Chaoshou is more likely called Sichuan, the southwest part of China. It has a thinner dough and a larger size compared to wontons.

Ingredients The common ingredients in wonton are shrimps, pork, vegetables, and green onions.

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Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Mobilizing the Asian American Vote As the fastest growing racial group, the Asian American electorate is a sleeping giant that must be awakened.

Historically, Asian Americans have experienced low voter turnout for a multitude of cultural, social, and political reasons. In fact, according to Griffin in 2017, Asian Americans only comprised seven percent of the 2016 presidential election voting electorate, the lowest of any other ethnic group. Low voter turnout in the Asian community is generally attributed to voter apathy; however, there are many factors involved.

The majority of Asian Americans are foreign-born and immigrated to the United States. This plays a large role in their political participation as it is not the norm in most Asian countries. Voting is

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“Voting is considered a luxury that is only afforded to the elites in some Asian countries...In America, voting is a right.”

However, even if Asian Americans want to vote, there are many hurdles in their way. Language barriers and clerical errors in voter registration make it difficult for Asian Americans to vote. Asian American voters must navigate voting even with a lack of multilingual voting materials. This is a significant barrier to the Asian community as a third of the Asian community have limited English proficiency. There are many discriminatory voter policies that suppress the Asian American vote. The

Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program is employed by more than half of the states and is used to generate lists of possible double voters based on first and last names. According to Uprety in 2018, Asian Americans have a “1 in 7 chance of showing up on a Crosscheck list.” Asian Americans tend to have common last names and are likely to be purged. Additionally, according to Kambhampaty in 2020, discrepancies in signatures could serve as a block to Asian American voting as many immigrants did not have a signature until they arrived in the United States. This can be due to differences in transliterated names or their signature not matching across all necessary documents. In fact, Asian Americans Advancing Justice organization reports that Asian Americans have high rejection rates when using vote-by-mail mainly because of “signature mismatch.” This is incredibly worrisome, especially for this year’s election. With many Asian American voters casting mail-in ballots, the language barrier or their signature could prevent their vote from being counted.

The Sleeping Asian Giant

Kamala Harris. Andrew Yang. Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth. Bobby Scott, Doris Matsui, Judy Chu, Ami Bera, Tulsi Gabbard, Grace Meng, Mark Takano, Ted Lieu, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Stephanie Murphy, TJ Cox, and Andy Kim. In this year alone, we have seen the first Asian American Vice-Presidential

design/Dencie Devora

Roots of Asian American Voting Rates

considered a luxury that is only afforded to the elites in some Asian countries, which is in stark contrast to the American mentality. In America, voting is a right. For example, in Hmong culture, most of the population does not have the opportunity to vote. Furthermore, many Asian countries are not truly democratic; for example, China is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, and Vietnam is a one-party socialist republic. Since voting was not a major part of their lives in their homeland, Asian immigrants may lack the inclination to vote. When they immigrate to the United States, they may pass this mentality down to their children leading to low Asian American voting rates.

by Amy Pham


nly a month ago, reaching over each other to grab bean sprouts or Hoisin sauce for our pho, my parents proudly declared that they had officially mailed in their voting ballots for this 2020 Presidential Election. Nearly forty years ago, my father and mother left Vietnam with their families and immigrated to the United States. Like many Asian Americans, my family underwent the years-long process of completing forms, paying fees, interviewing, and passing the naturalization exam before they could finally call themselves American citizens. As naturalized citizens, they acquired the important right and responsibility of voting in our representatives. And yet, many Asian Americans do not exercise this right.

candidate, three Democratic Presidential Primary candidates, three senators, and fourteen congressmen and women. Not only has there been a rise of Asian American Pacific Islander representation at the federal level, but an increasing number of Asian American candidates are also running for election in state legislatures. According to Do in 2018, “70 percent of Asian American candidates on state legislative office. Andre ang s A GGA G represented a ma or shift in Asian American participation in politics and brought Asian Americans into the national vie as political actors. In fact, according to Do, in 2020, “158 Asian Americans are running for state legislatures, hich is an increase in the number of Asian Americans that ran in the 2018 midterms. Seeing other Asian Americans active in politics and running for office empo ers more Asian Americans to participate in the civic process. As the fastest gro ing racial group, the Asian American electorate is a sleeping giant that must be awakened. According to u in , si out of Asians in the ill be able to vote in ovember s presidential election. ambhampaty in e plains further that in the upcoming election, more than 11 million Asian Americans ill be eligible to vote, comprising about five percent of the voting population. et, even as a key voting demographic, Asian Americans are not receiving engagement that could mobilize their vote in the upcoming election. In comparison to other voting blocs, Asian American voters receive very little outreach from political parties and candidates. According to a 2020 Asian American Voter survey, only 30% of Asian voters were contacted by the Democratic Party and 24% had some contact with the epublican Party. Even in the current election, political parties fail to connect with Asian American voters. Candidates put themselves at a disadvantage by not reaching out to Asian communities and


engaging them on important voting issues. VI represents an opportunity to address issues that are vital to Asian American voters because they have been disproportionately affected by the VI response. In the last half-year, there has been an increase in anti-Asian sentiment from the community in the form of discrimination and attacks. Asian businesses in areas affected by VI have lost a significant amount of business. Additionally, according to Le and Tarloy in , as the Asian American Pacific Islander AAPI community comprises 8.5% of essential health care workers, they have been working the front lines of the VI hospital response. In fact, Georgian health care orkers have been greatly affected with a 36% increase in AAPI fatalities. If political candidates address some of these ma or concerns for the Asian American community, it is very likely that they can garner support from the Asian American Pacific Islander voting bloc.

Mobilizing Our Vote

Recently, Asian American leaders and youth have begun mobilizing the Asian community through the development of several non-profit organizations and initiatives. The e is a campaign organized by AAPI to empo er AAPI youth to vote this ovember. Endorsed by several Asian American celebrities, Chloe Bennet, Lulu Wang, Brenda Song, Harry Shum Jr., The New seeks to engage the invisible minority through the first political opinion poll targeting young Asian Americans and spreading a areness through social media. This is one of several campaigns that are forming to increase voter registration and voting in the Asian American community. Asian Americans Advancing ustice AA is another organization that aids Asian Americans



in e ercising their right to vote. They have developed a voter hotline to help break the language barrier for many Asian voters and provide training to end barriers to Asian American voting. In this year s election, Asian American voters will be vital in determining the victor in some s ing states. As Gandhi in e plains, e American Economy discovered that nearly “305,000 currently unregistered Asian Americans liv[ed] across the seven states in uestion. However, if these voters take advantage of same-day registration in states like Michigan and Minnesota, they will have a large in uence on the ovember rd outcome. In orth arolina, here President Trump and former Vice President Biden are going head to head, Marston in reports that Asian Americans comprise . percent of the electorate. Additionally, according to Marston in 2020, in Pennsylvania, another swing state, about percent of the voting population are Asian American. Thus, awakening the Asian American vote is more important than ever. A change in mentality regarding voting in the Asian American community and in political parties is necessary to mobilize the Asian American electorate. The sparks have already been brought to life. It is no time to feed the fire. Asian American should no longer be treated as invisible. We are a growing voting block that is now being awakened.



+103% +126%



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eavy eyes peer at headlines in boldface. Hands grasp devices like armor. Drowsy mutters of native Mandarin, intermediate Mandarin, and “Black Lives Matter” exchanged over sips of coffee. Freyja, the housecat, hisses from her usual spot on the windowsill.

Ada Yan, a 20-year-old information systems and piano performance double major at the University of Florida, usually discusses the news early in the morning with her mother. Black Lives Matter is the fervent response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many more. After the staggering accumulation of acts of racial injustice this past summer, deep-rooted systematic issues regarding racism, police brutality, and white supremacy have become daily topics at the breakfast table.

Tori Chin is a 21-year-old public relations major at UF. Her father is Chinese Jamaican and her mother is from Hong Kong. “I’m lucky to grow up with relatively progressive parents,” Chin said. “Usually, we’re on the same page, but we have different solutions. They don’t feel the same as I do about some topics because I grew up here, and learned different things in school about racism. Sometimes, what they find e treme, I don’t find e treme. ut they’re always willing to listen.”

This dissonance traces back to the media sensationalizing protests as harmful to society – dubbed the “protest paradigm” by scholars Douglas McLeod and James Hertog in 1999 – to increase views. For example, focusing exclusively on looting and rioting instead of the cause of Black Lives Matter.

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design/Rachalle Way

Last June, 42% of respondents from FiveThirtyEight’s poll believed that protestors were too violent. However, 93% of Black Lives Matter demonstrations have been peaceful, according to the U.S. Crisis Project.

photography/Nidhi Bhide

For the Asian American community, conversations extend beyond race to what the appropriate response is, given the complex history between Asian American and Black communities.

by Cindy Duong



“The news skews the protests,” said Kevin Bui, a 20-year-old accounting student at Florida Atlantic University. “It’s contradicting to my parents because it’s like, why resort to violence if you’re fighting for peace Such media tactics lead to a dangerous lack of sympathy for the movement as a whole. The divide between truth and false perceptions of the truth hinder proper discussion and action to stand up for the lack community, specifically wedging itself between family members. his difficulty to communicate has subsequently led to lukewarm responses.

“It’s not even a discussion,” Bui explained, frustrated. “My dad just gives his opinions and I have to listen. If I have a different perspective, he tells me to be quiet. It’s annoying because he usually watches Fox News and Vietnamese YouTubers who translate American news, so there’s no variety. I don’t have a voice.” With unregulated social media platforms such as YouTube, where anyone can say anything, families might fail to distinguish fact from opinion. The solution seems obvious– consume various and reliable news sources. However, it’s not that simple. Along with news sources, language barriers also heavily influence the path discussions take. Many Asian Americans struggle to have civil discourse because their arguments are often lost in translation. “I don’t blame my dad. He’s not fluent in English so I get why he’s looking up these Vietnamese YouTubers to translate what’s going on, but I have no idea if they’re reliable or not,” Bui said. “I’m not fluent in Vietnamese, so these strangers on the internet can say whatever they want and I won’t know. I can’t even argue with my dad about this because I don’t know the right words to get my message across.” Bui is not the only student with this experience. Yan has parents who mainly read Chinese news. “Black Lives Matter is covered less in the mainland, so there’s less of a presence,” Yan said. “I’m more aware of it because I was born in the United States. I get to witness social and political matters firsthand, and be on platforms that cover the issue more such as Twitter and Instagram. It’s also hard to accurately express my thoughts in Mandarin, as I often have to use an online translator to explain my stance to my family.” Unreliable journalism and language barriers are just two of several reasons why Asian American families might not be supportive of Black Lives Matter. “Stereotypes about crime and colorism contribute, I think, to the discrimination against Black people in the Black Lives Matter movement,” Yan said. “It may seem like since we’re minorities, we should be more able to understand each other’s struggles, and to support each other within those struggles. Yet we still discriminate against each other.” The prevalent anti-Blackness within the Asian American community is exemplary of the different experiences the two minorities face in the United States.

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Both have dealt with long histories of discrimination due to White supremacy, which should have contributed to the solidarity between communities as fellow people of color. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. “The model minority myth says Asian people are put to a higher standard, and are more adjacent to White people and the privilege they have,” Chin said. “And so, it’s easier to fall into the mindset of “why don’t they lack people ust act like us ut this myth ust oppresses us, because we’re conforming to White supremacy.” The Black Lives Matter movement has many Asian Americans fumbling with how to properly and effectively practice their allyship. his conflict begs difficult uestions Should the Asian American community attempt to connect with the Black community through their shared oppression, or is that an unfair comparison Is showing comradery making Asian Americans overstep their boundaries in a narrative that isn’t about them Despite long, overlapping histories against unfair institutions of power, the label “people of color P doesn’t ade uately represent the specific challenges within different communities. In 2013, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) was created as a more inclusive term that recognizes the vastly different experiences Black and Indigenous people deal with in their daily lives, as grouping all people of color without acknowledging their separate identities and struggles is simply erasure. Liz Ibarrola is a Ph.D candidate in Anthropology and the Director of Immigration Concerns for the Human Rights Coalition of Alachua County. “Anti-Blackness is pervasive,” Ibarrola said. “Being POC doesn’t automatically mean understanding your Black neighbor. There’s a racial hierarchy with white people at the top and Black people on the bottom that’s inherited, and hard to overcome. There’s also this immigrant experience of a culture that disguises inequality. As in, the mentality that if you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. ut who is that really for hat is the rule and what is the e ception It’s crucial to recognize that POC allyship is intersectional with class, gender, sexual orientation, geography, and much more. POC is just one lens to keep in mind when questioning rules and exceptions. Quincy Surasmith, host and producer of Asian American culture podcast “Asian Americana,” was also part of the hai translation team in the Letters for lack Lives pro ect a crowdsourced, multilingual initiative that aims to begin conversations with loved ones about the unique problems the Black community encounters, focusing on empathy and understanding. He shared similar sentiments. “I think, ultimately, it’s examining our core values,” Surasmith said. “How do you justify whether people do or don’t deserve basic rights and opportunities here’d be no Asian American movement without the work of Black and Brown communities to make that kind of work and space possible, right here’s a sort of legacy that I think is important for us to be aware of and to pay back not as in like, a debt, but to continue that work.” The first step to allyship is education on these issues, and actively practicing to reduce anti-Blackness within ourselves and the people around us. Researching, diversifying sources, donating, protesting, and having these serious conversations are only some of many ways to stand with the Black community.

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“With different discussions, there’s very different strategies,” Surasmith said. “If one strategy doesn’t work, then change your strategy. You’re not meant to have just one discussion. These conversations need to keep happening.”


Being Religious and Asian American You can’t really understand a country’s culture without learning its religious history. Parents want to teach their children about their homelands. Religion is going to be a big part of that, and it should be. –Jonathan Edelmann


As a racial group originating from over twenty different countries, the religions Asian Americans practice are just as wide ranging as their ethnic backgrounds and can play an integral role in guiding Asian Americans towards their heritage. Jonathan Edelmann, a religion professor at the University of Florida, explained the important role that religion plays within cultures.

Not only did church give Zhai something to do on Sunday mornings, it was also an opportunity for her to spend time with people who looked like her. She grew up in a majority-White suburban area, so eating moon cakes to celebrate the MidAutumn Festival and making dumplings in the fellowship hall were just a few activities that solidified awareness in her that she was Chinese. Church remains a focal point for her and her parent’s spiritual and social lives to this day. Many Asian Americans simultaneously develop their religious and ethnic identities in houses of worship. But growing up is not that simple. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by a seemingly judgmental world. Zhai remembered being uncomfortable discussing her religion with her friends at school. Although she went to a diverse IB school, many of her classmates did not know of her religious affiliation and she recalled not wanting her religion to be known as her sole identifier. During high school, even going to a church where Asians were the minority felt off-kilter.

Ever since she started college, Zhai has been learning how to separate herself from our parents’ values. For her, this includes establishing her own political views and morals. “I believe conservatism doesn’t have to be associated with Christian ideas,” Zhai said. “I believe that Christianity is emphasizing a life of gratitude, and being humble for the good parts. It has also helped me weather other [not so good] parts of life.” Like Zhai, Zach Raad grew up in a religious household. Raad, a student at the University of Florida, is Lebanese and Polish. He and his family identify as Shia Muslims. While his hometown of Sarasota did not have a huge Muslim community, Raad still enjoyed spending time at the mosque. With Arabic being the liturgical language of Islam,

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design /Maggie Dungey

ou are five years old. Your parents stand next to you, singing hymns in a language rarely heard beyond the walls of your church. During the sermon, you squirm around in your seat. Bible stories are interesting. But all you can think about is eating the Taiwanese popcorn chicken being served after service. Service ends, and your parents send you to Chinese dance class upstairs while they play ping-pong with peers on the first floor. You are part of two worlds. When you leave church, you exit one exciting world and enter another world bound by a different language, music, and people.

Although 65% of Americans identify as Christian according to the Pew Research Center, the “perpetual foreigner” status of Asian-Americans has resulted in a struggle for Asian American Christians to decipher their role in the greater American Christian community. These differences may also explain why so many Asian Americans congregate with those of shared ethnicity. In fact, there are an estimated 7,123 Asian American churches in the United States.

photography /

Arianna Zhai is a freshman at the University of Florida. Going to her Chinese church in Orlando was a formative part of her emotional and spiritual development.

Zhai recalled going to a friend’s youth group gatherings at an “American” church, and noticed conspicuous differences. Beyond that fact that Chinese food was not offered after service, worship felt like a “pop concert,” and the sermon was less scripture-heavy.

by Glenna Li

Joining a religious community can give immigrants a sweet, cozy feeling of home. In addition to being venues for spiritual growth, houses of worship often serve as centers for social engagement.

Zach was able to learn Arabic and further delve into his culture when celebrating religious holidays at his mosque. Before his parents explained to him what his religion was, Raad explained that they would indirectly justify certain rules he had to follow. One day, his parents told him not to eat something with pork in it when he was at school, saying “Oh, it’s too spicy.” Raad believes that they did this out of protection, as they were undoubtedly aware of the stigma that can accompany being Muslim in America. For many Muslim Americans, growing up in a post-9/11 America does not come without tribulation. After 9/11, Raad remembered that his mosque was vandalized, so his family had to switch to a different one. Once, when Raad was at a Model United Nations Conference, a girl in a hijab asked a question about US-Palestine relations. Although Raad recalled thinking to himself that the question had a point, the rest of the students did not agree and explicitly showed their disapproval by booing her. This moment taught him about the importance of solidarity. In America, young Muslims struggle to fit into a society that is unaccepting of their religion, finding themselves straddling the line between being too Muslim to their American peers and not Muslim enough to the “haram police,” as Raad put it. Haram policing is where Muslims shame other Muslims for engaging in behaviors forbidden in their religion. Within the Western community, [someone may] palatable. But within the Muslim

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community, they may be seen as not upholding certain conventions,” said Raad. Many Muslim Americans consider how they present as individuals in both the Muslim community and the outside world

Faith is not something for me to show off. – Zach Raad

For Raad, faith has always been personal. Growing up, most of his classmates “Religion is a larger subset of history, were Christian and only his close friends culture, arts; religion is a connector of knew he was Muslim. However, this so many areas of a civilization,” said wasn’t because Raad viewed his faith in Edelmann. a negative light. Entering high school, he felt that it was “cool” to have a separate As the origin of cultural identity for millions identity from everyone else. of Asian Americans, religion makes it possible for us to understand, and even “[Faith] is not something for me to show embrace, their vibrant heritages. off,” he said. In college, Raad has not been attending a mosque as frequently as he would like, but he tries to go to services when he can. Whenever Zach needs help with mental health, turning to faith has been very helpful and resourceful. Being Shia Muslim has given Raad values that he tries to exercise in his everyday life, like practicing compassion. For example, during the Black Lives Matter protests, he felt it was a religious duty for him to uplift other marginalized communities. Religion has shaped the lives of millions of Asian Americans. People who practice the same religion do not all think the same way, but religion does influence one’s outlook on life and teaches us more about ourselves. The nuances embodying each religion and its followers are too vast to define. It is important that we remember the greater impact religion has on preserving Asian American culture, establishing vibrant social communities, and guiding self-exploration.

Asia’s Diverse Musical Traditions and Instruments

China Thousands of unique musical instruments originated in ancient China, especially during the Tang dynasty. Chinese folk music is elegant and meticulously performed, with great detail given to the style of expression, and is predominantly on the pentatonic scale, which consists of five notes per octave. Throughout China, each region has folk instruments important to the local culture. Traditionally, Chinese musical instruments were categorized into eight groups called bayin: silk, bamboo, wood, stone, metal, clay, gourd and skin. Silk instruments have strings made of twisted silk and are bowed, plucked or struck. The guzheng, a

Another popular silk instrument is the erhu, a two stringed spike fiddle with a long wooden neck connected to a snakeskin-covered soundbox. Bamboo instruments consist of flute and reed pipe varieties. Notably, there are several kinds of Chinese transverse flutes, meaning they are held horizontally when played. The wood category is made up of ancient percussion instruments, like wooden boxes and clappers, which were used in rituals. Instruments in the stone category encompass different kinds of metal chimes one could strike with a mallet. For example, the bianqing is a set of flat stone chimes hung on a wooden frame and used in court music. Metal instruments include gongs, cymbals and bells of all sizes. Like the bianqing, the bianzhong, a set of bronze bells hung on a rack, was important in Chinese court and ritual music. Making up the clay category are instruments like the xun, an ocarina, and the fou, a percussion pot, jar or vessel. Lastly, the skin category consists of a variety of drums, including a zhangu (war drum), huagu (flower drum) and pellet drum.

For people who love listening to different genres of music, I think traditional Chinese music has a lot to offer. People should listen to traditional Chinese music because by doing so they learn about the culture and broaden their world view from a musical perspective. -Weiqing Han (19)

Turkey The folk music of Turkey, a nation straddling Europe and Asia, is as diverse as its multiethnic and multi-confessional population. Greek, Armenian, Balkan, Arab and Jewish influences have shaped Turkish music throughout the ages.

Today, ensembles of traditional instruments accompany weddings, funerals, dances and Chinese opera. After the fall of Imperial “Istanbul is a proud and hospitable home China, traditional Chinese music underwent of every musical genre today,” Professor changes due to Western influences. example, mrah ahin, a lobal Islamic Studies senior notation and orchestration of music was lecturer and Turkish language instructor, altered. However, the essence and values of said. “What makes Turkish music unique is Chinese folk music have endured the passing that it is contagious and inclusive of flavors

fall 2020 | 21

design/Kaela Marie Varias

This article explores the diverse musical traditions of Asia and highlights the unique musical instruments of China, Turkey and India. To truly connect or reconnect with a culture, listening to tunes beloved for generations can foster indelible insight.

Second-year Weiqing (Angel) Han had the opportunity to try out different musical instruments when she was young, but felt a special connection to the guzheng. “I really enjoy playing the guzheng because the sound is unique and beautiful,” Han said.

of centuries. Each year during the famed ew ear’s ala, which is certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s most watched television program, musicians and singers perform folk songs to celebrate hinese ew ear. ne such song, “M l hu , meaning “jasmine flower,” was one of the first hinese folk songs to become popular abroad, and is now widely recognized.

photography/Daniyah Sheikh

The forces of globalization and technological advancement have quickly led to the popularization of today’s top musical styles in countries eager to consume Western music. Though trends have come and gone, traditional and folk music have stood the test of time, enjoyed by listeners of all ages.

plucked zither popular during the Tang Dynasty, is one of the most well-known silk instruments. ften, gu heng players wear fingerpicks to more easily pluck the instrument.

by Eileen Calub


n 2019, the most popular musical genre based on streamed music consumption worldwide was hiphop and rap. With consistent Billboard chart hits, artists like Drake and Post Malone have amassed legions of fans both in the United States and abroad. Unsurprisingly, by the end of 2020, hip-hop is expected to claim the global musical throne once again.

everybody. It knows no boundaries - it is a potpourri of contrasts and harmonies all in the same breadth.” urkish traditional music can be classified as Ottoman court music or Anatolian folk music. The two utilize different modal systems, which are musical scales associated with distinct melodic behaviors. Namely, Ottoman court music compositions use makam while Anatolian folk songs use ayak. Ottoman court music, also called ‘classical Turkish music,’ was traditionally performed by a small instrumental ensemble accompanying a singer. Nobles, regularly entertained by distinguished musicians in their circles, fostered the growth and development of Ottoman music. In contrast to the romantic and grandiose songs of Ottoman court music, folk songs told the joys and troubles of daily life and recounted Turkish folk tales. Within the folk music category, each region of Turkey boasts its own unique musical style. For example, in southeastern Turkey, the halay is performed at ceremonies and festivals. In the Aegean provinces of western Turkey, the zeybek is most popular. Zeybek melodies can be slow or fast, and the music accompanies dancers who raise their arms and make slow, sweeping motions to simulate a hawk. Traditional Turkish instruments, some utilized for both classical and folk styles, include the zurna, a woodwind instrument and relative of the oboe, and the davul, a double-headed drum. The zurna and davul,

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are also played, along with the ba lama, a seven-stringed instrument similar to the lute. he ba lama plays a large role in Turkish folk music and is the most commonly used string folk instrument in Turkey. Traditionally, troubadours and traveling musicians played the ba lama. Although the dominance of traditional music has given way to genres such as rap and rock, no traditional Turkish wedding would be complete without folk music and dance bringing family and friends together. “People should listen to traditional Turkish music as it echoes coe istence in its finest form, connects heart and feet in the same tone and speaks through the past to the present, ahin said.


People should listen to traditional Turkish music as it echoes coexistence in its finest form, connects heart and feet in the same tone and speaks through the past to the present. -Emrah Sahin (40)

more complex and varied than songs in the Hindustani style. Typical instruments included in the ensemble are the mridangam and tanpura. The mridangam is a wooden percussion instrument, producing the rhythm of Carnatic songs, and the tanpura is a plucked string instrument that produces a harmonic drone sound rather than a melody.

Like Turkish music, traditional Indian music can be divided into classical and folk. Indian classical music is believed to be a divine art form originating from Hindu deities and evolved based on the Vedas, sacred Hindu chants. Within the category of Indian classical Two years ago, third-year UF student music, there are two main schools: the Carnatic Aaminah Hussain received a tanpura style of the South and the Hindustani style of as a gift. the North. While there are stylistic differences between the two, four basic elements are “I’ve always had a huge fascination common in both ruti relative musical pitch , with all of the Indian instruments swara musical sound of a single note , r ga growing up, to the point where I told (the mode) and tala (rhythmic cycles). These myself when I’m older, I’d get a few elements are the foundation of Carnatic and Indian instruments of my own and Hindustani composition. start embracing my culture,” Hussain said. “However, when I was given the Carnatic music is performed in a small tanpura, I decided I would learn to play instrumental ensemble along with a vocalist. that instrument first before I learn the Generally, songs in the Carnatic style are more advanced Indian instruments.”

Starting in the 12th century, the Hindustani style was influenced by Turko-Persian music. While these influences are absent in the Carnatic style, these differences solidified the divergence in classical music between the North and South. Within the category of Hindustani music, there are several genres, such as dhrupad, Hindustani’s oldest major vocal style, and dhamar, usually played on the pakhawaj, a barrel-shaped drum. Amir Khusrau, a Sufi mystic, singer and poet, is considered the father of Hindustani music. He is also credited for the invention of the sitar, a plucked string instrument which was popularized worldwide in the 1960’s. “The sounds of each instrument are unique,” Hussain said. “It tells a story if you truly listen to the melody.” As for folk music, there are numerous styles and genres that have been developed throughout history, thanks to India’s cultural diversity. One genre is Tamang Selo of the Nepali-speaking population in northeast India. Musicians play the damphu, a tambourine-like percussion instrument, and tugna, a fourstringed instrument, to tell the stories of daily life through song. Another popular genre of Indian folk music is Bhavageethe, meaning “emotion poetry,” which consists of poems that have been set to music. Subjects in Bhavageethe range from love to philosophy. Each form of folk music in India reflects the way of life of its performers and the special qualities of each originating region. “Traditional music is something that a lot of people of my generation are losing their connection with,” Hussain said. “It’s good to listen to traditional music as it allows one to connect back with their culture and learn about the different elements that makes us, well, us.” Though trends will continue to come and go, traditional and folk music have stood the test of time and will continue to be enjoyed by listeners of all ages. Traditional music and instruments provide an intimate experience to each listener, with each melody grounded in a rich culture and history. This music can help us connect with our ancestry and heritage, and allows us to find a familiar comfort in these old melodies and harmonies.

Traditional music is something that a lot of people of my generation are losing their connection with. It allows one to connect back with their culture and learn about the different elements that makes us... well, us. - Aaminah Hussain (21) fall 2020 | 23

A look behind a popular trend and stereotype dominating the social media scene


photography/ Maggie Dong and Josie Cruz

typical day for an ABG consists of a morning, afternoon, and evening boba run, shopping for the latest trends at the mall, an expensive dinner with her friends, and a long Uber ride downtown to a rave. After her fun, she’ll Uber back home and collapse in bed, exhausted. his is not the first time she will forget to remove her heavy makeup and iconic false lashes.

If this scenario seems offensive and cliché, that's because it is. There is an abundance of stereotypes that attempts to itemize and restrict the rich diversity of Asian cultures. The term Asian Baby Girl, or ABG, is one of the newer ones.

design/ Josie Cruz

ABGs are colloquially known as female Asian “gangsters,” perhaps because their style and image are notably intimidating in other people’s eyes. ABGs characteristically apply heavy makeup, including false eyelashes, and frequently attend social events. They are known to wear thin clothing that is revealing. Many have an affinity for e pensive brands. Some even have tattoos, as the term “gangster” might imply. Sofia Ilagan, a 20-year-old sociology major at the University of Florida, e panded on the definition. “I think some of the negative connotations that come up with being an ABG is that people think they’re slutty, attention seekers, and hoes,” she said. These harmful stereotypes may have been born from the idea that many ABGs attend parties and raves.

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by Alexandra Giang

Behind The Fake Lashes

the abg lifestyle is just another side of asian culture – Sofia Ilagan, 20

“I’ve been called an ABG many times, but mostly by people that don’t personally know me,” Im confided. “I don’t think much about it because I feel like my current appearance and lifestyle is a phase I’m going through.” Im uses her large following on social media to promote a positive perception of ABGs on the Internet. Based on the overwhelming positivity of her growing audience of 50k followers, it seems like her social media techniques are working. Dr. Lisa Lundy is an agricultural education and communications professor at the University of Florida. She did not have much e perience with the term A itself, but she was intrigued by the growing trend due to her expertise in social media and public relations. Based on her experience and research, Lundy expects this trend to catch on, specifically to those who follow issues related to the Asian American community. “Trends tend to be short-lived, but if those developing this content evolve with their audience and continue to grow and share new and interesting content, the trends can extend for some time,” Lundy stated. Some social media users, like Ilagan, believe that influencers have a responsibility to their audience to abolish the stereotype and transform the offensive term into an empowering movement. Jenny Aura Im, an Asian-American social media influencer, is ust a expressed her concerns with these stereotypes. “I think “Social media influencers can show that A regular type of lifestyle like anything else, Ilagan said. She the negative connotations associated with being an believes that college students her age having fun doesn’t ABG mostly consists of substance abuse, partying, and warrant a harmful stereotype. “The ABG lifestyle is just the excessive makeup,” she said. another side of Asian culture.” Ilagan had similar thoughts. “I think if you look at it through society’s eyes, it’s a negative connotation because Asian girls are usually taught to be submissive and more feminine and lady-like,” Ilagan said. However, even though the term ABG may be offensive, some use it to empower themselves.

Although the ABG stereotype is harmful, it is fortunate that many in the Asian American community choose to expand the label instead of letting it define them. Hopefully many others struggling in the shadows of this stereotype can find inspiration in their courage and spirit.

“I’ve never been called an ABG but I don’t see it as negative at all. I enjoy going out and having a good time. I like to dye my hair often and wear makeup and have several tattoos,” Ilagan said. To her, actions like dying her hair and wearing makeup are things many college students do– not just ABGs.

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STA R ST U D E NT ST E R EOT Y P E How the Model Minority Myth takes a toll on Asian American students


childhood memory I remember vividly was getting the highest grade in the class and feeling really proud, but the only response I got was: ‘of course she did,’” said Janika Stoklin, a first-year biology major at the University of Florida. She identifies as half-Filipino and half-Black.

by Karen Zhang

“Everything I do is somehow discredited because I am Asian,” Stokling explained. “I’m a dancer, one of the only Asian dancers on my team. People assume that my ‘tiger mom’ pressured me into extracurriculars, but in reality, I just loved dancing.” The stereotypes that surround Asian Americans distorted Stokling’s own selfesteem and how she perceived herself.

The model minority myth is considered a “positive stereotype,” a stereotype that generalizes a group with desirable attributes. hile appearing to be innocent at first, these stereotypes fail to recognize the unique experiences of different ethnic groups, the challenges they face, and the economic and educational realities of Asian American individuals. This leads to ethnic identities being homegenized and overlooks the needs of many minority groups such as the Southeast Asian American populations. One aspect of the model minority myth that is seldom discussed is the belief

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between the internalized model minority myth and help-seeking attitudes. He also discovered the relevance of intrapersonal values such as emotional self-control.

Usually mental health struggles are associated with the term “low-functioning” or psychological weaknesses, the opposite Using the neutral term of the word “value,” of the star student stereotype. Asian Kim discussed the importance of value Americans are expected to excel both enculturation as another variable in helpacademically and professionally, even if this seeking attitudes of Asian Americans. image is not representative of all individuals. Shifts in socio-political narratives, especially “The value in Asian communities of during the 1960s, upheld these stereotypes, emotional self-restraint predicts unfavorable casting Asian Americans as the epitome attitudes towards seeking help, as there is a of a high-functioning, high-achieving, and tendency in Western culture to emphasize the expression of emotion in psychotherapy,” well-adjusted race. Kim explained. Dr. Paul Youngbin Kim, a professor at iffany amlakhan, who identifies as est the Department of Psychology at Seattle Pacific niversity, e panded on the effect Indian, supports these statements with her of the model minority myth. His area of own personal experiences. Ramlakhan is interest is “Asian American professional a third-year majoring in pre-professional health-seeking” and how Asian American biology and minoring in disabilities in society. college students tend to underutilize mental health services at their institutions. “ eing a first generation student and coming as a freshman to a whole new Using a subscale of the Internalized Model environment was draining, and it really Minority Myth Measure called The Model put me in a depressive state,” Ramlakhan Minority Myth of Achievement Orientation, said. “I didn’t really want to ask for help. im found a statistically significant relation I didn’t want to let people know I was

design/Arun Jairam

Stokling isn’t the only one with this perspective. Asian Americans from all over the United States experience the pressure of the model minority myth: the belief that Asian Americans are an exemplary racial group in the United States, mainly because of their educational and financial success.

that Asian Americans rarely experience mental health issues.

photography/ Nidhi Bhide

“Everyone’s immigrant experience is different,” she said. “I want to take the model minority myth as a compliment, but it’s a backhanded compliment. It makes me feel like a failure when I don’t measure up [to the stereotype].”

struggling and it mainly had to do with the fact that I was so independent. I wanted to showcase that I was strong.”

Dr. Cheng found that Asian Americans were perceived by others to be less likely to have mental health problems after being primed with the model minority stereotype, an outlook that contributed to the neglect of this minority group’s mental health needs.

go seek mental health services, a lot Ramlakhan had experienced the effects of of the times the service fails to meet the model minority myth since elementary their needs and doesn’t help them as school, but first heard of the term much as they thought it would.” Keep during her freshman year of high school. Ramalakhan took mostly AP classes and “One of the many barriers to seeking perpetuating the same cycle, while often heard the phrase: “Oh Tiffany, you’re mental health is the internalization of this these aspects Cheng has advice about particular stereotype,” Dr. Cheng explained. creating a better environment for selfAsian, you should know this.” “They might miss symptoms themselves, discovery and individuality. Ramlakhan’s classmates assumed that and even when they recognize some she was good at a subject solely because symptoms, the stigma and the feeling that “Ongoing education and having an active she was Asian, brushing aside her study —‘I should be okay. If Asian Americans are role in creating a more accurate narrative seen as high-functioning, how come I am of the minority will help combat the habits and hard work. stereotype,”. Cheng proposed, drawing struggling?’— is so pervasive.” upon her own experiences as well as “It really impacted me negatively,” a recent study she had conducted on Ramlakhan confessed. “In high school ...ongoing education and licensed practitioners and predictors of everyone was telling me I was so smart because of my race and ethnicity, so having an active role in cultural competence. when I arrived at the University of Florida, creating a more accurate “The upkeep in continuous diversity-related it was a huge transition. I was no longer considered the ‘smart girl’– even though narrative of the minority will training will help clinical practitioners as well as the general population,” Cheng said. I did well— because I was surrounded by a larger and more diverse community of help combat the stereotype Cheng advocates for a better overall intellectual people. In fact, it deteriorated —Dr. Alice Cheng representation of Asian Americans so my mental health quite a bit because I that the stereotype won’t be relied on had this ideal of myself, and I felt like I If Asian Americans believe the stereotype as much. No matter how much of a had to keep up with it.” that they are well-adjusted and face no compliment the model minority myth Ramlakhan’s experience with mental problems, they might be more inclined may seem, it adds additional stressors health is also not an isolated case. The to ignore or minimize any psychosocial and leads to unrealistic expectations, a pressure to succeed, and higher chance of unrealistically high standards associated difficulties they have. psychological distress. with the star student stereotype often leaves Asian Americans conscious of “Lower rates simply mean these rates are their perceived failings but too anxious not documented by professionals, but Ramlakhan’s experiences support Dr. it doesn’t mean it’s not present in the Cheng’s research. Now, after three years to look for support. community.” Cheng expressed, clarifying of growing and learning, Ramalakhan Dr. Alice Cheng, an Associate Professor at that the diagnostic bias means that realized that learning about the model Bridgewater State University, conducted less attention is focused on the Asian minority myth helped her break those a study on the influence of the model American community, which could lead to stereotypes and walk her own path. minority myth on the perceived mental the underfunding of resources available. “It helps knowing there’s a whole term to it, health needs of Asian Americans. She wanted to understand more about the “The underrepresentation of Asian but it’s also a bit disappointing there has to mental health disparities in minorities Americans in the general population is be a term associated with it,” Ramlakhan compared to a dominant white group and a critical part of the issue, alongside admitted. “However, learning about this why Asian Americans, among all other the lack of psychoeducation in and realizing I’m not the only person in ethnicities, were documented to have the Asian community,” Dr. Cheng the world going through this was so eyenoted. “The problem also lies with the opening. I had really felt lonely, like I’m the lower rates of mental health issues. professional clinical services provided only person going through this and feeling Using clinical vignettes, embedded to Asian Americans, which usually like this, but in actuality there’s a plethora diagnostic criterias, and tests such as lack a cultural focus. So when Asian of people feeling the same way.” a memory recall task and a likert scale, Americans overcome the stigma and

fall 2020 | 27

by Mayumi Porto illustration + design/ Ilise McAteer

Spilling the Tea on Tea O

ver the past several years, there’s been an observable boom in the popularity of tea within the Western world with the emerging obsession many Gen Z and Millenials have of boba tea. Just about all of today’s young people, of Asian descent or not, seem to be familiar with boba tea; going to a boba tea shop has become one of the main places people go to socialize now. However, tea, of course, has been a popular beverage in the West for hundreds of years before this. Most commonly associated with the British, who dominated the tea trade of the West throughout the 18th century, tea has long symbolized wealth, class and an overall sense of poshness. Yet, with the rising popularity of boba tea (whose shops are typically owned by Asians), this notion of tea being for the high class is dissolving. Tea has an extensive history which can be used to analyze just how it grew to be a symbol of the colonial powers that came to dominate the East. There are various stories and fables that explain the origins of tea, with many scholars continuing to debate the location of the origin of tea. According to Joseph M. Walsh, a tea dealer who wrote the 1892 book that provides a complete history of tea until the mid-19th century “Tea, Its History and Meaning,” one origin story is that tea was created in 2737 B.C.E., when a leaf fell into scholar, philosopher and emperor Shen Nong’s boiling water

28 | fall 2020

while he was replenishing the fire. Peet’s offee, a world-famous coffee and tea company, goes further and accredits the origin of tea to a leaf that fell from an overhanging tree into Emperor Nong’s boiling water. Regardless of how the leaf landed in Emperor Nong’s water, the Emperor greatly enjoyed drinking the leaf-infused water and felt the need to research the medicinal properties of the plant further. Another origin story, according to Peet’s offee and eatrice Hohenegger, author of “Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to est, cites the origin of tea as having been when Indian Prince Bodhi-Dharma, who founded the Zen school of Buddhism, traveled to China in 520 A.D. to preach Buddhism. One day, during a seven year meditation where he vowed to not sleep, Bodhi-Dharma fell asleep. When he woke up, he cut his eyelids off in order to never shut his eyes again and threw them to the ground. A tea plant sprung up on the ground where his eyelids landed, and thus


meditating monks have since been blessed with the gift of tea to aid them in meditation. Despite the fact that the origins of tea are still disputed, tea consumption only became widespread upon the Tang dynasty (618in hina, according to Peet’s offee. his was observed as a tea tax was imposed and tea became China’s national drink. Furthermore, it was in this time when Chinese Buddhist monk Lu u wrote the ha ing, the first known monograph on tea in the world. In his writing, he integrated explanations of different types of teas with notions that reflected Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian schools of thought. It was also in the Tang dynasty when tea began to spread to other nations as well. Tea was introduced to Japan in around 828 A.D., as noted by Walsh, when Japanese Buddhist monk Saicho brought back tea seeds to plant after studying in China. However, tea was not popular in Japan until around the 13th century, as it was only previously grown in monasteries. According to Peet’s offee, one of the most popular ways of preparing tea was by crushing up green tea leaves into a fine powder, which we now know as Matcha. Tea as we know it today, which involves steeping dried tea leaves in hot water, did not emerge until the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Before then, tea was prepared by compressing tea leaves into bricks or grinding them in a stone mill. However, it was in this era in which the practice of drying, rolling and heating tea leaves in iron woks began to emerge as tea leaves prepared this way were easier to brew tea with as they did not require the use of a whisk. Interestingly, tea reached the West by traders much earlier than the Ming dynasty. According to Walsh, an Arabian merchant named Soleiman mentioned tea as the official drink of hina around 850 A.D.. Several centuries passed before tea began to have a presence in Europe around the 17th century. Some Europeans, such as Marco Polo who wrote about tea during his travels around the world, encountered tea in their travels prior to this. egardless, it was in when the first known ship brought tea to Europe from Macao, according to the University of Minnesota. Tea secured its foothold in Europe around this time as the Dutch East India company dominated the tea trade and brought in tea shipments from Japan and China. Tea was brought into countries in Eastern Europe, such as Russia, by camel trains on the famous Silk Road as well. However, because of the fact that importing tea into Europe at the time was so time-consuming and required a great deal of capital and effort, the tea had a high price which limited its consumption to royals and aristocrats, who regarded tea as a novelty and as a means to connect with the adventure involved in exploring the unfamiliar East.

royal Catherine of Braganza, who loved tea and introduced the idea of tea time to the English court. Shortly thereafter, the British East India Trade Company, who grew to hold a monopoly over tea and acted as the imperial arm of England until around 1763, established a tea factory in Macao that allowed them to secure their first foothold in the ast. Although the origin of tea has a distinctly Asian story, with connections to various Asian schools of thought such as Confucianism and Buddhism, it has since become a symbol of the wealth of the empires that colonized much of Asia. Drinking tea is a great way for people of all cultures to directly experience one of the most culturally significant beverages throughout various Asian countries. However, it is important for people to understand and respect its origins, despite the fact that it may seem like such a trivial thing. Tea has become so Westernized that many people have forgotten or simply do not recognize that it is something deeply important to most Asian cultures. When approaching anything of a culture that is not directly one’s own, it should be done with respect and of an understanding of its origin or cultural significance. he esterni ation of tea provides a valuable lesson on the importance of experiencing seemingly trivial aspects of cultures different to our own with a respectful and informed lens. Learning from and enjoying aspects of different cultures are some of the best ways for people to become better global citizens; however, it is important that in doing so, we are not erasing their history and the significance behind such acts. With the emergence of the popularity of Asian-owned boba tea shops, tea is once again becoming a distinctly Asian beverage. Hopefully, this movement is one step of many that will lead Asians to reclaim the Westernized aspects of their cultures.

ithin urope, tea tends to be most commonly identified with the English, with customs such as tea time and tea stores such as Fortnum & Mason having amassed global recognition. Despite this, the English were not immediately drawn towards tea, according to Peet’s offee. ea slowly caught on in ngland by women who viewed it as a genteel beverage, and it was in 1657 when the first shop that sold tea opened in the country. ea also gained more traction when ing harles II married Portuguese

Drinking tea is a great way for people of all cultures to directly experience one of the most culturally significant beverages throughout various Asian countries.

fall 2020 | 29

SAY NO TO GENDER ROLES Discovering the Asian American perspective on gender roles Irene Hossein first learned of gender roles from watching her parents.

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My dad was the head of the family. My mom was known for doing the chores.

Irene Hossein

In Southeast Asia, countries such as ietnam, the Philippines, and Singapore have shown gradual improvement in gender e uality. However, there is still a barrier that is blocking these countries from improving any faster. Filipino culture is family oriented and patriarchal, according to adia Setianto, a writer for the Australian Institute of International Affairs. ue to this nature, the female employment rate dropped from to , meaning that the rest of the women in these countries simply stay home.

design/Rutva Patel

Many Asian families naturally assign the leadership role to the father while giving the mother the housekeeping duties. Men are often titled “the leader because they are seen as strong and manly.

he various Asian cultures provide their own twist on gender roles. hile most Asian countries share similar gender

ast Asian culture is commonly known for having strict rules and roles based on gender. For e ample, rake aer e plains in his usiness Insider article how in apan, women were forced to choose between raising their family or working. here was no other choice on the matter and no reason to pursue both family or working.

photography/Lexi Lutz

r. Anita Anantharam, a gender studies professor at the niversity of Florida, defines gender roles as e pectations set for men and women that tell them what they’re supposed to do in society. She believes that e pectations in Asia are not too different from e pectations in the .S.

his gender division is an issue no matter where you step foot in the world. Asian countries are no e ception.

roles, the situations and e periences aren’t all the same. his can be seen in the different regions around Asia.

by Michelle Lee

“My dad was the head of the family. My mom was known for doing chores, she said, remembering her childhood. Hossein is a second year computer science ma or at the niversity of Florida. espite the fact that both her parents e ually love and support her, there is a clear difference in the role that they play in her life based on her parents’ gender.

Meanwhile, women are considered housekeepers because they are seen as feminine and fragile. here is no gray area in between the two, which ultimately places uni ue relationships and dynamics into simple categories.

he Middle ast is no different in terms of dominant gender roles. In fact, the orld conomic Forum states that Middle astern countries are notorious for their une ual pay between male and female workers.

view that gender roles only apply to the male and female genders, naturally leaving out the rest even though they are also an integral part of the community.

“...being cisgender should be a unique personal identification rather than the default gender identity.”

As a cisgender woman, ur personally ue to their low rank in society, Arab e perienced many conflicting situations women hardly dare take on bigger, more where her gender was generali ed. important roles in the workforce such “ ecause I’m a woman and they assume as politicians and engineers. As a result, that I’m straight, they think, bviously she progress is slow and unlikely to happen. will get married to a man,’ she said. In her case, even her parents assumed that she hese split gender roles among the would conform to gender norms. different Asian cultures also influence e pression and confidence level. Hossein his same kind of generali ation has also is a angladeshi American woman, so been applied to Asian American men. In she knows from personal e perience that their ournal, Anthony . campo and brown skinned girls tend to be critici ed aniel Sood inda describe how Parker and pressured more. pseudonym , a Filipino American nursing student in his s, came out as gay to his hen it comes to e pressing herself, Hossein parents who e pressed feelings of concern. As of now the ourney to finding a solution said, “I feel like there’s always this hesitancy when it comes to interacting with people of However, Parker’s parents’ negative to this gender role conflict is progressive my own culture or ethnicity because it’s ust thoughts were uite easily pushed but slow. here is still so much to do to so easy to be udged. It’s like, I need to be away when he returned home with improve this situation. ducation and careful of what I say. I need to be careful with many academic achievements. In Asian raising awareness are important steps what I do,’ and that’s not okay because I’m not culture, success and reputation are the in the right direction. his would not only even doing anything wrong. top priorities. For Asian American men, it help random strangers on the streets is stressed even more because of their or followers on social media but also to current and future family members. Having to constantly be on the edge of her traditional role as the breadwinner. seat became an obstacle that hindered her ability to do what she wanted and live her Masculinity is another gender role conflict “As time passes, we’re all going to have life with full confidence. that Asian men face. here are several children and kind of enforce it on our own instances when Asian men with makeup children, said Hossein. “A lot of us grew on are called girly or gay, and this has up with the same gender roles, so we become an issue not ust in the Asian definitely want to make sure our kids don’t go through the same e periences that community, but also in the L IA community. Although this raised we’ve gone through. he gray area has yet to be filled in on this awareness of the standards that force ur also thinks that it is up to the current male versus female dispute. here does Asian men to look strong and manly, the generation to make these changes. “I the L IA community belong in this real problem lies in the fact that the term think that everything in life, over time, “gay was used as an insult. gender roles discussion has to change. ur generation is ust so he L IA community had a rough diverse and beautiful and so hopeful that “I feel like the L IA community is like any other community. It’s full of people start on the new chapters of their lives. I think it’s definitely something that will who are ust people, said ushrat ur, a However, the overall lack of support is still shift for the better.



year old angladeshi American who identifies as a cisgender woman. ur reali ed that she was cisgender when she came out as bise ual at the age of , and she believes that being cisgender should be a uni ue personal identification rather than the default gender identity. he reality that there are more than two gender identities clashes with the idealistic

daunting , especially for Asian Americans, which is why they lose confidence in e pressing their identity. “ hey’re e periencing and performing their identity in very closeted and secretive ways because there isn’t a space for them to really talk about that publicly, said Anantharam.

A gender is ust another part of one’s identity. However, in a world that’s so diverse, every form of identity counts. It is many people’s hope that in the future, there will be unconditional love and support for every individual, regardless of which identity they choose.

fall 2020 | 31

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