listen to the silence 2018 | zine immigration narratives: advancing our movement
Letter from the Team Dear community, As a new initiative of Stanford’s annual Asian American issues conference, Listen to the Silence (LTS), the LTS zine aims to showcase API voices from the Stanford community and other API communities through a creative medium. This year’s LTS conference theme is Immigration Narratives: Advancing Our Movement, which centers around immigrant and diasporic narratives and the adverse consequences of anti-immigration policies on Asian Americans and communities of color at large. With visual art and writing, we wanted to create an alternate platform for connecting and educating outside of the traditional workshop format of LTS. We hope that by sharing creative work through a medium that can be circulated beyond the LTS conference, the zine provides a platform for solidarity and cross-community dialogue on the intersections and differences in our movements as they pertain to the issues of immigration, diaspora and indigeneity. Our primary goals focus on building a political consciousness and sense of identity around API narratives through the art of marginalized voices. This zine engages with questions of power, migration, and access that are especially pressing today and provide a glimpse at the impact of art on API communities in its elevation of voices that often go unheard in the mainstream. We hope this zine serves as a resource for connecting its readers to storytellers, artists, and activists within the community, leading to a multi-layered communication that uplifts marginalized narratives in support of the broader resistance of our movement. Uplifting and preserving these voices is crucial to the sustainability of the movement, and having a physical documentation of several community narratives serves to document a unique thread of our history. We thank you for engaging with the narratives of our community members. With love and in solidarity, LTS Zine Committee
Cover art: “Fruits of Labor” by Justin Pastores Justin Pastores (he) is an artist that lives in the East Bay. He is painter and member of the Epekto Art Projects; an all Filipino art collective. Pastores observes and paints with a social perspective regarding immigrants, generation disparities, and their response to Acculturation.
“Fruits of Labor is a narrative on walking the line between Separation & Integration from the Acculturation scale. Being introduced to a new world with an unfamiliar language can be frightening to an immigrant. One must do what they can to survive.”
Letter from the Team
how a tree falls Swetha Pola After Interviewing my Interned Grandmother Syd Westley Tahimik IV Justin Pastores Dust to Dust Lina Khoeur Imahe Rea Lynn de Guzman Wounding Song Ethan Chua
Experiencing the Space Van Anh Tran I see no one but me Jeho Bitancor
Ancestral Visions Terence Zhao
to carry; as ocean does Janet Chen
Two Mothers Joriene Mercado Vision Tenzin Rabyang Snow Lion: Fallen Kingdom Tenzin Rabyang Addicted to Blood Megan Duong
Child of Immigrants Keven Quach
Hong Kong Annie Ng 1.5 Katrina Pantig Recently I seem to be a tourist in my own home
2-3 4-5 6-7 8-9 10-11 12-13 14-15 16-17 18-19 20-21 22-23 24-25 26-27 28-29 30-31 32-33 34-35
Table of Contents Anatomy of an Overseas Filipino Worker’s Balikbayan Box Naomi Gregorio
Collector No.1 Justin Pastores My Family Tree Sits in a Vietnamese Village Vanuyen Pham
Motherland Ethan Chua
Experiencing the Space (continued) @America Megan Duong
Structure Jose Johann Bitancor
Our Ocean Is Alive Keali’i Chidester
For Our Families Kayan Cheung-Miaw Your Mother’s Garden Mike Vang My father makes me a cup of coffee Mike Vang Jungle Asian Sarah Tran You can throw things away (pt 1 and pt 2) Kristel Bugayong
stable Emilia Porubcin Speak Out Angel Trazo Church Choir Thoughts Isabela Bumanlag take all of me Momo Hoshi 3 untitled (continued)
how a tree falls — Swetha Pola i.
content warnings: violence, death
and you didn’t see the white noise coming, did you?
how it slipped through the smallest of holes: crawled into the gaps where your teeth fell out, dug root canals that overflooded with english, and drowned your amma’s tongue into water too thin to hold. how it suddenly tore the largest of holes: grabbed your chest and claimed its beating was a ticking, called you terrorist, and clenched you till your own breathing hurt you. how it grew so loud it shook your earth to pieces: escaped as a screeching from the barrel of a gun, broke through your eardrums / blasted bodies and their blood vessels open. turned you numb to grief. ii.
you didn’t see it coming because
when a tree falls and there is no one there to hear it fall, how would you know it is falling? and so when a gunshot makes an ear bleed and you can’t hear yourself, how would you even know you are falling? you wouldn’t see the small-large-breaking holes before they arrived. you would taste them when you speak your mother tongue after years of scraping it off. hear them when you let the words actually spill out from the back of your throat. feel them in your lungs when you have to relearn breathing. iii.
you didn’t see it coming but you see it now.
and you start to pull apart all the layers of hurt. pull apart all the bags dumped at airport security. all our siblings’ bodies lost to racial violence. all the time spent existing as a hyphenated version of a persxn. but once you’re done pulling yourself apart, you spend years patching yourself up. you fill your bags with laughter so warm and slippery, no body can grab at you. you name all your lost and present siblings over and over again to call them into existence everywhere. you cup all your identities in your palms and hold them lovingly as you would with anyone else’s. and after all of this tearing & sewing & bursting & holding, you discover that sometimes everything will hurt, but you, you precious body with holes, are still whole.
swetha pola (she/they) is a south asian queer femme who holds her family and communities close to her heart. she seeks to unravel the quieted narratives of asian american & pacific islander hxstory through writing and listening and loving as tenderly as possible. she is a student organizer through asian pacific american student development at uc berkeley working towards a degree in cognitive science & ethnic studies 4
Anatomy of an Overseas Filipino Worker’s Balikbayan Box — Naomi Gregorio
Naomi Gregorio (she) is a 3rd year studying Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering. She was born in Manila, Philippines and still continues to hear the 5AM street food vendors synchronizing with her grandmother’s pet chickens between states of sleep and consciousness.
“Balikbayan boxes are large boxes sent by Overseas Filipino Workers to their friends and family back home. Each item is meant to convey continuing love and sentiments from the sender regardless of distance or time. (Translations: Ate = older sister, Kuya = older brother, Tatay = father, Bunso = youngest child, Lola = grandmother, pinsan = cousin, kapitbahay = neighbor)” 5
After Interviewing my Interned Grandmother— Sydney Westley What did you bring with you to the camps? memory, or what we could carry on our backs. memory, a vehicle. memory, a home in the movement. we were not rich, no. what we had was dissolvable. it shifts. i turn it into gold. i dive into it. as this first person is a transfer of luggage. what can be turned into gold is what the people have looked for. i only believe they have found it when they turn it back to lead. rearrange the letters. this word alien is a legal word. i turn it into gold in my dreams. this is the way memory fashions itself. i mean this is the shift. they were expendable. they are what i am searching for. and now, what i mean about the intersection of memory and language. by law, it was illegal for humans to enter, remain in, leave, or commit any act on the west coast. that is, by law, it was illegal for humans born or living in this land to breathe, to exist. though that is only what memory will say, and it is slipping off our backs.
Tahimik IV — Justin Pastores
Syd Westley (she) is a bundle of contradictions.
“Tahimik IV is a piece about colonial assimilation and growing up without speaking or understanding the family language caused by fear, bullying, and shame.”
Collector no. 1 — Justin Pastores
Justin Pastores (he) is an artist that lives in the East Bay. He is painter and member of the Epekto Art Projects; an all Filipino art collective. Pastores observes and paints with a social perspective regarding immigrants, generation disparities, and their response to Acculturation.
“Collectors no. 1 is a similar narrative to the former. If one cannot adapt to the lifestyle of a new world, there is still a way to accumulate funds without having to speak.” 7
Dust to dust — Lina Khoeur When I went to Cambodia, I brought a little bit of the country back with me. Not in my heart, in my memory as metaphor, but in my lungs – the dust particles that fill the air in 5 kmph traffic are pulled through my nose, required to find solace in my lungs as the tuk tuk bumps along. The drivers here are almost a miracle – people weave in and out of 4-way traffic that goes all at once, people cross the street in the onslaught of face-mashed motorcyclists, bikes, and cars. Chris says the people always seem so happy – and they do. Seem happy. My dad talks about the politics of home. Corrupt politicians are filling public lakes and wetlands with dirt so that they can build superstores on the people’s land. I wonder about the dust in my lungs – I am like them, taking land that is not mine to have. But the dust takes up residence in my lungs, so it can’t be the particle that fills the lake, it can’t be the silt that takes away someone’s home. I wonder what side I seem to be on.
"Imahe," 2015. Image transfers on synthetic organza sewn together, approx. 24" x 60"
Imahe — Rea Lynn de Guzman
Lina Khoeur (they/she) is a 2nd generation child, and the daughter of resilient Khmer refugees. In her experience and practice, she continues to study the ways the body interacts with place, through both medicine and healing.
Rea Lynn de Guzman (she) is a San Francisco-based artist working in painting, print, and sculpture. Originally from Manila, Philippines, she immigrated to the United States as a teenager. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She has exhibited her work in the US and in India. She teaches at the City College of San Francisco, San Francisco Center for the Book and Root Division.
My Family Tree Sits in a Vietnamese Village â€” Vanuyen Pham My name sits in the far right corner squeezed in and written in pencil buried under blood bonds so easily broken by fickle memory A single line connects me to my parents. A 0.5 mm leadâ€™s width and just like that, seems like it could splinter into pieces at any moment. I wish I could somehow go back and paint some pictures into those thin lines to add some shading and depth. Suddenly the line between my parents and me does splinter, if only to disrupt the linear narrative that smoothly bridges their lives to mine. The gaps would speak of running to the sea under the light of the moon of a severing- crack- separationOne shard fixed in place, imprisoned in their own home Waiting. The other free in places they were not meant to wander through the ocean to Malaysia to Texas to California a journey some could call a vacation If only desperation were not its fuel. And yet this motion is not new to my family for if you go up a few names above mine Youâ€™ll find my grandparents never thought They would leave the land their ancestors had Cultivated, had Cried upon, had Laughed upon, had Loved upon. But they too moved from North to South then from an East to a West Crossing borders some men thought it would be fun to draw Not thinking that if you rip out a plant You need to put it back in soil, not leave it to die on the cement. I understand now why dance is so familiar to me, because movement has been etched into my body and my brain since before I could breathe. I am still searching for the dirt to anchor my roots in.
Vanuyen Pham (she) is a fourth year at Stanford studying history, who seeks to understand how stories from our past can help us heal in the present and inform systems changes in our future. She is proud to be a second generation Vietnamese American and is grateful for the enduring love and strength her family has taught her.
Wounding Song â€” Ethan Chua Manila, swallowed up by a song, a flight tuned in a foreign key. A bird gasps on a narra tree; an overpass leaps from the mouth of a cliff. I swing on a trill to leave, hummed from the lips of one land to another. My American crash -- syncopated by the ribs of the Rockies, which look almost like mine, taken by parity right. The Golden Gate gleams with the harsh light of a bomb -shattering Gothic manila. Maybe going home means picking through the rubble. A nation scabbed up by another nation. The flight a suture pulled to close a wound.
Ethan Chua (he) is a Chinese-Filipino spoken word poet and fiction writer. His work has been published in the Philippines Graphic magazine, DIALOGIST, Strange Horizons and The Blueshift Journal, and his graphic novel, Doorkeeper Anthology, will be published in November 2017 by Summit Books. He sings while biking, narrowly avoids accidents, and has a lot of feelings. He is happily part of the Stanford Spoken Word Collective. 10
Motherland — Ethan Chua content warning: brief mention of suicide
Motherland (广广州州) port city, boomtown, first foot on the cheek of Motherland. The visit was years ago, warp of the plane -- loud takeoff static crowding recollection -- imagine the sound of ten thousand ghosts. An unburied genealogy, the silhouette of a banyan whose roots circle round the world. The myths I made of ahma, angkong. Stories weaved from lazy susans, forests of ears. The landing comes with a lack of sense of place. Runway -- read: nexus for the earth and its opposites. Histories unmarried, misted up and miscegenated, a bridge broke ( 桥 , 木木) through the middle of my glasses -- ungripping from my ability to see. Maybe I’ll sprout a third eye, an old knife. It’s a seance. It’s a reunion minus the people. It rings like a hopebell -- arrival -- has a sound in my echoing head -- it’s a key to a room with my inheritance. It’s a tree with my great-grandparents’ names. In the dream I can speak Mandarin. Later, I’m sitting in a noodle shop. Later, the bench becomes a series of promises. One is to learn my language. The other is to call (ahma, angkong) home. (喂) meaning path, bridge, a forest breaking over salt. The boomtown of forgetting, built on British boats and opium smoke. My history cut up by import knives, third eyes split into so many parts for sale. I grasp a dumpling, reach for something else(where). The bowl brimming with the arms of ghosts. No passport for entrance into ancestry. Only missed suicides, broke condoms and ambiguities. The (面条) we eat for long life may as well be long rope. We digest our forebears. And the before boat (前, 船) held back by the coil. Cut on occasion of war. Which means -- the battle for my birth. Any child borne already heading home.
Experiencing the Space — Van Anh Tran I grew up in Little Saigon, Orange County. Growing up in a relatively insular community gave me an appreciation of how my elders defined home and what made them feel safe. It was not until I left that space that I realized how much of a sense of belonging and home I had when I was there. I find myself visiting similar spaces, elsewhere, to recreate that feeling. There are many narratives attached to being the daughter of refugees. In this country, there are acute historical narratives that follow you wherever you go if you are the child of Vietnamese refugees, in particular. This label carries multiple meanings not only for those within the Vietnamese or Vietnamese American community, but for the national consciousness of “Americans,” at large. That is not the narrative that I want to pursue, however. Instead, I want to focus on space. As an educator (and now, as a student all over again), I have learned to examine the world more consciously as I walk through it. I have been learning that space, itself, has a curriculum and a pedagogy. Spatial encounters have a rich curriculum about equity and it is a curriculum that is widely accessible, although we may rarely notice it. I was asked to experience a space as part of an assignment for class. As someone who grew up in Little Saigon, I knew almost immediately where I wanted to go in order to learn more about this new city in which I am now living. I chose to visit Manhattan Chinatown. In my life, I have claimed many Chinatowns as my own. Whether this was a result of feelings of comfort and home or whether this was a result of feeling like I was entrenched in a history of activism and community organizing, Chinatowns have been a lightning rod for me whenever I go to a new city. With Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as a framework to guide how I walked through this space, I documented some things that stood out to me through photographs.
Van Anh Tran (she) graduated with honors from Stanford University with a Bachelors of Arts in Public History and a Masters of Arts in Education. She was involved with the Asian American and the activist communities at Stanford and plans to incorporate the lessons that she has learned into a career in education and policy. After working with inspiring community organizations in CA, Van Anh hopes to encourage her students to become involved in their communities and to take action. Following her time at Stanford, Van Anh was a history teacher in East San Jose and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education at Columbia University. Her research interests include refugee narratives, oral histories, and how these interact with our current system of education. 12
I see no one but me — Jeho Bitancor content warnings: nudity, body horror, blood
4’ x 8’, oil on canvas, 2017
Jeho Bitancor (he) is a multi-awarded Filipino artist based in New York/New Jersey. He was known in his country for paintings and performance art pieces that tackle socially relevant themes done in a highly symbolic manner. He has held 23 solo shows and has participated in numerous group exhibitions across Southeast Asia and the United States. His works are in the permanent collection of the Singapore Museum, University of the Philippines Heritage Museum, Ateneo Art Gallery, De LaSalle University Museum, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Cojuangco Museum, Balay Segundo Museum and Museo de Baler. He had his art trainings at the University of the Philippines, New York University and the Art Students League of New York.
content warnings: imperialism, colonialism, war, suicide, violence, white supremacy
@America — Megan Duong
Be grateful you live in America, my parents tell me. They left a country that was once whole Fertile with coconut trees and rice fields Until the Frenchman mapped out our country like a boardgame Except in this chess game, the white piece had the power to control all the brown pieces Even had the power to call the brown pieces “burdens” “Burdens” that worked rubber plantations for your Michelin tires My parents dreamed of coming here since 1975, the Fall of Saigon After years of war - of bombs and Agent Orange, of watching monks set themselves on fire in protest Years of food rations and watching their friends leave the country one by one They had the American Dream To leave war-torn Vietnam for a land said to be brimming with opportunity This dream was hollow, its skeleton sustained by the myth of meritocracy The maintenance of the model minority that would manifest In ways meant to divide and conquer people of color They left for a land that backed the very war they were escaping A land that elected a president with complexion resembling the orange pesticides that rained over my parents’ motherland Embodying violence as lethal as the chemicals that maimed my people A land that forced us to assimilate into an America we dreamed would be better than our war-torn home And made my parents believe that we should be grateful for this sliver of American pie A land that This land was not made for you and me
Megan Duong (she) is a Bay Area-based youth artist/organizer who is exploring mediums of watercolor and poetry as a tool to disrupt oppressive narratives and create visions of healing and liberation, all with the intention of navigating what ancestry, resilience, trauma, and being a product of the Vietnamese diaspora mean to her.
Ancestral Visions— Terence Zhao Mountains: trekking the purple majesties, vaguely upbeat music in my earphones But in the back of my head The tune is a sour Chinese melody, The rhythm is hammers breaking stone The beat is the roar of dynamite Ice, frost, a dollar a day So that the train could one day zoom past And bring to our new home more who will come and settle like we did And then want us out.
content warning: a racial slur
Ocean: earful of the crashing of waves that is supposed to put me at peace But in the back of my head Bitter rocking back and forth in steerage Curses for the sea from those who have Embraced the sea and its shaky, uncertain grip Looking ahead and seeing home For the first time. Valedictorian speech. But in the back of my head Rendered deaf-mute in a strange land Made to believe that their silence erased their intelligence, their voice. Job promotion. But in the back of my head Engineers, scientists, and lawyers of the homeland now dishwashers, janitors, and cooks. Their diplomas now worthless paper, and their papers define the worth of their lives. New house. But in the back of my head A sign reads: Chinks keep moving, This is a white man’s neighborhood. But maybe I can forget that for a moment Because, walking in, I see A fresh wall. Blank slate, unlimited possibilities Paint swatches scattered on the floor All the things and worlds now open to us who stand On the backs of our ancestors’ travail But in the back of my head Elegant characters chiseled into the wall Neat little rows of couplets Poems of hopes and fears Of America felt for the first time Of the views of a new home From the little holding rooms at Angel Island Of the weary sojourners At the end of a journey That has only begun.
Terence Zhao (he), Stanford '19 was born and raised in Beijing before immigrating to the US when he was nine years old and settling in an Asian suburb of LA. In his spare time, he likes to explore cities, look at memes, and contemplate the end of imperialism. 16
STRUCTURE— Jose Johann Bitancor
“Mixed media on wood: An austere passage towards success, especially with variance”
Jose Johann Bitancor (he) is a Filipino painter and graphic designer with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Far Eastern University in the Philippines. Prior to his migration to the United States, his creative outputs were devoted entirely to the Applied Arts, particularly Exhibition Design and Collateral Design. Upon his first settlement in Memphis Tennessee, his innate inkling to work with hands and play with materials has led to experiments in woodcarving and wire sculptures. He pursued a short stint at the University of Memphis-Tennessee to further increase his knowledge and feed his then growing appetite for the Fine Arts. His efforts quickly led to his participation in local art groups’ events and managed to receive a Portfolio Merit Scholarship from the Memphis College of Art-Tennessee. 17
to carry; as ocean does â€” Janet Chen
2017, Sharpie on paper.
Janet Chen (she) is a third year undergrad. She loves all kinds of art and is passionate about creative storytelling as a force for resistance and for healing 18
â€œI honor the vessels of diaspora in my narrative, in all the forms they come. For me, this piece evokes questions of the sacrifices made, not only by my ancestors, but of land and of ocean, to accommodate my presence in a place from which I did not originate but inhabit.â€?
Our Ocean Is Alive â€” Kealiâ€™i Chidester A son A daughter Of endless saltwater, Weaving each and every Other to one another For this the way Of the waves. It is a shame You could not see How islands so small And so separate Could hold a power So big and so close. Our Ocean is alive; Her veins are The currents we ride, Her breath the winds We use to break The water and Leave a wake behind Our Ocean is alive. She comes and goes, Rhythmically kissing The softest part of The land she led us to, Whispering again And again Cherish this gift My children, I lovingly leave it In your care. You will always, always Find your way Home. She sung us A song, Showing that these Stretching avenues Of her skin Were the medium Of our mingling; The keeper of Our creations, Our commonalities, Our connections. But now, Land-locked teachings With land-locked meanings Misunderstand all that Our Ocean knows. Our Ocean is alive.
Born of Tongan, European, Chinese, and Hawaiian descent, Keali'i Chidester (he) proudly explores and discovers what it means to be Hafekasi/Hapa Haole in the United States as he navigates through the Pacific diaspora. Inspired by the metaphor of "Our Sea of Islands" as presented by 'Epeli Hau'ofa, Keali'i envisions a Pacific world that breaks down long-standing colonial constructs to continue resurrecting our ancient identity as one collective Ocean.
Two Mothers — Joriene Mercado My mom Shirley came to the US from the Philippines in 1986. In San Francisco, she fell in love with a woman named Jay, who is also from the Philippines. After Shirley’s visa expired, she returned to the Philippines, where she discovered that the man who brutally murdered her mother and sister and almost killed her ten years ago was released from prison. My parents sustained their relationship during that time, but she didn’t feel safe in the Philippines, so she was forced to migrate to the United States.
content warning: deportation, queerphobia, murder
She applied for political asylum to legalize her stay here. Her application was denied, so her attorney appealed the decision. Since her case was in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, it would take quite some time before her case was heard by a judge, so my parents proceeded to build their lives in the US. Shirley gave birth to me and my brother, and she finally got what she had been dreaming of for years: a complete family. However, on January 28, 2009, two Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers came to my family’s home at 6:30 am. They showed Shirley a deportation notice. The officers handcuffed her and she was taken away like a criminal. She said it was the lowest point of her life. She lost her mother and sister at the age of 13, and she was close to losing her family again. This was a bitter testament to the discrimination in our immigration laws. My mom Jay is an American citizen, but she does not possess the right to petition her partner of 23 years at the time for citizenship. The ICE officer told Jay that if she were a man, then my mom Shirley wouldn’t have been arrested. Through the power of storytelling and community, Senator Feinstein sponsored a private bill to spare my mom from deportation. It was like my family had won the lottery. However, millions of immigrant families undergo the same fear of family separation. While my family felt spared from any further grief, we continued to use our voices in the pursuit of justice. Shirley was asked to share our family’s story in the Senate. My brother cried as we listened to her testimony as it forced us to confront the thought of losing her. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was at the hearing, and when he saw my brother crying, he remarked, “Enough with the histrionics.” It appalls me that someone in one of the highest positions in our government invalidated my family’s feelings and continues to marginalize oppressed groups. My family’s story sheds light on how the US treats immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color. The pain my family and millions of others continue to endure is a byproduct of the imperialist, capitalist system we live in, the same system responsible for white supremacy and the cis-heteropatriarchy. We must organize our communities to dismantle these systems of oppression, and this call to action is gravely important with the current administration. Our voices must be heard. Loud enough so they can’t ignore us. Many of us have been in pain for far too long. Let’s unleash that pain and fight for a more equitable and just society.
Joriene Mercado (he) is a Pilipino-American community organizer and 4th year undergraduate at Stanford University. He integrates his academic and political work to educate the youth about their collective history and ultimately decolonize education. Outside of school and organizing, he enjoys watching Harry Potter movies, rooting for the Golden State Warriors, and learning languages. 20
For Our Families â€” Kayan Cheung-Miaw
2013, Ink on paper As a cartoonist, Kayan Cheung-Miaw (they/she) aims to humanize those who have been dehumanized by sharing the stories of marginalized communities. As an organizer, Kayan work on the Yank Sing restaurant workersâ€™ campaign resulted in a historic $4 million settlement for 280 workers. As an educator, Kayan uses art to teach critical thinking, empathy, and social justice. KayanCheung.tumblr.com cpasf.org 21
Vision — Tenzin Rabyang “Growing up in exile, I realized that my culture is slowly fading away. The young Tibetan generation is slowly blending with foreign culture, which is a good thing but at the same time it’s also important to realize not to forget where we came from. Thus this is the vision - we need to set a goal, educate ourselves first, and fight for our freedom.”
Snow Lion: Fallen kingdom — Tenzin
“This art piece represents the struggle and pain Tibetan people have felt after losing its kingdom at 1959. The main message I want to deliver from this artwork is to educate young Tibetan generations what our elders have been through and why we need to preserve our culture and religion even though we are in exile. “
Tenzin Rabyang (he) is a Tibetan-Canadian artist born in Nepal and raised in India. He tries to draw his inspiration from his surrounding and daily life. He uses his work as a tool for self-expression about the struggle of people he has met through his life. 22
Your Mother’s Garden — Mike Vang Mother worries about the length of the grass instead of her hair. She believes the neighbors will turn hostile if the lawn is overgrown. You insist it’s just the dandelions, but she takes it upon herself, in her straw hat, to mow the lawn. It’s high noon in summer, and she’s fixed the machine lower, making it harder to push, even for you. And it’s usually you because she’s not even strong enough to pull the cord and start the engine. She is like this with everything. You don’t know anyone else who scrubs their house windows inside out. And it’s common procedure to deep clean after every meal. Of course, the bathrooms are clean enough to eat in. The worst part is not that she always forgets to wear any gloves, it’s that she never asks for help. She refuses to go without doing something so you compromise. You allow her to tend her front garden, and she hands over the lawn mower to you, her sweat becoming both your sweat. It’s different from driving oxen, not that you would know. The trick to pushing it now is to drop your hips and dip the bar. It’s not that you don’t understand her. What do you go to school for? Even if you can’t see it, you can hear it, the explosions of wishes underneath, the blades blowing away like helicopters. She is on her knees, weeding out whatever surrounds her crane flowers. Now you are also crawling and yanking along with her. The birds of paradise are wilted. Underwatered or overwatered, you know she always cared. Out of silence, she asks you, “How old are you now?” Exhausted, you reply, “A thousand.” She looks at you with distant eyes, and raises a hand towards your face. It is not a slap or a brush, but a pat-pat, like she is planting something.
My father makes me a cup of coffee — Mike Vang My father makes me a cup of coffee and it tastes just right. Just the right amount of French vanilla that it sits evenly in my mouth between the bitter and sweet half of my tongue. I want to ask him how he knows, but his shadow slips back into the light of the funeral home. I sit the paper cup atop the porch’s railing and watch as it hyperventilates helplessly, the steam trailing and plunging indiscriminately to the syncopated rhythm of the wind. But even air pressure can be measured, calculated with a forecast a week ahead. He taught me that lesson as we watched the news instead of watching morning cartoons that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. He puts food on my plate for the first time with his chopsticks, and as the incense burns into the air, I wonder who will cry first.
Mike Vang (he) is a third year undergrad at Stanford University majoring in English with a creative writing emphasis. He is interested in the very short forms of prose and poetry and world literature as a system of variations. When he is not reading and never writing, he enjoys the mundane. 23
addicted to blood —Megan Duong content warnings: war, trauma, imperialism “Danez Smith is a writer and performer who explores their experiences of being Black and queer in the U.S. through their art. 'Ask if your country is addicted to blood' is a line found in Danez Smith's poem, "Principles," which centers issues of anti-blackness and police brutality. In this piece I aimed to illustrate the cyclical nature of history, and the parallels between the refugee crisis in Syria and the boat people of Vietnam after the Vietnam War - namely that the US’s role in Asia contributes to forced migration, violence, and trauma.”
Watercolor on paper
Megan Duong (she) is a Bay Area-based youth artist/organizer who is exploring mediums of watercolor and poetry as a tool to disrupt oppressive narratives and create visions of healing and liberation, all with the intention of navigating what ancestry, resilience, trauma, and being a product of the Vietnamese diaspora mean to her. 24
JUNGLE ASIAN — Sarah Tran content warning: war
//swallow down the banana leaves climbing up your throat and it is so easy to stomach your own wilderness; tear apart your jackfruit skin and your cigarette smoke hair and then your photos look like the magazines if you squint. white shoelaces, straightened minty teeth, this is the way a shiny slimy language shakes itself off you like salt, if you squeeze it out fast it feels better, like pus from a wound, like a crack blooming across glass, if you close your eyes you can’t even see the seams of your patch-quilted words, if you close your eyes there are no yellow-ringed chip-cracked family teeth smiling at you, no sweat unfurling in your pores like a humid marketplace squat, no hidden country smuggled underneath your shirt. you are busy digging your fingers into holes, eating the sweet meat off a ground that seemed to bloom at touch, you are stuffing yourself so rotund that you almost can’t even remember anything besides park benches and dry-edged hamburgers, but if you listen very carefully you can build the boat again by listening to your mother’s in-between sighs, the words she saws off in the middle of a meal, the stories she chops into the phone, tap tap TAP TAP TAP until it all turns into a helicopter hum and you can see it, the Pacific spread out below you like a trap, you are smelling the rainforest heat like it’s been cracked open from inside you, one no, where are you really from and you’re back: old mother words tremble off your tongue like clipped-wing butterflies, you see another yourself gaunt and desperate in the mirror, you try to breathe calm into your shaking fingers because being born of war is better than not at all. and then you realize, no, a child born from war doesn’t equal peace if you can feel the smoke stirring itself inside you, you stare at your red-striped eyes and cover up the bruises blooming across your knees, you try to contain another country down beneath your stomach, this ancestral-memory pill, you are not a child of peace if you watch two nations cut you into quarters and bicker over the pieces, if people draw borders across your belly button, if you are scared of what home means. you have been looking so far for somewhere, was it you? was it you who dove into an ocean to find a silent beach without gunshot, or are you still back there, are you staring at the gambling water with its poker fingers, are you still counting out the costs of jumping in, this little dirt-skin yellow-smile you- are you still watching the fighting or have you been doing it all along?
Sarah Tran (she) is a Vietnamese American from southern California. She attends Pomona College and is a mentor for the Asian American Mentor Program there. She is a poet, scientist, and educator.
child of immigrants — Keven Quach being a child of immigrants— means being born your own historian. pen in one hand, fist clenched the other, writing down your families’ stories whilst fighting to narrate your own. you won’t always write fast enough. there is never enough ink, nor enough muscle, but be kind to yourself. listen well, a Mà is still laughing, still telling jokes perhaps it is more important to hear some words than it is to remember them. I know— it is hard to be both translator and transcriber. I too speak tongues whose faces I’ve never met, hear brush strokes i cannot paint in my mother’s lullabies. but if language is a root, then it too can flower again. pass the seeds, rub your ear lobes into gardens, watch them bear fruit, it all begins hear. plant— listen. blossom— laugh. someone has to someone has to someone has to someone has to
Keven Quach (he/they) is a spoken word poet and undergrad student at UC Berkeley. There, Keven studies Dance & Performance and Ethnic Studies while working to develop his artistic voice. As a poet, Keven writes about duty and confusion, about cultural preservation meaning self-preservation, and about the gentler things: home cooking, fresh fruit, love in all its forms. Their work has been featured in Kearny Street Workshop and the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia. 26
“You Can Throw Things Away,” parts i & ii — Kristel Bugayong
Kristel Bugayong (she) is a cartoonist and graphic designer who dabbles in space wizardry. She’s currently working on a book entitled ‘Going Home,’ which explores being Filipino, being American, and being Filipino American. Her portfolio is at kristelb.weebly.com
“Pages from my upcoming book, ‘Going Home,’ a record of my attempts to find home in Mesquite, Texas and Stanford, California and how as a first-generation immigrant I’ve tried to reconcile these physical spaces with the feeling of being stuck in cultural limbo-- that I am not as Filipino as my parents wanted and how people in my hometown did not see me as American either.” 27
Hong Kong â€” Annie Ng
Annie Ng (she) is a student from Hong Kong who works primarily in drawing and collage. Her artwork has explored the concept of home, the relationship between humans and nature, and issues of modern consumerism and capitalism. She is currently working on pieces regarding navigation of Hong Kong politics, identity, and decolonialism. 28
â€œThese companion drawings address my simultaneous love for and fear of home. Meant to be viewed side by side, the drawings show my Hong Kong, the passion it evokes, the memories it dredges up, the demons that still roam within. Together, they portray my juxtaposing desires to return and to forget; they express my discomfort, my yearning, the poignant stings of childhood. â€œ
stable — Emilia Porubcin Eomma and Appah chose America because they thought the weather changed the least here. He abandoned teaching because children were volatile; she started nursing because the hours were routine. We are Protestant, not Catholic, because a body on the cross leaves it imbalanced, and our TV only ever flickers between baseball and prayer service. Both channels are littered with men in sweaty shirtsleeves. I started becoming a doctor because medicine made sense: if something is wrong, treat it, and it will get better. But you threw your body on my cross and all of a sudden everything is imbalanced, because your hands are so much bigger than the ones I held in college, because your limestone factory skin reddens with any hint of emotion, because your eyes are an uncertain hazel. You ask me, “Let me balance your burden,” but how can I trust you if even your eyes change color? Eomma and Appah rarely took us to the beach. On the weekends they did, they stood above the shoreline to watch Oppah and I dash into the water, his knees knocking so much he could barely run straight. We jumped over waves and laughed most when we fell down. We dreamed of the salt and sand and blue. Our parents preferred the rocks. You don’t understand why white means death in Korea because you didn’t hear my parents when I told them I would marry you. You never saw the way they looked at frothy seawater; you never tasted your own bloody tongue; you never called and went straight to voicemail. You ask me, “Let me balance your burden,” but I am the one who was crucified.
Emilia Porubcin (she) is an indecisive undergrad. She makes too many lists and is always wishing for more time.
1.5 — Katrina Pantig My parents traversed the Pacific Ocean from their homeland with hopes for a better future. I moved from Diamond Subdivision in Angeles City, Pampanga to Dimond District in East Oakland, California when I was three years old. Adolescence was like walking on a balance beam. I extended my arms, looked straight ahead and moved one foot in front of the other. I grew up in a working class immigrant family. My parents did nothing but work hard and when they got tired, they worked harder. They supported my siblings, my grandmothers, and recently immigrated relatives who needed help to settle in the US. I understood at a very early age what sacrifice was. I dreamt of the day I could repay my parents for everything they’ve done for us. I had a deep sense of utang na loob. Look straight ahead, don’t fall. I was a chubby, brown, talkative, and sometimes awkward girl. I didn’t know how to express my pain. I didn’t know how to ask for help. I worked hard in school, tried to help raise my younger siblings and have fun all at the same time. This balancing act got harder when I was in high school. I was involved in leadership at my school and church, I had responsibilities at home as an older sister, and I worked two jobs. When I was 17, my sister died and I finally lost my balance. Get back up. By God’s grace and with the support from my parents, I made it to a four-year university, and graduated. I’m learning, growing and reminding myself everyday that I am a product of that journey across the world, I am the future my ancestors dreamt of, and every morning, I wake up with opportunities that many people I know will never have. Keep going. Move one foot in front of the other. Carrying the pain, history, culture, and values from my upbringing is where I learned the importance of hard work, respect for others, love for community, and love for myself. Head up, look forward.
Katrina Pantig (she) is a Filipino-American from the Bay Area working in higher education.
content warnings: islamophobia, state-sanctioned violence
Speak Out : Solidary Space on the Executive Order on Administration — Angel Trazo
Angel Trazo (she) is a Filipino-American artist and recent graduate of Colgate University (Biology and Art & Art History). She hopes to pursue an MA in Asian American Studies and create artwork about AAPI identity stories.
“This sketch was created during the Speak Out event at Colgate University on March 9, 2017. It depicts the voices of students - immigrants, allies, minorities, those with privilege - and the discussion we had that night.” 31
recently i seem to be a tourist in my own home — Katherine Liu
Katherine Liu (she) is a sophomore at Stanford University who is interested in visual arts and computer graphics. She hopes that one day she can create something really special.
“A Chinese girl sits in a subway car full of people and reminders that she is living in Trump’s America.”
Church Choir Thoughts — Isabela Bumanlag Grandparents’ Day I sat in choir Laughter like rays seeping through stained glass But alas their smiles and hugs could not reach the distant lands I daydreamed of
Take All of Me — Momo Hoshi
Oceans away emerald hills of warm earth enveloping me The stained boat sailing through the slight chills But alas I sat in choir where I did not care for “abuelita” or “grandma” or “grand-maman” Sunlight and silence make delicate prisms with tearstained glass I cried in choir where all I wanted was my Lola
“There is a desire to recognize them for everything they have been through to give us the privileges we enjoy today. However, there is a desire to have them see us in our entirety as well, without conceding their own culture and traditions. Is it possible to be seen by our family the way we ask our surrounding friends and community to see us?”
Momo Hoshi (they/she) is a 5th year undergraduate student double majoring in Music and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. She is always involved with multiple music groups on campus, with one of their favorite performances being Winter 2017, when she played baritone saxophone in a Sax Quartet Concerto with the Stanford Wind Symphony. Visual art, although not her main art practice, is important as a medium of emotional release.
Isabela Bumanlag (she) is majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Creative Writing. Her only claim to poetry fame is a middle-school statewide contest (but maybe there is hope for a JT-esque comeback). As a Filipina child immigrant, she has grappled with and triumphed over many of the issues that LTS explores. #slay Nevertheless, she has profound appreciation for both her Pilipino and American cultures. She has a indefatigable belief that it is possible to love and honor both homeland and country. 33
Untitled Works from Collection “Broken Portraits” — Kaysang
when they call me by a quarter of the name i was given by my lama, it takes my friends three shouts — three times of a single syllable flung into my exile air instead of the four-syllabic beauty of ancient meanings and modern abundance: my friends say half of us are called by the same first name and the rest by a version of my second. i still prefer to swallow three quarters of my name — if it means i am a face in a sea of names. even if it feels like three quarters of my soul has been sucked into the pitch black of refugee settlement mundaneness. even if it feels like half my heart has been buried into the corners of strange cities in strange countries my grandma doesn’t want to know about; she’s happy living inside memories of girlhood back home and becoming woman in the bellies of plastic-shelter refugee camps. one quarter of my name leaves just one quarter of my self breathing.
Kaysang (she) is an activist and poet living in Dharamshala, India.
mother, i have inherited your hands. each wrinkle speaks of decades older than your age; no amount of hand-creams and vaseline can conceal these markers of laboring love. each crack in your skin holds stories of a hundred thousand days feeding a hundred souls. your brothers call you durga, fierce one, protectress — they are your sons and i, your only daughter. your hands know only to love, to labor, to devote, to attend. mother, i have inherited your hands and their full weight.
Untitled Works from Collection “Broken Portraits” — Kaysang content warning: violence
we have forgotten how to hold your hand, sisters of our snowland. our hearts beat slower each hour to the beat of that white crane’s wings — he too is tired, it seems. so long have we spoken this same, singular tongue, your diverse music has started sounding alien to our ears. who are we to say what your heart aches for? our bodies have soaked in too much of this summer-land sun — i’m scared now, i’m scared i’m forgetting the arid wind of my father’s ngari and the wooded joys of my mother’s kyidong. the blood in my veins has flowed so far already too far from kailash — it no longer sings my ancestor’s songs. my feet move backwards now, i’m searching for you, sisters killed by red bullets, sisters gone missing on red winter nights, sisters huddled deep in red prisons we don’t know of. teach me again how to hold your hand, teach me again how to sing your songs.
Listen to the Silence
2018 Zine 1st annual zine launch & open mic January 19, 2018 22nd annual Asian American issues conference January 20, 2018
Chair Janet Chen Committee Members Vanuyen Pham Maddie Kim Design Janet Liu Melissa Chen
Immigration Narratives: Advancing Our Movement