Written by Andrea Sison
Because of the lack of representation of Asians in the media people tend to use stereotypes instead. Being a teen is all about exploring and learning about yourself. Having clubs in high school that are associated with representing and explaining Asian cultures could be a big help to Asian American students. This gives them a community of people of the same age that may share common interests. This would help them build a relationship not only with the people but also the culture. This is where they could freely explore their identity and share the experience with others. Clubs like these are also a great way to learn about different cultures as one can be exposed to not only one but many cultures. This could include learning through traditions, foods, or even through people.
Being a part of various cultural clubs can help shape our identity. I see this as an outlet for teens. I think having a community outside of school is really good as we can learn from someone older or be someone who can teach the young. At the same time having a community of people of the same age is a good balance of that interaction. We can relate to each other and we can learn from one another. This could be a place where we could be less formal and really freely express ourselves and discover.
Having clubs like these also help promote the Asian community. We hold festivals, meetings, or watch parties that are associated with the Asian culture. We also share our culture through food and other activities. This could help bring recognition in school and in our community. This could help teens be more confident in sharing themselves. This also brings many opportunities to us to help spread our cultures with others and build new perspectives about Asians. This is something that could help us break the stereotypes that has been established. This helps us prove that we are more than what people believe in. That the stereotypes they use do not define us and should not be what people would use when they first see us. Asian clubs are also fun learning environments. We get to discover new things through various activities, not just by reading and listening to someone. We get to learn through games, movies, or other social activities.
For me, being in an Asian club both in school and out of school has been a fun way to discover a new community. This allowed me to interact with many teens that I can relate with. This is a super fun way to learn about other cultures because I get to share the experience with my new found friends. Being in an Asian club also helped me express myself more, it helped me realize what I stand for. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment whenever I get to volunteer at activities that lead to the spread of culture. I feel very happy sharing my culture and others’ culture to as many people as we can. I also feel like this is a way for me to contribute in educating and spreading awareness of the Asian community.
Written by Travis Duong
Asian culture is extremely diverse and can differ from region to region. A misconception which has been taken to the extreme of labeling all Asian Cultures as Chinese. But in reality, each culture is extremely different.
China is one of the largest countries and has one of the world’s largest populations and a diverse culture to match. This large population makes China one of the more diverse countries in Asia, which contains fifty-five different ethnic groups within its borders such as the Zhuang (the largest minority group). Each minority group has its customs and traditions such as the Tibetan new year or Nadaam (which is a Mongolian celebration) making them completely different from the Mandarin-speaking majority who live in the larger urban areas. Chinese people celebrate several traditional holidays such as Chinese New Year (which is celebrated with a host of fireworks shows, dragon and lion dances, family reunion dinners, red decorations at home for luck, and the gift exchange of red envelopes which contain money and symbolize good luck and prosperity), the mid-autumn festival (which is celebrated on October 1st, and celebrated by coming together as a family to eat, displaying lanterns, and worshipping the moon with gifts), etc. The Hanfu, the Tangzhuang, and the Cheongsam are all examples of Chinese traditional clothing. These garments of clothing resemble long silk dresses, even in styles for males. In addition, China, like many Asian cultures, has its own form of martial arts called kung fu, which is commonly seen in movies such as IP man. Kung fu, like its country, is extremely diverse with many different sub-styles such as Tai-chi, and Shaolin. China is also known for its many different religions. China’s native religions include Taoism, Confucianism, and many other folk religions; however, China also hosts many foreign religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.
Japan is a culturally unique country because it is an island nation with strong connections to their past. The Japanese people have their own host of ethnic groups within their borders, such as the Ryukyuan people of southern Okinawa. The Japanese have also colonized many other indigenous people in addition to their large number of immigrants that they have received from different countries such as Korea, China, and Brazil, which comprise a large percentage of the minorities in Japan with their subculture. The Japanese people celebrate many holidays such as Children’s Day (which is celebrated on May 5th and March 3rd to pray for the good health and prosperity of their children) and The Star Festival (celebrated because two stars Altair and Vega which were previously separated by the milky way “meet”). Other holidays involve the importance of their environment and previous emperors. These holidays are celebrated by gathering together with family to pray and eat. Japanese traditional clothing includes the Yukata (which both men and women wear), Hakama (Worn by men to formal or cultural events), the Happi (worn by Japanese male performers usually dancing), the Tsukesage (a more casual dress for women that is defined by the designs and images on the back, sleeves, and bottom of the dress), and Susohiki (a formal dress associated with geisha women who perform traditional dances or performances and defined by its length which can be over 6 and a half feet and by its bright colors and expensive materials). Japanese traditional clothing for both men and women resemble a long cotton dress with long sleeves (except for the happi) with a belt that ties to the waist with bright colors. Black or grey colors are usually worn by men, while women tend to wear darker colors. Japan also has its own martial arts such as Karate, Kendo, Aikido, Sumo (which has its roots in martial arts but was turned into a sport as entertainment), and Judo. Karate is one of the most common martial arts though its origins are dispersed. Its styles originate from China, the Ryukyu people of southern Okinawa, and even reaches as far as the Indian Subcontinent and remains a staple of Japanese culture and history, while Kendo, Judo, and Aikido have a more local origin as both originate from Japan and have roots in the fighting style of the samurai (i.e the swiftness in the movements and emphasis on that came before). The only religions that have a major following in Japan are Shintoism and Buddhism.
South Korea is a rather small nation compared to the previous two nations and has a more unified culture with less of a cultural divide between regions. Holidays celebrated by Korea’s people include New Year’s Day (celebrated on the second full moon after the winter solstice traditionally, or January 1st in recent years with a gathering of family and watching the first sunrise of the year), Seollal/Lunar New Years (celebrated on varied days per year but primarily on January 24-27 and hold traditional importance as it is a holiday where people go home and reunite with family and eat traditional food such as mandu guk/dumpling soup), Children’s Day (celebrated on May 5th and is a holiday that holds less traditional value but is a day dedicated to strengthening the bond of families with families going to amusement parks, zoos, etc), and Chuseok (celebrated on October 30 - September 2 to give thanks for a bountiful harvest and perform memorial rituals to commemorate and wish for the prosperity of their ancestors in the afterlife). Korean Traditional clothing includes Chogori, Ch'ima, Durumagi, Gat-chogori, Changot, and Ssukae Ch'ima for women; Cheogori, Paji, Dop'o, Hakch'angui, Shimui, T'eol Magoja, and Jignyeongp'o for men and dangui, dol, saekdong jeogori, sagusam, benet jeogori, teol baeja, bokkeon, embroidered socks, and tosu for children. These types of clothing are only allowed to be worn on special occasions. Korean martial arts stretch back centuries, similar to the other Asian nations with their own form of martial arts. The most common form of Korean Martial Arts is Taekwondo which was originally used as a self-defense technique has now turned into a sport, whereas Taekkyeon holds more traditional value as it is practiced almost exclusively in Korea, was initially used for self-defense by nobles, and can be dated back to the 5th century. South Korea does not have an official religion but maintains some of its Confucius ideas and ancestral rituals, and its most common religions are Christianity and Buddhism.
India is a very large country in southern Asia and rivals the population of China, with the diverse history and culture to match. Holidays celebrated in India include Republic Day (celebrated on January 26, commemorating the ratification of the Constitution of India, and is celebrated with parades, cultural dances, and speeches), Indian Independence Day (celebrated on August 15, commemorates the separation of India from the UK, and celebrated with a parade, flag raising, and singing), and Diwali/Festival of lights (celebrated November 14 2020 but the date changes every year and is celebrated by lighting candles, lanterns, and diyas which would decorate homes, taking oil baths at the dawn of each day and decorating the floors of homes with rangoli designs). Traditional Indian clothing commonly includes Sarees (for women) and Kurtas (for men). The Saree is a long elegant dress commonly designed in bright colors and embroidered with different types of designs, ranging from flowers to butterflies. The Kurtas resembles an elongated shirt that can be designed in a wide range of colors and can be embroidered. Martial arts are not commonly practiced in India but sports are more commonplace. In India, one of the most popular sports is cricket which is a sport somewhat similar to baseball but works slightly differently. It is similar to baseball in the way where a person (bowler in cricket) throws the ball to be hit by the striker (person with the bat) as far as they can and to prevent the other team from bringing the ball back. The way to score points is that the two batters (striker and non-striker) run to the opposite side of the pitch which is a sand rectangle in the middle of the field.
Vietnam is a coastal nation that is directly south of China. While its culture has been heavily influenced by China, it is still different from China and has a history that is almost as long as China’s. Vietnamese holidays include Tet (Lunar New years is celebrated usually on January 24 - January 27 by gathering with family and singing karaoke), The Bai Dinh Pagoda festival (A spring festival that starts after the first day of the lunar year and ends on the third lunar month and is used as a way to worship multiple beliefs/religions such as Buddhism or Confucianism), and Vu Lan Festival (which is considered the Vietnamese mother’s day is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month and traditionally celebrates the returning of souls to their families from the afterlife and is used to express gratitude and love to parents and ancestors). Other holidays celebrated in Vietnam commemorate the freedom Vietnam received after rebelling from their multiple colonizers, religious holidays, the celebration of past rulers, and celebrating one’s ancestors and family. Vietnamese traditional clothing includes the Áo Giao lĩnh, the Áo Tứ Thân, the Áo dài, and the Áo bà ba. Vietnamese traditional clothing is usually made with bright colors, made with silk or cotton, and usually worn by women. Each being different styles of formal clothing worn usually to holidays or festivals and in modern times primarily worn by women but can be worn by men. The Vietnamese martial arts, Viet Vo Dao, was heavily influenced by Chinese martial arts and emphasizes spirituality. However, it only is taught in Vietnam and has not gained much footing internationally. Religions commonly found in Vietnam are Buddhism and Catholicism whereas more traditional religions include Taoism and Confucianism.
Asian cultures share many different aspects such as being heavily family-centric, similar holidays, and honoring one’s lineage, but each culture has its special myriad of different and unique features that can have rich histories to them. The misconception that most Asian ethnicities can be categorized as Chinese is common among places with diverse populations. While it is true that China had a hand in shaping and influencing these cultures, each became significantly different from China’s own. For example, the Vietnamese were a Chinese colony but celebrate different holidays, have an almost completely different language from the Chinese, and their specialized and original martial arts share very little similarities with China’s Kung fu. The cultures listed are only a small portion of Asian cultures, but there are still many other cultures that have their specific customs and beliefs. Even within the cultures listed, there is much more such as history, literature, music, and dances, which most people barely even notice, but with the advent of the internet, these resources are readily available and open for anyone to educate themselves and prevent another unique Asian culture from being labeled as Chinese.
Written by Khaled Itani
(Originally published by Asia Trend)
In recent weeks associate psychology professor at the University of Central Florida, Charles Negy has come under fire by different groups for his track record of racist and problematic tweets and comments. Of these tweets was one downplaying the systemic injustice towards African Americans by pointing to the success of Asian Americans as a model minority.
UCF has announced an internal investigation into Professor Negy’s conduct, though many students, staff and alumni remain frustrated over a lack of transparency. On Friday June 5 several UCF executives including President Cartwright, Provost Johnson and Interim Chief Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Officer Dr. Kent Butler held a panel to answer questions from the community regarding the response of UCF in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police and the untimely distasteful tweets of Professor Negy.
The event, held over zoom, was impassioned with powerful emotions, and exposed several rifts between the university’s administration and the student body especially regarding minority representation. This situation is the first major challenge of UCF’s new President Dr. Alexander Cartwright , hopefully having this powerful wakeup call at the start of his term will encourage his presidency to take active steps in mending the deep wounds of racism and gaps in minority representation entrenched into the university system. The question will forever loom however, how did such behavior go unchecked for this long?
A common trope used throughout American history is the idea that the general success of Asian Americans as a minority can be used as an excuse to defend the status quo despite all its issues. We have seen it time and time again used by political pundits and even several of us in our own communities who take this as a compliment and uphold it with pride.
It is irresponsible, and overly simplistic to paint all Asian Americans with one brush. We are one of the most diverse groups on the face of the planet and are always eager to remind people of that. So why do we only use it for our own bragging rights instead of also using it to shed light on socioeconomic disparities within our demographic? What about the Hmong American community with unemployment rates over double that of Asian Americans as a general category? What of US born Laotians being below the poverty line compared to not only Asian Americans but to Americans as a whole? Are they model minority too? Is this subject too uncomfortable to talk about? A chilling reality that never makes its way into mainstream talking points.
In an article for Medium, author and activist Deepa Iyer eloquently put coined the term racial bribe that describes this trend perfectly. In the current power dynamic Asian Americans strive for the inherent whiteness of the status quo and in doing so we often disregard association to the African American community. Why do we take the racial bribe? Why do we need to uphold a system where we are second best rather than fight for a system that puts everyone first? Is it because many of us seek to avoid seeming controversial? Is it because we have internalized the vicious attacks on immigrant communities that we “are lucky to be here, so don’t complain”?
There is a dog-eat-dog framework in place, and it pits Black and Asian communities against one another. To whose benefit is such a framework? Ours? We cannot deny the conflicts and tensions of the past but in doing so we cannot deny that the Civil Rights movement was largely led by the Black community and Asian Americans benefited greatly from it as well. We cannot deny that in a pluralistic society, we cannot be at peace if we do not have justice. We cannot be keen to celebrate diversity without also engaging in difficult topics addressing inequality and the grievances of African Americans since the founding of this country on the backs of slaves.
Yes, obviously “we face racism too,” the wounds of racism in East and Southeast Asian communities following COVID19 are still fresh, but why does this need to invalidate the African American struggle in the eyes of our communities? Why does everything have to be a contest? Nobody responds to “Breast Cancer Awareness” with “But All Cancers matter”, why are we doing it now?
We as Asian Americans need to reject anti-blackness and the Model Minority myth in our own communities and not take the racial bribe. We are not a trophy, we are a complex group full of nuance, disparity, and widely differing experiences. We are not a pawn on the chessboard of white supremacy. Our story is not one that has to put down that of our Black neighbors, rather it should be one of justice, not as fellow minorities, but more meaningfully as fellow humans.
Written by Kaylee Duong
For the longest time, there’s been a lack of racial representation in Hollywood and traditional media. However, with the rise of social media such as YouTube and Instagram, many Asian influencers have taken advantage of these platforms to establish their presence within this rising community. YouTubers such as Michelle Phan, Nigahiga, and Wong Fu Productions are just some of the few that have actively established their place online. Not only have Asians established their place on social media, but they’ve also made efforts to have more presence in the film industry. The 2018 film, Crazy Rich Asians was a hit and grossed 238.5 million in the box office. It did well to open everyone’s eyes to new roles for Asians in movies and featured an all Asian cast. Although it wasn’t a perfect representation of all Asians, it still did well to establish visibility for the Asian community in Hollywood.
What many don’t understand is the importance of Asian representation in the media. Lack of proper representation results in unfair stereotyping that damages people’s perception of Asians in society. Stereotypes of Asians, such as being the model minority or nerds, are harmful because they box Asians into a specific role and these perceptions can easily bleed into reality. No single race is simply one “character” that the media portrays. In some films, the races of characters who were originally Asian were changed, and in the cases they do keep an Asian role, they don’t represent the background of the character properly.
There’s plenty of room for improvement but there have been many feats for the Asian community in media. There are plenty of Asian influencers that are making strides within the beauty industry by using media to expand their outreach. Fashion and beauty YouTuber Jenn Im has used her following on social media to launch her own fashion line Eggie and the business has seen successful results. In movies and shows, there has been a gradual emergence of more Asian actors in popular films. Lana Condor is a Vietnamese-born actor and featured in the hit Netflix series, To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Awkwafina, known for her role in Crazy Rich Asians, found many more acting opportunities in big movies such as Jumanji and Ocean's Eight.
Nowadays, social media makes it immensely easier to build representation for Asians within the community and it’s important for both teens and older adults to use social media wisely so that everyone can have a more racially diverse and equal platform.
Written by Andrea Sison
Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month is celebrated in the month of May. This is where we celebrate our different cultures, traditions, and the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This is the time where we recognize the contributions of Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants as well as to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in which the majority of the workers were Chinese immigrants.
Since the month of Ramadan has come to an end, we would like to share what Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr are. Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which is tied to moon phases. Ramadan starts with a crescent moon. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This is a time for them to have spiritual-reflections, self-improvement, and devotion. Ramadan teaches self-control, self-discipline, sacrifice, and to have empathy for the less fortunate. This also teaches Muslims to perform generous acts such as donating to charities. Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims as this is when Allah (God) gave the first chapter of the Quran to Prophet Mohammed. Eid Al-Fitr, also known as the “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” is celebrated at the end of Ramadan. This is traditionally celebrated for three days. Muslims would get together at the mosque for a prayer before spending the rest of the festivities with their family and friends. “Eid Mubarak” means “have a blessed Eid.” This is also a way for them to thank Allah (God) for helping them through the month of fasting. Muslims show their gratitude to Allah (God) by donating to charities. This is also a time for Muslims to forgive those that have wronged them.
Although I am not Muslim, I have friends who are, and being a part of ASA (Asian Student Association) and REACH helped me see and appreciate the diversity in the Asian community. I think learning about different traditions, even if it does not directly apply to me, is important because this helps me understand that the people that make up Asia have their own unique culture and traditions. This helps me appreciate it more and learn how to share it with others as well.
Written by Praveen Sundar
2018. What a year. Many events have happened this year, ranging from the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yet there is one positive that came out of 2018: Asian representation.
2018 has been the biggest year in terms of Asian representation, representation in all mediums. From BTS paving the way in the music industry by winning Billboard’s Favorite Social Artist, to Chloe Kim in sports by winning a gold medal in women’s halfpipe in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. As well as most recently Catriona Gray winning Miss Universe for the Philippines. Yet Asian representation arguably reached its peak in the film industry this year.
With the release of films and TV shows such as: Killing Eve, Patriot Act,and To All the I’ve Loved Before Asian culture has finally made its way into pop culture. But the biggest movement in pop culture of Asian culture was made by the movie Crazy Rich Asians. Crazy Rich Asians, the first major movie with an all Asian cast in 25 years, since the Joy Luck Club. This movie was not only a breakthrough in Asian representation, but also a hit, with a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Personally this movie was one of my favorites of 2018 because of the cultural significance. Being a Malaysian, I was instantly drawn to a movie set in Singapore. One specific scene in the movie struck a major chord, the scene involved the main characters Nick and Rachel and their friends going to a night market and buying food. This scene made me nostalgic of the times I used to do the same with my family, one of the few times I resonated with an American film culturally. Yet the ethnic background of the characters played a small role in the actual plot of the story, making the movie simply a rom com with a full Asian cast.
With 2019 just around the corner the opportunities for Asians to breakthrough on the silver screen are only increasing. Such as the upcoming live action Mulan and Aladdin along with a plethora of other movies and TV shows. In the future we also have the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians: China Rich Girlfriend to look forward to. 2018 has only been the start of major Asian representation.
My Life in China was featured by the Florida Film Festival for two screenings on April 11, 2015, and April 17, 2015. The Asian American Chamber of Commerce and Asia Trend Magazine collaborated for a free reception for director Kenneth Eng from Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 14, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pmat the Y.E.S.S. (Youth Enrichment and Senior Services) Center at the Orlando Fashion Square Mall. Everybody was thrilled to meet the director and connect with various Asian American community leaders! For more information on the documentary, visit www.mylifeinchina.org