New Organizing Project blogger
Ahhh, it’s my favorite time of the year again: Asian Pacific American Heritage month. During the month of May, this is a time to celebrate the vibrant history, culture and rich diversity of Asian Pacific Americans. Now, I’m in the camp that one should commemorate our dynamic history every month but that’s a whole other blog post. For the time being, here are five ways you can celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage month:
1) Subscribe to an Asian American magazine, i.e., Hyphen magazine
Far East Movement on the cover of Hyphen magazine (Photo Credit: channelapa.com)
Hyphen magazine, whose first issue came out in 2003, is a print publication that gives voice to Asian Americans in the arts, politics and pop culture. With the demise of a.Magazine, the staff of Hyphen felt like there wasn’t a magazine out there that told our stories, that went beyond Asian Americans ‘finding their roots’ and took a more critical look at the Asian American diaspora outside of California and New York. Thus, Hypen magazine was born; a magazine by and for Asian Americans. And since 2003, it has steadily grown to become one of the premier outlets for the latest on Asian America.
Special mentions: KoreAm, Audrey Magazine
2) Watch a film about Asian Americans, i.e., “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”
Vincent Chin. (Photo Credit: giantrobot.com)
On June 19th, 1982, Chinese American Vincent Chin was beaten to death in Detroit, Michigan. His assailants, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, blamed Chin for downfall of the U.S. auto industry to Japan despite the fact that Chin was not Japanese nor from Japan. Neither Ebens or Nitz served any jail time and were initially only fined $3,000 for the murder of Chin. While Chin’s death occurred almost thirty years ago, it is crucial for every generation of Asian Americans to remember Chin’s legacy. “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” is a documentary film that covers every last detail of the case, how it became a critical turning point in pan-ethnic Asian American organizing and the lasting implications within the American justice system.
Special mentions: Better Luck Tomorrow, Saving Face
(Photo Credit: discovernikkei.org)
Oftentimes, the Asian American narrative is left out of U.S. history classes. One might find a paragraph or two about the Chinese being brought over to build the transcontinental railroads and you’re lucky if you get even five sentences about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. While certainly not comprehensive, “Strangers From a Different Shore” provides a glimpse into the multi-faceted history of Asian Americans from picture brides to Hmong refugees to the model minority myth. Ronald Takaki weaves personal recollections and oral histories with statistics to provide a detailed history of Asians in America.
Special mentions: “Native Speaker” by Chang-Rae Lee, ” The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri
4) Download music by Asian Americans, i.e., Lyrics Born
Lyrics Born is a Japanese American rapper who has been on the scene since 1992 and is known for his deep, baritone voice and intricate rhymes. As one of the best-selling independent hip hop artists of this era, LB has made a name for himself by constantly evolving his sound and making the kind of music that he, not anyone else, wants. From funk to electro to jazz influences, LB’s music has a little bit of something for everyone. To cop his latest album, “As U Were” which is a must-listen, visit his website or listen to the entire album for free on Myspace.
Special mentions: Shanghai Restoration Project, Rachael Yamagata
5) Read blogs by and about Asian Americans, i.e., reappropriate.com
Jenn, founder of reappropriate.com (Photo Credit: reappropriate.com)
Headed by a blogger who goes by Jenn, reappropriate.com is a blog that talks about Asian American issues through a female and feminist perspective. Jenn writes about issues ranging from pop culture to politics to health and fitness. She writes in a way that is accessible and engaging but also critical and thoughtful. As far as I can tell, she is one of the few female writers in the blogosphere and it is refreshing to have her unique voice on the scene.
Special mentions: channelapa.com, disgrasian.com
Well, there you have it, folks! A list of five different ways to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month. Now, these aren’t the only ways you can commemorate this wonderful month but it’s a good way to start. Now go forth! And let the NOP crew know what you’re doing to observe Asian Pacific American Heritage month!