I started working on this piece three weeks ago. King County was ground zero for the US outbreak and Seattle artists were some of the first and worst hit economically by the pandemic. As an artist myself, it was heartbreaking to see my community suddenly lose all their work (they’re still losing work). I wanted to write something that named not only our struggles, but also our resilience in the face of those struggles. Yet with bad news growing seemingly by the minute and my depression/anxiety along with it, writing became excruciating. I wasn’t sure I would ever finish. Happy to say, however, thanks to the support of family and friends and the determination of my own resilience, I FINISHED and the piece went live today, on my birthday! Gratitude to all the incredible artists who spoke with me for this special piece (you inspire me) and to the wonderful people whose encouragement got me to the finish line
COVID-19 cases continue to grow in King County and officials recommend employers allow as many people to telecommute as possible to slow the spread of coronavirus. Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and other tech firms tell their thousands of Seattle-based employees to stay home. Seattle typically ranks 2nd worst in the nation for traffic congestion but the streets clear rapidly. As many more businesses are restricted or closed, the roads become even emptier and the early morning commute becomes completely unrecognizable. I took these images overlooking downtown Seattle on a Friday morning, around 7:30-8:00am, during what should have been bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic.
** DUE TO COVID-19 THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE **
I am honored to be a core organizer and presenter for the Mixed Race Seattle Conference, coming up this March, and we want you to join us!
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Blaine Memorial Methodist Church, Seattle WA
Free and open for all to attend
Space limited, RSVP required: https://forms.gle/56TuhnXbFVWKfDt38
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/554952665324522/
Mixed race is the fastest growing youth ID in the United States. Yet despite being a major presence in the US, multiracial people continue to experience oppression, racism, and marginalization in different ways. The Mixed Race Seattle Conference is a transformative day of storytelling, art, and creative expression meant to grow community among multiracial teens, young adults, and their families. It is a non-religious, anti-racist event that centers Black, Brown, and Indigenous multiracial peoples and is being held as an act of liberation and decolonization.
Morning activities include an opening welcome address, a workshop for parents of Mixed kids, and a youth-led workshop for teens and college-age students. The afternoon will feature a panel discussion of Mixed Race young adults. The day will conclude with a panel discussion of multiracial and multicultural artists, and performances will be offered throughout the day (presenter and performer bios below).
You can attend the entire day, or drop in for specific events. Light breakfast, snacks and water will be provided. Parking is available in the lot in front of the building. The site is ADA-accessible, and the event is barrier-free: if you require special accommodations, including translation and ASL services, please contact us at least two weeks in advance on the RSVP form. *IMPORTANT* Don’t forget to RSVP as space is limited (link above). For questions, comments, or to volunteer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mixed Race Seattle Conference is being co-hosted by Seattle JACL, the flagship chapter of the nations’ second oldest Asian American civil rights organization, and sponsored by Families of Color Seattle (FOCS), a local family support nonprofit led by mothers of color, and is made possible through a 2020 Legacy Grant from JACL National and a smART Ventures Grant from The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. Check out this incredible program… (We hope to see you there!)
“I don’t think I’ve ever met a social justice photographer before.”
The white male teacher, an award-winning photographer with a career spanning four decades, was curious. I get a lot of weird and uncomfortable reactions when I tell other photographers that my focus is social justice photography. There is stuttering, confusion, complete silence. Sometimes there are warnings about the danger; that I need to be careful. Sometimes I get congratulations for doing good work, though the congratulator has no idea what I’m talking about. I hadn’t expected this teacher to know or understand much about what I do with photography either, so no big feelings. At first.
But then, during the workshop, things started to happen. The teacher continually referred to women in the room as “ladies” and made huge assumptions about us: that we did our makeup to accentuate contours (I don’t wear makeup); or that we find Matthew McConaughey dreamy in his recent contact commercial (??). When the teacher talked about posing subjects, he showed “masculine” versus “feminine” poses. He noted with today’s “political correctness” he wasn’t sure how to talk about these things, but then talked about them, anyway. The so-called masculine pose was confident, reflective, bold. The so-called feminine pose was coquettish, demure, folded in. He picked the two youngest, prettiest women in class to be his models. No men.
I began to feel things. Exhaustion, frustration, disassociation. When I came home the anger came with me. I felt like pounding something, then screaming.
I’ve been considering for a while whether to share a personal reading challenge with you. I hesitate to set personal goals on the interweb because if I don’t see them through (which happens) my goals look kind of silly. Yet even as I’ve been considering, I have been reading and reading. Until I’m already 10 percent of the way through my challenge. At which point I have finally realized, I am the one being silly and that you all might actually want to hear what I’m doing.
So, here goes. This is a post to tell you all about #MyTaiwaneseAmericanReadingChallenge.
I have challenged myself to read/watch 100 books and films about Taiwan and Taiwanese America by the end of 2020, if not sooner. I would prefer most of these books and films to be by Taiwanese and Taiwanese Americans themselves, but I know that won’t always be the case. I am aiming for a majority of works set in Taiwan but am also interested in books that explore Taiwanese diasporic experiences.
Let me tell you where this all began.
“There is colorism in this work. There is shadeism in this work.
There is anti-blackness in this work. And we are here to critique that.”
Executive Director and Co-founder, Midwest Mixed
Heat bounces off the parking lot pavement, blazes bright off light beige walls of the church where the conference is being held. It’s a typically warm, humid morning in Minneapolis. Summer glimmers across a yellow Black Lives Matter banner, bold against the south wall. Inside, the air is comfortable and cooled. Organizers and volunteers in deep purple T-shirts, “Midwest Mixed” written in turquoise, mill about, preparing. More attendees drift through doors, queue up, write their pronouns, hang lanyards from their necks.
Volunteers hand us beautiful 29-page, full color programs. Workshops include reflective writing, creative movement, dialogue and panels. I appreciate right away that there is an emphasis in the workshops on healing, parenting, mental wellness, and healthy families. There is note taking space in the back of the program and a worksheet entitled “A Deep Dive On My Identity” to help attendees think on the different intersections of our whole selves (e.g. geography, nationality, ethnicity, language, race, religion, socioeconomic status, ability, sexual orientation, gender ID, etc.).
In the marketplace, vendors sell social justice buttons, cards and shirts, jewelry from Africa, Corage Dolls to build self-love and confidence in girls of color. Posters display Maria P. P. Root’s Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People, a history of the multiracial movement, definitions of terms like intersectionality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender pronouns. Multi-medium works by local artists fill social rooms and hallways, including Within, Between, and Beyond: a multi-layered interactive installation on mixed race and transracial adoptee stories.
When my sister, Cherry Cayabyab (KAYA Strategik), first asked me to join her NCORE workshop on Census 2020 organizing and to add presentation slides on the Multiracial population–I was hesitant. Multiracial people, it seemed to me, weren’t “hard to count” as much as complicated to count. With pressing Census 2020 issues like the citizenship question, language barriers, technology access, etc., I didn’t want to take up space. But Cherry pointed out Multiracial people are historically under-counted in the US and, subsequently, there isn’t great data on mixed-race (identifying) populations. That got my attention. Couldn’t disagree there.
So, I signed on to be a co-presenter and headed to NCORE in Portland last month. NCORE, the National Conference On Race and Ethnicity, is a conference largely for higher education administrators and consultants. Held at the Portland Convention Center, Oregon, this year, NCORE saw a record-breaking 5,000 attendees. The conference is in its third decade.
The workshop Cherry and I gave was Census 2020 Campus Mobilizing and Action, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 3:30p. In particular, we discussed how campuses can organize to better represent their historically under-counted populations by encouraging communities to accurately fillout the next decennial Census. The next Census will take place April-May 2020. It will be the first in US history that residents can complete online.
I helped present on various topics. But for this post, I want to go over three slides on the Multiracial population that I added to our slide deck…
I had the very distinct pleasure of serving on the advisory committee for the 7th annual Womxn’s Creative Industries Meet Up this year. Womxn’s Creative Industries Meet Up is an intergenerational, interactive event for resource-sharing between womxn-identified media makers, specifically centering young womxn of color. The 2019 Meet Up, “Art in the Digital Landscape,” was held at Seattle Central Library downtown on Saturday, April 27. Compared to previous years, the format was changed to allow more connection, engagement, and dialogue. We began the afternoon with an introduction and group activity lead by host Angela Brown. Angela then facilitated a panel of three brilliant womxn of color: ChrisTiana ObeySumner, Natasha Marin, and Jenny Ku aka “The Shanghai Pearl.” The final portion was a community dialogue. We sat in a circle together and discussed what mattered to us as womxn navigating artistry in the digital landscape, especially self-and-soul care. It was an empowering, much-needed, and rejuvenating space. Some of my photos from this lovely day:
“How do I talk to my kids about race? Where do I start?”
“How do I talk to them about something that isn’t real, yet is a reality?”
“How do I teach my young child about something so abstract?”
I define myself first as a mother, feminist, artist and activist. I am a writer, photographer, multimedia maker and creator. These pursuits are my passion. They give me life and fill my soul every day. But since writing my first book Raising Mixed Race, I have also found myself in the work of equity consulting (particularly in school communities), parent/adult antiracist education, and youth diversity support. With a Master’s Degree in Human Development and a decade working as an early educator before I became an artivist, it feels right to have come full circle.
Starting with the first field interviews I conducted for Raising Mixed Race, I have at this point listened to, advised, and spoken with hundreds of parents about their experiences with parenting and race. These parents are people of all different racial and ethnic backgrounds. I’m a researcher and read many studies, books, articles on systemic racism. I go to race conferences, equity trainings, attend events to watch some of the most renowned race speakers. But I’ve learned just as much, if not more, from being in community with so many parents over the years.
To where I realized, I better write some things down. In particular, the answer to that question I get asked more than any other. I call it The Big Question. How do we talk with our kids about race?
I just got back from two and half weeks in Taiwan and Japan with my family. The trip was my son’s first visit to the homelands. It was a whirlwind that left me with a lot to process and unpack. I had some pretty lofty ideas about how things were going to go. I envisioned our 18 days abroad as a heritage journey during which stories would be richly transferred across generations. In some ways it turned out the way I hoped (romanticized). But in more ways it turned out totally different than expected. I’m home with something I already knew. Defining our Asian Mixed American (and transnational) family identity has never been, and never will be, straightforward or uncomplicated.
More to come in that department over the months ahead. In the mean time, wanted to share some of my photography from our travels. I’ve been to Taiwan and Japan many times but this was the first time I’ve been as a semi-pro photographer. Of course I took lots of personal, family photos (mostly not sharing those here). But a professional goal of mine was to also practice shooting as many non-family photos as possible. It was an incredible opportunity to be outside my usual Seattle and US shooting context. And, I wondered, what does photography look like when it’s both heritage and travel photography; when the artist is part-insider and part-outsider? I’ll let you chew on that one. Here are 18 of my favorite images from 18 days abroad: