Month: March 2021

31 Mar 2021

Let’s Talk About “Where Are You From?”

The people who ask this question are all the same. They think they’re asking because they see themselves as a curious individual. In their head, they’ve already got you pegged for where they think you’re from and it can’t possibly be from America! You’re not Caucasian so that’s just impossible because what year are we even living in? They wait on bated breath for your answer because once you say where, they’ve got the perfect response. Are you ready for it? They can say “hello” in that country’s language. Wow so cultured. They once met someone that is the same ethnicity as you. And they just looooooove the one dish that everyone knows your country is known for. “So do you like, make pho at home also?” “Oh my god, that’s so interesting.”

Meanwhile, I play this tired out scenario in my head. Do I give them what they want or do I challenge them and say that I was born and raised in North Seattle. Why is it that the latter answer is never good enough for them? The other thing that irks me about this question is that it always comes from someone that you don’t care about. They come from small interactions with people you only encounter briefly. Why ask a question that you know will go nowhere? That you don’t realize that I will try and get out of immediately. Obviously the people that ask lack social awareness – that’s not even a question, but why do they all have to be so god damn tacky? 

Chriselle Lim said this in a much more polite manner, which is that we know the people who are asking are well-intentioned 95% of the time. Unfortunately for you, our lives have been littered with this question asked by people who were not and because of that we shut off. We’re triggered and we don’t want to answer this anymore. I already have a plan for the next time it’s directed at me which is to pretend that I didn’t hear it. If that makes you feel awkward and uncomfortable, imagine how I feel.

26 Mar 2021

A Golden China Beach

We are now past the one-year mark of being in a pandemic. I look back on this time and remember how rare it was for anyone to be outside initially. My neighborhood, typically crowded on normal days, was a ghost town. As months went on, taking daily walks and being in outdoor spaces became the norm. It was a good opportunity for me to even spend time in areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Having only been to China Beach a couple times before, I finally had a sudden urge to drive there after work one night as the sun went down. I was by myself and it was freezing so it wasn’t the picture perfect experience I envisioned it would be. But I knew, despite that, I couldn’t have this experience in Seattle – being less than 30 min away from a beach and walking on real sand.

As things start to look up for everyone post-pandemic and we go back to normal, a small part of me is going to miss these moments of calm. Who or what will remind us that when we don’t have much to do, we can just drive out to the beach for a quick stroll?

25 Mar 2021

An O.C. Rewatch Podcast

Growing up, there was no shortage in cult teen-centered television shows. There was The O.C., One Tree Hill, Greek, Gossip Girl, etc, but in 2021, why does this feel non-existent? With no show like this to latch onto, actresses and stars of The O.C., Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke are giving us a taste of nostalgia with a new podcast. Appropriately titled, “Welcome to the OC, Bitches!” Rachel and Melinda, will revisit previous episodes of the series and share some of their behind-the-scenes commentary from when they were on the show.

A description of the podcast: “Zip up your Juicy Couture tracksuits and grab a seat by the pool while they deliver the ultimate O.C.-rewatch podcast. Each week they’ll take you back to a particular episode, share behind-the-scenes scoop, and interview guests who were part of the OC experience.”

If there was any show from back in the day that I would want to revisit, it would be this one.

[Source]

22 Mar 2021

Safety and Speaking Up

Before we were in official pandemic lockdown, I was in an Uber where my driver was speaking to myself and another passenger about the coronavirus and how it originated because people in China eat “weird things.” It was late in the evening. I was tired and as uncomfortable as I felt, I didn’t have the energy to engage with racism. When do we ever have the energy for these types of conversations that happen over and over again? Sitting in the front seat I wondered if I had clapped back, what would happen to me? He clearly knew I was Asian when I entered the vehicle, was he testing me? What are the odds that we engage in a civilized conversation where we hear each other out vs. something that escalated further?

Too often in my life, I feel like I’m forced to make a choice. Do I want my voice or do I want my safety? As I read all of these [anti-racism posts] from other Asians and the statements they’ve put out, I think back to online bullies behind the screen. You can be tough behind a screen because of some anonymity. You can also be brave with your words behind a screen, but when faced with a real life moment, can you show up in the same way? In the last year, I am 0/2 on anti-asian racism directed at me.

I spend a lot of energy reflecting on these two moments. I replay moments like these in my head for no good reason other than wondering what could’ve happened that specific day if I had spoken up. I wonder if someday I’ll have a redemption moment – one in which I fight back with my words against racism or shut someone down so quickly they feel defeated or better yet embarrassed. My previous history doesn’t say much for my chances in this, but I remain hopeful.

Everyone wants to be the person that can have a quick comeback in any situation. Instead, these moments remind me of a more painful childhood. They were wasted years of being the punching bag for anti-asian jokes and hurtful racism. Why did I desire popularity so much and why did having friends feel like currency? The more I had, the richer my life became. If my friends laughed, so did I. But if your friends are laughing at you, you have to force your own laughter. I couldn’t afford to be friend-less so my only option was to continue to take it. Laugh it off and remind myself that it will end soon and hope that eventually we’ll all find something else to laugh at. Adult me knows better. If this ever happened to me now, I wouldn’t waste my time, but younger me was young and vulnerable. Having friends means you’re like everyone else. You blend in – it’s the thing that many of us have so desperately desired as Asian Americans.

Among friends, I’ve been referred to as “the easy target.” It was the response I got when I would ask “Why I’m being picked on” or questioning if we were actually friends? “Of course we are, you’re just an easy target”. Made to sound endearing, how silly of me to think that it was something negative when the attention was on me. As I see and hear this phrase now as the rationale between why [our elderly Asian are being murdered] and attacked, these words are piercing and painful. The label of “easy target” carried into my adult life, and has now spread to our entire race. 

Though I feel very far from my childhood, [these string of recent attacks] remind me of the mental and emotional pain that I endured for many years. As an Asian American adult in my 30s, I feel scared and once again, small and weak. It’s the thing as of late that has put a target on our backs and fed into these harmful stereotypes. I hate this because Asian people are not weak and as we have seen in the last week, [they are resilient] and not afraid to fight back. 

The sentiment is well-intentioned. Use your platform, use your voice, educate the people you know. However, there’s something else that’s not being said that deserves empathy and understanding. Those that are being impacted by these events are silent because we have had to be silent for a long time – sometimes for survival. Not all of us are ready to open these wounds yet and we need to allow space and time for people to get there. I understand the urgency in this moment right now, but we can’t force anyone. We all process on our own time. 

I’m supposed to end my posts with a call to action. If there’s something you take away from this please know that this period of time where Asians have to constantly defend themselves against violence, hate crimes, and hate speech is hard for us. Some people may be like me and are more comfortable thinking a bit longer about things and being intentional that you miss your opportunity to act. It’s not always intentional, but a learned habit. If you are someone that witnesses – sees or hears any POC being attacked and you feel safe to do so, please step in. Speak up or use yourself physically to create space between the targeted and the attacker. That is allyship.

Author’s Note: This is my own personal narrative, I do not want to make assumptions about others’ experiences, pain, or trauma nor generalize the Asian American experience as a whole. I hoped to share a piece of myself and my story with you while understanding that everyone’s experience is unique despite the common thread of being Asian.

Resources to support Asian Americans:

20 Mar 2021

A Note For This Week

Like many of you, I am still grappling with my feelings and my words on how to describe or even make sense of what happened this past week in Atlanta. I can’t. And it’s going to take me more than a few days to process. What I won’t do is mince words. If the media and the police dept. won’t say it, I will. This was absolutely a hate crime. There is no other way to see it. If you are someone that is publicly saying that 6/8 people killed having been Asian women at three targeted massage parlors is not a hate crime, you are making a racist statement. Ask yourself why you are defending a 21-year old gunman who has done this and what purpose this serves you. How do people begin to defend the gunman? Because he likes pizza, music, and God? And why is calling it a “hate crime” something you cannot acknowledge? Acknowledge human lives.

I’m sure when I’m ready, I will put together something more structurally sound – maybe more grammatically correct. For now, as I continue to gather myself, I want to share out a few pieces that have been written or created by other AAPI people on the aftermath of not only this week, but what we have been facing for the last year.

15 Mar 2021

Grammys Did BTS Dirty

If you’ve been with Yow Yow! for some time, then you know that we always cover awards shows. Every year, we discuss the winners, the red carpet, the snubs, and the things we learn after it all goes down. It’s not lost on any of us that the public are calling on award shows to be more diverse and inclusive. The pattern is that they give enough for us to be grateful, but also to shut us up. As a newly BTS stan, I watched myself become more invested in the group’s wins and aspirations. They are the group that you want to root for. Days and weeks leading up to the award show, their promos were everywhere. Celebrities were even getting in on this and it felt like there was a campaign rallying for a “Dynamite” win.

In 2019, BTS presented an award for the first time and said on stage, “we’ll be back.” Sure enough, they did return in 2020 to perform “Old Town Road” alongside Lil Nas X.” While it was a performance on the Grammy stage, the guys wanted a chance someday to perform their own song. It was 2021 in which they not only were receiving a nomination, but also invited to perform. It was supposed to be their year actually. Plenty of media outlets predicted a win and that they’d have one of the best performances of the night and it was! Now, no one here is saying that “Rain On Me” wasn’t a summer bop. It was a great song, but if we’re looking at the numbers, there is no comparison. That begs all of us to wonder, “how are winners actually being determined?”

For an award show who boasts about BTS being a part of their program, they sure have a funny way of showing their love to the group. BTS participated in numerous interviews with the organization leading up to the event. Ahead of the award show itself, they did a special performance for MusiCares – a virtual concert featuring a number of artists. Tickets were $25 and while BTS was headlining, they only played one song at the end of the event. Best Pop Duo/Group – the category that they were nominated for was not going to be a part of the main show. Of course, every year there are too many awards that they have to present some before the main event. You would think a category like this would be primetime, but it’s not. The disappointing part of this is that if they had won, they wouldn’t have had the chance to give their speech in front of everyone else the way others have had that opportunity previously.

As someone who worked in events, I understand production logistics. I’ll let that part slide. The thing that I cannot forgive though is the award show teasing in every commercial break that BTS “was coming up next.” As ARMY, we know better. American awards recognize the pull and influence that BTS has on their fans. Keeping them hanging onto the very last minute of the show with BTS performance brings up their viewership. Well the joke is on them because despite doing that, the Grammys last night pulled in its lowest ratings at 8.8 million. Jungkook’s VLive a couple weeks ago pulled in 22 million viewers alone.

We’re not exactly saying the Grammys are racist or xenophobic, but we call it like we see it! ARMY root for BTS to receive the Grammy award because they know how much it means to the group. It’s the thing that they’ve been working towards that they haven’t achieved yet. Given all they have done, they don’t need it and in fact, it’s the Grammys that needs BTS more than they need them.

15 Mar 2021

Song of the Day

It sort of felt like all eyes were on BTS during their Grammy weekend, but one big K-pop release was the anticipated 2-song album my BLACKPINK’s Rose. She had given a snippet of what we could expect during their virtual concert back in January, but the music video release on Friday was the first time we were ever hearing “On the Ground.” I actually quite like and it even reminds me of a Taylor Swift tune? Let me know if you catch that also!

15 Mar 2021

2021 Grammys Red Carpet

Harry Styles in Gucci

I can’t tell if I’m being too harsh on award shows during a pandemic, but did anyone else find the Grammys to be particularly boring this year? Also, why didn’t I laugh at anything Trevor Noah said? The highlight of this show was less than a handful of performance and three outfit changes by Harry Styles.

Read more “2021 Grammys Red Carpet”
15 Mar 2021

Taking Your Birthday Off

For the first time ever, I’m taking my birthday off. In previous years, I’ve always loved celebrating my day with my friends and coworkers. What’s the fun in taking the day off (on your birthday) if no one else can spend it with you? Even while I’ve taken trips or celebrated on the weekends, I never took the work day off. That is, until this year.

I’d be lying to you if I said I had a particular joyous birthday last year in the pandemic. My birthday happened to fall at the beginning of it as in, the period of time where no one left their house, saw each other, and San Francisco neighborhoods were a ghost town outside. Despite gifts and multiple video chats that day, it wasn’t the same. I knew this year a birthday would also feel like every other work day so how do we solve for it? Try something different.

Not only am I taking my birthday off, but I’m taking a whole four work days off! In pandemic times, it isn’t easy to take time off because nothing seems worthy of doing so. And honestly, staycations don’t hit the same. While I may not be doing much, it’s totally beats having a normal work day and I’d rather be spending time doing what I want. Even though it’s completely approved by my manager, we still feel like we’re playing adult hooky.

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