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Volume 103: May 10, 2019

"Sunlight," by illustrator Sooyun Choi

JOIN US AT CAAMFEST! Okay, this one is just for Slant readers in the Bay Area, but it's time for CAAMFest again, and we're very, very excited. ESPECIALLY for the launch event of one Self Evident, celebrating both Asian American media creators and the launch of one heckuva Asian American podcast. It's going to be a super-fun evening, and I'll be on a panel to, hopefully, talk about Detective Pikachu or something. (Fingers crossed.) Get your tickets today and use code SELFEVIDENT for $2 off!

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief and resident Detective Pikachu sidekick

Edumacated name-dropping

What do Dalip Singh Saund, Patsy Mink, Fred Korematsu, Larry Itliong, and Helen Zia have in common? I never heard about them in high school.

The history of Asians in America began way before the United States even existed. But schools don’t often examine Asia’s influence on America outside the context of war, or provide the names of Asian American leaders and trailblazers alongside the Kings and Kennedys.

Fortunately, as Agnes Constante writes in NBC’s Asian Pacific Heritage Month series, teachers and activists are literally writing our history back into the textbooks.

I was today years old when I learned ...

The Immigrant History Initiative, founded by Julia Wang and Kathy Lu, is one effort to increase awareness of both the contributions and struggles of Asian Americans throughout history.

Take the Chinese Exclusion Act, which on this week 137 years ago restricted people of Chinese descent from entering the United States (because racism). Those who already lived here had severely restricted civil rights, including participation in due process.

As Erin Blakemore writes for HISTORY, it took the murder of a Chinese man in New Mexico and the witness testimony of a laundry owner named Jo Chinaman (for real!) to allow racial minorities, including indigenous Americans and mixed-race people, to testify in court. The Chinese Exclusion Act itself wasn’t revoked until 1943.

Never forget

The preservation continues with a team at the University of Denver, which seeks to virtually reconstruct a WWII Japanese incarceration camp using 3D modeling. And Saleah Blancaflor introduces us to Asian American “political trailblazers,” while Katherine Oung spotlights more pioneering Asian American women for Teen Vogue.

There’s a lot of information out there, just waiting for you to dive in deep. Read about it! Watch some documentaries! Ask your parents and grandparents about their experiences—who knows what stories will emerge?

— Andrew Cheng, editor, who wants you to call your grandma

(And Awkwafina wants you to, too)

NOW PLAYING: "I believe that we are not alone in our INSECURITIES," writes filmmaker Kevin Shen on Facebook. "And if we can come together to heal our insecurities, we can become HEROES who end up healing the world." 

That's a pretty lofty goal, especially with what seems to be a terminal case of irony poisoning on venues like, oh I dunno, Twitter. But with Shen's newest series, "Hot Seat," it's one that just might be fulfilled.

Take Shen's first episode, about the insecurities of Asian men in the dating world. It's something that could very easily wander into the icky territory of "why aren't Asian men able to date white women??"—a worn-out topic that comedians like Fumi Abe and Mic Nguyen have mined for laughs on their podcast—but it doesn't. Instead, Shen's guests are bold yet introspective, baring their anxieties and insecurities for all YouTube.

Which is pretty special on YouTube, right? In a landscape dominated by hot takes and over-exaggeration, "Hot Seat" is refreshing in how genuine it allows its guests to be. Shen's second episode, about impostor syndrome, is already out, and I'm looking forward to more. 

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, here for fellow impostor syndrome sufferers

Writing our own narrative

“Every Asian uncle talks about how they came with, like, $20 in their wallet,” says North Carolina state Senator Mujtaba Mohammed. It’s a common sentiment that comedians like (our fave) Hasan Minhaj have also referenced.

The truth is, many first generation Americans do have that family member with the immigrate-to-America-and-find-success-story. But as Angela Chen writes for HuffPost, subsequent generations have more opportunities to make their own name.

Representation matters

Mohammed, who is Indian American and represents the region that is home to the fastest growing Asian American population in the US, is the youngest state Senator in North Carolina. While he was originally tracking towards a career in medicine or engineering, he diverted, studying history and political science and working in the public sector instead.

His career in office kick-started after the 2016 election, and he was encouraged by the number of candidates who looked like the communities they represented. And for Asian American communities in general, Mohammed looks to the example set by the civil rights movement.

“The African American community is a huge example of inspiration for people of color, for immigrants," said Mohammed. "To stake your claim for this country, that your voice matters.”

Culture isn't just a Migos album

Mohammed uses his platform to not only represent his community, but also to encourage other young Asian Americans to find their voice and to feel empowered to write their own story.

And maybe those stories will take a turn towards public service. After all, Mohammed credits his culture, and many other Asian cultures, for making him so well suited to life in the public sector. “It’s never about you, as opposed to the American individualism that we have,” he says, “It’s always about a team, it’s always about your family.”

— Chery Sutjahjo, editor, who also wants to plug the rice theory that explains the community driven nature of many Asian cultures #riceculture

And here's Kyler Murray making history

'They will end up like their father,' Elías answered in a low voice. 'Once misfortune has marked a family, all its members must perish; like a bolt of lightning that wounds a tree, reducing everything to ashes.'


José Rizal, Noli me tangere

This Weekend ... 📅

  • GO BACK TO CHINA. Or, uh, don't, unless you're Anna Akana's character in her latest flick, Go Back to China, about a heiress cut off from her wealth and forced to work in her father's toy factory in China. It's the classic tale of "one percenter meets her comeuppance," although we imagine it'll have a happy ending. 

  • FEEL SUPER GOOD reading what's gotta be one of the warmest stories in a while, about a South Korean village whose elders have begun enrolling in the latest elementary school, so they can do what they were denied when they were children: learn to read and write. Yes, it is super sweet.

  • CATCH UP WITH HARRY SHUM JR. Remember this guy? Yeah, you do! Shum Jr. is still around, as we clearly saw in that Crazy Rich Asians stinger, so before even more folx get to know him, be that person who knows everything. Read his interview with Popsugar!

  • HELP STOP THE DEPORTATION OF KANG HEN, a Cambodian American facing imminent deportation in the Bay Area's Santa Clara County. Because of a decades-old conviction, Yang Hen's eligible for deportation, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice has started a petition to Governor Newsom to raise awareness. You can read more and sign here.

  • KEEP AN EYE ON HULU and probably Chrissy Teigen's Twitter account, because Teigen and David Chang (of Momofuku and Ugly Delicious fame, among ... all the other things this guy does) are teaming up for a new Hulu series that we're pretty sure is going to be funny as heck. Here's hoping Luna gets a starring role. 

This week's stories are curated by Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who once made a tweet that Chrissy Teigen liked. Got a tip, or just want to share? E-mail us at

The Slant is brought to you by:


Brian Hsieh • Marina Cheung • Billy Huang • Kevin Lin • Paulina Dao


AJ Grey • Delwin Lau • Mandy Diec • Carl Shan


Patrick Trinh • Lloyd Lee • Emily Chi • Naomi Iwata • Kyla Hsia


Gloria Lin • Yi Cao • Cat Xia • Curtis Leung


Crystal Shei • Jerome Finuliar • Ryan Ikeda • Meher Kohli • Matt Young • Sooyun Choi • Abby Wang • Tracey Baumann • Mika Kennedy • James Boo • Chris Moe • Alexander Quion • Jeffrey Wang • Vivi Nguyen


Angela Yang • Diane Lee • Katherine Chin • Paul Kerr • Talisa Chang • Claire Tran • Sara Mitchell • Teresa Nguyen

who are nothing if not the very reason we exist. <3

See ya next time.
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