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Volume 102: May 3, 2019

Art by Slant editor Natalie Bui

Happy APIDA Heritage Month!

That stands for “Asian Pacific Islander Desi American”. You may be familiar with APA (Asian Pacific American) or APIA (Asian Pacific Islander American), so why, you ask, do we keep on adding letters?

APIDA’s used in order to clearly convey the importance of the cultures of the Indian subcontinent (including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and more) to Asian American collective identity. Want to know more about our heritage month? Frances Kai-Hwa Wang’s Asian American and Pacific Islander FAQ explains it all.

Trivia to test your friends on

Did you know? “Asian” and “Pacific Islander” belonged to the same racial category on the US census until 2000. But many cultural scholars rightly criticize the tendency to lump very culturally disparate groups under one moniker.

And while we love disaggregation, we still give mad props to Yuji Ichioka, Emma Gee, and other student activists at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University for pioneering the use of the term “Asian American” in May of 1968 for political organizing.

In 1978, Congress established an event called “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week” for May of the following year, and the celebration was formally extended to a month in 1990. Here at The Slant, though, it’s Asian Americans a l l   y e a r l o n g.

— Andrew Cheng, editor, who is quite partial to alphabet soup

NOW PLAYING: I've been following the work of Derek Kirk Kim ever since my buddy, the sublime illustrator Faryn Akita, sent a link to his (now sadly offline) journal comics, which 17-year-old Andrew loved in high school. These days, Kim still draws cute cartoons and comics on Instagram—just as he's done for over ten years—but he was also the lead character designer of Adventure Time, which you might have heard of.

This summer, Disney Channel's premiering Amphibia, a new cartoon series that tells the story of 13-year-old Thai American Anne Boonchuy, who learns how to become a hero—and a true friend—with the help of her frog partner, Sprig Planter. Kim directed 22 episodes, and Disney's just released a promising sneak preview, with shades of Gravity Falls and Star vs. the Forces of Evil

Even better, Amphibia features the voice acting chops of Brenda Song as Anne, which, frankly, is the return of a legend. We stan a Tipton.

Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, not embarrassed about watching so many cartoons

And happy #MANAMonth

In Maori, Mana Moana “means authority over water and can also be used to communicate the strength and power of the ocean,” according to Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) Director, Tavae Samuelu.

The phrase is meant to capture the synergistic relationship Pacific Islanders feel with the ocean, so enter #ManaMonth: an attempt in celebrating Pacific Islanders under the APIDA umbrella, while also recognizing that many Pacific Islanders don’t feel recognized within APIDA in the first place.

APIDA but no PIs

We know that Pacific Islander culture is more than Moana and Jason Momoa. And despite how often APIDA is used to tout diversity, Pacific Islanders are not reflected in content, leadership, and representation, despite how much we tout the acronym.

However, they’re making moves in the institutional, academic setting. As Ida Mojadad writes, San Francisco State University will now be offering a Pacific Islander minor—finally creating a way to institutionalize Pacific Islanders within studies.

Driven by a hunger to learn

That’s thanks to four students, who in May 2016 led a 10-day hunger strike against an institutional budget cut. One of their demands was to create a Pacific Islander studies initiative.

There will be three offerings: an introductory course, a Wongking Tanuvasa health class, and a film class on Oceana representation through an indigenous lens. Though this is a small step, folks are feeling seen, and it was largely done due to the efforts of student activism.

So cheers to those students. And happy #ManaMonth! This one calls specifically for Pacific Islander celebration!

— Natalie Bui, editor, who wants y’all to follow the EPIC on Instagram at @empoweredpi—they are featuring Pacific Islander leaders all month long with illustrations done by yours truly!

Follow!! @EmpoweredPI!!!

“It may be very clear indeed who ‘owns’ culture. It is pronounced in the official language all must learn to speak, is declared if you can’t afford to buy the garments that you are employed to sew, and is evident if your call to 911 fails to bring emergency assistance to your neighborhood.

— Lisa Lowe, professor and writer, from Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics

This Weekend ... 📅

  • GOOGLE YOURSELF. Google kicked off APIDA Heritage Month with a Doodle in honor of Ruth Asawa, sculptor and survivor of Japanese-American internment. Despite facing racism and misogyny, Asawa persevered to achieve success and fame in her lifetime. She is still remembered today for her intricate wire sculptures and fountains, and her work remains on view in the Bay Area and NYC with a special event in her honor next Wednesday at the Seattle Art Museum.

  • BE A SUPERHERO. Like Trinh Tran, an Executive Producer on “Avengers: Endgame”. Tran has been working at Marvel Studios since Iron Man, working her way up to a place of power and influence behind the screen. If you, like certain Slant editors are gobbling up any and all “Endgame” content, spend some time reading Tran’s interview with Shondaland about what the MCU means to women of color.

  • PEEK INTO THE WRITER’S ROOM. For a broader look at the entertainment industry from an Asian American perspective, Bustle interviewed a range of TV writers (including our friend Karen Chee) about their experiences in Hollywood.

  • LAUGH. With Jes Tom, a non-binary comic who tackles transgender issues, racism and more in their stand-up without losing out on the humor. In a profile by NowThis, they address representation, the importance of punching up and not down, intersectionality and more.

  • REFLECT. On how your family deals with health issues. As we’ve addressed before, transparency and open communication is not a typical hallmark of Asian American families, but everyone’s different! Our friend, journalist Ashley Nguyen, wants to hear your experience for a story she’s developing—share your thoughts here.

This week's stories are curated by Jessica Yi, editor, who wants to hear all your multiverse theories. 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

our special edition candies from Asia we'll hog for ourselves.

See ya next time.
Copyright © 2019 The Slant, All rights reserved.

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