My Asian America

February 20, 2015 - Leave a Response
My Asian America: Yuri Kochiyama & Grace Lee Boggs

My Asian America: Yuri Kochiyama & Grace Lee Boggs 1960s – today

“The birth of the term ‘Asian American’ came from a rejection of white supremacy, institutional racism and in full support of Black Power [via the Asian American Political Alliance, particularly in regards to the work being done by the Black Panthers]. We stood together. Some of us still stand together. We must stand together again.” -Anonymous

I’ve never felt Asian, or quite American. I’ve existed somewhere in that space between and without female role models to look up to in the media, at least ones who weren’t exotified and objectified into submissive stereotypes. We grew up having to assimilate with either white or black, though I was definitely more drawn to the latter. I digested hip hop that empowered me to create my own songs, and became more active in social justice work to understand the root causes of our struggle. It wasn’t until more recent years I learned about the Asian American movement, and how leaders like Yuri Kochiyama and Grace Lee Boggs were at the forefront of black liberation in the 1960s. They understood that our privilege of becoming American was built on the back of our black comrades, so it was important for us to stand in solidarity with their efforts if we wanted liberation for all communities of color. Today, this calling is louder than ever. #blacklivesmatter was started by three queer womyn of color in response to Zimmerman’s acquittal after Trayvon Martin’s death, and still matters with the injustice happening in Ferguson and beyond. I dedicate this piece to them, to my ancestors who paved the way for solidarity, and to dedicated allies of today. Fierce revolutionary role models such as Yuri and Grace are practically erased from our text books, so art is my weapon to keep their legacy alive. #apis4blacklives


Lady in the night

June 18, 2014 - Leave a Response

Lady in the night,
I hear you sing
the words over and over again
“It’s gotta be you”
Followed by laughter
And conversations
With your past.

It is 1AM, and solemnly
You serenade these lyrics
To yourself
While neighbors
In their cozy beds
wait until you fade
Away into silence
Or onto a different block.

Lady in the night,
I wish for your song
To be a lullaby
That brings me
To peace
Greeting me with dreams
For a good night’s rest.

But through the occasional
Cracks in your voice
I’m not sure whether
To run outside
And stop you
Or to hug you.

So tonight,
I am listening.
I hear you.
Afraid to silence you
Too comfortable in my sheets
To get up and speak.

Hoping that this alley way
Serves some solace
As you reminisce
Or wait
For the one that hurt you
To heal you.

You are too kind to offer
A melody to the bastard
That took your heart
And broke it into pieces
Left on the pavement
You now call home.

I only wish to repeat
these same words to you
Or that you sing loudly enough
Until you hear your own voice
To know that in your grief
It does not take
Your body as a device
His abuse as affection
To know how much
You are worth fighting for.

Lady in the night,
Singing sweetly to the stars
Blanketed by shadows
That haunt you
And keep you company

No one can love you
As fiercely as the one
Who fought to become you.

Lady in the night,
“It’s gotta be you.”



You think

May 1, 2014 - Leave a Response

You think my Thai is exotic, spicy like our food.
Obedient and quiet, willing to answer to your every need.

My Thai is rebellious
like the Siamese warrior woman who worked to defend the Kingdom, even at the risk of death.
Lotus rising despite being shoved in the mud.

You think that my American is perfect, middle class,
white picket fence and green lawns with a personal mower.

My America is a one bedroom apartment,
rent recently increased by 10% and not enough room or sunlight for a garden.

My America is still searching for what it means to be Thai, to be American:

Perfect, middle class, rebellious and free like a lotus,
reaching toward the sun to remind me these two worlds are still one.

My body

May 1, 2014 - Leave a Response

My hair is short. It used to be past my waist until I got tired of people saying to keep it long if I wanted to stay pretty.

My head is hard, full of stubbornness and willing to challenge my partner and the status quo.

My eyes are dark, natural double eye lids and sad when questioned if I’ve ever had surgery to achieve such a look.

My nose is mistaken for Indian, though I know that my ancestors crossed the Andaman sea before arriving to Thailand.

My lips are big. I was told I inherited it from my African roots, one that traces further back than any other I know.

My tongue is twisted from attempting to pronounce words of I love you (chan rak tuh), I miss you (kitung mak mak), tell me your story in broken language to my grandfather.

My skin is dark, despised by my own people despite being kissed by the sun.

My neck is long, acting as a vessel from my heart to my throat, throat to my mouth, bursting songs of long forgotten stories that somehow still resonate within my voice.

My shoulders are are crooked and tough, after being weighed down by books in my backpack, most which I never really read.

My hands belong to my grandmother, which I’ve inherited to care for the Earth.

My stomach is flat, and tlhough many may desire it my family tells me it means I’m too poor or too sick to eat.

My back likes to arch, imagining that one day maybe wings will sprout from my shoulder blades to take me back and forth to my motherland without the expensive flight fees.

My chest is flat. And unlike what book augmentation billboards or maxim magazines say about me, I’m more than okay with that.

My thighs are thick, and although in high school I wished I could fit into size 0-1 pants, these thighs can bike 50 miles in less than 3 hours and kick some ass.

My feet are wide and flat. The chiropractor says I need to wear special shoes with better arch support, though if it’s genetic like my mother’s and grandmother’s, I’m sure it was meant for me to feel the soil closer to my sole.

My heart is beating, and like a drum it keeps me in rhythm when I feel I have lost my way. For as long as it still beats, I still have my body, my breath, and my life to share the story where my blood flows from.

Social Change vs. Transformation

November 12, 2013 - Leave a Response

Social Change vs. Transformation

Was writing out my bio for an event coming up, and thought about how “Social Change” has been quite overused. What does it mean to change society if we are constantly evolving as human beings? If change is the only thing that is constant, then what isn’t? I’ve realized moments I’ve grown the most is when I’ve been hurt or challenged in a way that forces me to reevaluate where I’m at in life so that I change myself before my surroundings. I found this quote, which I feel best sums it up:

“Change can change back. (We can go from conservative to liberal, from disciplined to undisciplined…) Change is volatile. Transformation is completely different – though sometimes it is called change. Transformation never makes the past wrong. It transforms it. It doesn’t deny it. It honors it in a way that you can move forward without making anything wrong, and having the past somehow now become complete, rather than wrong. Transformation has a permanence to it – where once you transform, once you awaken, once you see the stations you didn’t see before, you can’t go back. Transformation has the ultimate power of time, and what the world is crying for now is transformation, not necessarily more change, though some change may be a part of it, the route to transformation. Transformation suddenly makes the past make sense, and new futures open up.” ~ Lynne Twist

And suddenly, it all makes better sense.

Generation Return: Art + Justice Post-Genocide and Post-9/11 (Anida Yoeu Ali)

April 5, 2013 - Leave a Response

I’m organizing this whole thing, amidst working three + jobs to compensate for doing what I love. Been MIA!


Facebook invite is here:

Why do I do it? Because i Love my people and know they deserve to see the hard work of Anida. They also deserve to know about how deportation is affecting our community, and how necessary immigration reform is. We are all affected.

Oh yes, and it’s New Year. I’ve never planned anything for Thai Cambodian Lao New Year, so here goes! Hope to see you next Saturday! Contact me for questions/details.

Headshots galore!

March 14, 2013 - Leave a Response

Thanks to Charles Maceo Photography for the awesome session. I haven’t had my headshots done in almost 10 years, so I figured it was time for an upgrade. Hello world! Here, you may find a 13 year old girl to a 25 year old Silverlake hipster – so i’ve been told.

Vista Del Mar Community Mural

March 14, 2013 - Leave a Response

I was commissioned by this awesome arts non-profit called “Create Now” to do another community mural. You can read the process > product by clicking this link:

Vista Del Mar Community Mural

My favorite youth confession:

Ryan, age 16, said, “I didn’t want to be here today on my birthday. But this was a great day! Painting brings up mixed emotions in my life, like bad emotions, sad emotions, dramatic. Whenever I feel mad, I always draw and it brings out good stuff. Afterwards, I feel like I took a weight off my chest.”

Risk vs. Trust

March 8, 2013 - Leave a Response

Risk vs. Trust

Don’t see things as RISK. See things as TRUST.
Give, receive, and ask without shame.

All artists need to watch this.

Who Are You?

March 5, 2013 - Leave a Response

Do not seek comparison.