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- if my eyes were blue...
as a child, i longed to be blue-eyed. with eyes like the ocean or perhaps the sky above, my life would be golden, maybe at last i’d be loved. so i wished and i wished, on every birthday, on every eyelash. and i prayed my drawings would come true, the ones i designed myself with eyes so blue. as i whispered to myself: “if my eyes were blue, maybe they wouldn’t stare. if my eyes were blue, those haunting words would no longer be my nightmare: “where are you really from?” if my eyes were blue, maybe i’d feel free. maybe whenever i turned on the TV, i’d see someone who looks like me. if my eyes were blue, maybe life would feel more fair, and i wouldn’t have to feel the wrath of everyone’s stare. if my eyes were blue, and my skin pale like snow, maybe then, and only then, i’d finally then know. if my eyes were blue, with golden hair like you, maybe i’d look in the mirror and see that i am beautiful, too.” Editors: Joyce P. Photo credit
- Lilirose's Goodreads Page
Editors: Alisha B., Uzayer M., Blenda Y.
- Pieces on Rise of Asian American Cinema
Foreword: Within the last decade, Asian stories that decorate the silver screen have expanded past the international film category and have instead been celebrated across a variety of themes and stories. In the past, Asian representation was only present in ‘foreign language’ films and Asian-Americans in Hollywood were always cast as the ruthless warrior or the exotic dragon lady. However, Asian-Americans have climbed the steep ladder that the past has mounted, restoring representation and hope for young audiences. By telling the honest cinematic stories of Asian-Americans, stereotypes are being erased and heartfelt characters are being formed. These four collected pieces narrate the successes and growth of Asian-American cinema and document how representation has changed the lives of today’s Asian Youth. – Aubrey Meiling Evolution of Asian Representation in Western Media By Leila Wickliffe An opinion piece presenting the history of Asian representation in Western media and how characterization of Asian characters has changed— from the exotic foreigner character of Mickey Rooney to the dashing prince charming of Henry Golding. “The history of accurate and nuanced stories of Asian people has had its ups and downs, and progress is beginning to show. Mainstream media has reached a point where simply having an Asian person on screen is not enough. There is a difference between being on screen and being seen.” The Academy's Baby Steps By Yanitta Iew A personal essay recounting how the 2021 Academy Award nominations took big steps into diversifying the playing field, with many historical firsts for both Asians and women. “The moment I heard the nominees for the first category, Actress in a Supporting Role, I knew that this was going to be another year for us Asians in film. No, not only for us. I have a feeling this could be the most diverse Oscars in the history of the Academy Awards.” The American Narrative and Minari By Chris Fong Chew A deep dive into the meaning and background of the 2020 film Minari and how its story, background, and reception defines what it means to be (Asian) American. “As we are living through a particularly divisive and violent time in American history, we need stories like Minari that remind us of what it means to be American, and it was an absolute failure of the Golden Globes to say otherwise.” Michelle Yeoh Receives an AFI Honorary Degree By Amber Ting This collection would be incomplete without mentioning Michelle Yeoh– the Malaysian actress who has represented Asians in Hollywood for the past 26 years. An empowering piece about how Michelle Yeoh earned her well deserved Honorary Degree from the American Film Institute. “In the past, Yeoh has been vocal about the need for diversity and inclusion in the film industry, and she has paved a path for representation by bringing to life complex Asian characters on screen. Her role as Evelyn Wang is merely another demonstrative example. To this day, her flourishing career is one of the best examples of Asian excellence in Hollywood, and the doctorate is a deserved recognition of her talent.”
these days, i feel like i’m drowning like my life is running from me, only to leave me to the shadows. i want to be 17, like the movies: i want to be kissed in the rain 17, walking on train tracks 17, i want to be messy, angsty, beautiful 17, not ghostly, exhausted, numb 17. i want to feel the butterflies of lust, feel the pain of a shattered heart— something. i need to feel something, for i’m not sure how much longer i can hold on. but for now, my words are my oxygen and we all know that there’s an end to every chapter, a closing of the pages, for i, and we, are finite. Editor(s): Cathay L., Joyce P. Photo Credits: Unsplash
- The Declining Asian Elephant Population
Sherman de Silva, a faculty member from UC San Diego, led a research team in discovering new, suitable habitats for the Asian elephant population after losing about two-thirds of their inhabited ecosystems. Analyzing previous insights regarding the change in land use over the past 300 years, the historic suitable elephant habitat has suffered under the colonial-era land-use practices in Asia, such as timber extraction and farming or agriculture. As an assistant professor of ecology and founder of the elephant conservation nonprofit Trunks & Leaves, Silva noted the importance of the elephant population in her study published on April 27, 2023 regarding the rapid decline. She referred to the species as “ecosystem engineers” to the ABC News. However, Silva explained, the findings regarding the limited ecosystems are significant because Asian elephants are extremely adaptable and able to live in various habitats, from open and dry grasslands to dense rainforests. Meaning, the changing landscape of Asia underscores the fragmented spaces left for the survival of ecosystems without human inference. The late 1600s and early 1700s illustrated the beginnings of massive changes in elephant population decline as the land practices brought on by the colonial-era proceeded into the European industrial revolution. This massive exploitation of resources across the world led to inadequate habitat areas for the remaining elephants. In the mid 20th-century, the rise of industrial agriculture contributed to severe habitat loss. The 1700s continued holding habitats 100% suitable for elephant populations within the 100 kilometers provided, yet Silva and her team discovered the portion declined to less than 50% when comparing the appropriate ecosystems left in 2015. Her and her team mention the continued conflict between human-dominated regions as elephants adapted their behaviors to “co-exist” with the influx of communities in those suitable areas (as their responses vary due to human-modified landscapes). Mainland China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sumatra, and Thailand have all lost more than half of their previously suitable elephant ecosystems. Asian elephants, as of now, remain endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Editor: Chelsea D. Photo credit
- Human Nature
every time i am not quiet it does not come naturally to me like every time i have tried to retract as though i am an ever clenching fist i am pried open and studied like a common specimen unique only in that i give way too easily and emit a scream that sounds like a song my melody is indecipherable and the lyrics are as you like it so my prongs attune to the pulse of your want and i say the words that make you soft it is only when i am silent lips stuck like a leech to warm flesh that i do not accept the saw that threatens to cut me open like the log down the flume when my words do not ebb and flow like the river you often skip pebbles on that i am withering, tinged with a browned hue i am in need of your callused, leathered palms to sprout me where the soil rakes fertile far from where the ripples crash on i am really contracted to the ground where i can never confess a single violence or reckon with my debts to the gardener subject to a thousand portraits where i can hardly recognize myself in the frame and still i am aching to unfurl my leaves yearning to photosynthesize the scraps of sunlight i receive into fumes that i breathe hot and heavy like the cloak of a cloudy summer heat heaving into my throat and coaxing the words out of my lungs Editor(s): Chelsea D., Alisha B., Blenda Y. Photo Credits: Unsplash
- Pieces on Food & Consumption
Foreword: Sweet. Sour. Salt. Bitter. Umami. The five fundamental tastes. One of the most faceted and unique experiences an individual could have with other people’s cultures— as well as their own— is through food. Given that flavor is 80% aroma and 20% taste, the joys of new or familiar dishes are a multi-sensory journey from instant ramen noodles to slow-cooked curries. However, it can be even more salivating to tuck into the different tastes of conversations, ideas, and opinions that permeate modern consumption. How people make connections with others or alone, contemporary activism, corporate greed, tradition and revision – all of this can be found in five pieces written from and by the Asian perspective with each one corresponding with a specific taste. What will be your favorite flavor? – Hannah Govan [SWEET] Mukbang Culture By Josie Chou An opinion piece detailing the definition, audience, controversies, and appeal of mukbangs in a digital age of content creation and seeking out comfort in the least likely of places. “For some, mukbang videos elevate hunger and cravings. Others find that there is something incredibly satisfying about the crunch and the gooey textures that seem to melt in their own mouths. And for those eating a meal by themselves, watching mukbangers can make their dining experience livelier. “ [SOUR] Whole Foods Is a Hoax (And So Is White Activism) By Isabelle “Billy” Agustin An opinion piece intrigued by Whole Foods as a key study for the increasing phenomenon of businesses exploiting movements, such as environmental activism, for profit and treating it like a trend rather than a sincere strive for change. “There was a clean aesthetic to [Whole Foods], all Mason jars and vegan diets. Saving the earth has turned trendy, with nature-themed slogans plastered onto T-shirts you can buy at your local Target or Forever 21. The irony astounds me.” [SALT] food By Sarah Mathai A poem about the magic of cooking in Indian culture, especially for women, and how not being able to participate can be an isolating experience. “I am kicked out the trailer / everytime the kitchen is used. / because I have fire in / my fingers, my mother reasons, / and red hot flames / in brown man's skin / is called terrorism / in a country like / this.” [BITTER] Food Apartheid in the Pacific By Olivia Stark An opinion piece about the global history of oppression in the Pacific islands' contemporary foods, and why it’s important to learn the historic background of food in modern day. “We have extensively explored the ways in which cultural foods are an expression of love, a tool of communication, and a tie back to our roots. So, what do you think happens when these foods are actively erased by an oppressive power?” [UMAMI] I tried Hoisin Duck wraps from (almost) every UK supermarket By Hannah Govan An opinion piece exploring British supermarket’s fascination for the Meal Deal hoisin duck wrap, the components and history behind ‘hoisin duck’, and why these supermarkets cherry-pick Asian flavors despite the minimal shelving dedicated to Asian foods and businesses. “If I were to sample (almost) all hoisin duck varieties in supermarkets, which one is the top bird? What are supermarkets inspired by and possibly aiming for? In other words, I wanted to know how low the bar has been set. Based on historic tradition in contrast to modern practice, how far has the bar sunken - modestly or devastatingly?”
- a letter to my past august selves
Dear Past Lilirose, Three years ago, you wrote a poem about autumn; yet it was mostly about missing home. It went, “the air smells like burnt letters and / grey skies, my heart aches too much i think / and i miss home the way / a teenager teetering on the edge of adulthood / misses their innocence-” How did you know that? Were you aware of the ways these lines would resonate with me, even three autumns & three bodies past? The only critique I have is that the dash should have been an em dash like this: —. This is probably not the letter you want, where your future self is marveling at a thirteen-year-old’s words & yearning for every season of life. This is also probably not the letter you expected, where your future self is neither dead nor wise beyond their years. Lower your expectations, love. You located stretch marks on the uneven terrain of your body last week, and you were delighted because you never thought you would live long enough for them. You really enjoy going with your Mom to the local Raley’s to buy oranges, but you still get irritated whenever she spends too long in your room. You dream about the juncture of a girl-who-lives-across-the-country’s neck and you haven’t texted her back in three days. Your vision has gotten worse. Your friends have gotten gentler. Your prayers have gotten blessings. There are two really big truths in life: 1. Ma was right—a cup of tea always helps. (I recommend raspberry leaf tea, which is a great colour.) 2. Everything will change. I mean this in ways both good and bad. Let’s start with the negatives; it’s bad because we inherently fear change. This summer, you go to a residential two-week summer program & have what you call “an honestly low-key very chill panic attack” in your empty dormitory. You heave for breath on your crinkly navy blue assigned bed. It’s your first time in a community full of writers & your first time away from home for an extended period of time without your Ma, and you are not doing well. The Ohio skyline laughs at you. Streamlined clouds & oak leaves peer at you from outside the window. Every time you rewrite a poem you still feel sick to your stomach. All those poor innocent darlings, slaughtered under your hand to create a new and better piece. You’re still in a friendship you said you would end two years ago. Last week you went to their house & doom-scrolled on Instagram together. But an instrumental thing you will learn as you age is that fear is not inherently negative. Because you are so afraid of losing your friends, you slip your hands into theirs & affix matching pins onto your tote bags. You whisper secrets like you’re girl-best-friends in second grade & you nap next to each other like you’re two-cats-under-sunlight. When you return home this summer, you redecorate your room one last time before senior year. Unaddressed postcards & tattered calligraphy & rip-off polaroids. The summer program was life changing & you are pretty certain of what you want to major in (spoiler alert: it’s English). You call yourself a poet without hesitation. Because you are so aware that every moment is so fleeting, you love each moment all the more. And perhaps even more importantly: I know you are miserable today. I know you were miserable yesterday, and the day-before-yesterday, and the day-before-the-day-before-yesterday, and so it goes on. That too is temporary, love. Home changes, as everything does. The unhappiness is not inherent to you. You are yourself and your consciousness, and your feelings will pass. It all passes. & I will be waiting here, at the end of it all. Love, August 2023 Lilirose Editor(s): Blenda Y., Chelsea D., Uzayer M. Photo Credits: Unsplash
- Pieces on Nostalgia
Foreword: We all have those complex memories that we look back on and feel a slight pull on our heart strings. Is that pull because we miss how life used to be? Who we used to be? Or is it because we’re proud of how we’ve improved? Of how far we’ve come? Reflecting on how much we’ve grown and changed, it’s quite natural to feel different emotions, ranging from regret to a quiet joy. Nostalgia is the sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with personal associations. This word perfectly encapsulates that combination of warmth and sadness you may feel while holding up a worn-out teddy bear or returning to your childhood home. At Dear Asian Youth, nostalgia can also include self-growth and social commentary. The triumph you gain at learning how to take action and assert yourself, the comfort you gather from learning to accept your culture. Now, let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? — Angel Liang An Open Letter to My Younger Self - Yi-Ann Li A narrative reflecting on former selves, and the continual learning process required to achieve social justice. “And you’ll realize that the Great Wall constructed between Asians and Black people and other minorities has blinded us from truly seeing and loving one another; that it will take every yellow, black, brown, white hand on Earth to take down all those bricks. And that until then, the “with liberty and justice for all” you pledge every day means nothing.” Mahjong [Má Jiàng] - Sabrina Mei A prose narrative tracing the path of Má Jiàng down the narrator’s relationship with falling in-between— between cultures, between tongues, between worlds. “Rich, cream tiles with a thin strip of green lining their bottoms—the fine layer of matcha dusted on a mochi cake. They weigh heavy in my palm for such small tiles, and they feel cold to the touch.” play dough : a sequel - Julianne Tenorio A poem challenging the reader’s perspective on a carefree child toy, and with it, the depth of our personal involvement in justice. “and in this story, we simply wait. / rather than realizing what we have been doing wrong this whole time, / we wait. / we wait until our mothers bring us to the store / to find another container of play dough, / only for us to waste it again.”
- self-portrait as dialogue
alter (v.): change or cause to change in character or composition, typically in a comparatively small but significant way. & your hair’s growing out again. junkyard body crying for grace. you’ve gained weight but stayed clean of the scale. every poem is a summer love poem. the nose piercing you walked a mile in the rain with r to get is a stubborn red bruise; the piercers told you that saline heals, so you force long gulps of it down your throat. no, i know that isn’t how it works. this time last year, you were nightwalking after your restaurant shift, little ghost wandering the fluorescent grocery store aisles, touching the produce to remind yourself you were real: humid & heartsick all the time. carrots, napa cabbage, cut fruit, sweet dead childhood lying like a gutted fish in the butcher’s aisle. maybe you miss the girl you were in high school, all that skinniness and stupidity. the way she mourned before knowing what mourning was. transformation, after all, is in the tender things. sixteen was a terror, seventeen flammable. now, twenty: you remember everything in liquid dreams, think that you should have died every summer since ninth grade when you first tried to scrape the pith from your organs & then skinned your knees as if to water the parched concrete. when you change, where does the other version of you go? by all rights, you should be a ghost by now. & yet your skin burns gold in the california sun—you’re not the daughter you once were. good girl, small face, pale as white jade, starving animal daughter eaten up by pretty boys. whining like a broken violin or a dog left behind a screen door. you will not be your mother. & yet love is in this story, i swear. b helps you bleach your eyebrows in the dingy bathroom between your shared rooms: the strange dorm-room floor red as a murder behind you & your forehead stinging when you pull away the cling wrap, makeshift bandage for some wound you can’t reach yet. your face drips tap water, baptismal. the first time you did this, your mother’s inherited brows disappeared right into your face & you felt the umbilical wound open again. you will never understand your mother enough to judge her. altar (n.): a table or flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual, especially for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity. when you were a child, you thought god lived in the mountains behind your house. you made up prayers on your way home from school, back when you hadn’t ever been on your knees with a mouthful of bared teeth, before you learned that god was not a man but instead a noose hanging from the family tree demanding you jump. rope-burn on each palm: your blood pours dark red, venous. this body has never been much interested in the business of living. you’re raw-skinned, opened up all the way / like a switchblade, the worn-out sum of all your family’s desires & fears / desperate to feel dangerous again / scuffing sneakers on the curb for an hour waiting for a girl to pick you up / identity politics calls you a cyborg / google translate talks to your mother in your voice / god made you unformed so that you could form yourself / divine, human, neither & both / sleeping facedown with all the windows open, your spine is a tabletop offering / every notch another wish / gut-deep into july now, plunging your wrists into the viscera of the season / teethmarks on fallen plums / stonefruit summer, nectarine dusk. your grief is white noise; it’s never ending but so is the love— alter, altar: places where divine & human meet. altar as verb is hardly different from godhood. or even girlhood if you’re desperate enough. in eighth grade at parent-teacher conferences, your humanities teacher told you that you were the spitting image of your mother. maybe more now that you’ve stopped holding such blue-black resentment in your liver. july is a river of light going through you. a pair of shears cutting open the stitches. you search for god but the sun is a rusted coin. blood-tinge in the back of your throat. but we don’t have to talk about it. Editors: Alisha B., Uzayer Masud.
- ASTRO Member Moonbin’s Death at 25
Moonbin was a former Southern Korean idol from the group “ASTRO.” Known for his debuts in music videos and TV shows from 2004 to 2016, Moonbin had his breaking hit in the KBS drama Boys Over Flowers before joining Astro and showcasing the group’s first album Spring Up in February 2016. Passing away on April 19, 2023 in Seoul, South Korea, his manager on Wednesday evening showed initial concerns when Moonbin was unresponsive. His manager visited Moonbin’s home in the hopes of speaking to him after the period of silence and failing to attend rehearsals. Discovering Moonbin in his home, his death at 25 years old shocked numerous fans as he was in the middle of hosting a world tour as a part of a subunit with fellow K-pop idol and Astro member Sanha. To the public, the cause of death remains unknown as the investigation continues, yet police have spoken to news outlets informing the public on Moonbin who “appears to have taken his own life.” Living alone, the reasons remain unknown to numerous fans and family why Moonbin’s death was caused, yet many suspect the continued pressures of Korean idols face demonstrates the rigor of the industry. Flowers and notes were placed by fans at street memorials in South Korea, continuing the hashtag #MoonbinWeLoveYou to commemorate the idol’s legacy on social media. With MoonBin’s last performance in Thailand, purple and silver balloons adorned memorials as both colors were prevalent in the last show. The Astro’s management company, Fantagio, released a statement on the issue, saying, “On April 19, ASTRO member Moonbin suddenly left us and has now become a star in the sky. Although it cannot compare to the grief of the bereaved family that had to part with their beloved son and brother, his fellow artists and the staff here at Fantagio, who have been together with him for a long time, are also deeply mourning the departed amidst tremendous shock and sorrow.” While the family hosted a private funeral, Moonbin’s sister, Moon Sua, canceled and postponed all her upcoming shows as a member in the K-pop group Billie. If you or someone you know are experiencing thoughts of suicide or mental-crisis, call or text 988. In emergent cases, call 911 or seek aid from a local hospital or providers. Editors: Blenda Y., Chelsea D. Photo Credits: The New York Times
- four senses
the first time i heard the sun was when you looked at me, and your eyes of color donated and donated, until they ran out. you are gone and i am here, but i still hear you in my windchimes, tell me, is there a medicine for seeing the night sky on the palms of your hands? the leaves on my plants wilt in the summer, in the winter, in the autumn, in the monsoon, and the bugs who were your friends now destroy my perfect garden the tattoo of you that i have inked within my eyelids infuriates me beyond imagination because it is but a caricature, an imitation of you the dirt in between my fingernails is evidence of my drudgery, but if i cannot remember the lines on your face at the end of the day, what use is my hard work? every day at five my itch awakens me, and i think, “the morning is cloudless, full of citrus, and the smell of you”, and i am lucid and delusional i hate you, and myself, because i am here, and you are gone. Editors: Luna Y., Uzayer M., Alisha B., Blenda Y. Image Source: Unsplash