In “Yellow: Where we can be, An Anthology of the Asian American Teenagers’ Experience,” youth from the Twin Cities Metro area tell and write of their experience growing up Asian American. Within 100 pages, the book offers photos, poetry, prose, and profiles of the members of the Asian Pacific Leadership Council in an effort to provide understanding and be a source of information for many on the lives and experiences of today’s Asian American youth.
The book is a product of the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Council, a leadership program of the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, a state agency created by the legislature to advise them and the governor on issues of importance to Asian Pacific Minnesotans.
The APYC will release and read from their book at the Asian American Teens’ Exposition on Saturday, April 30, 2011, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Intermedia Arts, 2822 South Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis.
APCY members will display their talent in full force with original performances in music, drama, poetry, dance and film. There is a $5 good will admission fee for adults. Children and seniors are free. Books are $10.00 per copy.
In putting this book together, the editorial board of the project sought to capture the experiences of Asian American teenagers. Organizers asked youth to write about themselves and the stories surpassed expectations.
The editorial board states that stories are poignant and powerful, and in many ways similar in that they demonstrate that they are not alone in the world. Some of the major themes include, the cultural expectation of parents for youth and the balancing act that must be created; identity and self-discovery; experiences of discrimination; and love of family and friends.
It is the goal of the editorial board and APYC members that readers may grow to understand, appreciate, and value the youth in their lives.
Ilean Her, Executive Director of the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, stat that the idea for this book started with a simple question: Where are the stories of Asian America youth among the vastness of American literature?
“Mixed into this query was the thirst to know more about themselves and a deep desire for others to know of them,” said Her. “Indeed, stories about them are far and few in between and rarer still are stories that were written by them.
“I am so proud of the time and effort they’ve put into the book,” she added. “With this book, they’ve placed their mark in Minnesota’s history.”
On growing up Asian American:
I don’t see myself living the way I am without the influence of my family and culture. Even though I live in the US my life still revolves around it. Only lived there [Jakarta, Indonesia] three years but it’s been the most significant part of my life so far and I hope to have it stay that way. –Wibi MacDonald
With strong yet trembling hands, we preserve fragments of what defines us, whether it is true or not. With those trembling hands we stitch: etching what remains of our strained, repeatedly abused, and violated history onto a mere piece of cloth, telling our mournful epilogue, hoping for someone to notice us and our struggles.
– Joua Her
I take pride in being Hmong
And hopefully I’m not alone
I would say Asian
But they’re dumb people who don’t know what “stick together means”
– Joe Yang
There is no way I could be the same person without my culture.
I think the Chinese and American parts of me balance out pretty nicely, and I would have it no other way.
On Identity & Self-discovery
Reflecting on my experiences, I note that I have been the beneficiary of an accidental extraordinary accomplishment. Little it might seem in the grand scheme of things, it was a moment that illuminated for me the depth of my person-hood and potential.
Growing up being known as a taboo child has made my life complicated… I have learned that strangers and friends enjoy your presence more when you are yourself. It helps people understand who you really are and it allows them to open up quicker.
I struggle to find the good side of hope. And suddenly: Hope: Something that keeps me constantly looking towards something better and keeps me going throughout the day. The words “Something better” rings through my ears.
I’ve had to rethink family. They are the start of me, but not the end of me. They influence my choices, but they are not my choice. And herein lies the problem and the source of my struggle. But understanding this point has clarified for me what I have to do. I have a voice and I will use it. I have faith in myself and I believe I can do anything. I have a starting point and I will continuously move forward from there to set little goals, make checklists, and strive to accomplish them.
– Gao Lee
I believe the word that would best describe me is strong. The word strong is represented in many ways, physically and mentally. My outer appearance is structured and many people see me as a person of strength; strong can branch off into many categories as leadership, power, and determination. I am also mentally strong as my mind seeks the better me. I am always trying to better myself every day. It keeps me alive and able to keep an open mind.
– Justen Gowing
I was a boy, who once stood in the crowd
Afraid of my own voice to be heard by others
I was a boy, who never tried to accomplish anything
Fearing my own imperfections and failures
– Shoreyeah Yang
On Discrimination & Stereotypes
Being Asian can have its ups and downs but usually it’s the negative stereotypes that get to us. How many times have you been asked “Do you know karate?” or “Aren’t you good at math?!”I just want to smack some knowledge into them, but knowing the ignorant people that they probably are, they won’t get it. So most of the time, I ignore them and move on with my day.
– Gary Saenvilay
I would get into fights because of my race but at the same time I didn’t know much about it.
– Ondre Yang
I can say I have built up a patience for those who ask the questions such as “What do you eat?” and make dumb-ass remarks like “You’ll never be full Asian.” But it is what it is and all I can do is accept it. I won’t always talk back to the ridiculous comments made to me. It just makes me want to actually give out knowledge about Korean adoptees to others and tell them what it’s like so the stereotypes can be put to rest.
– Sam Herold
On the Love of Family & Friends
I am mostly an optimistic person. I would say that I live life for my friends, family, my goals, and my dreams.
– Alvin Suliman
I have had many hardships in my life; my family and friends are always there for me, and therefore are the ones that shaped me the most. What I learned from my family is responsibility, respect, to be self-sufficient, independent, and learn how to love others and myself.
– Henry Vo
Where I come from family is everything. Moving around a lot causes hardships in trying to make friends, but luckily I’ve always had my family. As much as we fight, they’re all I have and I would never trade them for anything The greatest gift we have in this life is love and I get to experience that every day with my wonderful family.
By 8th grade, my life was changed forever. My mom was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t want to hear from the doctors; I lied to myself that she was going to be okay. I couldn’t focus in school. I prayed every night to have hope for my mom. When school ended, summer vacation came. I didn’t enjoy it like others would; instead, I went to the hospital every day to be with my mom.
– Julie Xiong
As a young couple my parents were forced to leave the land of their ancestors and start their lives over in a new country, a new land, with a new language. When they came they did not know how to drive, had no suitable job skills and no one they could turn to for help… My name is Kay and I am the end product of my parent’s journey.
This book and event is funded with money from the arts and cultural heritage fund that was created by a vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.