Not Your Asian Accessory



I’ll fight my own battles, thx.

I’m not your Asian sidekick.

I’m not your fetish.

I’m not your model minority.

I’m sick of having white people tell our narratives in the media. I’m sick of scanning through ads and posts and only seeing a sea of pale white faces. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to have Matt Damon star in a movie about The Great Wall of China? Stop perpetuating the idea that only a white man can save the world. We don’t need your whitewashing, we don’t need your skin to sell our stories. Why would a gweilo be fighting monsters in the Song Dynasty anyway?

I can remember so vividly looking for a face like mine on the TV, in toys, cartoons and finding none.

Years later, now, I still try to find what’s relatable to my image and am fall short. Strangely enough, whiteness is malleable, that reliability is more sound– but the slightest difference for a POC is loud.

That doesn’t look like you at all, are you kidding?  

A white man can throw on a mask and be whatever he wants. An Asian man throws on a cape, a blue shirt with a big “S” and is Asian Superman. Why is it that white people can be whoever they wish, but for POC we can only be imitations?

I’m sick of Asians being sidekicks, minor characters, background, accessories.

We won’t be your Kato anymore. We won’t humor you with fake accents and play the joke of a Long Duk Dong.

Cast more Asians as leads.

Let us tell our own stories.

Let us be sexual beings.

Stop hiding who we really are with stereotypes.

We need more Asian heroes and heroines. Not your model minority bullshit that you love to perpetuate. We need the bad bitch Asians, the artists. We need change.



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America Hates Me

It’s November 9, 2016 and when I woke up this morning, I realized America hated me. I am an American. I was born in San Francisco on a crisp fall day. My parents are both immigrants who came to this country looking for opportunity, hope, and a better future. The way that we read about foreigners coming to America in books and movies, it sounds like a country with open arms and ample work and cash and prosperity.

Years before I was born, my mother was walking through the Tenderloin back to her apartment. When she walked by a man, he spat at her and said, “Go back to China, bitch.”

I realized now nothing has changed.

I am so utterly disgusted that a majority of America has chosen a sexist, racist, pompous, ignorant, disrespectful old rich white man to be our leader. To represent us. I thought it would be impossible, but I guess I’ve been hiding in my safe, accepting, and loving bubble of California, completely unaware to what was happening in other parts of America.

Presidential Election Results by State- Source: NY Times

It hurts to know that most of my country, especially Middle America, believes what he believes — that people of color should be shunned. That there should be a wall separating us. That we should be sent away. That we are unequal. That it is okay to grab women. To abuse them. To objectify them. To be denied rights of our own bodies.

America hates me, and I didn’t realize how much it did until now.

I feel so betrayed by my home, my country.

I always knew we lived in a society with hatred institutionalized in our core, but I thought we had progressed so much over time. The worst part of it is, it’s not all Trump’s fault. He does not create the hate, the fear, and bigotry, but it existed within America and he brought it out. I see now the face of America, which was not the America I knew yesterday. Not “my America”.

America hates me.

Marginalized groups, it is more important now more than ever that we band together in solidarity and support one another.

Originally published on my Medium page.

The Hello Kitty Exhibit & What it means to be Asian


Hello Kitty is an icon– a symbol, an “artifact” which represents some form of culture.

To me she is adorable, peaceful, cute, delicate, and in a way, malleable. As all symbols, definition may vary but an image stays constant.

She’s been criticized for her lack of mouth—“she can’t talk. She’s just another symbol for the oppressed Asian woman.”

But mouth or not, Hello Kitty sure does a lot of talking—she’s makes about $5 billion dollars yearly.

When I was a little girl, I adored Hello Kitty. She was the big huggable plush whose spotless white fur glowed under an expensive shop light. She was the face on expandable pencil boxes that magically opened up countless compartments with the touch of a button. She was on the smoothest pink gel pens and the fruit scented erasers. Her face beamed from dainty pastel colored tops with ruffled sleeves. But alas, being a first generation daughter from a family trying to make end’s meat in America—those fancy toys were just a distant dream. If it wasn’t found in a McDonald’s happy meal– it wasn’t found in my hands.

It wasn’t until college that I indulged in my Hello Kitty fascination. I wore a Hello Kitty backpack to class,  complete with triangle feline ears and a puffy sequined bow.

“Hey, cute backpack,” a random guy stopped me.

“Thanks,” I said.

“It’s like so Asian.”

“Yeah,” I agreed.

He gave me a puzzled look, “oh you know, I don’t know any girls who like, admit that. Nobody wants to say they’re Asian.”

“Erm… Well, I am Asian.”

“Y-yeah…” He stammered. After a few empty awkward seconds he began to retreat.

My friend laughed when we had taken a few steps away, “that guy was totally bad at hitting on you.”


To say I was ecstatic when the Japanese American National Museum announced the opening of its special exhibit, “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty” would be an understatement.

The exhibit opened in October 2014 for her 40th birthday, and caused quite a stir with the whole “she’s not a cat!” controversy. Hello Kitty is 40 years old, a middle-aged kitty now.

I didn’t think I would actually be able to see the exhibit with my own eyes—JANM is in downtown LA and I live in SF. But when my boyfriend and I drove down to Disneyland, I demanded we go.

It was a feast for kawaii-hungry eyes. She was painted everywhere, her image spread across massive walls and her kitten eyes watched you from above. Sparkling pink items shouted from neatly peppered glass cases.


Under a subtle spotlight, a small plastic coin purse the size of my thumb hung above a stepped pedestal behind a glass case labeled simply, “Coin Purse.”


The classic Hello Kitty stationary items I admired as a girl were arranged precisely so that each piece called your eyes but the case itself was unified in visually satisfying set.


It was quite the collection—bags, figurines, a panorama of Hello Kitty plushies through the ages.

My favorite part of the exhibit was the art. A sign called her, “A Muse for Artists” whom inspired many from across the globe with her “Zen-like disposition.


She was cute, ferocious, demonic, surreal, beautiful, classic or downright ridiculous. Despite being a cartoon cat, she was painted with the elegance of a geisha to the pink patriotism of Old Abe himself.


Towards the end of the exhibit was the dress that adorned Lady Gaga herself—a plush piece sewn from dozens of stuffed kitties. Stepping into the last room, was stepping into the secrets of the ancient Egyptian pyramids. Darkness clouded the air, rudely cut by beams of beautiful gold emitting from the center of the room. Oh great Pharaoh Kitty towered over our mortal souls, Cleopawtra herself engraved in glimmering gold as she sat upon her sprinkled donut thrown.

After we exited the Hello Kitty exhibit, is where the museum took a stark turn.


The exit spat us out into the internment camp exhibit. A few seconds ago we were in the super cute world of Hello Kitty, and now we were in a dark history that America tends to forget. It felt like I was Dorothy and after exploring the Land of Oz I was thrown back into sepia toned Kansas. Photographs, video tapes, and momentos documented the stay of families torn away from their homes. A quiet dreary kind of sadness hung in the air, permeated by a calm instrumental folk song.

The eyes that stared at me from those black and white photos looked very much like my own.

“My grandfather was in an internment camp,” my boyfriend said as we looked at photos.

The photos varied, some children were playing while some looked lost. I wondered if at a young age if they knew what was going on. They had done nothing wrong, but were incarcerated for the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes, their native tongue. They were labeled prisoners for a land far, far away.

I stood before a wall built entirely of dark brown, blue and black suitcases. How much of their “homes” could they fit into these? How could you blame them for the actions of an unfamiliar land? Most people come to America for a new life, new opportunities, and a place to call “home.” I know that’s why my family did. But here, these people were denied their home, denied their hopes, and had their dreams deferred. Displaced blame resulted in displaced lives. What happened to their American dream?

Such a problem still exists today. We tend to blame an group of people for the actions of a few individuals. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that not everything is just black and white.

At the exit, a poem shadowed in sunlight called out to me.


“Community in not just where you live.

Community is also about who you are.

We are on common ground with all Americans,

with all peoples.”

When we were about to leave the museum, we decided to take a picture with a Hello Kitty statue. One of the museum curators, a friendly older Japanese man asked us if we needed help taking a photo.

“Look Asian!” He smiled.

“What?” My boyfriend looked puzzled.

“Like this,” I held up my right hand up in a peace sign and flashed a wide grin.

By then, I had a better idea of what it means to be Asian.