The Asian American experience is an essential thread in the rich and ever-shifting fabric of American history and culture. We have laid railroad tracks, worked plantation fields, fought for civil rights and engineered technological miracles. Ours is an impossibly varied experience, with nuances born of geographic and temporal difference, neither easily parsed nor ever fully captured.
CAAM has partnered with AT&T to bring #StoriestoLight, a community storytelling campaign highlighting the diverse perspectives and experiences that comprise the APA community. From May and into August, continue to view and experience the rich collage of APA voices and images here with a new chapter every two weeks.
CHAPTER SIX, THE FINAL CHAPTER.
Our final chapter brings us back to the community. Meet some of the CAAMFam and hear about a time they truly felt connected to the larger Asian American community.
“I remember watching Disney’s film version of Aladdin as a child and thinking “Hey, those people look like me!” I’m not Middle Eastern at all, but those cartoon characters shared the same dark complexion that I had which was (and still is) rare to see in the movies. I loved that movie so much, I played with my favorite Aladdin and Jasmine dolls for years on end. Looking back, the Disney film definitely has problems in its depiction of people of color, but at the time it did help me feel a little less weird, a little less alone, and even proud to see that we’re out there somewhere, even on the big screen. Today, I still look for more diverse representation in media but now I get to be part of that effort as an aspiring filmmaker and arts organizer in the Asian American arts world. Film and media have great potential to reach peoples far and wide.They made me feel more connected to my identity and empathetic to the world around me, and so I hope to do the same for other people in my community.”
“Okay, this is a little silly. My answer: the library! I still remember when I came across the Asian American history section at my university library as a first year. The amount of books! I fell in love — and I think I checked out more books than I could comfortably carry. These titles felt like a community. Each patch of knowledge inspired the other; they were written in conversation or in challenge of each other. Coming across these books helped me develop my curiosity about the deeper pulse of our community, along with its overarching project of storytelling and building on ideas. It was my opening point to begin connecting.”
“Asian American literature has impacted my life drastically. It has opened me up to an array of different voices in my community and has helped me to develop my own identity. One of my most potent memories is reading Lois Ann Yamanaka’s “Blu’s Hanging” as a middle schooler in Hawai’i. I knew books were entertaining and funny but I had no idea how incredibly painful, upsetting and honest they could be. The familiarity of the language and backdrop of the novel shook me but also offered a kind of comfort in knowing that someone could so beautifully yet so heartbreakingly depict through the written word such a mirrored experience to my own. Since then I have been building my own Asian American literary canon full or works that vividly and genuinely depict the unique facets of the Asian diaspora. I hope the rising wave of Asian American literature continues to grow and connect all Asian American communities.”
To share your story, just follow @caamedia on Instagram or @caam on Twitter and post your photo or a :10 video along with a brief story. Make sure you use hashtags #StoriestoLight and #Spon for a chance to win our Grand Prize. Visit CAAMedia.mobi on your mobile device to view official rules and regulations and check out new posted photos and videos. Text CAAM to 313131 to sign up for updates and alerts.