Editor’s Note: This page was updated on May 3 to include “Native Hawaiian” in the title and in the story to reflect the White House statement adding these words to the name of this heritage month.
Lists of favorite books, movies, podcasts, and bands can serve as avatars of identity and the glue that binds a friendship together. Sharing the stories that move us, inspire us, educate us, make us laugh, cry and make us angry helps us empathize, understand and connect with others in the community.
As part of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we reached out to staff across campus for recommendations on things to read, watch or listen to that celebrate the history, culture, the struggle and contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
Meg Thornton, UCLA alumnus, student and community projects coordinator for the Asian American Studies Centerrecommended a film festival and a local band.
- The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is organized by Visual Communications, a longtime community partner of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. VC was founded by several UCLA alumni who were also founders of the center. The festival highlights the most notable filmmakers, storytellers, actors/actresses, writers, musicians and artists of Asian American, Pacific Islander, South Asian and Southeast Asian backgrounds. New films, classic films, documentaries and animated films are all included in this very special festival. It is a pioneering and leading film festival for the Asian American, Pacific Islander, South Asian, and Southeast Asian communities in the country.
- The Lindas Lindas Music video “Racist Sexist Boy” was filmed at a public library in Los Angeles and posted online in the spring of last year. The song was written in response to an incident Mila de la Garza faced at school with a boy who told her that her father had told her to stay away from Chinese people because of the virus. She wrote the song with fellow band member Eloise Wong. I thought it was so awesome that being so young they could channel their feelings, thoughts and creative energy into this powerful song. It gave me hope and was a beacon of hope in the early days of the pandemic lockdown. Linda Lindas music and videos are fun and have positive energy! I love the honest feelings of their lyrics and their outspokenness. They carry the best of punk rock and grrrrl power. They embody hope and creative energy for a better future in this difficult time.
Nancy Lee, Senior Director of Public Relations, Hammer Museum at UCLA, recommended a movie, a podcast and two books.
During AANHPI Heritage Month, I think it’s important to highlight the multiplicity of experiences contained within the umbrella terms “Asian American,” “Native Hawaiian,” and “Pacific Islander.” There are many stories and expressions to explore endlessly.
- “Everything, everywhere, all at once” was one of the most moving and interesting films I have ever seen. The serious and goofy multiverse story centers on Evelyn Wang, played by the wonderful Michelle Yeoh. Although it’s not about being Asian American, the cultural details are spot on and enhance the storytelling. I laughed and cried the whole time and can’t stop thinking about this movie.
- I never miss an episode of the podcast “It’s time to say goodbye!” hosted by Jay Caspian Kang, Tammy Kim and Andy Liu.
- “Continuous” de Chella Man is an illustrated paperback that follows the young author’s journey as a deaf, transgender, Chinese and Jewish artist. “The Properties of Perpetual Light” is a beautiful book of short essays and poems by Julian Aguon, an Indigenous human rights lawyer and writer from Guam.
Veena Hampapur, Director of Communications, UCLA Labor Centerrecommended two of the center’s Re:Work podcast episodes.
Our miniseries explores the experiences of Cambodian refugees in Los Angeles who were caught up in the criminal justice system at a young age. The experiences of working-class Southeast Asian refugees existing at the intersection of criminal justice and immigration enforcement are often overlooked when it comes to telling stories about the Asian American community. These stories are also particularly timely, given recent news on immigration enforcement.
- the “Redemption” The episode focuses on Cambodian refugees who got caught up in the criminal justice system at a young age. Billy Taing shares his story of fleeing the Khmer Rouge and resettling in America with his family, to continue facing hardship.
- the ‘No child left behind’ The episode highlights the fact that too often young people from marginalized communities of color are not seen as in need of protection. On the contrary, they are treated as those from whom we need protection. This episode tells the story of Phal Sok, who was once a Long Beach kid forced to grow up too early.
Alise Brillault, Communications Manager, Latino Policy and Politics Initiativerecommended four rappers.
Bamboo, Ruby Ibarra and rocky river are amazing Filipino American rappers with socially conscious lyrics. They interweave narratives of race, class, gender, and migration to elevate Filipino histories and call for multiracial solidarity. Cosmosis is my friend and a great Korean-American rapper!
In addition to these recommendations, the Asian American Studies Center and the Department of Asian American Studies have partnered with campuses across California for a series of special webinars every Friday in May that celebrate Asian American activism and consider community challenges and opportunities.
“Contemporary Asian American Activism: Building Movements for Liberation” brings together scholars, organizers, researchers and contributors to the forthcoming book of the same name, edited by Diane Fujino and Robyn Magalit Rodriguez.
The Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month book and speaker series showcase lived experiences of the struggle for transformative justice and offer lessons for ensuring the longevity and sustainability of the organization.
The series kicks off Friday, May 6, with Karen Umemoto, Helen, and Morgan Chu Endowed Director’s Chair of the Asian American Studies Center, presenting the theme “Incarceration, Displacement, and Transformation.” Umemoto will be joined by Eddy Zheng, President and Founder of the New Breath Foundation, which works to mobilize resources to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders harmed by violence and the unjust immigration and justice system. criminal justice, and Katherine Nasol, a Filipino scholar and educator. .
The other lectures in the series will be: “Internationalism and Local Struggles”, “Political Education and Radical Pedagogy” and “On Movement Building: Shaped by the Past, Creating New Futures”.