ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to (that’s the ‘rock’), something to read (that’s the ‘paper‘), and something to listen to (you guessed it, that’s the ‘radio’). Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.
All 14 #AZNxBLM projects are in their final stages! ROCK PAPER RADIO and The Slants Foundation will be sharing the work of our fierce crew of 21 artists throughout May in celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I am psyched. Like last week, this week’s newsletter is a glimpse into the creative superpowers of some of our #AZNxBLM artist-activists to get you pumped for what’s coming.
SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO
Would you rather awkwardly “chat” about the weather in line for the staffroom microwave than send an all-staff email? Do you live in crushing fear that your colleagues will soon figure out that you’re just making everything up as you go along?? Do you have another project already lined up to follow the one you’re currently working on that involves over twenty creatives and fourteen multimedia art projects???
Congratulations! You’re me. Or, perhaps you’re just another normal, self-doubting human who could really use this 4-minute NPR feature by #AZNxBLM producer Diana Opong: Life Kit: The Imposter Phenomenon.
I recommend having your note-taking pen ready (I know you already had it ready) at 3.15 minute mark when Dr. Suzanne Imes shares some real talk about her previous, ridiculous self:
“When I was younger, I had to achieve, achieve, achieve. I have three masters degrees and a doctorate. That is ridiculous. But I'm 76-years-old, and I still love being a psychologist and a therapist. Well, OK, I know how to do this, so I have to do it, or I should do it. No, I don't have those ‘shoulds’ the way I used to.”
For #AZNxBLM Diana and I are collaborating on an audio feature exploring parenting mixed-race children and the joys and challenges of navigating race and identity at home.
SOMETHING TO READ
If it’s true that every happy family is alike,* then a special shout out is due to the storytellers among us who share glimpses into how their childhood home lives were unique, so that the rest of us might feel a little less like misfits in our memories.
In I Owed My Parents Everything—But My Son Will Owe Me Nothing for Yes! Magazine, #AZNxBLM multimedia artist Shin Yu Pai explores the weight of family debt (both literal and symbolic) and all that is carried in the transition from child, to parent, to caregiver. If you’re an Asian woman of a certain age, or if you’ve ever loved someone who loved keeping tallies, this essay will hit you like a truck—a beautiful, poetic, heart-crushing truck.
For #AZNxBLM Shin Yu is collaborating with artist Arsalan Ibrahim to create an audio performance that examines the dehumanization of sexualized racism and the erasure of Asian and Black bodies.
SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO
A little over two years ago, I produced my first audio feature for KUOW Public Radio as part of Transom’s Traveling Workshop. It’s a 7-min story on musical maverick Joe Kye and it’s still one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. Here it is: The Rebel Violinist: On hip hop, lullabies, and the American Dream.
But that’s not what I want you to hold on to this week. What I want you to hold on to is this: #AZNxBLM musician Joe Kye—Korean American storyteller, violin-looper, dad to twins—has launched a children’s music project and it is THE BEST. He kicked off the series with an anglerfish so that’s all you need to know. You can find the project on Instagram @hijoekye. Share it with all of your favorite little buddies and their parents who can’t handle anymore Blippi videos.
For #AZNxBLM Joe is collaborating with artist Austin Antoine to produce an audio art piece called I SEE COLOR. The multimedia project will dismantle the concept of “colorblindness” and explore the power of seeing and acknowledging all parts of ourselves and others.
ONWARD TO API HERITAGE MONTH!
That’s a wrap for issue 39, friends. Thanks for listening, reading, holding on.
We’re just a few misfits away from 200(!!) subscribers as we hover on precipice of #AZNxBLM’s big drop, so please keep sharing ROCK PAPER RADIO on the social medias and inviting your solidarity-minded friends to join us. All of the curious awkward people will be warmly welcomed.
See you next Thursday.
*Leo Tolstoy's 1877 novel Anna Karenina begins with this iconic line: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”