ON MY MIND | Cultural Appropriation, Giraffes and You

You already know what this is about. And I get it, Halloween’s over – cultural appropriation isn’t a hot topic anymore. The people have moved on. Wait until next year. Wait for the hashtags to pop up again, wait for the flame wars and public smear campaigns, wait for the liberal think-pieces, wait for the conservative backlash, wait for those little voices of incredulity and derision – the voices of “reason” – to percolate up through your subconscious.

ON MY MIND | Loving Asian Parents

Put a group of second-generation Asian Americans together in one room. Get them to open up about their childhoods, to describe what it was like growing up in their household, what their parents were like. I guarantee with 95% certainty that, at some point in the conversation, someone will probably say something along the lines of:

“You know, it was always, ‘Keep your head down,’ or, ‘Don’t rock the boat.’ You know, stuff like that.”

And in case you were wondering, here are some typical refrains from my childhood, too:

“I don’t care if all your friends are going. You have 사모님 on Friday. You know that.” [사모님: Korean title for a married woman – a.k.a. my piano teacher]


ON MY MIND | I Don’t Feel Like Smiling

There’s an old chain email/Facebook adage that goes something like: “It takes 37 muscles to frown but only 22 muscles to smile. So smile. It conserves energy.”

I’ll tell you right now that I googled this saying to see if it had any scientific merit, but the first three links I tried were all inconclusive or confusing so I gave up. I give up on a lot of things, so it’s not really a big deal. Anyway, I only looked it up in the first place because I wanted to let you know that smiling is too hard and consequently I’ve decided to stop until further notice.

ON MY MIND | International Leaf-Toucher’s Anthem

So. I’ve developed a habit where I try to pluck a fistful of leaves – or a solitary leaf – off as many low-hanging branches on as many passing trees as I can while walking home on pretty-good Saturday nights (weather permitting). I might do it on weekdays too, or even during daylight hours if the urge has really got a grip on these twitchy digits. It’s powerful, when it hits.

ON MY MIND | Coloring in Mental Illness

A truck blocked my path. In the fading light of late afternoon, I could barely make out a group of white faces grinning at me through rolled-down windows. And then a voice called out:


By the time I’d registered the words and bristled in preface to formulating an appropriate retort, the

ON MY MIND | Wake Up Mr. Kim: On Asians Who Say the N-word

Hello! Today I want to talk about why it’s not okay for non-black people of color – specifically Asian and Pacific Americans – to say the N-word. But before we can do that, I need you to chew on this interesting and relevant anecdote:

Picture me, Spring, 2015. The air was brimming with promise as I contemplated the two glimmering stars compelling me towards a sweet horizon – a.k.a. high school graduation and Kanye West’s supposed new album So Help Me God SWISH Waves The Life of Pablo. On an otherwise nondescript sunny day in March, I found myself at one of several school-sponsored “parties” for our graduating class.