In the USA in 2019, 23 million Americans identified as having Asian or Pacific Islander roots. They represent connections to many of the 61 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, each with a unique history and culture. As a result, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is very diverse, from how they personally identify, to the religions they practice, to the food they eat. Yet, despite their differences, they share many experiences. AAPI people have been in the territory that has become the U.S. since the 16th century, and they share rich, intertwined histories including both triumphs and persecution. This audio story collection explores a selection of stories relating to AAPI history, experience, and identity. Listen to learn more about a range of topics, including how different communities celebrate prominent holidays, how individuals have developed their identities, and how AAPI people have experienced prejudice and racism in the United States.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prevented all immigration of Chinese laborers. Chinese immigrants were detained at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay at the turn of the 20th century because of the Exclusion Act. This audio story describes the Chinese poetry carved on the walls of a detention barracks by Angel Island detainees. Their poetry tells a story of humiliation and mistreatment of innocent Chinese people trying to start a new life or join loved ones already in the United States.
Amy Tan has written a new novel, "The Valley of Amazement" which is set in both San Francisco and Shanghai in the early 1900s. This story explores Chinese cultural practices, American and Chinese identities, and the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. Tan’s book highlights our stereotypes and forces readers to question their assumptions about certain societal roles. While she wrote, Tan, too, questioned her own assumptions about her ancestry, and gained a more nuanced understanding of her family’s past. Listen to hear more about a novel’s potential to impact both readers and author alike.
Children of immigrants can often feel like they’re never completely accepted either in their adopted home country or their parents’ country of origin. The author Jhumpa Lahiri was born to Indian parents in London and raised in Rhode Island. She is an author of many books, including "The Namesake" and "The Interpreter of Maladies." But she says she’s struggled to feel like she belonged in America. Mixed feelings about identity form a central theme in her work. Listen to hear how Jhumpa Lahiri has dealt with the difficulties of immigration and the struggles of tradition and how these themes have influenced her writing.
After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, fear and shock led to the United States' entry into World War II. The U.S. government declared all people of Japanese ancestry enemies, sending more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps for almost three years. They were forced to abandon their homes, lives and belongings and move to bare barracks. Listen to this audio story and learn how art was a fundamental way for these internees to cope with fear and bring strength, comfort and beauty to camp life.
Oil lamps light up hundreds of millions of Indian homes during Diwali, a festival celebrating the victory of good over evil and “finding the light within.” This religious celebration is a public holiday in many countries. There are prayers invoking the Hindu goddesses and stories are told of Hindu gods fighting between good and evil, symbolizing every person's struggle. Families decorate with colorful decorations and lights, and perform ritual prayers. Listen to learn more about this holiday from a family that celebrates this tradition in the United States.
Several Asian Americans were asked the question: Do you consider yourselves Brown? Some said “yes,” others said “no,” and the reasons they gave for their answers varied. For some, their answer was based solely on their skin tone. For others, their answer was more complicated and took into account cultural and social factors. In this audio story, Asian Americans discuss the discrimination they have faced based on their skin color. Listen to learn more about why some Asian Americans do or do not consider themselves Brown and how the way others view them affects their lives.
Eddie Huang is an American chef, lawyer, and author. Both of Huang’s parents are Taiwanese immigrants. Huang’s father ran a number of restaurants when Huang was growing up, where Huang would often work after school. As an adult, Huang visited China to reconnect with his roots, and, while there, he cooked and served food to locals. Following this trip, Huang wrote his second memoir, Double Cup Love (his first, Fresh Off the Boat, was turned into a popular television series). Listen to learn more about why Huang went to China, what he learned while there, and how he views the connection between food, culture, and identity.
The completion of the transcontinental railroad is one of America’s defining moments. The ceremony marking its completion is immortalized in the famous “Golden Spike” photograph at Utah’s Promontory Point. However, often overlooked in the story of the railroad’s construction is the role of Chinese laborers, who worked under brutal and often dangerous conditions to complete it. This audio story chronicles efforts by their descendants to gain greater recognition for their ancestors’ role in building the transcontinental railroad. Listen to learn details about the restaging of the famous photograph at Promontory Point and the Chinese immigrant experience in America.
Siddhartha Guatama was born into an aristocratic family in ancient India. He later gave up that life in search of spiritual enlightenment which led him to found Buddhism. Bodhi Day, celebrated on December 8, commemorates the day that Siddhartha Gautama became the first Buddha. On this day, Buddhists around the world reflect on his journey out of suffering and towards enlightenment. Listen to hear a Buddhist scholar and minister explain the purpose of Bodhi Day, the spiritual path of Siddhartha Gautama, and the basic tenets of Buddhism.
Many California immigrants become their own bosses. For example, one immigrant from Thailand started a Thai food business that will likely be expanding very soon. Experts note that there are some good reasons why immigrants are likely to become entrepreneurs. Listen to learn the causes behind this Californian trend and hear more of one immigrant’s story.
More Hollywood films featuring Asian Americans are being made, with some hitting it big at the box office. According to one producer, the trend signals a change in the way Asian Americans are perceived and accepted by mainstream culture. Listen to hear a YouTube channel producer explain how digital media helps minority artists break through, and what the success of Awkwafina means for other Asian American performers.
Recently a gunman in Atlanta killed eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. The attack followed a year that saw a dramatic increase in verbal and physical attacks against Asian Americans, accompanying a rise in racist rhetoric that scapegoated China for the coronavirus pandemic. Anti-Asian discrimination and racism have a long history in the U.S., and tend to worsen during periods of tension and fear, according to a former professor of Asian American studies. Listen to learn about the history of anti-Asian violence in the U.S. and how today’s situation parallels the past.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased over the last year, as anti-Asian scapegoating rhetoric, harassment, and violence have accompanied the pandemic. The alarming trend has affected Asian Americans in a variety of ways. In this audio story, three teens explain how this threatening social climate has affected their day-to-day lives. Listen to hear the students describe their experiences at school, why they fear for their families, and what they are doing to stay safe.
Outdoor recreation is enjoyed around the world. The U.S. has its own particular set of traditions, which, for a variety of reasons, have not always been inclusive of all Americans. Ambreen Tariq, an immigrant from India, explores the meaning of camping for immigrants and people of color in her children’s book, Fatima’s Great Outdoors. She argues that the urge to connect with nature is universal, and camping offers immigrants the chance to participate in a fun, quintessentially American activity while maintaining their own cultural identities and traditions. Listen to the author describe her own experiences camping as a child and why she begged her parents to serve bacon for breakfast.
Hawaiian is a Polynesian language that has been spoken for centuries in the volcanic islands of Hawaii. The indigenous Pacific Islanders living in Hawaii were prevented from speaking Hawaiian after the U.S. takeover in the late 1800s. By the 1970s, only about 50 people under the age of 18 still knew how to speak the native Hawaiian language. In recent years, Hawaiian people concerned about losing their language and its cultural value have led a movement to revive the language among younger generations. Listen to this story to hear about a Hawaiian language immersion school where parents are learning along with their children in the hope of reconnecting with and preserving an important part of their culture.
When a reader sees him or herself reflected in a character, that character can come to life. Some children, however, never find a character they can relate to. Pakistani and Muslim author Hena Khan had this unfortunate experience growing up, but it did not destroy her passion for reading and writing. Listen to hear how Khan infuses her Pakistani and Muslim roots into her stories and characters to fill the gap she experienced as a young reader.
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