The NY/SC received a number of excellent submissions over the course of the Digital Storytelling Contest, with each artist taking their own approach to the prompt “How does the past influence your present?” These are a few of the finalists.
Being half Japanese and half White, means the past influences many aspects of my life, often fighting with either side or not fitting into one. By overlaying family photos over myself, it allows for a literal and visual interpretation of the influences that have shaped me into who I am today.
“Growing Up in America as a Non-White American”
This piece is a reflection of my life as a Japanese American woman living in the United States. It shares my trials and tribulations as a person of color, and how I learned to cope with being essentially “not white”. Although I am considered half caucasian, my story will show how in this country, certain people don’t treat you with respect unless you’re fully caucasian… or a man. Better yet, both.
“in my own words”
At a young age I was told the story of how my mother and her family escaped by boat from Communist Vietnam. Since being bestowed with this knowledge, my perspective on life has changed. My art is inspired by the triumphs and the traumas of this complex family history. As a mixed race, half Vietnamese young woman, I’ve always felt some level of ambivalence about my cultural identity; never fitting into one ethnic box. Though my body is rooted here in America, my soul and mind are in Vietnam; the land of my ancestors. Through my work, I hope to capture the essence of a country which I feel so drawn to, yet which I am also somewhat distanced from; physically, as well as linguistically, as I never learned to speak Vietnamese. However, I’ve attempted to reconnect with my culture through other avenues and mediums other than language, such as poetry. This poem is my attempt to define my own, mixed race identity, in my own words. It captures my own path of finding a sense of identity in both my European and Vietnamese ancestry.
“In Wake of the Crashing Dawn”
In Wake of the Crashing Dawn is a short film about Asian American generational pain and physical catharsis through dance. The film was made & features an all Asian cast.
“Standing Out | Fitting In”
This piece is a reflection of both mine and my grandmother’s experience as a Japanese American. Even though the experiences are more than 50 years apart, there are references to the same fear of standing out and wanting to fit in. These small instances may be specific and personal to our stories but may hopefully help readers reflect on their own Japanese American identity. For me personally, connecting the past with my own life has allowed me to deconstruct my fears and move forward.
“What’s Your Impact?”
To the APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) Community–in this disruptive and ever-changing era of COVID, knowing that everything we have today has been created from those who came before,… …what will be your impact? Many of us come from varying backgrounds with different histories and traditions. However, here in the United States we are brought together in similarness because of our diasporic journeys and our desire to reclaim our stories. In response now, let’s dream big and imagine as community!