By now, you probably have heard the recent about the murder of George Floyd among the other news of racially charged violence that have swept the nation — have been sweeping the nation for far beyond these past few days.
For those who are may be unaware, George Floyd was a peace activist and community leader. A video has circulated of his murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in broad daylight. One of the four officers involved is Tou Thao. He is Asian.
It may not have been his knee on Floyd’s neck, but he stood guard and looked on as his white colleague murdered George Floyd.
Tou Thao is the ultimate embodiment of the Asian model minority myth. It paints the image of Asian Americans as a docile, law-abiding group. If you want to succeed as an “other” — this is how you do it. The Asians did it right. Asian American activists have long called us all to challenge this myth.
I am all too familiar with what this hurdle looks like. As an immigrant, I know what has been instilled in our families when we come to America. I know the dangle of the American dream. I know the trade off that we are asked to make. Trade your heritage, trade your culture, trade your voice — and you too, can have the house with the white picket fence.
So our parents raise us to assimilate. We change our names. We make them easier to pronounce. We force the accents out of our voices, We keep our heads down. We work hard. We never rock the boat — least they send us back on the boats we came here on.
But in saying nothing, we are are Tou Thao. Our willingness to conform to the model minority myth, our silence makes us complicit in the oppression of others in this country. We are not equal until we are all equal. We cannot climb to the top by stepping on the bodies of black people.
I urge you — we need to break our silence. And while it may seem a monumental task, we need to educate our friends and our families. We need to speak for those who cannot. We need to stand for those who cannot.
If you are asking the question of where to start, start here: 20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show Up for the Black Community Right now.
This is what one of the bathrooms looked like when I first toured the place. It hadn’t been updated since the ‘80’s, which was when it was built. About two years ago, I downsized the cabinet to something smaller and more modern and did the same with the mirror. I had been planning on circling back for more improvements and there was no time like the quarantine to push me to do it.
While browsing Pinterest, I discovered this gorgeous wallpaper from Drop It Modern. While I was absolutely in love with the design, I wasn’t ready to shell out that kind of money for wallpaper. So I thought, maybe I could just draw it myself?
And I’m actually glad I did! The real-life paint job felt way more authentic than a wallpaper and the best part was being able to say it was DIY. I started out with a digital mockup on my iPad to check my dimensions, then used that to pencil in where I was going to paint on the wall.
I found this great metallic gold paint online. This is an all-purpose paint – you can use it on your walls, on your furniture, on your door handles, etc (I actually ended up using some leftover paint to spruce up a vanity). The paint is a bit opaque, so you do need to use more than one coat. I used two coats on the mural and five coats on my vanity!
But it dries very quickly, so if you make any mistakes – be sure to correct it, fast! The entire process probably took about 4 hours (including the mock-up), but I am so glad I decided to try it myself.
This International Women’s Day — remembering my time with Project Soar in Morocco. Project Soar’s mission is simple: to empower teenage girls in the developing world! They provide 50 lessons of empowerment to keep the girls in school and to prepare them for more productive, fulfilled futures.
Photo by Arnelle Lozada.
Let’s be honest, every year I learn a lot but I feel it particularly so this year. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about my work, and about the world in general. I’ve learned to really appreciate my personal time and personal projects. I’m grateful for my growth as a photographer and an artist. I am also grateful for the places my work has taken me. It’s been some incredibly eye-opening experiences.
It feels surreal that it’s about to be 2020 – that a decade has passed.
2019, what a year! And that’s all she wrote.
Photo by Al Noelle Walter.
My gal pal Al.