WHAT??? -> WHY?


Please email me at hardlyunamerican@gmail.com with questions, recommendations for the archive or library, suggestions for collaboration, or other thoughts.



 By building this library and archive, I'm hoping to explore answers to the following questions

  • What themes are uniquely found in Asian Americans’ political and cultural discourse?

  • What aesthetic forms are contemporary Asian American artists producing? (And which of these forms are being used to catalyze or critique political and cultural discourse?)

  • How can I use the internet to enhance rather than distract my process of self-understanding?

  • What does it look like to publicly display confusion and questions about myself and my identity? How can I build humility into the foundation of a public archive of this nature?

  • Can assertion of identity contribute to widespread collective action, or does it obscure commonalities and create more divisions than connections?

I grew up as a daughter of immigrants in a community full of non-diasporic Americans with two choices: to assimilate into White culture or to appropriate Black culture. This is my attempt at creating a third choice: to assert Asian American culture.

Diasporic narratives often center around loss. Indirectly and directly, friends, coworkers, and strangers in the US tell me I’m too Indian to be American while my family tells me that I’m too American to be Indian. In the face of this two-way external rejection, I am constantly straddling the line between refusing Asian otherness while embracing my US nationality in the hopes of broadening the definition of American-hood; and leaning into my Indianness as I push away a country that mercilessly disregards my dignity and terrorizes people who look like me.

Media, legislation, institutions, countless individuals, and our new President reinforce daily that only White citizens (unconditionally) and Black citizens (very conditionally) will be recognized as belonging to the United States of America. They state clearly to me and other children of diaspora that to leverage an identity outside of these binaries is not just irrelevant but un-American.

As my country attempts to invisibilize me while profiting from my labor, I carve out a platform to develop and showcase a personal Asian American identity that is inherently political, cultural, artistic, and spiritual.

This website undermines the traditional story of diasporic inadequacy, disconnect and insignificance by creating a narrative of diasporic gain. It documents my understanding of diasporic assertion as I immerse myself in materials by Asian diasporic cultural producers. I'm actively discovering the extra knowledge, power, wholeness and love that comes with the full internal embrace of two cultures instead of one...the deep belonging to the country I was born and raised in, alongside the memories in my mind and my muscles, the blood in my veins, the traditions and history, the religion and values, the lineage and ancestors of the motherland that produced me...the uniquely insightful, critical, and ultimately radical lens of diaspora.