The First Taiwan Film Festival in Boston Puts Documentaries Front and Center

These past few years have been full of cinematic milestones for Asian Americans. Fresh Off the Boat season six hit TV screens (and laptops), while Crazy Rich Asians insisted on some long overdue decadence and romance, finally free of Orientalist tropes or tokenization. Despite the commercial success and generally good reception of both, I couldn’t help but still feel unrepresented. As a third culture kid, I could connect with bits and pieces of the Asian American topics, but the other side…

Sharing Spaces: Taiwanese Indigenous Art Connects Tradition with New Audiences

Djanav Zengror’s greeting flies through the air, and then the rest of the Ayi-Yanga troupe fills the cozy lounge of the Hearst Museum of Anthropology with harmonies. Within the intimate room, the music transports us to a wide-open space and readily calls to mind the verdant mountains of Taiwan. Their song, “Home Direction” (指路), starts with the hunter’s call. When his people hear him, they run to welcome him home. Through the interpreter, UC Berkeley student Cynthia Ji, Zengror explains…

STEP Taiwan: The Taiwanese American Experience

     I grew up in the land of apple pie, Friday-night football games, and white picket fences. Some weekends, I would drive up to D.C. and see tourists decked out in their new Washington D.C. souvenir T-shirts, posing along the National Mall – all while munching on their great American hot dogs. Whether intentional or not, in my distinctly American neighborhood, I was fully immersed in its popular culture, traditions, and the overall lifestyle. At home, however, I was…

From Wild Lilies to Sunflowers: Discovering Taiwan’s Democracy

From fist fights in the parliament to protests that seem to rotate through Taipei every few months, Taiwan's democracy is oftentimes placed under intense scrutiny. “Look at how messed up Taiwan’s government is,” I’d hear often. But critics often forget this obvious precursor to democratic maturity: age. Taiwan is known as the beacon of democracy in Asia, as the only Han society to know freedom today. However, people also forget how young this fragile democracy is, or how recent…

Addressing Anti-Blackness Within the Taiwanese American Community

By Tiffany Diane Tso, edited by Leona Chen | original photography by Micheile Henderson Editor’s Note: I’ve been thinking a lot about (valid) accusations that Asian Americans, frankly, suck at standing up for others. And though there is no singular Taiwanese American immigration narrative, many families in our community arrived by way of H-1B visas, prestigious education, and the logical conclusion that obedience produces success. Diasporic Taiwanese of my parents’ and grandparents’…

The 228 Inheritance: Taiwan’s Revolution Is Here

Seventy-two years after Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s forces massacred more than twenty thousand Taiwanese in ‘the February 28th Incident’, Taiwan is in the midst of an unacknowledged revolution. You will not find the Taiwanese Revolution named in history books or identified in newspapers. Indeed, it is assumed that this revolution has yet to occur – or rather that it never will. Yet to occur, because there is no internationally-accepted Taiwanese Republic and never to occur,…

“When I came out to my mom, she was scared for me.”

When I came out to my mom, she was scared for me. “I want you to have an easy life,” she said, and coming out meant that my life wasn’t going to be easy. Like any other Taiwanese mother, she wanted to protect me from the dangers I would have to face as I got older. The world she’d grown up in, Taiwan in the 1980s, was dangerous for people like me, and she didn’t want me to have to face yet another form of prejudice. But she also knew that my world as a 21st century American…

New on Netflix: A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities

An Interview with “A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities” actor Denny Huang When Denny Huang decided to move to Taipei in 2005 as a young adult, he had no idea what he was going to do. As a Taiwanese American born in Houston, he barely spoke Mandarin at the time, and when he started pursuing acting roles, he realized his American-accent would be an issue. To manage, as he was slowly building his film & TV career (with roles in TV dramas like “Bull Fighting” and “Across the Ocean to…

Balancing the Trifecta: Growing up Taiwanese, Korean, and American

  There are 27 picture frames on the wall next to our staircase, each chronicling flashes of the life I know. Pictures of my mom and dad on a vacation to Italy while they were dating, pictures of my brother and me in Mexico, pictures of my brother as a toddler in a pumpkin patch. Pictures of my grandpa’s 60th birthday party, of my parents playing golf with their friends, of my late grandfather with my cousins, of my brother and me sitting on a swing set in Korea. My parents immigrated…

Memories of my Yaba Great Aunt

by James Y. Shih When I was 3, my ahgong (grandpa) brought me to Taiwan from California to visit our old family home in the historic town of Lukang (鹿港). The home was and still is a narrow, two story, brick and wood building off the main road. There, my great aunt, whom I affectionately called “yaba,” lived with my ahma (grandma). At that age, I didn’t know calling her just yaba (啞吧), which means “deaf mute”, was rude (it is). I thought it was her name. Those early memories…