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…

What Taiwanese Americans Can Learn From Taiwanese Politics

PHOTO CREDIT: MAX OH One of the opportunities of sitting at the masthead of TaiwaneseAmerican.org is continually engaging with the borders and expectations of this community. What does it mean to be Taiwanese, American, and Taiwanese American? What is our role as citizens of the diaspora? And, heavily on my mind in the aftermath of the November 24th election:   Do we need an acute awareness of — or even interest in — Taiwanese politics to identify as Taiwanese American? My impulse…

What ‘Bao’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Meant to Me

Traditional mama’s girls who need a support group, I am here for you. Contains tiny spoilers.  Anyone who's even vaguely heard of me knows that I'm a mama's girl. My life's work navigates a strange dichotomy between "hot pot of rice that don't need no side dish" and "most filial child #1." Like many of my Asian American friends, I am independent, opinionated, and strong-willed. But I have never believed that my life is wholly my own. So you understand why I might be frustrated by polarizing…

Passing on the Taiwanese Language: A Personal Account

I was born in the US and, like many second generation Taiwanese-Americans, I grew up speaking first Taiwanese (台語), and then English at home. I recall visiting Taiwan as a child and people finding it quite odd that my brother and I understood only Taiwanese—not Mandarin Chinese. Although my level of Taiwanese never reached beyond that of a kindergartner's, if I hear Taiwanese being spoken around me, I will always turn my head, unable to refrain from eavesdropping on the conversation. With…

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…

Finding Meaning in Taiwanese America: An Open Letter

  Editor Note: Gloria Hu is a High School Program Director at TANG (Taiwanese American Next Generation). TANG is a four-day summer conference for Taiwanese Americans and their allies. In contemplating meaningful programming and our engagement with issues of identity formation and community-building, the author expresses the importance of Taiwanese heritage to her own convictions and hopes for the community. A Letter to My TANG High Schoolers To my beloved TANG campers, I am so lucky…