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Asian Images

 Two nights ago, I attended an event called Asian Images, put on by the Asian American Students Association.  It advertised performances by Alvin Lau and Magnetic North, the latter of which is an Asian-American hip hop duo I would have loved to see perform for the first time, after hearing their music for years.  I went to the event with my roommate (Chinese-American) and my friend Ryuta from Japan; when I arrived, I saw Jamie and Stephanie from our class!

The event was introduced by Nguyen Pham as a night of breaking stereotypes: Asian-Americans doing hip hop, who can serve as role models for all of us in self-expression and following our dreams.

The first entertainer to take the stage was Alvin Lau, Chinese-American spoken word poet with a very outgoing and free personality.  He travels around the country performing his work, and one of the first comments he made was, "Whenever I come to these Asian cultural events I always get the feelings that the audience is expecting me to have a certain level of Asianness in my poetry, it's like pressure but not that much.." He said he feels that being Asian-American is not the most important part of his identity, and that he is "a poet first, before everything else."  His first poem was ironically an angry attack on Tiger Woods, because he thinks Tiger "could have been so much more" as a hero for ending racial oppression and opening the global dialogue about race. "Instead," Alvin shouted, "You became one of them.  Just another White, rich, supporter of oppression and the status quo."  Stephanie Otani and I exchanged glances throughout the spoken word performance, knowing that we would bring this up in class in a few days!  After the show, we talked about the irony of Alvin Lau being able to "be a poet first" and Tiger Woods not being allowed to just golf if he pleases.  The anger and indignation of Alvin's poem seems to Stephanie and I a bit immature and without empathy for Tiger's privacy and personal experience.  Funny how we spent our class criticizing and dissecting Tiger Wood's approach to racial identity and compared it to Obama's choice, but Stephanie and I ended up defending Tiger's right to privacy in his racial identity next to Alvin's poem.

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