Monday, May 14, 2012

Asian Heritage Month...and free food.

May is Asian Heritage Month! We're all celebrating in our own way. Lenny played an entire show of Canadian bands featuring Asian-Canadian musicians (including yours truly) for his CKCU FM radio show WildWorks. My band released a music video for a song about Asian fetishists. As for the government, last week, the federal government launched Asian Heritage Month with a reception at the War Museum hosted by Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney. As a member of the Kimchi Club, Otawa's only networking organization for Korean-Canadian professionals, I received an invitation to the reception. As a fan of free food, I decided to go.

The halls outside the Barney Danson Theatre were adorned with displays showing the various first Asian-Canadians in history. Some of the famous figures were attending the event. I saw Adrienne Clarkson and Senator Viveienne Poy, the first Asian-Canadian senator, who was the one who got Canada to adopt May as Asian Heritage Month. Also, there were more ambassadors and dignitaries than you could shake a stick at. The displays were very inspirational. I decided I'd like to become the first Korean-Canadian something. I'm not quite sure what (first Korean-Canadian rock star? First Korean Canadian roller derby champion? First Korean-Canadian rock star roller derby champion?) but I like to think that I've still got some time.

The emcee of the event was Senator Yonah Martin, the first Korean Canadian Senator and founder of the Kimchi Club. We heard several speeches from Minister Jason Kenney, Director General of the War Museum Mark O'Neill, and the President of the Ottawa Asian Heritage Month Society. They told us stories of the various accomplishments of Asian-Canadians throughout Canadian history, even in the face of injustice. After having spent so much time in post-apartheid South Africa and Namibia, I had forgotten about the discrimination that Asians had experienced in Canada, since Canadians like to think of Canada as a pretty cool human-rightsy multicultural country. But we forget that not too long ago, Asian immigrants couldn't vote or go into certain public buildings, and that when a group of Japanese men tried to join the military during World War I, the BC government wouldn't let them so they had to go to Calgary to join. That's right. They had to go to Alberta because it was less racist there than BC. And let's not forget that business with the interning of Japanese-Canadians during World War II, or the Chinese head tax. That was not cool at all.

In other news, as mentioned, my band Scary Bear Soundtrack has released a new single called "Asian Fetishist", which is, in a nutshell, is a collection of bizarre things guys say when they're trying to pick up Asian women. It's sort of a response to the excellent Jezebel article about ironic hipster racism, where people think they are far too enlightened to be racist and so it's okay to make racist jokes because they're just being ironic. My sister and I made a music video for the single using paper dolls that my sister skilfully made for the video and then shooting them in stop-motion. It's lo-fi, homemade, DIY, and everything that ironic hipsters should love. Enjoy!

You can also download the single for free here.