Extreme Tech Challenge is the largest startup competition in the world, and it’s founded by two Asian men. Young Sohn and Bill Tai defied parental and societal expectations to become successful venture capitalists that are now funding the next generation of tech entrepreneurs. Every year, XTC receives nearly 5,000 applications ranging from Silicon Valley and Mumbai to Singapore, Dubai and Berlin. This community is made for people building tech innovations that will impact the world for greater good–and since 2015, there has been over $3.5B in funding raised for finalists. But Young and Bill fought to get here. In fact, Young’s mother raised him to understand that while Asians could be engineers, their bosses would be white men. And when Bill dropped out of Princeton, bypassed Harvard, and drove to California to work for a startup, his father told him he didn’t know what he was doing. These two visionaries care most to show people that innovative ideas can come from anywhere, and there are no boundaries–something they’ve both proven.
In Indonesia, the government-appointed position of 'Spiritual Guardian' tends to Mount Merapi volcano both physically and spiritually. That’s because Mount Merapi is believed to be more than a volcano–it’s a creature of God. Mbah Asih is the Spiritual Guardian of Mount Merapi. The role of the spiritual guardian is to carry forth the traditions of ancestors, especially the culture of treating a volcano as a sacred site. Before him, Asih’s father was the spiritual guardian until he died in the historic 2010 volcano eruption that killed 37 people and left 300,000 displaced. Instead of seeing Merapi’s eruption as a disastrous event, Indonesians believe that it is “tidying up”. It wants things as they ought to be–clean and protected. When society litters and villages damage the natural environment, nature revitalizes. Asih reminds us that mankind is powerless, and able to survive only when we live in harmony with nature—in their context, with their sacred volcano, Merapi.
Looking for music from people that looked like him or grew up like him, Ginger Root (AKA Cameron Lew) fell in love with Japanese pop music. When he started making music,he would perform to audiences of 8 people–max. Today, he’s sold out Tokyo Liquidroom and hit milestones he didn’t even know existed. A reminder that music doesn't have borders, this Chinese kid from Huntington Beach, California plays music inspired by Japan that was inspired by America. Also a filmmaker, Ginger Root’s visuals are as good as his music.
South Asian and Mexican foods aren’t typically perceived as valuable, or worth more than ‘cheap eats’. That’s why Saqib Keval and Norma Listman created Masala y Maiz: to bring food back to community, where it’s valued. But there are complexities–Mexico City is undergoing a gentrification crisis, rising rent and erasing Spanish in some areas, and many customers are seeking out hotspot restaurants like Masala y Maiz. Mexico City is so fed up with gentrifying Americans that flyers are popping up: “New to the city? Working remotely? You’re a f—ing plague and the locals f—ing hate you. Leave.” Masala y Maiz is countering this by completely reimagining how their restaurant runs: they employ a collective leadership model in the restaurant, and everything from their wine to corn is sourced ethically and specifically – often from female owned and indigenous companies. Gentrification is just one of many challenges Masala y Maiz has risen to meet and overcome over the years: from attempted extortions by government agencies, being shut down, and ongoing corruption and bureaucracy in the food industry. Not only have they refused to pay the bribes, they’re bringing community back to the industry and to Mexico City.
TW: gun violence & PTSD⚠️ When a 72-year-old Chinese man shot and killed 10 people on the eve of Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, after the years of Asian hate we’ve experienced, many were quick to assume it was a hate crime. Today, the Asian community is considering the tragedy as an alert to destigmatize mentalhealth and heal--especially for men. Many people, especially after Covid and the isolation it forced, are going through the hardest, loneliest times of their lives. The Monterey Park killer had indicated clear signs of paranoia, reporting to police twice in January that someone was trying to poison him. He was in emotional turmoil, had no support system, and owned a lot of guns. As PTSD riddles our communities, who have seen war, dictatorship, famine, genocide, and poverty, we are expected to be “good” because we are in America now. But without acknowledging our feelings, suppressing and internalizing will only lead to detrimental — and sometimes dangerous — outcomes. Not only do we face a communal and cultural issue with lack of vulnerability and sharing, our men are socialized to be angry and avoidant–not intimate or safe. Will we finally put down the “boys don’t cry” mindset and begin to heal?
Gabby is a 56-year-old transracial adoptee, who describes her past self as the angriest, most bitter person. Today, that’s far from what you’ll feel when you experience her work, which is rooted in healing and joy. Ching Ching, a childhood taunt she heard from bullies, became a series of work Gabby made in 2014, where integrated Chinese porcelain to pay homage to her roots. Gabby has reconciled that her life experiences as a Chinese New Zealander was and will be different from her family’s, who are all white. She’s also connected with more adoptees and bi-racial folk who can relate to her story. Her art is not only making up for the years she denied her heritage, she’s creating a legacy for herself and the communities she cares for. Color: Haruka Motohashi