12Pell says they’re the Madison Square Garden of barber shops. What they mean is when certain folk come through New York City, they don’t leave without visiting. The barbershop is always packed, and there’s a few reasons why barbers combine Japanese style precise scissor work with the sharp shaves of Dominican barbershop, layered on top of K hair techniques. They are one of a kind, and their audience of nearly 2 million followers on TikTok and 300,000+ on Instagram has made them some of the most sought after barbers of our generation. Customers book months in advance for a slot, with prices starting at $150+ for a trim. But 12Pell is important not just because of the popularity. . During the COVID-19 pandemic when Chinatown became a 'ghost town', the store rarely got any customers. 12Pell translated this downtime into community-driven initiatives, offering free haircuts when customers spent $45 dollars at any Chinatown store, and investing in their TikTok community. Soon, 12Pell had things up and running again for the entire neighborhood, including themselves. The barbershop cares beyond just the business of hair – they show up for the Asian American community by creating a space for young Asian men to feel a sense of belonging.
Ryūhō Ōkawa, leader of the Japanese Happy Science religion, was the self-proclaimed reincarnation of Jesus Christ, Elohim and…Yoda. He died earlier this year, leaving behind a complex legacy. From Wall-Street trader to founder of the controversial religion, Okawa was a savvy businessman who is said to have used this know-how to create a money-making machine disguised as spirituality. While Happy Science boasts over 12 million followers worldwide,the real number is likely much lower. Perhaps that’s because members had to give donations of up to $400 at a time for ‘blessings’. The cult is known for bizarre anime, a political party calling for the remilitarization of Japan and celebrity seances with figures like Margaret Thatcher. In 2020, the cult minimized the dangers of COVID and said it was caused by UFOs. But what will the cult do now without its supreme leader?
Which country actually invented dumplings? You’d probably think it’s China but historians have traced dumplings to Central Asia and the migration of Turkic people. It’s said that Turkic and Mongol tradesmen and horsemen traveled across Asia in cold winters carrying ‘mantu’, which we now call dumplings. That’s because 1600’s England called this delicious dough pocket ‘dumpling’, a sophisticated derivative of ‘lump’. In fact, when it comes to the origins of mantu, historians encourage us to look at language. Most Asian cultures call the dumpling how the Turks originally did–Koreans call it mandu, Greek people call it manti, Afghans call it mantu, and Chinese people call it mantou too. But the origins aren’t the only debatable part of the convo–who has the best dumplings?
Shirley Le is the Vietnamese-Australian author of the book 'Funny Ethnics.' As a child, Shirley grew up watching politicians on screen push harmful rhetoric and say things like Australia had been 'swamped by Asians.' In cities Yagoona and Bankstown, she didn’t always feel like she belonged. She was called 'ethnic' often, further stigmatizing her as an outsider. That’s why she's reclaiming the word in the title of her book. "I find great joy in being empowered to take the role of storyteller." Today, she’s an important and authentic voice because of one central defiance: she is speaking from her community rather than for it.
China’s one child policy led to 30 million more men than women in the past 36 years, which has directly driven up bride trafficking from neighboring countries. Like Lào Cai, on the border of Vietnam: this mountainous rural province is a hotspot for human trafficking. Girls and women are tricked in various ways–from friends inviting them to a birthday party to promises of higher paying jobs–only to end up in forced marriages, unable to escape, subject to the behaviour of their husbands. Compassion House in Lào Cai is a long-term shelter for female trafficking survivors, and since 2010 they have supported nearly 300 women and girls–some as young as 12 years old. Every year, human traffickers earn over 150B USD, third only to drugs and weapon trafficking. According to the UN, only 1% of all victims of human trafficking are rescued globally. Here are some stories from survivors who escaped.
We’ve all been taught recycling is a sustainable way each of us can make a difference. But the truth is that the plastics industry paid millions to push this message--and to sell more plastic. Here's the dark truth and how it's led to some serious consequences. Plastic industry officials long knew that recycling plastic on a large scale was unlikely to ever be economically viable. In fact, only 9% of all plastic ever created has been recycled. So where does all this plastic end up? While the U.S. is the world’s biggest plastic polluter, all of this waste is exported to Southeast Asian countries. We desperately need better recycling infrastructures set up locally than relying on dumping our waste in developing nations. And we need to be advocating for lasting solutions to the plastic problem because our waste is our problem.