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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Honoring AAPI artists, leaders, trail-blazers

Award winning singer-songwriter Miyawaki

By Jolin Hoang | Staff Writer


   Mitski Miyawaki, born Mitsuki Laycock, is a Japanese-American singer and songwriter. Miyawaki was born on Sept. 27, 1990 in Japan, to an American father and Japanese mother. But being a private person, not much of her personal life is shared or known to the public.

   Miyawaki previously studied film at Hunter College, but she transferred to Purchase College’s Conservatory of Music, where she studied studio composition, to pursue music.

   She was 18 when she wrote her first song, and at the age of 21 she self-released her first album “Lush.”

   In most of Miyawaki’s songs, she reflects the feeling of her cross-cultural identity as “half Japanese, half American but not fully either,” which considers her issues with belonging. An example would be her hit single “Nobody,” a song that connects the themes of alienation and estrangement.     As of this year, Miyawaki has released a total of six albums and 13 singles. Many of her works have been nominated in categories such as Video of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Live Act, Best Rock Album, and Music of the Year. Out of those five nominations, she won Music of the Year with her hit single “Nobody” in 2019.

Botanist Lim lead breakthrough fungi research

By Tyler Dang | Staff Writer


   Gloria Lim was a Singaporean mycologist who studied tropical fungi. Her work in this field pioneered the study of unique fungi discovered in Singapore.

   Born in 1930, she was one of the first students of the recently founded University of Malaya in 1947. Graduating as one of the Botany Honours students, she went on to become the Dean of the Faculty of Science. 

   Throughout her life, Lim became an expert in fungi and built a large repository of hundreds of fungi species. She helped develop medicinal mushrooms as well as solve a mold problem within the Ministry of Defense. She was also very active in promoting fungal research of certain lesser known fungi.

   Lim won many awards throughout her career as well. She was awarded a Public Service Star for her contributions, as well as the title of Distinguished Science Alumni in 2005.

   Near the end of her career she had published 140 research papers and wrote multiple books on her work. Today, her research papers are still read and used as referencences. 

   Although she had retired and destroyed most of her fungi collection, her work in mycology shed light on the neglected field of fungi studies.

Hong finds voice for AAPI

By Halle Fukawa | Editor in Chief


   Cathy Park Hong is a poet and author, best known for her nonfiction book “Minor Feelings” (2020) and her poetry anthologies “Translating Mo’um” (2002), “Dance Dance Revolution” (2006), and “Engine Empire” (2012). According to her website, Hongis also a professor of Creative Writing at Rutgers University in Newark as well as the poetry editor for The New Republic. 

   Hong was born on August 7, 1976 and lived in Los Angeles until attending Oberlin College and earning her MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Through her writing, Hong has been a uniquely raw and personable voice for many AAPI to learn from and relate to. 

   Although she has won awards like the Barnard New Women Poets Prize, the Windham-Campbell Prize, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for her poetry and essays, Hong’s popularity reached new heights when her book “Minor Feelings” was published in the spring of 2020. The New York Times bestseller, for which she received the National Book Critics Circle Award, is “Part memoir and part cultural criticism,” according to Random House Books. Hong explores her experience as a Korean-American and explains the historical implications of being an Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrant and Asian-American. 

Chawla’s accomplishments leave astronomical impact

By Kaylee Chan | Junior Editor


   Astronaut Kalpana Chawla’s life was one equally marked with success and tragedy. Chawla, with a first name aptly meaning “creativity,” was the first Indian woman to reach space. Her first space mission was on STS-87 in 1997, according to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, where she worked as a mission specialist and robotic arm worker. Having formerly gotten a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Chicago and with experience in NASA’s Ames Research Center, she was one of the most accomplished and educated women of her demographic, defeating the many race and gender based barriers prevalent at the time.

   Chawla’s second trip to space, the STS-108 mission, was when tragedy struck. In 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart upon reentry to Earth, causing the deaths of Chawla and the rest of the crew. However, despite the abrupt end to her career, her legacy remains. Many streets, buildings, and celestial bodies were named after her, and she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Above all, Chawla’s life stands as a testament to all that Asian women can accomplish, and it is through her model of resilience and aspiration that she will forever remain a relevant figure.

Condor gains recognition as Asian-American in Hollywood

By Ashley Voong | Staff Writer


   As a Vietnamese-born individual who was adopted and raised by American parents, actor Lana Condor often receives criticism towards her identified ethnicity with remarks about not being “Asian enough.” This has been a recurring problem with Asian-American adoptees, especially in Hollywood where they have been accused of “whitewashing” Asian roles. However, Condor hopes to change this belief.

   “I’m 100% Asian, and I’m also 100% American. That’s something I’m really trying to let people understand,” she explained in an interview. “My Asian-American experience is different from someone else’s Asian-American experience, and that’s okay.”

   Condor was born in Can Tho, Vietnam on May 11, 1997, and adopted four months after by white parents of Irish and Hungarian descent. In her later years spent in New York City, she was surrounded by art and culture which inspired her to take her first acting class.

   Today, Condor strives to diversify Hollywood and make changes towards the one percent of Asian-American representation in the industry. She made her acting debut in the 2016 movie “X-Men: Apocalypse” but it was not until she landed her leading role as Lara Jean in the Netflix original movie, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” that she gained international recognition.

Helm, face of Hawaiian activism

By Ashley Lau | Staff Writer


  George Jarrett Helm Jr., from Kalamaʻula, Molokaiʻi, Hawaii was a Native Hawaiian activist as well as a prominent musician. He was best known for being a powerful musician, speaker, writer, and philosopher that pioneered Hawaiian sovereignty concepts that, to this day, guides and inspires the Hawaiian community. 

   Helm began his involvement with activism when he became the president of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana movement, leading an organization that was dedicated to protect the sacred land Kahoʻolawe and end the bombing of the Hawaiian island that was used as target practice by the U.S. Navy. Helm, alongside eight other activists, occupied the island in 1976 in hopes of saving it. Extremely moved by the island’s beauty and power, Helm decided to dedicate his life to make sure that it was protected to the best of his ability.

   He is celebrated as one of Hawaiian movement’s greatest heroes. For now he leaves his legacy of activism through his actions and through his music that embodies the most powerful expression of the Hawaiian culture and soul.   “We are in a revolution of consciousness …. What we are looking for is the truth,” said Helm.

Kiyoko uplifts LGBTQ+ Asian youth everywhere

Sophia Pu | Staff Writer


   Hayley Kiyoko is a half-Japanese, half-European actress, dancer, and musician from Los Angeles. Being hapa, she struggled with not being Asian enough for Asian roles nor white enough for open ethnicity roles. Kiyoko began empowering others as a child actress on Disney Channel, playing rebellious characters like Stevie Nichols in “Wizards of Waverly Place” and Stella Yamada in “Lemonade Mouth.” She showed other girls and Asian kids that they can speak for themselves, be who they want, and dress how they want.

   Kiyoko’s first independent release was in 2013, but she became an icon when she released “Girls like Girls” in 2015. As a lesbian in an industry where most love songs are about a man and a woman, her music provides critical sapphic representation in pop. Her fans call her “Lesbian Jesus” for her activism, donating to organizations supporting LGBTQ+ youth, and speaking out for LGBTQ+ women of color.

   In many Asian households, being gay is something to be ashamed of. Kiyoko’s music and advocacy gives hope to Asian LGBTQ+ youth who cannot be themselves in their own homes. Her ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation make her a role model for Asians, women, and LGBTQ+ people around the world.

Kusama’s polka dots redefined art

By Vanessa Wang | Junior Editor


   Yayoi Kusama, sometimes known as the Princess of Polka Dots for her use of polka dots throughout her work, is a highly influential avant-garde artist. She was born in Japan and presented her first solo show there, five years before she came to the United States and achieved fame for her groundbreaking exhibitions in New York. 

   Kusama has been painting since she was a child, experiencing hallucinations filled with fields of endless dots. These hallucinations went on to influence her artwork later on.

   Her formal training consisted of a brief year studying at Kyōto City Specialist School of Arts. Once she moved to New York City in 1957, Kusama began creating “Infinity Net” paintings where art on large canvases were covered with tiny marks, seemingly endless. 

   Throughout her career, Kusama created many different types of art including: sculptures, paintings, installations, performances, films, and fashion pieces. After she moved back to Japan in 1973, she also wrote poetry and works of fiction. 

   As a young Japanese woman in the male-dominated world of art in 1950s New York, Kusama revolutionized what it meant to be an impactful artist. She helped pave the way for modern artists, transcending and redefining important art movements of the twentieth century.

Nobel laureate, pioneer, scientist Chu

By Ryan Sieh | Staff Writer


   Steven Chu, former Secretary of Energy, is a distinguished scientist known for aiding former President Barack Obama with implementing clean energy into the United States and helping climate change. 

   In 1997, he was awarded, as a co-winner, the Nobel Prize for Physics. Chu’s exemplary efforts in the advancement of science has allowed him to win multiple awards for his contributions. 

  He has recently presented studies on general relativity, single molecule biology, biophysics and biomedicine, and scientific challenges and opportunities in renewable power.

   Chu attracted outstanding scientists and engineers into the Department of Energy as the first scientist to hold a Cabinet position, and the longest serving Energy Secretary. He founded the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, the Energy Innovation Hubs, and was personally tasked by Obama to assist BP in stopping the Deepwater Horizon oil leak.

   He earned an A.B. in mathematics and a B.S. in physics from the University of Rochester, as well as a Ph.D. in physics and 32 honorary degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.

   Chu’s scientific contributions to the country and the world have made it easier for new discoveries and developments to oppose global warming and climate change.

Novelist, literary activist Ng uses novels to spread awareness

By Emme Tran | Junior Editor


   Novelist Celeste Ng was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in Shaker Heights, Ohio. She went on to graduate from Harvard University and earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. 

   Ng won several awards and honors for her literary essays and has had her short stories published in the New York Times and The Guardian, among others. 

   Ng’s debut novel, “Everything I Never Told You,” released in 2014 included some of Ng’s own experiences as an Asian American woman and won awards such as the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and the American Library Association’s Alex Award. 

   Though Ng’s first book received such praise, her second novel, “Little Fires Everywhere,” released three years later, gained national recognition for tackling the topic of family and identity with nuance. The novel was adapted for television featuring actresses Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington with a television adaptation of her debut novel projected for the future. 

   Ng uses her platform on social media to help spread awareness for marginalized voices. She also endorses other Asian-American women’s debut novels in hopes to help spread their stories. Using her own voice and notoriety, Ng helps introduce the lives of many thoughtful authors and movements around the world.

Screenwriter, Yang, creates representation in writers’ room

By Lam Chung | Staff Writer


   Alan Yang is a Taiwanese-American screenplay writer, famous for contributing to sitcom cult-classics. However, in college, he studied biology at Harvard University and even graduated at the age of 19, due to pressure from his parents to remain on the safe path between math and science. At Harvard, Yang dipped his foot in comedy, writing for the “Harvard Lampoon,” the university’s humor publication. 

   His big break was becoming a recurring screenwriter on “Parks and Recreation,” a sit-com starring famous comedians Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari. Through “Parks and Recreation,” Yang and Ansari co-created and wrote “Master of None,” a Netflix-original following a New York immigrant actor, covering important conversations masked by comedic writing. “Master of None” won the 2015 Peabody Award, received four Emmy nominations and won for “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series”–Yang and Ansari were also the first Asian Americans to win for this category. 

   Yang has since written for other acclaimed shows such as “The Good Place,” and his most recent work, “Tigertail,” is a memorialization of his father’s immigration story and Yang’s first dip into drama writing. Yang has become an influential Asian American figure in film, trailblazing representation in the writers’ room.

Singer-songwriter ‘Mxmtoon’ grows from humble beginnings to hit songs

By Brittany Snow | Production Chief 


   Maia, musically known as Mxmtoon, is a 20 year-old Chinese-American from Oakland, California. She has released five albums in the past four years, but has been involved in the music scene since she was 13 years-old. 

   Although obscuring her last name from her large audience, the singer-songwriter receives support through her media platforms, including her own TikTok and recently Twitch. Originally, she had begun her music career on YouTube, posting covers of hit songs using just her ukelele.

   In September 2019, she released her debut album, “The Masquerade,” which did not have the backing of a proper label but received support from Spotify since the platform noticed the rising levels of interest in her music. “The Masquerade” features two versions, one acoustic and one with full studio production.

   Songs from the album, especially “prom dress,” became popular through TikTok, where people would use savvy transitions to show their promposals, dates, and attire. Maia herself recorded a video to her hit song before attending a TikTok-hosted event in early 2020.

Veteran actress Song continues celebrated career 

By Bellefontaine Nhan | Staff Writer


   Brenda Song is most known for her roles in “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” and “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior.” 

   “There’s a wave of diverse changes happening in Hollywood, especially for Asian American Actresses,” said writer Min. A. Lee in an interview with Composure. “There is one veteran actress who has been charming us since 1994—Brenda Song. Not only was she a role model to young asians growing up, and still is, her humility and optimism are worthy of everyone’s admiration.”

  As one of the few Asian American actresses on television at the time, Song became a milestone towards inclusivity. 

   In an interview with Composure, Song stated, “A friend in the industry once told me that a career is not shaped by the things you do but by the things you say ‘no’ to.”

Voice of justice in Asian American civil rights

By Ashley Sanchez | Staff Writer


   At the young age of 10, future activist Chris Kui immigrated from Hong Kong to New York City. His everlasting devotion to the Asian Americans For Equality (AAFE) organization since 1986 had presented him with the Executive Director position. 

   Six years after joining, Kui was promoted to Executive Director and under his leadership, the AAFE grew from a small community-based organization to a striving economic development and advocacy organization consisting of over 20,000 clients. 

   Kui consistently strived to help Asian American communities and strengthen the organization itself with his community development efforts. His achievements span communities, raising over 100 million dollars that went towards building 800 homes for low income and homeless people. 

   “This organization has been my life over the past 31 years,” said Kui in an article with AAFE announcing his retirement. “I am very proud of all we have accomplished together at AAFE, and I know that the immigrant, homeless and low-income communities of New York City will continue to be well served by this organization and its dedicated staff and Board.”

   His tenacious attitude and leadership helped pave the way for improvement and changes being made in the Asian American community where he will be remembered with ever-lasting honor.

Wong fuses Chinese aesthetics into American art, pioneers his career

By Brian Ly | Staff Writer


   Tyrus Wong was a Chinese-American artist who endured the racism he faced in America. Due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, he and his father had to immigrate to the states illegally in 1919. He did not gain his American citizenship until 1946, three years after the repeal of the Exclusion Act. 

   Immigrants at this time saw few work options but Wong had his eyes set on fine arts. To enter the field would mean fighting tooth and nail to stay in it, and he eventually graduated from the Otis Art Institute despite the overwhelming racist views against the Chinese-American community. 

   His career started to be truly recognized when his fusion of Chinese aesthetics into American art caught the attention of Walt Disney, and his Eastern-influenced art style would become the basis for the 1942 film “Bambi.” 

   In 2001, the animator, designer, painter and kite maker was honored as a Disney Legend, and many of his works remain displayed in museums. Wong’s iconic art has appeared in many places, from beloved movies to Hallmark greeting cards. It would be this legacy he left behind that reminds Asian Americans of their potential, no matter the obstacles designed to stop them.

Murakami brings art to life

By Chloe Morales | Staff Writer

CR Fashion Book

   Takashi Murakami, known for his iconic rainbow-colored, animated smiling flower, is a contemporary artist from Japan. He told Gagosian, in regards to contemporary art, “we want to see the future, even if only momentarily.” 

   Murakami had a formal art education, studying at Tokyo University of the Arts, where he earned a Ph.D. studying nihonga, traditional Japanese painting. After university, he opened a studio that later became an “art production and artist management company, now known as Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd.,” according to Gagosian. 

   Anime is one of Murakami’s greatest influences, represented in characters such as smiling bears and lions. In 2011, he researched the effect of natural disasters on Japanese art, incorporating findings into his artwork. 

   His artwork ranges from painting to films, which have been displayed in various art museums and exhibits. In 2000, Murakami curated an exhibition, naming it Superflat to emphasize the one-dimensional aspect of traditional Japanese art. 

   Murakami has also collaborated with brands such as Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton to create merchandise such as t-shirts and toys.

   The range and creativity of Murakami’s work serve as a testament to his experience in art, as well as his dedication to representing the culture he grew up in.

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Honoring AAPI artists, leaders, trail-blazers