Growing up with 5 sisters of Black and Filipino descent, we all dealt with our own struggles first hands. Being a part of the Union City community let alone the Bay Area, I have had a lot of friends from the AAPI community which made it hard for me to turn a blind eye to the things happening. I chose this location to shoot because I wanted to really capture a place with a real sense of community. Straight Street Culture, the streets, was always a place where you could meet up with old friends and make new ones, no matter what they looked like. You all just knew you shared a common interest, which brought you all together, to begin with. I wanted to capture the rawness of models Kelsey, BMagz, Octavia, and Geracci just meeting for the first time and coming together for the common interest of building more unity between Black and AAPI communities. There is a lot of symbolic meaning behind this design, and I want people to take the time to create their interpretation of the art. I hope individuals wear this with pride in hopes of a brighter future for all of us. I wanted to take my time with this project because I wanted to make sure my idea came from a very authentic place and not just the heat of the moment. Furthermore, I want this item to be something that people could pass down or create open conversation to continue pushing a more positive narrative. We have to put ourselves in these uncomfortable situations, so people can be comfortable having this conversation. It was great to have my brands' community be a part of this project from start to finish. I made sure to leak little things, ask questions, and do polls throughout the process, which kept everyone involved more than you know. The engagement from everyone helped me push toward my final decisions in the end. I would like to thank Slim B for helping me bring the artwork to life, and I would also like to show gratitude towards Quyenzi and Es for helping me keep my authenticity of the idea alive. These 2 women accepted me with open arms in the beginning by helping me keep an active ear in their community and creating a great bond of understanding with the same goal of wanting to see change.
The Pack is Stronger Together! Earlier this year, I turned a closer ear to the attacks happening in the AAPI community. With my son being of Japanese descent, I felt more of an obligation to be a part of the conversation. This way I can successfully equip him with the duality he’ll have to go up against in society. Engaging in open conversations about this subject reminded me of the pain that we went (still enduring) through at the start of 2020. Through all the differences I heard between both Asian and black communities, there are a lot of similarities that all of us as a unit are searching for. With this project, I am looking to show/bring more solidarity within the Black & AAPI community. The reason I chose panthers and tigers for this project is that being fierce animals, when backed into a corner, they go on the offense. I feel we all have been backed into a corner these last 2 years primarily. With us being as fierce as we are, we still have a lot that we give and take from each other that make both communities thrive. It’s one thing to speak about wanting change, but it’s a whole different vibe when you take action of awareness to make those changes a reality. These may be small steps, but they are steps in the right direction that I am willing to take. The goal is to build unity in the community.