This 6″ x 10″ silkscreen is printed on acid-free 160 gsm red Canson Mi-Teintes paper. The illustration of stylized peony flowers surrounding a lantern and a Chinese knot, with the text “VeryAsian” and “Stop AAPI Hate” is printed in gold and transparent clear gloss.
At the start of 2022, news anchor Michelle Li of KSDK News in St. Louis, Missouri, shared that she had dumpling soup to ring in the new year, a tradition for many Koreans and Korean Americans. Later the news station received a voicemail with a racist message criticizing Li for being “very Asian” and so “annoying” that she needed to “keep her Korean to herself.” The voicemail echoes years of white supremacist messages to communities of color, which demand us to stop being so culturally “different,” and to erase our cultural differences in order to assimilate into what is acceptable to white normativity. Asian & Asian American communities online rallied around Li to challenge that message, and co-opted “very Asian” into a hashtag and movement of support and solidarity.
Chinese knots come in many variations, each representing something that we might hope for: love, health, peace, prosperity, luck, balance. Peonies often symbolize beauty and honor, and lanterns usher in light and can guide us to what we hope for. As we continue to fight racism, my hope is that I can continue to be Very Asian and celebrate my unique cultural identity in all of its beauty, and that you’ll share the beauty of your cultures with me too.