busyfood.net – In Pursuit of Asian Joy
Every other week, Bon Appétit associate editor Christina Chaey writes about what she’s cooking right now. Pro tip: If you sign up for the Healthyish newsletter, you’ll get the scoop before everyone else.
Like so many others, I’m holding grief and space in my heart for the victims of the shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, in particular for the six Asian women who were killed while working at Atlanta-area spas.
As I learn more about the lives, dreams, and families of these six women—Daoyou Feng, Suncha Kim, Hyun Jung Grant (Kim), Soon Chung Park, Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, and Yong Ae Yue—I am humbled by what I have yet to learn (and, always, unlearn). A close friend eloquently reminded me that these women’s deaths felt, in many ways, seemingly inevitable—the violent result of their particular intersections of gender, race, and class, this country’s history of war and imperialism, and the devaluation of sex work and other care work, which is often taken on by low-income women of color with few other options. Making a commitment to learning more about these histories is one small way I’m trying to honor these women and so many more whose names we don’t know.
I constantly struggle with self-imposed pressure to immediately do and say the “right” things; post the “right” things on social media; learn the “right” facts and histories, often in a crash-course way; give to the “right” organizations. But the reality is that much of this learning and doing will happen over the long-term project that is my life. When I’m able to say, “I’m okay with this kind of work taking a lifetime,” I can make space for other needs, for things like private grief and Asian joy.
These days, I’m calling up and spending time with Asian-American friends I adore and admire. I am engaging with their work, like my friend Jennifer Hope Choi’s recent NYT op-ed that thoughtfully considers the intergenerational divide that separates our lives and values from those of our immigrant parents’.
I’m seeking out Asian-owned businesses while doing some retail therapy in the form of soft gray-striped linens from Loyale Studio, Fly By Jing fragrant chiles (and chili crisp!), and snacks and pantry goods from new online Asian grocer Umami Cart. (And I am patiently awaiting a restock of this adorable Heart of Dinner x Andrew Teoh bok choy tote!)
I’m also seeking out Asian joy by very slowly reintroducing Instagram into my life after a many months-long hiatus. I log in once or twice a week for a few minutes at a time to read nourishing DMs from friends (like this beautiful poem on Asian rage by the poet Lacy Nguyen). And rather than scrolling, I seek out specific people whose content I deeply love: The Heart of Dinner page to look at photos of smiling, homebound Asian elders safely receiving their weekly grocery deliveries; the @asiansformentalhealth page for guidance, support, and education; my friend Kimberly Chou Tsun An, who so joyfully advocates for liberation for all; and artists like Chanel Miller, whose recent artwork perfectly, painfully encapsulated much of how I feel right now.
There are so many ways to embrace joy while still holding space for our collective grief. I would love to hear about how you’re finding your own balance between the two right now. I’m @seechaey on Instagram, and if you message me there, I promise I will find you; it might just take me a week or so.