WHAT PARTS OF YOUR CULTURE AND HERITAGE DO YOU BRING TO YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE?
It wouldn't do my cultures justice to categorize my attributes as Black or Japanese (and it would be pretty reductive to do so), as who I am is emergent from their mutual coexistence.
Ultimately, my identity exists in the margin and the result, which I hope doesn't sound too pretentious, feels somewhat like quantum superposition; I’m simultaneously "both" and "neither" of what I culturally identify as. Fitting in wasn’t a possibility, so I had to observe/develop an independent outlook from a young age (so I’m still very opinionated to this day). Having an abstract relationship to representation also gave rise to an understanding of the importance of context.
This disposition permeates my everyday; in how I think, relate, and am perceived by others. Context has been a particularly useful tool in understanding intergenerational trauma + socially imposed limitations based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. I explore this theme in my upcoming EP and song used in Prabal's video, 'PossibilityIsABurden' – somehow this was the best title I could come up with!
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SOURCE OF INSPIRATION?
Honest creators! I'm inspired by people who truthfully explore self expression and are committed to pushing the boundaries of what they're capable of. I love uncompromising artists who create for their own fulfillment.
HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN CONTINUE TO PUSH IMPORTANT GLOBAL CONVERSATIONS AROUND SOCIAL JUSTICE AND RACIAL EQUALITY?
We must address the radical. One bad seed sown over generations gives rise to a vast canopy of systemic inequity. We tend to be distracted by the branches without staying focused on the common root.
It's in our nature to operate on reflex instead of connecting our behavior to an antecedent or original event. I have a tendency to speak overly poetically, so I'll try to be as frank as possible:
We've been sold a dream of equality when the reality is in stark contrast to that. It's easy to externalize feelings of powerlessness that arise from struggle (which we ALL experience) onto others; whether that be immigrants, sex workers, white people, trans BIPOC, family members, romantic partners, etc.
When you arm yourself with the context that we've all been impacted by the same hostile environment, it becomes easier to depersonalize someone else's behavior. We'll be better equipped to hold the source of our societally-reared issues accountable once we uphold a macro perspective. We cannot meaningfully move forward until we first perceive dissonance through the lens of historical intent.
It's unproductive to feel guilty about your privilege/ignorance. It's also unproductive to hate someone for their privilege/ignorance. This isn't meant as an invalidation of how anyone feels, but meant to highlight that we've been socialized a certain way and that is a SOCIETAL issue, not an individual one. Once you know better, it becomes your responsibility to do better.
WHAT MAKES YOU HOPEFUL?
Time. I see every day as an opportunity to change life for the better. All the photos, journal entries, lyrics we create serve as evidence of these continual changes. Believing that "tomorrow always comes" provides a limitless supply of hope; that we always have another chance to apply what we've learned and do better. We're never limited to who we were yesterday. This ties into the most impressive aspect of being human: our adaptability. It's imperative to keep this in mind while shifting toward an equitable future.
DESCRIBE YOUR INTERPRETATION OF THE AMERICAN DREAM AND WHAT IS YOUR DREAM?
My interpretation of the American dream is a life where we can live most authentically without fear. I want the ability to be soft, vulnerable, and secure; that, to me, is true freedom and it's incredibly difficult to access given current societal constructs. I think this same notion of freedom lies at the emotional core of the traditional American dream as well.
WHAT DOES BEING AMERICAN MEAN TO YOU? WHO GETS TO BE AMERICAN
To me, being American means I can fully express every aspect of who I am. The truest face of America is the one you see in the mirror of each home in this country.
Theoretically, America is for everyone—ideally for those who foster and find value in every culture that exists within these borders. Unfortunately, this hasn't been true in practice, but we owe it to each other (and ourselves!) to keep evolving into a more accepting society.