My favorite holiday is Lunar New Year but a good second would be Christmas. Christmas at my house never matched up to what we saw on TV (we didn’t have that ABC family special type of holiday), but I really think that’s what made my childhood growing up in a working-class Asian immigrant Buddhist household so special. Mommy and bah did little things to make sure we’d celebrate being together in our own ways (Christmas or not).
One year, bah bought a tiny silver plastic Christmas tree because I think he saw it on sale at Fry’s (he loved taking us here on the weekends – did you spend hours at the DDR mat in the game aisle too?). Before that, my little brother and I would get crafty and make our own tree out of a paper towel tube. Both reminded me of Charlie Brown’s little tree.
One year, I pretended to be Santa (but tbh I don’t think I really believed in this guy) and wrote my little brother a letter saying he’ll be visited with presents that night. Too bad he recognized my writing. We’d watch those old school cartoons on Frosty and Rudolph. And our holiday dinners looked like our Lunar New Year’s dinner – fish, rice, leafy green veggies, and maybe a soup only meant for special occasions full of napa cabbage, abalone (from the can!), and sea cucumber. Or we went to Hometown Buffet (another meal meant for special occasions of all kinds during childhood: birthdays, 8th grade promotion, mother/father’s day). Some years, we were able to make early morning trips to Vegas and my brothers and I would hang out at the arcade in Circus Circus. Bah still loves to drive hours to eat at casino buffets.
Presents were also never much of a big deal at home. I don’t think my brothers and I ever asked for much but my parents would find ways to save up for gifts here and there until we got older and gifts weren’t really a thing anymore haha. One year, mommy gave me a bright red cropped hoodie with the words “Juicy Couture” written in gold across the front. I really couldn’t bring myself to wear it at the time. (I’m sure I’ll dig it up from the closet one day and change my mind!)
What are your memories of these winter months, whether or not you celebrate any of the holidays? What kind of gifts do you love giving and receiving?
I love giving presents. And I still struggle to give mommy a good gift (a good number of times I’ve asked her what she wanted for [insert any holiday/birthday] and she’d respond with “for you to be successful”?!). So in case you’re struggling too! And have saved up to buy gifts for yourself or the folks in your life, here are some POC (people of color) artists, organizers, and shops I deeply admire and would love for you to support:
Diaspora Co. | Single-Origin Direct Trade Turmeric ($10-$50)
A queer, woman-of-color owned business that “moves forth in the spirit of radical community, matriarchy, and social justice”, Diaspora Co. is all about that #turmericyellow, calling out colonialism, and changing food systems. I love Sana’s photos and writing and I have a feeling you will too.
People’s Kitchen Collective | Help fund their STREETS! Meal ($10+)
I’ve been admiring PKC from afar for the past year! Their work around food, social justice, and art is so so beautiful and powerful.
Right now, they have this dream of providing a free community meal for 500 people (!) in the streets of West Oakland in May 2018. This public gathering celebrates the radical history of West Oakland while challenging gentrification through food and art. Help them raise $30,000 to go towards creative collaborations, research, outreach, ingredients, cooking equipment, rentals, and documentation.
Kalu Arts | Poetry Cards and Prints
Last December, I went back to Seattle for the first time in years. I used to visit bah’s side of the family every summer growing up. It was the first time going back since ma ma passed the year prior, so this was a journey full of grief, healing, and love. When I found Kalu Arts poetry at the Palengke pop-up shop, I really don’t know how to explain fully what it felt like in that moment. Their poetry put into words the mix of emotions I was feeling (and still trying to process) and in a way, I felt like it was a sign from my ancestors, from ma ma to breathe. I hope this poetry can connect with you on some level too in whatever state of mind or space you’re in right now.
There’s currently no online shop, but most things on their Instagram can be made to order and shipped – just DM them (:
ART PRINTS, PINS, AND MORE |
Coming from a family of makers in Jalisco Mexico, Angélica is a queer Chicana scholar artivist who creates amazing watercolor portraits of queer and/or activists of color. The paintings embody the intentional processes that Angélica goes through to research and paint each piece, in addition to the lives, politics, and labor of the badass folks who are featured. If I could, I would buy every one of them.
Khmer Girls in Action (KGA) | InHer Blooming: The Young Southeast Asian American Women’s Coloring Book ($10)
Coloring books that celebrate young Southeast Asian American women, their growth, identities, and experiences?! This was created by their Young Women’s Empowerment Program. I love the drawings of Southeast Asian fruit.
If you want to support KGA even more, check out other cool gifts made by and about their Khmer youth here! All proceeds go towards their programs and campaigns. KGA, a progressive community-based organization based in Long Beach, CA, works for gender, racial and economic justice led by Southeast Asian young women.
Chris “L7” Cuadrado | Badass pins, chapbooks, stickers
A Bay Area Xicanoriqueñx, poet, graphic designer, producer, photographer, Chris has some of the dopest stuff, centering black and brown folks, calling out White Supremacy, and so much more. I’ve been loving my pin of Kendrick holding a copy of Pedagogy of the Oppressed. To order, send a DM on Instagram.
Le Petit Elephant | White Rabbit Candy + Rice Cooker Enamel Pin ($12 each)
Do you remember eating this candy growing up?! Now it’s in pin form! Genevieve is the illustrator behind these cute pins (in addition to greeting cards, art prints, stickers, and more) and handles nearly every aspect of this business. The Rice Cooker enamel pin is part of her “Filipino collection” which features boba, halo halo, and other foods.
*She’s having a sale! Until 11/24 midnight, use STILLHUNGRY for 20% off.
CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES |
Chinatown Street Stalls | Hat ($5+)
I love sunshine but I also like protecting my skin from those UVA and UVB rays. I buy my sun hats from the small shops speckled along Broadway Ave in this rich ethnic enclave. While you’re in LA Chinatown, make sure to eat at longtime restaurants, such as Pho Broadway and J & K Hong Kong Cuisine, and buy fruits and veggies from the street vendor aunties. Here’s a map to help you out! If you want a physical copy – let me know (:
Espacio 1839 | Gente Si T-Shirt ($23.99-$24.99)
Based in Boyle Heights, Espacio 1839 is a community-oriented space that is part community radio and part clothing store. They also sell books, patches, pins, and hats! This tee unapologetically calls out the gentrification that threatens to displace the small businesses and working-class Latinx folks of this community. Gente Si, Gentrify No.
Proclaim | T-Back Bralette ($68 | $15 off when you sign up for their newsletter)
Unpadded and wireless, while providing full support. Shobha started Proclaim to make “nude” bras that are inclusive of women of color, all the while creating an ethical business that challenges how things have typically been done in an exploitative fashion industry. They pay their skilled workers fair hourly wages for making these sustainably sourced and manufactured bras. The ultra-soft fabric of their bras is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic water bottles in order to minimize their environmental impact.
100% Pure | Green Beauty Essentials
Since I’ve been using green beauty products, one of my new favorite places to shop is 100% Pure. Founded by Susie Wang, 100% Pure products use high quality ingredients from natural sources and are free of toxic, harsh chemicals that many beauty and cosmetic products have. Individual ingredients to the final formula are not tested on animals. I love that their makeup is pigmented using fruits and vegetables. I’ve been using their Fruit Pigmented® Healthy Foundation in Peach Bisque (which is beginning to get a little too dark now that summer’s gone) and Long Last Liquid Eye Liner in Dark Chocolate (smudge proof and perfect for a thick cat eye).
They currently have $10 Black Friday deals (that unlock after purchasing $45 worth of products) – only buy what you need! Feel free to use my referral link for $15 off.
UPCOMING EVENTS IN LOS ANGELES |
Say NO to sweatshops and the major brands that use them! It’s frustrating that these huge companies pay their garment workers unfair subminimum wages and expose them to unsafe, unsanitary working conditions.
Support local garment workers who will march through downtown Los Angeles the day after Black Friday to declare Anti-Sweatshop Saturday! They are demanding these brands take responsibility for their exploitation: Forever 21, Ross Stores, TJ Maxx, Charlotte Russe, Windsor, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Burlington, Dillards, Beall’s, A’gaci, Fashion Nova, Urban Outfitters.
Mujeres Market Holiday Edition (December 16th-17th @ 12-6pm) |
Put together by Nalgona Positivity Pride and Eastside Café, this will be a local-DIY market happening the weekend before Christmas that features womxn of color artists and creators.
Mercado Del Pueblo (Sunday, December 17th @ 12-7pm) |
The holiday shopping continues with Eastside Café’s (an amazing collective community space in El Sereno) annual Mercado del Pueblo. From their page: “Shop from artisans, entrepreneurs, vegan chefs and crafty creators. Resist corporate consumerism and support sustaining our Barrio Economies.” All proceeds from the entrance fee ($2-5 for adults) will go to Eastside Café’s mortgage – learn more about their fight for autonomy here.
What are some of your favorites POC places to support?
*All photos belong to each respective individual/business/organization.