riksha speaks to the Asian American experience.
Here are the stories, thoughts and ideas we share:
That story your mother told you about breaking a bag of rice open in the airport when she arrived in America? How about that food porn fried chicken joint on Elston all your friends would love? What’s up with the huge wooden spoon and fork on your wall or the wooden naked guy in the barrel? Why do you not wear shoes in your house, again?
–That poem about love.
You’ve been here your whole life and can only speak English, even though you grew up in a bilingual household. And yet, occasionally, strangers still compliment you on your clear diction. You grew up with only white friends and have never even dated an Asian. Folks ask if you’re Arab, or Eastern European or Hispanic or Eskimo–anything but Asian American. What about getting beat up when you were a kid, because they thought you knew karate? How about being called Chink or a Chinaman, whether you’re Chinese or not?
–A story about the hotdog eating contest.
And that moment when you began to identify as Asian American, when you didn’t before? And it felt weird to even say it? I’m Asian American. That’s what I am.
When you watched The Joy Luck Club at the Fine Arts, thrilled to see an entire cast of Asian actors? People who looked like you, in a family like yours, on the big silver screen, for the first time. And deflated when yet another Asian character is whitewashed?
–An article about voting for the first time.
Remember when you got the promotion at work because they assumed you were hard working, and good at programming and math – and you were (or you weren’t)?
When people don’t believe you are Asian American…when you aren’t yellow enough for them? When that woman at the mall complemented your spouse, asking what country your kids were adopted from, because they didn’t look like her?
–A stunning photo of a woman in a hijab on a metropolitan street.
riksha provides a space for capturing the Asian American experience through compelling writing, commentary, and artistic expression. We curate an online magazine that presents poetry, fiction, non-fiction, fine arts, and video and audio pieces. We also comment on and curate the bric-a-brac and ephemera of Asian American life.
riksha is a not-for-profit corporation.
Why riksha now?
Yes, political, social and racial progress have been made, but at this time in America, it feels like we are returning to a less enlightened time. So much has changed for us, but so much hasn’t. Racial equality has not been a continuous path of progress. Today, we are reminded that the struggle isn’t over and the mission we began 25 years ago is still necessary. To speak about the issues of racism, dismissiveness, and marginalization. Challenges which annoy and bar us, but also have served to propel us into self-permission, solidification of our identities and self-empowerment.
We aim to help cultivate more Asian American artists and writers to tell our stories. We offer space to do so.
We seek to share these stories with the larger culture so they simply become universal American stories.
Our stories must be heard, not out of a cry for fairness but because, in the end, we love these stories and they have the power to change.
Between 1992 and 2000, riksha published a print magazine, curated art exhibitions, held writing workshops and presented readings & performances to showcase artistic works by and about Asian Americans. Our intention was to provide a space to share our experiences as well as expose underrepresented voices. riksha was part of a community that created fully-embodied representations of Asian Americans that not only helped us to understand ourselves, but created alternative and truer narratives.
You can view an archived version of the old riksha site HERE.
riksha is: Nicole Sumida, Alexander Yu, Eduardo Cruz Eusebio, Christopher Ike