A weekly magazine-style radio show featuring the voices and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders from all corners of our community. The show is produced by a collective of media makers, deejays, and activists.
Tonight Apex Express presents a teaser for the DragonFruit Podcast, an intergenerational project that explores queer Asian and Pacific Islanders and their stories about love and activism in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. We welcome APIENC, our partner under the AACRE (Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality) umbrella. Host Miko Lee interviews with one of the curators of the podcast, Dorothy Tang. We listen to Dragonfruit and then speak on the many events happening including a chat with San Francisco Mime Troupe‘s Keiko Shimasato Carreiro about the summer show. Keep it locked on Apex Express.
For your safety
June 25th Eskabo Daan Filipino Martial Arts is hosting another Women’s self defense class at Kapwa Gardens in SF.
ongoing harassment training offered by Hollaback. | Cost: FREE*
Community Rising Oakland Asian Cultural Center June 25 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Free OACC hosts a mini-concert and conversation with artists, activists, and community organizers to re-imagine what safety can look like for our communities. | Cost: FREE*
For your knowledge
The Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour has started up in person again. The first few tours are already sold out.
“Tales of the Resistance” radio podcast from the SF MimeTroupe. In lieu of park performances the Troupe will present a new episode every week. | Cost: FREE*
Queer Taiko Show at Oakland Asian Cultural Center Saturday, June 26 – 4:00 pm | Cost: FREE*
Book Launch for famed performance artist: Nobuko Miyamoto’s new memoir, “Not Yo’ Butterfly : My Long Song of Relocation, Race, Love, and Revolution” June 26 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM PDT Cost: FREE*
Oakland Asian Cultural Center Gallery features Political Inheritance: An Exploration of AAPI Political Agency & Identities July through August | Cost: FREE*
APEX Express – Dragonfruit Transcript 6.24.21
Good evening. This is Miko Lee, and you’re listening to apex express where we focus on the Asian American and Pacific Islander experiences. Tonight we’re proud to present a teaser for the dragon fruit project, an international project that explores queer Asian and a Pacific Islanders and their stories about love and activism in the sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties. We welcome APIENC, our partner under the AACRE umbrella AACRE, the Asian Americans for civil rights and equality. We are so happy to start off with an interview with one of the curators of the podcast. Dorothy Tang.
Miko Lee: [00:03:16] Welcome Dorothy Tang to apex express. I’m so happy to have you here today.
Dorothy Tang: [00:03:21] Thanks so much. Miko thanks for having me.
Miko Lee: [00:03:23] So you’re gonna showcase for us the amazing new project from APIENC, that is the dragon fruit podcast. Dorothy, can you tell us about how the dragon fruit project got started and what was it all about in the very beginning?
Dorothy Tang: [00:03:37] The dragon fruit podcast is a oral history project that documents the lives and stories of trans and queer API people. It was started in 2012 by Amy Satoshi, a professor and Dean of ethnic studies at SF state. And she partnered with APIENC in 2013 to build DFP as a people powered oral history archive. Over 200 community members took part in creating this and inactivating trans and queer Asian Pacific Islander histories in the bay area.
Miko Lee: [00:04:12] So you have this great history and this amazing project with all these oral histories. Tell us about how the podcast came to be.
Dorothy Tang: [00:04:19] Earlier last year there was supposed to be a DFP reunion. But obviously with COVID that had to postponed. So that’s how the podcast came to be which was a continuation of the dragon fruit project, but transformed into a podcast to re-engage the community as well. as share new learnings and celebrate, the dragon fruit project. So it’s like a natural evolution of the original oral history project
Miko Lee: [00:04:48] Dorothy, you talk about people powered, which is so amazing. Talk to me about the people powered aspect of the dragon fruit podcast, because almost everybody is a volunteer. So what keeps you all inspired and coming back?
Dorothy Tang: [00:05:02] Even though the planning team is six people. Like the network that we’ve been able to create has been like, definitely way more than six people like staff, volunteers, like everybody involved has made like a really huge impact. And yeah, I think, like being able to rely on one another is a really big aspect of that. Like I think it’s a really big challenge to create like a three episode series, on our own, we, none of us are professionals. We’re all figuring out how to do this as we go along. Can you remind me the second part of the question?
Miko Lee: [00:05:41] I was just asking about why people are interested in volunteering. Cause it takes so much energy to work on this.
Dorothy Tang: [00:05:46] Oh thank you. Yeah, I think what has kept people around is just like seeing the vulnerability and like people’s willingness to share like in our interviews. We did Interviews last summer about like over 15 interviews, some of these were one-on-one interviews. Some of them were, one interviewer with, two or three interviewees. Then we had a couple intergenerational conversations where it was maybe like two interviewers with five to six interviewer interviewees. Off the bat. It’s like many of us like don’t know each other. Some people in interviews have been organizers and friends for a long time, there’s also people in the group who. I’ve never met or like we were like, didn’t know each other and asking, our first question is talking about or our first episode is talking about, active, queer and trans Asian activism, over the last five years, how it’s changed, like we address Anti-blackness in the API community.
And so these are, quite, I think challenging topics talk about right off the bat, especially if you’re asking strangers. And so I think that seeing people’s willingness to really like, to mindfully engage and yeah. Engage with these topics has been really inspiring and has been like the core of the podcast. No, we are writing our narratives. We’re also making sure that we’re writing episodes that really help these interviews shine. I think there’s a lot of knowledge and power in the things that people say. The fact that people who are organizing in like the eighties and nineties, are talking about how it’s changed over time, like how they see the youth engaging with, API organizing and all that stuff.
So I think, yeah, I think the. The interviews themselves are like very much at the core and why people continue to work on this. And I think there’s always, I think room there’s always room for learnings. And, there definitely has been a lot of challenges as we’ve gone on with making sure, trying to make sure that everybody’s story is told accurately and, in a way that like honors them And making sure that we’re trying to show as many diverse voices as possible. So I think all those things have kept us around.
Miko Lee: [00:08:03] So how did you, Dorothy, how did you get involved in the dragon fruit podcast?
Dorothy Tang: [00:08:07] I was going to school in Southern California and I moved back home, like up north because of COVID and I wanted to get involved in queer organizing up here. So I was just like looking online and I found out about APIENC. And then that Naturally led me to the dragon fruit project, which I contacted Jasmine about. And coincidentally, she told me that like a podcast was underway and I did community radio in college for a couple of years. So I was really interested in the project. And soon after I was introduced to the rest of the giant fruit production team and I wanted to join because I had never come across a project like this. Like it’s really hard to find queer and trans Asian media. I really liked the idea of, or history project. That’s how I got involved with APIENC and the podcast.
Miko Lee: [00:08:50] Can you share with us a little bit about the process for gathering these stories together, how you engage the community in it ?
Dorothy Tang: [00:08:58] Yeah. Thank you. So we have the old, like the archived interviews from years ago that was done, in the I believe at the SF library there, the recordings were done. And some were done through StoryCorps. We listened to a lot of the stories and we were looking at the kind of things we were curious to learn more about and kind of things that we thought were, oh yeah, people didn’t talk about this topic. I would love to know what they thought about these things. So we wanted to build off of the original archives and see what was missing or where were things we’re interested in talking about. And, because of COVID, all of the writing and production was done virtually which has been great. It’s been like a huge ensemble of people from APIENC who have made this possible from like doing interviews like over zoom transcribing, writing the scripts, doing narration, editing, like working promotional material and dissemination. Everything has been like a really big labor of love.
And there was a lot of learning, especially in the beginning, cause we didn’t know how to make a podcast and it was all volunteer done. So we had to figure out like a work schedule on our own and structure and whatnot. And I feel like at this point you’ve reached a good structure that still has like room for adjustment. But yeah, so it definitely has been like a lot of communication. A lot of, Trying to anticipate possible things, making sure that, everybody’s informed with how their material is being used and stuff like that. So definitely a lot of like back and forth and feedback.
Miko Lee: [00:10:22] What did you learn about yourself and also about the community while making the podcast.
Dorothy Tang: [00:10:27] I think I’m continuously in awe of how much people care. I’ve never been in a space quite like APIENC where people are so earnest and forthcoming and willing to invest in each other, invest their time and like communicate. And I think seeing people model that behavior has been really encouraging for me and pushes me to invest a lot. When I think at otherwise might feel like a bit shy or not. Not so forthcoming . Working with APIENC members for the past year and seeing how open and encouraging everyone is and like willing to learn and like stuff like that has really I’d say inspired me to take up more space. I think that’s something that I didn’t really anticipate when signing up for this. And yeah. Yeah. So I guess I mostly learned by myself, my, I guess my ability to grow and change. And just working with others and seeing how everybody is, has been like very fulfilling.
Miko Lee: [00:11:18] Is there one story in particular that stands out to you that really highlighted something for you that you weren’t aware of?
Dorothy Tang: [00:11:25] One thing comes to mind is when the production team, we first agreed onto the project. We had a projected oh, we’ll be working on this for about three months. And ended up, obviously taking much longer than we were quite ambitious for thinking that we could finish three episodes in three months. But ended up being like about a year. And I think we always had like checkpoints every few months okay, like it’s obviously gone past, we initially ask people to commit to. So is it still cool with everybody? And everybody was still like very earnest and interested in wanting to make time for the podcast. It’s we’re all, we’re all volunteers. So people definitely are having to put in quite a lot of extra work, outside of their normal work hours and stuff like that. I think even though it was like more than maybe we have bargained for think it was really great to see people were still very much interested in like dedicated to working on it and seeing it through.
Miko Lee: [00:12:13] So why does the dragon fruit broadcast matter to you? Personally.
Dorothy Tang: [00:12:19] The Dragonfruit project matters to me because I think that queer and trans history has been invisibilized for a long time and documenting our history matters a lot to me . So many queer and trans Asian people existed before me are going to continue to exist after me. And like the fact that we all are working together supporting one another, supporting other communities, like all of that matters, all that like everyday stuff matters. So I think, stuff like this podcast and the original like oral history project is quite rare. I think when it comes to queer and trans history, we’re not the ones usually in charge of that narrative.
Those are things that it’s usually our narratives are left out and then it’s like somebody else coming in, or maybe other like queer and trans people who are like coming in and trying to find out those pieces. So I think it’s had a rare opportunity that like, we are like solely in charge of our narrative and that we get to have conversations with each other and like we’re having these nuanced and complex conversations with one another about like love and like relationships and Connection and, healing and accountability. These are all like, really complex topics that I feel very fortunate to be able to ask, to, people older than me, people who are in my people who are my peers. so I think just documenting that sort of everyday stuff I think is really important. And in some ways Rare, unfortunately. .
Miko Lee: [00:13:46] So what do you hope people will walk away with after listening to dragonfruit podcast?
Dorothy Tang: [00:13:52] I hope people feel warm and connected. I hope these stories resonate with people and that the sort of topics that we cover are things that people are already talking about. Want to talk about and want to think about and maybe share with their friends. I hope it rings true for people and that may be. They don’t feel so alone. I think a lot of these topics, like for example, like healing and accountability can feel very isolating. And I think it’s rare to be able to meet other queer and trans API people and to be able to even have these intimate conversations with each other. So I hope, people that yeah. That it rings true for people.
Miko Lee: [00:14:29] And on the dragon fruit site, you have amazing the stories that people can download and hear individual stories of the different folks that have been interviewed. And then there’s also art. And zines how are you going to use the podcast to push the dragon fruit project to a wider audience?
Dorothy Tang: [00:14:49] The podcast more as like a natural evolution of the project. With podcasts, like the reach tends to be larger. I think it will naturally lead people to looking back at the archive and the oral history project.
Miko Lee: [00:15:03] And folks that are fired up and listened to these stories, how can they get involved with the work that you’re doing going forward?
Dorothy Tang: [00:15:10] Yeah. Thank you for asking that. On our podcast launch page, there is a form where you can put in your contact information and indicate if you’re interested in joining the podcast, if you’re interested in being contacted via our newsletter and stuff like that. So that’s how you can get more information about and get any updates about the podcast. We have two launch parties coming up in July and August, where it is more interactive. People can come and each launch party is is formatted around the topic of the episodes. A launch party two will be about love and relationships. And so there’ll be like exercises and like opportunities to, to connect and have conversations with one another during those events. At the moment the production team is six people. But we envision this production team to be like a rotating cast. And so I think with that in mind, if anybody is interested in the podcast and interested in creating a story for it or interviewing for it or stuff like that. And there they really want to contribute to it.
Miko Lee: [00:16:15] Great. Thank you so much.
Dorothy Tang: [00:16:17] Yeah. Thank you. I hope people are listening and excited for the podcast. Definitely. My team and I were Raul really excited, and we put in a lot of work into this, so I hope people get something out of it. Continue to be curious, continue, especially with talking to queer and trans elders. I think that’s like a very rare opportunity to be able to listen to other people’s voices, especially, with The a lot of queer media in particular is focused usually on like teenagers and like young adults. Having a more diverse representation in terms of like walks of life and age and different ethnic groups and stuff like that, I think is really special. So I hope you get a lot out of this podcast and yeah. I just hope it resonates with people.
Miko Lee: [00:17:03] Thank you so much for joining us, Dorothy Tang and talking about the dragon fruit podcast. We’re really excited for our listeners to be able to hear it tonight.
Dorothy Tang: [00:17:13] Thank you so much.
Miko Lee: [00:17:14] So take a listen to episode one of APIENC’s, the dragon fruit podcast.
Amy Sueyoshi So the great thing of being up in the Bay is that you’re surrounded by all these API queers of all ages, right? I mean, you just run into them on the street, right? They might be delivering your pizza, you know, you might see them stocking shelves at Trader Joe’s. They’re just like, everywhere. Everywhere.
MLin Hi, how’s it going? You’re listening to an Asian queer trans person on a podcast. My name is MLin, pronouns they/them. And I’m going to tell you about my breakup story. I’ve never had the chance to tell everyone about my relationship, how it’s changed my life, and why we’re even breaking up this year. I should mention that before my 7 year relationship even began, a lot of other folks were involved. So I’ll let you hear from them first.
Amy Sueyoshi Hi, my name is Amy Sueyoshi. I’m the Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. I’m a historian by training. And my specialties are in Asian American history and history of sexuality. I use she or they pronouns. I usually do turn of the century history, which is 1890s to 1920. And I decided to start, you know, doing some oral histories in the early 2000s. At the time, history wasn’t super sexy, very few nonprofits were engaging in historical projects. Very few artists were also using history as a site of inspiration. So I was really skeptical about whether people would want to join me. But you know, people were excited to do it, which I was surprised about. API query history is also clearly on the margins in both the history field, as well as in Asian American Studies. And so, you know, I could scream it from the rooftops, tell lots of people, and most people wouldn’t care. They’d be like, “Yeah, and?” So there’s a way in which I think that what’s more important to me is that for the few people, that it did matter, it really mattered. But generally speaking, I feel like the world doesn’t care, which is even more reason why we should care, right? If, if we don’t take care of ourselves, then other people aren’t going to do it for us. Being a historian, I know that a lot of queer history generally gets lost, because queer genders, queer sexualities are stigmatized. And if you’re Asian, you probably don’t want to talk about it even more. A – because you’ve probably been socialized to not talk about sexuality because of your ethnicity. And then B – if you were assigned female at birth, and you’re socialized as a woman, you probably wouldn’t think your life was valuable enough to save anything about it. In terms of historical knowledge, you don’t have to be the George Washington of gay people, you can just be a regular person. And so I wanted the older Asian lesbians who are still around to save their stuff, to be able to know how to save it, not throw it in the garbage. So that when they passed, or when they were ready to give up their materials, we could deposit it at the historical society. And some younger dyke or young, younger, queer pup could come along and do research on them.
MLin Who is that young queer pup that Amy speaks of? It was me, MLin. That’s right. I’m bringing up with an oral history project. It’s called Dragon Fruit Project. Amy decided to found Dragon Fruit Project in 2012, as she realized that she was running out of time to document the stories of the people she was in community with. Dragon Fruit Project was a passion project that Amy knew she had to start. And she didn’t do it alone. Back to Amy.
Amy Sueyoshi Yeah so, I’d like to be very clear that I just literally planted a seed. That was all I did, and APIENC really just took it to the next level. When I first talked to Monna, Monna Wong about it. You know, Monna came to me and said, “Oh, what do you think we should do at APIENC?” And I said, “Well, I’m just finishing up this oral history project. You know, it’s called Dragon Fruit. I don’t know. Does this sound interesting to you?” And then Monna was like, “Yeah!”
MLin FYI, APIENC stands for API Quality – Northern California. Based in the Bay Area, APIENC is a grassroots community organization that builds transgender, non-binary and queer Asian and Pacific Islander power. Let’s cue some dramatic music. In 2004, APIENC was started after a mass of conservative Chinese Christians rallied in San Francisco’s Sunset district. They came together to condemn the LGBTQ community and deny that it was possible to be Asian and queer. As a form of resistance, a group of progressive queer Asians and allies united to form a coalition, then known as API Equality. In 2008, APIEC was a founding member of the campaign opposing Prop 8, California’s anti same-sex marriage ballot. Fast forward to 2013, Monna Wong
Monna Wong Hi, my name is Monna Wong, she/her pronouns and I was the executive director of APIENC from 2013 to July 2016.
MLin And Tracy Nguyen
Tracy Nguyen Hey, I’m Tracy Nguyen, she/her pronouns, and I was the community organizer of APIENC from 2012 to 2015.
MLin Tracy and Monna were the two lone staff members at APIENC. That year, marriage equality was passed by the Supreme Court, wedding bells rang across the country, and institutional funders were like, “See ya!” Amidst existing conditions of white supremacy, capitalism, the nonprofit industrial complex and other depressing things, APIENC was in a place of uncertainty. Not knowing where the organization was headed, or even how much longer APIENC would be around for, Monna and Tracy decided to take a chance on Dragon Fruit Project. I’ll let Monna explain.
Monna Wong Tracy, I feel like you are the person who really made Dragon Fruit Project happen because I remember like, having the meeting with Amy and bringing it back. And you then took the idea and ran with it. I remember at one point, I was like, “Are we sure we want to do this?” Like, is this the, you know, we were in that period where we were trying to figure out what was our programming and be like, what did we believe that we needed to be doing in that moment, and moving forward. And I remember feeling a little skeptical that this would be the thing. And Tracy, in like classic Tracy fashion, was just like, “Let’s just try it and see what happens.” And then it became a thing.
Tracy Nguyen What a great team we were. We worked well together. Dragon Fruit Project. I love intergenerational work, because I feel that is such a powerful and ridiculously hard thing to do, that is really rewarding. And like to this day, like when I think about the work that needs to be done today, there’s so much lacking of intergenerational work. And I say that because I just found out that my mom is gonna vote for Trump, and so are all my other aunties. And so are all the aunties I organized in nail salon organizing. It’s sweeping the Vietnamese community and, you know, like, I’m trying to figure out like, I want to have a conversation, like I’m not trying to swing their vote, like, I think that’s actually not my goal. I want to revisit my intergenerational organizing practices, because I haven’t connected with my elders in so long. And I haven’t connected with my LGBT elders in so long. And there are something about when, when the work is tough, it’s easy for me to go back in my comfort zone, because intergenerational work takes so much intentionality. And I think it was healing, like so many people like saw themselves reflected, so many people like found a mentor. And these folks, like so many older folks, like were validating young people, you know, and I think, in our culture, where there is a hierarchy of age and you know, who gets respected and listened to or not. Like, I think that is a healing practice for us to practice with our elders, what it’s like to listen to each other. And that’s what that’s the essence of where Dragon Fruit is. Like listening to each other’s stories. Like we know storytelling is important, but we do it across generations. I think it elevates our ability to think about liberation.
MLin Liberation. I asked a friend recently because I’ve been trying to figure out, “How do I explain what liberation feels like?” And she shared this quote with me. It’s by Brandon Wint, an Ontario poet and spoken word artist. Brandon writes, “Not queer like gay, queer like, escaping definition. Queer like some sort of fluidity and limitlessness at once. Queer like a freedom too strange to be conquered. Queer like the fearlessness to imagine what love can look like and pursue it. Is pursuing queerness similar to pursuing liberation? I can’t speak for others, but I think that’s what happened for me. When I first got to know about Dragon Fruit Project in 2014. I had just graduated from college and moved back home to the Bay Area. At that time, I found it incredibly difficult to find other people who shared my identities of being Asian, queer, trans, non binary and masculine of center. That’s a lot. I know, I know. But as someone seeking to forge deeper relationships at a transitional stage of my life. I felt isolated. When my peers talked about envisioning their futures, I always felt stilted, as if I couldn’t imagine myself growing old. Coming across dragon fruit project was something that literally redirected my life trajectory and purpose. I sort of compare it to a millennial online dating story. I was on the internet looking up Asian American community organizations to get involved with. I typed in the keywords, “queer, Asian, social justice, Bay Area.” I clicked on the first search result, and the connection was instant. At that moment in time, I was so excited to meet another queer, trans Asian in real life, someone who could understand my struggles with gender, sexuality, race, and tell me that I wasn’t alone. When I signed up to volunteer, I wasn’t just listening to an audio file and typing words onto the screen. I was getting to know someone who they were, where they came from, and the larger queer trans API community that they were introducing me to. Our lives intersected as I went from reading their story, to meeting them in person. Amy is going to help me explain how that felt.
Amy Sueyoshi I can tell you from my perspective that, you know, with one of the folks I interviewed, I had to go shoe shopping with her for an hour before we could chat. She had plantar fascia, and her heels were hurting. So we went shoe shopping, got her insoles, and then we started the interview an hour later. And then after that, you know, she, we obviously we continued to have a relationship and she makes really good banana cream pies. And so she’s in the East Bay, and then sometimes invites me over after she’s made a cream pie. And I’ll just go over there to pick it up. So I do have to say that I understand sort of both the work of creating intimacy with someone, to have them tell you about their oral history. But I also truly and sincerely feel grateful for these folks for creating a road for me, that’s a little easier to walk. And so the stories are both moving right, in the difficulties that they endured. And also, they’re rewarding in the ways that I can create a new friendship, a new relationship with someone that feels meaningful. And it’s a relationship of gratitude. I’m grateful to them for the kind of world that they’ve created for me. And clearly they’re, you know, also they like feeling like they’re valued. I think that’s been the best part of it definitely has been the, not just the sharing of stories, but the relationships built upon the terms of the trust.
MLin Rewarding relationships. This was the best part of being in a relationship with Dragon Fruit Project. Because I didn’t do this work alone. I was doing it with a dedicated group of people who also believe that QTAPI history mattered. In the fall of 2014, everything felt new and exciting to me. I was the classic baby gay. And in a year’s time, I went from being a volunteer to an intern. And then all of a sudden, I was hired as the community organizer at APIENC. It was surreal to take on Tracy’s role coordinating the Dragon Fruit Project program. I was the person introducing it to new volunteers and asking them the question, “How do you see yourself as part of history?” That was a big question. And it’s hard to answer that question myself. Because since I transitioned out of my community organizer role in 2018, I’ve experienced some memory loss.
Miko Lee: [00:33:31] That was dragonfruit podcast music by Saxreligious and you’re tuned into apex express, a 94.1 K PFA and 89.3 K P F B in Berkeley and firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s get back to the dragon fruit podcast.
MLin: [00:33:49] So to help me find some answers, I’m gonna turn to my fellow podcast producer and longtime Dragon Fruit Project volunteer, Ralph Leano Atanacio.
Ralph Leano Atanacio Hi, my name is Ralph and I use he and they pronouns. I am a queer 1.5 gen Filipinx person who loves to cook for people and hear about their hopes and dreams.
MLin What you’re going to hear next is a conversation between me and Ralph. And I asked Ralph, “What was his most favorite memory of Dragon Fruit Project?”
Ralph Leano Atanacio I think one of the first Dragon Fruit Project interviews I read was Vince’s interview, Vince Crisostomo. And I was a APIENC summer organizer in 2017. And I’m pretty sure we were in the like, cafe area where the couch was on the second floor. And I got to when Vince was talking about his partner then and this like plant story about like taking, taking care of the plant and losing his partner then. I was crying in the middle of the day, and all my fellow interns are looking at me like, “What’s happening?” Like I’m just reading. I think that was like one of the most emotional interviews I read during that summer. Yeah. And I think that was like really grounded me into this whole project.
MLin Okay, why are we breaking up with Dragon Fruit Project? But honestly, this is something I’m looking forward to this breakup or this conscious uncoupling. I feel like it’s not very simple to explain, like, I can’t, I can’t say in two sentences.
Ralph Leano Atanacio Well, it’s like a story. In 2019, early fall, our committee capacity just dropped to a level where we really had to question the work that we’ve set out for that year. Is this something we can do with this shift in capacity? Because I think at that time, we were focused so much on the quality control, and putting out all these interviews to be accessible to the public. And then we started questioning ourselves. Like, what’s the point of onboarding committee members all the time into this work?
MLin Like since I was involved in Dragon Fruit Project, around 2014, and then you came on 2017. Between those three years, a lot of people came in and out of the committee. So we were trying to answer two questions at the same time, is this the most impactful? And is this the most sustainable?
Ralph Leano Atanacio Yeah.
MLin Yeah. What do you think when someone says, “What’s so urgent about an oral history project?”
Ralph Leano Atanacio I think that speaks to the challenges that we’ve had. We want the community to be responsible for this, and really show up and make decisions for how this oral history project should continue. Because as a committee, we would like to do things and ask ourselves like, “Is this something that like, the ‘community’ wants?” We were trying to nurture this project that was meant to serve so many people and be mindful of people’s interests or visions for this project. But we could only hold so much.
MLin Yeah. Yeah. How does it feel knowing that the breakup is near?
Ralph Leano Atanacio It feels like a lot of things. I’ve been with Dragon Fruit for four years now. And in those four years, because I was also in college, I associate all this growth in the past four years, also with Dragon Fruit. These were pivotal moments for myself. I think Dragon Fruit, like, internally is so transformative, you know. Because for me, when I went into Dragon Fruit, I didn’t know how to tap into history, and see myself as part of history. Even like my cultural identity, like migrating here when I was six, it took me till college to really think about my history as connected to this politic, and history of like U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. And to get into Dragon Fruit and learn about QTAPI history, and I realized that that could be a history that is connected to me was so transformative. Because now, when I think about who I am, I’m like, I am more than just like me in the present.
MLin I feel like I get to live through your experience recalling who you were, like when you first started with Dragon Fruit Project to who you’ve become. It’s like very meta.
Ralph Leano Atanacio So to see Dragon Fruit, quote, “end” also means a lot and deserves to be mourned and also celebrated. Because Dragon Fruit did so much for me, and also for others. And it’s also exciting, because I trust that the stories and the work that’s gone in for Dragon Fruit is going to live on. We don’t know what that might look like yet, but it is an opportunity for us to try. I think this is an opportunity for people to really think about their relationship to oral history, and QTAPI history by themselves.
MLin We were going to break up approximately a year ago. There was this whole formal process planned where myself and longtime volunteers were going to host a long awaited reunion to celebrate our accomplishments, learnings and reflections. It would have been a really wholesome breakup, because we knew that our relationship to Dragon Fruit Project wasn’t ending. It was simply transitioning. But this was March 2020. And we got interrupted by a pandemic. And so all of this got put on pause. Which brings me to why we’re here now. It’s time to close out this chapter of Dragon Fruit Project. For this podcast series, we’ve re-engaged 30 plus queer, trans AAPI community members in dialogue. And together, we’ll be reflecting on the history of trans and queer Asian and Pacific Islander organizing, have some juicy conversations about love and connection, and reclaim space for our own healing. So if you’re listening to this podcast, thank you for being here. Whether you’ve been with us for a while, or if this is your first time listening to the story, I want to thank you for being part of Dragon Fruit Project. Dragon Fruit Project was one of my firsts. It taught me about being queer and Asian. It showed me that I could survive past the age of 25, even if it was going to be hard. Dragon Fruit Project was my introduction to my lifelong journey towards loving myself, loving others, and loving liberation. I’m not sure what’s next. But as always, we’re figuring it out together. So stay tuned for the Dragon Fruit Podcast. Thank you for listening to the Dragon Fruit Podcast. We want to take a moment to acknowledge that we are writing, producing, and recording this podcast on stolen unceded Ohlone land. We want to ask our non Indigenous listeners to contribute to the Shuumi Land Tax, which goes towards the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust’s work of repatriation of Ohlone people’s land. This trailer was made possible by our storytellers Amy Sueyoshi, Monna Wong, and Tracy Nguyen. Our production is led by Podcast Planning Team: Ralph Leano Atanacio, MLin, Ankoor Patel, Shilpa Rao, Isabella Ruston, and Dorothy Tang. Creative direction was supported by Jasmin Hoo and Kyla Cheung. And our podcast music is produced by saxreligious. You can also find our podcast episodes on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and www.apienc.org. Thanks for listening, and stay tuned for our first episode on movement work.
Miko Lee: [00:47:19] You just listened to, “we need each other” by Nikbo. Thank you so much for joining us in listening to apex dragonfruit podcast. We’re really excited to hear further episodes to learn more about our queer AAPI elders. So stay tuned for those. Next up, let’s talk about the community calendar. There’s so many things going on right now, as we start to open up our land and some of these events are in person and some are still online. All of these events are wheelchair accessible and most are free for more information and links to any of these events. Check out the apex express program page on the kpfa.org website. Next up, we had the opportunity to find out what’s happening with our own San Francisco mime troupe for this summer. While we speak with Keiko Shimasato Carriero about this summer’s tales of the resistance. Welcome to apex express.
Keiko Carreiro: [00:48:13] Hi Miko. Thank you so much for having me on it’s been a little while
Miko Lee: [00:48:18] it has been awhile, and we’d love to hear about how our Tony award-winning San Francisco mime troupe has adjusted during the time of the pandemic.
Keiko Carreiro: [00:48:26] We were really fortunate to make the decision last year to do a radio podcast series which was fairly successful. We were able to discuss, urgent issues during an election year. This summer we were, fingers crossed, hoping against hope that we would be able to be in the parks, but City hall wasn’t giving out park permits readily, and we decided that it would be safer for our audience. If we, once again, went with creating radio podcasts . So we are having tales of the resistance persistence volume two this summer.
Miko Lee: [00:49:06] Tell me a little bit about tales of the resistance. What are these stories?
Keiko Carreiro: [00:49:11] We have several different storylines. The one program that I am in with, along with Velina Brown is called tail of the black Fox. The story is about women of color in the male dominated field of TV, journalism. It follows the story of Angelica Phoenix, who is a beautiful black journalist who is being. Manipulated for the purposes of the TV producer and needing to compromise her morals in order to keep advancing. My mysterious characters, an Asian woman she’s trying to save Angelica from this fate of going down the wrong path of compromising her morals and ultimately hating herself. So that’s one story. The second series of episodes is called jailbreak, a passion for justice, and this follows the story. Two people, a black gay activist played by Rotimi Bob Yaka and an Asian antifa activist played by Francis Jue. Who’s joining us as a guest artist and that I’m just going to add has been. Amazing perk of doing these digital radio performances is that we’ve been able to work with people that we normally wouldn’t be able to have on the mime troupe stage. These activists get arrested while protesting and they are swept up in the midst of a jailbreak led by white supremacist, insurgents who are trying to free their leader. We also have some other episodes which are called eyeball on history in which Michael Sullivan has written a series of short pieces, retelling history. A lot of these episodes have to do with equity, both racial and gender. So that’s an overview of the topics of our episodes so far.
Miko Lee: [00:51:13] And you directed some of these episodes.
Keiko Carreiro: [00:51:16] Oh, how could I forget the episode that I’m directing which is called hobos in space, written by Marie Cartier, who wrote are really funny commercials last year. Hobos in space is a farcical take on it’s a star Trek world, but we’re dealing with homelessness in the future, even while we’re on an amazing star ship hurling through space. We have the issue of homelessness and financial inequity, even in the future. My first time directing a science fiction. So I’m having fun looking for all the different sound effects and so on and so forth and a really wonderful cast that again, includes Oop, go Carla hall who’s now living in LA, so we couldn’t do this if it weren’t this digital medium. So that part is all exciting, but I really can’t wait to work with people in real life. Again.
Miko Lee: [00:52:18] How can people listen to the upcoming episodes?
Keiko Carreiro: [00:52:22] So we will be opening up on July 4th as is our tradition. And in fact, some of us Mime troopers might be in Dolores park, not doing our typical show, but we might be there just listening to the first episode. And if you wanted to join us in the park, that’s one way. The other ways to go on our website and there will be links to the programs as they come up www.sfmt.org.
Miko Lee: [00:52:56] And we’ll have it linked to that on the apex express page of the KPFA site as well. And all the Mime Troop shows it is actually for free, but asking for donations to be able to keep the work going on. Keiko, what would you like our audiences to walk away with after listening to your shows?
Keiko Carreiro: [00:53:14] First of all, I hope that they’re entertained. And second of all, I hope that they feel a sense of community that we, as activists are still here. And as we. Opening up and coming back out that there’s a lot of work to do. It’s become really apparent how much work there is to do in terms of all the inequities across all, boards race, gender economics. And there’s a lot of work, but there’s a lot of us. I hope that’s what we can take away from it.
Miko Lee: [00:53:50] Keiko Shimasato Carreiro. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
Keiko Carreiro: [00:53:53] Thank you.
Miko Lee: [00:53:54] There’s a bunch of events coming up this weekend on June 25th. Eskabo Daan Filipino martial artist hosting another women’s self-defense class at CAPA gardens in San Francisco. And they’ll also be doing a workshop for seniors on that same day.
All the participants are given pepper spray and the seniors are going to learn how to use a cane. And I have to say, I took this workshop with my daughter a couple of months ago, and I would just really recommend this as an empowering tool. Let’s not just sit back and feel helpless, but let’s work toward protecting ourselves and our community. In that same vein , check out the ongoing harassment training offered by Hollaback. I also did this. It’s amazing. There’s free online workshops and you can get some really clear tools for taking action either as a witness to something horrible happening, or if it’s happening to you yourself. So check that out online hollaback workshops.
Then to really address the amount of crime and horrible things that are happening within our community. There will be a community rising event at Oakland Asian cultural center on June 25th, from six to 7:00 PM. It’s free. There’s going to be a mini concert and then a conversation with artists and activists and community organizers, so that we can reimagine what safety really looks like in our communities.
Again, that’s a free event. It’s online. Check it out. Okay. So there is another whole section. This is about knowledge. There’s a bunch of events that are happening. the Berkeley south Asian radical history walking tour has started up in person again. Yay. So we’ve interviewed them many times on our show and we really encourage you to attend. The first few tours are already sold out. You go on a walk through Berkeley and you find out about our own radical south Asian history. I just got tickets for the next available tour on August 1st. So join me and many other folks in reclaiming our past.
There are more fun things at Oakland Asian cultural center. There’s a queer taiko show on Saturday, June 26 at four o’clock. It’s also free. Eastwind books and UC Asian studies are hosting online, a book launch for the famed performance artists, Nobuko Miyamoto her new memoir, not yo butterfly, my long song of relocation, race, love and revolution. That’s happening June 26, from three to four 30. Again, that is online and free. Another amazing event. That’s coming up at Oakland Asian cultural centers. Gallery is political inheritance and exploration of AAPI political agency and identities. That’s July through August and is featuring, political work by Asian American identified women. that should be really interested in really cool to check it out. So all of these events are happening. Around the bay area and many of them are online. So they have great access. Again, check out kpfa.org, apex express page for more information. And also for transcripts of this and all of our recent shows.
Please check out our website, kpfa.org to find out more about how you can take direct action. We thank all of you listeners out there. Keep resisting, keep organizing. Keep creating and sharing your visions with the world. Your voices are important. Apex express is produced by Preti Mangala-Shekar, Tracy Nguyen, Miko Lee Jalena Keane-Lee and Jessica Antonio. Tonight’s show was produced by your hosts, Miko Lee, and Jalena Keane-Lee thanks to KPFA staff for their support and have a great night.