Facilitator Half/Asian: Reflections on Racism

So, if you read the most recent blog post about Amy the CODA, then you are already low-key familiar with Half/Asian (Ian Griffiths).


Ahhh, okay. Today's post is a little more real than blog posts I've made in the past -- it is my opinions mixed with some statements and quotes from my previous interviews with Half/Asian.


Half/Asian as a Yoga Retreat Facilitator


First, let's start by talking about his involvement in this upcoming Kundalini Rising Cabin Retreat. I'm absolutely thrilled to see this come together, you see, Ian and I will be collaborating in a way that excites my stomach with nervous electric vibes.



Ian studied traditional Indian classical music in one of the oldest cities in the world, the holy city, Varanasi, India. He has done a lot of travelling -- but I must say, his commitment to learning about Indian music is something that intrigues me and that I admire.


So, in addition to being a talented singer, songwriter and electronic pop-artist, Half/Asian is also someone versed in vibrations -- a major component of the yoga of Kundalini.


Ian plays the Indian drone and I am thrilled to be offering these sounds throughout our mantra classes.


I want to share a little bit about my conversations with Ian as well as my reflections since he and I spoke.


An Interview with Half/Asian


Half/Asian + Amy the CODA are the recipients of a Creative BC grant for performing artists. What this means is that their talents are now currently focused towards creating singles through collaborative efforts with other Canadian musicians. They initially received the grant under a different pretence -- they had intended to record and release a fully polished album -- however, when the global lockdown happened, they had to revision what it meant to create music from a quarantined space.


It was at the time of the lockdown that Half/Asian and I had the opportunity to sit down and run through an interview process together.


One of the first things I had to ask him was why and how he had decided upon the name of "Half/Asian" for their project.



His answer is not one that can be summed up into one sentence. Or one short quotation.


He spoke of his childhood. Of growing up the child with a caucasian father and an asian mother -- his mom was born in China. He spoke of the playground taunting. Of knowing he was not "the same" as his peers.


He spoke about the process of learning how to hate pieces of himself that he could not change.


There is so much to be discussed when it comes to how racism functions. As a white woman, I am not the only voice that should be heard on this topic. Half/Asian spoke to me about the "narratives" that surround each of us based on something as unchangeable and arbitrary as our skin colour.


He and Amy the CODA are conscious with their decisions. Choosing the name Half/Asian has everything to do with representation and being a role model of self-acceptance.


Half/Asian: “This name — Half/Asian — I didn’t realize that it was going to, but it holds me accountable. I was always intentionally a-political before taking this name. But it’s like…if I can’t have these discussions then who am I expecting to have them for me? Or for my community for that matter?"


Half/Asian offered these words at a point in our social history where Asian-hate crimes were spiking around the globe. People were assaulting Asian-appearing individuals on the streets at random. Sometimes verbally, sometimes physically.


All because COVID allegedly began at a Chinese wet-market.


No. I take that back.


The attacks were happening all because of fear and an inability to take ownership for our own perceived experience of life. That is the only reason that another person would ever work their own issues out on a perfect stranger. That is the only reason for un-checked hate. And it is not a reason. It is an absolute disgrace.


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While Half/Asian and I spoke, he acknowledged the synchronistic timing of it all (he didn't use the word synchronicity...that was me).


Half/Asian: "It is interesting that I would finally step into my identity, into my Asian identity and choose the name Half/Asian and then a few short months later...there is a population of people who are making Asians the villain in a really tangible way."


Ian and I discussed this how the villainification (not a real word) of Asians is nothing new. The narrative that surrounds Asian men in particular is limited as far as representation goes.


Often representation for Asian men is either the tech-master, the kung-fu master (or the evil counterpart Fu-man Chu). Historically, terms such as Yellow-Peril have inspired incredibly harmful views of Asian communities and people. This is our history. This is what led to the racial discrimination and exploitative conditions that mark Canadian and global history everywhere.


Half/Asian embraced his identity, met his conditioned self-hate and made the decision to rise in courage publicly.


Half/Asian: "“… if you want to accept that [Asian] part of yourself, now you have to also accept that people are going to be racist towards you too. You don’t get to ignore [racism] anymore.”


I cannot say for him what that means to him or for him. But I do see him in this. I do see the way that the experience of energy, matter and consciousness as met him in his strength and asked him to be even stronger. We are living in a time, not unlike any other point in history, where the "Linking COVID-19 with China invokes a well worn narrative of Chinese people as “diseased...Language is used to cast Chinese communities as a foreign and dangerous other. In this example, the idea of illness, sickness and disease is invoked. A group must first be dehumanized and stripped of their humanity before their marginalization can be justified."


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I cannot tell you about the lyrics of Half/Asian + Amy the CODA's upcoming new single. I'm not even sure if I can mention the title of the track. But I can recommend following them on Instagram for the release of this track.


I got to take a look at it, and honestly, to hear the lyrics acknowledging the process of learning to internalize racism was a real profound thing. I was fascinated to hear him put a portion of the experience into a sharable and beautiful expression. I was pumped to vibe with Half/Asian's reclaiming of the melody that used to torment him on the playground.


As of now, Half Asian + Amy the CODA are working with some incredible creative teams. Be it collaboration tanks (@cometolife by @guayaki), working with an established hip-hop star (Deafinitely Dope) or simply putting out amazing new music videos (p.s a follow on youtube is one of the easiest ways to support entrepreneurs and artists alike -- click on the link to give a follow).


I am grateful to stand alongside Ian as a facilitator. I am humbled to have shared space, story and honest discussion about hard topics.


But this is what these two do. They aren't just making music, they're living with passion -- and I genuinely believe that this is the kind of good-cause that makes a life full. The kind of good-cause that inspires others to be their most authentic selves. It is less of a "cause" and more of an "authenticity".


I hope you all have a great day. I hope you all are willing to have the conversations, with the differing opinions, about the things that matter. Whenever you're ready. The world is ready for your voice.


Sat Nam.

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