We tell Asian America's stories to go beyond being seen.
As people of all backgrounds reckon with complex legacies of race, power, culture, and identity and ask themselves, “Where do I stand?” Self Evident presents reported stories and radically open conversations from the everyday Asian Americans who have been confronting this question for generations. Our mission is to empower local communities to share stories and build relationships around the value of self-representation.
Self Evident is a Studiotobe production, made with support from our listener community.
Introducing "Before Me": A new series from Self Evident
Lisa Phu grew up telling a story about how her family left Cambodia as refugees, to start a new life in the United States — but for the longest time, she’d never heard this story firsthand, from her mom, Lan.
After Lisa gave birth to her first daughter, her mom flew across the country to meet her first grandchild. And during that visit, she finally shared the real story with Lisa. About growing up in Cambodia, fleeing genocide by the Khmer Rouge, surviving as a gold dealer in Vietnam, building a home in America while navigating the fallout and traumas of war… and carrying the future of four children with her throughout the journey.
Before Me follows one woman’s life, from Cambodia to America, over the course of decades. But it also follows a long overdue conversation between mother and daughter, about their family’s history — through death and birth, separation and reunion, endings and beginnings.
Because while we may never fully understand the reality of those who came before us, every story is a chance to get closer. And in listening, find meaning in what’s been preserved.
During November and December 2022, Self Evident is presenting Before Me through our podcast feed.
It's a brand new audio series we're launching in partnership with Lisa, and we hope you'll join us in listening and sharing the story as it unfolds, week by week.
Learn how to conduct an oral history interview with your loved ones at selfevidentshow.com/history.
To meet other listeners of Self Evident and Before Me, and get started on your own oral history journey, join our Discord community at selfevidentshow.com/participate.
Self Evident Presents: "Get Up Stand Up" (by Re:Work)
When you get into a taxi, you usually know where you’re coming from, where you’re going, and what you’ll do when you get there. But what about your taxi driver – someone whose work is in constant motion, moving from destination to destination, meeting new people by the hour? What was the road that brought them to this moment, what is the journey they'll take next?
On this episode of Re:Work, by the UCLA Labor Center, join host Saba Waheed as she travels with Javaid on the path that brought him from a small agricultural town in Punjab, Pakistan to driving cabs in New York City.
Reading and Resources: “Taxi!: Cabs and Capitalism in New York City” by Biju Mathew Self Evident’s audio story on the New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance Hunger Strike of 2021 UCLA Labor Center. The New York Taxi Workers' Alliance
Produced by Stefanie Ritoper, Saba Waheed, Ob1, and Asif Ahmed. Music supervision by Francisco Garcia Nava.
(BONUS) Hunger Strike! How Immigrant Taxi Drivers Took on City Hall
When Augustine Tang’s father passed away, Augustine decided to inherit his taxi medallion – the license that had allowed his father to drive a yellow taxi cab in New York City for decades. But the medallion came with a $530,000 debt trap and years of struggling to escape it. Augustine’s friend Kenny, a fellow taxi cab driver, committed suicide. So did several other drivers who were crushed under the weight of these impossible debts. In hopes of preventing another death, Tang joined a push by the local taxi drivers’ union, to campaign for debt relief. And eventually, city resistance to worker demands culminated in a 15-day hunger strike to convince City Hall that immigrant taxi drivers deserved a fair deal. The drivers’ struggles for livable working conditions showed how political power doesn’t just come down to votes. It’s a reminder how strong collective will can be, especially for those often silenced and ignored by our imperfect democracy.
Resources and Reading After listening, please take our survey about this story — to help us fund more stories like this one! This show mentions instances of suicide. We understand this topic may be difficult for some listeners. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255 WATCH: “Cheated, Desperate, Financially Ruined NYC Taxi Drivers Go on Hunger Strike” by Maximillian Alvarez of the Real News Network WATCH: “New York Taxi Drivers Hunger Strike for Debt Relief” by More Perfect Union READ: “‘They Were Conned’: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers” by Brian Rosenthal for the New York Times READ: “How the Taxi Workers Won” by Molly Crabapple for the Economic Hardship Reporting Project READ: “Distressed Drivers: Solving the the New York City Taxi Medallion Debt Crisis” by Aaron Jacobs for Columbia Human Rights Law Review Special Thanks To Augustine Tang, Jaslin Kaur, John Duda, Kader Guerrab, Kuber Sancho-Persad, Maria Santana, Maximillian Alvarez, Michelle Faust Raghavan and Alec Saleens, and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance Media Team
Credits: Produced by Self Evident Media
Reported by Sahil Nisha, with help from Alina Panek and Janrey Serapio
Interview recordings by Sahil Nisha, Stacey Wong, and James Boo
Public protest and demonstration recordings by NYTWA, Augustine Tang, CM Zohran Mamdani, and Former CM Brad Lander
Edited by James Boo and Julia Shu
Fact checked by Harsha Nahata and Tiffany Bui
Sound mix by Timothy Lou Ly
Music by Epidemic Sound
At the Moment theme music by Satoru Ohno
Our Executive Producer is Ken Ikeda
This episode was made with support from the Solutions Journalism Network’s Advancing Democracy program
Say Goodbye to Yesterday
Amidst the ongoing crush of anti-Asian violence in America, Producer James turns to a personal source of restoration: ska music (yes, that ska music).
When he was a teenager, the do-it-yourself ska scene — and an indie record label called Asian Man — taught him to take racism seriously, embrace the road less traveled, and never wait for anyone else’s approval to be himself. But as James starts connecting with all of the Asian American ska fans he’s met over the past few years, he also starts to question how much his own memories are wrapped in a black-and-white-checkered blanket of nostalgia.
Eventually, these connections all lead to Mike Park, Korean American founder and still-only-employee of Asian Man Records — and Jer Hunter, a younger Black and queer musician who’s carrying the torch for ska music as a home for anti-racist activism.
And the more these conversations peel away the layers of nostalgia surrounding ska, the more James believes that this oft-misunderstood subculture has something real to offer in a world that can feel like it’s crumbling beneath our feet.
Resources WATCH: “Racism in East London,” an episode of the 1970s docuseries Our People by ThamesTV WATCH: The entirety of Dance Craze, the documentary about 2-Tone that hooked Mike Park (and countless others) on ska music WATCH: Skatune Network’s life-giving cover of the Koopa Troopa Beach theme from Mario Kart 64 LISTEN: Ska Against Racism 2020, the benefit compilation by Bad Time Records, Ska Punk Daily, and Asian Man Records LISTEN: SKA DREAM by Jeff Rosenstock LISTEN: “Five Miles to Newark,” the full-length debut album by Chris Erway’s high school ska-punk band, Taxicab Samurais LISTEN: Mike Park chats with Charlene Kaye on The Golden Hour podcast READ: “Tracing Ska Music’s Great Migration” by Evan Nicole Brown for Atlas Obscura READ: “The Chinese Jamaicans: Unlikely Pioneers of Reggae Music” by Tranquilheart for Spinditty READ: “It Came From the Garage: Celebrating 25 Years of Asian Man Records,” a comic by JB Roe READ: In Defense of Ska by Aaron Carnes READ: “Skatune Networks’ Jer on Pushing Ska Forward” by Eve Sicks for Reverb.com READ: “Ska’s New Generation is Here to Pick It Up Pick It Up” by Arielle Gordon for Stereogum READ: “Ska is Thriving Right Now: Here’s a Look at the DIY Scene That’s Keeping It Alive” by Andrew Sacher for Brooklyn Vegan Credits Produced, written, and sound designed by James Boo Edited by Julia Shu, with help from Cathy Erway Sound mix by Timothy Lou Ly Fact checked by Tiffany Bui and Harsha Nahata “No Guarantee” written and performed by James Boo, feat. Dorian Love on bass and Chris Erway on trombone, trumpet, and alto saxophone Ska Dream by Jeff Rosenstock; original compositions for “No Time to Skank” and pickitup” licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Music provided courtesy of Asian Man Records: “Still Down for Tomorrow” by the Bruce Lee Band “Signature” and “You Don’t Know” by The Chinkees “Riptide 28” and “Sultan’s Cross” by Let’s Go Bowling “David Duke Is Running For President,” “Pabu Boy,” “Onyonghasayo,” and “Thick Ass Stout” by Skankin’ Pickle “Mutually Parasitic,” “Achilles’ Dub,” and “Stash” by Slow Gherkin Photos of Mike Park courtesy of Mike Park Photo of Jer Hunter courtesy of Rae Mystic Photo of band huddle at Ska Dream Nights by listener Frank Chan Self Evident theme music by Dorian Love Our Executive Producer is Ken Ikeda About Self Evident is a Studio To Be production. Our show is made with support from PRX and the Google Podcasts creator program — and our listener community.
The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of caregiving work — and the ways that this work is overlooked, under-resourced, or placed as a burden on families without a sense of fairness or compassion. In this episode we’re sharing two stories that show people taking on the role of caregiver, and asking: Who gets to be healthy in a world that leaves so many people with family as their only lifeline?
“My Heartbeats”: When Indian American filmmaker Tanmaya Shekhar moved his life from Kanpur to New York City, he was running away from family and dreaming of standing on his own two feet. But when the first wave of Covid in India put both of his parents in the hospital, he found himself in a race against time to reunite with them — and then a slow process of rethinking his life’s path, as an immigrant and as a son.
“Delma and Delvin”: Guest contributor Angela Edward shares a day in the life of her aunt Delma, a middle-aged Micronesian mom whose full time job is taking care of Delvin — her 30-year old son who has always lived with cerebral palsy. After being hospitalized for Covid, Delma invites Angela over to spend time with Delvin and share how it feels to be senselessly locked out of the American healthcare system.
Resources, Reading, Viewing, and Listening
Take our listener survey! LISTEN: For Micronesians by Micronesians podcast READ: “How Decades of Advocacy Helped Restore Medicaid Access to Micronesian Migrants” and “Hirono Seeks to Restore federal Benefits for Pacific Islanders from COFA Nations,” by Anita Hofschneider for Honolulu Civil Beat READ: “A Historical and Contemporary Review of the Contextualization and Social Determinants of Health of Micronesian Migrants in the United States” by Davis Rehuher, Earl S. Hishinuma, Deborah A. Goebert,and Neal A. Palafox for the Hawai’i Journal of Health & Social Welfare READ: The Husk, a newsletter covering Micronesian people and happenings WATCH: “Reflections at 29,” a documentary short by Tanmaya Shekhar about the costs and regret of living as an immigrant filmmaker in the U.S. SUPPORT: Donate to the Hemkunt Foundation, which has been helping Indians survive, recover from, and weather the impact of Covid-19 Credits Produced by James Boo, Emily Cardinali, and Angela Edward Edited by Julia Shu Fact checked by Tiffany Bui and Harsha Nahata Sound mix by Timothy Lou Ly Self Evident theme music by Dorian Love Our Executive Producer is Ken Ikeda About Self Evident is a Studio to Be production. Our show is made with support from PRX and the Google Podcasts creator program — and our listener community.
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Learning from different perspectives as an Asian American myself
This show shares a lot of wonderful narratives and insights from many perspectives. I enjoy hearing from other Asian Americans about experiences we all may have encountered.
Thanks for educating me, an Asian American
Wow! Great podcast. Love that it covers all Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The individual stories are inspiring and uplifting.
Excellent storytellers working together to amplify the voices and experiences of Asian Americans. Thank you for this important work, educating people like me so we can understand and support the Asian American community.