If you told 8 year old me that a group of 4 Chinese rappers were touring the United States performing sold out shows, 8 year old Aaron probably would have wondered what was wrong with you and went back to playing Pokemon Ruby.
As a kid, I was always embarrassed whenever my mom would pick me and whichever friend needed a ride up from school while our collection of Mandopop CD’s were playing in our 2001 Toyota Sienna. I vividly remember asking my mom stupid questions out of desperation just to try to cover up the soapy Chinese melodies singing through the background, oftentimes to her mild annoyance. I’m not sure if it was the fear of being judged or seen as alien by my mostly Caucasian classmates, but it was the first time I remember feeling almost ashamed of my culture and my language.
Fast forward years later and I find myself standing in the cold Seattle rain waiting in line with the likes of international students wearing whatever Off-White or Balenciaga garments that had been featured on Hypebeast and dropped on Barney’s or Ssense just days ago. While I didn’t particularly care for the scene as it’s now been normalized to anyone who has been in a large public school campus, it was interesting to think about how dramatically the representation of Asian international students has changed in the United States in recent years.
As I made my way in, I started noticing more and more groups of Caucasian attendees awaiting the show, overhearing conversations of what songs they liked and a lot of strange pronunciations. Rather than laugh and smirk at their attempts at the language, I was glad to see the universal appeal of music make its way through our cultural differences and appreciated the effort of people learning something new. Though it was a short show in an overcrowded sweaty venue, I was able to fight my way close to the front and shoot some photos while bonding a bit with a bunch of other kids that looked like me. While I get that acceptance of various cultures and backgrounds is still a far cry away, the scene last night was definitively a step in the right direction.