When the attacks on Asian Americans started happening, just like many of you, I wanted to do something. Initially it was anger but I knew that wasn't going to solve anything. Then came the spotlight to talk about the attacks and how they were personally making me feel. I knew they were making me feel a type of way, but I couldn't quite digest them all due to the frequency in which they were happening and the timing of how I was finding my voice - I didn't want to just speak without getting the necessary time to digest my true emotions and say something out of character. After a couple of weeks I was introduced to the STASHED team and the initiative they were trying to put together - to rally local small businesses and Bay Area designers and creatives to create a capsule collection and raise money to donate directly back to the AAPI community. From the jump, it felt organic and seemed like the right platform to get away from the zoom interviews and get out on the front lines. Originally, I was asked to design and I was thrilled, but my instincts guided me to the bigger picture that was unfolding. I immediately tapped into my rolodex of contacts in the Bay to see what dots I could connect together and see what our reach could be. It was going to take a community of people to start looking back out for the community. Like some old world shit and I love that.
My design process took me right back to the basketball court. It was natural. The game of basketball and whats happened in between those lines was always the best teacher I've ever known. Being a 5'8" Asian kid, I heard just about every slur and prejudice you could come up with - none are worth repeating but you could guess that they weren't table talk. Although it was tough to deal with and major disrespectful, it was important for me to understand and go through the experience and learn how to deal with the uneasiness. The words "not your Model Minority" mean something to me and playing the game of basketball was my model minority experience. I wasn't supposed to excel and I dam sure wasn't supposed to play at a high level but I always let my game do the talking.
The back graphic was picked to represent the boundaries that society, doubters or the fear of others try to place on you to box you in. To minimize your experience. Break away from all that negativity and never let fear be the reason why you never began your journey. The front was designed to represent the global game that basketball is and all that it's given me. It ties my Bay Area roots together with the Golden Gate Bridge being the pillars of the handshake and the words "Global Friendships" as a small appreciation to all the bonds and relationships I've been able to have from the game. It's a design I stand behind with what I would actively be protesting, but is also something that can be worn beyond just this moment. To hopefully transcend time.
When it came to shooting the shirt, I had to involve the teo strongest women in my life - my Mother Dana and Auntie Robin. They're part of the generation that's being targeted and it was my vision to have them model as a way to show how my generation is here to stand and do our part with them. To be an amplifying voice. Anyone and everyone who knows them, knows this is furthest representation of who they are (they're 99% of the time smiling and friendly lol) but the character they're able to display is amazing. It was exactly what I wanted - the blending of generations that captures the solidarity we share and how we're here to help change the narrative. It's a small part in the movement but nonetheless a moment we won't ever forget and I appreciate everyone who's been involved in putting this together: My family, the STASHED family, photographers, reporters and all the other businesses who are rallying beyond this collective message. THANK YOU.