Asian American History Tag

Kindred Journey 25 – Yuji Ichioka

Yuji is a pioneer in the field of ethnic studies. We both graduated from Berkeley High School and I was one of the students who benefitted from taking ethnic studies classes about both African American and Raza studies departments. Yuji was born in 1936 in San Francisco California. He and his family were imprisoned during WW2. Yuji joined the army and studied at Columbia University and UC Berkeley. He is the first person to use the term “Asian American” and was involved in the late 60’s in the third world strike protests at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State where there would later be the first college with an ethnic studies program. He was also instrumental in founding the Asian American studies center at UCLA which he co-founded withVicci Wong. He authored books (A Buried Past) , volunteered in his community, and helped to push forward and found the modern conversation on ethnic studies which is basically reviving stories about people of color that have been lost, looked over, omitted, and or erased. One of the most powerful things about an Asian American department or term besides educating other people who don’t know, is uniting Asians from different countries and backgrounds and that unity is why I titled this series “Kindred Journey”. Yuji passed away in 2002.

Sources: SF Gate, LA Times, Asian American Activism Tumblr

You can purchase this original illustration $40 (includes shipping within the U.S.) by emailing me at (a portion will be donated to the Yuji Ichioka Endowed Chair in Social Justice Studies, c/o UCLA Asian American Studies Center)

Kindred Journey 24 – Troop 12

Troop 12 is the first Japanese and Asian American boy scout troop founded in the United States. It is also one of the oldest. It was founded in 1915 through the work of Masunobu Morisuye. The troop was comprised of American born Japanese or Nisei. The group practiced wilderness and outdoor activities such as swimming, camping, etc. They also learned first aid and volunteered in the Japanese community in San Francisco where they were founded. The group was founded because they could not become a part of existing Boy Scout troops or were not welcomed into white troops. They completed all the requirements to become recognized and became a troop anyway though. The group recently celebrated their 100th year anniversary which has seen struggle during the imprisonment of Japanese during World War 2, finding sponsors to keep the group going, and maintaining a club for kids to learn for over 100 years. In addition to all of the outdoor activities and volunteer work the club scouts are often given the chance to travel to other states and the troop has even been to Japan to learn more about their culture. And the hat the trooper wears is in reaction to a member being teased by another troop. When Troop 12 heard about this, they all bought white hats and wore them together in solidarity.

Sources: History of Boy Scout Troop 12 (youtube), Japanese Immigration hearings

You can purchase this original illustration $40 (includes shipping within the U.S.) email

Kindred Journey 23 – Margaret Cho

Born in San Francisco in 1968, Margaret Cho is one of the greatest comedians to do it. She has written books, starred in plays, shows, and films, recorded music, and done some amazing comedic performances. One of the things I admire about her is her ability to merge political and hilarious. Margaret started performing as a teen. She went on to be one of the first if not the first Asian American lead in an Asian American specific Tv show called “All American Girl”. She had a broadway show called “I am the one I want”. She has toured all over the world performing stand up, and she has been nominated for many awards like the Grammy’s, Emmy’s, and she has won awards from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). Beyond doing comedy Margaret has been an advocate for LGbtq rights, she has stood up against bullying, and has lead commentary to political issues. She is still performing and inspiring today.

Sources:, The Rubin Report, Broadly

You can purchase this original piece $40 (includes shipping) email

Kindred Journey 22 – Mountain Brothers

Mountain Brothers are a hip hop group from Philadelphia with members Styles, Peril-L, and Chops. Besides Key Kool & Rhetmattic, Mountain Brothers were some of the only Asian American cats rhyming and putting out records. Coming from the Bay you see lots of writers, B-boys, and DJs, but very few MCs. That all changed when I saw this trio from Philly. Their first album “Self: Volume 1” came out in 1999, and their second and last album came out in 2003. They also had an EP titled Microphone Phenomenal. MB were pioneers for Asian Americans in hop hop and although Peril-L and Styles are pursuing medicine and science Chops still continues to make music. In fact the group united for a song on a Chops record in 2013 along with cats like Dumbfounded, Bambu, Rocky Rivera, Geo of Blue Scholars, Neil Armstrong, DJ Roli Rohl, and more. The guys are Chinese Taiwanese and simply by making great music and being themselves they have made history and given young Asian American artists role models. Galaxies!!!

Sources: Wikipedia,,

Did you catch the one of Mndsgn ?

You can purchase this original piece $40 (includes shipping) , email

Kindred Journey 21 – Mary “Butchie” Tom

Mary was born in Phoenix Arizona from Chinese immigrant parents. She came from a family who worked in and owned grocery stores in Arizona as many immigrants owned and worked in stores. Frustrated with the racism she experienced in Phoenix and her choices for work she took a bus to China Town in San Francisco. She first started working as a housekeeper cleaning when she got there and around 1940 she heard about a job opportunity to be a dancer in a Chinese owned nightclub to be opened called “Forbidden City” (the first Chinese owned nightclub) after the city of the same name in Beijing. She started out learning to dance using choreography and became one of many prominent dancers in the Chinese nightlife scene which was visited by all types of people during the start of World War 2. Mary married and moved back to Arizona where she continued to dance; square dancing!

: Oral history-Chinese history of Arizona, Classic ladies of color

Dig this? Check out this post about Raveena (Aapi) or Rosie Perez (Boricua)

Kindred Journey 20 Vicki Manalo Draves

Vicki Manalo Draves was born in 1924 in San Francisco California to a Filipino father and English mother who met in the city. She grew up in the south of market area now known as Soma. She began diving at the age of 16. She tired to begin training at SF’s Fairmont hotel and wanted to compete but was discriminated against because of her Filipino heritage. She had to change her name to her mothers maiden name in order to to enter competitions. It was said by her friends and teammates that the discrimination she faced lit a fire under her and when she made it to the olympic games in 1948, she was the first American woman to win two gold medals in platform and springboard diving. Vicki continued to swim for many years, got married and had several children. Today there is a park in San Francisco named after her and when she passed away there were many news publications that honored her. She even has a biopic film in the works about her life’s story.

Sources: Kickstarter (Save our Story), NBC, Wikipedia, Olympics

Purchase: You can buy this original painting $40 (includes shipping). Email me at

Kindred Journey 19 – Tyrus Wong

Tyrus Wong was born in 1910 in Taishan China. He migrated to United States, specifically Angel Island in the Bay Area between San Francisco and the East Bay. He endured interrogation and detention because of the US policy called the Chinese exclusion act.  After his release and reuniting with his father he moved to Los Angeles. He loved to draw and paint as a child and attended Otis college as a fine artist. From the 1930s until the 1960s Tyrus worked in animation at Disney Animation studios and later at Warner Brothers. While working as in in between animator at Disney his incredible landscape paintings where discovered by Walt Disney and his painting style laid the foundation for the landmark film Bambi. Because of racism his work was not lauded or celebrated by the studios however, and Tyrus did not get his just due until he was in his 70’s and 80s. Through his artistic career he not only painted beautiful landscapes. But he also painted Chinese calligraphy, greeting cards, ceramics, and built kites. Tyrus passed away in December of last year. He is survived by three daughters and two grand children.

NY Times, CAAM, CBS Sunday Morning

Dig this? Check out this ptg of AAPI animated characters

Kindred Journey 18 – Geena Rocero

Geena Rocero is a trans activist and model from the Philippines. She was born there and migrated to the Bay Area to join her mother as a teenager. She worked as a clerk in department stores and later went to NYC to pursue a career in modeling. Before coming to the US Geena was part of a very visible group of trans models or pageant competitors in the Philippines. When she got to NYC she did not immediately tell her full story as a trans woman. In fact, only her close friends knew. Recently she decided to come out by giving a well received TED talk. In addition to coming out and continuing to model, she also went on to found an organization called “Gender Proud” which produces media highlighting the stories and lives of trans folks.  In addition to this, she has spoken at the UN, and many other places fighting for the rights of trans folks who are often ostracized, bullied, discriminated against, or murdered. Her work inspires young people to be themselves and to fight for their right to exist, live, love, and work.

Sources: TED, Girl Boss Radio,

Kindred Journey 17 -Bobby Hundreds

If this is your first time seeing this, I started a series of paintings called “Kindred Journey” last year celebrating my Asian American Pacific Islander folks for the month of May ( Asian Amer history month). Just like last year I’ll be dropping some paintings of folks from the past and present making their grand parents proud. 
This guy right here is Bobby Hundreds, the co-founder of the Street wear brand “The Hundreds”. Bobby and Ben (then law students) started their company in 2003, decades after brands like Vans and Stussy, but not too long after Supreme and 10 Deep. They started with t-shirts that spoke directly to 80’s and 90’s kids using the iconic bomb, punk, hip hop, skater, pop culture, and California references. They then expanded to cut and sew products such as sweaters, pants, jackets, hats, and more. The brand Bobby helped build, design, market, and grow started with clothes and eventually opened flagship stores in LA (his hometown), SF, and NYC. Not only that they have created their own print magazine and a killer video presence that gives back to the next generation while inspiring new ones. If you have Asian parents or grand parents you know it is tough to get respect doing anything but law, medicine, or tech (now), but Bobby and his team have done it. Salute.

: The, Wikipedia, LA Times
Digging this? : Check out Kiwi of Native Guns

Kindred Journey 4- Eiko Ishioka

Eiko was born in 1938 in Tokyo Japan. She began her young career in design by attending the Tokyo national university of fine arts and music, graduating in 1961 and embarking on a career of graphic design. She opened her own design studio and began working on advertising campaigns for cosmetic companies. She was hired to not only design promotional ads but commercials. She began working for films such as Dracula, The Cell, The Fall, The Immortals, and Mishima a small film directed by Paul Shrader in the ’80s. Eiko’s work also extended into theater, circus companies such as Cirque du Soleil, basketball, and design for The Olympics. Before she passed away in 2012 she was given many awards but what I loved most about her work that I saw in “The Cell” and “The Fall” was the bold color, the distinct curves and angels, and the directness of her pieces. A collection of her work is still up at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. 
Sources: The Cell, NY Times, Wikipedia