What is Bicultural Healthy Living?

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Bicultural Healthy Living is the ability of immigrants and refugees to bridge two cultures, the American mainstream culture and their culture of origin, into one that allows them to live healthfully and happily.  By leading a bicultural healthy lifestyle, we hope that Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities can find a path that allow both their Asian/Pacific islander and American culture to co-exist with the ability to use one or both cultural protective factors when needed.  This blog will explore the various ways and strategies to improve the health of AAPIs and the community as a whole by living a bicultural healthy lifestyle.

Healthy Eating Tips

Maintaining a balanced diet is essential for overall health and well-being, as it ensures the body receives the necessary nutrients and vitamins to function optimally. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats provides a wide range of essential nutrients that support bodily functions, boost immunity, and promote energy levels. Vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, and iron, play crucial roles in processes like bone health, oxygen transport, and immune response. Adequate hydration is also important, as water aids in digestion, nutrient absorption, and temperature regulation. Prioritizing whole, minimally processed foods and maintaining a balanced intake of macronutrients and micronutrients can help prevent chronic diseases and support long-term health.

A balanced diet emphasizing the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein is crucial for maintaining optimal health. Including a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures a rich intake of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Whole grains provide fiber and energy, while dairy products like low-fat or fat-free milk, lactose-free milk, and fortified soy beverages offer vital nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, which are not adequately found in other plant-based beverages. Protein sources, including seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds, supply essential amino acids needed for muscle repair, immune function, and overall growth. By incorporating these food groups into daily meals, individuals can achieve a nutritionally balanced diet that supports overall health and wellness.

Incorporating a diverse array of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein into your diet is essential for achieving optimal health and well-being. By choosing nutrient-dense options like low-fat dairy or fortified soy beverages and prioritizing high-quality protein sources, you ensure your body receives the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids it needs to function effectively. Embracing these dietary principles supports strong immunity, energy levels, and overall vitality, paving the way for a healthier, more balanced life.

Advocate for the Federal Food Service Guideline and Wellness Policy through sharing nutritional information and encouraging healthy dietary choices.

Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/features/healthy-eating-tips.html

St. Paul’s own, Kid $wami

Kid $wami, an Asian American rap artist, has risen to prominence as a contemporary hip hop sensation in St. Paul, Minnesota. Known for his unique blend of cultural influences and innovative beats, he has carved out a distinct niche in the music scene. Kid $wami’s journey from local talent to celebrated artist has been marked by his ability to connect deeply with a diverse and devoted fan base. His groundbreaking music, characterized by insightful lyrics and dynamic rhythms, is not only breaking new ground but also challenging the norms of the hip hop genre. With each release, Kid $wami continues to redefine what it means to be an Asian American artist in the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary hip hop.

Photo: Kid $wami

Kid $wami uses his music platform to address crucial issues that resonate deeply with him, drawing from his personal experiences to craft songs that touch on themes such as social justice, mental health, and self-expression. His lyrics reflect his journey and the struggles he has faced, making his music a powerful tool for advocacy and change. By candidly discussing these topics, Kid $wami not only highlights important societal challenges but also empowers his listeners to speak out and share their own stories. His message has become a beacon for those seeking to have their voices heard, fostering a community of resilience and solidarity through the transformative power of music.

Kid $wami stands as a beacon of authenticity and courage in the world of contemporary hip hop, using his music to champion social justice, mental health awareness, and the importance of self-expression. Through his deeply personal and impactful lyrics, he not only connects with his audience on a profound level but also inspires countless others to find their own voice and stand up for what they believe in. As he continues to break new ground and resonate with listeners across diverse backgrounds, Kid $wami’s artistry remains a testament to the transformative power of music and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

Reference:https://www.viberate.com/artist/kid-swami/

The Art of Asako Hirabayashi

Born in Japan, Hirabayashi began her musical journey at the age of 7, composing and playing the piano. She later graduated with a degree in composition from a Japanese college. During her studies, she discovered the harpsichord, an instrument that suited her small hands and her passion for rare instruments. In the 1990s, she moved to the United States to further her education in harpsichord performance and composition at the Juilliard School. Hirabayashi earned her doctorate from Juilliard with a dissertation focused on “Ornamentation in the Harpsichord Music of William Byrd.”

In the early 2000s, Hirabayashi moved to Minnesota, becoming an active member of the Japan America Society of Minnesota. She performs locally, nationally, and internationally, while composing and teaching. Her notable compositions include an opera, a Concerto for Four Harpsichords and Strings, and various solo harpsichord and chamber pieces. Hirabayashi’s interest in historical instruments led to her collaboration with violinist Margaret Humphrey, resulting in the formation of the duo Cerulean Fire in 2012, dedicated to high-quality music and increasing public appreciation for historical instruments. In 2014, she began producing the “Music and Flower” show with the Sogetsu Ikebana Group, a project initiated by her friend Eiji Ikeda of the Minnesota Orchestra. Regularly performing at the Baroque Room in Minneapolis and other global venues, including Japan, Carnegie Hall, and London, Hirabayashi collaborates with various string players and performers. She also teaches at her studio in the Saint Paul Conservatory.

Awards

  • Multiple McKnight awards
  • Minnesota Arts Board grants
  • 2004: Solo Category Winner of the Aliénor Harpsichord Composition Competition
  • 2008: Honorable Mention for the Duo Category Winner of the Aliénor Harpsichord Composition Competition
  • 2010: CD The Harpsichord in the New Millennium was selected as one of the five best classical CDs of the year
  • 2018: Gold Medal Award from Global Music Awards 2018

Asako Hirabayashi’s music is a testament to the power of artistic storytelling, where light and refreshing melodies blend masterfully into a vivid musical painting. Her compositions, including an opera, a Concerto for Four Harpsichords and Strings, and various solo harpsichord and chamber pieces, showcase her ability to creatively use sound to tell a story. Influences from her rich background and collaboration with historical instrument enthusiasts, such as her duo Cerulean Fire with violinist Margaret Humphrey, add depth and nuance to her work. Through her performances at prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall and the Baroque Room in Minneapolis, and her teaching at the Saint Paul Conservatory, Hirabayashi inspires AAPI creatives by demonstrating how cultural heritage and innovation can harmoniously intersect to produce powerful, evocative music.

Reference:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQLLdG7j2p4 https://www.asakohirabayashi.com/bio

Healthy Eating Tips

Healthy eating focuses on incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein into your diet. Dairy recommendations suggest choosing low-fat or fat-free milk, lactose-free milk, and fortified soy beverages, as other plant-based beverages do not provide the same nutritional benefits. Protein sources should include seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils), soy products, nuts, and seeds. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025, most people in the United States need to adjust their eating habits to increase their intake of dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, while reducing added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.

  • Bump up fiber
  • Increase calcium and vitamin D
  • Add more potassium
  • Limit added sugars
  • Replace saturated fats
  • Cut back on sodium
  • Aim for a variety of colors

Eating plenty of fiber is essential for maintaining good health, as it aids in digestion, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and reduces the risk of heart disease. Asian leafy vegetables, such as bok choy, napa cabbage, and Chinese broccoli, are excellent sources of both fiber and iron. Incorporating these nutrient-dense greens into your diet can boost your iron intake, which is crucial for oxygen transport in the body, while also providing the dietary fiber needed to support a healthy digestive system. Enjoying a variety of these vegetables can contribute to overall well-being and prevent nutrient deficiencies.

By choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy options and incorporating a variety of protein sources, you can ensure a balanced intake of vital nutrients. Adjusting your eating habits to increase dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium while reducing added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium is crucial for long-term health. Ultimately, making mindful food choices and seeking help when needed fosters a supportive community, helping everyone thrive both physically and mentally.

Advocate for the Federal Food Service Guideline and Wellness Policy through sharing nutritional information and encouraging healthy dietary choices.

Reference:https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/healthy-eating-tips/index.html

Ricky Sim

Ricky Sim never envisioned a career in standup comedy during his youth due to his fear of performing onstage. “I was really scared to be onstage,” he recalled. Like many first- and second-generation immigrants, Sim’s concern over financial stability led him to practice law for five years. Today, however, the Queens-based writer and standup comedian uses his platform to challenge norms and address the underrepresentation of queer Asian comedians.

Photo: Andrew Max Levy

Despite starting his career in the industry around 12 years ago, Sim chose to take a hiatus due to the lack of Asian representation in comedy, which often resulted in blatant racism disguised as humor. Reflecting on that period, he recalls that most open mic nights were predominantly attended by white men, who would mockingly greet him with lines like, “Oh, look. The delivery guy is here,” whenever they saw an Asian participant.

Sim faced additional challenges due to his sexuality in a predominantly homophobic environment. Despite this, his desire to share his story, particularly about his mother and the gay Chinese-Malaysian experience, helped him overcome the scarcity mindset and embrace the uncertainties of a challenging career. “This is what my heart is telling me to do,” Sim remarked, deciding to follow his passion. In 2023, he performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where he presented his one-man show, “Coming Out To Dead People.” The show’s success continued at London’s Off-West End Soho Theatre and recently debuted Off-Broadway at Soho Playhouse, before returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as an EdFringe OffFest Finalist.

Reference:https://www.aaartsalliance.org/magazine/stories/how-ricky-sim-found-freedom-in-comedy

The Artist Bumpei Usui

Bumpei Usui (碓氷文平 Usui Bunpei, 1898—1994) was a remarkable Japanese-born American painter celebrated for his social realist cityscapes and urban life scenes. His body of work also included interiors, flower studies, and still lifes. In 1935, a critic praised his style as “cultivated realism,” while others lauded his masterful use of color, textures, and spatial values. Some even noted elements of Precisionism in his cityscapes. Usui’s paintings of people showcased both the humorous and harsh realities of city life.

Despite a period of obscurity following his death, Usui’s legacy was revived in 2014 when the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired one of his paintings and featured it prominently in a major exhibition. In addition to his painting career, Usui was a skilled custom frame maker, furniture designer, and lacquering craftsman. He also had a passion for collecting antique Japanese swords and breeding Siamese cats, reflecting the diverse range of his talents and interests.

Photo:Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Regis Corporation

Photo:Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The art of Bumpei Usui beautifully captures his unique vision, seamlessly blending Eastern and Western influences to create a distinct style that highlights the achievements of AAPI artists. His works, which reflect his personal experiences, have become an integral part of art history, touching the hearts and souls of people worldwide. Bumpei’s legacy endures, celebrating his contributions and ensuring his impact on the art world remains timeless.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumpei_Usui. https://americanart.si.edu/art/highlights/asian-american

The Art of Tshab Her

“The United States has forgotten about the Hmong people and what they did. We helped the Americans. We died for the Americans–and we still are, long after the war has ended. And isn’t it ironic that most Americans don’t even know who we are.”

-General Vang Pao, 1979


Through her lived experience as a second-generation Hmong-American woman, her artistic endeavors both illuminate and complicate the intricate politics of displacement. As a member of a nation-less ethnic minority originating from Southeast Asia, she grapples with the looming threat of cultural erasure. Her creative output serves as a testament to the dispersed nature of the Hmong community, probing the significance of location and the spaces in between. Employing a diverse array of mediums including embroidery, installation art, and social engagement, she navigates the realms of political and cultural discourse.

In her artistic practice, she harnesses the power of color as a communicative tool, sparking conversations about spatial dynamics, ownership, and the assertion of identity. By integrating traditional Hmong textiles, language, and strategic placement of materials, she delves into the nuanced question of belonging, whether it pertains to physical land or the autonomy of the body. Her work becomes an integral part of the ongoing dialogue surrounding the historical trajectory of political refugeeism in the United States.

Photo: Tshab Her

Art serves as her chosen platform to explore the intricate interplay between visibility and invisibility within the context of the Hmong diaspora. Through her creative process, she not only situates her own body but also those of others within this complex narrative landscape, seeking to uncover the generative spaces that exist within the margins of societal consciousness.

Heritage Vocabulary:

  1. 流亡 (Liúwáng) – Displacement
  2. 文化 (Wénhuà) – Culture
  3. 跨文化 (Kuà wénhuà) – Cross-cultural
  4. 彩色 (Cǎisè) – Color
  5. 藝術 (Yìshù) – Art

Reference:https://www.artistsonthelam.com/tshab-her

What Is Food Insecurity?


Food insecurity, a pervasive global issue, affects individuals and families across all economic strata, stemming from insufficient resources or restricted access to safe, nutritious food. Its ramifications extend beyond hunger, manifesting in compromised physical and mental well-being, diminished academic performance in children, and increased prevalence of chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Often synonymous with “food poverty,” it diverges from food shortages, which denote insufficient food supplies in a given area. Rather, food insecurity arises from economic challenges such as poverty or unemployment, rendering existing food resources inaccessible to certain demographics.

Food insecurity has a deeply rooted history in the United States, stretching back to colonial times when farmers grappled with erratic harvests. The Great Depression of the 1930s amplified this issue as widespread job losses left many without means to feed themselves. President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of a “war on poverty” in the 1960s highlighted the nation’s growing concern over food insecurity, which has since remained intertwined with poverty. Presently, over 40 million Americans, roughly one in eight households, face food insecurity, impacting diverse demographics such as children, the elderly, low-wage earners, rural residents, and racial minorities. Moreover, women bear a disproportionate burden of this challenge.

Signs of Food Insecurity

Signs of food insecurity encompass skipping meals, reducing portion sizes, facing trade-offs between food and essential expenses like rent, and turning to food assistance programs for support.

Below, Verywell Mind has compiled a list of the most common signs of food insecurity:

  • Shifting meal patterns—skipping meals, eating smaller meals, or relying on less expensive items like macaroni and cheese instead of healthier foods
  • Inability to store food—food may spoil quickly due to lack of refrigeration or other storage solutions.
  • Low energy levels—lack of nutritious foods can lead to fatigue, headaches, and other health issues.
  • Worrying about running out of food—constant concern about having enough food for the family.
  • Physical changes—weight loss or gain due to insufficient access to healthy diets.

Tips for Reducing Food Insecurity

Verywell Mind has also listed suggestions for individuals and communities seeking to alleviate food insecurity:

  • Support food banks and other organizations that provide meals or groceries to those in need.
  • Encourage local businesses to donate unsold items to food banks or other organizations.
  • Advocate for public policies that prioritize access to nutritious foods in areas where food deserts exist.
  • Volunteer at soup kitchens, shelters, or other local organizations providing meals for the hungry in your community.
  • Educate yourself and others about the signs of food insecurity and how to identify it in your own life or that of another person.
  • Start a community garden to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need.
  • Donate money or other items (e.g., canned goods, non-perishable foods) to organizations providing meals for the hungry in your community.
  • Create a support system of family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who can help provide resources or meals when needed.
  • Provide emotional support and understanding to those going through food insecurity—listen without judgment or offering unsolicited advice.
  • Encourage public discussion about food insecurity—raise awareness by starting conversations with friends and family about the issue.


Food insecurity poses a significant global challenge, impacting millions and causing profound physical, mental, and social hardships. Engaging in actions like donating, volunteering, advocating for policy reform, and establishing support networks can significantly alleviate this issue for affected individuals and families. If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity, seeking assistance from organizations such as Feeding America can offer valuable support and resources.

Reference:https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-food-insecurity-7097382

A Poem by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha


Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, known by both they/them and she/her pronouns, wears many hats as a writer, cultural worker, and disability justice advocate. They blend storytelling with technology, making it their primary tool for amplifying marginalized voices and advocating for transformative justice. As an Aries/Taurus with a penchant for creation and documentation, Leah has authored or co-edited numerous impactful books, including “The Future Is Disabled” and “Care Work,” while also contributing extensively to various publications like Eater and Disability Visibility Project.

Their collaborative spirit shines through in their work, as they often create performances and rituals alongside other disabled BIPOC creators, fostering spaces of belonging and empowerment. From curating poetry folios to crafting grief transformation portals, Leah’s contributions to the disability community are multifaceted and deeply resonant. Their commitment to storytelling as a means of resistance and healing, coupled with their dedication to centering marginalized voices, makes Leah a vital force in the ongoing pursuit of justice and liberation for all.

“my body is 40 miles of bad road”- working class krip saying

you mean well, but

when I say I hurt         when I say some part of

my body hurts      and you say oh, did you do something?

I hear       what did you do? As is, it’s your fault,

there’s cause and effect and there’s a simple

story, and if a + b = c we can fix it

fast.

But there’s no simple story in this body.

She falls apart whenever she feels like it,

which is often. She doesn’t feel like going to

work or up and down three flights of stairs, and she’ll tell you all about it.

She can smell the weather.

She got a lot of stories

and just like her mama did at slam church two decades ago,

she spits them out my kneecap like a gun with chaotic

yet accurate aim.

She is forty miles of perfect bad road

all bumps and potholes that could take out your wheel.

You gotta know how to drive it.

You gotta not be too worried about breaking your car

(because she’s already broke          too)

I mean, I could tell you, everything happened! I could tell you my mama

molested me, I could tell you hers did too,

I could tell you we had to walk a long long way and get on a boat,

I could tell you I moved to brooklyn for love but there’s a lot of stairs here too

I could read you the particulate matter of the air, that they’re spraying for pesticides today

that I ran out of  the fish oil that greases my knee into smoothing,

and I don’t know if the CVS sells it here

– but does anyone want to hear all that?

The staying chant         

the recitation

of everything that’s happening in my body, and their body,

and the park’s body, and on the subway huffing diesel and cigarettes

When you say it’s just pain for no reason all the time, fibro, right?

I say, close but no cigar!

I say I intimate with pain tides

This ground not steady!  Why would it be?

As soon as I figure it out she flips me the bird

shapeshift hip transforms and says fuck you, you figure it out

Sometimes the place where my mama threw me into the wall

at three and broke my sacrum talks to me,

locks all my earth into cement.

Some days I don’t know what day it is.

Some days my ass leaks tidal marsh, briny river

Some times everything    everything

everything    every thing

hurts

like a church bell

like a call to prayer

and it calls me to pray

this pain

breathing into any place that doesn’t hurt

some of which only exists in my revolutionary imagination.

Sometimes you have to talk quiet.

Sometimes I can’t talk at all.

Of course you don’t believe that, but I feel the need to declare:

my life is worth living anyway

I love every jounce on this bad, bad

underfunded budget cut frost heave road

not everyone’s car can make it down;

      you gotta know

      how to drive it

I love every car that just gave up in the mountain pass

every hubcap that fell off

every- yes- road not on any map

every rock and resisting

every reason this happened

every reason this body

is reason enough

for being.

 LEAH LAKSHMI PIEPZNA-SAMARASINHA


In essence, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha epitomizes the power of storytelling and creative expression as tools for liberation and social change. Their multifaceted roles as a writer, cultural worker, and disability justice advocate underscore the importance of centering marginalized voices in narratives of identity, culture, and gender. Through their work, Leah champions the freedom of expression, weaving together stories that honor the complexities of lived experiences and challenge systems of oppression. By amplifying the voices of disabled BIPOC creators and advocating for transformative justice, Leah embodies a commitment to creating inclusive spaces where all individuals can authentically express themselves and thrive. Their contributions serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for a more equitable and compassionate world.

Reference:https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/159971/bad-road https://brownstargirl.org/

The Art of Antonius-Tin Bui

Antonius-Tin Bui, a versatile Vietnamese American artist, showcases three distinct bodies of work in the exhibition: “Do not laminate this card,” “Not Sorry for the Trouble,” and two portraits. Each piece delves into the enduring challenges and stereotypes faced by AAPI individuals, while also reflecting Bui’s exploration of unconventional beauty through the medium of paper. “Do not laminate this card” comprises laminated collages juxtaposing images from the Vietnam War era with ancestral burning paper or joss paper. Originating from Bui’s 2017 trip to Vietnam, where they faced criticism from a U.S. government official for laminating their security card, this series is a poignant commentary on identity and heritage. (Voice of OC respects Bui’s choice of preferred pronouns, “they/them.”

Photo: Antonius-Tin Bui

Since completing their degree in 2016, Antonius has been fortunate to receive fellowships from esteemed institutions such as the Vermont Studio Center, Kala Art Institute, Tulsa Artists Fellowship, Halcyon Arts Lab, and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. These opportunities have allowed them to diversify their artistic practice, extending beyond hand-cut paper techniques. Currently, Antonius explores themes of Vietnamese history and queerness through various mediums including performance, textiles, and photography. Their work has been showcased at a wide array of venues, ranging from institutional to underground, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Smithsonian Arts & Industry Building, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Hillyer Art Space, Lawndale Art Center, Living Arts, 108 Contemporary, Artscape, and the Philbrook Museum.


Antonius’s art intricately weaves together narratives of culture and identity, crafting pieces that transcend time with their enduring beauty. Each work serves as a tribute to cultural heritage, radiating a unique elegance that captivates and inspires viewers. Through their art, Antonius breathes life into stories that resonate deeply, inviting audiences to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of human experience.

Heritage Vocabulary

  1. 文化 (wénhuà) – Culture
  2. 身份 (shēnfèn) – Identity
  3. 经典 (jīngdiǎn) – Timeless
  4. 美丽 (měilì) – Beauty
  5. 故事 (gùshì) – Story

Reference: https://voiceofoc.org/2022/12/yellow-submarine-rising-gives-asian-american-artists-a-platform-to-speak-and-shine/.