All posts filed under: Southeast Asian

MIA Erasure, My Reflection

To much fanfare, the exhibit Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975 opened in Minnesota at the Minneapolis Institute of Art this month and will run until January 5th, 2020. It’s billed as a way to look at “the innovative ways artists talked back, often in the streets and other public venues. The exhibition presents nearly 100 works by 58 of the period’s most visionary, provocative artists.” For Southeast Asians of Vietnamese, Hmong, Laotian, and Cambodian descent, and active military veterans, you can even see the exhibit for free. It’s been a long time since I’ve been given free admission to an art exhibit to witness the complete erasure of my community’s perspective and reactions to the Vietnam War, the Secret War, and the Killing Fields. For Minnesotans, who arguably have one of the most deeply tangled relationships with Southeast Asia than almost any other US state, this ought to be a stirring and profound exhibit: one filled with so many heartbreaking memories and reflections on themes and issues addressed over four decades ago, …

What DNA testing gets wrong about Southeast Asian heritage

As everyone knows, genetic ancestry testing is extremely popular. These tests typically involve a cheek swab or saliva sample that you send back to a company for laboratory testing. These tests give you information about your genome, the genetic material containing DNA that dictates who you are, and includes your relationships with genomes around the world. From these relationships, these tests can make informed estimates about your ancestral origins. Genetic ancestry testing is definitely fascinating, but the commercialized process of genetic ancestry testing doesn’t seem to be perfected just yet. To understand some of the issues with genetic ancestry testing, you can read this 2017 study about the testing process and this 2018 article about a journalist’s experience with genetic ancestry testing. Different companies can get different results, companies lack quality assurances, companies have limited validation of results, and there are unevenly sized sample pools. A 2018 BuzzFeed video about genetic ancestry testing inspired this article, when a Lao American had his “mind blown” when he was told by an Ancestry.com representative that 79.8 percent …