Tiger Tiger: A celebration of our AAPI community aims to counter anti-Asian bias and promote conversation

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Although COVID cases are still circulating, Portlanders are coming out this summer and gathering for large-scale events and neighborhood festivals. July 17 brings a new addition to the season calendar. Tiger Tiger: A celebration of our AAPI community, as the name suggests, will focus on Asian American and Pacific Islander culture, performance, food, and more.

“I think there’s a real hunger for this kind of event,” says Joe Kye, a Portland-based musician and storyteller who is the main organizer of Tiger Tiger. Celebrating the AAPI community seems especially important now, Kye says, following a growing number of anti-Asian hate crimes, including a July 2 incident in Portland, in which a man allegedly assaulted a father and daughter. girl in an anti-asian. bias crime.

“I was really overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of all the different community partners who came forward” to support Tiger Tiger, Kye says. “It’s mind-blowing for me to see how quickly it all fell into place.”

The event is funded by the City of Portland’s Community Healing Arts Initiative, Portland Parks & Recreation, APANO, Korean American Coalition, Chinese American Citizens’ Alliance, Japanese American Citizens League, Portland Chinatown Museum and Utopia PDX.

Tiger Tiger runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 17 at Fern Hill Park6010 NE 37th Ave. Presented in partnership with Portland Parks’ Summer Free For All Concert Series, the event will feature AAPI organizations and creators.

Portland-based musician and storyteller Joe Kye is the main organizer of Tiger Tiger: A Celebration of Our AAPI Community. (Photo: Ben Sellon, styled by Margo Latka)

The program includes musical performances by artists such as Los Angeles electro-pop group SURRIJA and Portland-based band June Magnolia, as well as head organizer band Joe Kye & the Givers. There will also be poetry and stories by Ami Patel and Kevin Aipopo.

Although Tiger Tiger is free, attendees can also purchase food from AAPI chefs including Richard and Sophia Le (Matta PDX), Ethan and Geri Leung (Baon Kainan), Lisa Nguyen (HeyDayPDX), and Tryzen Patricio and Candace Lachesis (GrindWitTryz).

Kye says the idea for Tiger Tiger dates back to last fall, when he received a grant from the city of Portland for an event that was canceled due to COVID. Drawing on his past experience working with Portland Parks & Recreation’s summer concert series, Kye decided to put on a fully AAPI-run concert, which “has turned into what it is. now, an AAPI bonanza, highlighting many stories of Asian American Pacific Islanders.”

While there are local events dedicated to specific nationalities and ethnic heritage-based organizations, Kye says he hasn’t seen anything like Tiger Tiger, with its broad inclusion of many AAPI communities.

“The goal is to make this an annual event,” Kye says, and to encourage conversations about what it means to be a member of the AAPI community in America today. “How can we collaborate and share stories that make us similar and different? ” he says.

Kye left South Korea with his family when he was 6 years old and spent time in Seattle when his father was working on a doctorate in history at the University of Washington. After attending Yale University, Kye taught high school in the Seattle area and then left for a full-time career in music. A singer who also plays the violin, using digital effects and a looping technique to create music that incorporates indie-rock, jazz, pop and classical influences, Kye has opened for names as diverse as Yo-Yo Ma, Hari Kondabalu and Senator Bernie Sanders. .

Of Portland, where he moved to in 2016, Kye says “generally speaking it’s a welcoming place, although everyone can do better, including Portland.” While people may try to be supportive, Kye says they sometimes lack the context and knowledge of AAPI culture that helps everyone engage in a way that transcends stereotypes.

“To me, that’s why this event is so important,” Kye said. “There are many different events that celebrate traditions and heritage. It’s about capturing the Asian American experience and asking what it means to straddle that line and have a part of your identity in each of those cultures.

There’s no way to capture the full diversity of AAPI cultures in a one-day festival, Kye says. “It’s impossible. Really, the goal of the event is for all attendees, whoever you are, when you see ‘AAPI’ to think of it as a term that’s constantly in conversation and evolving, as opposed to locked in the past.

-Kristi Turnquist

kturnquist@oregonian.com 503-221-8227 @Kristiturnquist

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