Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Alex Dang is an aspiring poet who wowed us all with his performance of “What Kind of Asian Are You?” for the Portland Poetry Slam at the 2013 National Poetry Slam.
A strong voice full of passion and emotions, Alex delivered a powerful piece of poetry about Asian American stereotypes and the undying questions that are asked over and over to many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, questions like “What kind of Asian are you?” and my favorite, “Where are you REALLY from?”
Alex dissects the root of the question, starting out with sarcasm linking everything Asian to himself, because obviously everything Asian has to be connected in some way.
As he digs deeper into the stereotypes, he unfolds the struggles and the injustices that comes along with a question that seems so simple to those who are unaffected by the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents. “Let me tell you all the things you don’t want to know,” Alex exclaims, because often times, people ask these questions to label Asian Americans as a “type” of Asian. They want to know the surface while neglecting the truth underneath, but what they don’t know is how rooted and raw the answers are. People ask “What kind of Asian are you” or “Where are you REALLY from” as if Asian Americans are products to be labeled, categorized, or lumped together.
The entire piece resonated with me, from the struggles of our parents to stripping away of one’s individuality. I felt it all come alive throughout his performance.