2021 year in review: Highlights of Cold Tea Collective

If 2020 was a year of change, 2021 was a year of growth and resilience. 2020 upended everything we knew. And 2021 taught us to further listen, learn, and adapt.

If 2020 was a year of change, 2021 was a year of growth and resilience. 2020 upended everything we knew. And 2021 taught us to further listen, learn, and adapt.

There is so much to look back on 2021 as we review another year here at Cold Tea Collective. This year, we were one of 10 media companies selected for the Google News Initiative North America Audience Lab in May. We were also recently selected as one of 10 outlets to be accepted into the first Indiegraf Media BIPOC Media Growth Program in partnership with the Facebook Journalism Project.

Here’s our 2021 year in review highlighting a few of our top stories and topics.

CONTINUING TO NAVIGATE COVID-19 AND ANTI-ASIAN RACISM

After COVID-19, Asian Americans cannot afford to be invisible again. Writer Allen Lu traced how the pandemic exposed the lie that if we keep to ourselves, we will be safe. Members of the Cold Tea Collective community also shared their experiences on how the model minority myth has been impacted by anti-Asian racism.

Rise Up With Asians Rally & March
Photo Credit: Jason Leung

Also, journalistic integrity is more important than ever. Uninformed journalism over the past year fueled racial hate across North America by playing up harmful collective biases in reporting. We need to recognize the importance of our role in this as critical readers. Staff writer Alicia Cheung discussed how audiences can demand journalistic integrity to fight anti-Asian racism.

But there were also some silver linings. In 2021, we also saw community coming together like how TikTok creators teamed up to help NYC Chinatowns.

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION

Remember The Mahjong Line? It seemed like ages ago. But it was actually from January this year and unfortunately, wasn’t the only appropriation discussion of 2021.

Following The Mahjong Line controversy at the beginning of the year, staff writer Vivian Dang explored how companies and individuals can do better when responding to public backlash about incidents of cultural appropriation.

Then in August, we continued to unpack why cultural appropriation is so harmful through The Breakfast Cure’s misappropriation of congee.

COMMEMORATING THE NATIONAL DAY FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

September 30 marked Canada’s first official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

As settlers of colour on unceded Indigenous lands, we must continue to learn and engage with the Indigenous history of Canada. We compiled a list of resources that you can refer to as a starting point.

Photo Credit: The Conversation

We also took steps as an organization to be better allies for Indigenous peoples. In May, we published our Indigenous Land Acknowledgement , a step towards reconciliation and recognizing our complicit role in the displacement of Indigenous Peoples.

There is still a lot of work to be done. As Cold Tea Collective, we have a responsibility to lead quality conversations through the inclusion of culturally diverse and equitable voices.

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION

How can we introduce systemic change within organizations?

Creating a culture of accountability has become extremely important in a world where cancel culture has become pervasive. Founder and Executive Producer of Cold Tea Collective, Natasha Jung, shared ways to hold corporations accountable to diversity and inclusion commitments.

And we expanded the discussion beyond the corporate world because diversity, equity, and inclusion are important in all fields. And in 2021, there’s a lot to review on what happened in the year.

We celebrated diversity in sports. Writer Alicia Cheung highlighted Asian American and Canadian representation at the Tokyo Olympic Games. And then writer Hosea Cheung wrote on Asian North American athletes inspiring our generation.

Tennis Player Leylah Fernandez.
Photo credit: Toronto City News

There has also been noticeable progression in the diversity of Asian actors in film, calling attention to Hollywood’s Asian heartthrobs like Jimmy O. Yang (Love Hard), Darren Barnet (Never Have I Ever), and Charles Melton (Riverdale).

To keep up with news on representation across different sectors, we recently introduced our new social series “HOT TEA” by Cold Tea Collective, helmed by staff writer Alicia Cheung. Follow along on Instagram (@coldteacollective) as we serve up the hottest news on North American Asian representation in media and more!

CONTINUING CONVERSATIONS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH

This year, we continued to shed light on mental health. And especially in a year like 2021, our articles review why mental health is important.

Loneliness in itself is a pandemic that emerged in all parts of the world. Staff writer Vivian Dang shared her insights on what loneliness taught her during the pandemic.

The increase in anti-Asian hate and violence has also taken a weary toll on mental health. Earlier this year, the news of the tragic Atlanta shooting shook the Asian community to its core. How do we deal with racial trauma? Staff writer Cecilia Huang shared some mental health tips to help us cope and protect our community.

Speaking of community, it has become increasingly important to cultivate a space for AAPI mental health conversations. Staff writer Lalaine Alindogan spoke with therapist Christopher Vo about Subtle Asian Mental Health, a Facebook group and forum where Asian young adults openly discuss their mental health.

Check out our health and wellness stories which cover a range of mental health topics from our community of writers.

SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE ADOPTEE EXPERIENCE

In 2021, we shed more light on the adoptee experience.

Asian adoptees are part and parcel of the North American story, and we recognize the importance of sharing their experiences.

Korean adoptee Abby Rodgers traced her journey with her racial identity and shared how the rise of anti-Asian racism made her feel more Asian.

Telling someone else’s story should be an act of advocacy. When it comes to movies and film, it is important to choose allyship over alienation. Our Co-Founder Natasha Jung explored the Korean adoptee community’s response to Justin Chon’s Blue Bayou and how the movie created harm rather than help for Korean adoptees.

Check out the resources we compiled which celebrate Asian adoptees’ voices and identities as part of the Asian North American story.

DEAR KIKI, OUR MONTHLY ADVICE COLUMN

Launched in 2020 and spearheaded by staff writer Cecilia Huang, our Dear Kiki advice column has covered a number of topics this year.

From overcoming burnout while fighting against anti-Asian hate, to disapproval from parents in the process of marriage, Kiki’s got you.

Feeling stuck, lost, or conflicted? Ask Kiki a question and share what’s on your mind (or heart!).

COLD TEA READS

Looking to diversify your reading list?

In 2021, we celebrated the work of writers who recount the unique stories of the Asian diaspora.

We kicked off International Women’s Day in March with 10 books by Asian Canadian and Asian American women you need to add to your reading list.

Deputy editor Ashley Chong interviewed author Sarah Suk to talk about her debut novel Made in Korea, what it means to be Korean Canadian, and the importance of celebrating Asian joy.

Sarah Suk with the poster of her book Made in Korea
Author Sarah Suk with a poster of her debut book.
Photo submitted.

The Monkey Prince debuted in DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration – an anthology celebrating Asian and Asian American characters. In an interview with DC Comic’s Monkey Prince creators Gene Luen Yang and Bernard Chang, they discussed Chinese mythology and the importance of telling authentic stories.

We also brought visibility to children’s books by Asian authors. Staff writer Courtney Chu rounded up seven inspirational children’s books that touch on self-love, identity, acceptance, and more.

Check out our Cold Tea Reads series and keep up with what we’re currently reading.

2022 AND BEYOND

Cold Tea Collective is a place for us, by us.

We can’t wait to share more stories, perspectives, and experiences in 2022. Looking at our 2021 year in review, we’re once again thankful for you, our readers. As a volunteer-run independent media platform, we are grateful for the support we continue to serve the next generation of the Asian diaspora in North America.

Looking for ways to support Cold Tea Collective? We just launched a fundraising campaign to help raise $1000 to fund our new podcast for 2022. In the last three years, our podcast Pearls of Wisdom, covered topics like stopping Asian hate and Asian representation in media. We’ve also interviewed Simu Liu, Jordan Connor, Victoria Park, and others. This funding allows our team to focus on what we do best: tell stories that help amplify, empower, and engage the Asian community.

Learn more about our fundraising campaign and become a supporter of our podcast here.

If you want to learn more about how you can contribute to a personal story, check out this page. You can also subscribe to our newsletter, The Tea, here.

If you’re an organization wanting to partner, please email Natasha at natasha@coldteacollective.com.


Featured image by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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