A Year in Review: Cold Tea Collective’s Highlights of 2020

2020 was a year of monumental change. 

While it was an exciting year filled with “firsts” at Cold Tea Collective — we landed Self/Service, our first partnered campaign with Dove and Refinery 29 and launched Dear Kiki, our first-ever advice column — it also fostered powerful conversations that made us all reflect on what we can do better for others and ourselves.

As a media collective, we empower our community to use their voices to inspire change. Our team sparked important discussions around allyship in the Black Lives Matter movement, challenged racial representation, and spoke up against the rise in anti-Asian racism during the pandemic. 

Here’s a look at our highlights in 2020 and a few of our top stories from the past year. 

COVID-19 navigation as Asian Canadians/Americans

Anxiety, grief, and uncertainty plagued the world but it was through storytelling that our community came together to help each other navigate through the pandemic by sharing their experiences.

From candid stories like How COVID-19 affected my pregnancy to heartwarming stories about a four-hour road trip for pork belly, our writers captured different emotions that COVID-19 had on them. 

At a time when our world already felt small, the rise in anti-Asian racism made our world feel even smaller. Cold Tea Collective’s editor, Zeph Wong, recently wrote Navigating through the rise in anti-Asian racism to discuss the harmful narrative around scapegoating Asians as the primary cause of COVID-19. His article continues to inspire the community at a time when speaking up against uncomfortable conversations is gaining momentum. 

Diversity advocacy

While the first few months of the pandemic consisted of social isolation and heightened restrictions, the world was brewing with tension in protest of the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless Black individuals.

Photo Credit: Marco Allasio on Pixels

June marked a revolutionary time in recent history and Cold Tea Collective didn’t shy away from these much-needed discussions. Natasha Jung, Cold Tea Collective’s Executive Producer and Co-Founder, participated in the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s panel called Bringing anti-racism and allyship to the business forefront, which brought forth important conversations around performative solidarity. 

It set in motion a variety of articles written by our team — from reflecting on our role as allies against systemic racism, critiquing the model minority myth, and calling out corporations on how they can actually be anti-racist with their actions, writers stepped forward to share learnings and drive necessary conversations that resonated with our audience. 

Exploring cultural identity was an important part of contributor Jasmine Lynch’s three-part series, Identity through the eyes of a Black Asian, which detailed her struggle to belong as a result of her Chinese-Indonesian background, while bearing the weight of her Blackness. 

Exploring our cultural identity 

Our sense of self is tied to our cultural identity. When those feelings of belonging and shared experiences are compromised, they can lead to feelings of uncertainty and alienation which contributor Kendal Feider articulates in her article, How the Black community gave me strength to assert my Asianness as a White-passing Asian, as a person of mixed race.

While cultural identity is an important part of our social well-being, the pressures of conforming to specific racial values can result in conflicting family dynamics, as explored in the article, Forbidden sleepovers and tampon usage: How my Asian upbringing shaped me as an adult. But it can also have a reverse effect. In her article, How I forgave my Asian parents, contributor Asami Koike explores the difficulty of having “non-stereotypical Asian parents” and how this affected her upbringing as a Japanese-Australian woman.

The US presidential election in November continued to delve deeper into cultural identity and how this affects Asian Americans’ political engagement.

Grace Ouyang brings to light the dangerous myth surrounding political apathy among Asian Americans and encourages us to create change through education and learning from Asian American activist history. Editor-in-Chief Tim Lam expands upon this by spotlighting RUN (Represent Us Now), a civic platform that seeks to build and organize the political and cultural power of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and how they are empowering the next generation of Asian Americans to vote.

Self/Service Campaign with Dove and Refinery 29

Last month, we announced Self/Service, a partnered content campaign with Dove and Refinery 29 that spotlighted the ways different women and girls embrace their appearance, shatter beauty stereotypes, and invest in their self-esteem and communities.

This partnership was a year in the making (pre-COVID-19!) and a project that we’re incredibly proud of. Our team is grateful to partner with two large publications that supported the stories of Asian Canadian women. 

Introducing partnerships and series

Sponsored partnerships with Asian brands

Chase Tang Titika Brand Ambassador
Photo Credit: TITIKA

This past Fall, we partnered with Presotea and TITIKA, with actor Chase Tang serving as the Asian Canadian ambassador for both brands. 

Over the holidays, we launched a gift guide and partnered with multiple POC-owned businesses to encourage our readers to support local and small businesses over the holiday season. Staff writer Alicia Cheung rounded up eight brands to bring visibility to Asian entrepreneurs, business, and products, with discounts that are still available in the new year for a limited time. 

These sponsored partnerships, in addition to Dove and Refinery 29, marked a new era at Cold Tea Collective — one that we hope to continue well into 2021.

Dear Kiki, our monthly advice column

Feeling stuck, lost, or conflicted? Need help navigating your relationships, family, career, and life as an Asian millennial? Kiki’s here for you. In October, we launched our brand new advice column helmed by staff writer Cecilia Huang published monthly. 

My Roaring 20s, a self-reflection series

When staff writer Vivian Dang turned 28 this year, she reflected on her naive perceptions of what her twenties were supposed to look like. Inspired by the Roaring 20s, a historic time of change for women who rebelled against traditional moral standards and constraining gender roles, My Roaring 20s is a column about navigating her twenties, including lessons learned while incorporating a cultural perspective on Western vs. Asian ideals.

Mental health matters

Health and wellness became more important than ever this year. 

A survey by the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH) and UBC revealed that 40% of Canadians say their mental health has deteriorated since March. There’s also been a sharp increase in “suicidality” this fall, with 10% of Canadians “experiencing recent thoughts or feelings of suicide, up from six per cent in the spring.”

Photo Credit: Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Adjusting to a new normal also comes with grieving a new reality. Social isolation and tight restrictions means limiting our interactions with friends and family, a fact that’s hard to reconcile when connection is integral to our mental well-being.

Talking about mental health is tough when stigma runs deep in Asian cultures. Breaking stigma around mental health is important for writer Nicolas Wongsosaputro who recently shared his story about How clinical anxiety and depression created a 14-month sleep disorder.

We understand that mental health support is crucial, so we compiled a list of mental health resources that you can refer to when you need support. Check out our health and wellness stories which delves into mental health stories from our community of writers. 

Top articles of 2020

To wrap up an incredible year of content, we compiled a list of our top five articles of 2020:

2021: New year, same us 

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

While 2020 was a year filled with anxiety and uncertainty for all, the conversations that our team continues to generate will result in plenty of engaging content and exciting projects in 2021. 

Make sure you grab your tea, it’ll be scalding!

If you want to learn more about how you can contribute 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

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