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DANakaDAN performed "Stuntman" for KSA Cultural Show.

Credit: Tiffany Yau

Through song, film and spoken word, Asian-American groups on campus looked to express their identity over the weekend. 

On April 5, the Korean Student Association, Koreans at Penn and the Asian Pacific Student Coalition collaborated to celebrate Easter Sunday with popular Asian-American rapper Dan Matthews, better known as DANakaDAN. He was a keynote speaker at the hosting organizations' speaker event, "This is my story," and a guest performer at KSA’s and KAP’s annual cultural show #SelKa.

This year, College sophomore and Vice Chair of External Affairs of APSC Sarah Cho reached out to DANakaDAN and organized the event in collaboration with KSA and KAP.

She incorporated DANakaDAN’s talk to complement #SelKa, while also introducing Kollaboration, an Asian Pacific Islander nonprofit organization, which focuses on empowering APIs through entertainment.

The talk was opened with a live Skype call with Kollaboration's New York Executive Director Tanner Chung.

Chung believes that “Asian Americans are their own identity themselves,” and he aims to spread the concept of “Asian awareness” to the rest of society.

Cho focused the events around Asian awareness and Kollaboration.

“Dan has worked heavily with Kollaboration, so I thought there was a good link there.”

DANakaDAN also works with ISAtv, which collaborates with WongFu Productions and Far East Movement — two of the most eminent Asian American groups in the media.

In “This is my story,” DANakaDAN spoke of his journey as a Korean-American adoptee who reunited with his biological family. He also explained the process of and purpose for creating the documentary.

“I hope to get to know them better and get more people to see the documentary. I think it is good content for the adoptee community,” DANakaDAN said. “The hardest part was trying to balance trying to get to know my biological family and how to film them. There was a fine line between balancing trying to be able to get the content versus trying to get to know them and living my life.”

“I think that [his] story was very crucial and absolutely incredible,” Cho added. “It’s something you don’t hear very often.”

In addition to reaching out to the adoptee community, DANakaDAN hopes to raise the concept of Asian awareness.

“Even within that, Asian-American adoptees are a very small percentage of that content,” DANakaDAN said. “It is important to me that I make it as applicable as possible and that we put it onto a distribution platform, YouTube, that is accessible everywhere.”

With this event, APSC, KAP, KSA and other Asian-American organizations hope to more prominently feature Asian Americans in the media. 

“As an Asian American, I feel like a lot of my peers don’t really value their Asian American identity as much as they should,” Cho said. “Being Asian American is a very unique position in life, and it’s something to celebrate rather than to assimilate and hide away.”


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