Members of the Mixed Asian Media team at the 2022 MAM Fest.

Mixed Asian Media Hosts Its First Mixed Asian Day

Set for Sept. 16, it’s a day for mixed Asians to celebrate their heritages and be their full, authentic selves

Members of the Mixed Asian Media team at the 2022 MAM Fest.

Courtesy of Mixed Asian Media

Words by Samantha Pak

In 2021, the team at Mixed Asian Media (MAM) wanted to celebrate the works of mixed Asians in the creative fields. So they started MAM Fest, a creative festival through the AA+PI lens.

The festival became an annual event highlighting the works of mixed Asians—from film to virtual reality—and this year’s MAM Fest will celebrate more than just mixed Asian creatives. MAM is expanding things to include all members of the community with its first-ever Mixed Asian Day.

“We wanted it to be more than just a festival. We wanted there to be something that everyone could celebrate nationally,” MAM founder and CEO Alex Chester-Iwata says. “That's why we thought Mixed Asian Day would be a good idea. Aside from the fact that so often, I hear from my community that they're not sure if they're allowed to celebrate Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month; sometimes we're told that we're not Asian enough to really celebrate it. And I just thought, why don't we just make a day that's for us?”

MAM Fest and Mixed Asian Day are set for Sept. 16. This year’s festival will be held in New York, and MAM has already been asked to host events in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. But Chester-Iwata encourages mixed Asians everywhere to celebrate their multi-heritage backgrounds and participate in their own way.

“Other folks can also take initiative and have some creative celebration in conjunction with ours. We don't have to be the only ones hosting something,” she says. “So I encourage people to get your friends together. Watch a film with your favorite mixed Asians. It can be as simple as that, to listening to your favorite album with mixed Asian artists.”

To spread the word, MAM has been running a social media campaign featuring mixed Asian folks sharing some of their experiences growing up multiracial and what Mixed Asian Day means to them.

Chester-Iwata says a couple of these videos have gone viral and people are really excited for Mixed Asian Day, reaching out to MAM saying things like, “Oh my god, we have a day?”

As for her, Mixed Asian Day means being recognized as full human beings and not having to pick their heritages. “(We can) just be, take up space and not have to explain why we are here in the room. It means that we have a seat at the table because we created it. It just means community, to grow community, to support community,” she says. “Because community is what's really supported Mixed Asian Media, and we want to give back.”

And she hopes people get that sense of community from MAM Fest as wellthat they feel seen and feel safe.

“I hope they realize that they are enough of their heritages that they can just embrace themselves fully and authentically. That they don't have to code switch within this community. That there's a space for them,” Chester-Iwata says. “And I hope that they feel inspired to go out and maybe create their own art, their own network, whatever that means to them. I hope that they feel inspired to do some good in the world.”

Another hope Chester-Iwata has is for the New York City mayor’s office to eventually recognize Mixed Asian Day and to see it grow into a nationally recognized day so everyone can know about it (after all, she says, mixed Asians are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country, according to the U.S. Census), and that it will eventually go down in the history books.

This year’s MAM Fest will be from noon to 11 p.m. on Sept. 16 at Prime Produce Cooperative in New York. Tickets are a suggested $10-$20 contribution. The event will include a Gold House marketplace with artwork, products and services created by mixed Asian artisans and entrepreneurs; a mental health workshop presented by Anise Health; and screenings of the three-part series Between Black & White: Asian Americans Speak Out and virtual reality animation series Mahal. The day will close with a Mixed Asian Day celebration with food, drinks, music, dancing, stand-up comedy from Angela Kimmel, and more.

Published on September 11, 2023

Words by Samantha Pak

Samantha Pak (she/her) is an award-winning Cambodian American journalist from the Seattle area and assistant editor for JoySauce. She spends more time than she’ll admit shopping for books than actually reading them, and has made it her mission to show others how amazing Southeast Asian people are. Follow her on Twitter at @iam_sammi and on Instagram at @sammi.pak.