6.28.2013

Angry Reader of the Week: Christian Oh



Hello, friends. It is time again to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Christian Oh.


Who are you?
Christian Oh, co-founder and executive director of Kollaboration DC, who is passionate and committed to seeing more Asian Americans in the entertainment industries -- music, film, TV, etc.

What are you?
A son, a husband, a 1.5 generation Korean American, the oldest of 4 boys, a closet spoken word poet, a writer, a filmmaker, an ordained minister in non-denominational church, a former DJ, an ABD -- "all but dissertation" doctoral student, an advocate for Asian American, a champion for the independent music and film arts, and a Korean American "redneck."

Where are you?
I live in Fairfax and work in DC, but I guess with all that I do, people think I live all over the DMV (DC, MD, VA).

Where are you from?
I was born in Seoul Korea, came to the states when I was 2 -- and of all places -- Ames, Iowa (No Asians in a 300 mile radius at the time). Then we state hopped to Illinois and Ohio briefly before ending up in Roanoke, VA (that's where my redneck comes in). Growing up, I was the only Asian American kid in elementary, junior high and high school (except for my younger brothers).

What do you do?
Well my day job is IT and Training related for the Department of State, I work with Foreign Service Officers. But this is my Clark Kent to my Superman which is -- everything related to the Asian American community -- I love what I do on that front. In addition to putting on the Kollaboration DC show every year, or being involved with DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival (former President and now coming back as Assistant Festival Director), or working with events as a founding member of the National Association of Asian American Professionals of DC and Sejong Society of DC, to being on the steering committee of Asian Heritage Foundation (which puts on the annual Asian Heritage Month celebration), and teaching young minds when I was a former Asian American Studies professor at University of MD. My spare time is spent on everything that is culturally and specifically geared towards Asian American things. Having seen the evolution and progression of things here in the tri-state area of Washington DC, I am proud to be involved on this level.

What are you all about?
I hate using the word visionary, but I have been called that for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in DC. I was never content with what the DC AAPI community had to offer budding musical and film artists, so I wanted to provide with what was missing. Kollaboration DC was just one of the many ways I was able to fill that gap, along with the other organizations involved. I am guilty of being the ultimate "connector". I love creating opportunities for 'kollaboration' (excuse the pun) among organizations especially where they may not have crossed paths before; I am constantly in need to bring those things together. Maybe it is my "windmill" that I am chasing, but when there is a need in the community, I truly work to fill it. Not for my personal gain but for the hope for a more united and cohesive AAPI community in the metropolitan DC. People ask me why I do it. But really, the only reason is that I am not content to operate in my own niche circles, I truly want those lines to blur.

What makes you angry?
My anger is really my passion -- which is to help solidify and bring Asian Americans together. I see us as a group that needs to work towards 'kollaborative,' connective, and cohesive efforts. For me, "inclusion" starts with "I" and we need to do make major strides -- especially in the Asian American community to do that. I am definitely not a politician but I believe in community building and awareness and supporting our Asian American politicians. For example, the Hispanics in this country (regardless of where you are from, whether it be Mexico, or El Salvador are bound by the same language. The Jewish and African Americans of this country (whether you are from Israel or Nigeria or from southern CA to the Bronx in NY) they are connected by their historical adversities. Yet, with Asian Americans, we do not share the same histories or language, but we do share a lot of the same cultural elements. Thus, we need to focus on our similarities and learn to help support and collude with each other. Being Asian American is so important to me -- to go beyond just my Korean ethnicity but focus on the fact that as a unified demographic and progressive generation, we can do so much more for our fellow Asian Americans. For example, how many times have we all climbed the ladders of society (social, academic, corporate, professional, etc.) and looked behind to see an Asian American we can help bring up the next "rung." Helen Keller once said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." We need to do that in leaps and bounds and support those who are trying to advance not only for themselves, but more importantly, for the betterment of the Asian American image (which includes breaking stereotypes), the community (making things inclusive and integrated), and lifestyle (providing avenues for leadership and development for success). I guess that is why I do what I do within the DMV, and why I am so passionate when I see organizations that support these endeavors, and individuals (like Angry Asian Man) that give voice to these goals.