In many Asian cultures, the tiger represents strength. And a music festival called Tiger Tiger seeks to highlight the creativity and strength of Portland’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities this Sunday evening in the city’s Fernhill Park.
Tiger Tiger comes at a time when many Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have been reeling from a rise in Anti-Asian violence.
A recent report by the Oregon Crimes Commission revealed that Anti-Asian crimes in the state rose 300% in 2021.
On July 2, a man attacked an Asian family on Portland’s EastBank Esplanade. He was later arrested and released that same day.
News of that report made Portland musician Joe Kye fear for his two toddlers.
“It’s easy to think that, because we live in a progressive city like Portland, that these types of crimes and these types of issues won’t crop up. Unfortunately, it’s an example of blissful ignorance,” he said.
Kye wanted to channel his feelings into useful action. That’s when he came up with the festival and its name.
He partnered with a number of Asian American and Pacific Islander groups, among them APANO, Korean American Coalition, and Japanese American Citizens League, to get Tiger Tiger off the ground.
“The ultimate goal of hate crimes is to push us further to the margins and events like this are ways to really stand strong and be courageous,” Kye said.
Performers slated to take the Tiger Tiger stage include June Magnolia, Surija, and Joe Kye himself.
Tiger Tiger will also feature food from vendors including Matta PDX, HeyDay Donuts and Grindwittryz.
Kye said the festival is more than just a response to the recent rise in hate crimes.
“For most people, when they think of AAPI, they’re automatically gonna go towards East Asian Americans, as opposed to creating space for Pacific Islanders for Native Hawaiians, Southeast Asians, Filipino Americans, all of whom have conveniently been squished into an acronym,” he says.
Ultimately, Kye hopes people walk away from Tiger Tiger with two things: a belly full of good food, and a better appreciation and understanding of AAPI experiences.
“The AAPI experience is not able to be distilled in one day,” he said. “There is an infinite multitude of experiences and stories that encompass that term. We’re here, Portland.”