HomeAAPI ActorsReflections: 2021 in the rearview mirror.

Reflections: 2021 in the rearview mirror.

By Adam Chau, AsAmNews Staff Writer

As the new year has come and gone and we’re settling into the next twelve months, here’s a look back at some of the events, people, and places that shaped 2021, for better and for worse. 

It should be noted that this list, like so many others, cannot encompass everything that went on in our communities, and that in many ways is from my own personal lens and orbit with an eye towards generality (as one section could have many more listings depending on the view).


  • Anna K Away by Jenny Lee
  • Arsenic and Adobo (A Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery) by Mia P. Manansala
  • Afterparties: Stories by Anthony Veasna So
  • Amina’s Song by Hena Khan
  • Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
  • Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara
  • Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping by Matthew Salesses
  • Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
  • Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir by Tammy Duckworth
  • Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh
  • Gold Diggers: A Novel by Sanjena Sathian
  • Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick
  • Heart of Fire by Senator Mazie K. Hirono
  • House of Sticks: A Memoir by Ly Tran
  • Intimacies: A Novel by Katie Kitamura
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
  • Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
  • Pop Song: Adventures in Art & Intimacy by Larissa Pham
  • Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir by Kat Chow
  • The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice by Mai-Linh K. Hong (Editor), Chrissy Yee Lau (Editor), Preeti Sharma (Editor), Kristina Wong (Foreword)
  • The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood
  • The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • The Dating Plan by Sara Desai
  • The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
  • The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor
  • Things We Lost to the Water: A Novel by Eric Nguyen
  • Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
  • Version Zero by David Yoon
  • Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi
  • Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan
By Jason Leung via Unsplash


  • #StopAsianHate
  • 500 Chinese Americans who got the Congressional Gold Medal
  • Christian Hall 1 year anniversary of his shooting and death by police in Pennsylvania
  • Continued Black and APIA solidarity specifically in the wake of the Duante Wright shooting which happened during the Derek Chauvin trial
  • Debby Soo, Eric Yuan, Steve Chen, Tony Xu: Tech leaders who donated millions of dollars to stop asian hate
  • Desi foodies and community call out Washington Post article insulting Indian food
  • Former Survivor contestant Michelle Yi stabbed and beaten
  • Grace and James Lee Boggs house slated to become a community museum
  • Maria Ressa + 2021 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Mat George, Desi gay comedian, killed in hit and run
  • Parag Agrawal takes over CEO of Twitter
  • Phi Pham let go from ICE
  • Richard Lui on AAPI hate crimes
  • Stop AAPI Hate coalition
  • The fire that shook MOCA
  • The first step of justice for Ee Lee with each of her perpetrators facing one count of first degree intentional homicide
  • The Gold House Awards
  • The horrific and brutal murders of the Atlanta Spa Shootings taking the lives of Soon Chung Park (74), Hyun Jung Grant (51), Suncha Kim (69), Yong Ae Yue (63), Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzales (33), Xiaojie Tan (49), Daoyou Feng (44), Paul Andre Michels (54)
  • The Indianapolis FedEx shooting which was the worst Sikh massacre in the US since the Oak Creek mass shootings, taking Amarjeet Johal, Jasvinder Kaur, Amarjit Skhon, and Jaswinder Singh
  • The killings of 13 and 9 year old Chinese Adoptees, Felicity and Barrett
  • The passing of Corky Lee
  • The voice of China Mac
  • Tou Thao still awaiting punishment for his role in the killing of George Floyd
  • Vietnamese Americans in solidarity with Afghan Refugees
Americanish via Autonomous Pictures


  • Americanish by Iman Zawahry
  • Dani Pudi, Aparna Nancherla, Parvesh Cheena + Mythic Quest
  • Awkwafina
  • Paper Tigers by Bao Nguyen
  • Bling Empire
  • Blue Bayou by Justin Chon
  • Boogie by Eddie Huang  
  • Bowen Yang Promoted to Main SNL Cast
  • Brenda Song
  • Cowboy Bebop + John Cho (and hopes that he’ll return with Selfie)
  • Definition Please by Sujata Day
  • Dev Patel and Green Knight
  • Found by Amanda Lipitz
  • Han Comes Back In F9
  • Hank Azaria apologizes for Simpsons character (too little too late?)
  • Hasan Minhaj + The Morning Show
  • Hit-Monkey
  • I Was a Simple Man + Constance Wu
  • Inbetween Girl by Mei Makino
  • Jamie Chung
  • Jo Koy + Randall Park + Josep
  • Julie Oh + Tick, Tick… Boom
  • Kal Penn engagement
  • Kumail Nanjiani + Eternals
  • List of a lifetime + Kelly Hu
  • Logan Kim + Ghostbusters
  • Love Hard + Jimmy O. Yang, Harry Hum Jr, Darren Barnet
  • M. Night Shyamalan
  • Maggie Q +  Protégé
  • Manzanar Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust by Ann Kaneko
  • Margaret Cho accepts Jay Leno’s apology (too little too late?)
  • Matrix Resurrections
  • Minari  + Lee Isaac Chung, Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung
  • Mortal Kombat + Lewis Tan
  • Never Have I Ever Season 2 + Mindy Kaling, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Darren Barnet
  • Olivia Munn
  • Pen15 Final Season Premieres + Maya Erskine
  • Raya and the Last Dragon + Kelly Marie Tran
  • Ricochet by Jeff Adachi and Chihiro Wimbush
  • See You Then + Pooya Mohseni And Lynn Chen
  • Sesame Street gets Ji Young, the first Asian American/Korean American Muppet
  • Sex Lives of College Girls + Mindy Kaling, Amrit Kaur
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Shannon Lee vs Quentin Tarantino
  • New Sikh character Samir in Arthur’s First Day
  • Simon Liu
  • Snakehead by Evan Jackson Leong
  • Spiderman + FilAm community
  • Spin + Avantika Vandanapu
  • The Chair + Sandra Oh
  • The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu + Anna Chi, Archie Kao
  • The Fabulous Filipino Brothers by Dante Basco
  • The Good, The Bad, The Dokkaebi by Dan Lee
  • Jon Chu + The Heights
  • The Race Epidemic by Ronald W. Wong, Tony Shyu
  • The Rock
  • To All the Boys: Always and Forever + Lana Condor
  • Try Harder! by Debbie Lum
  • Warrior gets a new home at HBO Max
  • Young Rock + Nahnatchka Khan, Jeff Chiang
Silk Sonic via Wikimedia Creative Commons


  • Amber Liu + Neon
  • Bella Poarch + #3 TikTok + Build a Bitch + Inferno
  • Bruno Mars + Andrew Paak + Silk Sonic
  • Crazy Talented Asians Holiday Special + Paul Dateh, Isa Briones, Joan Almedilla, Arvin Lee, Justine Rafael, Alyssa Navarro
  • Dj Phatrick  + Devil’s Pie
  • East West Players + Daniel Ho
  • H.E.R + BET Awards + more Grammy nominations
  • JAM (James) & Philly launch all-South Asian labe Outer Voice Records
  • Jereena Montemayor + ‎Reminiscing EP + Your Boy
  • Jessica Sanchez + Us
  • Jhené Aiko + Sailing Souls(s)
  • Jin + Wyclef Jean + Stop The Hatred
  • Hayley Kiyoko + Chance
  • Khai Dreams + Dreams + TikTok music for all
  • Keshi + Beside You
  • Kina Grannis + It’s Hard To Be Human 
  • Linda Lindas are seen everywhere
  • Mitski + The Only Heartbreaker
  • Nieman + Same Bed
  • Nora Jones + The Christmas Waltz
  • Olivia Rodgrigo takes everything
  • Priscilla Ahn + Waiting
  • Raveena + Tweety
  • Rock Against Hate
  • Ruby Ibarra gets a lot of pub + Ella Jay Basco + Gold
  • Run River North + Creatures In Your Head
  • Saweetie + BET Awards + Grammy nominations
  • Steve Aoki + Mambo + Stop Asian Hate
  • Sub Urban + Inferno + Patchwerk + Paramour
  • Yaeji + When In Summer, I Forget About The Winter (Video)
  • Year of the Ox + The Point + Danger Room


  • Harry Low (90), first Chinese American judge in San Francisco 
  • Huey Haha (22), Vietnamese American TikToker and comedian
  • Janice Mirikitani (80), Japanese American poet and activist
  • Rose Ochi (81), Japanese American civil rights leader
  • Young Kwok “Corky” Lee (73), activist, photographer, journalist, and organizer
AsAmNews photo


  • Aftab Pureval becomes Cincinnati’s first Asian American mayor 
  • Andrew Yang goes Independent
  • Bruce Harrel becomes Seattle’s first mayor of Asian American descent
  • Michelle Wu becomes first POC elected mayor of Boston
  • Daniel Dae Kim sits to White House’s AAPI Visibility Task
  • David Cho + Biden + Secret Service
  • Judy Chu + Women’s Health Protection Act
  • Julie Su gets appointed as Deputy Secretary of Labor
  • Kamala Harris becomes first Vice President of the U.S. who’s not a White Man
  • Katherine Tai appointed as the United States Trade Representative
  • Kiran Ahuja appointed as Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management
  • Mazie Hirono + Grace Meng + COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act
  • Michael Kuruvilla becomes first POC and Indian American to Brookfield Illinois Police Department
  • Michelle Wu becomes Boston’s first Asian American mayor
  • Nathan Maung gets released from Myanmar
  • Rep Andy Kim + January 6th Capitol Insurrection
  • Rep. Takano + the Four-Day Workweek 
  • Shalina Kumar becomes 1st Indian American federal judge in Michigan
  • Sunny Patel, Joy Basu and Akash Shah get named as full-time White House Fellows
Chloe Kim


  • Chloe Kim speaks out on racism encountered as a snowboarding phenom and APIA woman
  • Colin Morikawa takes the PGA by storm
  • Eileen Gu + Xgames
  • Jeremy Lin speaks on out being called “coronavirus” on court
  • Johnny Juzang goes to the Final Four
  • Jordan Clarkson + Utah Jazz
  • Josh Jacobs + Las Vegas Raiders
  • Kumar Rocker picked 10th in the MLB draft
  • Michelle Kwan gets Ambassador to Belize
  • Michelle Wie + Rudy Giuliani
  • Natalie Chou from UCLA speaks out on feeling unsafe during the pandemic
  • Olympians Erica Sullivan, Jalen Green, James Litherland, Justine Wong-Orantes, Lee Kiefer
  • Suni Lee wins it all
  • Taylor Rapp + LA Rams + fighting anti-Asian hate
  • Younghoe Koo speaks out after Atlanta Spa Shootings

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