Blasian Narratives is a multi-media “Docu-Theatre” project that intimately explores the intersection and identities of mixed race Black & Asian individuals through live performances and film. The project began as a collaboration between Morehouse and Spelman College students documenting and exploring the identity formations of individuals with mixed Afro-Asian heritage, colloquially known as “Blasians.” The grassroots project aims to bring historically polarized communities together by illustrating the complexities and unity of identity awareness–how you see yourself vs how you are seen–in hopes of building solidarity along the way. The cast and crew now includes students and graduates from Stanford, NYU, and more.
The project culminated through Jivan Atman’s personal quest to explore the relationship between Asian and Black individuals and communities. During his time as an Asian student at Morehouse College, a historically black college, he fortuitously crossed paths with various students who identified as “Blasians”—those of both Black and Asian heritage. Having studied Asian American and Black history, Jivan became interested in revitalizing conversations regarding the current and historical tension and solidarity between Asian and Black communities. He later realized that Blasian individuals might have experienced this polarization at an intimate level. Through the organic progression of friendships, dialogues around the juxtaposition of the various narratives of being Black and Asian naturally arose. These individuals were already at a place to reconcile the polarized aspect of their identities. Through the act of telling one’s story, there was often unburdening, healing, and empowerment. These experiences made Jivan realize that these stories needed to be explored, heard, and shared. With this vision in mind, he decided to turn the personal dialogues into a documentary, which eventually morphed into a live performance of theatrical monologues.
The theatre project premiered in Fall 2014 at the Morehouse-Spelman College Theatre Department where it received rave reviews despite it being a work-in-progress. Subsequently, Jivan was able to bring Blasian Narratives on the road with him in Spring 2015 as an exchange student at Stanford University. With less than a month to prepare and network, in addition to bringing additional Stanford students into the performance, the show had a successful West Coast premiere. The project arrived at a pivotal moment particularly due to the presence of the Black Lives Matter and API 4 Black Lives movement. As such, the ethnic communities at Stanford University praised and embraced the project and encouraged the project to keep expanding. Thus, Blasian Narratives: Volume I, the online edition, has been re-created to meet the needs and desires of those who were unable to experience the theatre performances.
This project has been self-sufficient and self-funded, inspiring a labor of love by the individuals behind Blasian Narratives. Volume I have been an ambitious attempt to bridge the intimate experience that theatre offered, mixed with the accessibility that is online videos. It is with great pride that we are now at a place to expand beyond the academia. We hope that the free, easy availability of this online edition will appeal to our audiences, especially for those who are unable to make it to the theatre performances.