ROOTS OF CHANGE #ESEAHM2023
East and South East Asian Heritage Month (ESEAHM)
11 September 2023
Roots of Change at The British Library, London.
ESEA communities in the UK have been established as early as the 17th century. Today, ESEAs are one of the fastest growing ethnic communities, but little is known about their cultures and histories in the wider public consciousness. This month of events aims to amplify ESEA voices and stories that have historically been less heard in our society.
East and South East Asian Heritage Month is a time to honour and celebrate the deep-rooted connections that shape our identities, while also acknowledging the diverse paths that have brought us to where we are today.
Following on from the year's theme of Roots/Routes, this evening’s theme Roots of Change, focuses on climate justice, environmental issues and nature within the context of ESEA communities.
Whether it's exploring the historical roots of ancestry or tracing the routes that have taken you - or will take you - to new lands, the possibilities are boundless.
Climate activist Tori Tsui played host, joined by writer and gardener, Sui Serle, and food writer, Kemnji Morimoto. Music by Helen Ganya.
For those who don't know me, I am of South-East Asian heritage. Growing up in the UK has naturally given me a sense of disconnection with my identity and what it all means to me, how it plays into my decisions both personal and business. ESEA groups have since been formed and provided safe places for people of similar backgrounds to explore their cultural identity for which I am always grateful for.
The event, Roots of Change also held spaces for stalls that focus on the environment, for which A KIND CLOTH was invited to.
It was a wonderful event, meeting others with similar mindsets wanting the same for our planet. It was a great feeling being able to talk to people who had never even thought about what they wear affects the environment, and why certain fabrics were considered the more sustainable option.
Textiles played a big part of ESEA history, many of us had tailors (men) or seamstresses (women) in our families (gender disparity is a whole other conversation!). What I found interesting was that for many of us, the skillset seems to like to skip generations! My maternal grandfather used to be a tailor, yet when my mother used to sew on my school name labels with stitching so terrible, I would have to unpick it to re-do myself! (An ungrateful child I know!) During the event on this evening, I found that my story was not uncommon!
Globally (not just within the ESEA community), repairs on clothing were generally seen as being poor and frugal. In prolonging the life of their clothing, it was considered that they could not afford to buy new clothes. Society really messes us up sometimes! What we realise now (which our ancestors always lived by), is that we need to live sustainably to look after the world and each other!
A wholesome event is more ways than one, thank you to the British Library for hosting the event, bringing awareness for ESEA heritage month, and giving us space to hold such vital conversations. And of course, a huge thank you to 'besea.n' who organised the event.
Operating through an online retail website, I was filled with joy at meeting customers and supporters in real life. The joy in being able to see and touch fabrics, and share ideas and inspirations meant the world to me. And I'm definitely continuing my search to find a space that enables me to continue to do this, so watch this space!
Find out more about ESEA Heritage month at: https://www.eseaheritagemonth.co.uk
and besea.n at: https://www.besean.co.uk