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Not Your Token Minority

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Not Your Token Minority explores the stories and experiences of people of the global majority. The aim is to create a space where our stories can shine, where we can challenge the existing narratives and define our identities on our own terms.


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Not Your Token Minority explores the stories and experiences of people of the global majority. The aim is to create a space where our stories can shine, where we can challenge the existing narratives and define our identities on our own terms.




Celebrating indigenous queer identities with Shaneel Lal

Shaneel Lal (they/them) is a prominent activist and political commentator who sits at the intersection of Aotearoa New Zealand’s BIPOC and queer communities. They are a fierce advocate for ending conversion therapy and in February 2022, their efforts resulted in legislation being passed that bans the practice in New Zealand. In our conversation, we cover: You can follow Shaneel on Instagram, Twitter, and their column for The New Zealand Herald. Remember to rate and share this show, as...


Abhi Chinniah on loving her melanin

Auckland-based artist and photographer Abhi Chinniah joins me in this episode to talk how colourism has fundamentally shaped her life so far and her most recent exhibition “Melanin Rising”. She shares: Experience and support Abhi’s work below: Melanin Rising Ramii Studio Please rate and share this show, as well as follow along on Instagram. Reach out to me on if you want to share your story - I would love to hear from you!


Closing the digital divide with Vivian Chandra

Vivian Chandra is a tech consultant with a huge difference. Her passion for education and democratising digital technology means she spends much of her time upskilling teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand so that they can teach kids essential tech skills. In our conversation, we talk about: If you would like to follow Vivian’s work, you can do so on her website or follow her on Twitter


Growing up on your own reality TV show with Iori Forsyth [episode rerun]

This is a rerun of my conversation with Iori Forsyth from 2021. ------------------- Iori Forsyth is half-Australian and half-Japanese and she embodies the terms "bicultural" and "biracial" through and through. She split her childhood between Japan and Australia, which allowed her to experience both cultures fully and be fluent in both languages. She grew up with 7 brothers (she's the oldest of 8 children). Due to her family's unique status as both a large family and a bicultural one in...


The kids are not alright: the mental health plight of Asian youth in Aotearoa NZ

University of Auckland PhD candidate Lovely Dizon speaks with me in this episode about the under-served mental health needs of 1.5 generation Asian young people in Aotearoa New Zealand. Our conversation includes: Plus much, much more - Lovely is a 1.5 generation Filipino Kiwi and a final year PhD candidate based in the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland. Her research interests include Asian youth health, youth mental health and ethnic identity. She is passionate about...


Telling the untold history of Chinese New Zealanders with Talia Pua

Auckland-based playwright and director Talia Pua talks to me in this episode about her latest bodies of work - a play titled Pork and Poll Taxes which premiered in 2021 and an exhibition about Chinese migration to New Zealand which ran earlier in 2022 - and why it’s important to her to tell these stories. She also shares her experiences both behind and on stage in the performing arts in New Zealand, and why diverse Asian representation on stage and screen matters. Talia is the co-founder...


What's diversity got to do with space?

Vikram Udyawer has loved space ever since he was a kid growing up in four different countries. Like many other kids who grow up in different cultures, Vikram struggled with belonging and identity, but found solace in space and what he believed to be a borderless environment. He chats with me about his experiences growing up as a “Fifth Culture Kid”, how this inspired him to enter the space industry, and what the reality was once he started working in it. We talk about the geopolitics that...


Two cultures, three countries and a whirlwind of a childhood with Emi Chiba

Emi Chiba spent her most formative years between the UK, Japan and Spain, before eventually settling in Tokyo, Japan where she lives now. And the road between her being born in the UK to a British father and Japanese mother, to her life now is full of twists, hard truths and unexpected lessons. Yes, growing up biracial between vastly different countries and cultures is a big part of Emi’s story so far. But there has been so much more to her journey that helped shaped her into the person she...


Finding the joy in activism with 이혜 지 Hye Ji (Erica) Lee

이혜지 Hye Ji (Erica) Lee joins me on this episode to talk activism and decoloniality - specifically what constitutes activism for her and how she finds the joy in activism, rather than focusing only on the things that cause pain and trauma. Erica is an academic who teaches and researches in Sociology, who was born in South Korea and migrated to New Zealand with her family when she was 11 years old. Like so many migrant kids, she experienced firsthand the ups and downs of growing up in a place...


Too Arab to be Russian, too Russian to be Arab

Maria Khaydar is Russian-born and speaks Russian fluently, but has struggled to identify as Russian for a long time. As a part-Arab part-Azeri woman, she’s been questioning where she belongs and what her identity really is. And now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she has been unpacking even more questions about identity and belonging. Remember to rate, review and subscribe if you enjoyed this episode, as well as follow along on Instagram.


From Me to You: Documenting the past, the present and the future with Sochetha Meng

In the last year of her degree in communication design at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, Sochetha Meng created three zines documenting her family’s past, her own present and her hopes for the future. Sochetha is a second generation Cambodian New Zealander who is grappling with her identity as an “inbetweener” while also learning more about - and working through the trauma - her family’s history that, like all Cambodians, is inextricably intertwined with the horrific Khmer...


Florence & Athina: Inclusive eyewear, diversity in fashion, and growing up in the US

Florence and Athina are the co-founders of Covry, a company that makes inclusive eyewear for faces of all shapes and sizes. I bought a pair of these glasses last year after seeing an ad on Instagram and I had no idea I needed them until I tried them on. In this conversation, I chat with Florence and Athina about their backgrounds, the inspiration behind Covry, building their brand, and why it’s meaningful to them to promote diversity and inclusion through their business. You can buy Covry...


Representation and diversity in gaming with Dhayana aka “MissDeusGeek”

Dhayana, who goes by “MissDeusGeek” online, is an avid gamer, influencer and content creator based in Australia. Of Sri Lankan descent and born and raised in Malaysia, Dhayana is passionate about championing diversity in gaming, particularly for future generations. During our conversation, we chat about: You can follow Dhayana on Twitter and Instagram, and learn more about her work on her website.


Golriz Ghahraman: What it means to be a truly representative MP

Golriz Ghahraman is often described as New Zealand’s first refugee Member of Parliament (MP) and it is a label that follows her in all her work with under-represented communities in New Zealand. She came to New Zealand as a nine-year-old child asylum seeker from Iran and went on to study at Oxford University and practise law at the United Nations. She’s now an elected MP representing The Green Party, where she works on a wide range of human rights issues, including refugee and migrant...


Rerun: experiences at the intersection of sexuality and race with Alex Nguyen

This is a rerun of a conversation released in June 2021. ------------------- Alex was born and raised in the United States and is of Taiwanese and Vietnamese descent. In this conversation, we explore Alex's experiences being both Asian and gay and the challenges those intersecting parts of his identity bring. He shares his lived experiences being Asian American, why the US isn't really the melting pot that it claims to be, why we need better representation of what being gay means in...


Rerun: Shilo Kino on reclaiming her indigenous identity

This is a rerun and extended edit of an episode published in March 2021. ------------------------------ Challenging the status quo and being the representation you want to see can be a lonely uphill battle. Shilo is an author and journalist who is of Ngāpuhi and Tainui iwi and she on that path to breaking down existing narratives and heavily entrenched racism against Māori in New Zealand through her storytelling. In our conversation, we talk about our early days as graduate journalists at...


Rerun: Growing up as the "token" Asian, becoming a business owner & coping with the grief of losing a loved one with Sheila Ye

This is a rerun of the first episode of the first season of NYTM that aired in February 2021. In the very first episode of Not Your Token Minority, I speak with my good friend Sheila about growing up in small-town New Zealand, building her career as one of the only Asian female leaders in her industry and coming to terms with her mum's death. Themes and topics explored in this episode include: - growing up as an Asian kid in small-town New Zealand, including experiences of racism - work...


Lisa: challenging the "fairytale" narrative of transnational adoption

The "better life" adoption narrative is one that many of us know well - a child, who is usually from the global south, is adopted by a loving couple from the west and given a “better life”, one that they never would have had, had they never been adopted. But what if, in reality, many adoptions don't follow this familiar narrative? In this episode, my guest shares with me her own adoption story and how her journey to learning more about her own background has led her towards a decade of...


Leo: Finding his place in the global migration story

"Nikkei" is a term that you'll hear a few times in this episode. It's a Japanese word that means "of Japanese descent" and is used to refer to the huge communities of Japanese diaspora living overseas. Leo Fuchigami is second generation Japanese-Canadian and is considered "Nikkei". But what does that really mean? In this episode, Leo shares his journey of how he has unpacked his "Nikkei" story through a series of experiences travelling and living overseas. Through the people he's met along...


Gigi: Why being invited to the party isn’t enough

You've probably heard the terms "diversity and inclusion" (D&I) or "diversity, equity and inclusion" (DEI) thrown around a fair bit in more recent years. They have become indispensable parts of employee engagement and retention initiatives in workplaces - but not all DEI strategies are built the same. I'm joined in this episode by Gigi Hui, an HR professional who is passionate about DEI and working with others to help them become their best selves. In our conversation, we look at the...