Building Diversity: Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

By Lawrence Hu

Starting in 1992, the United States has dedicated May as Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. A full 31 days are devoted to celebrating achievements, recognizing prominent individuals, and addressing the issues we face across the country.

Jawa was founded by gamers and PC builders with one mission in mind: to make PC gaming more accessible and customizable for everyone, and we couldn’t do it without such a diverse background of builders and experts.

I’ve interviewed some of the more recognizable AAPI members of the Jawa community, featuring some of the most iconic names in both PC builders and Discord community members.


Meet some of Jawa’s AAPI Builders

Bubble Tea Builds, a verified seller on Jawa.gg's hardware marketplace.

Dylan T. (aka @BubbleTeaBuilds) is a second-generation Vietnamese American.

“I’ve always wanted to have an Asian-inspired concept, and it came to me during a conversation with CEO Amanda. Bubble tea shops have started popping up, and I’ve got a lot of fond memories of going with friends. When I’m gaming on PCs, I’ve had a lot of positive memories and a lot of enjoyment. Putting those two together with an Asian background - that’s how I got BubbleTeaBuilds.”

Dylan’s favorite Asian food is Korean BBQ.

Oyako PC, a verified seller on Jawa.gg's hardware marketplace.

Jeremy C. (aka @Oyako PC) is a second-generation Taiwanese Filipino American. Oyako, or 親子, is Japanese for “parent and child” – representing the father and son team that composes Oyako PC.

“I get to introduce him to my hobby and show him the ropes. He gets to pad his allowance with a portion of our earnings. Win-win! Rest assured, I handle the fragile components and most of the building. The kiddo screws in standoffs, plugs in PSU cables, and comes up with our designs.”

Jeremy’s favorite Asian food is Taiwan Beef Noodle soup.

Photo of RobE, a verified seller on Jawa.gg's hardware marketplace.

Robert B. (aka @RobE) is a second-generation, Polish-Vietnamese American. His mother’s side of the family escaped the Vietnam war.

“Those who weren’t sponsored to leave Vietnam by the United States got put in reeducation camps. My uncle was working at one of those camps, and the rest of my family bribed the supervisors to let him work on a main road. Another one of my uncles drove by on a motorcycle, picked him up, and they were shot at as they escaped. Then, they flew to America.”

Robert’s favorite Asian food is phở.

Photo of Lawrence Hu of The Glitch Lab, a verified seller on Jawa.gg's hardware marketplace.

My name is Lawrence Hu (aka @The Glitch Lab), and I’m a second-generation Chinese American. Both of my parents are from mainland China.

Since the COVID pandemic, I’ve grown increasingly involved with activism since 2020 and took the task upon myself to feature those in our Jawa community willing to speak. Though the interviews with these very lovely AAPI gentlemen were short and sweet, I hope you’ll find their stories and perspectives as interesting as I did.

My favorite food is Sichuan beef noodle soup.


Q: How did you find out about Jawa.gg?

Robert: Yeah, I met this guy named Lawrence, also known as Blu in a server called Falcodrin. And he seemed like a pretty cool guy, he did this thing called a BluEgg Shuffle and I thought he was pretty cool. I followed him into [Jawa’s Discord] because I saw the listing in his description.

Dylan: I found out about Jawa through other flippers on a Discord server called Flipping Central. Some of them said, “Oh, I started selling [on Jawa], come check it out!” I was like, sure, why not, and started listing stuff. I thought of it as an extra platform to try shipping PCs on and I’ve stuck with it ever since.

Jeremy: I actually saw one of [Lawrence’s] listings on the Falcodrin server when I was looking for a GPU upgrade after I got back. I saw one of your builds and was like, “Hey, that’s cool. Looks like a good build.” I clicked on the link, and usually, it’s a PC Part Picker thing, but Jawa popped up. I thought, this is new. And that’s where we got started.

Lawrence: I found Jawa through a Facebook Marketplace ad, and after checking it out, decided to list every computer I had in my inventory online. No fees and a tight-knit community really sold it for me. It helps that my PCs have sold, too.

Lawrence Hu of The Glitch Lab working on building a custom gaming PC, featuring AMD's B550 chipset and Ryzen 5 5600X.
Lawrence of The Glitch Lab working on “Valentine’s Day”

Q: What got you into PC building?

Robert: I originally got into PC building because I had started on Xbox, and I’d always thought it was cringe how people would say, “PC master race”. But once I started doing it, I realized how fun it was. My mom always had new computers coming in because she works with that [in computer science], and so did my uncle. Having engineer/computer science in my blood, it’s always intrigued me. Some people might think it’s boring, too much of a hassle, but I would build under a seller for free. I love building PCs.

Jeremy: I’ve always been really big on games, and I come from a family of four brothers. All we used to play was Smash Bros, Mario Party, or any of the four-player Nintendo classics, always playing it together. PC gaming didn’t really get started for us until we went off to college because up until then it wasn’t good for split-screen. After going to college, League of Legends was my first big PC game, that’s where it started for me. The DIY thing had always been interesting, but I never started building something on my own until I moved to Japan – and it cost me three times more. The first PC I put together was a 6600K 1070 PC, and it probably cost around $2000 to put that thing together at the time, crazy to think about.

Dylan: I wanted to play with my YouTuber friend, his name is iMAV3RIQ, and I was a Twitch moderator for him for a while and wanted to get a gaming computer at some point in my life. I learned how to build one sophomore year at college, so it took me almost eight years to finally do it myself to build a PC with a scholarship I got. It was [a very generic PC], but it was really cool.

Lawrence: I don’t actually remember why I got into PCs, but I will say that I’ve been into tech ever since I knew how to read. My family was never rich, so it was either spend money on a prebuilt PC or build you own, to get the most performance for your dollar. LEGOs and robotics camps really prepped me well for it, so thanks mom and dad!

A photo of the South Vietnam flag next to the United States flag. This depicts the nationality of RobE, but is less recognizable as Vietnam's officially recognized flag is only of North Vietnam.
Robert’s family displaying the South Vietnamese and United States flags.

Q: Why is diversity important to you?

Jeremy: Strictly speaking, diversity is natural, isn’t it? Just having a whole lot of different groups, coming from different backgrounds, different skin colors, different ideas, that’s the natural course of things. It’s literally what nature defaults to, which is why we have so many species of the same animal, essentially. In humans, we might all be the same species biologically, but this is how nature expresses our diversity.

Robert: Diversity is everything. You can’t have anything “one way”. I think that having a mix of races, sexes, whatever it is, is essential to being moral and making sure that no one person is treated differently. It might seem like, “oh, diversity, they’re just doing it to say it”, but I think that a lot of people forget that people are [still] not treated equally. You look at when COVID started, who got blamed for it? People who are Americans, just because they have ties to Asia. People might take diversity and make it into some political term, but it’s a human rights issue – some people are still not being treated how they should be treated, [as] equals.

Lawrence: You’ll know how important diversity is when you’re craving a specific kind of food, whether it be Japanese or Mexican, and not being able to find it near you. Diversity gives life flavor, it’s what makes it worth living. Without it, things may be standard and predictable, but in my eyes, I’d just be bored. Diversity lets you know there’s more out there and that you’re not alone.

Dylan: Times and people are changing, and people are becoming more open-minded to things. I feel like it’s a shame that people are growing up and not being felt included in things, or feeling appreciated. There’s better appreciation and enjoyment out of life [when you have diversity], and being able to understand other people, sharing moments and memories that may be cultural, non-cultural related, and being able to connect with people better. Until recently, Asian heritage and culture hasn’t been appreciated until like, the last few years, depending on where you live.

Dave2D, a mentioned Asian American inspiration to RobE for his technology-focused review videos on YouTube
Dave2D in his “The Next Thing” video on YouTube.

Q: Any AAPI in the tech industry you look up to?

Dylan: I would say Kyle from BitWit or Danny from Nerd on Budget, those are my big two. They stay true to themselves and also represent the Asian community really well. They have great personalities, and I connect with them the most in the tech space.

Robert: Dave2D, or Dave Lee. He has some of the best made videos I’ve ever seen. And, honestly, there aren’t a lot of Asian tech YouTubers out there. You see Linus and Bitwit, but Dave Lee, he makes some good videos. And if I could be like him one day, I would.

Jeremy: There are a lot of South Asian CEOs in the tech industry, which is one of the industries where Asians are probably fairly represented, although the male-female ratio is out of whack. There are a lot of good role models for the AAPI community members in basically every single field in the tech industry. If there isn’t one at a leadership position, there’s one with a startup doing something crazy. Whoever that person is, I’m probably going to be using their app in the next five years. If I had to pick one person though, I’d say Jensen Huang.

Lawrence: Definitely Lisa Su. From when I was 12 and first started building computers, I was an Intel fanboy. Intel all the way. It wasn’t even until the Ryzen 5000 series launched until I seriously considered AMD for my CPU – 4690K, 9600K, and then, the 5900X. To be able to revolutionize AMD to the point of contending with Intel, Apple, and Nvidia at the same time, Lisa is an absolute beast.

Photo of Jeremy C's, also known as Oyako PC, son working on a custom built computer. They are a father-son duo.
Jeremy’s son – the other half of Oyako PC

Q: What’s your favorite Asian tradition?

Robert: Vietnamese New Year. We have a celebration, like food, family comes in, and everything. Instead of regular American New Years’ where you just have a party and fireworks, my family from California, who are full Vietnamese, send little red envelopes and fill them with money – with Vietnamese writing and all decorated. It’s kind of a gift-giving holiday. That’s my favorite, not just because of the money, but because I don’t get to see my family in Cali because I don’t exactly have a million dollars. It’s nice that people who I barely ever see in my life are still thinking about me every Lunar New Year.

Jeremy: Oh, it’s got to be the red envelope, Chinese New Year. That’s always the best time of the year because we got money. When I was a kid, it was the best because we just got cash, not crappy Christmas presents or anything, just straight money. Also, you know, the family got together, and we always had great food. Asian people always know how to throw parties with great food. Any time, not just Chinese New Year, we had a family gathering was great. But the money was probably the highlight, which shows a bit of my personality, but cash is great.

Dylan: I would say Chinese New Year’s festivals. You’re supporting local families and the church. Where I come from, Catholicism is very important for Vietnamese families. So, you’re hanging out with other people’s families and getting really good food, having a really good time.

Lawrence: Everyone here has said some variation of the Lunar New Year, but I would have to just say that the tradition of having huge family meals where everyone’s sharing dishes, having drinks, and chatting at full volume – that’s my favorite. And it’s nice that Lunar New Year just so happens to have a lot of that. Growing up in the Midwest, I’ve felt extremely isolated from my Asian roots, so gatherings like these really make me feel at home.

A photo of two Asian protesters at a rally, masked. They are holding up colorful signs that say, "protect Asian lives" and "stop Asian hate". By Jason Leung on Unsplash.
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Q: What should be discussed more, regarding the AAPI community?

Lawrence: Honestly, I think we should just discuss, more. Letting AAPI voices be heard is not only healing but also greatly collaborative. We need to know that we’re not alone, not going through hell on our own. I’d like to thank Amanda at Jawa for letting me highlight AAPI voices in our community and for an undivided chance to speak. “Keeping our heads down” has gotten us this far, but it’s time for a change and to establish ourselves as rightful Americans. It’s awesome that, even in our little corner of the internet, people are willing to give us a chance – all I needed to do was ask.

Robert: The thing that bugs me the most, I just hope Asians get the credit they deserve. The opportunities should be presented to us just the same as anybody else. You hear about that lawsuit that’s going on with these colleges saying they’re denying Asians because they score higher than most people. True or not, there is some level of discrimination against Asians in terms of opportunities given. I would hope to see us treated as equals. I feel like people think that just because we’re Asian, it’s okay to be racist or to treat us differently, rather than if we were any other type of minority. Not that it’s okay to do, I’m saying that I would like everyone to be treated with respect, not just everybody except Asians.

Jeremy: When people think of the AAPI community, they basically think of Chinese, light-skinned Asian, most likely a man. There’s a lot more to it than that, and again, coming from having a Pilipino side of the family as well, I really understand that there are two sides of the AAPI community. One [side is] very successful in the US as a result of immigration practices which encouraged people with high incomes and education to come to the US from select countries, but there’s also the other side where a lot of South/Southeast Asian immigrants that aren’t benefiting from the model minority myth that a lot of American people seem to believe. That’s because people see Chinese doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc, and say the group as a whole is successful and doesn’t need any help, but that’s really far from the truth.

Dylan: I feel like, with Asian Americans, it’s associated with us that we get [higher degrees of] education. Maybe we could try steering away from that. For some people, they might feel alienated because they might just not be interested in furthering their education and working, maybe something they do best doesn’t require an education. I feel like we should try to tear down the older generational mindset and keep an open mind for Asian Americans and their career opportunities.


A photo of rainy, overcast Chinatown. By Richard Tao on Unsplash.
Photo by Richard Tao on Unsplash

As we enter the final week of 2022’s AAPI Heritage Month, I’d just like to thank everyone for reading and listening to our community members’ words.

These last few years were anything but easy for us in the AAPI community. As we fight back against discrimination, we rely on the support of our allies to gain the traction we’ve desperately needed for decades.

We hope that this is just a starter in the larger conversation on race that should be happening every day, breaking down walls and building up positive relationships. These are some questions that you can ask those in the AAPI community that you know. Who knows where that could take you?


Note from Amanda, CEO of Jawa:

I’m so grateful to Lawrence for highlighting some of our AAPI builders! If you’d like to show your support, the best way is to shop their stores and help grow their businesses!

If you are interested in supporting organizations elevating the AAPI community and helping to stop the concerningly fast-growing number of anti-Asian hate crimes, we encourage you to donate to the following organizations:

Oyako PC is offering triple discounts on his builds for donations to these organizations or a local AAPI culture/service organization of your choice, and Jawa will be matching those donations up to $500 for the rest of AAPI heritage month.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s