What healing looks like for Asian American communities

Dear Friends, 

My name is Miso and I’m a Program Manager at AAPI Equity Alliance. A few months ago, I had the privilege of attending CPEHN’s The Right to Heal: Centering Mental Health Multi-Racial Equity in California Conference and it inspired me to think about my own radical healing journey in the midst of everything going on in the world and how it intersects with my work at AAPI Equity. The speakers shared wisdom about healing that got me unpacking and unlearning what healing looks like for me and the communities that I belong to and the communities that I support.

As a Korean immigrant growing up in the U.S., the environments that I socialized in taught me healing from a western perspective like seeking mental health therapy and practicing individualized self care. On the other hand, my immigrant parents grounded me in healing practices that I sometimes brushed off as just an “Asian thing” or my parents just being Korean. I remember how my mom would bring me different herbal teas to fight a cold or when my dad would prick my thumb with a clean sewing needle to help soothe my indigestion, like at-home acupuncture.

I noticed that I was trying to convince myself that I had to pick between the two. I felt moments of internal dissonance where I felt like participating in both was almost discrediting both ways of healing. What the conference helped me realize is, there is a sense of beauty and power of embracing both types of healing – just like how there’s beauty and power with navigating the world as both Asian and American in my identity.

As a Program Manager, I have the privilege to bring back the knowledge I gained from the conference into the day-to-day conversations with our partners in this work. Under the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Transformative Grant, AAPI Equity Alliance and 5 community partners are developing a first-of-its-kind intervention tool to address the isolating mental health impacts of racial trauma in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian and Filipino communities. It requires many of us to reframe our understanding of healing to be able to provide a culturally-attuned space for recovery.

Here are some of the learnings that I’m bringing back to my team: 

  1. Presencing and experiencing genuine joy 
  2. Incorporating cultural traditional healing practices such as, storytelling, art, dance, gardening, plant-based herbal medicines, and being in community 
  3. Acknowledging the fatigue that occurs going through your own healing journey 
  4. Engaging and sharing dialogue with our elders
  5. Understanding that there is no “right” way of healing 


This holiday season, I want to ask you too. What does healing look like for yourself and how can you (re)imagine your own healing journey? 


Signing off with gentle curiosity, 

Miso Jang / 장미소
Program Manager
AAPI Equity Alliance