Scrolling through the Instagram page “Aisle 6,” stories depicting the Asian American experience come to life. Born from the mind of graphic communication junior Kristy Leung, the digital publication shares pieces ranging from entertainment, music and politics and provides a space to explore and unpack racial identity.
Leung came up with the concept in August 2021. She launched the digital publication as “Hyphen” in September but has since changed to “Aisle 6.”
In the post introducing the new name, Leung depicts the aisle of an Asian grocery store as “full of heart and nostalgia … Its groceries remind us of our parents, who say ‘I love you’ with steaming rice and sliced fruit.”
The definition of “aisle” encompasses not only “a point of passage, but it’s also a space between two things,” Leung said.
The post ends by saying “the number six in Chinese connotes smooth progress through life. By reading these stories, we hope to navigate the avenue between our American culture and our Asian culture with heart and integrity in every stage of life.”
Leung saw this “digital playground” as an opportunity to not only to expand her own graphics portfolio and exercise her area of expertise, but to dive into different aspects of culture.
Leung said when individuals often think of Asian culture, Chinese, Japanese and Korean culture come to mind, but she “really wanted to be able to explore different countries and different cultures that people overlook,” she said.
Layout-wise Leung said the publication has undergone its own transformation. Now with a more visual focus, she also wants to incorporate more personal stories.
Leung aims to be “more people-based, having more stories on the page,” like the many food features that share childhood anecdotes.
The reception of “Aisle 6″ surprised Leung, she said.
“I’ve received messages just from people who appreciate the content,” Leung said. “[This] reception confirmed that there is a need for this kind of content.”
Not only has Leung received positive reception from friends and other viewers, but also in the professional world. 88Rising, a multinational, Asian-focused record company, reposted one of Leung’s posts to their 1.5 million Instagram followers.
Leung recently featured computer science junior Jordan Chew, discussing his Malaysian-Chinese identity, particularly the foods he enjoyed growing up.
The pair talked for about an hour not only about traditional foods but the unique aspects of Chew’s culture as well.
In his college experience, Chew said he has only met a handful of other Malaysian-Chinese students.
“For the most part, I think [Malaysian-Chinese] is a fairly unknown or underrepresented group and proportionately. There’s just not that many of us,” he said.
Chew wanted to combat the view as Asian culture as a “monolith,” since smaller ethnic groups within the Asian umbrella go unnoticed, by providing a peek into his own cultural practices.
An aspect of “Aisle 6″ that Chew enjoys is its accessibility, modern flair and its focus on a specific experience.
“The Asian American experience is often not shared as much as Asian culture because it is definitely different. You’re more at an intersection of cultures,” Chew said. “[“Aisle 6″ provides] cultural preservation and the ability to learn and a new outlook [on Asian American culture].”
Looking into the future, Leung wants to potentially expand the team past just herself and tackle heavier topics.
“I think [heavy topics] require a lot of intentionality and integrity when I’m writing, so I would reach out to people who are knowledgeable on topics and get feedback,” she said.
This entire process has been eye-opening to Leung, she said.
“[I have come to] the realization that there’s so much that I don’t know,” she said. “Even though it seems once in a while, there’s a huge spike in like Asian representation, there’s still so much that needs to be represented.”