Finding Asian American Identity in The Difficult Conversations

A child sits with their parent, holding an American flag. (Photo credit: Center for American Progress)

By Guest Contributors: Katerina Jeng and Krystie Yen, Co-Founders of Slant’d

For so long, racial identity and discussions about race in America have largely been constrained to a black and white dichotomy. With a history rooted in anti-blackness, the black-white framing of racial identity has historically silenced communities of color and pitted non-black communities, including Asian Americans, against movements for black liberation. As Asian Americans fight for better representation and uplift for our community and other communities of color, where do we fall in this conversation about the complex reality of race in America?

While Asian Americans have been organizing alongside other communities of color for years, much of this progress has been pushed back by the pervasiveness of the model minority myth, which silences our perspectives. We are now the fastest growing racial group and are poised to become the largest immigrant group in the country — and that’s why it has never been more important to have conversations about what our community needs and how to advocate for ourselves. Given all of this, we now have the opportunity to create a vision for our community that is inclusive — and we will need to turn to one another to better understand who we are and how we want to be represented.

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How Chanel Miller’s Story Inspires Me To Tell Mine

Author Chanel Miller reveals her identity as Emily Doe in an interview for her book "Know My Name".

By Guest Contributor: Frankie Huang

In the summer of 2016, I was one of millions around the world to read Chanel Miller’s statement to Brock Turner, her rapist. The pain and power in her words shook me then. I was still coming into my feminism, and I was still learning that every victim is imperfect, and that this does not make their suffering any more deserved. Yet, I still struggled with the question: is dignity claimed or earned? 

Back when she was still Emily Doe, I wondered if she’s a woman of color like me. I wondered if I deserved to wield the same righteous fury that she did.

Content warning: rape, sexual assault

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One Year Later, Women of Color Still Pushing Back Against Kavanaugh

Protesters hold signs opposing Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States in New York on July 10, 2018. (Photo credit: AP / Seth Wenig)

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow (Executive Director, NAPAWF)

One year after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, women of color, our families, and our communities are still under attack. This time last year, more than 100 women and people of color from all over the country traveled to Washington, DC to voice our strong opposition to Kavanaugh at the first-ever Reproductive Justice Day of Action. We showed our collective power in the halls of Congress to fight Kavanaugh’s nomination because we knew it would exacerbate the decades-long degradation of our rights and disregard for our lives, our families, and communities.

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Andrew Yang’s Problematic Reinforcement of the Model Minority Myth

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang at the Sept 12 Democratic primary debate in Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. (Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Tonight, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Andrew Yang joined the nine other top Democratic presidential candidates on the debate stage at Texas Southern University. A noteworthy moment for Asian Americans, Yang remains one of the first Asian Americans in history to run a national campaign for the presidency.

That’s why it is all the more problematic that Yang routinely leans upon Model Minority stereotypes of Asian Americans to advance his candidacy. As early as last year, Yang routinely framed himself as qualified to be president because he is a “smart Asian” who is “good at math” — a classic Model Minority trope reminiscent of the infamous Time magazine cover that popularized model minority stereotypes for a generation of Americans. Tonight, Yang invoked a different facet of the Model Minority Myth when he quipped in response to a question on healthcare that “I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors.

The Model Minority Myth has stood at the root of a good deal of anti-Asian racism and oppression. Yet, Yang is unconcerned by the many ways that the Model Minority Myth hurts Asian Americans and other people of colour. Instead, Yang sees Model Minority caricatures of Asian Americans as something to lean into and to laugh at, and he even sells math-branded Yang swag in his campaign store.

I can’t but wonder if Andrew Yang sees Model Minority stereotypes as a joke, then who’s really laughing with him?

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Crazy Rich Asians and How Hollywood Constructs Race Under Global Capitalism

A screenshot from "Crazy Rich Asians".

By Guest Contributor: Alison Roh Park

This essay originally appeared on Medium.

Within six months of Crazy Rich Asians’ much anticipated release, I was physically assaulted by a White woman in furs on the 6-train in New York City. She shouted at me to go back to China, and shortly thereafter I was verbally assaulted on the 1-train by a musician/busker (and a middle-aged Black gentleman) whom I didn’t have a donation for. Ironically, this was all while I was seated across from two White women also wearing fur.

Asian American New Yorkers have the greatest internal wealth disparity than any other group. Chinese Americans are disproportionately represented under the poverty line, while headlines about massive Chinese real estate buys and a so-called U.S.-China trade war loom on every outlet. This plays out for urban Asian Americans on the hyperlocal level in New York City — for instance, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, overseas Chinese real estate buyers and developers are gentrifying and displacing longtime Chinese residents of this historic neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Asian American women remain pointedly invisible. Shows like The Expanse and Top of the Lake: China Girl (literally — with the White feminist superstar Elizabeth Moss investigating the rape and disappearance of a virtually mute 12 year old Vietnamese girl) hinge on the idea and trope of “Asian Women” and as victims of sexual violence whose end is inevitable, while simultaneously obliterating them from the actual substance of the show.

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