I recently remarked to a longtime Twitter friend that I feel we live in a magical time, and I always wonder if young movement folks in the past felt that way, too. My friend suggested that not every generation gets to feel that way but there are definitely moments that people live through when they know they are in a magical time. I feel confident saying we live in one such time, but there’s still a question of what we’re going to do with that magic.
The internet has played no small part in the moment we’re in. More than ever, young people are connected to each other, having conversations about the things that matter to us, from pop music to police violence. We’re realizing there are more of us than there are of them, and that’s an incredibly hopeful thing. We live in a time of rapid reinvention, and at a moment when the conversations we are having online—for better or worse—are catching the attention of the mainstream.
For me, the internet always filled the gap between the community where I live and the one I long for. Growing up, finding my peers in the suburban Michigan town where my mom bought a house after she and my dad divorced was a challenge. I didn’t lack for friends, but there were conversations I wanted that I just couldn’t have with them. I was itching to define my politics, which is something I ultimately found online.
With the growing usage of Twitter as a platform for social justice discussion and organization, a persistent question has been whether and how to combat casual racism in 140 characters or less. The success of hashtags like #NotYourAsianSidekick suggest that Twitter is a powerful tool for bringing together like-minded Millennial activists, yet Twitter is also a hotbed of racism, misogyny and bigotry that can, at times, derail those same constructive conversations.
Over the weekend, two examples of casual anti-Asian racism had “Asian Twitter” in an uproar: a racist Facebook persona awash with yellowface stereotypes created by a local NYC artist, and a Twitter storm of racism and misogyny targeting University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise.
Both examples of casual racism used Twitter and Facebook as a platform for their racism, and both were the targets of overwhelming Twitter-based backlash. These back-to-back incidents beg the question: does Twitter promote, or merely amplify, casual racism, and how effective a tool is it in combating that same racism?
In the wake of the #AsianPrivilege response hash-tag to #NotYourAsianSidekick and #BlackPowerYellowPeril, it appears as if (among other misguided ideas) there is a prevailing notion out there that, in contrast to other minorities, Asian Americans “lack a history of resistance” (or that we think we do), and that this invisibility and dearth of civil rights history actually confers upon the Asian American community a form of racial privilege.
Putting aside the second half of that assertion regarding privilege for a minute, there’s one other major problem: any argument that relies upon the assumption that Asian Americans lack a history of resistance is patently ahistorical.
Like really, really, really wrong. Like insultingly wrong.
After the jump, here are 10 examples of Asian American’s history of oppression and political resistance.
I’ve been blogging in the Asian American blogosphere for over a decade, and in that time, I’ve fundamentally believed that our Asian American blogging collective is heavily dominated by male voices. As a feminist blogger, I’ve found the underrepresentation of women writers discouraging. Indeed, the #NotYourAsianSidekick Twitter hashtag conversation that blew up the Internet last month was explicitly started by founder Suey Park to address this same problem.
We’re going in on Day 5 of #NotYourAsianSidekick, the hash-tag that blew up the Twitterverse with a conversation on Asian American race identity and feminism. And, boy, has it sparked online and offline conversation. Hash-tag founder Suey Park (@suey_park) has joined forces with 18millionrising (@18millionrising) to schedule appearances on several mainstream media outlets talking Asian American feminism — which is remarkable visibility for the Asian American feminist community. Meanwhile, several established Asian American writers have offered their comments in the pages of Time Magazine and theWall Street Journal. And as of this writing, #NotYourAsianSidekick is still going strong with new tweets being published every few minutes; further, NotYourAsianSidekick.com was launched this week (now with free stickers!).
But, of course, the question on everyone‘s mind is: what’s next?