asian-american feminism

Thousands of Americans tweeting #NotYourAsianSidekick have sparked a global debate about the way Asian women are thought of.

“Be warned,” the Chicago-based rights activist and freelance writer Suey Park tweeted early on Sunday. “Tomorrow morning we will be having a conversation about Asian American Feminism with hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Spread the word!!!!!!!” Her very deliberate attempt to create a debate about the way Asian-American women “have to be SMART and PRETTY to be heard and "are objectified by Asian men and White men” was hugely successful. In less than 24 hours, the hashtag has been used more than 45,000 times around the world.

The conversation, which started with discussion of how Asian women are stereotyped, soon spread to cover racism (“Oh look. More bitter liberal non-whites expressing anti-white attitudes,” tweeted one user, who was roundly criticised), the under-representation of Asian-Americans in media, dating patterns between racial groups and attitudes towards mental health. Cartoons and humour were shared and the debate also spread around the world, having particular resonance in other Western countries with large Asian minorities. One user in Toronto quoted men who say “I’ve always wanted a Chinese woman to cook for me” with the reply “I’ve always wanted laser beam eyes, sadly you’re still alive.” Another An L in Sydney tweeted: “Change in social attitudes towards Asian women is a long way off, but opening up the conversation is a great start.” The British-Asian blogger Sunny Hundal said the debate had resonance in the UK because just like Asian-Americans “we see our faces on social media, but when we turn on the TV we see only limited stereotypes.”

Suey Park said the hashtag had arisen out of her frustration at the narrow ways in which the label “Asian-American” was defined, saying #NotYourAsianSidekick would allow marginalized Asian-Americans to voice their grievances. The topic trended in both US and worldwide on Sunday, in part because of Park’s own prolific tweeting. “How much longer can we get #NotYourAsianSidekick to trend?” she asked at one point. “I’m getting tired! Fresh voices, please speak now! We need you to keep it going!”

When Third World women are asked to speak representing our racial or ethnic group, we are expected to move, charm or entertain, but not to educate in ways that are threatening to our audiences
—  Mitsuye Yamada, ‘Invisibility is an Unnatural Disaster: Reflections of an Asian American Woman’, in Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua (eds), This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, 1981), p. 71.

The judge turned to me and read his boiler plate advisory statements to me, while not so much as glancing in her direction. When he finished, he asked me what the nature of the abuse was. So I spoke on her behalf and described the escalation of the husband’s verbal, and progression of physical, habits. The judge asked me if I felt safe in my home. I said I lived alone. He asked me where my husband lived. I was not married - so I realized, he thought I was the victim. I paused, wondering how to respectfully correct him - and also tried to assess why he automatically thought I was the victim and the victim was the lawyer. It had to be race: I was the young minority female who was now stuttering and the victim was the white woman in a suit.

When I looked at the line of women waiting behind us to seek restraining orders, I noticed that they were all women of color and between the ages of 20-35. I realized how fortunate I was to be on this side of the courtroom and to be able to help all of these people who were and are literally exactly like me. I’m not criticizing the desensitized judge. I’m also not saying there aren’t male DV victims (especially since male DV and sexual abuse victims are some of the most insidiously silent, and therefore persecuted, population among us). I’m saying that in a room full of lawyers, judges, and minority DV women, I was the only minority female that had a real chance giving those women a voice - that is inspiration.

—  Prosecutor Fayette Mong shares a moment that galvanized her understanding of feminism.
#NotYourAsianSidekick is taking it to the next level!

External image

Back in December, you helped take Twitter by storm by participating in #NotYourAsianSidekick – the hashtag that showed up in over 95 million Twitter feeds.1

Started by activist Suey Park (with help from fellow social justice movers and shakers, Juliet Shen and 18MR’s own Cayden Mak), #NotYourAsianSidekick began as a digital exploration of Asian American feminism – but thanks to you and millions more around the world, the conversation has grown to cover issues of race, ethnicity, identity, class, and culture.

18MillionRising invites you to help channel our incredible Twitter energy into other spaces and places – starting by participating in 18MR’s first #NotYourAsianSidekick Google Hangout next week Thursday. Will you join us?

We know many of you are eager to take #NotYourAsianSidekick to the next level. Stickers are a good start. Now, we believe a series of public conversations about AAPIs, our history, and our activism can help set the stage for more local and national organizing. We hope you’ll be inspired by the panel of incredible AAPI women who will share their experiences and perspectives on the #NotYourAsianSidekick Google Hangout next week. If folks are inspired by the movement-building work of other AAPIs, everyone is more likely to stay engaged for the long haul!

Please tune into next week’s #NotYourAsianSidekick Google Hangout. In addition to listening, participants will also have the chance to submit questions to the panelists, so come ready to tell us what’s on your mind. You can RSVP for the hangout here.

Here’s to kicking things up a notch!

In solidarity,
PaKou, Samala, Cayden, and Cynthia
The 18MR Team

P.S. We’re planning to do more Google Hangouts, and want to hear your ideas. Tell us about what topics you want to discuss in future hangouts.
I Thought Being Miserable Was Just Part Of Being Chinese American

I was a funny person. I laughed a lot. I was just unhappy a lot of the time.

Kristina Wong is speaks true to experience about depression and the internal struggles asian-americans have to deal with. My non-Asian friends would tell me: “F**k how you were raised. Do your own thing.” <- btw this is probably the worst advice a non-asian american can give any asian-american, when they don’t even understand the under-the-surface experience of being an asian-american. 
In high school, i thought that my life was going to go two directions be creative or be practical. With my schedule at the time, it was impossible for me to give serious time to develop my photography at the same time as getting good grades and adequately preparing myself to enter college. 

Only after high school ended, had I realized that my life is flexible, and that both my individual freedom and my familial responsibility, were both equal and important goals for me to attain. If my parents had not worked hard or made sacrifices for me, none of my dreams would have been possible and this life would have been much harder for me. I hope my daughter or son, one day, can make the same loving statement about me. 

There were millions of times in my early teens where I felt aimless and miserable trying to balance these dilemmas that were pulling me from limb to limb. I didn’t want to fail creatively (with my own personal goals), and I didn’t want to fail academically/economically (the burden placed on every immigrant’s child: your parents came here so you could have a better life and then you face the dilemma that one day, you can’t do the same to offer your children a better life than you had). 

I won’t deny that I wasn’t raised with this mentality similar to Kristina Wong, this dire phobia of failure, with tough and probably unattainable expectations for myself (years of plans and years of backup plans), but after high school I’ve learned to love it and to stop resenting it. I realized that this extreme ambition can no longer make me feel miserable, and I love it because it gives me the ability to be well-rounded, live life to the fullest and learn in the most passionate way. I’m happy because I’m able to treasure my accomplishments and keep on stepping up to the next level. If I never pushed myself to the extent of the way I do, I would have never made it to some of the places that I’ve been or met many of the people that i’ve been lucky to meet.

Was I miserable? Yes. Am I miserable? No. Are all Chinese people miserable? no. People of all colors and cultures have problems, but try to understand their problems in the proper context before you say something ignorant to comfort me like “F**k how you were raised. Do your own thing.” or even worse “How come you let your parents control you like that?”
13-Year-Old TV Star Throws Down For Intersectional Feminism
"Girl Meets World" star Rowan Blanchard is one awesome lady. At just 13 years old, she's the star of a hit Disney show, a passionate and vocal activist, and an ambassador for the #TeamHeForShe feminist

“To only acknowledge feminism from a one-sided view when the literal definition is the equality of the sexes is not feminism at all.”

Cheers to all women in the world who has overcome abusive relationships. Stay strong. And for those in abusive relationship, you are not alone, a better life is the only option, so stay even stronger.
7 Women of Color Who Fought for Gender Equality : AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881

“Women of color routinely faced racism within the women’s suffrage movement. After the passage of the 19th Amendment, state laws and racial discrimination continued to keep women of color from voting. It wasn’t until 1956 that any Native Americans could vote in Utah, and black women remained effectively disenfranchised until the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Even today we continue to see passage of a variety of laws that threaten to prevent women, especially women of color, from voting.

Of course women of color haven’t remained silent in the face of these setbacks. Although they have often been the leading voices and innovators in the fight for equality, history has a tendency to erase their legacy and voices.”

I consider an unresolvable political problem concerning the term ‘Middle Eastern.’ That term was given to the Arab world by Western (European) colonizers who named the region only as it related to their particular worldview. It’s a term that could only make sense to white colonizers so certain that their existence and homelands were the center of everything that they actually named huge regions of the world in relation to themselves. It is offensive to me, and not at all affirming, to use such a term to describe my identity. Using the term 'Middle Eastern’ feels very much like I am adopting the oppressor’s language.
—  Joanna Kadi, Lebanese-Canadian feminist and editor of Food for our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American & Arab-Canadian Feminists
5 Poems I Read in 2015 (& You Should, Too)

5 Poems I Read in 2015 (& You Should, Too)

I read and write poems everyday. I’ve taught poetry to high school students. You could say that poetry is pretty important to me, especially poetry that is honest, true, and packs a punch. I read poetry that not only speaks to me, but to all: POC, queer-identified folks, non-binary, trans, women, men, aliens, mermaids, ghosts, etc. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. None of us have it right…

View On WordPress