I promise 20 mins, but the conversation teases the hour mark. In that time, we broach the discourse on the model minority myth, the lie of meritocracy, growing up as a second generation Bangladeshi American, identity development--clearly, my promise of 20 minutes was audacious.
Introducing Asian American Millennial Unite’s #UnapologeticAsian series. At AAMUnite, we believe that building political power among AAPI millennials goes beyond electoral politics. The work of AAPI millennials nationwide demonstrates innovative models of activism to learn from, be a part of, and possibly follow after in our own communities. #UnapologeticAsian highlights up-and-coming civic leaders’ best tips, strategies and lessons learned for creating change in your own communities, wherever you may be. We launch this series with an interview with the first Asian American to play Aaron Burr, King George III, and Laurens/Philip in Hamilton, Jin Ha.
Our activist history is largely absent from our literature – and I implore you to recognize the powerful Asian Americans whose political awakenings built a movement to create Asian America. We have the Black Liberation Movement to thank for their precedence and leadership. And now, in the spirit of their strength and racial solidarity, we must come together to actively resist Trump’s regime built on xenophobia and prejudice.
April 30th, 2017 marks the 42nd anniversary since the Fall of Saigon. Pearl Nguyen parses through her identity as a child of a refugee of the Vietnam War. In this personal essay, she details her father's journey fleeing a changed Vietnam to the States, and her mother's steadfast quotidian responsibilities that have cemented her sense of identity as a first-generation American.
An official statement from the AAMUnite Team.
When people used to ask me, “Why do you even vote?” I usually would respond with “because it’s our right and it’s important” without any substantial evidence as to why I vote in the first place.
Oh…no, honey. Trust me. You want to be White. So I nodded my head and agreed after fruitless attempts to awkwardly explain that my mom is White and that my dad is Thai. After all, she was one of our school counselors and she was trying to make things easier for me.
When you watch all of these debates, when do you ever hear politicians trying to get the Asian American vote? Asian Americans have hardly ever been a topic of interest in media coverage of the US current presidential election.
AAPIs have been straight killing it this year with social media activism. From #BeingAsian to #StarringConstanceWu to #BrownAsiansExist, we have made our voices loud and clear. We not only want representation, we are DEMANDING it. Furthermore, we want our voices both heard AND listened to.
My family never let me feel my color. My mother let me be a kid, which meant that I'd get as brown as possible during the summers due to being outside all day. I had no concept of "colorism" until I visited the Philippines in my 20s.
Comments made in real time by AAPI millennials in response to 2016's 2nd presidential debate.
As a first-generation Filipino-American, son of a unionized nurse, and product of New Jersey public schools, I share a deep connection with the issues that will define this election. From the blood, sweat, and tears to the love, hope, and joy that created the foundation of my home and family, my journey has been a beautiful struggle. It is no surprise that this election feels very personal. The chasm in American politics today could not be wider and the stakes could not be higher.
Almost 80% of millennials have moved at some point in their lives—not including moves to attend college—and more than 30% have moved at least three times. The same transient lifestyle that may drive this generation to be more flexible and globally aware can also lull us into believing our footprints are only temporary...but they aren't.
I visited the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) for the first time this summer and have since gone back four times, each with a different friend or family member. I had not realized how important such a cultural institution was until I actually went inside and wandered through its galleries. Why I had put off visiting it remains a mystery to me.
Many millennials with similar backgrounds like myself are born in America and grew up speaking English as their native language, so we hold onto our culture through food. It is often one of our earliest introductions to our roots, a way of coming into our cultural identities. Although food is not the only way I try to stay culturally connected to my Asian identity, it is often the most accessible.
My Grandma was a farmer who grew up in a poverty-stricken village in southern China and the ‘right to vote’ was a concept that was not only foreign to her, but vastly inconceivable. I learned just how important this right was through the many stories my grandma would tell me throughout my life.
In this poem, AAMUnite Co-Director Helena Berbano takes on the difficulties of wanting and being an ally—and the sometimes unbearable burden of being labeled a model minority.
As my siblings pursued nursing and business, I felt pressured to follow in their footsteps in order to become successful and to make my parents happy. So, I majored in biology in hopes of becoming an optometrist and owning my own practice. However, I felt as if though I had traded my creative mind for facts and memorization. I felt stuck.
Wellesley College and Hillary Clinton are strangely synonymous. Within these last couple months, whenever I introduce myself to new friends and colleagues and mention that I am a rising senior at Wellesley College, I am oftentimes asked, “Are you voting for Hillary?” Sometimes I’m not even granted the courtesy of a question, but rather am told, “Oh, you must be voting for Hillary!”
I started by asking myself why? Being a driven individual, why am I not expressing my voice? Why am I letting other people voice their opinions without letting my own be heard? I have done too much in my life to just let this opportunity for my opinion to matter pass. I am no longer on the sideline. In fact, I was standing on the sideline ready to play the whole time.
My parents grew up 9,000 miles apart.
They met in letters, sticking stamps to envelopes filled with photographs and stories, learning the tenor of one another’s voices without talking on the phone.
I found my “Ann Perkins” of social justice in two amazing individuals. The conversation flowed effortlessly—we talked about intersectionality, feminism, the voices of people of color in activism—topics that I care deeply about.
You cannot go on your daily commute without seeing an Orlando City magnet on the back of a car. Beside that, the community seemed fragmented. But after the shooting, I began to see why Orlando was called “The City Beautiful.”
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always been interested in politics. Even though I spent most of my childhood moving between America and China, when I imagined giving my acceptance speech it was always on the steps of Capitol Hill. Call it a West Wing-fuelled fantasy of me, a loud Asian American girl bringing a diorama of the White House for career day in 7th grade at Shanghai American School with my favorite presidents peeking out of the windows and me stepping out of the front doors.
I have never been particularly interested or involved in civic engagement. I’ve only engaged myself when it was specific assignment from a teacher, or when I was bored. I came across a BuzzFeed article discussing how Asian Americans have the potential to play a huge role in the elections because of our growing electorate. I decided then that perhaps instead of being passive about civic engagement, I should take a more active approach by joining a related student organization or by voting for the first time.
The closest media incarnation of local government has been seen through the show Parks and Recreation and how Leslie Knope and the gang work hard to get every voter on their side for legislation. Parks and Rec definitely holds some truth in that you must push for every vote even when your community is heavily divided and even when your vote can be controversial. The following is a story of how I pushed to make every vote count, make every vote important, and to ensure that every voice was heard. I joined AAMUnite because I wanted my voice to be heard.
I have never been someone who gets involved in cultural organizations, but through an unexpected turn of events I landed myself the position of Public Relations Chair for the Asian Student Association (ASA) at Simmons College.
Some recent examples of being #whitewashedOut are seen in the films Ghost in the Shell, Doctor Strange, and Dragonball: Evolution. They have casted white actors in Asian roles, and in the case of Ghost in the Shell, they went one step further by testing CGI effects that would make actress Scarlett Johansson look Asian. In other words, modern day yellowface.
With the general election just over the horizon, Trump now has to focus on winning independents and rallying minority voters to his side; however, the minority vote has been difficult to capture for Trump. And no, that Cinco De Mayo taco bowl from Trump Tower Grill didn’t help. That’s why I wanted to see for myself what a Trump rally looked like as an Asian American observer.