How do I sum up nearly 20 years of racism, discrimination, microaggressions, and stereotypes directed at me in simply 140 characters? This is exactly what Asians across America have been doing on twitter for the past few days under the hashtag: NotYourAsianSidekick. This space was created by Suey Park to talk “about queerness, disability, immigration, multiracial/biracial issues, compulsory coalitions, challenging anti-blackness, mental health, body image, and all things feminism. It was all of the things we were told to never talk about.” The conversation was framed early on as a way of making space to discuss these issues, because we will not be given the space by request.
I’ve been so grateful to hear the voices of my fellow Asian Americans. This conversation has provided me with a feeling of solidarity among strangers and has provided the whole world a chance to see what words we receive on a daily basis that are so damaging to us. It’s so important to pay attention to the stereotypes and raw emotion that has surfaced because of this. These people have given light to such an important topic that has been covered up and silenced for far too long.
As much as I’ve watched this event unfold, I must confess that I haven’t yet created my own #NotYourAsianSidekick tweet. It’s certainly not because I can’t relate or don’t feel passionately about this, because I do. I’ll tell you any day that just because I’m shy, doesn’t mean I’m submissive. I could give a long lecture about the glass ceiling affect for both women and Asians professionally or the harmful implications of the perception of Asians as the model minority for the U.S. But I don’t know that I could clearly articulate in 140 characters that gross feeling stemming from the gut that makes me want to shrink and become invisible every time a middle-aged white man stares at me for 30 seconds too long or just how frustrated I feel when I look at my favorite celebrities and see no Asian faces among them. I don’t think I have the capability yet to describe the duality of trying to be accepted in the confines of both the Asian and American ideals of beauty or the fear that rushes through my body as my other women of color friends and I warn each other about the men we’ve known with Asian/POC fetishes.
I am in total support of the #NotYourAsianSidekick movement, but I strongly believe we need to lift it off of our iPhone and laptop screens and continue these tough conversations face-to-face in the real world. Activist-scholar Mari Matsuda tweeted: “We theorized #NotYourAsianSidekick ideas since the 70′s but kids gotta learn it from a damn hashtag.” The internet is certainly a powerful tool in mobilizing people and raising concerns to the public. Asian-Americans have shown the world our presence, our passion, and our power in numbers. We’re mobilized now, but that’s only the first step. I sincerely hope that social change is on its way soon.
I’m #NotYourAsianSidekick because I’m just as American as you.
#NotYourAsianSidekick because it’s time Asians take some lead roles.
Get your #NotYourAsianSidekick sticker here: http://notyourasiansidekick.com
- #NotYourAsianSidekick Becomes Top Twitter Trend – ABC News (abcnews.go.com)
- I am Grateful For: #NotYourAsianSidekick (gratitudemondays.wordpress.com)
- #NotYourAsianSidekick Unites Thousands To Discuss Asian American Feminism And Stereotypes (buzzfeed.com)
- Watch: Suey Park Discusses #NotYourAsianSidekick (racialicious.com)
- #NotYourAsianSidekick Is Great. But Now For Some Real Change (ideas.time.com)