Being Asian/Pacific Islander in America

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Today marks the end of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage month.

And I see that America still doesn’t give a fuck about us, but that’s okay, I guess. After all, we have all been conditioned, by both the media and those who make these rules, that if you’re Asian, in particular, in America, that you should be the following:

  • Obedient
  • Model minority
  • Quiet
  • Impotent (in more ways than one)
  • Hard-working
  • Wealthy
  • Meek
  • Weak (physically and in our political will)
  • Strong as in “smarter” because of genetics (wtf even is that?)

What Asians Need To Do

The worst part is that many Asians in America just accept this reality that we must live with the trauma of model minority and minority stress to fit this cookie-cutter, white-supremacist derived definition of what it means to be Asian. In this way, we don’t get to write our own narrative, and refuse to do so, because it is politically and personally advantageous for us to be “good Asians” that fit a stereotype. At the same time, when we don’t fit the definition of a good Asian (which starts with basically being the Asian version of a white person with cishet, enabled, and wealthy privilege), we are shunned by our own communities because we are not socially acceptable.

One of the major problems with our Asian community in America is that we choose to willfully ignore the needs of those who don’t fit the model minority myth strictly because of our community’s colonial mentality and preference for all things “white”. Thus, we accept that our narrative should be written for us and that we must fit in rather than stand out as a community. We also glorify “traditional values”, like gender norms, homophobia and transphobia, that were exported to our ancestors. There is no better way to honor our ancestors, who suffered under colonialism, than to show love for all of us. Asians are not a monolith, we can be Yellow, Black or Brown, we can be queer, trans or intersex, we can be enabled or disabled. Our community is as diverse as any other out there with all of the nationalities and microcosms that compose the Asian diaspora. We can no longer stay silent or complicit on issues of racial injustice, acceptance for queer/trans/intersex people, or for disabled people. We must stand strong in solidarity with our fellow Black and Brown people, with whom we have a rich history of advocacy and activism. We must stand strong for all queer/trans/intersex people and disabled people who have always existed within our communities.

We can no longer allow ourselves to be used as convenient, obedient pawns for white supremacy, we must dismantle that system in solidarity with our fellow non-white peoples.

For Non-Asians and Non-Pacific Islanders

Do not use Asians as scapegoats.

Specifically for white and white-passing people:

White people need to stop using the financial “excellence” of Asian people, or other Black, Brown and Yellow people in general, to foster your ideas of a model minority. White people also need to stop acting as if it’s okay to say “I’m into Asians” or, in the white gay community “I’m not into Asians, etc.” because racial hang-ups with dating are also a symptom of white supremacy and you need to stop acting as if it’s okay to fetishize people based on their race or ethnicity. Nope. Asians are not your fetish, your thing, your model minority or your scapegoat.  I am not a willing pawn and participant in your system of white supremacy.  I am not to be considered your ally in the oppression of my Black, Brown and Yellow people.  I am not your “banana” (and don’t you dare use that slur). 

Another thing, the class privilege that many Asians do have is because their parents immigrated to the United States after attaining a massive amount of education, wealth, or both.  This is existing generational wealth that they and their families already had.  This also happens in Black and Brown non-Asian communities, in spite of your ancestors’ attempts to take away wealth from communities of color.  This privilege, however, will NEVER replace white privilege and all of the perks of being white.  We will always be trying to keep up with white people, in terms of our human rights and society’s assigned worth to us as individuals and communities.  And, so long as white supremacy and its many vestiges are in power, we will never have equity with white people. 

Besides, I come from an immigrant family with parents without those professional qualifications, it was merely a series of strokes of luck that my parents made it to America, and that I was born and raised here.  And, because I have the privilege of being American, I will use it to ensure that the systems in place to coerce communities of color into enforcing white supremacy will be dismantled.

Anyway, stop your bullshit assumption(s) that Asians cannot face racism, classism, or discrimination.  “Not all white people” are bad or even believe this system should be in place, but many of the people who I have experienced discrimination from were, guess what: white.

Specifically for Non-Asian people of color

Non-Asian people of color need to stop stereotyping Asians as model minorities. Not only does that put us in a position where we feel as if our issues don’t matter in the scope of racial justice, this toxic belief is derivative from white supremacy. By claiming that my appearance relegates to me and allows you to assume that I have “model minority privilege” is the willful ignorance of the fact that my skin is not white, my eyes are not bright, and my facial features do not match those of a white man. By all accounts, I am a person of color, I am also a proud Pilipino, queer, autistic, and disabled man and I am not your scapegoat either. I am not the enemy and I do not choose to be allied with those who want to back white supremacy and keep it in place.

For Everyone

Understand that we are also oppressed in this same system of white supremacy and that, even if many of us have wealth and light-skinned privilege and choose to leverage that instead of fighting for liberation, many of us understand that this system is rigged.  However, we may also feel powerless to do anything about this system due to the discouragement that within general movements for social justice.  For instance, I have stated before that because I felt invisible because I’m Pilipino, gay and autisitic, and someone with white-passing privilege who was also queer and autistic simply scoffed at the idea just because of the apparent lack of credibility I have when it comes to oppression olympics. 

However, that does not mean that light-skinned privilege, wealth privilege (which I definitely do not have), and the ability to pass should not also be dismantled, this just means that, as an Asian and Pilipino person in America, I should not be judged based on stereotypes of privilege that I don’t have.  Furthermore, it is solidarity, not white supremacist-fueled segregation, is the key for liberation for all Black, Brown, and Yellow peoples.

Fuck model minority expectations, bring back traditional pre-colonial Pilipino and pre-colonial Asian culture, and include Asians and Pacific Islanders in conversations about race.

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