A #NotYourAsianSidekick conversation is blowing up on my Twitter right now - but with the conversation more focused on the idea of anti-blackness that has been an issue of the hashtag - and as I'm late to the party, I feel I cannot legitimately contribute to the conversation. And so I'll write my thoughts here on the movement in the first place.
When I say late to the party, I'm not too out of the loop for the amount of time I spend on Twitter on a regular (daily) basis.
This infographic from Al Jazeera helps to explain the origins.
And while the conversation has achieved its goal to make this into the mainstream - be covered by the outlets like Al Jazeera and Washington Post, the message itself cannot be overshadowed by the fact its yet another example of the beauty of social media to change the wider conversation on important issues.
With a sexy hashtag (its how they all start these days), #NotYour AsianSidekick highlights an issue that so many can connect to - whether Asian or a part of another ethnic minority - and have yet to find the community and forum to voice their opinions.
To my understanding, the hashtag and the movement is about challenging imposed stereotypes and Asian identities. In Western societies, like America from which this movement has laid its roots, its been difficult to find the space as an Asian woman.
I've struggled between owning and rejecting my Asian heritage. I'm proud of my Asian ethnicity - there are some serious benefits. Not only has my family and I guess my people, a rich interesting history, the economy in China is able to boom through the intelligence and diligence of the Chinese people (they all work way too hard). At the same time they have their many flaws. Chinese politics is a mess, the Hong Kong lifestyle I cannot agree with or adapt, and their social grace is a little lacking.
I will not go into what I think about other Asian cultures, because believe it or not we are all different. I am from Hong Kong through and through and that is a big distinction from mainland China, and not just because of my "racism."
However, I have also found myself often rejecting my Asian heritage, being in denial of my heritage and at times a little racist.
Firstly, the racism is almost an embracement of my heritage. I've noticed a strong intolerance for other Asian cultures in Hong Kong - a lot of stereotyping and disapproval so that's just kind of been inbred.
Secondly, the flaws of my own culture (the Chinese) and all Asians (as we are so often just grouped all as one) are often true and evident. To distance myself from some of these things that from mere location of birth I have not been privy to, have meant distancing myself from the heritage itself.
Thirdly (and probably most importantly), not just the flaws but the stereotypes are so difficult to shake off. I'm not just that quiet Asian nerd. Yes, I enjoyed study and I did well at school because I did study. I did well at maths because I enjoyed it and I was quiet, because I'm an introvert. But that does not mean you can shove me in the colour with glasses and a book and assume that is all I am. If anything I've overcompensated on proving I'm not just that Asian by rejecting my heritage further, cutting my hair in an unconventional way and sticking coloured highlights in and partying a little harder at pubs rather than the "Asian clubs."
Fourthly, it's become such the gimmick. I'm the token Asian who is fully aware of her status and laughs it off. I'm the funny Asian but non-Asian.
I need this movement because I want to be all these things. I want to be Asian but not be pre-judged for it because of my ethnicity. I want it to be more than a gimmick and a joke to sometimes deny my Asianness - because I am Australian because I was born and raised here like any one of my white friends and do not hold the same values as my cousins in Hong Kong for the same reason - they were born and raised there in that lifestyle. I need it because I'm not the answer to people's yellow fever or white enough for you not to notice I'm actually Asian. I want to be Asian without people assuming I must fit into this neat little category of yellow-skinned, small-eyed nerds - but individuals. I want my representations in the media not only consist of either white women, the token asian or the girls from Hong Kong.