“Aren’t All Asians Alike?”: A Webinar on Asian Hate
The Sound Health Mental Facility in Seattle, WA hosted a webinar called, “Aren’t All Asians All Alike?” on February 21. Presentor Jolene Jang discusses in this 90-minute program the issues with stereotyping, profiling, and violence against Asians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders. This webinar was also interactive, which meant that the attendees in the meeting had the ability to ask questions, give input, and share their AAPI experiences.
Table of Contents
- Who is Jolene Jang?
- A Brief History of Asians in America
- The Model Minority
- Why Some Asians Don’t Speak Up
- What You Can Do on Your Journey of Amplifying AAPI Voices
Who is Jolene Jang?
Jolene Jang is an Asian-American educator and inclusivity consultant. Born and raised in Seattle, Jang came from a disproportionate school system. Encompassing mostly white Americans, Jang felt unseen in her community and in society. And after hosting 35 Asian international students, organizing focus groups for Seattle Asians, and creating two Facebook social groups, Jolene Jang uses 100 percent of her time to advocate for AAPI inclusivity.
A Brief History of Asians in America
Did you know,
The first Asian person was Filipino and arrived in the U.S. in 1587. Most U.S History classes only mention that Asians arrived happened after WWII. But, Anti-Chinese discrimination occurred during the Gold Rush when Chinese people were working hard and Americans started to hate them for it. There was even a tax on them. If you hired them, you had to pay more. Chinese people also couldn’t testify in court. They had to work about 80 percent more and were paid less.
The reason why Jang brought this up was to show that this is a multi-generational thing. When Japanese people came, there were legislative barriers against them as well. This is one of the reasons why the Japanese Internment Camps happened. Even though something happens “in the past,” you should still care about these things. Most, if not all, of these issues – hate crimes, silencing voices, assault, harassment – haven’t been resolved. This goes for resolving generational trauma and generational hatred. If something that “happened in the past,” still occurs, it’s not in the past.
The “Model Minority”
Feeling underrepresented is only part of the issue. Jang mentions in the online seminar that her anger toward Asian hate was greatly dismissed by some of her white friends. Most of them would say the good ol’ phrase, “I don’t see you as Asian,” which is probably because most white people see Asians as the “model minority.”
Basically, the “model minority” myth depicts Asians and Asian-Americans as the perfect depiction of what minorities should be (ex. Good in STEM, wealthy, and hard-working). Jang says later in the seminar that this stereotype actually first occurred in the 1960s, and was used to pit other minorities against each other. This makes sense considering the “model minority” puts Asian people at a higher standard than other, well, minorities.
I’ve seen this stereotype happen in movies and TV. Most of the time, Asian and white characters hung out with each other in them. And in the media, these characters were always smart and well-behaved. However, this myth also gives a disadvantage to Asian-Americans. In another webinar, Jolene Jang talks to teenagers about how they’re affected by racism in high school. Some of them bring up the fact that the reason why they got good grades or did well in school was “because they’re Asian”. So, the “model minority” stereotype not only hinders other minorities, but it’s also a backhanded compliment to Asian people.
High school Asian students aren’t the only ones feeling invalidated. Jang mentions in the seminar that white people will comment on social media and say, “There’s no Asian hate in my community” and then bring up their Asian wives, friends, and neighbors to say that they’ve never experienced it. First, if you’re not Asian, you probably don’t know what to look for when it comes to discrimination. Also, an important thing to understand is that some people might not tell you everything. And they’ve probably done it before and it didn’t go too well.
Asian Violence in America
Other than verbal microaggressions and ignorance, Jang brings up the terrifying reality that most Asian-Americans get physically assaulted, even if they don’t speak up. One of the reasons I thought this program was impactful and memorable was because Jang showed photos and videos of what most Asian-Americans have to face every day. She showed us what the media isn’t covering, what they’re hiding, and what we need to see to instill change.
Has this been happening all along? Or has this occurred because of former Trump’s inciting hate? Jang believes the blatant hate is newer.
As of February 2022, over 10 thousand Asians reported a hate crime incident. And let’s add a bigger emphasis on the word “reported”…
There’s been overt, violent hatred towards Asian people. They’re almost getting run over, murdered, harassed, etc. and the police “can’t do anything” because nothing was committed. And, the media doesn’t care because, as mentioned in the program, a white woman wasn’t the victim. It’s stressful and traumatizing. So, what do we do?
Ways You Can Amplify AAPI Voices
Jang and others in the program discuss excellent ways we can be better people and better allies:
- Watch a documentary
- Shop at AAPI stores
- Read books on AAPI history or from AAPI authors
- Interact with people (online and in-person)
- Listen, listen, listen
As I mentioned previously, Jolene Jang created two well-known social support groups on Facebook. The first Facebook group I want to mention is “Asian Allies.” This community helps allies learn and grow. Her other group called, “Empowered Asians,” creates a safe space for Asian people. Also, this is one of the ways Asians can finally feel heard and validated. This Facebook group allows Asian people to feel accepted and understood and not as someone who’s just angry at the world around them.
So, are all Asians alike?
Some Asians have similar experiences. This could possibly be because some people view them all the same, so unfortunately they’re all treated as such. However, there are 48 countries in Asia, which is the largest continent in the world. It’s so diverse that there are about 56 different ethnic groups in China alone. The U.S only has six. Plus, most Asians have different generational timelines, geographical locations, identities, and experiences.
So to answer this question,
And because they’re not the same, check out Jolene Jang and advocates like her to learn more about AAPI experiences.
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