As a Korean adoptee facilitating anti-racism workshops within the arts field, I have experienced many artists who view race and racism as a black and white binary. I have noticed terms such as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) being weaponized against People of the Global Majority by organizations when they are only referring to the Black community.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We do need to center the most harmed and impacted communities which are the Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. However, that does not mean communities such as the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander)*, Middle Eastern North African, Latinx, and Mixed should be forgotten. If your anti-racism work is not intersectional, you are still upholding white supremacy.
“Sometimes I wonder if the Asian American experience is what it’s like when you’re thinking about everyone else, but no one is thinking about you.” — Steven Yeun
Yeun’s quote resonates with me. We often see AAPI* artists’ names being pronounced wrong. We have seen white organizations get credit for co-productions with an AAPI* culturally specific organization. We have also seen predominately white institutions using a different AAPI* artist’s image by mistake for another artist. I, too, experience these prejudices. I am frequently invited into inclusive conversations where I am often the tokenized individual invited so the “box” can be checked off for the AAPI community.
For too many generations that can be accounted for, the AAPI* community has been presented as the “Model Minority” because of individuals’ proximity to whiteness. First off, this is a MYTH, and we are not a monolith! This ideology was created to make Asians seem to have a monolithic identity of being hard working and light skinned. The AAPI* community consists of a wide range of identities including Eastern Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern North African, Pasifika, Native, and Mixed. All these cultures and communities are always forgotten when the ideology of this Model Minority Myth is being upheld within our society.
As we continue our journey to become anti-racist, we need to take an intersectional approach to dismantling white supremacy. We have to start acknowledging that all of us are multi-faceted and multi-layered individuals. At times, a person’s intersectional identity might create layers of discrimination. We saw this with the recent murders of Asian women in Atlanta. Many individuals were debating if it was race or gender issue, when in fact it was an intersectional issue of race, gender, and class. It is essential that we move past how an individual may physically present and start to explore how all of a person’s identities, even those not easily seen, can affect a person’s experience. Most importantly, we need to stand together and support each other’s communities. We are stronger together than fighting apart.
Read the full article about anti-racism by Kayla Kim Votapek at ARTS Blog.
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