#wearenotminor | A photo campaign for racial identity

If you haven’t heard about the Asian American Alliance’s new campaign, #wearenotminor, you might want to listen up and take a look at the messages conveyed in this awesome new photo campaign.

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Every Friday, people gather at the upper campus patio to write a message on a dry-erase board and get their picture taken. These messages explore Asian American identity, and range over a variety of topics. The over-arching theme explores the under-representation and misrepresentation of Asians and Asian Americans, as well as micro-aggressions faced everyday.

“’Woah, you have no accent when you speak English!’ – At least 1 parent on every tour I lead.”

“No, I do not eat dog. Bye.”

“Proud to be: Asian American, daughter of Chinese Immigrants, queer, a survivor. I am multifaceted. My existence is resistance.”

These are just some of the many messages shared by the participants in the campaign. But the aspect that makes the campaign so much more powerful are the faces behind the boards.

Being able to connect with real people and their expressions as they share just a small part of their story is powerful and makes the problem much more real. “Looking at someone’s face and their expression, says so much more and has a much stronger effect,” says Tenzin Chokki, one of the creators of the photo campaign.

Chokki, her Arts Co-Chair Julianna Ko, and AAA president Jess Wu, are all extremely excited to get the project up and running and hope that this campaign can help spark conversations about Asian and Asian American identity on campus.

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“This helps the community by being able to express themselves … and see each other express themselves,” says Ko.

By sharing experiences, members of the Asian American community are reminding everyone that micro-aggressions – things people say that they might not know are offensive – are real, and are said all the time. 

There is also a lot to be said about the name of the project. #wearenotminor pulls many different views together all at the same time.

The first being that Asian Americans are NOT a minority: people – of any race – can, and should not, be labeled as “minor.”

Second, it brings to mind the fact that Tufts only offers an Asian American minor; there are majors for other cultures, such as Latino Studies, or Africana Studies, but no opportunities for those who would like to pursue an Asian American Studies major. Lastly, it brings forth the idea that Asian Americans do not always have a place in race discussions in America; those discussions frequently focus on Blacks or Latinos. As Jess Wu puts it, “we are not in a lot of discussions, but we are here.”

This last idea – the fact that Asian Americans are often left out of discussions of race relations in America stem from the topic of a teach-in that took place this past Monday, October 20th. The Model Minority Myth was the topic of discussion at the event. The myth, as Wu puts it, is “the idea that Asian Americans are apolitical, passive groups … it’s what a “model” minority should look like [in America].”

Basically, the myth says that Asian Americans are successful and are the group of immigrants that every other racial group should strive to be in the United States. But, views are easily skewed. Many Asian Americans come to the U.S. with degrees, and some are more successful that others; problems arise when Asian Americans do need help and are neglected when society tends to see them as the “successful minority.”

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At a time where talks of identity and race relations are extremely relevant, this teach-in and the #wearenotminor photo campaign helps create safe spaces where Asians and Asian Americans can share their experiences, their thoughts, and why they are proud – not just to be of a certain race, but to exist.

“The university [Tufts] promotes diversity, but there is still no space for people to talk; we need to create these spaces that Tufts doesn’t have for us,” says Wu. And the photo campaign does just that – it provides a space where people can speak out. And it gets the community thinking: that sometimes things that may not be thought of as offensive can be hurtful, that Asian Americans deserve a place in race discussions, and that no one should be seen as minor.

If you want to get involved in the project, #wearenotminor will be taking pictures on select Wednesdays (Oct. 29th and Nov. 12th) from 12pm-1pm, and every Friday (until November 14th) from 12pm-2pm on the upper campus patio.

Also, join the event on Facebook, and check the page for new photo releases!

~Photos courtesy of AAA and the #weararenotminor campaign. 

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