Asian Clusters: Break that Pinata

(Image Source: Business Week)

Hi everyone! This is Julie again, continuing the posts for AAPI Issues Week.

I think it’s great that there are a rising number of organizations, groups, and activists out there who are continuously working hard to educate people about AAPI issues. It’s truly commendable. But today I want to talk about something a little different. I want to talk about something that I always try to focus on when working with AAPI organizations. Although this is specifically for AAPIs out there, this post can really apply to any minority out there!

Education is key.

The goal of many AAPI organizations is to teach those who aren’t fully aware of what AAPI’s go through. As Brittney mentioned in her post, there are many stereotypes that make it seem as though AAPI’s don’t really need help. Sure, there are seminars, information booths, and speeches that aim to educate. But this is not good enough. Every single person in the AAPI community needs to accept that they are part of a community that requires attention and help and we all need to start stepping up.

Whether it’s due to culture or a need for familiarity, AAPI’s tend to cluster into groups and form large communities. They take over towns and parts of cities in just years. I grew up in a town that was just one of the many towns taken over by the AAPIs. People were speaking in Korean. Signs were in Korean. You go to a corner on a street, look in any direction (360 degrees), and there will be an Asian American in your view.

File:Asian-census density map.pnghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Asian-census_density_map.png

Just looking at this 2010 Census Map, you can already see what I mean by the clustering. That means that it’s highly probable that most of the US haven’t even seen an Asian American! How can anyone understand someone/something that they have never seen and their only exposure is through the internet and TV?

While it’s great to form a community that understands each other’s language and culture, others will never be able to learn about AAPI issues if everything stays within the community. Do you think that organizations that advocate for AAPI’s is sufficient to do the job and let our voices be heard? Just think about your classes in school. All those lectures and tests! You learn some important information but you sleep through most lectures. You learn the most basic material to get the gist of the lecture. Compare that with a hands-on experiment/experience! You get to use your 5 senses and not just your mind to experience what you need to learn.

(Image Source: The Cutting Truth)

What am I trying to say here?

A person will learn better from you personally! Everyone needs to get out of their comfort zone/community. It’s as simple as befriending someone who isn’t an Asian American. Letting them know about our own culture and point our differences. Help them understand that while our cultures may be different, we are all people who eat, work, and play. Break down stereotypes one by one and help them understand that AAPIs, and all other minorities, have issues that we are fighting to overcome. We can work to help a community and break down barriers between AAPIs and other groups by doing community service (something that is not AAPI related) and teach others little by little. When I say teach, I don’t mean lecture. Being yourself, becoming a friend (or even acquaintances) will teach slowly but surely. But also be aware that you are representing the AAPI community.

And in case you’re wondering about the name of this post, a piñata is actually a great analogy for AAPI’s who need to spread the word. There are so many candies and goodies in a piñata but no one will be able to see what’s inside the piñata, or even enjoy its yumminess, until someone breaks it open and let all the candy fall for everyone to enjoy. We need to break these clusters and start spreading out, break down barriers, and let others learn about our culture that stayed inside the piñata. Okay, I might be abusing this metaphor, but I think you all get the point. We can’t complain about stereotypes and lack of education on cultural awareness if we don’t even venture out of the AAPI community. Get to know people. Learn about other cultures first hand while teaching others about our own. Be an advocate in your own way.

Julie

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