Sabrina: "What sparked your interest in activism within Asian American communities?"
I became most interested in activism during my first few years of college as I learned how to better question power structures and racial dynamics. Most crucially, I learned how to more aptly examine and reposition myself so that I can challenge racist norms that both benefit and harm me.
After starting college, I realized that when I said “Asian,” it actually meant “Asian American” and thus “Vietnamese” became “Vietnamese American.” At first, I struggled with what it meant to categorize myself with these labels and I spent significant time trying to figure out what these terms meant to me. What is Asian? What is American? Can one be more than the other? These identities are often pitted against each other, and I’ve come to realize that it’s more complex than the reductive East-versus-West or not-being-Asian-or-American-“enough” trope that mainstream media commonly plays on. Some try to use these terms to confine us and to ostracize others (re: “Model Minority Myth”), but once I came to understand that these identities are exceedingly nuanced, then it became more liberating to use them.
My thoughts are still evolving, though now I see that these labels are never mutually exclusive. I am equally Asian as I am American as I am Asian American and Vietnamese American. Constantly evaluating my motives and position allows me to best show up and advocate alongside other marginalized communities. I’m coming to find that some of the most meaningful work starts with profound introspection and necessitates us to question, challenge, and forgive ourselves; however, the work only starts here and we must always keep learning and fighting.