The hashtag #BeingAsian went viral on Twitter on Tuesday as Asian Americans shared their life experiences involving racism, cultural pride and shame.

The hashtag was first tweeted by 17 year old Michael Tarui, who wanted to start a discussion about what it was like being Asian and the subsequent racism attached to it.

Tarui told NBC News that the hashtag began as part of a group chat on Twitter with some of his peers,

The purpose of the tag was to create solidarity amongst us youth (many of us use Twitter to advocate), form friendships, and learn from one another.”

He added, “The tag was originally meant to discuss simply our experiences with racism, but because the tag was general we (the people in the group chat) decided that it would be okay to also use this tag to simply discuss what it is like being Asian – the racism, the culture, the pride, the shame, etc.”

“Confronting issues such as the racism we face and the internalized racism it has caused in many of us is important as it helps us move forward … We also believed it was important we discussed the issues highly prevalent in our communities such as racism against one another, colorism, and anti-blackness.”

Unbeknown to Tarui, his hashtag would spread across Twitter globally like wildfire. Asians from all around the world were joining in with the hashtag, including rapper Heems from the hip-hop group Das Racist.

In August 2015, Jason Fong, who was 15 at the time, triggered #MyAsianAmericanStory in response to a remark about anchor babies, “I know that, right now, I’m just a kid with a phone. I hear you, but if one of the goals is to strengthen our community by expanding the scope of our messages, why shouldn’t we use social media if it helps us reach more of our community?”

Tarui believes that his hashtag will continue to tell Asian American stories and use their voices as “many of us so often feel like we don’t have one.”

Most of the tweets using the hashtag discussed racism and stereotypes.

Some took the opportunity to discuss the misconception that all Asians are of the same descent.

Some used the tweet to express the culture clash they experienced growing up in the west.

The hashtag was an incredible example of solidarity and the importance of sharing stories to demonstrate that conflicts regarding culture are shared by many, all around the world. It’s important to be vocal about your experiences, whether it be on social media or face to face.

Only in unity can we fight racism and stereotypes.

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