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.
I’m in a group chat and we’ve decided we should start a conversation of what it’s like #BeingAsian and the racism that comes with it.
— ️ (@AsianAdvocacy) June 28, 2016
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.
Not being considered Asian. #BeingAsian
— HEEMY HEEMY (@HIMANSHU) June 29, 2016
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.
#BeingAsian having ur peers mock the nail salon ladies accent, when she at least learned English & theyre too dumb to learn another language
— alyssa (@Alythuh) June 29, 2016
#BeingAsian “do you eat dogs for dinner?” HAHAHA I’ve NEVER heard that one before
— sofia (@sofiaxsilerio) June 30, 2016
#BeingAsian “So are you Chinese or Asian?”
“Do you eat dog?”
“Do you use chopsticks?”
“Can you see?”
“Ching Chong!” pic.twitter.com/ILwEdDx9mP
— lil’ bánh mì (@naypham) June 29, 2016
#BeingAsian is having ppl think the food you grew up with and love eating is disgusting + not normal until a cool trend hits + validates it.
— Diane Lu (@nphanyte) June 30, 2016
Some took the opportunity to discuss the misconception that all Asians are of the same descent.
#BeingAsian means coming in all skin, eye & hair colors. Here are the different nations that make up Asia. pic.twitter.com/cH8i7Q2cGO
— Diana Dee (@DianaDee16) June 29, 2016
#beingasian “wait you’re filipino? i thought you were asian?” pic.twitter.com/q6gnTH8Nm8
— Shit Filipinos Do (@filipinoposts) June 29, 2016
#beingasian “I’m Chinese” “oh, konichiwa.”
— Andy (@ajhdeng) June 30, 2016
Some used the tweet to express the culture clash they experienced growing up in the west.
#BeingAsian watching American sitcoms where the teenager argues with their parents and knowing you’d be dead if you ever tried that
— gabby (@gahbeev) June 29, 2016
#BeingAsian we don’t have curfews we just can’t go out and if we do go out then our parents need a verified autobiography of who we’re with
— arushi (@idkarushi) June 29, 2016
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.