More than 50 Asian and Pacific Islander American-identifying students convened for A/PIA Womxn: Stereotypes and Double Standards, a discussion about topics surrounding issues facing the A/PIA identities. Sponsored by United Asian Americans Organizations and alpha Kappa Delta Phi, an Asian-interest sorority, the event was held in the Yuri Kochiyama Lounge in South Quad Residence Hall and featured informational slides to supplement the dialogue.
The use of the word “womxn” was included to make the event inclusive to women who identify as transgender and non-binary. Attendees were split up into six groups and asked to share their opinions and experiences about A/PIA identity.
UAAO Co-Chair Cristina Guytingco, an LSA junior, said the event was valuable for creating a safe space for different perspectives.
“We thought it was important to have a dialogue surrounding A/PIA women in the community,” Guytingco said. “Coming from an intersectional context and viewpoint, we thought it’d be cool to have this dialogue about stereotypes and what it is to be an A/PIA woman within these contexts.”
Co-Chair Michelle Byun, an LSA freshman, moderated the event and set the norms for everyone to follow when discussing sensitive topics. Presentation topics included racism, sexism, historical stereotypes, discrimination and colorism.
During the group discussions, students discussed the “model minority” myth surrounding the A/PIA community. Other experiences brought up include being asked “Where are you from?”, racialized catcalling and fetishizing of multiracial babies.
Byun talked about colorism, specifically mentioning skin lightening products and beauty stereotypes. Other attendees brought up the different beauty standards in America compared to Asia and how the differences of skin color between siblings has impacted their experiences as an A/PIA.
Students who were A/PIA and also identified with another identity discussed the intersectionality that exists within their cultures and how this impacts their experience as a person of color. Business sophomore Sarah Morgan said she was able to share her perspective as a biracial Black and Filipino woman, which was unique compared to the majority of the attendees at the event.
“As a bi-racial Asian woman, I decided to come because I knew this would be a good opportunity to speak on my experiences with my Filipino background,” Morgan said. “I really enjoyed talking about the stereotypes because as a Black person, I was able to talk about the model minority myth as well as colorism that I’ve seen in the Filipino community. I was able to bring that perspective into the group dialogue tonight.”
During the presentation, many examples of misrepresentation of A/PIA womxn were shared with the audience. One example was the dragon lady stereotype and lotus flower stereotype, depicting that womxn were either seductive or easily seduced.
Students shared examples of discriminatory incidents within a personal, professional and academic setting.
Co-Chair Dim Mang, an LSA senior, said the event was not meant to represent all perspectives within the A/PIA community, but rather to start a dialogue among those who have something to share.
“I think the event went really well. We tried to be very aware of the fact that especially when you’re talking about a community as diverse as Asian Americans, you can’t cover every topic well and you can’t cover every facet well,” Mang said. “Something that we wanted to be really conscious of was using our own experiences and not trying to speak for other voices and experiences. In those terms, I think it went really well and we’re really trying to improve as the semester goes.”
Reporter Jasmin Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.