(박소영; Bahk Soh Yhung), Korean-American
as Jeremy Lin
Brittany Bahk 박소영 (Bahk Soh Yhung) Korean-American
I chose Jeremy Lin as my Asian-American inspiration, because I admire his break-through success as well as his humility. As an Asian-American, I often feel that my voice goes unheard because of the stereotypes that society has against me as an Asian (not to mention, also as a woman). Society has taught me that "Asians stay quiet and stick to the books." If I had grown up surrounded by more public figures who looked like me, I believe I would have felt more empowered to succeed and would have had more confidence in myself to pursue the extent of those possibilities. When I heard of Jeremy Lin and how his 'Linsanity' had been spreading throughout the society, I felt proud to be an Asian American. Not only did he break historical records within the NBA and spread his name throughout diverse communities, but he also broke historical stereotypes against "the successful Asian-American." He shocked and challenged people, but mostly he stayed true to his identity beyond his success. I admire Jeremy Lin, because he is an Asian-American Christian who has inspired my faith, courage, and identity.
as Claire Marshall
I chose Claire Marshall as my Asian-American Leader to focus on, because she is empowering and thoughtful within the content that she creates. She is a YouTuber, known through her channel (Claire Marshall or ohhaiclaire), where she creates beauty videos, as well as creative vlogs. The content that she creates is very intentional, and every clip that she uses has an artistic element captured within it. Her videos can be enjoyed by any audience, although most of her followers identify as female. I have been a subscriber to her channel for more than 3 years now, and I am very happy to be a follower on her platform. The content that she creates is very genuine, and whenever I watch her videos, it feels like I am listening to my close friend speak, even though I have never met her in person. Her fierce and independent personality, as well as her internal and external beauty, are just a few of the traits of Claire that I find admirable.
Claire is biologically Korean but was adopted as a baby, and does not know much of her genetic make-up. However, it is very easy to look at Claire and identify her as an individual of Asian descent. She is one of the growing leaders in the online community of Asian beauty representatives, and although she may not be strongly connected to her Korean roots culturally, Claire does speak vocally about the small amount of information she has about her family, and strongly talks about her life as an adopted child and her relationship with her mother. To be an Asian American means to proudly represent both Asian and American cultures. To me, ethnicity and race is more about culture and background, rather than the general stereotypes that are associated with each ethnic group. Not letting any social limitations because of your certain ethnicity and race become an obstacle within what you want to accomplish in life is what Claire Marshall represents to me. She is a woman that inspires me, and I wish to support her for many years to come, and I am incredibly honored to be able to represent her for this project!
as Jennifer Lee
Jennifer Lee, also known as Tokimonsta on set, is a Korean DJ and producer from Los Angeles. Since becoming recognized by labels and magazines, she has been collaborating with other music producers and DJs and playing at music festivals and shows. Tokimonsta created a label called Young Art, in which she produces music by other artists. She said, “I created Young Art as a means to raise up other artists. It’s not a money grab venture, but a way to give shine to people I believe in.”
What I appreciate about Jennifer is her recognition for other artists who are working to achieve the same musical aspirations as her. I also chose Jennifer Lee not only because I love her music but also because it is remarkable to see a woman of color succeed in an predominantly white male industry. It is difficult to find electronic artists who are like me—who represent my ethnic background. Although I am white and asian, it is more meaningful to draw inspiration from womxn of color than white womxn. I am where I am today not only because I grew up in a racially diverse home that advocates for the equity of marginalized groups of people, but also because these notions stick with me and become more and more solidified as I grow older. In a world that socially constructs toxic ideologies, standards, and cultures that lead to hierarchy between individuals, it is my job to recognize the way the world looks at me so I can overcome these stereotypes built to knock me down and keep me silent. I cheer on Jennifer Lee her voice is heard through the sound of her speakers.
as Grace Lee Bogs
My inspiration for this photo comes from human rights advocate, Grace Lee Boggs. Born to Chinese immigrants, Grace Lee drew from her Asian background to not only advocate for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, but communities of color with an intentional focus on black communities.
Grace Lee Boggs knew that real, radical change could only come as a result of individual transformation, through intentional and meaningful community work. “I think that too much of our emphasis on struggle has simply been in terms of confrontation and not enough recognition of how much spiritual and moral force is involved in the people who are struggling,” Ms. Boggs told Bill Moyers in a PBS interview in 2007. “We have not emphasized sufficiently the cultural revolution that we have to make among ourselves in order to force the government to do differently.”
I am inspired by Grace Lee Boggs because she saw that her struggle as an Asian American was intertwined with the struggles of other marginalized communities. She built communities across ethnic lines, recognizing the power that could come through this type of coalition building. She also recognized the commodification, exploitation, and long oppression of the black body as being central to the movements with which she engaged. Grace Lee Boggs was courageous, unapologetic, and unwavering.
I am still in the process of discovering what Asian American means to me; I have felt that much of my history has been erased, and forgotten. My culture has in part been lost because of my family’s need to assimilate and simultaneously erase our own culture. I am now in the process of reclaiming this for me and my family; encouraging us to remember who we are, who came before us, and who we are today still. “I think we need to appropriate, embrace the idea that we are the leaders we’ve been looking for.” ~Grace Lee Boggs
as Grace Lee Boggs
A reputation of docility does not exactly parallel one of activism. With the established culture of a “model minority” in American society, visibility of API activism is extremely limited. Our community is marginalized and discriminated against, but not to the extent of other racial groups. We are left with the linger of an unspoken struggle. Personally, I always felt unqualified to speak up and involve myself in discussions of equality and civil rights, living in the shadow of a stereotype.
People like Grace Lee Boggs challenge the norm, being the sore thumb of a pivotal movement in the history of racial justice. A century of advocacy. Grace Lee Boggs lived 100 years (1915- 2015) working for social change, taking part in every major movements in her lifetime. The child of Chinese immigrants, she went to Barnard College and received her PHD in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College during a time where very few women of color pursued higher education. While living in Chicago, Boggs joined her first cause to eradicate the rat infestation in her apartment complex and the rest was history. She married a Black activist, James Boggs, together they became a huge force in the Black Power Movement and with the work they accomplished to help the demographic of Detroit.
Our generation is itching to voice our opinions. We are extremely aware and critical of politics; more and more API leaders are emerging to counteract the submissive stereotypes of the API community. Figures like Grace Lee Boggs give young API visionaries a role model to endeavor towards courage in sharing their views and demanding action. She has inspired me to break the barriers of my comfort zone and become a leader for my community. We are more than an allegory of model minority, but models of creating what we want to be and see. “You don't choose the times you live in, but you do choose who you want to be. And you do choose how you think.”
as Viet Thanh Nguyen
Viet Thanh Nguyen is the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "The Sympathizer." In addition to being a famous author, Viet Thanh Nguyen is also a professor at UC Berkeley. I chose this individual as my inspiration because he sheds light on the Vietnam War through a Vietnamese lens which is often ignored in the ethnocentric views of the American people. To me, being a Vietnamese-American is to be the underdog. The first wave of Vietnamese immigrants came to the United States as refugees. We were rejected by the ideals of our country and came to a nation as strangers. Even today, Vietnamese-Americans are a demographic that is not well represented in the media, politics nor business. There are no expectations for the Vietnamese except for the ones we create for ourselves. To be Vietnamese is to have unwavering conviction of our culture and push ourselves to rise to the top. I have never expected charity nor sympathy from other people and have relied on myself and my family to become successful. I have reached where I am today by believing in myself to reach the heights I want to reach. Some of the setbacks I have experienced is being lumped in with other Asian-Americans and having a difficult time distinguishing myself in the eyes of other people. However, the strong sense of individuality I have cultivated as an American combined with the work ethic I have learned from being the son of immigrants have allowed me to reach my career goals.