By Alia Marsha
Northwest Asian Weekly
On Thursday, Jan. 30, the ASUW Asian Student Commission hosted a talk by Phil Yu, founder of the famous blog Angry Asian Man. Yu is not a very angry person after all. Rather, he likes to describe himself as a pretty chill man. However, as he pointed out that evening, there are certainly issues we are allowed to be and should be angry about.
Yu started the talk with a brave move, announcing that he is a proud San Francisco 49ers fan, to which the audience responded with loud boos and hisses. Fortunately, he managed to make up for it with charm and humor.
The origin of Angry Asian Man is not unusual. He started the blog in 2001 not expecting anyone besides family and friends to read it. Now it is considered a leading source for Asian American community and national news. After 13 years, his goal remains the same: depicting a broad picture of the Asian American experience, the good and the bad, and breaking the narrow mainstream portrayal of Asian Americans.
The dominant air about Asians is that we are passive, that were not gonna rock the boat, be the model minority… but its OK to be righteously angry, to fight what we have to fight for, said Yu to a nodding crowd.
He framed his talk around five “Angriest Posts” that have been featured in his blog. Among them was the Alexandra Wallace debacle, which is centered on a white UCLA student whose life turned upside down after posting a YouTube video of her ranting and making pejorative remarks about Asian students at UCLA back in 2011.
When a screenshot of that video appeared on Yu’s slide show, the audience groaned, as if saying, “Not this again.” We have all been through this video. We have been offended, been angered, and finally able to laugh about it and let it go. Then Yu reminded us that foolishness such as that video still exists, and with the Internet, it is easier to spot. It’s easier for us to get angry, but we can do something about it.
“We all think that the state of racism in this country is going to get better if we just give it time, you know?” Yu said. “It doesn’t get better with time. It gets better because we stand up and we speak out and we give a damn.”
ASUW Asian Student Commission Director Tony Vo said that he wanted to focus on involving students with social justice issues this year. Since the Angry Asian Man has a huge following, it was an effective way to start off the year. Vo said he hoped people could see Asians and Asian Americans as more three-dimensional individuals, with very different cultures, instead of just the model minority or the token Asian on mainstream TV shows.
“I’m really trying to expand our presence and visibility and cooperating social justice, educational events that are more intentional, so that people can take away something meaningful after they leave the event, said Vo.
It seemed like Vo has accomplished his goal with this event. Michelle Le, a UW student who recently discovered Yus blog after seeing posters promoting the event, fell in love with it almost immediately. With him, I feel like theres someone who understands it, she said.
Before he ended his talk, Yu gave his audience a mission: “Find out what makes you angry. Find out what you give a damn about, and give those damns. Get angry.” (end)
Alia Marsha can be reached at email@example.com.