I am strong. I am capable of more than I think I am, because I have the strength within me.
I am a listener. I listen to my students, families, and myself — fully, intently, and wholeheartedly. I listen to what is said aloud, and also to the silences of words unspoken.
I am an amplifier. I amplify my students in our world, not by “saving my students” nor by “being a voice for the voiceless”, but rather by holding microphones and megaphones to what my students share with me and each other.
I am a leader. I lead my students and colleagues in my classroom and in our world. We lead together in education and beyond.
I am a community builder. I build the community in and out of my classroom alongside my students. I am a part of the community that I help build each day.
I am a lifelong learner. I learn each day from my students, my environment, and our experiences together, and we learn from each other as we grow together.
I am powerful. I can decenter myself as a teacher yet I will still have power as a teacher. It is my choice how I choose to use my power each day, in every moment. With my power, I can empower my students.
I am a change maker. I create change in every moment I am with my students and my community. I create change with my students. I change with the changes I help make with my community.
I am important. Who I am is important. What I do is important. I am important.
Our collective humanity is comprised of our individual identities, cultures, and lives.
Too often, we overgeneralize each other’s identities and cultures. Such overgeneralizations spark and perpetuate harmful stereotypes.
People of the global majority are too often called on to validate, defend, and/or debunk these overgeneralizations – the very stereotypes that hurt us.
The notion of “a single truth” or “the universal truth” is white supremacy at work attempting to silence people of the global majority from sharing their identities, perspectives, and lived experiences for multiple truths to exist.
We each hold multiple truths.
Our lived experiences are truths.
Our identities are truths.
Our cultures are truths.
When one person of a marginalized racial identity shares a truth that conflicts with something another person of the same racial identity says, white folx will often question the contradiction and demand a singular truth from BBIA folx.
BBIA folx are too often pressured and expected to explain their truths without acknowledgement or compensation for the emotional labor such discussions take.
Pleas of “help me understand” plague the daily lives of marginalized folx who are not only undoubtedly experts of their own lives, but must too often serve as the unpaid “diversity, equity, and inclusion” consultant in white people’s lives. People of the global majority navigate through the stereotypes and “truths” written by white folx, and our actual lived experiences which are too often denied, denounced, and devalued. We are often gaslighted with relentless questioning to “prove” our truths.
Authenticity in the histories, traditions, identities, cultures, and lives of the global majority does not always show up in the form of literature and written scholarship.
Recognize and understand that the western written word too often perpetuates white supremacy.
The personal, aural sharing done by people of the global majority must be authentically accepted and valued by default.
Actively work to decolonize the idea of a “single” or “universal” truth in our collective humanity.
Listen intently without interrupting when we are sharing our identities, cultures, and lives.
Reflect deeply and internally on what we share.
Trust our truths as authentic by default, worth amplifying and celebrating when we share stories of our life experiences.
Affirm our individual identities and multiple truths within our collective humanity — not by inaccurately replicating our traditions or replicating what we do at all, but rather by amplifying people of the global majority who are doing the daily work of preservation and continuous creation of culture.
Empower our youth to truly hear, vocalize, and amplify each other’s multiple truths.
The truths of our youth are important and necessary or our collective humanity.
On the complexities of yellow and yellow peril, and offering an alternative: Golden Power.
A non-comprehensive list of what WE ARE NOT: We are not yellow foreigners your yellow fever yellow peril invisible dangerous coronavirus exotic model minorities a monolith the enemy.
“Yellow Peril” is a racist term that has been used to describe Asian people as a danger to the Western world. The term was coined by Russian Sociologist Jacques Novikow in 1897 and used by Western empires and white people in power, including Kaiser Wilhelm II, to encourage colonization of Asian countries and people. Using “Yellow Peril” perpetuates xenophobia and anti-Asian hate.
“Yellow” as a color for Asian people stems from “Luridus”: “Lurid”, “Sallow”, “Pale Yellow” – a label assigned by Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus. “Luridus” was also used to characterize unhealthy and toxic plants, and “yellow” helped reinforce an irrational fear of and danger from the perpetual foreigners: Asian people.
“Yellow” and “Yellow Peril” have been denounced and reclaimed by people of the Asian diaspora. Only Asian people can decide for themselves whether to denounce or reclaim racist terms that have been used against us. If you are not Asian, you cannot decide for us. Each Asian person’s voice is valuable, and yet does not speak monolithically for all members of the Asian diaspora.
Asian Americans: We actively renew racist rhetoric in our language if we do not understand the intersectional history of standing for and with Asians. We can embrace the history of activism that comes with “yellow peril” and denounce its usage when used by non-asian folx to describe our humanity. We can bravely share our narratives because each one of us matters – individually AND as part of the Asian diaspora.
I want to offer an alternative. Golden Power. GOLDEN. POWER.
Affirmations for my Asian American community: We are Asian. We are American. We are Asian American. We are Golden.
Rise up in solidarity. Speak up to protect BBIA. Embrace our Golden Power.
As an Asian American child, I never spoke of myself as someone important, a voice to be heard, or an identity to be seen and valued. I never spoke an affirmation about my identity. In fact, I never knew what an affirmation was until I started teaching affirmations to my students.
When I started hearing from fellow educators and families about anti-Asian hate that our children nationwide are facing, all I could think about was what I could say to Asian American youth. What can I do to help empower our Asian American kids, and frankly, all fellow Asian Americans? What would I want my younger self to be able to say?
Here are my (starting) affirmations that I share for my Asian American youth and the entire Asian American community:
I am a voice that matters. We have voices to share stories, sing and dance, and express ourselves. We are too often told not to and instead, lumped together as a broad category of people who are forced into the model minority myth. We want to and can be seen and heard by our realities. Our voices matter.
I am worthy of safety, respect, and love.
We need safety through the actions of others and allies speaking against anti-Asian hate and violence. We deserve to be respected. We are worthy of love every day, all year long. We are worthy of safety, respect, and love.
I am part of the Asian American community.
We are a community filled with diverse people. We are not all the same, and yet we are all part of one community. We ALL belong. We are part of our Asian American community.
I am my own Asian American identity.
We have our own individual experiences that define us uniquely from each other. We dispel monoliths and labels that only generalize who we are. We decide who we are. We are our own Asian American identities.
I am Asian American.
As a child, I never said to myself that I was Asian American. Now, there is a power in my voice every time I say that I am – as if I am speaking a truth that has too long been disregarded, unheard, or not valued. I am Asian American. We are Asian American.
Asian Americans, I empower you to speak these affirmations out loud, write them daily as you may need, and revisit them as we continue to face any hate. It is my hope that what I shared can provide solace, support, and joy – or truly, whatever it is that you may need.
And yes, that is me feeling truly so joyful and excited because I got a sticker (displayed on my sweater) of the first Asian American person I ever saw on television – the Yellow Power Ranger. It was the first time I saw myself.