Asian Lives Matter
Re-iterating a fact that about the treatment of the voice of a minority.
In light of the DACA act, and in general all these constant issues involving immigration, minorities, and foreign affairs, I thought this Thursday would be a good day to recount this story from, and involving, the Odyssey Online group I used to write for. Representation in general of minority groups, in race, size, and more, is a problem there. As it grows as a company, I wish for it to improve and help millenials reach an audience that needs to hear them.
After I first joined Odyssey, I contemplated a lot on what I should write for my first article. It had to be powerful in meaning but also personal to me. Eventually, I decided to write about my struggles with becoming a citizen of the United States, physically and mentally, as an adopted child from China. It was very exciting, but when I was finished, I was floored to not find a name category to hold my article. Eventually, I had to settle on “Other,” which didn’t go over too well with me or our Manger Editor, Alee Kwong.
As her name suggests, Alee has an Asian heritage also, and she was as surprised as I was when she saw my article under “Other.” With a voice at HQ, she began advocating for an Asian segment under Odyssey’s “Identities” category and asked me to write a paragraph to help her argument. Well, it kind of turned into a five paragraph letter…
As a recently appointed EIC of the newly formed Odyssey branch at the Delaware College of Art and Design, I’ve been able to experience more than the average Content Creator. I’ve already improved my editing, formatting, and organization skills in the few weeks I’ve been with the community. I’ve also been exposed to the problems Content Creators have with the Odyssey system. While most are minor, like Muse crashes and the unique formatting system, a big concern I saw was with the category system.
With a very fresh group of Content Creators, they are eager to put out very personalized articles that are unique in voice and topics. However, there is a lack of options that reflect their voices, and many of them are forced to place their articles the “Other” segments. Because of the segments vagueness, there’s an increased guarantee that their articles won’t be spotlighted as much as the writings that come under the pre-created segments Odyssey has.
A specific segment I’d like to advocate for is the Identities tag, which covers ethnicities, sexualities, and specific individual circumstances. However, true tag diversity is masked with five segments that cover the LGBTQ community (LGBT general, lesbian, gay, transgender, queer) and colloquial segment for societal privileges (White Privilege). Odyssey lacks an important tag for an ethnic group that covers 60% of the world’s population: Asian.
Articles like, “Asian Americans’ Suicidal Syndrome” and “6 Subtle Ways Activists Shut Out Asian Americans” (both real articles published by Odyssey) are probably dumped in the “Identities: Other” tag with nowhere else to go. Important articles about the Asian ethnicity life are drowned in vaguer posts like “Having Dissociative Identity Order,” and “12 Identities You Didn’t Know About Before” when they have no home of their own. African American and Latino are the two ethnicity tags within Odyssey, added likely because they are the most highlighted in current events. However, is it not Odyssey’s code to help the news and voices be heard?
Take my first Odyssey article “Identity Crisis of a Chinese Adoptee” for an example. It’s something I would never have published on other blogging sites, but Odyssey’s promise of a spotlight opportunity and advocating for voice diversity inspired me to write about how I’ve been struggling to get my citizenship in the United States, despite living here my entire life. In the article, I retell all the legal issues I’ve been having, such as not getting an English driver’s license, and my struggle to comprehend if I’m a truly valued person in the country I love. I am an example of an Asian identity conflict, internally and externally, that exist among #BlackLivesMatter and #WhitePrivilege. How can our identity not have some kind of Asian-specific view to tell when, I reiterate, we are a community that makes up over 60% of the world’s population?
Not adding an Asian segment, I believe, would be against the aspect of Odyssey I believe in most: giving every voice a chance to be heard. An Asian Identities tag would open up a new community of Asian writers and readers to connect; it would bring awareness about our ethnicities struggles that are buried underneath constant coverage of African American and Latino lives; and most importantly, it would definitely help our voices be heard. We, the Asian Content Creator community, can shout all we want about, “Awkward Things For Filipinos In An East-Asian Dominated Community,” and “What It’s Like Growing Up Half Asian” (both articles also published by Odyssey), but it’s only with Odyssey’s support that we can be heard better.
While her request passed in no time, I wanted to share what I wrote for her. Just because it’s not highlighted in the news, no community should be under-represented. We should all have the opportunity to voice our unique perspective properly and have the ability to connect with others in similar situations.
Originally published at www.theodysseyonline.com on September 1, 2016.