I am an Asian American. Net neutrality matters to me.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that our 21st century movement was built upon fair broadband access as our bedrock and foundation.
It comes as no coincidence that the person who coined the term “net neutrality” is Tim Wu.
I approach and engage the Asian American community from the immigrant perspective. Without fair broadband access, we would not have been able to organize for the DREAM Act back in 2010 and anti-deportation campaigns that followed. We depended on images and videos of our stories that we put out. VOIP services allowed us to organize tiny rallies outside detention centers and massive mobilizations. Sure, we got covered by big names like the New York Times, CNN, and NPR, but we have an equitable voice online and social media remains the only place where we can tell our stories unfiltered by the need for clicks.
Asian Americans care a lot about media representation. It’s about one-half of the grassroots campaigns online. For a long time, Asian Americans could only tell their stories online. I don’t think traditional media would have given creators like Lilly Singh and Michelle Phan the time of their day if they didn’t do their groundwork building up an audience. Even Randall Park and Harry Shum gained exposure through their work collaborations with Wong Fu and other independent projects. And forget about #StarringJohnCho and Constance Wu’s pointed voices being elevated without social media.
Sure, we could go back to the days before Angry Asian Man was a thing and go back to dialing 10–10–220 for choppy calls overseas and hang up on our loved ones when the beep reminds us that our minutes are up. But I refuse. It’s also pretty much impossible — AsianWeek and KoreAm are no longer in print and Rafu Shimpo is on its last legs.
That letter calling to strike down net neutrality does not represent my voice. To build our movements, the internet must remain a public utility. Unlike Verizon and Comcast, I cannot purchase my civil rights. But giving up on building our movement, especially in the times that we live in, is something that I cannot afford either.