What it's like to be an Asian-American, as told through 19 viral photos.

Students at Bowdoin College were hoping to start a conversation about race on their campus with these photos. Their plan worked.

In October 2016, Asian-American New York Times editor Michael Luo posted on Twitter about being called out, on the streets of New York City, for his race.

Suddenly, hundreds of Asian-American Twitter users were talking about this. What things had people said to them, about the country they were born in?

One of the most poignant responses to Luo's tweet was a viral internet photo series out of Bowdoin College.

Bowdoin’s Asian Students Association (ASA) and South Asian Students Association (SASA) launched the photo exhibit, titled #Thisis2016, to expose the stereotypes and misconceptions associated with being an Asian-American.


All photos from Bowdoin’s Asian Students Association (ASA) and South Asian Students Association (SASA), used with permission.

The series was launched as part of Bowdoin’s No Hate November, a month-long program aimed at encouraging discussions about race and diversity on campus. With the photos, the students hope to show that every experience of being Asian in America looks different. They want to display the variety of experiences among participants too.

“A big takeaway from photo exhibit is this ability to have productive dialogue and have people ask themselves, ‘Why is this hurtful?’” Bowdoin’s ASA president Mitsuki Nishimoto says.

The photo series features 48 students holding signs that address common misconceptions and stereotypes about being Asian-American.

It includes students from China, South India, Pakistan, and Vietnam, among other countries. The photo series was first published to the Asian Students Association of Bowdoin’s Facebook page, and it has since received more than 85,000 shares and 3,000 individual Likes.

“I think the word 'Asian' has been used as a homogenizing term. People tend to think of only East Asians, and the rest of the Asian continent gets left out... It is important to recognize that while a lot of Asians share commonalities, we are also heterogenous,” Nishimoto says.

It also addresses jokes Asian-American students have been told about their race.

“While jokes might be told in a humorous manner and seem lighthearted, they still carry a weight. When you tell me I can use dental floss as a blindfold, you’re referencing a specific body part. No one is going to tell a non-asian person something like this,” Bowdoin’s ASA co-vice president Kevin Ma said. Even though Ma says he wasn’t personally hurt by the comment, he says other Asian Americans may feel differently if told the same.

Here are 18 more photos of students sharing their real experiences:

Overall, this photo series does more than simply display things that were said. It also redirects attention to the impact of our words.

“When people hear the word racism they obviously think negativity, they think, ‘I don’t identify with that term. I’m not racist.’ We need to redefine and rethink the word and what it really means. Though not all of the things that were said to us were intended to be hurtful, they’re still racially insensitive,” Nishimoto says.

The students hope that after viewing the photos people will be able to better empathize with the Asian-American community, keeping an open mind and standing up when microaggressions are enacted in the world around them.

More

There's nothing like a good reunion story to get you misty in the ol' tear ducts. Kate Howard, the managing editor of Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, shared a story of randomly running into the dog she used to foster on Twitter. You know all those dog reunion movies? The ones with names like A Dog's Hope and A Dog's Sloppy Kiss? The ones that make you cry buckets no matter how hard you think your heart is? Well, this is that, but in real life.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The great thing about American democracy is the separation of powers. The federal government has rights, states have rights, counties have rights, cities have rights, and we, as people, have rights, too.

Heck, even animals have some rights in the good ol' U S of A.

The president of the United States is not a king or a dictator so a team of U.S. mayors, led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, are asking to go over his head to negotiate directly at next month's UN climate change conference in Santiago, Chile.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / James Van Der Beek

About one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, although it is believed the number might be higher because many miscarriages occur before the woman knows she is pregnant. Miscarriage is actually quite common, yet many people who've had one feel alone, partly because there's still a taboo around talking about it. In order to reduce the stigma surrounding the loss, James Van Der Beek opened up about the struggles him and his wife, Kimberly, experienced.

The Van Der Beeks, who have been married since 2010, have five children and one on the way. In a pre-taped segment on "Dancing with the Stars," Van Der Beek announced that his family will be welcoming a new baby. But the segment gave us a more personal look as Van Der Beek revealed they've experienced three miscarriages as well. "We've had five kids and three miscarriages," Van Der Beek told his dance partner, Emma Slater. "Miscarriage is something that people don't really talk about, and we wanted to recognize that it happens to people. We wanted to destigmatize that as much as we possibly could."

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Capital One

It was around Christmas 2018 and Jean Simpkins, 79, was looking out the window of her new three-bedroom apartment. Eleven floors above Washington, D.C., the grandmother of two gazed out at the lights of the city and became overwhelmed with gratitude. "The only thing I could say," Simpkins remembers, "was 'Thank you, Father.'"

Almost a year later, Simpkins still can't help but look at the apartment as a miracle — one she desperately needed. Fifteen years ago, when her grandson was born, she became his primary caregiver. Six years later, when her granddaughter was four, Simpkins was awarded full custody of her, too. She's spent the time since trying to give her grandchildren the life she knows they deserve, which has been difficult on a fixed income. On top of that, Simpkins worried that the neighborhood the family resided in wasn't the best influence on her kids. Something had to change.

Then she learned about Plaza West, a new development created by Mission First housing that would reserve 50 of its apartments specifically for families in which a grandparent or other older adult was raising children who were related to them. The waiting list, Simpkins says, was daunting. There are a great deal of grandfamilies in the D.C. area and she was sure it might be years before she got the call. But soon after applying, she was offered a choice between a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom apartment. She accepted the latter, sight unseen. She knew that each of her grandchildren needed space of their own.

Keep Reading Show less
Future Edge
True
Capital One