On March 17, 2011, Phil Yu, the blogger behind http://www.angryasianman.com/, came to speak to Penn's APA community, as an event organized by Sigma Psi Zeta, an Asian-interest sorority, which I am part of. Last year, when I was at Northwestern, I came across Phil's talk almost accidentally, but was immediately hooked and realized how little I knew about the umbrella category of ethnicities known as 'Asian American'. From his talk, I became more aware of the fact that Asian Americans appear on the Hollywood screen either typecasted as the token math geek, the perpetual foreigners speaking 'ching-chong', or not at all. I learnt that Ryan Higa was (and still is) the most subscribed personality on Youtube, and other Asian Americans are following his footsteps onto the internet to speak their minds as an alternate to the mainstream media they are barred from. I learned about the highs and lows of Asian American experience, and that we are finally standing up for ourselves and claiming our rightful homes in America.
Since Phil's talk was such a rewarding experience for me, I wanted to share the lessons I learned with Penn's community, which is why our sorority opted to bring the Angry Asian Man to Penn. Though Asian Americans at Penn are incredibly involved in a smorgasbord of student groups and activities, issues that concern us as an Asian American entity are not addressed frequently. It is much easier to glaze over the issue without thinking twice, instead of accepting that they exist and face confrontation. There is a grain of salt behind model minority image of Asian Americans, because up until recently, marginalized Asian Americans had not fought back for themselves, but had simply accepted the American hegemony.
Phil's presentation at Penn was immensely inspiring because he touched upon examples in which Asian Americans have displayed a great deal of activism, from the Abercrombie and Fitch racist T-shirt incidents, to recent protests here in Philadelphia when hate crimes targeted Asian American high school students. Given the numerous events that occurred just in the past week that concern Asian Americans and are salient in our minds, such as the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and UCLA's Alexandra Wallace's insensitive Youtube video against Asian Americans, this was especially a great time for the Penn community to sympathize those of other ethnicities within our community and become more aware of the frequency of such outright racist attitudes against Asian Americans. Hopefully, the speaker event galvanized our audience members to actively dispel the typical Asian American model minority stereotype through their own actions.
- Florence Sit, SAS 2013
About the Speaker:
Phil Yu is the blogger behind AngryAsianMan.com, dubbed by the Washington Post as “a daily must-read for the media savvy, socially conscious, pop-cultured Asian American.” Starting his blog in 2000 by observing and documenting Asian American’s image in the media, he brings a new flare to Asian American current issues by 'keepin' it real in the rice fields'. His commentaries on the representation of Asian Americans in popular culture and entertainment, mixed with humor and criticism, are on the pulse of our times and are quoted in stories for the Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, MSNBC, NY Press, CBS News and SF Gate among others. Phil previously worked at the Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA) in San Francisco. Everyday, close to thousands of readers around the country tune in to what he has to say. He is currently an Associate Content Producer for Yahoo! Movies, and serves on the Programming Committee for VC Filmfest, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Phil graduated with a B.S. in Radio/TV/Film from Northwestern University, and earned his M.A. in Critical Studies as a Provost Fellow from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television.