新年快乐!

Usurping the model minority myth and third-culture greeting cards

There have been countless violent attacks on Asian Americans in recent weeks. Vicha Ratanapakdee was pushed and killed. Noel Quintana was slashed across the face with a box cutter. More than 20 Asian-run businesses have been robbed in Oakland.

I’ll be keeping today’s newsletter brief. As much as I want to pour the myriad of thoughts swirling in my mind onto this digital page, I’ve simultaneously been reminding myself that perspective is often found in pause.

In short, the uptick in violence I’ve seen over the past few weeks has galvanized my resolve to usurp a system that paints people like me as gracious, deferent, politically silent, and generally “well-behaved” while delegitimizing our challenges and leveraging us as a rhetorical wedge against other communities of color.

Trying to out-work, out-earn, and out-succeed the grips of the model minority myth only serves to further reinforce it. Conversely, taking up space and being unabashed in making our voices heard is the only way to unseat it. I’ve been trying to embody this in Across the Lines, 35mmusings, and how I show up in the workplace. And more recently, through greeting cards.

A core pillar of the model minority myth is the expectation to assimilate to dominant cultural norms and standards. Christmas cards are an undeniable norm in American culture — fun fact, Americans buy 6.5 billion greeting cards annually. This year, Josh and I wanted to adopt this uniquely American tradition we’ve come to adore while also paying homage to our heritage.

I love these cards. They’re unapologetically reminiscent of a 紅包, yet they feature our all-American puppy. They’re a perfect manifestation of our experience as third-culture kids.

And most importantly, they remind me to take pride in my roots, as I can’t think of anything that’s more central to the Asian American experience than maintaining unshakable optimism amidst turmoil.