Throughout the month of March, NBCBLK, NBCLatino, and NBC Asian America have partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women for #31Days of Feminism to spotlight women of color who, through their actions and words, lead the way toward a more equal world.
Miriam Yeung, 41 (New York, NY) — Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF)
What do you love the most about the work you do?
The best part of my job is building power for AAPI women and girls. The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) is building a movement for social justice and human rights for AAPI women and girls. One of the keys to accomplishing that is making sure that AAPI women and girls are seen and heard. We have such extraordinary strengths to contribute when we come together, organize, and make our voices heard.
What is feminism to you?
For me, feminism is about creating justice for people of all genders. As a woman and as a mom to two little girls, feminism is extremely personal. I want my kids to be able to walk through the world and expect to be safe, supported, respected and afforded every opportunity. I want their unique perspectives as biracial AAPI women to be lifted up and valued. Our work at NAPAWF is to be sure that the intersectional lens we bring as AAPI women and girls and our experiences with racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc., are part of what we consider feminism.
Can you pinpoint the moment when you decided to become a feminist? If you don't consider yourself a feminist, why not?
I can't actually pinpoint a time. I think my parents are feminists, though they probably don't know that word in English. Part of the reason why we immigrated to the U.S. was because they wanted more opportunities for me as their first born. I think my parents were also looking for ways to break out of Confucian patriarchy — one that devalued women and youngest sons. So I was raised with a good deal of freedom and independence. I figured out early on that there were certain rules for girls and certain rules for boys but I just never followed them.
What is the best way we can all be "feminists"?
The best way we can all be feminists is to respect and listen to each other as we struggle for equality for all. Women of color, immigrant women, and poor women all experience issues and challenges differently. We have to appreciate and acknowledge those differences and ensure that every voice is heard, every person is empowered to help lead the movement for equality.
Who are your "sheroes"?
There are so many sheroes who have paved the way for me. NAPAWF actually has a T-shirt available from our website that honors four AAPI sheroes — Grace Lee Boggs, Yuri Kochiyama, Helen Zia, and Ninotchka Rosca.
Favorite feminist anthem?
Can't think of one.
Favorite feminist artist? (authors, singers, dancers, actors)
So many… Margaret Cho, Aziz Ansari, Audre Lorde, Nina Simone…