Last weekend, a group of Asian Americans came together on social media to celebrate the achievements of Asians and Asian Americans across a wide variety of fields. Using the hashtag, #UnderratedAsian, the Twitter user who goes by the handle @NerdyAsians in collaboration with Twitter users @AsianAdvocacy (Michael Tarui), @StarringConstanceWu (Bonnie Tang), and others, wanted to draw attention to Asians, Asian Americans, and Asians in the diaspora that may not be well known, in order to educate and inspire people in and outside of the community.
"The intent is to highlight Asian American achievements/accomplishments while shedding light or raising awareness for those less known, to show that Asian Americans have contributed to society in various ways as well," Bonnie Tang, a 17-year-old high school junior in New York City, who previously launched the #StarringConstanceWu Twitter account and hashtag, told NBC News. "The ultimate goal is to organize the Asian Twitter community while sparking various conversations about Asians along the way."
This conversation comes after several recent hashtag campaigns drawing attention to the lack of Asian Americans in media such as #StarringJohnCho and #StarringConstanceWu, as well as the challenges of growing up Asian American such as #BeingAsian, #ImmigrationStoryin5Words, and #MyAsianAmericanLife. Organizers also took an international approach and included Asians, Asian Americans, as well as the Asian diaspora.
"For one, I wanted to shift the emphasis to all of the contributions Asians have made to society," the Twitter user who goes by @NerdyAsians told NBC News. "I wanted the hashtag to be positive and to celebrate Asian visibility and talent and scientific innovation. Also personally, with the earliest tweets I was reacting to the negative hashtags that came before it. Negative isn't the right word. Those tags were great and brought attention to important issues. And I participated with those tags. But I felt the community needed something bright and celebratory."
Many people highlighted the achievements of Asian and Asian-American actors, comedians, directors, and others in entertainment, as well as what they meant and still mean to the community.
Others introduced the music of Asian and Asian-American musicians.
Many featured Asian and Asian-American artists and writers who work in different styles.
Asian and Asian-American scientists, inventors, and astronauts were spotlighted, whether they were originally given credit for their work or not.
Not only famous Asians and Asian Americans were mentioned. Many people tweeted "me" or "not me." Some people tweeted about siblings. Others tweeted about people not usually in the limelight, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Many people remarked on the hashtag itself — how much they loved it, how much they learned, and how sad it was that it was so easy to come up with so many underrated Asians.
Some artists and activists — like poet Chrysanthemum Tran — were surprised to find their own names mentioned in other people's tweets.
#UnderratedAsian campaign organizers hoped to inspire Asians and Asian Americans like how some Asian Americans had found similar inspiration years ago.
- #BeingAsian Continues 'Necessary' Conversation Among Asian Americans
- #StarringConstanceWu Continues the Conversation on Hollywood Whitewashing
- New Twitter Account, Hashtag Re-Imagines Films #StarringJohnCho
- Essay: How Social Media Helped Me Tell #MyAsianAmericanStory
- Advocates Celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month with #ImmigrationStoryin5Words