A new hashtag conversation launched on Tuesday is aiming to connect Asian Americans online in an effort to show the similarities and the diversity among the Asian-American experience.
#BeingAsian, which was first tweeted out by 17 year old Michael Tarui on Tuesday afternoon, encourages Twitter users to describe "what it's like #BeingAsian and the racism that comes with it."
Tarui told NBC News the hashtag came about during a group chat on Twitter with some of his peers, including Twitter user @shaiIIenes, who he credits with creating the hashtag. "The purpose of the tag was to create solidarity amongst us youth (many of us use Twitter to advocate), form friendships, and learn from one another," Tarui described in an email, adding that the conversation eventually transition into a discussion about the racism each of them had faced in their lives.
"The tag was originally meant to discuss simply our experiences with racism, but because the tag was general we (the people in the group chat) decided that it would be okay to also use this tag to simply discuss what it is like being Asian - the racism, the culture, the pride, the shame, etc," Tarui said.
He added, "Confronting issues such as the racism we face and the internalized racism it has caused in many of us is important as it helps us move forward ... We also believed it was important we discussed the issues highly prevalent in our communities such as racism against one another, colorism, and anti-blackness."
By Tuesday night, Twitter users were actively sharing their experiences with the hashtag, including rapper Heems (born Himansu Suri) of the hip-hop group Das Racist. "Not being considered Asian," the Indian-American musician tweeted.
Some people used the hashtag to describe the questions they've received related to their ethnicities:
Others tweeted about their frustrations over assumptions made about them based on appearances:
Some shared their thoughts about identity and reminded others to not limit their definitions of "Asian American":
This is not the first time a hashtag encouraging Asian Americans to share their stories has resonated with Twitter users. In August 2015, then-15-year-old Jason Fong created #MyAsianAmericanStory in response to a remark on the campaign trail about "anchor babies."
In an essay for NBC Asian America in May, Fong said he was motivated to use Twitter to encourage Asian Americans of all ages around the country to speak their minds. "I know that, right now, I'm just a kid with a phone. I hear you," Fong wrote. "But if one of the goals is to strengthen our community by expanding the scope of our messages, why shouldn't we use social media if it helps us reach more of our community?"
Continue the Conversation: #MyAsianAmericanStoryMay 2, 201601:49
Similar to Fong, Tarui said he believes #BeingAsian can help Asian Americans continue to tell their stories and use their voices when "many of us so often feel like we don't have one."
"These are issues that are often uncomfortable to address within ourselves and others," Tarui said. "However, this conversation is a conversation that is necessary to start making progress."
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