Being Asian in White Spaces

Photo by Kleigh Balugo

By Kleigh Balugo

Dear Kindergarten Readers,

What happens when you’re the only Asian person in a room?

When I was younger, I found that being Asian in a white space had detrimental effects on my self esteem. I longed to fit in with my white peers, despite their tendency to isolate me.

But yet, now in my adulthood, Asian women are constantly fetishized in the media. After moving away for college, I began receiving unwanted attention from white men online. I quickly realized that these men had no interest in me as an individual, but rather the category I outwardly represented.

This juxtaposition between the exclusion from my white classmates and the abundance of attention from white men online has always perplexed me. I knew that these things were related to my overall understanding of the world and my place in it, but I never understood how.

I wanted to further explore how confusing the Asian American experience is. (In my case, the experience of a Filipina American woman) So I decided to talk to members of my community from all different backgrounds about their own experiences in white spaces and the scary world we live in today.

Today, racism against Asian people is varied and sounds like so many different things. And with the recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, it’s more important than ever to support your Asian peers and listen to their anxieties about the world we live in.

I set out to tell stories about my community and did so by making a podcast called “Being Asian in White Spaces.” It’s separated in to two parts. Part 1: Isolation and Part 2: Fetishization. You can listen to them in order or out of order, as the two concepts go hand in hand and are in constant conversation with each other.

Thank you to everyone who talked to me and helped me along the way. I appreciate you endlessly. You can listen below or by following this link to Spotify.

Love,

Kleigh

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