Student. Activist. Creator.
I am currently a first year student at New York University, a former international level figure skater, and an activist in progress. I run the popular instagram account @intersectional.abc with nearly ninety thousand followers. I focus on unpacking issues facing Asian Americans as well as the social issues facing young people today. I use my platform to educate hundreds of thousands to millions of young people each week on issues ranging from racial justice to climate justice to reproductive justice. My goal is to motivate all young people to stand up to the injustices that we see each day. In addition to my Instagram, I also work as a youth activist in person. I’ve worked on campaigns for several candidates across Colorado including those running for mayor, US Congress, and US Senate. I recently worked as a youth vote organizer with a nonprofit in Colorado. We registered thousands of young people to vote and Colorado’s youth turned out at over 70% this past election. Aside from electoral politics, I also have participated in protests for Black Lives Matter in four different major cities (Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, and New York City). I am proud to say that I am one of the boots on the ground for justice and accountability. I have been tear-gassed and maced at the hands of those who claim to serve their communities. I call myself an activist and feminist in progress because I am always learning and unlearning!
How does being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American and/or community ally play a role in your life?
I am a first-generation Taiwanese American and I am incredibly proud to be one. I am proud of my distinct culture from that of the mainland. I’m not sure if there is a specific role that it plays in my everyday life, but it has influenced me overall. My Mandarin is specifically Taiwanese accented, and I take pride in knowing where my people are from simply by accent and the slang that we use. I also love Taiwanese cuisine and how it can be considered a melting pot of Chinese cuisine, because of the history of Taiwan. Specifically, I drink boba several times a week. Though it’s become more mainstream now, I’m proud to say that it came from Taiwan and that I have been drinking it for years! I also have a special place in my heart for local markets, whether it be farmer’s markets or pop-up markets. They always remind me of the night markets in Taiwan, and while nothing will ever be able to live up to that, I always see small reminders of it in the small markets here in America.
Growing up, I was not necessarily proud of my culture and heritage, simply because I didn’t really understand that I was *different* from Western culture. It was just the way that I had grown up. However, even though I’m old enough to understand, I am still recognizing certain aspects of life that I thought was normal, but are actually parts of Taiwanese culture.
If you could teach future generations 1 thing about being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American or Taiwan, what would it be?
Don’t worry so much about your skin color. Whenever I go back to Taiwan, I’m constantly being sold skin whitening products. I know several fellow Taiwanese and Asian American peers who have struggled with how light or dark their skin color is and it has taken years for them to begin the self-healing process. I have noticed that in Taiwan, most people dress in loose long sleeves and long pants, even in the height of summer to protect their skin from the sun and to protect their skin from darkening. I wish to teach future generations to steer away from the skin whitening industry and learn that skin color is beautiful, no matter how light or dark you are.
What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?
I would love to see more Taiwanese Americans become more involved in politics here in the US. We are living and thriving in America and should be more involved in our communities here. Over the summer, I worked to elect several local and state-wide politicians, and I often noticed that I was the only Asian American, much less Taiwanese American person in the room. I also believe that we should work to strengthen political ties between Taiwan and the US, for our wellbeing here as well as for our families abroad. With a new president upon us in the US, I’m curious to see how the relations between the US, Taiwan, and China will change. My hope is that the US advocates more on our behalf.
watch our interview with Emma!
Favorite memory of Taiwan/Taiwanese America?
When I was younger, I would stay in Taiwan with my cousins, and we would take the motorcycles to get food and to the drink shops. My favorite memories were being small enough to stand in front of the motorcycle, between my older cousin and the handles. I remember feeling so safe and protected while going fast. When I was older, I “graduated” into sitting between two of my older cousins on the back of the motorcycle. I remember how afraid I was to first make the transition, but how exhilarating each ride was, no matter how short.
Favorite Taiwanese food?
By far, bubble tea. Specifically brown sugar bubble tea. I’ve had it since I was old enough to chew, and some of my earliest memories include boba.