collage of various images and headshots of panelists for the #NotYourAsianSidekick panel
18MillionRising’s publicity image for the #NotYourAsianSidekick campaign.

Last Thursday, January 16, 2014, 18MillionRising (18MR) had its first public forum online for their  #NotYourAsianSidekick campaign through Google Hangouts. The topics: the #NotYourAsianSidekick trend on Twitter, which started in mid-December 2013, women of color and feminism, and using social media for activism and community organizing. The forum consisted of Asian American panelists, moderated by PaKou Her, campaign director for 18MR. Featured speakers were writer and activist Tanzila Ahmed, Soya Jung from ChangeLab, originator of the #NotYourAsianSidekick hashtag Suey Park, comedian and activist Kristina Wong, and Miriam Yeung from the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).

Subtitled “The Past, Present, and Future of Asian American Grassroots,” the online public forum focused on necessary conversations we must have with each other, our friends, family, and colleagues. Topics such as race, gender equality, and political engagement may be difficult to talk about, but they must be discussed. The #NotYourAsianSidekick Twitter trend and the subsequent responses signal the need for such conversations.

The energy and interest generated through social media present many opportunities–to engage youth in political and civic matters, to educate and inspire others, to connect, to facilitate ideas and thoughts into meaningful action and change. The list goes on. A very descriptive summation of the discussion generated by the forum was provided by Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed: “Activism isn’t just about the dramatic shift. It’s about the 1-on-1 conversation.” Such gems were tweeted and retweeted by forum participants, reaching those who follow #NotYourAsianSidekick on Twitter and other social media outlets.

Two useful lists mentioned by participants of the forum:

A second online public forum for the #NotYourAsianSidekick campaign is in the works. It promises to be another stimulating discussion about grassroots activism, the intersections of race and gender, and social change.